I visited California for the first time for my 30th birthday and fell in love with the state instantly. I could not believe how beautiful it was. On that trip, we traveled from San Diego to San Francisco, primarily up the coast. The day after we arrived in San Diego, I turned on the morning news and learned that there had been a freak November snow storm in Julian. I hadn't seen snow since I left New Jersey when I was six years old. I looked at a map (this was before smart phones!) and learned that Julian was just 90 miles east of where we were staying. I was ecstatic! Despite the fact that the warmest clothes we packed were sweatshirts and jeans, we went for it. Alana and Chase got to see snow for the first time and build their first snowman (using cherry tomatoes that a local woman offered us for eyes). It was incredible. In less than two hours, we were back at the beach in 65-degree weather.
Since that first trip, we've been back to California three times - in 2004, 2005 and 2007. (After that, we added on to our house and the economy simultaneously went down the toilet, thereby hampering any further trips to the Golden State (or anywhere else for that matter!).) :( Some of my family's fondest memories, though, are from our trips to California. These are the things that I dream of:
1. Horseback riding on the beach - This was the most fun I've ever had on vacation. We did this in Oceano on the central coast. I'll never forget that there was a goat on the farm who had eaten all of the reservations for July. We had a blast!
2. Islands Fine Burgers and Drinks - More specifically, Hula Burgers and Kona Pie. Islands has been my favorite restaurant since they opened in Florida in the early 90s. The restaurant's non-smoking only policy, implemented in Florida long before the law was officially passed, led to their demise. They are still going strong in California, though. In spite of the fact that I do make a killer knock-off of Kona Pie (if I do say so myself), I still eat there several times when I'm on the West Coast!
|Alana and Chase at Hyatt Huntington Beach|
4. Long Beach - Probably one of the cleanest cities I've ever been to. We've visited the Aquarium of the Pacific a couple of times and toured the Queen Mary on one of our trips (but the kids were "creeped out," so we didn't stay long). Long Beach is really the only part of the Los Angeles area that I really enjoyed (except Venice Beach reigns supreme for people watching - we actually saw a guy wearing a sign that read "Will work for pot." At least he was honest!)
8. The Most Beautiful Drives Ever - Nothing beats driving along the coast with nothing between the road and the ocean but SAND (and maybe some rocks)! I was amazed to find that hotels are not built on the beach in many places, but across the Pacific Coast Highway. California is the one place that owning (or renting) a convertible makes sense (though I've never done it...yet.)
|Driving down the coast in San Diego County|
In a little over a week, I will be traveling to San Diego for ISTE. As soon as I saw the location of ISTE 2012 at last year's convention in Philadelphia, my heart was set on going. When I found out that I was going to be able to represent VocabularySpellingCity at ISTE this year, I was ecstatic. I've been to enough conventions to know that there isn't much down time, but I'm hoping to at least get to see the beach, possibly visit Oceanside, and have a Hula Burger and Kona Pie at Islands while I'm there. I'm sad that my family won't be joining me on this trip, but I hope that someday in the not-too-distant future we'll be able to go back to California and make some more wonderful memories.