We spent all last week in southern California and had a blast. Elise, Maly and I (and probably Mom, too) are all suffering from the post-vacation blues. And what’s worse is that our internal clocks are still on Pacific Standard time.
We got up early last Friday and hit the airport. We flew into Houston where we had an hour layover. We had an early barbecue lunch at Harlan’s (last chance for authentic Texas food!) and then, by chance, found Mom walking to our departure gate while I was taking Maly for a stroll.
We were in the air for three hours. It felt like eight. Traveling with a 14-month-old made us “that family” to the other passengers on the plane.
My brother-in-law, Craig, picked us up at the airport in San Diego and drove us back to their house in Poway. Ron, my soon-to-be other brother-in-law and I grilled chicken breasts and hamburgers for Craig, Terri, Grant, Adam, Mom, Ron, Ron’s Mom, Lisa, Gavin, Elise, Maly and me.
We woke up early on Saturday. I cooked eggs and bagels for everyone and then Mom, Elise, Maly and me headed north to San Jacinto to see my brother, Chuck and his family. We went to Chili’s for lunch with Chuck, his wife, Lisa and my niece, Jessica. After lunch we went to WalMart to get Maly some toys and so Chuck could buy a jumbo blow-up pool. We went back to Chuck’s house where Chuck, Quincy, Micah and me setup the pool while the girls stayed inside in the AC and chatted.
For dinner I grilled a London broil, chicken breasts and corn on the cob. We chatted for a while after dinner, watched Ghostrider and played with Stanley. Stanley is my nephew-by-marriage who we were fortunate to meet for the first time. He has Cerebral Palsy and a love for life that has made me re-evaluate the things that are really important in life.
Elise, Maly, Mom and I drove into Hemet to stay at a motel for the evening.
We woke up on Sunday and had a Father’s Day breakfast at the local Denny’s. We then drove back to Chuck’s house and visited with everyone for a while. I was able to spend some time with Jessica — She showed us her Snoopy collection and her MySpace page. We had fried chicken for lunch and were able to catch the ice cream truck as it was passing through the street. Maly had her first neighborhood ice cream truck experience and she loved it!
We said our goodbyes and headed back south to Poway for the continuation of Father’s Day. We were driving Craig’s Lincoln LS and only 10 miles from their house when a portable gas tank flew out of the back of a truck. I had a fight or flight moment where I was given the choice of dodging the impending bomb and sideswiping another video on the busy 15 or to plow through. I opted for the latter. The tank got stuck underneath the car and when I was finally able to pull over, found that I did quite a number on the cars undercarriage.
We made it back to the Gainor house in Poway in time to help with dinner. I grilled tri-tip while Craig’s Mom, Gerri made a salad, Lisa made a green bean salad and Terri made a pasta salad. We ate by the pool and opened presents while the kids played.
Shorty after dinner I had to have a little alone time with Maly. I had suppressed my emotions all day as it was my first Father’s Day without having a Dad with me in person to celebrate. I gave Maly a bath and, with a frog in my throat, told her that I loved her a thousand times.
After putting Maly to bed and clearing my head for a while, the adults, Grant and Adam hung out in the hot tub for an hour. It was there that I taught my youngest nephew, Adam, how to spar. He did very well.
I didn’t do as well after trying to go to bed. I cried myself to sleep that night.
We woke up on Monday and Craig and Elise went for a jog while I cooked eggs for Maly. When Elise and Craig got home, everyone showered and then we headed out to the San Diego Zoo. We toured the zoo for a few hours and Maly was impressed with all of the the animals. We also took a guided bus tour of the zoo which allowed us to see all of the attractions.
After a long day, the girls all headed back to the house while Craig and I went to Fry’s to pick up a new digital camera, a couple Airport Expresses and a MacBook (Yeah, I ‘switched’ my brother-in-law [I got him to buy my sister an iBook a year ago as well]). I setup Airtunes at the Gainor house and showed my sister how to use her new camera with iPhoto. After a long day, we all watched MythBusters and hit the hay.
Craig had to go back to work and the rest of us stayed at the house and did absolutely nothing! It was awesome. We swam, hung out in the hot tub, and pummeled each other in the living room with Aqua Noodles. That afternoon Grant and I went bird hunting with BB guns on the horse trails behind the house. That night I was commissioned to cook. I made bay scallop and tiger shrimp stuffed chile and coffee rubbed pork loin with guajillo mashed potatoes.
Wednesday morning started with some hard training for yours truly. We came back to the house, showered and then we all headed over to Lisa’s house to start our day at the beach. After assembling our caravan, we stopped at Carl’s Jr. for burgers and then to La Jolla for a walk along the coast. We then drove out to Torrey Pines to hang out on the beach. Maly loved the ocean. She loved it so much that she wore herself out to the point where we thought she was getting sick. The cold Pacific waters wreaked havoc on my little girl and she fell asleep on Elise’s chest for almost an hour. When she woke up, she felt completely revitalized.
After the beach we all piled into the car and headed back to Lisa’s house for chicken fettuccine Alfredo and Caesar salad. After dinner we looked at photos of Ron and Lisa’s house in La Jolla that they just purchased. The Gainors and us headed back to Poway as the sun set. The boys and I stayed up watching re-runs of MythBusters and Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel and then Craig and I played 80’s Pop Music Trivia with Elise (the artist and title information that my wife retained from the 80’s is scary).
