Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A family trip

I don't dare call it a vacation. Vacations are relaxing, fun and take the worry off of every day concerns. Our trip to San Diego, did very little of that.


We wake up bright and early. Actually not very bright, but very, very early.

Matt's dad works for Alaska Airlines so we fly using guest passes. The great thing about them is that they are cheap. The bad thing about them is that you are a stand-by passenger. So you are not guaranteed a seat. Because of this it is best to get there early in the morning in hopes that people miss their plane.

We checked the plane loads the night before and it was looking very promising. But when we arrive at Sea Tac, we are disappointed to find out that there have been a few overbooking issues and all of the flights are packed full.

We try anyway.

We try the 6:30am. No luck.
Then the 7:15, 8:45, 10:20, 12:45, and the 2:45. We decide to split up in hopes that our chances will be greater. Matt gets on the 4:10 flight and makes it into San Diego.

Not long after Matty leaves we realize that he boarded the plane with Sam's binky.

Fear starts to set in.

Not only am I alone at the airport with no promise of getting OUT of Seattle, I am stuck with no pacifier, no car seat and very little entertainment for my 2 year old.

I decide to buy a 1 way ticket to San Diego. $400 dollars later, I am feeling a little better (and poorer) about the situation knowing that I am at least going to be on a flight at 8:45 that night. But we keep trying anyway. By this time I have made friends with the other stand by passengers who have been waiting all day with us. We all go to dinner together and by some miracle, all make it on to the 6:15 flight. I cancel my paid ticket-full reimbursement. Phew.

The flight goes 100% better than I expect without a binky. Sam is able to watch a few movies and eat some candy I snagged right before our flight.

Just as we are about to land the pilot pulls the plane up dramatically and announces that the rain in California is causing very low visibility (WHAT?!) and we may have to land in LA.

A few tears of frustration escape my eyes. The guy next to us tries to console me when we notice the plane attempt a landing once again. This time he succeeds and the people aboard literally cheer out loud.

We are greeted at the airport in San Diego by Matthew with our rental car. We hop in and head to dinner and bed.


We wake, shower and pack for a full day at Sea World.

A suggestion from the hotel Concierge sends us to breakfast at The Mission. We down our french toast and promise to return. The food is seriously amazing.

Sam is thrilled when we tell him that we are going to see sharks and whales.
See, He's thrilled!
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But once in the park he is greeted by his biggest fear.

A man in costume.
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However, this time he seems to be more curious than worried and when he calls the Penguin "Mumble" the actor dances a little jig and Sam smiles.

We spend most of our time at Rocky Pointe. You can reach into the water and pet the dolphins. Matt is lucky and gets to touch one and I am in heaven when another one of the dolphins brings me a toy. I play a little game of tug-of-war and then toss it for him. He "clicks" at me as if to say thank you and then sneezes salty water/dolphin snot onto my face. A wonderful souvenir.
Sam and Daddy wait for the Dolphins. Sam just likes the fact that we allow him the play in the water.
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Matt and I are blown away by the Shamu show. Sam seems to enjoy watching, but uses the show as a time to snack and rest.
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We gladly sit out of the splash zone. Those people get soaked!
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Sea World is a lot of fun and the weather is awesome. We are glad to finally be having some fun on our vacation.
The seals are so funny. We feed them some fish, but they just keep begging!
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Matt made a mental bet about how many times I would say "I just love the trees here!" I guess I say it a lot when I go to different states :)
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Daddy and Sam in the Shark tank.
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Mommy and Sam check out the Penguins.
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Sam watches the fish in the walrus enclosure.
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Sam learns about Star Fish.
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That night we watch Sam devour fish and chips and then head back to the hotel to get some rest. While playing in our room Sam trips and receives a major bruise/cut on his face from the bed frame. Ouch.

We watch Tangled and fall asleep.


Tired but ready for another day of fun, I check the flight status in hopes of getting back home to Seattle tonight without any stress. The flights are overbooked again.

I make a few calls and send a few emails and decide that its best for my sanity to stay another night and try to get out Saturday afternoon when the flights are looking more open. Luckily the hotel extends our discounted stay and the car is able to be rented another night.

We eat another wonderful meal at The Mission (mmm...croissant, eggs, spinach and goat cheese...) and then drive to The San Diego Zoo.

Unfortunately, its raining.

We start the day a little upset about being wet in California, but soon the sun comes out and we are having a good time once again.
Matt is a little nervous about getting so close to the peacock!
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The Zoo exceeds our expectations and Matt and I cant stop talking about how cool everything is. From the koala's to the bugs, we are very happy customers.
Matt finds a snail and shows it to Sam.
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Sam asks, "where'd it go?" every time a bird flies over us in the aviary. 
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This momma duck has the newest little ducklings I have ever seen! So tiny.
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Sam passes out in his stroller and when he wakes we notice green discharge coming from his now pink eyes. Great. A sick kid. We quickly clean him up with wet wipes and continue our day with a visibly sick, but very happy Sam.
Of course we spend a lot of time with the Giraffes. Sam is enthralled!San Diego 515
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This baby giraffe is only 3 days old!
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The lion roars and grunts for us. And then sprays us with pee. Luckily, he has bad aim.
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As we were head out of the zoo, this peacock shows off for us. I took so many pictures. :)
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That night we walk around downtown and eat dinner at Nicky Rottens followed by dessert at Ghirardellis. Sam picks out some dinosaurs at the toy store and we stroll back to our room and call it a night.


