San Diego, CA / 2016-07-13

This was supposed to be our last full day in California.  We were scheduled to return to Florida from the San Diego Airport on July 14th.  However, after we had landed in California, we started making plans for extending the trip so that we could see the Grand Canyon too.  As we talked about it, we didn’t think there would be a time when we would visit the Grand Canyon on its own and this was most likely the best chance for us all to see it together.  Only Brooke had been to the Grand Canyon before, so we were all excited.  During the trip, we had found a vacation home in Sedona, AZ (about two hours from the southern entrance to the Grand Canyon) that was OK with us only staying 2 nights (3 nights is usually the minimum).  And, because our flights were booked with Southwest, we were able to use to change our flights from leaving from San Diego to leaving from Phoenix a few days later without incurring a change fee.  We love Southwest Airlines for that and for the two free bags per customer.  They also don’t count checking a car seat as one of your bags either – so we had a lot of bags!

Regardless, this was our last full day in San Diego, and I couldn’t keep Brooke away from the sea lions anymore. Our first stop of the day was back to La Jolla Cove to get up close and personal with the sea lions.  There were so many of them today enjoying the beach within the cove and people were still very respectful of them.
Sea Lions on the beach at La Jolla Cove
The conservatory marks the newborns for tracking
The sea lions return to the ocean in unison every morning around 830 or 9, so once that occurred, we left the cove and searched for a spot to let the kids enjoy the sand and water between La Jolla Cove and Children’s Pool.
The crowds arrived at La Jolla Cove and the Sea Lions departed (except for that one on the rocks)
Because of the time, there were many spots to choose from, and our party was largely isolated.  I left Brooke and the kids at the beach to take in a short run around La Jolla and when I set off, I looked down and my family were the only people I could see.
Are we alone on a deserted island?
It was a surreal moment, as I was instantly swept into my imagination of a private island with gardens, solar energy and a self-sustaining environment….we often hypothetically talk about being able to do this to get away from the troubles of the world, so this was an interesting snapshot for me looking below.  A honking car quickly snapped me out of it and I began my jog through the main streets and residential areas of La Jolla and then back to the beach where the kids were still playing.
As we began our departure from this area, we decided to leave our beach toys behind for another family to enjoy, knowing that we would not be using them again on this trip and did not intend to pack them.  It didn’t take long, from our vantage point above, to watch another child discover them, look around for someone’s claim and then take up the toys to his parents to ask for permission.  The same glance for ownership and then acceptance.  We stopped by Sugar and Scribe again for some to-go snacks, treats and sandwiches and then swung by the Taco Stand yelp_icon to pick up some food for Brooke and I.  We cleaned up back at the vacation home and decided to venture back to Balboa Park.  Inside the park, we headed to the Fleet Science Center, which was another reciprocal pass from our MOSI membership.  The kids enjoyed building with blocks and walking through the Tape Tunnel, which was a tunnel comprised solely of tape that you could climb through, slide down and explore.
Weston building with blocks, still wearing his dinosaur mask from the night before
We did the tunnel at least a half dozen times.
Inside the Tape Tunnel
There was a section dedicated to Pre-K and under kids called Kid City that made Emily and Caitlyn so jealous.  They were used to being able to experience more than Lila and Weston due to their height and age, not the other way around.   What was nice about the MOSI pass to get into these places was that we felt no pressure to stay any specific time, or get “our money’s worth” from the experience.  We could just enjoy it at face value and stay as long or little as we wished.  After experimenting within the play area, we left the Fleet Science Center and headed to the Pepper Grove Playground.  There was nothing extraordinary about the playground, we had encountered so many of them on this trip, but the trees lining and covering the sidewalks as we approached the park were amazing.  Balboa Park had some amazing landscaping and trees.
Just your average tree cover in Balboa Park
 After the park, we headed into downtown San Diego to explore a bit.  We realized, upon our arrival in San Diego that our trip had coincided with the Major League Baseball All Star game, which was set to go off this night.  We looked into a few events and tickets, but our children (and Brooke) just aren’t into baseball enough to justify the cost.  We did, however, consider going to the free block party downtown, that is until we drove into downtown and attempted to find parking.  It was way to crowded for us, so we left those plans behind.  Brooke had been craving some toffee, so a quick Yelp search later landed us at a place called Sweetbricks.  The artisanal toffee (or craft toffee) offered flavors to us that we had never considered.  We took all the samples we could of these original flavors and then landed on some toffee that they had in stock.  Unfortunately, due to the MLB All Star game, their inventory was pretty short.  The kids were still craving something sweet, so we found a donut shop nearby and we landed on a place called Donut Star yelp_icon.  This was a standard old school donut shop and the donuts were standard fare, but above average.  However, the cleanliness of the place was below average, so we ate quickly, found some gas for the vehicle for the next day and headed back to our place.
We packed up our belongings, aside from what we would need for the next day, loaded up the car and got ready for bed.  I spent some more time at night working as the kids and Brooke fell asleep, preparing ourselves mentally for the more than 7 hours of driving that lay ahead of us tomorrow.
This is day 23 on our California Road Trip Summer 2016.  Make sure to check out the entire trip!

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