So, back in 2009, my family decided to take a vacation. Long overdue, and well-earned. See, I had been, in 2008, on travel for no less than 30 weeks throughout the year. Monday through Friday, with the occasional Sunday through Friday. That takes a toll on a family.
As a result, at the end of February, we packed our bags and flew. To California. To visit some friends, see some sights, and make some memories. And we did all three. It’s hard to believe it was nearly 4 years ago. We’ve been on a few vacations in the past. Galveston for 3 day weekend, Rehoboth Beach for a week. So, we know that we do vacations very differently. This would be completely different.
10 days. Not exactly “sunny” California at the end of February and early March, but much better than central New York winter – that’s for sure. Sure, there was some sightseeing, but this introvert (me) had another agenda as well – to visit with some friends.
After a long Thursday of flying and running through airports, we made it to LAX and found our way to the hotel. I think it was around 10pm or so (three time zones from home!) and, much to my bride’s concern, we were on “the 405” within a matter of minutes of leaving the Hertz counter. Thankfully, we had Ken, our trusty GPS with his authentic Australian accent and terminology.
The next morning (Friday), we were back in the car again, headed up to the Sacramento area to visit a friend and his wife for the weekend. San Francisco, cablecars, the Golden Gate Bridge. Windy, but fun. And Kelly? He’s a heck of a cook. Both he and his wife were completely gracious to us and to our princesses – 9 and 7 at the time. The highlight for me was sharing a beer or 3 with him out on his back porch with his washing machine firepit. And there might have been a beer and grocery run in there, too.
If it weren’t for our GPS, we’d probably still be looking for the hotel that Sunday night. Drizzle/rain (not normal for southern California) met us entering into the Anaheim area. Monday was for the Princesses. Disney. And not in Orlando. It’s one thing to experience the Magic Kingdom in Florida with all the space available to the WDW properties. It’s completely incredible to see it in the middle of downtown Anaheim.
Fairies, Princesses, Roger Rabbit, Indiana Jones, and Jedis were on the docket for the day. Tiring, but the girls were champs. Even in the midst of a brief afternoon shower. It ‘almost’ felt like Florida. The lines for the fairies and princesses were a total of 2 hours. And, my bride let me take off for a few rides that the girls didn’t want to go on. And, we couldn’t go without seeing where our friend worked (he gave us the passes for the park) – and where Johnny Depp could be found in the Pirates of the Caribbean.
Tuesday found us off to the San Diego Zoo. If you’re ever in southern California, you absolutely must go to the zoo. Yes, it beats the National Zoo in DC. But then again, the National Zoo is free. San Diego is a small fortune. Dinner had us eating with Jeff and Franny and their boys. Jeff was a friend of mine from a series of retreats we had been on – at different times – and met each other online. Yes, online community is real. If you’re here reading, you probably found me on Facebook or Twitter. So, you might understand.
Wednesday, we took a break. Breath of fresh air. We hung out in Seal Beach, walking through the shops and just enjoying the quiet for once. (again, I’m an introvert, so you’d think I’d be all over this kind of thing all week long). Frankly, it was nice. About the halfway point on the trip. A time to catch our breath. After the beach, we headed inland to Yorba Linda to have dinner with Farrell and Barb. Unrelated. Barb lived there and Farrell just was there for business. Again, friends.
Thursday, we headed to Legoland. That was probably one of the highlights of the trip for me. The Princesses could ride just about anything in the park without us. I know it sounds selfish, but it was awesome to experience a bit of their independence. Even got them driver’s licences from the “driving test” ride.
A smile on my face as I remember. Interestingly enough, the park was pretty empty, so the ride operators allowed them multiple rides in a row until they wanted to get off. After the park, we headed to Rite Aid for some ice cream. If you’ve never had Rite Aid’s hand-dipped ice cream out there in California, you’ve not lived. And it’s not something we can get on the east coast.
Friday, the plan was absolutely nothing. Unfortunately, so far, the trip had been all about me and the girls. I had failed to see what was important to my bride. Evidently, she wanted to see the Hollywood sign and see the Walk of Fame. That was it. So, that’s what we did. And had lunch at the Disney Store where (the Princesses shrieked) Zac Efron and the cast of High School Musical had eaten. Yes, you’d think we won the lottery with that one, folks.
Dinner was shared with Sailon and Tammie and Sean and Laural back in Seal Beach before saying goodbye to California and returning home the following day.
As always, 2 nights of sleep in my own bed before going back to work.
So, what does a vacation look like to you? Are you doing too much? Doing too little? Getting enough me time? Share.