Actually, we got back 10 days ago - I needed a few days to recover, organize my meals, sort the mail, and do all the responsible 'adulting' things.This will be a long post as we did a LOT. 44 American License Plates found, and plenty of punch buggy fists were thrown between myself and Curtis.
In case you didn't read the last couple of posts, I left you in San Diego, where we enjoyed the San Diego Zoo, Coronado Beach, and Legoland. A brief overview of each attraction is described.
San Diego Zoo: Our airbnb was a short 5 minutes' drive from the zoo. Incredibly convenient as we were there from opening to about 3:30pm. Long day for two little girls! We pretty much covered the entire zoo on foot, only taking a break for lunch and nursing/snack breaks. I'll never forget hearing my 3 year old tell us "come ON! We need to go and see the other animals!". Her favorite animal was the jaguar; I'll never forget the look on her face when she told me that the jaguar had "scary eyes".
|Love this :)|
Legoland: We spent our last full day at this awesome theme park - actually, we were there from opening to closing time! Needless to say, both our girls went nuts there. Rachel was ecstatic to meet the Lego friends (Stephanie, Emma, Mia and Olivia). Miniland USA was my favorite part of the park - the amount of time and creativity it took to complete the project! Oh, and we also saw Emmet from the Lego Movie too. That was awesome!
|We made it!|
All worth it. Every penny was spent well. We even had a mini snack (it was a highlight) - Granny's apple fries complete with whipping cream, no regrets having that one.
Tip: When planning a trip to San Diego, look up the Go San Diego Card. We used this feature to build our package and it saved us some money. Plus, it helped us avoid long line ups for tickets.
From San Diego, we made our way up to nearby Anaheim.
DISNEYLAND! (3 days)
Need I say more? I think the happiest place on earth for me was seeing my daughters absolutely mesmerized by the Fairy Tale Princesses. It did take a day for my 3 year old to realize that they were the actual princesses (at least, in her mind). Then, she fuh-reaked (freaked) out. Literally, she kept asking us "can we go back and see the princesses!??!" I could go on. To keep the word count to a minimum, here are some of the highlights (other than meeting the princesses):
- Taking both girls to It's a Small World ride. We've been listening to that song in the car for MONTHS and it was amazing to actually see their faces when they could put a name to the song.
- FastPass/RideSwap is AWESOME for parents traveling with little ones. Curtis and I managed to do some 'adult' rides - Hyperspace Mountain, Star Tours, The Cars Ride. No FastPass = No Ride. There's no way I'll wait 3 hours in line just for one ride.
- The Peter Pan ride: hearing Rachel say "Mommy, it's a little dark. Don't be scared. It's ok. It's just pretend flying". I was not expecting my 3 year old to be so nurturing!
- The submarine ride: in all the years that I've been to Disney, this was the first time I'd done this ride! Worth the 45 minute wait!
- Taking both our girls on their very first Ferris Wheel ride at dusk. Back story: my husband and I absolutely love Ferris Wheels - even when we were dating. It's kind of a love story underlying sort of thing.
- The Parade! No words needed. Sarah went bonkers when she saw the floats. I literally had to keep her from flying off me.
- Actually pulling off 12-13 hour days on foot. I've never felt so exhausted (and so exhilarated) in my life. I think my pedometer was in shock.
|This is us at hour 11.|
Tips for Disneyland (with a 3 year old and a near 10 month old):
- Get your sleeping arrangements organized. We staggered naps. When Sarah napped, it was often tag duty. One of us would take Rachel to see either a show or to a ride. During Rachel's naps, Sarah went into the backpack - while mom and dad went for a ride. It was awesome!
- A single, compact stroller is easier to manage than a wide double stroller. Especially if you have to take the train from the Mickey and Friends' parking lot to the park gate.
- Bring as many snacks as you can. All the snacks. Your wallet will thank you. We only bought food when we were in real need of actual food. It helps that we were staying at a vacation rental and had access to a large fridge.