On Thursday morning Terri announced that she had heard about some free LA Weight Loss consultation in town. So the girls went to that and then to Target while I stayed back at the house with Maly and Adam while Grant went to a Padres game with friends. After putting Maly down for her morning nap, the neighbor kids came over so I was then charged with supervising 5 kids all aged 8 and under.
The girls came back home within a couple hours. The adults ate lunch and then Elise and I took Maly out to swim with all of the kids. Adam and I played pirates with the neighbor kids and we protected our coveted inflatable raft schooner with aqua noodles and super soakers.
We took it easy for the remainder of the afternoon. Later that evening Elise and I went out on a date. Alone. We’d been looking forward to our date night all week. With the help of Terri we decided that we would drive into La Jolla and do some shopping, have a nice dinner and take a walk on the beach.
We got to La Jolla at 7:30 and quickly found a parking spot in the center of town. We walked up Prospect and found a souvenir shop where we bought Maly a San Diego t-shirt. Then we walked over to the Hard Rock Cafe where we got her another t-shirt.
For dinner we went to Roppongi for tapas:
Rock Shrimp and Fennel Tempura with Wasabi Aioli and Remoulade
Braised Beef Short Ribs with Hon Shimeji Mushrooms in Puff Pastry
Mongolian Shredded Duck Quesadilla with Spicy Asian Guacamole
And for dessert:
Tahitian Bananas served over Vanilla Gelato Topped with Crispy Almond Brittle
It was going on 10 p.m. when we were done with dinner. We were tired, full and it was too cold to walk to the beach. It was then that, without directly acknowledging it to one another, we resigned to the fact that we’re getting old — we’re 30-somethings with a 30 minute commute and a child who is going to wake us up early in the morning and will require more of us than just letting her out into the backyard to pee and find her own food.
All-in-all I think we were both just too tired. Although our vacation thus far had been very relaxing, we were still worn out from traveling and not being in our own environment.
We got back to the house at 10:30 to find Mom turning off the TV and heading to bed. We told her goodnight and Elise went to bed in our room shortly thereafter. I stayed up until midnight while wishfully shopping online for real estate in San Diego.
On Friday we dinked around the house most of the morning after breakfast. Terri took us all out for lunch at Point Loma Seafoods (excellent, must-have local fare) for lunch and then we all went to see the Cabrillo National Monument and the Old Point Loma Lighthouse for some local history and enlightenment.
We all headed over to Ron and Lisa’s house where we then caravaned over to the new house they recently purchased in the hills of La Jolla. After touring the new house, we all went back to Lisa’s house and ordered in from Pick Up Stix. The boys, Elise and Maly all swam in the pool before dinner.
After dinner I took Elise on a ride on Ron’s V-Star for a quick spin around the neighborhood. We came back to the house in time to say our goodbyes to Terri, Grant and Adam. They were heading back to Poway and Elise, Mom, Maly and me stayed with Lisa in San Diego so she could take us to the airport in the morning.
We stayed up for a while and I showed Lisa all of the pictures and video that had been taken over the course of the week. Ron’s son and soon-to-be daughter-in-law came over to do laundry and we all watched the Matrix on TV. Elise and I went to bed as our last night in southern California had come to an end.
Morning came early. We all got up, ate breakfast, took showers, got dressed and headed out at 9 a.m. for the airport with a quick stop at Vons for diapers for Maly.
We got to the airport with plenty of time to spare. We said our goodbyes to Lisa and I watched as she drove away. It seemed as if at that point, our vacation was officially over. I watched as part of the family that we had come to see traveled on and we were all thrust back into our normal lives. The immediate family that I was traveling with had yet to endure almost a full day of waiting in lines and sitting restlessly in airplane seats.
We sat in the airport and waited with Mom for the first leg of our flight to Houston. The ticket agent came over the loud speaker and announced that our flight was overbooked and would offer $200 in travel vouchers if anyone would be willing to wait an additional hour for the next departing flight. Elise and I were quick to offer our seats.
I hadn’t eaten anything all day. Maly and I went to the California Pizza Kitchen and split a Hawaiian Pizza.
Half an hour later, our original flight started boarding. We said our goodbyes to Mom and saw her off as she traveled alone back to Houston while we stayed back and waited on the next flight.
Since we forfeited our original seats, we were upgraded to first class — that was nice for the long leg of the trip back to Texas. We stretched our legs, watched “The Bridge to Terabithia”, let Maly play in the aisles and drank wine.
Surprisingly Maly did well on the 29 minute flight from Houston to Austin with help from the 15-year-old boy who she dutifully annoyed as he attempted to read his PC Gamer magazine.
We got home safely and put Maly to sleep. Elise and I stayed up until 2 a.m. because were still on California time. We all slept until 10 a.m. on Sunday because… yes, California time.
I got out of bed and tended to some house and yard work and then took the girls out for barbecue at Rudy’s. I know we all really miss the west coast and the gorgeous weather – but in that same breath, we missed our Texas barbecue.
We had a great time with family in California and it was really, really hard coming home.
I like California time.
Click here to see the photos from our trip.