I had always heard how beautiful the San Diego Temple was and so I was overjoyed that I was finally going to be able to see it in person. It was everything I thought it would be and more. In some ways it reminded me of the Washington DC temple. The kids loved running around on the grass and I loved taking pictures of them. It was the perfect way to spend one of our last afternoons in San Diego.
One of the perks of the military is the opportunity to stay at inexpensive hotels in nice places. The Navy Lodge on Coronado is one of those places. Aside from being one of the nicest Navy Lodges out there, it is in a beautiful place. The views from the Beach are great, and the hotel Del Coronado is right next door. We discovered that running there made for some really nice mornings. Even though the weather wasn’t as warm as the summer months, our kids were pretty fearless and they spent the day playing in the water, making sand castles, and just being in the sun. Since Colorado has no visible water most of the time, it was great just to play in the spray. At night, there were great restaurants and of course great ice cream at the MooTime Creamery. We loved visiting with Adam and Myisha Partridge while we were there and spending one evening out with one of Mike’s work partners and his family from our first year in Japan. Overall, we just loved being in the warmer weather and away from the snow for just a little bit.
California Adventure reminded us a lot of Tokyo Disney Sea. It had a lot of different rides but was just a much more fun park for older kids, or kids like ours who are total adrenaline junkies. It was awesome! We did the roller coaster about 6 times, the symphony swings till we couldn’t stand, Soarin over California, the water rides (which necessitated buying Abby a new shirt), the totally awesome Cars rides, and just about everything in between. We even saw the Aladdin show which was stinking hilarious (even though the kids were doubtful before we saw it). We loved Toy Story Mania, and basically went as hard as we could all day until we were totally done. We even got Abby to go on Tower of Terror, which scared us adults quite a bit. It was a totally perfect day for everyone and a wonderful way to spend time together as a family.
Just knowing you are going to Disneyland gets you excited. There is something so wonderful about that place. After entering the park we walked through the town at the beginning of the park and waited with the rest of the crowds until they opened up the main part of the park. We squeezed our way as close to the front as we could. When the park opened it was hard not to run. We decided to try the Matterhorn first since we had never been on that ride. I took the kids to that ride while Mike went to get fast passes to Space Mountain. It turns out that the Matterhorn was not that great of a ride and was really slow. We were so happy to get on Space Mountain. It was Abby’s first time on this ride and she loved it. The rest of the park was fairly crowded so we hit the staples like Pirates of the Caribbean and Jungle Cruise (which was way better in English). Then we did the unthinkable and rode the train around the park. That was something we hadn’t done with the kids at Tokyo Disneyland. After a fun train ride we were all excited to ride one of our favorite rides – Big Thunder Mountain. We were all a little disappointed because it was WAY slower than the one at Tokyo Disneyland. Splash Mountain, on the other hand, was still such a thrill. We were able to do that one a few times. We also enjoyed Pooh’s Honey Hunt, Peter Pan’s Magical Flight, and some of the other smaller rides. It was a fun and exhausting day so took the younger kids and headed back to the Hotel on the shuttle. Andrew and Mike were not as tired so they headed to California Adventure and did some of the rides on Paradise Pier. They thought the roller coaster was epic (especially at night) and the symphony swings were crazy fun. Their excitement made all of us excited to go to California Adventure the next day.
After leaving the Mormon Battalion exhibit we walked a couple of blocks to the center of Old Town. We ate at a really great Mexican outdoor restaurant called Casa De Reyes. It was the best Mexican food we had eaten in such a long time. After lunch we enjoyed walking around the marketplace, looking in the various shops, and watching a little bit of an authentic dance in the courtyard. We really loved the Jerky and Root Beer shop. There were so many different kids of root beers. We wanted to buy a bunch but didn’t know how to get them back home to Colorado without them braking on the plane. Someday we will have a mini bar down in the basement full of different kinds of root beers. That will be awesome!
We had heard so many great things about the Mormon Battalion exhibit near Old Town in San Diego so we decided to spend the morning there. The tour really exceeded our expectations. We all loved participating in the tour, watching some inspiring videos, and learning more about this religious based unit that served as a volunteer unit during the Mexican-American War. After the tour was finished we got to get a fun family photo taken before heading into the courtyard to pan for gold, pretend to wash clothes the old fashioned way, pretend to make bricks, and pull water out of the well. We spent a lot of time in the courtyard with the kids just playing and enjoying the beautiful weather.
We all LOVED Sea World. We spent most of the morning riding the Manta roller coaster ride over and over again. The line wasn’t too long so Mike and I switched back and forth watching Abby since she wasn’t tall enough to ride the coaster. Abby was content petting the Manta rays while the older kids rode the super fast roller coaster ride. After plenty of times on the coaster we headed over to the famous Shamu show. We sat right behind the soak zone. The kids wanted to get wet but I didn’t so we compromised. We got a little wet but nothing too terrible. The whales were absolutely amazing to see. At the end of the show we followed the crowds out of the stadium and headed away from the crowds towards the Sesame Street Bay of Play to ride some of the smaller roller coasters for Abby. The big kids road the little coasters with Abby and then everyone had fun at the giant roped playground. After lunch we saw the Dolphin Show, explored the Penguin Encounter, saw the hilarious and entertaining pet show, and rode on Journey to Atlantis. We all loved this log ride but I think Abby was the most excited by this ride. We ended our day with another ride on the Manta roller coaster and headed home.
We spent our first day in San Diego playing at Legoland. Our favorite part was Miniland USA where we got to walk around all the mini Lego creations. The Star Wars creations were the best. Most of the rides were small but the kids still enjoyed them. Their favorite rides were the mini free fall, the blue slides, and driving in the Lego cars. For the price we paid we expected a little bit more. Still, it was a great place to go because let’s face it, Lego’s are awesome!
Some scout troops like camping in fair weather, and some will go in anything. Andrew and I tagged along with the Glen Eagle Ward scout troop and had a great time. As winter camping in Colorado can be cold, we were well prepared, and it's a good thing we were. We left late on a Friday afternoon with snow falling heavily. By the time we got to the trailhead at Mount Herman Rocks, there was 1-½ feet of fresh snow. We hiked in the dark and falling snow with all our cooking merit badge gear and set up camp in one of the draws in the mountains. Because the scouts had left firewood from their previous campout, we had a huge fire going in minutes. We cooked dinner and then dug places out in the snow for our tents. When we woke up, another 6 inches of snow was on the ground. We made a new fire, cooked breakfast, did a few miles of orienteering in the snow, cut up more wood, and then hiked all our gear out. It was an amazing adventure and though it was a little crazy, it gave us confidence that we could camp in Colorado’s wild winter weather.