We love San Diego. We had such a great trip and Jared and I were so excited to find that family trips are actually becoming higher on the enjoyability scale and lower on the stressful scale. The kids were great in the car (movies and treats help) and it was so fun to have all the kids at ages where they could all enjoy similar things. Here's the story of the trip in photos:
After leaving just a few hours late on Tuesday morning (even though we were totally packed the night before and planning to leave at 8:30am it was somehow 11 before we actually left!), we made it to San Diego by about 5:30pm and had a great evening exploring Balboa Park. It was so green and there were flowers in bloom everywhere. I'd forgotten how great California can smell in the spring! We loved the fountains and great architecture of the museums and had a nice picnic dinner.
The kids found a cool sculpture that they could climb all over and there was a really fun kids' playground and we all fell in love with the place. Nothing was open so we had to go back later on and spend a 1/2 day at the awesome Fleet Science Museum where there were tons of hands-on exhibits (like the Exploratorium in San Francisco) and where we saw this IMAX movie about ancient sea monsters that all the kids loved.
Here we are trying out Ashton's favorite "ear trickers" and "animal ears" -
we learned a lot about our ears!
we learned a lot about our ears!
We spent a day at Sea World and everyone really enjoyed seeing a Shamu show (ran into some of our good friends from St George there and hung out with them for a while - small world!), a dolphin show and a really great seal show (our favorite). We got to feed and pet dolphins (we were so excited about this we forgot to take pictures - darn!), touch sting rays, watch penguins, and learn tons about all sorts of crazy and interesting and beautiful sea creatures. The kids loved the rides and we all had a totally fun day.
Here we are looking at Shamu. He swam right by us lots of times but of course I missed that with the camera. He's way in the back in this photo:The next day we hit Mission Beach and were planning to just walk along the beach and play in the sand a little since the forecast was for it to barely break 60 degrees.
But it felt pretty warm and that water was awfully enticing so we found some old and pretty tiny shorts in our 72 hour kit in the car for Ashton and Isaac to wear and let the twins and Eliza wear their underwear to head out into the water. We had a great white trash look going on - and the kids had a fabulous time.
Have you ever seen a funnier looking kid? Had to bribe him for this photo since he knew he looked a little funny in Oliver's shorts. Nice hair and teeth and outfit, huh? Isaac trying not to complain too much about how cold he was!Liza wasn't too keen on swimming in her underwear until I pointed out that her pink underwear would match the heart on her shirt and it would totally look like a matched swim set. Then she was all smiles.I love the ocean - there's nothing like the sound, the smell, the breeze, the beauty and rythmn of the waves crashing again and again. Ollie and Si had never really had a chance to play in the waves before and it was so fun to watch them delight in the waves creeping up on them. Si kept yelling "Ollie - the water's coming to get you!" then they'd run up the beach in glee. With no towels, the kids had to run around in the cool wind to get somewhat dry and everyone was somewhat blue-lipped at the end - but what a great time we all had!
To top off the beach experience, the kids got to go on the old wooden roller coaster and carousel on the boardwalk there which they thought was awesome.
After the beach, we explored Little Italy and had some great Italian food then hiked up to the Presidio in Old Town where we got a great view of the city and saw the site of the first European settlement in California.
We also stumbled across a memorial to the Mormon Battalion. The kids got to dress up as Battalion members and we watched a well done and very interesting little movie about the Mormon Battalion at a visitor's center that the church has there.
Did you know the 500 members of the Mormon Battalion left their bedraggled families in the midst of the exodus from Nauvoo to raise much needed funds through their military salaries and comply with a request from the government that had just allowed them to be driven from their homes? Did you know they marched 2000 miles and never ended up having to fight but helped found San Diego and San Francisco, were among the first to discover gold in the Bay Area but left the prospect of riches behind to go re-join their families? Did you know they helped build the first road from the Bay Area to SLC? I knew bits and pieces of the story but wow, it's quite an amazing story. What sacrifices they made! What big things they did!
The kids REALLY crashed each night after jam-packed fun days. We had a king bed and a twin in the kids' room and they did great with 4 kids in the king and one on the twin. One night they fell asleep in such great poses, we had to take a picture. I don't know how Silas didn't fall out.
On Friday we had our last embarassingly big free breakfast at the hotel (after 3 bowls of cereal, 3 packs of instant oatmeal, several glasses of juice, a bagel with cream cheese, toast, and a waffle or two EACH, the kids were still asking for more - they LOVED the hotel's free breakfast buffet!) and then did some swimming in the pool and checked out. We visited the Science museum (described earlier) and then stopped by the San Diego temple on our way up to Irvine to stay with Bruce and Connie for the night. It was so cute hearing Si break into the song "I love to see the temple" as we walked around the ground there. What a beautiful temple!
Jared and I put the kids down at Bruce and Connie's and went over to see the tail end of the big production of "Savior of the World" - Connie's done all the amazing costumes and Bruce plays one of the disciples and Mary's father. Wow - what a production! The singing was great, the scenery amazing, the whole thing just really impressive.
It was great to see Bruce and Connie and Rachel and James and we spend the next day at my favorite museum in the world - the Getty Center.
The architecture of the place alone would make it worth the trip - and then the art collections are really amazing - a little bit of everything, beautifully presented - plus it helps that they have a cafe with excellent and inexpensive food. Plus the museum is free. Plus you get to ride on a little train from the parking area up to the museum and the twins of course LOVED that. Jared took off with the twins and was so nice to entertain them so that I could tell the older kids all the stuff I could remember from my Art History days about the great artwork we got to see. The kids loved going to the sketching room and trying their hand at sketching some busts and paintings they had there. Ashton got really into doing a face with shadows, Liza did a rendition of the Angel Moroni (flashback to the day before at the San Diego Temple), and Isaac did a pretty cool cubist sort of picture of some grapes in a basket. I love art! And I love seeing my kids get excited about the many ways that the beauties and realities of the world are represented in art.
Then the drive home - 2 hours to get out of LA thanks to a random snow storm in the hills right outside the city. Annoying but the kids were good. We made it home before midnight and Sam and Chelsea beat us here and stayed a couple nights - great to see them. Good to be home.
What a trip we had! We're all still glowing from the adventures and fun (and the sun - had a few sunscreen forgetting moments there). Jared and I are so excited that we now have quite a travel-worthy family and we all fell more in love with each other which is always nice.