Friday, August 7, 2009

From the Ocean, to the Mountains

Last week we had a family vacation. Eric and I think it was the first true family trip with the boys that we've ever done without some event included in the trip like holidays or birthdays, and without staying at a family members house. And it was the adventure, let me tell you.

We packed up Saturday morning with a small snag and a trip to the ER. My mom came over to help watch the boys as Eric and I wrapped up the last few items and loaded the car. I asked her to please water the garden before we left so she grabbed Austin and out she went. It seemed to be taking her a long while to water the plants, but I was getting so much done I didn't think twice about it. When I had made it back in I noticed she was sitting in the kitchen with a rag on her foot. I asked if she needed something and to make a long story short and less bloody, we had to take her to the ER because she rolled her foot and landed on a dried orange branch which had spikes all over it and a huge 1+ inch spike went right into the inside of her foot. Yuck! But they got it out and she was doing fine.

So then we headed down to the Monterey and stopped at the Children's Museum in San Jose. It was so much fun. The kid played with huge bubbles, shooting water and all kinds of other neat educational and fun things. We arrived there a little later than we wanted but then we stayed until it closed. I think the kids really enjoyed it as they had never experienced something as big as that with as many hands on things. It is somewhere we will be going to again.

The next day we headed down to the ocean. I think my kids could play on the beach all day if I would let them. It was a cool day, but other than that the weather was perfect. Eric and I headed down to Canary Row for lunch and had some award winning clam chowder in a bread bowl over-looking the bay. Perfection. Oh I am getting hungry just thinking about the the soup though. It was creamy but not too heavy with the perfect blend of seasoning and herbs. The bread was crunchy and buttery on the outside yet light and fluffy in the middle and was topped with garlic, parsley and butter on the top. Ummmmm, hang on, I'll be right back, I just going to drive down there for another bite real quick... be right back -

Well, I can always wish right? Our hotel in Monterey was awesome. It's a must stay if you are going to be down there. It is right on the ocean, and has its own beach in front. When Eric and I stayed there some 6+ years ago, I remember the tide came in so high that night it was hitting up against the hotel wall so loud it was hard to sleep. As I was putting Austin down for his nap I saw a seal swimming by in the sea just outside my window. The kids couldn't believe their luck that they could see the ocean all day from the room. We hit the aquarium on our final day to end the ocean visit. It was the kids first time and they LOVED IT! The sea horse exhibit was whimsical and the jelly fish exhibit was spectacular as always. Tanner liked the penguins and Ty held a hermit crab. All three boys touched star fish and we all loved the otters. By the end of the day, we were ready to go, but the memories made that weekend were priceless.

With only one nights rest we turned around and headed up the mountain this time to join my parents in Tahoe, or as the Lawrence family calls it, Lake Taco. We camped at a site called Fallen Leaf, and I promise I will never camp anywhere else if I can help it. I was truly a little slice of heaven. The site was so clean and basically bugless. There is access to Fallen Leaf lake, and right across the way is Lake Taco. The kids loved exploring in nature. We saw lots of chipmonks, some beautiful birds and even a bear. Yup, we saw a bear.

I have never had that experience that I can recall while camping. I know they always tell you, 'Lock up your food and watch out for bears' every time you check in, but the chances of having one visit you always seems rare. Apparently, this bear chose to change this thought for me. The first night we arrived is when this exciting event happened. We had just finished dinner and I had put Austin to bed when we heard in the distance the clanging of pans. My dad jumped to it and started the clean up. My mom and I lagged because we wanted to confirm the noise was an actual warning and not someone cleaning their dinner up. After some debate over the matter a group circled around our campsite with flashlights and headed up the opposite was on the next camp road. As we stood watching, again trying to figure out if this was real or if it was a hoax, we heard a woman yell, 'stay back, stop, stay back.' Was she trying to stop the silly kids causing everyone unnecessary worry or was she sounding out a warning, I wasn't sure. My confusion quickly turned to a very clear picture when all the flash lights turned beaming onto me and my family and the words of the other campers became very clear to us as the yelled 'It's right there! It's right there!' The bear was coming right for us. I grabbed Ty and Tanner and started for the car when I had a fleeting moment of panic realizing Ausitn was asleep in the tent a good 40 feet from me and the car was in the opposite direction. But as I voice my concern Eric ran for the tent and got the baby and joined us in the car safely. The bear stopped at our bear box, and hung out for a minute. After banging at the box and realizing it was sealed shut he moved on. Needless to say, it was a very sleepless night for us know something could happen again, although gratefully we never saw old smokey again.

The rest of camping wasn't as eventful, but still very enjoyable, and much more laid back than the bear incident. I think the boys rode their bike 75% of every day. They also fished and swam in the lake, played games and ate a bunch of food. By the end of the week a group of friends my dad has know since high school and college joined us. It was neat to see old friends back together and my boys enjoyed having new subjects to entertain! We had such a wonderful time it was hard to leave at the end of the week.

So now we are home and all the laundry has been washed and put away. It took me a good 48 hours to recoup from the excursion but I am already longing for the next Lawrence adventure.

Check out galleries from our trip here


Alexis said...

those last three pics are adorable! It makes me want a family vacation so bad!

Diana said...

I still think it's hilarious that all 4 of us girls were there the same weekend and didn't run into each other...

The Dolloff Family said...

What a fun trip. You guys sure packed a lot into your adventure. The clam chower & bread sounds amazing. I wish I had some right now.

We were at Fallen Leaf Lake July 24-25. Did we cross paths & not know it? I am glad we did see any bears though. I would have gotten even less sleep. I can't imagine how scary that must have been!