Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Grand Experiment

My Grand Experiment idea was born last summer while we were packing to leave San Diego.  Leaving is always a hard time - everyone gets quiet, moody and there's usually a few tears.  That's when I realized I wanted to spend more time there over the summer.  So all last year I saved my PTO and planned a massive, extended stay in San Diego.  

Then the job change and the move hit and all my saved PTO was no longer required.  But I was still determined to go.  So I took my hard-earned vacation hours, cashed out my last day with the State and bought plane tickets.

And true to my goal, we stayed the full 2 weeks.  Dad arrived through half of it.  My parents came for an extended weekend.  But other than that, it was just Mom and the babies.

What an adventure!     

#1 - Old Town.  

I LOVE the Mormon Battalion!  We go every time we're in San Diego.  It never fails to lift and inspire me.  I think I could sit on the front porch rocking chairs for days.  

The funny thing about faith, sometimes you need it to make a decision, and sometimes you need it after. - Mormon Battalion.

#2 - Balboa Park

If you ask my children, they'll say their favorite part of this day was renting the bike scooter/thing.  We biked all over Balboa Park, laughed far too much and yelled inside jokes to each other louder than we should have.  But what joy! 

#3 - La Jolla

Another one of my favorite spots.  This time we finally explored the cave walls and tunnels along the coast.  We also took the kids kayaking for the first time - something I was a bit nervous about.  But it was a very smooth ride, great fun and the boys did amazing! 

One of my favorite museum walls - "Brave Men Run In My Family" - yep.

#3 - Sea World

We've been here so many times over the past 7-8 years, we literally have every ride, pathway, exhibit memorized.  And yet we keep going back to the madness.   

#4 - La Jolla Beach

Warm water, awesome waves, tons of kids - we spent all day there! 

#5 - Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

Our family is kind of crazy about the Foodnetwork's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.  We try to visit some of the spots whenever we know we'll be in that specific town.  This time in San Diego, we chose the famous Studio Diner.  

It was salivatingly good!!  I got the highlighted Monte Cristo.  Greg got the steak burger.  We all walked away with full stomachs and big smiles.   

#6 - Los Angeles

I bravely - we're talking BRAVE here - took 1 day and trekked with my children into downtown Los Angeles.  My precious phone with our life-saving GPS almost died, we couldn't find a spot for lunch without getting into extreme chaos of traffic and people, and I almost wrecked our rental car.  

I hate this city.  With a passion.  There's only a few pockets of happiness left in this overcrowded, traffic-crazy, dirty, smelly, hole of civilization.  And these are two of them.

My Mom spent the last six months of her life here at the LDS Los Angeles Mission.  And this beautiful fig tree is the only remaining piece of the original mission home.  I adore this tree.  I have spent many hours with my 6yr old feet climbing up the limbs.  When I saw that it was still standing, I just broke down.  It was a terrible time for my family, but it was a peaceful, sheltered existence for me.  The Los Angeles temple has a special spot in my heart.  It's like an old friend that recognizes me when I walk around the grounds.  It was incredibly significant to share this with my children.  

The other spot in Los Angeles that is worth redemption is the La Brea Tar Pits.  We spent several hours at the museum and walking through the remaining pits - pits where they are STILL taking out hundreds and hundreds of bones.  It's fascinating and worth the stress of driving through Los Angeles to visit.  

And then there was the rest...  

Siblings had a few fights during the trip.  We had 1 InstaCare visit with Andrew and his foot getting badly cut.  1 minor meltdown at the beach (oldest).  And finally, we had to sprint across the entire Oakland airport (felt like it) to make our plane connection on the way home.  Barely, barely made it.

But we loved it!  We soaked up every moment!  And we already miss it.   

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