Monday, December 7, 2015

Family Road Trip - 2015 (Part 6: Santa Cruz and Monterey)

Day 11: (Oct 25)

After enjoying our hotel breakfast one last time, we loaded up and headed back to San Jose.
Grant's friend Jae, with whom he's been friends since 8th grade, was able to come over to see us. That was really exciting, since we hadn't seen him in several years.

After a grocery shopping trip to Trader Joes (oh, how I miss having one nearby) and loading back up the trailer, we all headed to the Santa Cruz area.

We stayed at the Santa Cruz Redwoods Rv Park - with our trailer nestled right underneath the giant trees. 

Grandpa and Grandma met us at the campground - and 77-year old Grandpa wasted no time in scaling this redwood stump with Corban. Pretty spry! We had plans to roast hot dogs and s'mores, but due to the drought, there was a burn ban and no fires of any kind were allowed near the redwoods.
The up side was that now we had the opportunity to drive into Santa Cruz and visit the grandparents' favorite special occasion restaurant, the Crow's Nest. 

We got there just as the sun was setting and got a few photos. Such a gorgeous view!

Jae and Grant - friends forever. 

Grandpa and Corban

We enjoyed a lovely dinner and even got to spot a harbor seal outside around the dock a few times. Jae spent the night with us in our trailer so we could have more time to hang out. The grandparents went back to their home with the plans to meet up with us the next day. 

Day 12: (Oct 26)

We drove less than a mile down the road to Henry Cowell Redwood State Park. I was so excited - the redwoods were one of my must-sees for the California visit. There were a lot of things I was willing to sacrifice seeing, but redwoods weren't one of them. 

They estimate this tree was about 1700 years old. Wow! 

We strolled along the wide and level path which meandered through the forest, sometimes just stopping and staring up at the incredible height of the giants. Their immense size and just the knowledge of how old they are is mind-blowing. 

That tree in the center is the largest in the park - estimated to be well over 2,000 years old.                                                                        

This tree is pretty special - you can enter through that hole and stand inside the tree. Apparently they've fit 85 people inside there before - which was hard to believe - but we were perfectly comfortable with 10 people in there. 

Inside the tree!

It's always frustrating when photos don't do the scenery justice, and that was particularly true here. You just have to experience being in a redwood forest to truly appreciate it. I could have stayed there all day. 
Definitely one of my very favorite places of the entire trip. Grant agreed. 

We even got to spot a banana slug - a species unique to redwood forests. Apparently we were pretty lucky to see one; they're not usually out in that temperature for some reason. The park ranger seemed excited that we saw one, so we were excited too. :) 

As much as we wanted to stay longer, we had to check out of our campground by 11:00, so we couldn't linger. 

Our next campground was about 8 miles south of Gilroy, the self-proclaimed garlic capital of the world. They aren't kidding - you can smell the garlic when you drive through town, with the windows closed. Yeah.  Our RV park was really out in the  middle of nowhere, but it was half the price of the ones closer to Monterey, and nicer as well. 

After getting set up there briefly, we headed out for a 40 min. drive into Monterey to visit the well-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium. Now really, it's not a cheap visit. It was actually less expensive for our family to get a year season pass than individual tickets. The grandparents ended up purchasing the tickets and got their season pass with it, so they can go back anytime they want. 

I've never been to an aquarium before - and neither had the kids. But since we studied swimming creatures in science last year, it was especially exciting to get to see in person many of the creatures we had discussed. 

The jellyfish exhibit was particularly mesmerizing. 

Goofing off with Grandma on one of the balconies.

Miranda was fascinated by the itty-bitty jellyfish. Some were no bigger than her pinky toenail. 

The Deep Sea Exhibit was incredible. 


One of the highlights to us was the penguin feeding. Those little guys were so interactive and adorable!  We loved the Sea Otter feeding time too - but I didn't get any great photos. 

The Kelp Forest feeding time was also really cool. 

An interactive exhibit 

Hurray for Sea Turtles!

There are numerous touch tanks to experience a variety of sea life. Since we were there late on a Monday afternoon, it wasn't busy at all. Especially near closing time. 

More examining the touch tank area. 

It ended up being closing time before we had even seen the whole aquarium, which was disappointing. The girls did take the time to peruse several gift shops and pick out some penguin and dolphin stuffies. Because we just don't have enough stuffed animals at our house. (eye roll)

After a fun dinner at a nearby burger joint, and another quick stop into the Trader Joe's next to it, we drove back to the campground to get some zzzzzz's. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Family Road Trip - 2015 (Part 5 - Napa Valley)

Day 7: October 21 

Not a super interesting day.

Okay, that's giving it too much credit.

