San Diego, CA / 2016-07-12

Morning greeted us, our first in this vacation home.  We wanted to explore San Diego today and were able to book an amazing experience for the night.  I worked for a while in the morning while Brooke got the kids ready for the day.  San Diego is certainly famous for the San Diego Zoo, but we decided to go a different route and continue to utilize our MOSI reciprocal pass and visit theNat (The San Diego Natural History Museum) yelp_icon that was located within Balboa Park.

The kids loved exploring the exhibits, learning about the history specifically of the San Diego area.  We spent a lot of time exploring the water animals from the past.

Dinosaur playing area when you first walk in

The best part, however, was an immersive video that was played from behind an Airstream.  The lights dimmed, the sounds of the dessert came alive from all around us and they used shadows to tell a story.  It was very cool and we were telling other visitors to make sure to watch it as it was sort of hard to find.

After leaving theNat, we decided to seek out some amazing food.  Our first stop was at Carnitas Snack Shack.  Brooke ran up to the place while I waited in the car with the kids because sometimes that is just easier.  She brought me back an amazing Triple Threat Sandwich and some seasoned fries.  The kids all grabbed a few fries, but were still wanting something else to eat.  Weston, however, was enraptured by the fries.  He grabbed the bag of fries and wouldn’t share, calling them his special spicy fries.  For the rest of the trip, he begged us to get him more spicy fries!  We drove on while eating this food to Soda and Swine yelp_icon, which reminded Brooke and I of something that we have seen in Nashville before.  The place is very authentic (all natural sodas, home made everything) and uses a lot of natural elements for decoration and decorum.  We found some great options for us and the kids (though I wasn’t too hungry now anyways) and decided to eat outside, as the ambiance suited a family of six better out there.  While we were enjoying our food, the couple that was sitting next to us had departed and were now on the other side of the fencing that separated the restaurant from the sidewalk.  He offered to take a picture of our family and knowing how rare it has been to get pictures of all of us, I agreed immediately.  As he was taking the pictures, though, I had flashbacks to a Modern Family episode where they kept getting their phones and cameras stolen by people who offered to take pictures of them.  Good for us though, he didn’t take off with my camera even though he may have registered a strange look or two from me.
I am hoping this guy doesn’t run off with my phone!
 After this lunch, we headed back to our vacation town home to rest up, clean up and get ready for the night (while I put in more time at work).  We were so very excited to visit the Hotel Del Coronado yelp_icon.  We had eyed this hotel and seriously considered staying there for one night, but we just couldn’t justify the price (it would have cost more than the entire stay in San Diego for one night).  The Victorian style hotel serves as the inspiration for Grand Floridian at Walt Disney World in Orlando, a hotel that has always inspired Brooke.  We made a short drive out to Coronado and found our way toward the hotel.  We considered valet parking, but came across convenient and close street parking instead.
We headed into the main lobby of the hotel and were amazed by the decorations, so grand and so old, yet felt so new.
Chandelier inside the lobby at Hotel Del Coronado
The elevator (Otis #61) was especially interesting and ornate, and had been in operation since 1888.  1888!  We attempted to ride it later only to awkwardly find out it was for hotel guests only.  Moving outside, we encountered some amazing landscaping, including the famous dragon tree and took in the unique look and feel.  The hotel sports rambling white clapboard, with red-peaked roofs, crimson turrets, and lazy verandas.
It is the epitome of picturesque.  Now, onto our experience for the night…..we had secured babysitting for our four kids to allow Brooke and I to enjoy a date night for a couple of hours.  We had considered a date night a few times during the trip, but really had a hard time feeling comfortable with a babysitter with whom we were completely unfamiliar.  And then in walks “Kids Night Out” at the Hotel Del Coronado.  Three hours of completely supervised fun, structured activities, crafts, dinner, a dinosaur dig at the beach (they actually buried bones on the beach and the kids got to go out and dig them up!) from certified, background checked and friendly babysitters in a place where our children could all stay together (to calm their anxieties).  We coached them up and made the experience sound like a once in a lifetime experience, and they were quite excited to start their adventure.
After dropping them off, we just sat down for a bit to reflect and relax.
Starting our date night off relaxing
We had been going since June 21 (21 days to be exact) doing our best to get the most from this experience for our children and for ourselves.  It had been a whirlwind; we had been going non-stop, multiple activities and meals out per day often, sight-seeing, lots of hiking and walking and resting when we could.  It felt to to relax for a bit and just talk about what an experience this had been so far.  This is one of those times in life you will remember forever.  We know Emily and Caitlyn will remember large portions of this trip, and Lila and Weston will have glimpses of recollection, but honestly making sure that I recorded it for them was the primary reason to write this blog.  We talked about our highs and lows and the amazing sights we had seen.  Learning about things we didn’t know that we didn’t know was unexpected (as you would expect!).  But, mostly we talked about the amazing family time we had together, the bonds that had built between all of us.  Here I was in this beautiful place, having just gone through almost a month of amazing experiences with my family that all truly loves each other, I was sincerely humbled to be in that situation and grateful to God for the blessing of knowing it.  We didn’t want to spend too much time just resting, so we set off to see the beach and ocean, and then explore the hotel, the pool and grab some dinner ourselves.  The beach was expansive, like the other beaches we had experiences thus far in California, but more so the difference here was the sand.  It felt more like Florida sand, specifically close to Siesta Key’s famous sugar sand.  It was soft, warm and well kept.
The beach at Hotel Del Coronado
We walked up and down the beach, taking in the views of the hotel, the primary building and the amazing suites that adjoined it.  I had priced out the suites just for curiosity and knowing that those people enjoying their porch and beachfront amenities were paying over $7,000 per night was mind-boggling.  We walked back up to the hotel and began to think about dinner and landed on pizza at Eno’s.  It was good, not great, but again we were just happy to be enjoying dinner by ourselves.  Next, we set out to explore the property, stopping when we wanted at lounge chairs and on the lawn for some amazing views, posing for pictures that looked like that came out of postcards and admiring the landscaping (my favorites were still the Dragon Palm Trees).
We then decided to spend some time in the water and settled on the hot tub and pool.
The main pool at the Hotel Del Coronado
As the time to pick up the kids approached, we got out of the water and changed, but I could not find my flip flops.  Thinking that perhaps I had left them somewhere and the cleaning crew had grabbed them I prepared for a trip to lost and found, but after one more visit to the hot tub we had just left, a teenager returned, red-faced that he had picked up the wrong shoes.  Glad that I would not have to walk through the hotel and back to the car barefoot, we picked up the kids.  They gushed about the wonderful time they had and Weston was particularly friendly with the staff.  It was not only a great night for Brooke and I, but the kids had loved it.  Though it was a splurge to send the kids there for three hours, it was well worth it.

The night was quickly creeping toward midnight as we drove back into San Diego and carried our tired group into the house for sleep.  Another great day.

This is day 22 on our California Road Trip Summer 2016.  Make sure to check out the entire trip!

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