Justin and I enjoyed a very relaxing adventure in Monterey, CA. We wanted to celebrate 10 years of marriage a couple months after our anniversary. We are so grateful to Elaine Peters and my Mom for coming out to care for our kids while we escaped for a while. Elaine came Sunday night to acquaint herself with the schedule and get a tour of the house and such. She was playing with the kids in their room when Amelia said, "As I watched my parents book their plane tickets (she was asleep by the way), I felt a storm coming!" Her eyes filled with tears. Phillip upon hearing the word "storm" shouted "Thunder!!" and "Lightening!!" I loved that depiction of our kids, one tender-hearted poet and a one-word wonder. I think we were all a little nervous about leaving 4 small kids. Amelia and Phillip had us each pack a stuffed animal, fair bear and lovable panda.
Elaine reported that everything went really well, short of normal hiccups like tantrums and teething. Mom arrived Tuesday evening, where Elaine gave her the tour and handed off the reins. Grandma brought little presents for the kids to open each day. Phillip was really good at reminding her about the gifts! Everett had a rather temperamental Thursday, probably just tired and missing mom. He did go on a field trip with his preschool friends to Walmart. Stacey Hermes took the boys on a short tour of Walmart. The boys looked so adorable in long vests, holding hands. Stacey had the boys decorate cookies for a snack. Evelyn decided to bust out a top left tooth while we were gone. She is still running snot and fevers trying to pop out all the other teeth she should have by now.
Justin and I moseyed on down to Denver Airport to catch a plane to San Jose. Denver airport is really busy. The ticket and security lines were really long. I got to sit between two smelly and farty men on the ride over. Gross. We stopped to visit with Grandpa and Grandma Lance before we headed to Monterey. Grandma had her book club meeting at 4:30 so we only stayed a little while. Shawn and Robyn were still in town cleaning out their home before they closed on their rental. We stopped by to visit with them for a bit. I was so glad to finally meet Robyn. She is so amazing! The air is so fragrant in California, we loved the smell of the eucalyptus trees. Justin and I decided to have dinner at Phil's Seafood and Market near Moss Landing. Talk about fresh seafood, we even tried some fresh oysters. I had their famous cioppino. A live bluegrass band completed the atmosphere.
Tuesday morning we found "From Scratch" a restaurant featured on DDD in the Barnyard in Carmel. It boasted amazing double sausage gravy over biscuits. The sausage is made from scratch! I had French Toast. Yum. Since we were in Carmel we drove out to Point Lobos for a hike. Several docents were stationed near Seal Rock with high powered spotting scopes. When we hiked near a cliff I kept thinking about Phillip, trying to keep him on land. It was strange not having the kids to wrestle. Justin suggested a visit to Carmel Mission. The mission was recently renovated for the 4th time. It looks pretty amazing. We could not get over how beautiful the flowers, plants, shrubs, and trees were. California was in full bloom. Next we walked around Carmel-by-the-sea and visited the ocean. Justin found a cool driving cap, at the same shop he got me a selfie stick and a remote! We played with the device for the rest of our trip. The stick is also handy as a billy club if you need one. For dinner we ate at the famous Sardine Factory, the maitre d' seated us in the conservatory. He was quite disappointed we did not order wine or alcohol. Once again it was quite lovely to enjoy the ambiance without our kids throwing spit balls. We picked up some pie from Rosine's another DDD feature.
Wednesday we rented a double surrey to bike along the bike path. The "bike" was so heavy and unwieldy that it was pretty difficult to go more than a mile or so. We biked to the wharf for a quick look. Joseph recommended a favorite sandwich joint the soldiers at DLI love called Compagno's Market and Deli. The owner is bonefide Italian. He was a real treat to watch as he interacted with the young soldiers, patting them on the back and thanking each soldier for his service. That was so touching. The sandwich(es) were out of this world. Yum. We drove along 17-mile drive admiring what billions of dollars can buy. I really think I would be a terrible rich person, I am too simple in my tastes and don't care to sift money through my fingers. Still, it was nice to admire. We were able to Skype with Mom and the kids after our drive. The kids were very excited to hear that their animals were enjoying their vacation as well. We watched the sunset over Lover's Point. I remember many a sunset spent thinking on the rocks at Lover's Point.
Thursday we drove Highway 1 along Big Sur to Hearst Castle. We stopped several times for a moment to admire stunning views along the coast. Our favorites were Bixby Bridge and the Elephant Seal beach. Justin almost got carsick driving along the twists and turns. We arrived at the visitor's center to find that the drought is so severe all indoor bathrooms were closed. Porta potties were readily available for visitors to use. That made me day dream about what would happen to our food supply and economy if California turned back into a desert. Scary. I've wanted to visit Hearst Castle for years and years now. I like how the Hearst's go "camping". Their castle(s) is certainly a nice way to camp. The famous Neptune pool was under renovation so the water was drained, frown. Hearst's decorating tastes were extravagant, gutting churches for the choir pews, ceilings, tables, art, etc. The setting felt almost sacrilegious, knowing the guests were frolicking in frivolity in the setting of deep religion. I loved the smaller guest quarters, they were small, reminding me of jeweled boxes.
Friday morning we headed down to Cannery Row for gifts, shells for the kids, and little tokens. Then we drove to Gilroy for a nice visit with my Grandparents. Scott gave us a tour of his newly completed train mural. It is absolutely amazing. So much detail. I think linear murals are much more difficult to execute then artistic ones. Some local family came over for dessert. We had a fun time talking and laughing with Jon, Jan, Julia, Joshua, Jessica, Sadie, Justin, Anna, Luke, Ella and Scott. We left for home the next day around 10 am. San Jose airport was much easier to get through then Denver. Justin and I got to sit next to each other on the flight home.
We were worried that after a day or so we would run out of conversation. When conversation did run out, the silence was very comfortable and companionable. I love that about our relationship. It was so wonderful to focus on us for 6 days. The good news: we are still in love, still work well together, we are pretty goofy and nerdy, and are planning our next vacation in 5 years. Hoping to visit Europe next time. Amelia was crying to her teacher the Friday before we left that she was worried Justin and I were getting divorced, so we needed to take a vacation. A partial truth, she asked why we had to leave on a vacation. I told her that sometimes mommies and daddies need to have time alone to remember they are friends and in love, if parents don't spend enough time together they could end up divorced. I think all she heard was divorce. Silly girl.
We arrived home to hundreds of hugs and kisses. Evelyn seemed more grown up, more independent than ever. The kids were very excited over their new shells. Amelia was over the moon excited about her mood ring. Phillip also got a shark Frisbee! We settled back into parenting like a glove. A nice clean glove ready for use. It was so nice to be gone. It was so nice to be home. We love our little ones so much. A million thanks goes out to my Mom and Elaine for holding down our home and loving our kids.