Traci has been workin’ on me for a couple of years to go on a family vacation. She and I went to southern California for our honeymoon in 1998, but the kids have never been on a real vacation. Michael and Bradley are now old enough to not be a total drag, so we finally pulled the trigger and made reservations and bought tickets. We left home on March 6th and returned on the 14th, visiting Sea World, California Adventure, Disneyland (for two days), and Knott’s Berry Farm, with one day spent on the beach and one night aboard the Queen Mary. We planned the timing of our trip to coincide with our favorite annual geocaching event in St. George. We hit the road Friday after work/school and stayed at Ken and Betsy’s place that night after meeting up with a bunch of friends for dinner. On Saturday morning we went to the geocaching event/breakfast then headed out with the same group of dinner friends from the evening before for a little fun along the Virgin River. We explored an area where there were probably a dozen or more pit houses, a lot of potsherds, and a few arrowheads.
Unfortunately, the family and I had to leave early to get to San Diego at a decent time, but fortunately we gained an hour crossing into the Pacific time zone. We met up with my cousin, Allyn, and his family in Temecula for dinner. Allyn and two of his kids would be joining us at Sea World the following day as well. We checked into the hotel in San Diego–kind of a dump, actually, but it was cheap and we only needed a place to stay the night before moving on early the next morning. That night we lost the hour we’d gained due to the change to daylight savings time. We were ready early enough on Sunday morning that we had a little time to kill before Sea World opened, so we took a little walk along the San Diego River.
I enjoyed Sea World more than I thought I would. We arrived a little bit before Allyn and his kids, and we wandered around through some of the interactive exhibits where the kids got to touch sharks and rays. When Allyn showed up we spent the day together going on rides and watching a couple of shows. After Sea World closed we ate dinner at In-N-Out in a sketchy part of San Diego, then said goodbye to Allyn and his family and moved on toward Anaheim.
Just as we got off the freeway in Anaheim and stopped at a traffic light, fireworks started going of at Disneyland. It was a nice welcome to Anaheim! Our hotel was pretty nice and we stayed there for two nights. The first day in town we visited California Adventure, which I think I ended up liking better than Disneyland. It was a long day, with a lot of walking. We ate meals outside the park to save money, which meant walking back to the hotel for lunch and dinner.
Our second day in Anaheim was spent at Disneyland. It was another long day of rides and attractions, and yet more walking. We’d planned on spending two days in a row at Disneyland, but by the end of the first day there we were exhausted. We decided to spend the next day at the beach instead.
We went to Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro, where we all enjoyed ourselves despite the dreary and breezy weather. The kids dug in the sand, we caught creatures on the beach and in the water, and the place was nearly deserted save for us.
We motored to Long Beach and spent the night aboard the Queen Mary. After checking in, showering, and going out for dinner, we spent the evening exploring the ship. I woke up early the next morning and thoroughly enjoyed the sunrise while peering out the porthole window.
The next day at Disneyland we were somewhat rested from our beach-day. There were some rides we’d missed on our first day at the park, but I think I’d have rather spent another day at California Adventure. Maybe it would have been worth springing for the park-hopper pass so we could have jumped to/from either park during the day.
That evening we spent the night in Long Beach, away from the parks where lodging and meals would be cheaper. The hotel was decent but the pool was unheated–brr! On our last full day in California we visited Knott’s Berry Farm. It was quite different than I remembered it from 17 years ago. There are a lot more amusement/thrill rides. We all really enjoyed Knott’s–it’s not as whimsical as any of the Disney parks, but it seemed to have more substance and less fluff. Despite the shorter operating hours we still got to ride everything we wanted to, even doing a couple of repeats on the really fun ones. Michael lost his phone one one of the rides just before the park closed, so we spent our last minutes there in a frantic search, but it never turned up.
We drove home on Saturday morning, going pretty much non-stop except for a couple of fuel and food stops. There was one long uphill grade on I-15 where suddenly a big smoke plume started coming from the Jeep. It scared the shit out of me, and I got off the interstate at the next exit and inspected for the source of the smoke. It turned out that the transmission got a little warm and the fluid expanded and leaked out of the breather tube and onto the exhaust. The same thing had happened with my old Grand Cherokee a couple of times and I decided it was nothing to worry about. After cooling off for 10 minutes, we hit the road again and made it home without incident. I pulled into the driveway after dark and the trip odometer showed 1,664.3 miles. I was glad to have all day Sunday to unpack, do laundry, and just relax before returning to work.
Photo Gallery: SoCal Vacation