July 10, 2011

Life of Wilder: Week Thirty-Two

OK, is it just me or is he giving
a peace sign in his Haight-Ashbury shirt?

Well, folks, we have officially survived our first family trip. Notice I have amended my statement from last week and replaced the word "vacation" with "trip." When I think "vacation," I think of kicking back, taking a break, and relaxing and we certainly did none of that; whereas "trip" denotes going somewhere and that's exactly what we did -- go, go, go. I now need a vacation to recover from our trip. As I predicted last week though, all of the effort and preparation and long hours in the car (note to self: learn some new kid songs) were worth it because we had such a wonderful time. We saw some awesome stuff, ate some amazing food, and took almost 500 pictures so -- memory-making... check. 

We started out the trip on Sunday by driving to La Habra for a 4th of July get-together at my cousin Amber's house. On the way we had to drop off Rider and Posey at the boarding facility. Oh and, just to set the tone here, I should mention that we rented a car for the trip because a few days before we found out that the Pathfinder needed a new timing belt, which if we didn't fix for a butt-load of money (therefore, it is not yet fixed), could snap, make the engine seize up, and probably blow up the car (maybe, I don't know, mechanical stuff confuses me... anyway, it was unsafe to drive 1,000+ miles in). So, yeah, the first half hour of our trip looked like this...
Me driving, Rider in the passenger seat, and Paul, Wilder, and Posey in the backseat of a Chevy Malibu. That was fun. And that was sarcastic, of course, but the dogs loved it because they thought they were going on vacation with us. Rider got all comfy in the front seat...
(Nose pressed up against the vent
breathing in the cold A/C. She is
such a ridiculous dog.)
Unfortunately their hopes were dashed thirty minutes later when we dropped them off at the kennel. I always feel bad leaving them because, Posey's so simple, I'm pretty sure she thinks it's jail and we hate her and we're probably never coming back. But I learned later that they got to attend a 4th of July party that the staff organized where they swam and ate hot dogs so maybe it felt more like a minimum security prison and it wasn't so bad. Either way, after that we were off to our own 4th of July festivities. Amber and Travis always throw a good party and this one was no exception. There was great food, a beautiful cake, bubbles, a bouncy house, and fireworks and we had a terrific time hanging out, stuffing our faces, and watching all the little kids play. 
 Paul watching Travis man the grill
Amber's lovely and delicious flag cake 
 Sweet cousins playing
 Yay for sparklers!
Wilder was totally beat when
we finally put him to bed -- he
usually rolls onto his stomach but
he didn't even make it that far