- If going for the cars ride: go to the FastPass station right when opening rope drops. I took both girls to see Anna, Elsa, Kristoff and Olaf (3 year old flipped out once again!!!) while daddy went to get the tickets. Saved us 4 hours of waiting time!
- Plan your days at the parks as best as you can. We chose to spend 2 days at the magic kingdom, and one at California Adventure.
- ALWAYS REMEMBER WHERE YOU PARK YOUR CAR!!! We spent a good 35 minutes searching for our car on the first day (and we were just exhausted) in the MASSIVE parking lot. At one point we thought someone took our car. MARK your section on your ticket!
- Take lots of Photos!!! Today, we saw some photos from our trip and just have these huge grins on our faces.
|Love this shot of my big girl!|
In between Disney days, we managed to have one full day at the vacation rental (doing nothing, except laundry and going to Church) and a day at Sunset Beach. Back to back days at the park would have killed us.
After a full week of extreme activity, we did a near 8 hour drive to...
San Francisco (!)
We were very fortunate to be able to stay with my dad's 'pleasant' cousin in the San Mateo area - they were incredibly hospitable (Peking Duck, and one of the best Dim Sums I've ever had!) and helped us through a MAJOR hiccup.
Our car got broken into!
We went out for dinner and came back to this sight. Thank heavens my cousin had his mini van with him so I could go home with the girls while Curtis slowly drove the car back. I've never had a theft happen to me, and literally had to stop myself from crying - that feeling of being violated was just awful. On the other hand, I was incredibly thankful that we were all safe and that nothing valuable had been taken. Our thieves now have a lovely picnic backpack and blanket to enjoy!
Due to the theft, we decided to skip our reservations for a guided tour of Alcatraz the next morning (tip: this needs to be booked at least 3 months in advance!). After all, we weren't even sure if we could get a replacement window in time before we headed to our next destination. Within 30 hours, we got a new window!
The rest of our travels in San Francisco brought us to Pier 39, where we enjoyed a lunch at Bubba Gump's Shrimp Restaurant. Excessive shrimp was eaten, and my girls enjoyed watching Forrest Gump while waiting for our food. With naptime looming, we drove past Ghiradelli Square, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Pacifica. Unlike San Diego and Anaheim, we definitely took it easy in this city. Our last full day there was spent mostly at the park in San Mateo (I forget the name), which was a real treat for our Rachel.
Before driving up North, we finally stopped for an In-and-Out Burger after seeing so many of their chains during our trip. It was simple, fast and absolutely delicious!
|The smiles on our faces say it all|
We stopped overnight in Eureka (!!!), our last Californian destination before entering Oregon. From there, we went to Florence (not in Italy, unfortunately) where we stayed at a hotel right by the ocean. The power went out in the middle of the night and it was absolutely pitch black - a little too scary for me since I like to be able to check on both my girls at night. Our next stop was actually Vancouver, WA but before heading there, we went to the Tillamook Cheese factory to get my beloved cheese. All 8Lbs of it! Note: the visitor's centre is going through a major renovation and won't be fully up and running until Summer 2018.
Since we pushed through most of our driving, we had the rare opportunity to spend two nights in Seattle! I've been coming to the area for many years, but never had the chance to properly "tour" downtown. Since our hotel was a 10 minute walk from the Link, we made our way to Pike Place Market. Boy was it ever crowded there on a weekday! No fish throwing for me to see, but we found Gum Alley, and even went on another ferris wheel (a little pricey in my opinion, but... ferris wheels are our thing!). My legs and bum burned for a couple hours after climbing the steep hills with a baby in the backpack and a sleeping toddler in the stroller.
On our last day in the US, I was able to stop by and see my great aunt - she's like a surrogate grandmother to me! It was amazing to introduce my 10 month old to her (and other family members).
|My great-auntie with my two girls!|
Now, that's a trip we'll never forget! All done with all our clothes in one suitcase. Minimalist traveling has never felt so amazing.