Sunday, October 28: Drive to Los Angeles
Our trip began at 4:00am. The boys slept in the spare room so access to them was easy. We had initially planned on leaving at 3:00 (this is what we had told Maysen) and at 3:22am he came in to inform us that we had overslept. I told him we were not leaving until 4:00am and he went back to sleep.
Nate took the first round of driving with coffee thermos in hand. Luckily the boys fell back asleep (rare for Maysen!) and we 3 all woke up around 7:00. Nate had already crossed the Siskou’s and we were well on our way to Redding, CA by the time I took over driving at 7:30.
I attempted to drive but just was too unsuccessful with waking up enough to drive. Lately, I don’t know why, I just can’t drive without getting sleepy if I’m driving before 12:00/noon. It seems like we stopped frequently this trip and would just cap off the gas tank when we’d stop. The boys never re-napped but both Nate and I would cat nap. I finally drove the rest of the way clear through the grapevine (yikes!) and hauling 80mph through the straight shot freeway. Driving through L.A. proved to be quite the experience, even at 7:00pm on a Sunday night. I am reminded with this drive why I do not desire to live in the city.
We pulled up to the Holiday Inn at 7:30pm. We were upgraded to an Executive Suite (which I think meant we got a bathrobe), and we could not peel the kids out fast enough. I think all of our rear ends were glued to the seats.
We unloaded the Tahoe, made our way up to the 9th floor, checked out the balcony and could see the “heated” pool was empty. Everyone grabbed swimming suits and headed down. I’m not sure what qualifies a pool as “heated” but whatever it is, it does not mean “heat”. It was freezing; even still, both Mase and Nate jumped in. Griff was pulled in by Nate but didn't last long. He found the warm outdoor shower and stood in that the rest of the time. Mase had learned how to dive at the lake this summer but really did a good job diving into the deep end.
Griff had enough and he and I went back up to the room and ordered room service for dinner, took showers, and waited for Nate and Mase to come back. Once everyone got full and warm, it was lights out and ready for vacation!
Monday, October 29: Sail Away!
We had our breakfast on the hotel’s rooftop restaurant which provides 360 degrees of panoramic views. This was such a great opportunity to teach them about pollution as they kept wondering what the “brown fog” was. Not used to that in Oregon! We had to wait until noon until our shuttle left and keeping the boys settled until then was quite the feat having just driven 14hrs the day before. Luckily it passed quickly and before we knew it, “Chris” from the Philippians was dropping us off at our cruise terminal.
We had been upgraded to V.I.P. status when we booked the cruise so we were able to go through the VIP boarding and it was a … BREEZE! We were on the ship within 10min. We quickly decided to check our room out and was MORE than surprised at what we found. Now, I had learned this ship had no “veranda staterooms” which is what we normally get so we can have a balcony. When booking, we had decided to save the money and just get a normal stateroom. We were given an option to upgrade to a “Guest Suite” and I’m so glad we did. This suite was larger than the hotel room we had stayed in the night before, and hands-down bigger than any other cruise accommodations we’d ever had. The couch pulled out into a queen sized bed for the boys and “living room” had a lot of space. Our bathroom was huge (by ship standards) and had a jetted tub!
The “emergency evacuation” brief was the most bizarre thing ever. We had to meet in the Paris Lounge, then we were shuttled up 2 flights of stairs and out to the deck. Then it was over. The boys were tired and hot and our bags still hadn't arrived. So, the boys went on the water slides in their …. Underwear. Yep! Ghetto’d it out, folks. They didn't care, we didn't care … and fun was had by all!
We signed up for early dining, and to my dismay, it’s “assigned”. I only dislike it because, especially with kids, I just want to eat and go. With assigned group seating we have to pretend to be interested in strangers sitting at your table, and usually you can count on our children to misbehave. You could tell right away we were grouped in the “people with kids” table because we were 10min late to dinner and we were escorted through the dining room to the very back … no, the VERY back by the kitchen and revolving door. The 2 other couples at the table had young kids, too. #1 have 2yr old Hunter and #2 have 4yr old Sophia. The boys loved Sophia and kept her entertained.
Mase kept talking to Sophia’s mom about fun facts about him and how this was his “3rd”cruise and how he can’t see without his glasses. What!?