The next day we hit the road for the first official leg of our first official family trip. I had to get a picture to commemorate it of course. 
Our plan was to take the scenic route up the coast along the Pacific Coast Highway and spend two days getting to San Francisco, stopping along the way to see different sights. The first day started out great -- the weather was perfect and the drive was beautiful. After LA, we got off the main highway and took this crazy, winding road through the Santa Monica Mountains to get to the PCH. I don't think "crazy" and "winding" can fully describe how insane this road was so I Googled it to find a picture or map to show you. Instead I found a Wikipedia article about it that, I think, sufficiently illustrates it when it says, "It is a notoriously dangerous road, and the rusted chassis of cars that have gone over the side can still be seen." Yeah, we're great parents. In our defense, we didn't know how crazy it was when we started out and we drove very slowly and carefully. It was a really beautiful drive though and it was amazing to spend half an hour going up and down mountains and canyons and then come out and be at the ocean. 
After that we started making our way up the PCH. After about 30 minutes of driving along the coast we were basically in the middle of nowhere and about to come up over a hill when we saw a vista point and decided to pull over. About 15 seconds after we pulled off the road, we noticed the cars going in the direction we were headed coming to a standstill. Apparently there had just been a wreck between a truck and a motorcycle up ahead and the motorcyclist had been killed. We were glad that we had pulled off when we did because we probably would have either been a part of it or at least witnessed it. For some reason it took two hours to clear the road so we, along with miles of other cars, spent a good portion of our July 4th sitting on a cliff going nowhere. Don't get me wrong, we were thankful to not have been a part of the wreck and we couldn't have picked a more beautiful spot to be stuck but it definitely got old after a while and after that we didn't have time to stop anywhere until we got to our hotel in San Luis Obispo. We did take advantage of those couple of hours and got some good pictures though...
 Bored, waiting......
We spent the night in San Luis Obispo that night. Our friend, Corey, and his girlfriend were headed back down the PCH toward San Diego from a camping trip so they met us in SLO the next day for lunch. We ate some delicious tri-tip sandwiches at Firestone Grill and then went down the street to check out Bubblegum Alley. Students and locals have been sticking gum on the walls of the alley since the 1950's. It has been cleaned twice but finally in the 1990's the town decided to leave it alone and, let me tell you, it is a sight to behold. A gross sight to behold, but a sight nonetheless. And, yes, we added our own gum to it of course.
We then headed off on our second day of driving. I've been to some beautiful places but the drive from San Luis Obispo up through Monterey is THE most gorgeous, amazing landscape I have ever seen. I must have said "Wow" hundreds of times as we made our way along the rocky cliffs and grassy hills that dropped off into the ocean. I so wish Wilder was old enough to appreciate that drive but I guess that means we'll just have to go back in a few years. I seriously want to retire there. As remote as it is, a lot of people actually live in that area and I'm sure you can see why...
As if it could get any more breathtaking, we stopped at Pfeiffer State Beach to take a break from the car for a while. The drive to the beach descended down a wooded hillside where we parked at the bottom. Then we walked down a sandy path through the trees until it opened up and we were on a beach surrounded by rocks and mountains. There were a lot of sunbathers and kids running around and we wished we could join them for the rest of the afternoon. The hour we spent there definitely was not enough... yet another reason to go back ;)
After four or five hours driving on the PCH that day we needed to make up some time in order to get to San Francisco at a decent time that night so we hopped off after Monterey and drove the rest of the way on main highways. Wilder did really well in the car, only getting fussy when he was hungry. I know he was bored out of his mind though. I sat in the back with him and tried my best to keep him entertained. I even resorted to barking at him, because we all know he thinks that's hilarious, and showing him a Baby Einstein video on my phone, which he was not super interested in. Even though the two days in the car were long the drive really wasn't too bad. Wilder really started babbling and it was fun listening to his dadadadada's and bababababa's, trying to make him laugh, and just being together. 
Checking out this Baby Einstein thing
 Hey, y'all
 Out of all those toys, all he wanted
was the old Southwest tag hanging
from the car seat... typical :)
Since he was strapped down I even
managed to get a picture of his now
two teeth... not that he wasn't 
determined to swat the camera out 
of my hand and/or make a horrible
face for the picture

Finally, Tuesday night we arrived in San Francisco. We stayed on Alameda Island, which was a nice area and only about a 15 minute drive to all the touristy stuff in SF. Wednesday we went in to SF around noon and had lunch in Chinatown at this amazing restaurant that a couple of our friends had recommended. It was the best Chinese food I've ever had... pork potstickers with peanut sauce, fluffy fried rice, and sesame chicken with roasted sweet potato slices. We sat at a front table looking out on the sidewalk. They had all the front windows open and Wilder had the best time standing in my chair watching all the people walk by and yelling to get their attention. He was too funny.
After lunch we walked around busy, colorful Chinatown. I have to say, that was probably my favorite part of the trip and I think it was Wilder's too. There was so much going on and so many different sights, sounds, and smells. Paul carried him in the Baby Bjorn and he seemed really fascinated and excited. 

