Weekend Road Trip

Last week, we all came down with a GI virus. This was on top of the fact that Chris had a resident retreat for a few days, and he had been working long hours. We were all feeling physically and emotionally drained, so we made a decision Friday afternoon to take a trip up the coast. We didn’t even know what the weekend would hold when we left, but we knew we’d be together and find fun things to do.

On Friday, we headed up the PCH and landed in Port Hueneme, near Oxnard, at sunset. We didn’t stop at the Banana Festival in town, but we enjoyed knowing there was a banana festival! We also encountered the California Lemon Festival and California Avacado along our way. It unfortunately didn’t make sense to stop at any of them, but it’s nice to live near so much good produce!

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We stayed the night in Carpenteria. Stayed the night is more appropriate to say than slept, as Clara allowed for very little sleep. It was our first hotel stay when she could climb out of her pack ‘n play, and sleeping in our bed didn’t work either. Chris coined the term baby terminator to describe her behavior from about 12-1am. He then learned you could make a baby cage by placing her mattress on the floor, and the pack ‘n play upside down over it. While I’m still uncomfortable with this, it was the only thing that helped her calm down. We eventually got a few hours of sleep. After a quick trip to the beach in the morning, we drove another hour up to Santa Barbara.

In a Santa Barbara, Chris scored bonus points by finding the perfect breakfast spot for us, Backyard Bowls. It is a restaurant that has many different oatmeal and hot quinoa options. It also has smoothies and acai bowls. I can’t really explain the acai bowl, you’ll have to check out their website, but Chris and Clara really enjoyed it. Clara also loved the wooden ball they gave us as so they knew where to deliver the order. I had hot quinoa with cashew milk, raisins, walnuts, strawberries, blueberries, and agave.

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Chris had an acai bowl with bananas, blueberries, cocoa nibs, almonds, granola, and honey.

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We also split a smoothie with peanut butter, banana, apple, yogurt, honey, and milk.
We spent the morning exploring downtown Santa Barbara, and enjoying the beautiful weather. At nap time we drove up the coast some more, and had an early dinner at Upper Crust Trattoria in San Luis Obispo. We enjoyed our BBQ chicken pizza quite a bit! At this point we drove a little further, and spent some time on a beach, but I can ‘t remember the name. It was beautiful though!

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Although Chris wanted to make it up to Big Sur, I wasn’t up for that much driving. We decided to stay the night in Santa Maria, and just enjoy the drive back that way. We saw a billboard for Brown Butter Cookie Company in Cayucos, and we had to check it out. The cookies were great, and they gave you ample free samples to decide what to buy. The town is also cute.

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We spent Sunday aimless wandering through Santa Barbara again, and made it back home around 3:30. We wanted to check out Abbot Kinney Fest, but parking was too much of a hassle. Instead, we went to the beach. I capped off vacation sunbathing while watching Chris and Clara play in the waves. It was almost the perfect ending. We made an even better ending by going to Sweet Rose Creamery in Brentwood for the first time. I had chocolate in a waffle cone, and Chris enjoyed a cone of salted caramel. They were both good, but I don’t think we were overly impressed. Next time I will have to be more brave, and get one of the unique combinations. Overall though, it was a wonderful weekend with my family!

Here are a few bonus pictures of Clara playing hide and seek in the bed.

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Stop 7: Las Vegas

Our last stop before our new home was Las Vegas.  I’d never been to Vegas, and it is directly on the way, so it was a natural stop.  We initially planned to stay with a friend from high school, but hotels are cheap, so we altered our plan.  We stayed at the Riviera on the Strip for 2 nights.  $41 a night is not a bad deal for a nice room!  It was also good that we had a hotel room since our friend’s apartment was being fumigated!

We couldn’t check in until 4, and we arrived at 11, so we had a few hours to kill.  First we drove up and down the Strip.  It is definitely a place unlike any other!  Then, we headed to Parma by Alec for lunch.  It’s in a random strip mall by KMart and Lowes, but we recommend it for a low key place in Vegas.  The lasagna was awesome!  On top of that, the restaurant was perfect for Clara.  There was a section of couches for her to run around and play on, and a whole empty dining room that’s only open for dinner right behind our table.  The waitress also loved Clara and brought her some chess pieces to play with.

After lunch, we went downtown to check that off the box.  That’s where we learned it’s a sketchy place, and that kids aren’t allowed in casinos.  Maybe that’s changed since Chris got kicked out of a casino there when he was a kid?

We also checked out Gold and Silver Pawn.  Chris was sad that none of the stars of the show were there, but at least we tried.photo (9) photo (10)

Later, we grabbed some Indian food in our hotel (Clara likes Tikki Masala), and then walked across the street to Circus Circus.  While we didn’t love it now, Chris reminisced about how awesome it is as a kid!  We also caught a free acrobatic act.

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On Thursday, we ate way too much food at a breakfast buffet (Clara tried a new combination of chocolate covered doughnut and ketchup) and went to explore the Bellagio.  It made us feel cultured that we could recognize the glass installation in the front lobby as Chihuly.  We also made friends with a sales lady at Tiffany & Co, and tried to see the fountains.  We incorrectly thought they began at 11am instead of 3.

During Clara’s nap I laid at the pool.  It was relaxing, and I wanted to feel slightly less pasty in Cali!  Unfortunately, I spent $13 on spray sunscreen at the hotel and still cannot adequately cover my entire body.  Since there are only so many things to do on a 95 degree day as a family in Vegas, we went to the outlet mall.  We wanted to buy Chris jeans, but Clara and I ended up with things instead.  For dinner, we joined Steve Morrill (on his birthday) at Lola’s.  It was featured on Diners Drive-ins and Dives.  I had Shrimp and Grits, and Chris had the Crab Cake Dinner.  We’d also recommend this restaurant, but plan ahead and make reservations as it is small.  After dinner we grabbed frozen custard and were approached by many homeless people.  Good thing Alex Meyer taught us to carry granola bars!  We kept Clara up a little late and caught a few shows at the Bellagio with Steve.  They were good, but would have been more special if I hadn’t seen them on TV many times before.  Chris was excited because he got a picture with Bumblebee.

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On Friday morning we packed up and headed for Los Angeles!!