So, this post will cover right before, during and after our recent trip to California. First, some random pics from before the trip:
For the last two weeks of January, we went to California! We started off with a long drive from SLC to Tom's sister's house in Vacaville, CA. And we started off the drive with some intense fog:
Harper was ok that first day, though still a bit miffed about being in the car for sooooo long:
We had to stop soooo many times to feed her or just to make her happy. We didn't even make it the whole way that first day like we'd planned. Well, we could have, I'm sure, but we decided to stop in Reno for the night. Here's another cute video of Harper's crazy squeals: http://youtu.be/MVle8DcpuSo .
The unfortunate thing about stopping, though, was that in the middle of the night this group of 10-20 drunk people started yelling at each other, all at the same time, at the top of their lungs, right across the courtyard from us (actually closer than that, but I'm not sure how to describe it). We could see them from our window. I remember watching them haul someone off who had passed out, too. It was SO loud. I don't know how it's possible that not every single person at the hotel called the police, but I sure did. Did I ever see them come though? Nope. Good ol' Reno. This was the second time in a row we had this happen by the way. The last mini vacation we went on was to Park City, in October, and in the middle of the night a bunch of drunk people started yelling and banging on a door in the middle of the night. Luckily, though, Harper slept through both occurrences....somehow.
The next day, which was a Sunday, we drove into California and made it to Jen's house. I'm not kidding when I say that pretty much the moment we got into California the scenery started to become more beautiful.
Am I become more of a California snob as I get older? Maybe. Anyway, I remember that we stopped at this rest stop and it was just gorgeous and such a well done rest stop. Plus, the weather was magically warmer too. That was probably the first truly nice moment of the trip. It was also one of the first few times we've been able to get Harper outside to enjoy nature...yes, at a rest stop.
When we got to Jen's it was so nice to finally be there and to see everyone! Jen's sister in law (on hubby's side) was also there for a visit with a couple of their nieces, so it was a full house! There was always something interesting going on and someone cool to chat with. Our niece, Brooke, was IN LOVE with Harper:
And Harper was in love with all the people she got to look at and all the attention she was getting.
That night we just hung around, took naps and played card games. The next day we all headed off to San Francisco. We stopped at Ghirardelli Square for some ice cream, then headed down to the water for a bit.
After that we tried to spend some time at Muir Woods among the Redwoods, but it was not to be. We drove out there, but since it was MLK Jr. day it was so packed we would have had to walk a couple miles from the closest parking spot, just to the entrance. No bueno with kids. So, we headed back. On the way home, I was sandwiched between Spencer (pictured below) and Harper in their carseats and for a good chunk of the drive they were both screaming uncontrollably. Fun times.
After we got back, Tom and I took Spencer and Harper with us to the neighborhood Walmart around the corner. I caught this sweet pic of Tom being super dad:
That night we all went out to a restaurant called Fentons:
We really had an awesome time at Jen's. It was a great way to start the trip. The next morning we tried to get off right after Harper woke up, but unfortunately we left our stroller in Curtis's car and he had already gone to work! Jen wasn't home either, so we had to wait until Jen could, very graciously, go by Curtis's work to pick it up for us. On the bright side, it gave me a chance to take a shower!
Because of the late start, all we really had time for that day was to stop at Stanford (because we're nerds) so that Harper could be introduced to her future Alma Mater...just kidding...but not really. We ended up skipping Santa Cruz entirely. Stanford was pretty cool though.
Then we drove to Monterey where we stayed for the night. Believe it or not, for the third hotel stay in a row we were woken up by a hoard of crazy drunk people. Harper, again, slept through it. At this point, even if I stopped practicing Mormonism, I believe these experiences would be enough to convince me to never drink!!!
We started off the next morning with some pastries from an awesome pastry shop I'd heard about, called Parker-Lusseau. I am a total pastry snob and it takes a lot to garner my praise, but these were sooooo good. Good pastries are one of the foods I miss most from my travels. We got the pastries and headed out to Monterey Bay Aquarium. It wasn't open yet though, so we found a nice bench overlooking the water where we ate our pastries while enjoying the nice sea air. Such a lovely way to start the day.
Monterey Bay (for the second time I typed "Baby" first) Aquarium was pretty lovely as well. Harper had a couple unhappy moments, which made things a bit more challenging, but we still loved it. Some highlights were watching all the fish in this big "open ocean" tank:
The jellyfish (new obsession! Jellyfish are sooooo cool!): http://youtu.be/SYiCxXINskM & http://youtu.be/uJOd6VzOSvw .