A Chinese market
All the apartments had laundry
hanging out of them
While we were there we also checked out Vesuvio, the pub Jack Kerouac frequented back in the 1950's, and the iconic Beat generation bookstore, City Lights, which are separated by "Jack Kerouac Alley." 
After Chinatown we headed to Fisherman's Wharf. It was super crowded and really windy but we had fun seeing everything that's in that area and Wilder got a nice nap in the stroller. We ate clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl from the famous Boudin Bakery, then walked along the Embarcadero, got scared by the "World Famous Bushman" (actually we saw that we were coming up on him and I pretended not to notice hoping he would jump out and scare me so I could get a picture and sure enough he did... I was pretty excited haha), got ice cream at Ghiradelli Square, and walked out on the pier to see Alcatraz. There was so much to do that we spent the rest of the afternoon there and were exhausted when we left. 
 World Famous Bushman
Poor Wilder was sleeping in the stroller
and when we started going down this steep
hill his little head fell forward and he just
kept on sleeping
The Embarcadero
After sightseeing all day, we went to dinner at another restaurant that had been recommended to us, Brenda's French Soul Food. It was absolutely so delicious. We had cream biscuits with homemade strawberry jelly, fried black-eyed peas, fried green tomatoes with a chipotle remoulade for an appetizer, Paul had the shrimp and grits, and I had a piece of Brenda's famous fried chicken with mac n' cheese. Oh my word, definitely go there if you ever find yourself in San Francisco. Wilder was really good at dinner and kept us entertained by babbling and flirting with the ladies at the table next to us. Afterwards we went straight to the hotel and crashed. 
Wilder was totally pooped after a long day

The next day we went in to the city again around lunchtime and ate at this cute little diner called Eddie's Cafe. The little Asian couple that owned it were so sweet and kept coming by talking to Wilder and giving him things to play with. I had my favorite kind of sandwich -- bacon, egg, and cheese -- with delicious crispy hashbrowns and Paul had a turkey bacon club. It was a really good way to start the day.
 I didn't like my food or anything ;)
After lunch we drove down the street to the Haight-Ashbury district and walked around for about an hour. The shops and houses were very colorful and the people were pretty colorful too. Everything just had so much character.
I love the sign in front of this restaurant
After Haight Street we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge and got out on the other side to take pictures. It was really beautiful and even though Wilder was asleep and I usually never wake him up from a nap I broke my rule and got him out of the car to see it. He actually looked at it when I pointed it out to him so, even though he won't remember it, at least I'll know he saw it. 
We were pretty exhausted after that so we took the scenic route around San Francisco Bay and went on back to our hotel. I tried to put Wilder down for a nap after that but he was totally wired after being in the car seat and stroller all day so we played with him for a couple of hours and then went to dinner across the street from our hotel and went to bed. We got up bright and early the next morning and headed back to San Diego along the 5 freeway. 

It took us about 8 hours to get back but Wilder was an angel in the car. He took a few good naps and talked our ears off the rest of the way. It was a really pretty drive through mountains, deserts, orchards, and vineyards but we were glad to get home. Obviously it's taken me a couple of days to get this post together and I'm sure by now you can see why. I gave a lot of details, not because I thought you were all dying to know them, but because we did so much that I didn't want to forget anything about our first family trip and I want Wilder to be able to read all about it someday. 

It was exhausting and stressful at times but we had such an amazing week experiencing new things together. San Francisco was really beautiful and we loved all the Victorian style houses and buildings. It was a little hard to navigate though so next time we would probably just use public transportation to get around. 

Every time we take a trip or do something new Wilder always comes back with some new developments. Like I said before, he now has two teeth and he has started babbling so much more. Now when we say dadada to him he'll say it back to us. This is the first thing we've said that he's repeated and it makes me think he's about to really start "talking" a lot. Also, the most exciting development is that he seems to have finally figured out the whole scooting thing. He's still working out the kinks but he can now slowly make his way across the floor to something he wants. Our life is about to get a lot more interesting. He is just such a big boy now and gets more and more fun every day. I'm so glad we could take him to San Francisco. That was a week I will never forget and the memory of it will always make me smile. 

Here are a few more pictures from our week...
 Wilder loooved the mirrored closet 
doors in the hotel room
 So excited for his first big boy bath in the tub
 My sweet precious boy

1 comment:

  1. It look like you guys had a GREAT TRIP! Wilder is BEAUTIFUL! By the way, the "bush man" totally scared us; that guy is crazy. Glad you guys had fun and I love the pictures! Love you :)


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