Dinner was good – beef brisket. We caught up to everyone else pretty quick but I just hated the wading through tables because we were late and how when you say “oh, excuse me” no one scoots in so you say “hell with it” and plow over them, knocking them in the head with your elbow because your gut is NOT making it through behind their chair gracefully.
We wandered around up on deck after dinner to look at a beautiful full-moon lit sky. Men in Black 3 was on, and believe it or not, Griff lasted longer than Mase at watching the movie.
Tuesday, October 30, 2012: Catalina Island
Morning came too early. We were all sleeping so well; I think the boys slept in until 8:00. I was DEAD to the world, so Nate took the boys to breakfast. They brought me breakfast in bed (cinnamon roll and cereal). It was then time to get ready to tender off the boat and onto Catalina Island.
Weather was perfect today! About 75 with a bit of a breeze. Mase was having a bit of an attitude problem with demanding to go here and there so while he sat out Griff went and got in the sand. When Mase joined him, he went full speed ahead and got totally soaked from the waist down, and of course the fine sand was everywhere, which leads to immediate whining. We decided we were going to rent a golf cart to tour the island. This was a blast! The golf cart lady told me there were 2 places to take Mase to get cleaned up. The first shower house had salt water to use, which makes chafing worse. Off to the second place. We get there, and I leave with both boys while Nate drives around. The showers are closed for the morning. We decided to walk to the nearby restrooms and I would just do what I could to get the sand off. First, he’s wearing Griffin’s underwear (Nate unpacked). He strips in the bathroom and he decided he needed better rinsing and climbed up on to the sink. Got the rest of the clothes wet. Griffins climbing under stalls. This was not working. I sent Mase out to the golf cart in nothing but those tight underwear. I have to pull a tourist-move and go get a new outfit for Mase. Every store I walked into sold hoodies and dresses but no little boy shorts and t-shirts.
Finally we struck it rich and $30 later for a ho-hum Hanes t-shirt and shorts, we were made. While waiting for Nate to pick us up I ran into Couple #3 from the dinner table. Feeling the need to explain what was happening, I got “Well we thought we saw Maysen and we wondered why he was in the golf cart with underwear on”. Oh my.
The tour of Catalina was so pretty. It was quiet and we had fun driving the carts around. We had a quaint lunch and ice cream and tendered back.
Mandatory quiet time was then established for the next 30min. The boys were quiet and pooped, Nate and I had a quick nap and then we were off to the pool! The sun felt amazing. The boys went down the water slide repeatedly, screaming the whole way down with glee. Watching us pull away from Catalina with the sun in the distance was priceless.
We got dried/cleaned up and ready for dinner but first a quick stop at put-put golf which Griff had been dying to play. He chucks that ball like he’s playing with a baseball. Dinner time we decided to for-go the “elegant night” and we hit the buffet and did it on our own time. The evening show was a dance/singing act that the boys really liked! Griff did fall asleep at the end of it, but we had promised him Arcade time at the end of it, so he piped right up “Game time?” when the music ended.
We came back to the room and Nate hit up the casino. The boys and I watched Happy Feet 2 and ordered room service for dessert. Special mommy/boy time. Perfect day! Looking forward to tomorrow.
October 31: Halloween & Ensenada!
I think this going 100mph is catching up with all of us. We were all able to sleep in until 9:45am. We woke up already in port at Ensenada! We have 13hrs here and we were planning on taking a cab to Estero Beach. We left the ship around 11:00 and right away boarded a shuttle that announced they would take us to the middle of town for $3 round trip. Once aboard, the kind sexy Spanish woman told of an excursion that would take us 20mi to the “real” Mexican markets, not the Americanized shopping that awaited us downtown. She was right. Once we got downtown we were surrounded by McDonalds, Subway, and Starbucks. The same excursion through Carnival would cost us $29, but they were offering it for $15/person. We were sold and we moved to another bus and we were off! I should make a side note that Mase made his first purchase of the Mexican experience. A man selling bracelets with names on them got $4 out of Mase for a purple bracelet with the name …. “Natalie”….for his girlfriend, of course.