This seahorse was pretty cool: http://youtu.be/BygfKhLWJoU .
And watching this mom and baby (2 days old) otter frolic around: http://youtu.be/LPfDZ4UiHvc . They were in this little mini bay (aaaalmost typed it again but stopped myself!) where wild sea animals can just swim up and people can look down at them from a balcony area. The fact that they were wild and had just swam up there unprompted made it cooler. Honestly, one of the neatest wildlife experiences I've ever had.
Then we shared a crepe and a nasty sandwich from a nearly restaurant before heading to 17 mile drive. At first the drive was really hard because the baby (almost typed "bay") wouldn't sleep very long, but was tired so she wasn't happy being awake either. But, finally, we pulled over and got her to fall asleep while her carseat was on a picnic bench, with the sound of the ocean acting as lullaby and she stayed asleep for a miracle nap the whole rest of the drive. The whole drive was truly beautiful. It's sad that pictures just don't even come close to doing it justice. I'm sure we could have spent a whole day exploring the drive, but we only had a few hours before sunset. Definitely one of the prettiest times of day though.
These first photos were taken using the Pro HDR app on my iphone:
|This was our view from the picnic table where we stopped to put Harper to sleep.|
And these were from my SLR camera:
The next morning we went to the pastry place again (of course) and then drove to Point Lobos State Park. Oh my goodness - if you are ever in that area, do yourself a favor and stop at Point Lobos. We only had time to explore one of the many trails at the park, but just that one trail was so amazing!
While we walked along the water we saw a lot of animals. There were lots of otters and seals in the water and here's a picture of one that was resting on a rock. Another one, that was HUGE (way bigger than this one) kept popping his head out of the water a few feet away.
|The color of the water was beautiful.|
|This is the big guy, though you can't tell.|
After Point Lobos we spent the whole day, up til sunset, driving down Big Sur from Monterey to San Simeon. There were lots of beautiful spots along the way and I can only imagine how much more beautiful it would be in Spring.
|Can you find the waterfall?|
Video of the seals: http://youtu.be/lh-LfGwnGc8
|One of our many baby induced stops. I love how huge her head and cheeks look in this picture. She's great.|
The next day we decided to skip Hearst Castle (baby and all) drive down to Pismo Beach instead. Before we got too far, though, we had to stop and feed Harper. We just happened to stop at the parking lot for this beach, so after feeding her, we went on a little walk down to it. It was actually a really cool, creepy looking beach. I loved it!
That night, in Pismo, we indulged and stayed in a nicer hotel. It was right on the beach (which reminded me of Mexico) and had this awesome fitness center, which was free for the guests, but which members of the town also payed to go to. That night, we got Harper in her swimsuit and took her out to the beach for the first time. Well, technically I guess she had already been to the beach earlier on the trip, but this was the first time we walked all the way up to the water and walked in the sand and all.
To get to the beach, you just walked out the sliding glass door of your hotel room, walked down these stairs and voila!
|I think she was a fan.|
Then, we followed it with a quick soak in the jacuzzi (don't worry, it wasn't very hot):
The next morning we went into the center of town to find a geocache that was supposed to be hidden on the main boardwalk somewhere. While we were looking, we saw this other couple that was getting on their hands and knees in the middle of the boardwalk and we were like, "hmmm, wonder if they're looking for it too." Apparently they made the same connection about us because at one point the guy passed by me and whispered something like, "man, this one's tough!" He ended up finding it first and we chatted for a while. It was nice to talk to someone else about geocaching, especially since we're total newbies and they were pretty seasoned. They'd found hundreds of them and have been doing it for years.
We also enjoyed watching the surfers as they tried to catch waves:
After geocaching we spent the day driving to Santa Barbara. Along the way we spontaneously stopped at Solvang. It was worth a stop, and a little walk around town, but not much more. I was hoping they'd have a good pastry shop, but while they had plenty of pastry shops, they were all veeeery American.
That night we stayed at a Motel 6 (because we're classy) in a suburb of Santa Barbara. It was actually pretty cool though. It was decorated like it was the 70's, but in an IKEA sort of way, if that makes sense. I wish I'd taken a picture. Because we were in a suburb and not IN town and because of the baby we didn't really get to explore Santa Barbara. But, I did drive into town to pick us up some dinner at a great Mexican place I'd heard about. It's called La Super Rica Taqueria. It was SO good. Also, that night we attempted to walk to the beach (we were pretty close), but the route took us through residential streets and there were no streetlights and we kept getting lost, so we gave up.
