For the sake of Papa’s sanity in beginning the Master’s Degree program at The Barfield School of Sunbridge College, the Huntlings and I went to visit the grandparents in Southern California. For 16 days, away from Papa, away from home, away from anything familiar.
Flying out of Newark, we sat on the tarmac for 90 minutes (!) waiting for thunderstorms to clear out of our flight path. After that it was easy going, especially the sticker books I brought to surprise the kids. They played with them for hours. Stickers rock.
Nana met us at LAX to help us shlep our stuff. Traveling with two car seats adds another dimension to everything, especially with only one adult to carry stuff and hold hands with the kids. But once we got the rental car, everything went well.
The day after we arrived, we went to Elvenstar Riding Academy, owned by the parents of one of Nana’s old friends. We were supposed to have pony rides, but because of the intense heat wave, the day’s rides were cancelled. We still got to meet some of the ponies and feed them some carrots before they were hosed down and stabled.
The next event was the trip to the beach. Point Mugu is one of my favorite beaches. Rarely are there any people there, but there are great rocks for climbing, beautiful Boney Mountain as a backdrop, and good sand for playing. Once (pre-Huntlings) Papa and I saw dolphins body surfing there. This time, we saw pelicans diving for fish and a sea lion in the water.
But, disaster struck first thing. I wanted the kids to get their toes wet, but I forgot that this isn’t a beach for actually going into the water. We kept creeping closer and closer, and then a bigger wave came along. It knocked the kids over, and since I was holding their hands, I went over too. A kind man came over and rescued us and gave us towels to dry off once I determined that I had left our towels back at grandpa’s house, along with any extra dry clothes! Bad Mama, no biscuit.
Needless to say, the kids were pretty traumatized. We tried to stay and play in the sand, but it was pretty foggy and cold that day so we beat a hasty retreat. We returned the next day, since I didn’t want the kids to become permanently afraid of the beach. Then I saw the sign warning us not to go into the water! (Really that was about rip tides and lack of lifeguards, but still.) It was sunny, we stayed far away from the water and made this killer sand castle:
After that, we stayed low profile. We visited with cousins, hung out at Nana’s house, played at the park. We went to the Chumash Interpretive Center, which was small but just right for the toddler attention span. Very cool exhibits about the Chumash culture, history, and crafts. Plus, we saw a real live fence lizard out front! We opted out of the Ventura County Fair and went to an animal show at America’s Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College instead. We saw a baboon eat an entire banana, peel and all.
It was challenging to keep up with our family rhythms and customs. Naps and bedtimes creeped later and later. Televisions were on, and Nana rented animal videos. Vegetable consumption plummeted by the day. But overall the kids were happy and healthy though a bit out of sorts.
Coming home, Grandpa Walt drove us to LAX and kindly returned our rental car for us. Unfortunately, we arrived at the airport early. Four hours early. So, we ate lots of snacks, played with yet more sticker books, and then ate more snacks. Not much else to do for little kids at Terminal 4.
Luckily our plane took off on time and this time we had a great view of the ocean, Los Angeles, and the desert before cloud cover took over. We landed on time and Papa was there to meet us. I didn’t think SillyBilly was going to ever release him from that death grip around his neck! Between a long wait for our luggage, a long drive home, and a late dinner, we didn’t get to bed until almost midnight.
I can’t say it was truly a vacation for me, but SillyBilly summed up the kids’ feelings on it: I want to live in California to be with my grandparents!
Special thanks to Nana, Grandpa Dave, Grandpa Walt, and Grandma Pat for helping make this trip happen.