Monday, October 27, 2008

Getting to CA, Sea World, and off to Laguna (Part 1)

Yes, this post is only part one (of 5!). I finally narrowed down the pictures/clips to just over 100 that I just have to share...partly for documentation purposes, partly so I have it readily available to show Noah (who frequently requests to see certain pictures from our trip), and partly for those few people who want the unabridged version of our long awaited family vacation. I've been thinking about/planning this trip since our last family vacation (which, if you don't count our drive to Iowa for graduation, was 2 years ago when Noah & I flew out to visit Mark in California on rotations during his last year of med school).

My biggest picture regret is not taking a photo of Noah strutting through the Salt Lake airport with his very own rolling carry-on bag that we surprised him with. It is a cute Lightning McQueen bag that we filled with treats & activities for the plane ride. He loved that he pulled his own bag just like us, and would do what we've dubbed the "dude walk" as he strutted through the terminals and turned lots of heads, and solicited plenty of "how cute" comments from people that we passed. While on our way to our gate, Noah would point at things and tell us what they were - as if he were showing us the way and letting us know what everything was. You'd think we did this every month with the cute little confidence he exuded. My guess is that it was the months of talking about the upcoming trip in so much detail...either way, he was sooo cute.

Here's a shot of him on our flight. Shortly after take-off (which we were pleased didn't frighten him at all) he asked to look at the airline's magazine. Funny kid.
Before moving on to telling about the rest of our trip (which went very smoothly) I have to tell you about the one frustrating part of our trip. Our flight was combined with a flight that left later that night (which we knew in advance), but then we also ended up having a delayed flight...which with 2 kids that for whatever reason would not nap that day made us pretty nervous. Nonetheless, both boys ended up being really good on the flight. So, all was well, until after we got our luggage and sat to wait for the Enterprise shuttle. Every other car rental shuttle (Herz, Avis, etc) went by a few times before we started to worry if ours would come. To make a long story short - the shuttle wasn't running anymore, our rental agency closed at 11:00 PM! Of course we chose the one company that closed that early, and we had barely missed it since our flight was delayed. We finally caught a cab and got to the hotel (with 2 very tired, no-nap kids) at about 2:00 AM Utah time.

So...morning came quickly the next day, but hey - it was Sea World day! For documentation purposes (for a future trip someday!) I'll mention that we stayed at the Day's Hotel on Hotel Circle in San Diego. It was nothing fancy, but we got it for a great price and it was clean, had a fridge, and complimentary shuttles to theme parks & airport (if you don't get in late!). I'd stay there again next time. After a quick breakfast with my parents (who were able to join us for most of our trip!), Mark & my dad left to go get our rental cars and my mom & I took the boys on the shuttle to Sea World! You would've thought that the shuttle ride was one of our trip highlights by watching Noah - he loved it. Even more than that though, Noah loved seeing the animals at Sea World!

We managed to see all the fun shows there, as well as visit most of the exhibits. Noah was particularly excited to see Shamu, and I'd even shown him videos of Shamu on YouTube, so he knew the little Shamu-chant/whale sign that they do during the show. The funny thing was that he loved yelling it so much that he kept doing it even during parts of the show where nobody else was. He loved it! :)

Here's a picture of Noah eating a frozen lemonade while waiting for the Shamu show to start. Do you think he could open his mouth much wider?

A shot of the four of us after the show. It's amazing how quickly people clear out of these bleachers after a show ends.

I really like this picture. Such cute, happy guys I have. Oh, and as a random sidenote - we noticed Mitt Romney in the audience before the show, and when Mark was coming back to our seats with some refreshments they passed each other. So, without stopping, Mark said "Hi, Mitt" (to which he responded, "Hello"). I wonder how many times that happens to him nowadays.

I didn't get any really great pictures at the dolphin encounter, but both of the boys got to pet the dolphins and Mark helped Noah feed one a fish. Noah continues to talk about that now and then.

Near the end of our time at the dolphin exhibit Noah was up against a glass wall where you can watch the dolphins swim underwater. All of the sudden one surfaced and used his tail to splash a ton of water over the glass wall onto Noah (he was the only one standing there)! Oh how I wish I'd had that on video! Noah was shocked and had the most stunned look on his face as we explained that the dolphin had splashed him. Finally he broke out into a huge smile - "He did! He did splash me! The dolphin did splash me!" he kept saying. He thought it was pretty funny. In this picture of my parents & my 3 boys, you can see Noah is still a bit wet from his good soaking.
We had a great time at Sea World, and the weather was perfect too - nice, but not too warm...which may be why I forgot to put sunscreen on all of us. I felt so horrible that Lincoln got a sunburn (as did the back of my neck which blistered later), but I was super careful the rest of the trip. Our sweet little Noah has that wonderful tan skin, and it didn't burn one bit though. A few more mentionable things from our Sea World day:
  • The sharks (which Noah was sooo excited to see) ended up being a bit scary for him - he still talks about their scary teeth.
  • The stingrays were also too scary to touch for Noah, but he liked watching them.
  • The souvenir stuffed shark that we gave Noah while at Sea World was actually a cute one that I found on sale months ago, stashed away, and brought to Sea World in the diaper bag. Maybe I'm cheap, but hey - he still thinks of Sea World when he plays with it whether I bought it there or not, right? :)
  • This was the first of many days on our trip where the boys went without naps. After being up until 2 AM the night before (also without a nap on that day) Noah was a wreck by dinnertime that evening, which was a bummer since that was the only time that we were able to meet up with some friends we knew from Iowa that happened to also be in San Diego that weekend. It was so good to see you, Pete & Brittany! Your beautiful girls have grown up so much and it was so good to catch up and chat! Sorry about the "background" noise :)
  • That night Noah asked to sleep in his own bed. He had his own queen sized bed for the rest of the trip!
We had a relaxing morning the next day (after sleeping all night) and after checking out we drove north to beautiful Laguna Beach. After checking into our hotel, we drove to a mexican restaurant that we knew from previous trips to Dana Point. The food was great, and the boys behaved well too! Here's a quick picture of Linc in his bull hat...

Noah was being quite the little comedian. He was pretending to be Zurg...who apparantly has no neck :) The bull horns on the restaurant hat reminded him of Zurg (which I can see why), so he'd pull his shoulders up and say "Destroy Buzz Lightyear, destroy Buzz Lightyear..."

My 3 boys on our balcony at sunset.
Noah loved looking at the ocean from our balcony. It really was beautiful.

It was still early after the sun set, but too cold to go down to the we hit the pool!
Noah had fun at times...
...and was really scared at other times.

Lincoln loved it the whole time however.

Noah ended up getting in Lincoln's floatie tube and really liked that. I'll have to remember to bring two next time...
After that we went to bed (and with no trouble on the kids' part either)! We fell asleep to the sound of the ocean waves...and a wedding reception party next door :)

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