This year's family vacation took us back to our beloved Santa Cruz, California. An old, dear friend invited us to his wedding and that was all the reason we needed to start planning our trip!
Ib packed the car to the gills. It was a good thing that we decided, last minute, to leave the dogs at home this time. The only place there would have been room for them is strapped to the roof!
Knox is a pretty good road-tripper, but this was Thane's first big car ride. He did surprisingly well, and Knox gave him a little encouragement by holding his hand along the way.
We'd been telling Knox for months that we were going to take a trip to the beach and see some BIG, BIG dinosaurs. We didn't let him down.
Our first stop led us to Ron & Monica's house in Apple Valley. We spent 2 nights there, visiting and taking a breather from the first, big "family of four" road trip.
Monica delighted the boys with an indoor ball pit, and tons of other toys. They had a blast!
Then it was on to NorCal, where Analise & Jameson were anxiously awaiting our arrival.
They pounced on Uncle Ib the minute we walked in the door. Smiles and giggles filled the room.
The next morning we took advantage of being out of bed early and went to visit some familar & favorite places before the wedding.
We rented a cottage up in the mountains, bordering Nisene Marks Redwood forest. It was so peaceful and the views were amazing.
Our quaint master bedroom.
Jasmine growing off the back deck.
The view out our window from the breakfast table.
Ib went to the wedding alone, since it was right in the middle of nap time. We figured everyone would have a much more enjoyable time if we worked around naps. So he stopped and picked us up on the way to the reception.
Next to the bride & groom, I'm pretty sure our boys were the most photographed guests at the wedding! And, really, who could blame the photographer? They were looking quite handsome, I think!
Even with drool & crumbs on his shirt...he's a handsome dude!
Ib and some of the old gang hamming it up.
Sunday morning we were up early, again, and took a walk up the mountain from our cottage.
Knox got to blow on his first dandelion puff.
He really liked that!
We walked back to the house and got ready to take our first trip to the beach!
Knox was definitely enjoying spending so much time outside.
As promised, we went to the playground before heading to the beach. Thane was loving the swing!
Knox was enjoying being 100% BOY!
After burning off a little energy, we walked down to Hidden Beach.
Knox was mesmerized by the ocean. And he enjoyed running after the seagulls yelling, "MINE!MINE!MINE!"
Priceless moments shared between Father & Son.
That afternoon, we enjoyed a lunch date with the Lettner family at our cottage. The kids (and big kids, too) got some pool time in.
The water was a bit too chilly for Thane, not to mention it was nap time, but he still hung out and sported his fancy new swim trunks.
Then we hopped in the car and enjoyed a hot #9 from Togo's as the sun set on Pleasure Point.
Monday's adventures led us to Monterey and the Aquarium. We were excited to find that the jellyfish had become a permenant exhibit.
Knox liked watching the jellyfish, and he really liked the sharks and green sea turtles in the giant tank. But he was most interested in finding "Nemo".
This kelp forest tank is one of my favorites. It is so tall!
In the end, Knox did get to find Nemo and all was right with the world.
We took a walk down Cannery Row.
After lunch, we decided to drive around the Bay to take in some more of that amazing coastline.
What a gorgeous day!
Soaking it up!
So much to see.
Driving around the Bay.
We still got it!
A lighthouse at the tip of Monterey Bay.
Tuesday, we met up with some of the gang back at Hidden Beach. Knox took off his shoes and hit the sand like an old pro.
It sure is hard to get both boys, in the same photo, looking at the camera...
Unfortunately, it is equally as difficult to get Thane to wear his hat. So, he got a little sunburned.
But that didn't stop the fun. We spent most of the afternoon enjoying the sun, the sand and good friends.
Mommy with her beach bums!
Wednesday we drove North on Highway 1 to visit a couple beaches off the beaten path. Our first stop was at Natural Bridges.
It was the first time we'd been back since our wedding.
Then we went to Panther Beach, which also has a rock arch formation.
The color in the rock walls was amazing...oranges and blues and grays...we definitely want to spend some more time there someday.
Then we stopped at Shark Tooth Beach. Ib and I happened upon this beach while on the way home from San Francisco during our honeymoon week. Sadly, there was a lot of trash on the beach this time and it wasn't nearly as magical as we'd remembered.
But we had fun attempting to get a self-family-portrait.
And the adjacent artichoke field was amazing!
We also picked up a geocache while we were there.
And then we went home via West Cliff Drive, to stop by the local beaches for more photo ops.
Mommy & a tired boy, taking in the sunset before bed time.
And just like that, it was our last day.
We took the morning to visit Ib's old stomping grounds.
The cliffs at La Selva.
Down to Rio Del Mar & Seacliff.
Thane liked the view from the pier.
Knox liked anything he could climb on.
And then we had a pool party back at the cottage.
Uncle Ib helped Analise & Jameson with some swimming lessons. They were both paddling around the pool by themselves in no time!
After swimming, the cousins enjoyed one last popsicle treat together.
There were hugs all around and then we packed up the car for the long drive back home.
Since we were stopping in LA to spend a night with our friend AJ, we decided to take the Pacific Coast Highway from Santa Cruz to Santa Monica.
It added another 2 hours to our trip, but it was worth every minute.
We had some breathtaking views of the coast, until the fog was too thick just south of Big Sur.
We stopped for lunch in Ragged Point, CA.
And then happened upon a once-in-a-lifetime sight.
Yep. That is a zebra among all those cows.
We even got to see some elephant seals, sunning on the beach!
2 hours of coast time vs. 2 hours of bumper-to-bumper LA freeway time. I'll take that any day!
Knox had the right idea.
So, we had a great vacation with lots of memories and 1400 photos, between Ib and me, to prove it!