Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A California Birthday & Christmas

We left the Los Angeles area and headed a short bit down the road to a Thousand Trails park just outside of San Diego- Pio Pico. We debated staying at a non-TT park due to concerns that I heard about their lack of cellular service. Their concerns were real- we basically had no AT&T or Verizon signal, but I was able to make due with the iPhone's Wifi Calling feature (basicall, if I have Internet, I can make/take calls + send/receive texts). I paid an ungodly amount of money for 2 weeks of internet and it was fantastically crappy. But, it got it done.
Jamul, CA at Pio Pico Thousand Trails

Look close and you can see Alan way up on the hill in one of the chairs on the hill for where you can get cell service.
Cell phone seats on the hill

It's always special when the kids can find friends at the campgrounds and this was one of our first organic meetings of other fulltime families. There were 3 campers in a row and between the 3, there were 6 kids. Each kid had another that was within 1-2 years of their age, so we had 3 pairs. On top of that, we were all parked backing a common field, so it gave the kids some room to run and play.
Jamul, CA at Pio Pico Thousand Trails
Kids playing
Kids playing

For Paige's birthday, the one family made her cards.
Birthday cards for Paige

The other big excitement is that Grandma Lisa and Grandpa Alan were coming out for the holidays! Even better, we picked them up on Paige's birthday. My Aunt Suzette  made a steak lover out of my daughter with our visit back in August- to that end, we decided her birthday treat would be a dinner at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. Why yes I did take a 12 and 3 year old to Ruth's Chris, and it actually went pretty well.. until Logan tipped his seat backwards and crashed to the floor!
Paige and her personalized menu
Personalized menu at Ruth's Chris
Dinner is served!

We couldn't decide what to do about a tree. I didn't really want to buy and have to figure out storing one. Mandie didn't like the looks of the collapsible ones. Alan's idea was that it would feel real Christmassy if we went and cut down a tree. I found a "farm" about 45-60 minutes away that had them and that Saturday, we went to cut down a tree. A quick stop at Ace and we bought Christmas lights and the world's crappiest tree stand. We were set!
Christmas tree farm; photo by Grandma Lisa
Christmas tree farm; photo by Grandma Lisa
Christmas tree farm; photo by Grandma Lisa
Our tree all pretty and setup

Unfortunately, the wind took its toll a few days later:
The wind blew the canopy over and pushed it to the side
Christmas Tree Down

On Sunday, we went into San Diego to the USS Midway Museum. It's an aircraft carrier that they've turned into a museum. The size is astounding. They had vets giving presentations about launching and landing from the air craft carrier. All told, it was really informative and I highly recommend it.
USS Midway Museum, Junior Pilot Badge
Little pilot
Landing talk
Mandie and Logan on a helicopter
Logan on a helicopter
Getting their Junior Pilot wings

Keeping with the Christmas Spirit, Mandie found a neighborhood (well, 1 block) that goes all out with their Christmas decorations. We headed up the hill to that and enjoyed the lights.
Neighborhood Christmas Lights
Neighborhood Christmas Lights
Neighborhood Christmas, Santa's Workshop

For Christmas Eve, we watched the tide charts and went to the tide pools at Cabrillo National Monument. This was a pretty spectacular visit. Basically, at low tide- the water recedes and left behind are tide pools that are brimming with sea life. We saw plenty of hermit crabs, lots of sea urchins, crabs, anemones, and Mandie & I are pretty positive we saw an octopus scurry away.

It was chilly, but we still prepared to get wet. It was really nice to be able to walk through the water and really get close to these things. Plus, the area was downright gorgeous.
Us at Cabrillo National Monument
He's so crabby
The boy and I
Grandpa and Logan
Tidepool sea life guide

Up at visitor's center, the kids did the Junior Ranger programs and we took in the various exhibits.
Logan wearing armor
Junior Rangers

For Christmas, Mandie cooked cookies. Don't anyone tell you that you can't bake in a camper- the trick is to put a pizza stone in the bottom of the oven to disperse the heat.
Peanut Butter Kisses!
Chocolate chip cookies
Mom's Snow People
Christmas Decorations

Santa came and left the kids a ton of gifts (way too much with our small house!).
Ready for Santa
Christmas gifts

We upheld our Christmas morning tradition of ooey gooey cinnamon rolls.
Christmas morning tradition - cinnamon rolls!

And, we even packaged a plate of goodies for the 2 neighbor families.
Plates for new friends

Dinner was cooked as a team effort. Our other Christmas dinner secret- we bought an inexpensive roasting pan from Walmart that we donated after Christmas.
Christmas dinner!
Christmas dinner!

Last year (2014), we spent Christmas in Key West and were able to go kayaking and swimming on Christmas day. This year (2015), we talked about Paige going surfing on Christmas day. Unfortunately, it would have intruded on the day too much with gifts, friends, and dinner- so we decided to take her the day after Christmas. It was a chilly day and the Pacific is sooooo cold. But she did it and says she loved it. The rest of us enjoyed the show!
Getting a wet suit on
On land instruction
It was impossible to take pictures
Yes, it was cold
My little surfer!

After surfing, we made our way up to La Jolla where we heard that sea lions hang out. They were pretty neat to see. I drove through one of the tighter garages that I've taken the truck in and kissed a wall. And then we did dinner at a Mexican restaurant with some decently yummy margaritas!
La Jolla
Sea lions
La Jolla
My kiss and reminder to listen to my wife

Before we knew it, our visit with Grandma and Grandpa came to an end and we had one last night of snuggles.
Last night of snuggles
Last night of snuggles

A blink after that, and we had the month of January planned out to drive 2,500 miles to get us to Florida.
January's travel plan, CA to FL

We said goodbye (well, until next time) to our new friends and we shoved off. Our first stop was going to be near Yuma, AZ for New Years.
Paige and Chey, quick friends
The puzzle that the girls did
Logan and R

As usual, this isn't all of the photos. You absolutely need to go check out Flickr for more pictures from the USS Midway and the Cabrillo tide pools. Both were amazing! Check out more photos on Flickr.

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