Oakland –> Monterey –> San Simeon –> San Luis Obispo –> Santa Barbara –> Los Angeles –> Palm Springs –> San Diego
That was 7 days, in a nutshell, leg 2 of our summer family road trip.
I thought we had learned our lesson back in Europe when we trekked between Paris, Avignon, Girona, Barcelona and Madrid in 10 days, but clearly we didn’t, because this week was full of unpacking, wandering, re-packing and hitting the highway yet again. Amazingly, it was enjoyable and uneventful, but we’re already dreaming of next year’s vacation, when we rent a house on the beach in Hawaii and hunker down for a week without moving farther than to the shops down the road.
The highs: buying Monterey Bay Aquarium tickets on Craigslist half price (perfect since we saw every exhibit in an hour and a half), Crystal Fish Sushi in Monterey, sunset on the cold sand beach, the elephant seals sunning on the San Simeon shore, Hearst Castle (saving for its own post since I got so many terrific shots), the adorable San Luis Obispo downtown, South Coast Deli subs and a trip to a new bookstore during the hour we stopped in Santa Barbara, a visit to friends’ newest addition in LA, Bloody Mary’s by the adult-only pool in blazing Palm Springs.
The lows: the fits Gabe pitched all day in Monterey, THAT FREAKING DRIVE south on Highway One through Big Sur (yes, I know the scenery is stunning, but I’ll never sit on the passenger side going down that treacherous road again as long as I live), the sheer exhaustion that hit by the time we reached Palm Springs, apparent by the total lack of photos I took that whole last part of the trip, and Splashtopia at our hotel, which was gleeful fun for the kids but hell on earth for me- thousands of parents and kids packed into a Lazy River and a small pool in the 115 degree heat.
Even without the nostalgia that comes from distance, I felt that this was a charmed trip. The kids got along 96% of the time, which is some sort of record. They watched one movie in the car and that was it; the rest of the drives were spent sleeping or reading to each other (mostly Norah reading and Gabe sucking his thumb quietly) while J caught up on podcasts and classic rock and I dozed. We had good luck with hotels, we swam most days, we found great restaurants to try, we stayed up late laughing on the patio, drinking warm wine while the kids slept inside the room. It wasn’t lavish, but it was a good, old-fashioned family trip that I sincerely hope my kids remember when they’re older.
Hope your summers were filled with some ordinary, magic moments, too. I can’t believe we’re headed into the very last weekend before real life starts up again. Enjoy every minute of it!