Saturday, October 12, 2013

Golden State Adventures

California, for all its insanity, is alluringly beautiful. The wild west is the place where I was molded and shaped as a child. You can take the girl out of California, but you can't take the California out of the girl. Maybe growing up so close to these wild and free mountains and shorelines was a factor in making me the way I am. Just a speculation ...

My lovely mom and sister:

I think bougainvillea is simply the most gorgeous flowering bush ever. I snapped this out of the car window. It's so prevalent along Pacific Coast Highway.

The best beaches have both tide pools, which the kids loved, and long stretches of sand.  Here we are near Point Dume, in Malibu.

This is Long Beach, the city where I grew up.  It's between Los Angeles and Orange County, and has a population of nearly a half million.  I have fond memories of driving around downtown with my sisters after I got my driver's license and my freedom!  Woo hoo!

One of the highlights of the trip was going on a 44 mile long bike ride with Kevin.  I joked that it's probably the fastest way to navigate through L.A. County!  It was so fun!  We rode past all these beautiful little beach communities (and one crazy one--Venice; and another semi-crazy one--Santa Monica pier).  We stopped for lunch, a smoothie, ocean gazing, and general spectating whenever we felt like it.  It was fabulous.  I hope we get to do it again.  It makes me want to make a point of going to other places in the world and taking long bike rides.  Biking is such a great pace at which to see things.  You can cover more ground biking than walking and you can go to places that you can't take a car.  We love it!

Here we are, stopping to watch dolphins swimming in the water (ironically, after eating a lunch of mahimahi tacos) and some kids at a summer surfing camp. 

Riding some dusty, panoramic view trails ...

The small, but awesome, Orange County zoo, which features locally found animals.  The mountain lion feeding time was a highlight for the kids. 

Sophia is at the BEST age for the zoo!  She wanted to know the name of every animal, what it eats, and where it lives (on the map).

Have you ever got to pet a hedgehog?

We had a fun time one night going to see Jaws on the beach.  Here I am with two of my sisters.  Melissa and David got stuck babysitting.  Sorry guys!

Jaws ... tense at times and cheesy enough to be funny too ...

Coffee with the fam afterwards, on 2nd Street in Long Beach.

We always love to go to Crystal Cove State Beach.  Not only is it one of the most fun and beautiful beaches in Southern California, we also love the Beachcombers cafe and the fabulous breakfast-on-the-beach experience.

Walking to the beach ... 

We love this cafe ...

The tide pools at Crystal Cove are fabulous ... 

Melissa and Meredith spent the afternoon building a detailed sandcastle ... 

A highlight for me was watching Clara skip and dance along the beach and dig for sand crabs.  It was a beautiful portrait of childhood adventure. Her joyful squeals when she dug for crabs reminded me of my experiences as a child.  I loved it just as much!

A flower growing next to my parents' yard.  Love the color!

Bonfire on Bolsa Chica beach with grandpa ...

On our last day we took a spontaneous whale watching trip off Balboa Island in Newport Beach.  I love the harbor here.  It's so colorful and pretty. 

Heading out to sea!

Some sea lions on a buoy. 

We saw tons of dolphins.  There were also lots of baby dolphins swimming next to their mothers.  It was SO cute to watch them jump out of the water, always alongside their mothers. 

It was the last half of the boat ride and we had seen lots of marine life, but not any whales.  I have a wonderful memory of standing at the front of the ship with Meredith, on the lookout, feeling the wind in our hair, with time just standing still.  It was a wonderful moment with her.  

And, guess what?  We finally saw one!  Below is the picture of a fluke of a blue whale, off in the horizon.  I'm glad we saw one because, otherwise, it would have been my first unsuccessful whale watching trip.  I have been on three of them in California and one in Maine.  It doesn't get much better than being out on the open sea, chasing after the largest creatures on the planet.  

The kids love my parents.  I'm so glad because they don't get to see them very often, unfortunately!!  My dad is a big tease and here is Sophia, eating it up.

My grandpa is 92 and he still walks a mile a day, teaches Sunday school, does the bulk of the house cleaning, drives my grandma to her appointments, and takes turns preaching at church on Sunday. His mind is still as sharp as a tack too.  He is an inspiration!

This is what a little girl looks like at the end of an exciting trip!

The kids are great travelers. 
A trip we will never forget!  I am so glad for this time we had with family and being surrounded by such natural beauty.


Heather L. said...

Wow!!! Your trip sounds amazing!!! It looks like you got to see all kinds of places and have lots of fun! The bike ride sounds like a lot of fun!! And how great to see your grandparents too!

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