It's been two years since we visited Ed and Barb at their home in Pacific Grove, Monterey, and the children had been asking for another visit, so we put that on our calendar for this month. Despite coming down with a cold followed by a painful ear infection, I somehow managed to pack up the children and myself and grab some antibiotics at Urgent Care before leaving for our trip.
Taking a vacation with two kids while being 30 weeks pregnant and sick was a new experience. My left ear was plugged for the duration of the trip, and my energy was at an all-time low. Despite that, the vacation was the most restful one I've had since the welcoming of Lee into our family.
Things I would normally fuss about—knowing and planning our events and meals, taking pictures at every stop, kids whining in the car, noisy children bothering restaurant guests, forgetting my tea and deodorant, keeping track of all our belongings, making sure we're driving the right direction—fell by the wayside because I didn't have the energy to worry about them. When we set up our folding chairs on the beach, I wasn't bored or antsy without a book or journal. I was content to just sit and watch the children play. I left my computer at home and my phone in the car. I was too tired to take pictures and my brain felt too mushy to cough up any thoughts to record in my journal. I simply rested. And it was lovely.
I ought to add that without Philip and Ed and Barb, all this relaxing wouldn't have been possible. Phil checked us in and out of Cambria Pines Lodge. He loaded and unloaded the car. He took the children on outings so I could nap. He took pictures and coordinated a breakfast with Luke Shakelford. He acted as the enforcer of rules and the face behind the fun for the children. He handled our vacation schedule and budget as well.
Then Ed and Barb stepped in with outing suggestions and aquarium passes and meals and a love for us and our children that made us feel right at home. They watched the children one morning so Phil and I could grab breakfast at Monterey's First Awakenings. Phil and Ed took the kids to Dennis the Menace Park, and Barb made us sandwiches for a picnic on the beach. They supplied the kids with age-appropriate toys and enough Doc Mcstuffin and sugar to last them the rest of the year.
The children were great travelers this time round. I'm so encouraged to see how each year they become easier to take places. In the car they sat quietly listening to Mrs. Piggle Wiggle or A Series of Unfortunate Events. They drew on their doodle pads, which were a travel gift from Auntie Terri several years ago. Rose dressed her magnetic doll and Lee found Waldo. They indulged in Cheetos and fruit leather and PB&J bars from Trader Joes. And even though we still had to stop for the restroom every hour or so, I welcomed the bathroom pit stops too.
We spent one night at Cambria Pines Lodge, stopping at Padaro Beach Grill on the way up. This year Phil secured us a corner room with a forest view and a living room separate from the bedroom. I don't know why we haven't requested this prior years. That was definitely the way to go. After putting the kids to bed, Phil and I could stay up an entire thirty minutes before we too conked out. That's luxury right there.
Highlights included rock hopping at Moonstone Beach, the children wading through neck-high nasturtiums at the Cambria Pines Lodge kitchen garden, the yellow mustard so vibrant and the oaks so majestic along highway 46, spotting dead jelly fish on the sandy beach, picking up hermit grabs and touching sea "enemies" at the tide pools, homemade meat loaf and asparagus at Ed and Barb's, watching the sea otter video and standing in the splash tunnel at the aquarium, spotting a doe and her fawn in Ed and Barb's front yard, watching the children perform somersaults on the fake turf in their front yard, Ed tossing fancy shells onto the rocks for Lee and Rose to find, acquiring a list of book suggestions from Barb, Ed playing Guess Who with Lee, Rose's delight at collecting colorful pebbles, sipping cool kombucha on the beach, listening to Lee explain to newcomers what fish were swimming in the open ocean display at the aquarium, children in their underwear leaping from the rocks, watching the train go by at Padaro Beach Grill, hearing how Lee would've defeated the snow monster in Frozen, sleeping in until 7am almost every morning, Phil doing a load of laundry at Ed and Barbs, the children's excitement when showing Ed and Barb our 2017 family movie, being content with only hearing half of what's going on, and Lee expressing that he was so excited to go home because he missed his blankets and bed.