Thursday, June 12, 2014

Dinkney and Poppy's California Visit (Part 2)

We wanted to take a short trip with Dinkney and Poppy to let them see a little of the surrounding cities. Jeremy and I visited Monterey briefly about three years ago during a vacation. We were eager to go back and show them a little of the Pacific Coast Highway just south of Carmel to Big Sur. We also had free tickets to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and hoped to treat the kids to that experience.

We left Wednesday afternoon for the two hour drive to Monterey. We left after lunch so that Caleb could nap in the car during his normal nap time. When we arrived that afternoon, it was quite cool and overcast. Monterey is known for being kind of a foggy, moody weather kind of city. The fog tends to be worse in the summer months, but apparently it hangs around in May, too. I felt a little worried that we had traded our warmer weather in Alameda for cold dreariness, but I tried to put it out of my mind and not worry too much. You can't control the weather. We weren't here for swimming, but rather for the hiking, scenic drives, and the aquarium. Surely, the fog wouldn't be so bad as to completely block the Pacific views and cliffs during our drive, right? (I went to bed praying that the next day would be better so the trip wouldn't be a complete waste of time!) 

Wednesday afternoon Jeremy and I took the kids to the Dennis the Menace Playground. We had to bundle up a bit with jeans and coats, but in no time at all, the kids were having a blast playing on all of the equipment and exploring the park. That evening we found a nice family-friendly eatery in Monterey called Hula's Island Grill.  The restaurant had an outdoor patio with heating lamps. We were pretty cozy despite the cool evening and Caleb was able to walk around a little at the end of the meal. Our food was really good, too! We didn't take photos at the playground, but check out the link below to see a few of the highlights of the park. (The video didn't work when I tried a video link, but it linked up fine this way.)

Thursday was our day to explore the Pacific Coast Highway and do any hiking we wanted to do. We decided to do the aquarium on Friday after we checked out at the Hyatt. Don woke up with a cold and felt pretty rough. He was a trooper and agreed to do whatever we wanted to do, but no strenuous hiking. I think we mostly kept our word. :) We decided to try out an area called Point Lobos that is known for its breathtaking natural environment--ocean vistas, rocky shores, crashing waves, majestic trees, and scenic trails. It was very close to our hotel and we were there in minutes! We only hiked one easy trail and drove around all of the areas we could with our car. The day started off cool and overcast, but still beautiful. By the time we were halfway into our trail, blue skies were poking through the clouds and we all felt excited that the rest of the day would be better. 

Emily at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

Jeremy and Caleb took most of the photos!

Caleb did great in the hiking backpack. He's still too little to keep up with us without it!

Dinkney and her boys! :) 
 After our time at Point Lobos, we made a quick pitstop at a local grocery store to get snacks and lunch for our scenic road trip through Big Sur. Caleb fell asleep in the car after lunch, but that actually worked out pretty well. We were getting out of the car to take photos every few minutes. Somehow he managed to get a decent nap even with all five of us climbing in/out of the van to check out the views.

Pacific Coast Highway, you do not disappoint! 
It was fun to share the views with Emily this time. Jeremy and I were driving this road in a convertible a few years ago. Never thought we'd be back so soon and with the whole family!

Don and Jeremy at Bixby Bridge.

Our last stop was the McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. It was a bit of a stretch for us to drive this far with the kids, but we did it anyway. I enjoyed it and I hope everyone else thought it was worth it. Luckily, the McWay Falls trail is a very easy hike right off the main road. 

Year ago, this tiny, tall waterfall dropped off directly into the Pacific Ocean. After a massive landslide in 1980s, the topography changed and now it empties onto a beach area. We found the before and after historical photos very interesting. 

Understandably, we were all EXHAUSTED after a full day of hiking and driving. We decided to order pizza that night and stay in our hotel to eat. Ahh, sweet relaxation! The big highlight of the night was "bathing" our kiddos in a hotel room with no bathtub. Caleb was just small enough to bathe in the oversized sink. He LOVED it! Between the mirror and turning on/off the tap water, he was sad for the bath to be over! Emily got to experience her first "grown-up" shower. She had fun with this novel experience and luckily didn't cry about getting sprayed in the face or anything.

The next morning, we checked out of our hotel and headed to the Fisherman's Wharf area to eat at a local crepe place. Oh my, it was SO good! Just writing about it makes me want to get on Pinterest for some yummy crepe recipes. We enjoyed eating outdoors and walking around afterwards to see the Monterey Bay. The highlight was watching a group of harbor seals that were just feet away from us resting on a little wooden dock. The kids were totally intrigued (and so were us adults!) Honestly, after watching the seals in their normal environment, I could have skipped the aquarium!

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is HUGE! I think we were there for about three hours and we only saw maybe 70% of it. There was a whole wing and new exhibit we didn't see at all. We will definitely have to come back.

Checking out the sting rays

Kelp Forest--one of several large tanks

It's like Caleb is saying "Woohoo for Penguins!"

Pretty as a little Mermaid!

Learning with Daddy and Dinkney

We had to stop for the caboose photo-op. 

Love my cute kiddos!

Reiss Family at Monterey Bay
How lucky are we to get to spend two full weeks vacationing with our families in our new home away from KY? We had a great time and I hope Don and Nancy will want to spend many more vacations with us in California. We still have lots we want to see and do and we will definitely need their help once the third little Reissy cup gets here!

One of my favorite parts of the whole trip was the San Francisco Giants game that just us adults attended on their last night here. We hired a babysitter for Emily and Caleb since we only had four tickets from Jeremy's work friend. We took the SF Giants Game Day ferry from our hometown of Alameda directly to the ballpark. How cool is that? The ferry is just three miles from our house. It was a wonderful time to get to hang out with Jeremy's parents without the normal little interruptions from the kids. It was my first ballgame at the Giants Stadium since we moved. (Jeremy and I went three years ago.) We had a laid back dinner at the ballpark and enjoyed soaking up all the atmosphere of the game. I had a great time at the game and I think everyone else did, too. We even got to spend a few minutes with Bobby Evans, a friend from church and the Giants' assistant GM. He was kind enough to take us back to a Giants box to talk and watch part of the game. Fun night!

Saying good-bye the next day was hard as usual. It breaks my heart. The kids change so much in a few months time. We hate that the grandparents miss so much of their cute stages. We don't regret our decision to move to California, but we certainly miss not being able to see our families as often. Luckily, Mom and Nancy are making plans to visit us for when the baby comes and there's still a slight chance we will make it home to KY this summer. Thankful for the good times we had on this trip! Thankful for all the nice treats and clothes Dinkney brought with her for the kiddos. We love you so much, Dinkney and Poppy!

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