Summer SoCal Visit 2016

On August 1st, the boys and I packed up the van and headed to SoCal for a week’s visit. Our first stop was an overnight visit in Altadena with the Kimble/Randall family. The boys were ecstatic — particularly Ezra, who misses Jack a lot. They spent most of the afternoon in the pool.


They also enjoyed sharing their latest and greatest video games and apps.


We went to dinner at our old haunt, El Patron, but I was too busy enjoying the good food and company to take any pictures. After a good night’s sleep, the boys spent the morning doing the same things they’d done the afternoon before — screens and pool.


We went to lunch at Du-par’s (new to Pasadena since we left) and enjoyed the best pancakes and french toast around. Jack and Ezra continued to acquaint each other with their latest obsessions.


After a couple of quick stops in Pasadena, we hit the freeway again and made our way to our final destination in Laguna Beach. When I’d asked the boys earlier in the summer what they wanted to make sure to do while we were in Laguna, they looked at me like I was crazy and said, “Beach time.” (Duh.) So, that first afternoon we wasted little time before hitting the beach. Happy children (and moms) all around.



After several hours on the beach and a thorough de-sanding back at the house, we had dinner on the deck. I think the kids were making menus here.


Cari and I had a plan to avoid too much kid screen time this year by getting them out for early excursions. Our first one was Wednesday morning when we packed up all the bikes and drove to Del Obispo Community Park in Dana Point. Cari and I had walked the bike path up to San Juan Capistrano when I came for the short visit in June. It was a lovely, flat path that we thought the kids would enjoy riding — especially with the promise of brunch at Ruby’s Diner at the end. Well, the best laid plans … Poor Cari had all sorts of trouble with her new bike and got quite a workout before her brakes were properly adjusted. Pedaling is hard enough without having your brakes constantly rubbing your wheels. The other main problem was the closure of the bike path, which detoured us onto regular streets. They weren’t terrible, but it wasn’t the quiet, pleasant route Cari and I had experienced.

At any rate, we finally got there, found the dismal bike parking, and had a nice breakfast. The whole thing was hectic enough that I have no pictures from the ride. After breakfast we decided to visit Mission San Juan Capistrano, which, I have to say, was amazing. Given that Finn will be studying the California Missions this year as part of the standard fourth grade curriculum, I thought it was great timing for this visit. They had a craft table where the kids made corn husk dolls.



When they were finished, we got our audio tours going and walked around the grounds on a self-guided tour. Or rather, three self-guided tours as the big kids, little kids, and adults all headed in separate directions.





It’s really an interesting and very well preserved place. Here are some shots of the buildings and grounds.




Finally we managed to gather everyone together for an attempt at a picture with the bells. It wasn’t easy.


After a trip through the gift shop (we escaped without buying anything!) we retrieved the bikes and started our ride back. I have one photo of some of our cyclists.


The ride back was about three miles but took much less time and seemed much shorter now that all of the problems had been worked out. I think the kids were all pleasantly surprised that it was quick and easy.

In the afternoon we headed back to the beach with the new boogie boards Cari had picked up at Costco on the way home from the bike ride.


There were conventional and unconventional uses for the boards.



Back at the house, we enjoyed the sunset from the deck.



After another nice dinner, we instituted an early bedtime. This is Finn, passed out before 9:00 pm, the sign of a successful day.


Thursday’s adventure was to San Diego, where we stopped for burgers …


… and a carousel ride …


… before walking along the waterfront over to the USS Midway.



Once onboard this enormous “City at Sea” as they call it, we quickly discovered that a) they have a Junior Pilot program for kids (answer some questions about the ship and earn wings), b) the map was not exactly easy to follow, and c) the kids wanted to give up on the Junior Pilot program. Cari and I encouraged (forced?) them to continue and it turned out to be a pretty good way to see the main parts of the ship. Here are some photos from our tour.




As evidenced by this photo of Ruby, she was not at all happy with the part of the tour that took us pretty deep into the bowels of the ship.


She was a good sport and managed a smile here.


It was super hot and claustrophobic at this point, and it took us a while to wind our way back up to fresh air. The boys were OK and particularly enjoyed the area with the anchor and the knot-tying demonstrations.




We passed through officers’ quarters, the kitchen, sick bay, and lots of other places. They liked this room a lot — can’t remember what it’s called but it had a lot of cool gadgets.



We finally made our way to the flight deck, and even though we’d all just about it had enough for the day, we looked around at the enormous array of planes and took in the views.


With some arm-twisting, we’d managed to finish the Junior Pilot program so the kids got sworn in and got their wings.




The drive back to Laguna was loaded with traffic, so we stopped part way and got dinner at a hipster pizza place. We made it back safely, exhausted from a great day.

The next day, Friday, we made our traditional pilgrimage by trolley to the candy store. Here are the boys enjoying their huge bags of candy. I’m not sure how they always manage to get so much more than I mean for them to get.


In the afternoon we went back for more beach time. It’s really too bad that the kids don’t enjoy each other’s company at all.





Ezra spent a lot of time digging a giant hole.


That evening after putting the kids to bed I picked up Bruce from the airport. We were so happy he was able to join us this trip since the last two trips have been thwarted by work. No Google interference this time though; he was ours for the weekend!

We went to Balboa Island on Saturday, something Cari and I do a lot with the kids but we’ve never had the dads join. After taking the ferry over to the island, the first stop, as usual, was the arcade.



Ruby won the jackpot, which is amazing since Chapin won it not long ago. Lucky kids!

We then had lunch, rented a couple of bikes for Rob and Bruce, and took a bike ride on the along the beach. I thought it went OK, but we were a big group and it was super crowded, so not my favorite ride. Plus, my pedal broke off which was unfortunate. Luckily Bruce took one for the team and switched bikes with me. He made good time riding back. We hopped on the ferry again and made our way back to Laguna.


Of course, there was another great dinner and a gorgeous sunset.


To top it off, we had stackers for dessert.


The kids (of all ages) were in heaven.


For our last beach day, we packed up everything we thought we could possibly need and drove to Dana Point. It was another beautiful day.




I could’ve stayed for another week but sadly we had to get home, so on Monday morning we packed up for the drive. We stopped at Zankou Chicken in Pasadena for lunch (oh, how we miss Zankou), and then hit the road for real. Ezra had his first middle school event the next day. What a great trip this was; the best way to finish off our summer vacation!