Southern California was all about amusement parks, entertainment, and things that were manufactured. Northern California was about slowing down and appreciating nature and its beauty.
We flew up to San Jose airport on Friday afternoon. We flew Southwest, and they were so friendly (as advertised!). Charlotte got to go into the cockpit, and even got invited to try out the pilot's seat.
|With the pilot and co-pilot|
|Totally ready to fly this thing|
After landing and renting our car, we drove out to Big Basin Redwoods State Park to check out the trees. The kids were exhausted and fell asleep on our way out there, despite the road being narrow and winding and Eric getting nearly carsick just driving there. Benjamin threw a tantrum when we told him we were getting out and going on a hike (0.6 miles total, nothing strenuous), but he quickly warmed up and then enjoyed climbing on trees and looking at nature.
|Benjamin at the top of the fallen tree trunk|
|In the tree hollow|
|3 peanuts in the woods|
On Saturday, we attended the wedding rehearsal and then drove south to Monterey Bay. We made 2 pit-stops on our way: 1 for me to buy a bag of cherries at a roadside stand, and 1 for lunch at In-N-Out burger. It turns out that Asher likes hamburgers! Charlotte had French fries and soda for lunch.
The aquarium was amazing. We saw the sea otters and admired their cuteness. We could have been there for hours and hours more, but we had to get back to Los Altos for my cousin's rehearsal dinner.
|The family at Monterey Bay|
We got beautified in a hurry, and went off to the wedding, which took place at the most beautiful wedding site I have ever seen. The ceremony site was in a glen surrounded by redwood trees, and the rest of the location was indescribable. There was a little train circling the property, a fairy cottage, a gigantic chess board, and beautiful surprises around every corner. My cousin had hired babysitters to take the kids after the ceremony, so we were free to enjoy ourselves. The kids ran around and explored and didn't even talk to us.
|The kids were part of the procession|
|Charlotte wore the same dress our flower girl wore at our wedding|
|Unfortunately in motion, but Benjamin was adorable|
|Asher on the stairs away from the ceremony site|
|On the throne at the edge of the chess board|
|With Meema and Papa Nick|
I don't know if we planned to leave the wedding early, but we didn't- we stayed til the end and didn't get the kids in bed until 11 pm! They had certainly adjusted to west coast time. I was awake before everyone in the morning and got in a run.
We went to the after-wedding brunch on Monday, and then drove up to Berkeley to see my mom's cousin and his wife- my mom's cousin was at work, but we spent time with his wife, and played Old Maid, but no one remembered the rules. I love Berkeley, but it seemed like Eric was having anxiety from the height of the hills. The views are unbelievable- another city I would love to live in.
|San Francisco and the bay from the Berkeley hills|
|A stop for ice cream before we left|
From Berkeley we went back to San Jose to return our rental car and begin the trek home. Whatever great travel karma we had, we'd used up, apparently. Nothing disastrous, but our flight out of San Jose was to LAX, where we would get on a red-eye home to Philadelphia. We had a short layover, and then they started delaying our flight. I went up to a gate agent and said, "We have a short layover in LA... are we going to be ok?" and she said, "Let me route you through Phoenix." So instead of a short flight and then a long flight, we had two shorter flights. The good part was that our flight from Phoenix was fairly empty and we had space to stretch out and sleep. All 3 kids slept the whole flight. We arrived in Philadelphia and rushed to get our bags in the hopes of getting home for a couple of hours of sleep before I took the kids to a half day of camp and myself to a full day of work. 3 of our 4 bags arrived, and then the belt stopped and... no 4th bag. I marched off to the lost luggage office, and we waited around for an additional 45 minutes in order to be told it had jammed the belt and they'd deliver it later. We got in a cab just in time to sit in rush our traffic going home. We had to go to my parents' house because in our absence work had begun on our master bath. We did get there in time for a couple of hours of rest, and then we were off and running- vacation was over.
It's now 3 weeks later and I can't stop thinking about what a great trip we had. It was worth every dollar we spent, and we made memories that will stay with us forever. I loved the time with my family of 5. All 3 kids were wonderful travelers and good company. We are fortunate to have children who are flexible and adaptable and comfortable wherever we go- it makes me want to keep up the exploring.