Monday, July 15, 2013

Southern California Vacation

In May we took the kids to Southern California to visit Sea World, LEGOLAND and local San Diego attractions. We broke up the drive by stopping in Las Vegas. Sin City has really gotten worse than I remembered it.  Even the hotel pool was not appropriate for the kids to play in. That was a disappointment. Next time we'll stay as far away from the strip as possible.

Aside from that, the trip was a lot of fun! We got to see our wonderful TX neighbor Liz who has since moved to Southern California to be closer to her kids and grandkids. The weather was great, there were very few people at the parks. In fact, we got to ride our favorite roller-coasters back to back without having to wait in line.

On our drive through the canyon between St. George and Las Vegas we had to pull over to let Carson go to the bathroom. I saw Todd take him to a nearby bush partially hidden from the road. He helped Carson pull down his pants and almost immediately afterwards Todd made a huge leap backwards with Carson in his arms. There was a big rattle snake hidden below the bush were Carson was about to pee.

He didn't see the snake but heard the rattle. A police pulled over a few minutes later to make sure we were doing all right. When we told him about our experience he wasn't surprised. I guess there are a lot of snakes in that area.

On Sunday we visited the new Mormon Battalion exhibit in Old Town San Diego. It is a very neat place to take the kids. They learned about some of the first settlers in the area (the members of the Mormon Battalion who chose to remain in California), the searched for gold and dressed up as one of the soldiers who made the trek.
We also visited the San Diego temple. The grounds were beautiful.

Sea World was very entertaining for the kids. We brought our own ponchos and got to sit in the Splash zone (first few rows) for the dolphin show and the whale show. It was worth it! It is amazing to see a huge killer whale propel its whole body outside the water.  We were instructed to make a tail with our hand by joining our thumbs side to side and fan our hands back and forth. That is the signal the animals recognize for splashing.

As you can see by the picture below the animals don't hold back. There a few people in front of us who decided it to brave it without any protection. They got drenched.

We spend two days at LEGOLAND. We went through the entire park on the first day and went back for our favorite rides on the second day. The rides are really geared towards kids 4+ years old. They base their rides primarily on height not age.  Carson is a tall three year old so he was able to do a lot of them with adult supervision. We just had to keep trading off holding Stella.

Stella was the star of the trip. Any time foreign Asian tourist saw her, they had to photograph her. It happens even now everywhere we go. She didn't mind the attention one bit.

Emilia was fearless on the roller coaster rides. She did them all at least twice. She was grinning from ear to ear after each time.

One of the days we visited Balboa park. I loved the architecture of the buildings. It reminded me of being in Europe.  The San Diego Model Rail Road Museum is housed at the park. I think Carson liked it as much if not more than the amusement parks we went to.

We spent half a day just watching miniature trains run through scaled replicas of actual California tracks.  These trains are maintained by hobbyists who vie for the coveted spot of club member of the San Diego Model Rail Road Museum.

We joked with one of the volunteer staff about adding graffiti to one of the train cars to make it more realistic. He told us that a member had done just that to one of his trains on display and that he had been expelled from the club for violating some museum code. They really take their job seriously.

One of the rooms has a train with a camera mounted on the front to show what at train operator sees as he/she travel inside the train. The kids had a fun time making faces as the train approached and then running to see themselves on the TV screen around the corner.

My favorite part of the trip was walking along the seashore. We walked along Coronado Island and Cabrillo national park. I don't so much care to sit in the sand and hang out, or even to get in the water, but I absolutely love to walk along the beach.
There are so many things to observe: the uniqueness of the people, the local nature and architecture.
In La Jolla we got to see sea lions up close. They are such beautiful creatures.  In Coronado Island we spent a long time observing some military exercises off the coast. A helicopter would hover really low above the sea, drop several soldiers in the water and then lift up. The soldiers would then take turns climbing up a latter coming down from the helicopter. Once they were all up they would go through the same exercise again, and  again and again.

These are just a few of the things we did during out trip. The best part was that we got to do it together as a family.