Better described as one of the most boring days ever.

Our departure from Zion was delayed by a irritatingly long line at the dump station, so we were 30 minutes later than anticipated getting on the road.

We drove seemingly endless miles through the corners of Utah and Arizona, past Las Vegas, into California, and up I-5 through central Cali.

Oh, within an hour of beginning the drive, we had to pull over for Annika to vomit again. Ugh. It was only twice today, though, thank God. It must have been some sort of car-triggered sickness.

We parked for the night at a KOA in Los Banos, CA.

Day 8: October 22

I was exceedingly happy to get a nice shower early in the morning - as there were no showers at Zion and our trailer shower is basically like standing in a bucket with your head hunched over. Plus we had had no water hook-ups there, so we had to conserve water.

We drove to San Jose to drop off the trailer at Grant's parents' home and spent a little while visiting with them, plus getting organized and packed up in the Sequoia for the next three days.

It was fun to meet Grandma and Grandpa's 6-month old Golden Retriever, Mack.

We took the slightly longer route to Napa to cross the Golden Gate Bridge - something I've wanted to see for a long time. Traffic through San Francisco was pretty bad, but it was interesting to see a small portion of the city. 

After crossing the bridge, we circled around to this look-out point to take some photos. I'm glad it wasn't foggy!

That's Alcatraz off there in the distance. 

We stayed in the Best Western Premier Ivy in Napa for three nights - with two adjoining rooms. Hurrah for all that space! Grant's parents were just a few doors down, and his brother and sister-in-law were downstairs. Aunt Julie and her family stayed there as well. 

We joined some of the family and bridal party at the house Jessica was renting for a fabulous dinner she had cooked for everyone. The girls especially loved meeting their little second cousin, Ares (also known as Kicker). Sweetest baby ever!

Jessica (the bride) with the kids. 

Day 9: October 23

We didn't have any obligations that day except for the rehearsal dinner in the evening, so we took a few hours and drove over to Fairfield, CA to tour the Jelly Belly Factory. 

Free tours, free candy -  how can you go wrong?

They have a sample bar where you can go through and pick three candies each time, unlimited times through. Along with all the normal flavors, they also have super gross ones, like stinky socks, boogers, vomit, dog food, and grass clippings. After smelling his stinky socks pick, Corban decided to just lick it. 

They didn't allow photos in most of the tour, but I did get a few at the beginning. They have some amazing displays of famous characters made entirely of Jelly Bellies. Some of them are composed of over 14,000 candies. Impressive!

They require hats for the tour. The day we were there, the flavor being made was Buttered Popcorn. 
It was a rather strong odor. Our tour guide told us that in an earlier tour, a kid had vomited from the smell. Nice. 

The girls at the Sample Bar. They went through the line a few times. 

The backyard of Jessica's rental house - where the rehearsal dinner was held. Isn't it beautiful? 

The family with Grant's lovely Aunt Julie. It was the girls' first time to meet her, and Corban's first that he could remember (he was 18 months old last time). Everyone just loves her!

 Day 10: October 24 (Wedding Day!)

It was fun to have breakfast with Grandma and Grandpa every morning. The hotel had a really great breakfast, and the best part was, I didn't have to cook or clean up! :) 

Ellia and Miranda were flower girls - posing with the bridal party before the wedding. 

Like my dress? I do. :) My sister Anna gave it to me a few weeks before the wedding. She had gotten it at a thrift store awhile back and it didn't up fitting her just right. I was thrilled that it fit me really well! 
I did have a bit of a wardrobe malfunction, however. We had just arrived at the wedding venue for family photos and Grant noticed that one of the halter straps was ripping from the dress. Ever resourceful, he jogged off to find the hotel lobby (which was a little ways down the road) to get a little emergency sewing kit. Upon his return, he quickly made the repair (he's great at hand sewing jobs) and we were off to take photos. 

Cute little flower girls - Ellia and Miranda, with their new friend Maddie. 

Annika and Marissa

Marissa with Grandma at cocktail hour

So  pretty!

Cousin Drew with Ellia. She absolutely adored him. 

Drew's son Alessio with Corban. Those two hit it off really well. 

Miranda with Grant's Uncle Randall

Grandpa and Grandma all dressed up - looking fantastic!

Here come the flower girls!

Jessica and Rick - amazing couple!

The dinner was simply fabulous. I had the Sea Bass and it was some of the best fish I've ever eaten. 

The wedding was just an exquisite event. We had so much fun spending time with the family, dancing and feasting and making wonderful memories. 

I didn't get good photos during the dinner and dancing because the lighting was a bit dim, so we'll just end it here. 

Whew.  Longest post ever. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...