Matt gets a call in the morning from his dad explaining that there have been some computer issues at Alaska Airlines and we may have some trouble with flights. We decide its best to get to the airport as soon as possible.

Sam is unable to open his crusty eyes when he wakes and we wipe them clean with a warm wash cloth and shower him off. We drug him up with some de-congestant and hope to get home as soon as we can to get him to a doctor.

We pack up our things and head out to breakfast only to find The Mission busy with weekend brunchers. Darn it.

We eat at Denny's and then drop off our rental car at the airport.

When we arrive to get our boarding passes we hear the news that Alaska Airline's computer system has crashed and hundreds of flights are cancelled. The lines are hours long.

We speak to an agent who explains to us that there is no way we are going to get out until Wednesday on guest passes. We exhale and head out of the airport.

We check other airlines for tickets with no luck. They are either booked up due to the Alaskan issue, or cost thousands of dollars.

We go through all of our options and decide the only way home is to drive.
Sam is entertained by his dinosaurs while Matt searches his computer for cheap car deals.
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Sam is all smiles, (bruises and all) naive to what is about to go down.
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We head back into the rental car office and get ourselves the most gas efficient car they have. We pack our bags, pick up some snacks and get on the road. Its about 3:30pm.

Sam quickly falls asleep while Matt and I pass the happiest place on earth. We were so close....
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When its time for dinner we stop at a mall in Burbank. We eat at California Pizza Kitchen (it's no better in its state of origin) and spend a little leg stretching time in IKEA.

My "Aunt Flo" decides to join us (5 days early) on our trip. Now with headache, cramps and tiredness we head back on the road only to realize my credit card has been left at the restaurant.

Back into CPK. The creepy manager gives me a hard time for not bringing my ID in with me and decides to let me off the hook right before I snap. Lucky guy.

Now we are on the road and trying our best to entertain Sam. He is tired and frustrated but we give it our all. About 5 hours into our drive home Sam (and Mommy) are done being in the car. We pull over in Kettleman City (aka-middle of nowhere) at a Best Western and pass out.


With three McDonald's breakfast sandwiches we head back onto the road. We decide that since we'll need to get out of the car to keep Sam from exploding we should stop at "fun" places along the way.

We head into San Francisco.

We arrive at the Bay Bridge only to find out there is a cash only toll. We have no cash. We are given a fine of $25. We cringe at all the money this mess-of-a-trip is costing us.

We find parking down by Fisherman's Wharf and eat some lunch at an Italian restaurant near the water.
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Tired, pink eyed boy.
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Sam is dying to let off some steam so we take a walk down to the pier and play at the beach.
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Time is passing fast and we are all dreaming of  home, so we get back into the car, drive over the Golden Gate Bridge and get lost in Petaluma.
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After about an hour of frustrating turn-arounds and go-backs, we find our way back onto the freeway.
We drive through beautiful areas like Napa Valley and when its time to eat dinner, we pull over at an Ihop and sit down.

Not long into our meal Sam drops something and when he bends down to pick it up smashes his forehead on the corner of the table. Another bruise, another complaint.

I am feeling miserable. Not only do I have all the symptoms for "that time of the month" I am extremely stiff from being in the car, tired of this trip and I am starting to get a sore throat.

We fuel up with gas and food and I make a mental vow to just get home. We do everything we can to make it through the night in the car.

We buy supplies for movie watching, hungry tummys and sick babies. We grab cans of caffeine and head out for a long night on I5.

I take the wheel hoping it will help distract me from all the discomfort I am in. I listen to Stephen King books on CD while the boys get in a few Zzzs. I drive through Shasta and Medford (YAY! Oregon) and my hands are sweaty from the snowy mountain passes. But I am glad to be one state closer to home!

We pull over to stretch some where near Eugene and Matt takes the pilot roll. I attempt to get Sam back to sleep with no luck. Its now about 2am.

Matt gets us through Oregon and back into the state of Washington. Sam has still not slept. At about 4am, we are in Longview and Sam finally succumbs to sleep.

We drive through Olympia, Tacoma and then Seattle. Its a beautiful sight for extremely tired eyes.

At 6:30am we pull into our driveway. We are spent. The dogs (who were taken care of by Shauna) greet us at the door and are disappointed when we head upstairs and collapse into bed.


We pretty much sleep the day away.


We wake up at 11am, finally feeling rested and we take Sam to the Dr. They prescribe him steroids for his lungs and nothing but time for his pink eye. We relax/clean/eat most of the day.

We are all HAPPY TO BE HOME. As much as we loved Sea World and the Zoo, the word "San Diego" still gives us a little anxiety. But, we lived! And managed to see some things we have always wanted to see.


Colton said...

Wow. Seriously, wow. Someday when we're all rich, I can't wait to take flights anywhere I want at the last minute and never have the stresses of traveling.

Also, I love that picture of the mandarin duck swimming next to the giant koi. It. is. AWESOME!

I'm glad you guys survived (barely). Feel better!

Shannon Hunnex said...

im exhausted reading all that... what a trip!!

The Owens Family said...

Oh man! What a trip! I adored the zoo photos and videos! It "looks" like you guys had an amazing time ;)

Sabs said...

loved this post. your writing is hillarious. and seriously if you only look at the photos it looks like an amazing trip. Although i kinda love the reality of your storytelling too:)just wait til you travel with more kids:)