The next morning we finished off that leg of the trip by driving to my parents' house. As soon as we got there I got the baby and I ready and the two of us headed to church. Tom wasn't feeling well, so he stayed home. It's always great to see everyone at church. All of Emily's kids were fascinated with Harper, so at one point during Sacrament Meeting, my dad was holding her and all three kids were hovering around him staring at her. It was so cute. Harper loved all the attention she got on this trip. She definitely loves people.
That night we hung out with family and my friend Kelli came over. Rori was totally enamored with Harper and just wanted to stare at her the whole time Harper was awake. We let Rori hold her and cuteness ensued:
Here are a couple of adorable videos of Rori & Harper: http://youtu.be/_5d3h0O3zVA & http://youtu.be/WgRVN6BzIzk .
This next video is probably THE cutest video I've gotten of Harper so far. My mom was holding her and she just kept laaaaughing and laaaaaughing. It kills me: http://youtu.be/7rzgRt_J45g . Before this trip, Harper laughed sometimes, but it was really rare and random. While we were in California, though, she started doing it way more often!
The next day was family picture day. Tom and I hired a local photographer named Wendy Holmes to take photos of the whole family. We don't have the photos back yet, but I'm sure that will be its own post. I was a little worried about Harper losing it during photos because she's usually only awake for 1.5 hours at a time and she had already been awake that long when photos started. But, even though she ended up being awake for something like 3.5 hours and even though she didn't eat for way longer than usual too, she was pretty happy the whole time! In fact, she was totally cracking up the whole time the 3 of us were taking our individual family's photos. Wendy actually already posted one photo and it turned out great:
|Jungle Cruise. Harper tried out her new Ergo wrap that Auntie Emily passed down to her and promptly fell asleep in it while we were on Pirates of the Caribbean. She woke up for Jungle Cruise though.|
|I know my grandma looks super concerned her, but I swear she was happy.|
|The whole crew.|
|Isn't my dad cute?|
The next day was low key. My parents and Emily's family headed to Disneyland again and we stayed home.
And found a random chicken costume:
And that night some of my friends from high school came over. It was fun to have Harper meet them for the first time. The next day we took my parents with us to Knott's Berry Farm. We had a really great time there too. It was nice to have my dad there to go on all the rides with me that Tom wouldn't go on. Tom used to go on any ride, but I ruined him when I made him go on the Zipper. It was also great to have so many people to switch off with the baby.
|On the train.|
The next day was also low key. Sarah came to visit before she and Cash flew back home. Cash was super sweet with Harper and was giving her things to play with.
|With Cash's hat & gloves and the toys he gave her.|
That night my friend, Shelley, came over with her little girl. Her little girl was also a big fan of Harper: http://youtu.be/6WH87QREsYY
That night we decided to drive through the night as soon as Harper fell asleep for the night. That way we could get home a lot faster and easier. It was hard, and we ran into some pretty intense snow, but it was worth it.
The rest are pics from after the trip.
Harper not knowing what she's supposed to do on her tummy: http://youtu.be/jWh5vpozJl0
Eating solids for the very first time. We gave her bananas and while she couldn't keep any of it in her mouth she got pretty darn excited about it: http://youtu.be/o1wZ3f_Pp6o
|first time using the big girl stroller seat|
|she kind of looks like she's going to consume your soul in this one|
Cute, sad tummy time: http://youtu.be/wtkpuriBqDA
Every time she finishes eating she immediately stares out the window: http://youtu.be/og4tuO6fzR8
She got really good at playing with toys while we were on vacation and it's super cute to watch: http://youtu.be/x6xSp3JZMqk
We discovered that we can wedge the bumbo between the window and the couch and set Harper on the windowsill. She's like a cat, watching all the cars go by.
|The view from outside. Sometimes people walking by really get a kick out of it.|
|got the wipes pocket stuck on her face, but didn't care|
Going at it with the bag of chocolate chips: http://youtu.be/LCy_OCQtuNI
More playing: http://youtu.be/5rB1mm5fSZA
For some reason when she's in the stroller she refuses to look at me. It's pretty funny. http://youtu.be/E_aCXNw6x0w
Cute tummytime playing: http://youtu.be/OphGpvAW6sg
More cute tummytime playing: http://youtu.be/TJenzbsDXKg
The weather actually got warm enough for us to play outside:
Playing outside: http://youtu.be/40RCrZ_TNYk
Aaaaand I'm still not caught up with all the pics and videos, but this monster post has to end!