Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Family Trip 2013

Ron was asked to present at a conference in San Diego, CA, in January. We had been toying with the idea of taking the kids to Florida this winter to do the non-Disney version of that state (the Keys, Daytona, Sea World, Busch Gardens, etc.) because we know that when we do go to Disney World there won't be time for the other things that Florida has to offer. But when this opportunity came up we quickly changed our idea and made this conference into a family trip instead! Ron was busy with the conference for just 1 1/2 days so the rest of the week was a great time touring around. We arrived on Saturday and settled into our hotel late in the evening. The conference was at Hotel del Coronado on Coronado just across the bay from San Diego. It was stunning! This is the view from our room.

Just beyond the pool was the ocean. It was a beautiful location and a beautiful hotel.

Sunday we spent at Sea World. The shows there are amazing and it was one of the highlights of the trip. We saw a very funny sea lion show, the beauty of the orcas and an amazing dolphin show. The dolphin show was so captivating, it was a wildlife show and Cirque du Soleil show wrapped into one. The girls decided they wanted to work with the dolphins and Nathan thought he'd like to be one of the people diving off the trampolines from 40ft in the air! The costumes and wet suits were so colourful they almost had us believing they were the macaws they were trying to imitate!

Monday we went to the San Diego Zoo. We have to admit that this was a big disappointment coming from Sea World. At Sea World the animals are constantly moving and there are entertaining shows. At the zoo the animals are rather lethargic in their cages and there is no extra entertainment. Don't get me wrong, compared to our local zoo this zoo is rather impressive, but the animals were rather boring here too. In hindsight I think the Safari Park may have been our better choice, or we should've gone to the zoo first and then to Sea World.

Tuesday and Wednesday was spent at the hotel for Ron's conference. Ron had Tuesday morning off so he & Nathan took surfing lessons from an instructor at the hotel. Nathan caught on instantly, the first time out he was up on the board and surfed to shore. He was stoked! It took Ron a bit longer to catch on but he did and both of them can hardly wait to do it again! The girls had a great time playing on the sand and running away from the waves. We were also wined and dined by representatives from the company that brought us down to the conference. The kids did very well in fancy restaurants and people commented on how well behaved they were. We didn't even have to threaten them before we left the hotel! The restaurants we were at were overlooking the bay so there was a lot of activity going on that the kids could watch and the views, even in the dark all lit up, were unlike anything we see here!

I combined two pictures so it's not great but it gives you an idea at how much they enjoyed surfing!
Running from the waves!

Thursday we spent driving up to Anaheim so we could go to Disneyland for two days. We took our time and found a town that has "the best donuts we've ever had", according to Ron & Larissa. We had been searching for a place for lunch and came across a little restaurant that was also a bakery. We took more of a direct route to Anaheim, rather than a scenic one, just so we could get there and get settled. We found a hotel, drove around to get our bearings, did some shopping, bought our Disney tickets, swam in the pool and just enjoyed our day.

Friday was Disneyland day! Thanks to a friend of ours who gave us a book on how to navigate Disneyland we weren't so overwhelmed walking in. The first character we met was Goofy, everyone in our family loves him so it was a great welcome! We had a great day doing different rides, watching the parade and enjoying the beautiful weather. The girls got to meet Princess Jasmine from the movie Aladdin and we also met Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Tigger and Eeyore. It was quickly discovered that the kids aren't quite at the stage where rollercoasters are what they like so Ron was generous enough to spend over an hour with the kids so I could stand in line and ride Space Mountain by myself. I sure missed the friends I screamed my lungs out with on that coaster in Disney World about 27 years ago! It didn't seem nearly as scary as I remembered it to be! They did other rides while waiting for me and they only "wasted" about 10 minutes in a gift shop. It was agreed that the Toy Story ride in Tomorrowland was the family favourite that day. Who doesn't want to shoot Zurg with lazers?! We watched the fireworks show in the evening and the kids thought there would never, ever be a show like that ever again. "It was really, really, really, good!"

Saturday was Diney's California Adventure Park day! Here we met Donald, Flick (from A Bug's Life) and Mater (from Cars). Again, the favourite ride in this park was the Toy Story Mania ride. It was different from the one in Tomorrowland but the kids thought it was "awesome"! The Little Mermaid ride was also a hit with the girls. We convinced everyone to do a roller coaster, Bethany hadn't been on one yet, but this one looked tame so she thought she'd try it. She hated it. The girl that we thought would love roller coasters hated this one! Larissa, on the other hand, loved it so much she convinced Ron, who is not a roller coaster rider either, to go on it twice! I went on California Screamin' by myself. I loved it! Although, I have discovered that roller coasters are not nearly as much fun if you don't have someone you know screaming right along beside you. We got a fastpass for the World of Color show that night. That is a display of wonder. Colourful water shooting out of the pond is perfectly choreographed to the music and screens made from the water's mist have scenes from Disney movies projected on them. This is a ride for the emotions. Nathan thought nothing could beat the fireworks display from Disneyland but he said he was wrong. This show was amazing. The kids were either happy or scared plus in awe the entire show. They were so tired by the end of our second day that we weren't sure how they would enjoy having to stand and watch a show at the end of the day but it's Disney, they keep you captivated. Larissa was almost crying she enjoyed the show so much! We were all exhausted and sore at the end of our two days but realized that Disney just might be what it claims to be, the happiest place on earth!

Sunday we slowly headed back to San Diego to catch our flight home Monday morning. This time we took the scenic route along the ocean. We stopped at a few beaches along the way and made it back to San Diego in time for supper. Ron "had" to stop at the same bakery we found on the way up to Anaheim but discovered that a lot of those places are closed on Sundays. He was very disappointed. He was seriously thinking about contacting them to see if they'd ship their donuts up here. That guy is donut crazy! The kids were so tired that they didn't even ask to go swimming in the hotel pool that night.

We had a good travel day Monday with a short delay in Denver but we made it home safe and sound late that night.

It has been a couple of weeks since we've been back home and the kids are still talking about the trip. It was +20 to +25C while we were in California which was a stark contrast to the -47C, with the windchill, it had been here at home. It warmed up here when we got back but we've hit a bit of a cold spell again that the kids are wishing we could go back to San Diego just for warmer weather. The morning the kids went back to school Nathan said he felt so bulky putting on his winter gear again. Larissa fell in love with the dolphins at Sea World that she's now thinking she may want to work with them when she grows up. Bethany woke up one morning shortly after we got back and said that she could hardly wait until we went to San Diego. I reminded her that we had already been there and were now back home. She just looked at me and exclaimed, "But we're going back again!"

The trip was the perfect amount of activities and down time. We made so many wonderful memories as a family that this trip just may be hard to beat. However, the point of family trips isn't to try to always outdo the last one but to add to the memories and grow closer together and form a bond that will carry us through whatever lies ahead.

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