Our tour guide was named “Alex” and he did a good job of getting everyone loosened up. “Kate” was a cute blonde that was with her rough and tough friend, Cindy. Alex paid her special attention and I wondered if Alex really had a family back home. He sort of appeared to be the family man looking type, if there is such a thing.
We arrived at our destination and was surprised to find they charge one peso to use the bathroom. You pay, and are given your wad of toilet paper. The woman in the bathroom was handing out towels for tips. The boys did have an eye-opener on the trip as we passed shacks and kids selling produce on the side of the road.
The little street was filled with vendors on both sides of the street. Alex walked us down the street past all the vendors to La Belforda, the blowhole. It was spouting nicely today, but the boys were soon disinterested and ready to spend their money! As soon as we hit the street again, we were harassed by the vendors. I understand they have to make their living, but it was annoying! We ate lunch at Hanna Banana’s, Mase got his picture with a yellow Boa Constrictor. We wanted to buy the boys some cowboy boots. We got them down from $450 to $150. It amazes me how ballooned the prices are. We found more than we needed and the boys were proud of their finds. Mase got a guitar, Griff a suction cup bow and arrow, and they both found accordions.
On our ride back to the ship, Alex made his moves on Kate, which she kept telling him “no”. It was interesting to watch.
Once back on board the boys tore into their new toys. Accordions galore! We fed the sea gulls parts of our Chex Mix and they were flying pretty close and we made quite the stir up! They were flying all over right by our room. The guy next door got quite the pictures! They were our "flying Willards!"
Costumes were donned and the Ninja’s came out! We went to dinner and opted for pizza instead of formal dining. It was then time for trick-or-treating scavenger hunt and the boys had a lot of fun! On more than one occasion we were asked if the boys were twins. They’re looking more alike the older they get.
Then it was time for much needed quite time! The boys went to Camp Carnival while Nate and I enjoyed a movie to ourselves. I also started laundry – as tomorrow is an all-day day at sea and most people will be using the washer/dryer I’m sure. As I’m typing this, the boys came home and the whirlwind has returned. Tomorrow should be interesting … but looks like they have lots of activities planned. Then it’ll be on to Disney!!!
Disneyland for the rest of the trip!
We got back to Holiday Inn to pick our car up. I took the boys inside to potty and when we came outside Nate had the Tahoe waiting for us. However, the Tahoe looked like it had been dive-bombed by sap bombs. We had parked the car under a tree to prevent scorching it! But now it was covered front to back in sap. Luckily there was a full-service car wash nearby and that was a neat experience. You give them the keys and they take it from you and return it to you it completely clean.
We checked into our Disney Hotel, the Grand Californian. What a place! It looks like a lodge and it is amazing! Our room had bunk beds and our balcony's view was the monorail.
Every afternoon we would walk off the park and into our Disney hotel for swimming. It was so nice being right in the park! In the afternoons when the heat would get to us, we would come back and swim in one of the 3 pools.
We filled our days with Disneyland over the next 3 days. Nate enjoyed watching me freak out on Grizzly River Rapid Ride.
I will leave you with this story of our departing of the Grand Californian. We were to leave at 3:00am. Nate called down to bellhop for service. Ring, ring, ring. No answer. Finally he walked out the door and looked down at the desk and yelled "hello?" they assured us someone would come and help. After 10min and no help, Nate strapped all of our luggage (mind you was 4 pieces) together by the latches and rolled out the door like a train. Not to mention he wasn't all that happy so it was more like a bull dragging luggage down the hallway to the elevator. Then valet didn't have our car waiting like they said. By the time we walked 2 sleeping boys down to the Tahoe and drove away it was nearly 4:00am. Back to zzzzzz I went. I have vague memories of gas station and slamming of doors. My eyes opened up at 7:30.
I looked around and the scenery was not familiar. We weren't on the interstate like I knew we'd supposed to be at. There were cows, and grass farmland. Then I looked over to Nate and I saw this man in blue sunglasses like something Betty White should be wearing. His face said, "Don't mess with me and if you say a word about my glasses I will punch you in the throat." Well, here:
At the gas station he had dropped and broke his sunglasses. This was the "best option" at the gas station so he went with it. I laughed for a great while. It ended the vacation on a great note ... even if it was at Nate's expense. Another great vacation and memories in the books!