After two days playing at the beach, we were all a little tired and somewhat burned so we took it easy all morning. By the time we got the energy to get out the door we weren't quite sure which beach we wanted to go to, so we drove past Corona Del Mar and it was super crowded. The parking lot was completely full. We decided to head south on Rt. 1 towards Laguna Beach. Right before we made it to Laguna, we saw the most perfect section of beach, so we made a U-turn and headed back north. The first parking area we tried was also full. In fact, most of the parking lots were full but we got lucky and right when we came to the intersection for the southern end of Crystal Cove Beach, the parking lot opened up. We headed in and found a parking spot close to the trail leading down to the beach. The views from this beach were absolutely amazing and there was a ton of space to play on the beach without feeling like we were right next to someone else. The waves at this beach were also enormous so the girls didn't go on the boogie boards. Peter and Mike, however, tried to dominate the large waves. Peter had a few attempts and a few successes, but his back got pretty trashed by some of the waves, so he gave up boogie boarding and instead played soccer and frisbee. Andrew decided to build a downhill ball track in the sand that emptied into a giant pit. Everyone had a great time helping out and Madeline rolled the ball down the hill several times before the track was eventually destroyed. After 3 straight days playing at the beach and getting plenty of sun, we were all happy to chill out at the house for our last night of watching movies while eating cookies and ice-cream.
Mike and I got up early and went for a nice long run down Ocean Blvd towards Rt. 1 and into Crystal Cove State Park. We ventured on a path towards the water and then a bit northward. We eventually made it down to the water and had fun walking around the tide pool area and the quiet sandy beach. Mornings like this make you wonder why you don't live in California.
We spent the rest of our day back at Corona Del Mar Beach. We found another great spot, although it seemed more crowded than it did the day before but that is probably because it was Saturday. The kids did more of the same things they did the day before. This time Peter wanted to be buried so we spent time making him cozy in the sand. We even covered Emma and made her a mermaid. We took all the shells we had found the previous day and decorated her tail. It was pretty cool looking. By the early afternoon the Partridges made it to the beach and spent some time with us there. Then we headed back to the house to change our clothes. Just the adults headed out to grab some hamburgers and shakes and sit at the park and chat it up without the kids. It was so awesome being able to be with Adam and Myisha again. It was just what Mike and I needed. We were definitely sad to say goodbye later that night. The kids loved spending time with them as well and we promised that we would get together again when we could. Being able to spend time at the beach was awesome but spending time with our good friends was the cherry on the cake. There is nothing quite like amazing friends. We are lucky to have the Partridges in our life!
This morning we let the kids sleep in while we went to the grocery store to stock up on food for the next few days. Then we took Madeline for a little walk to explore the area around where we were staying. She was so excited to play at the little park across the street from our cute little condo. Eventually we all got our swimming suits on and gathered all of our beach things and headed to Corona Del Mar Beach. We didn't walk too far along the beach before we found the perfect spot to set up our beach tent and chairs. There were lots of people at the beach, but we tried to keep our distance the best we could. Madeline spent most of the time playing in the sand, jumping the waves, running away from the waves, and just having fun with her older siblings. Abby and Emma spent most of their time on the boogie boards while Peter just played with Madeline in the water and then frisbee with Mike. He stayed out of the water for the most part because of his skinned knee from the day before. Andrew enjoyed sitting in the warm sand while we buried him really good. He probably spent a good two hours just chilling in the sand. There just isn't anything better in the California sun than being at the beach and having a blast together as a family!
After sleeping in we got ready and headed over to the San Diego Zoo before it opened. We were amazed at how long the line was to get into the zoo. It kind of felt like we were at Disneyland, except the line went pretty fast. Once inside, it did not feel crowded at all. We headed first to see the flamingos. Madeline was fascinated with their pink feathers and how some of them stood on one leg. Then it was off to see the giraffes, but not without stopping first to grab some waters and a refillable cup for fun drinks. Madeline loved the giraffes as well but kept asking if we could feed them since we can do that at our zoo in Colorado Springs. It was fun to get super close to the giraffes and many of the other animals we saw. After wandering through the rest of the Urban Jungle, we wound our way through the Outback where we saw the cutest koala bears. Of course, most of them were sleeping with their heads tucked into their chest. There was only one that was awake and moving around. The further into the zoo we went the bigger animals that we saw. We saw monkeys, apes, gorillas, baboons, elephants, jaguars, lions, polar bears, ant eaters, colorful birds, and hippos. We met up with our good friends, Adam and Myisha, after lunch and had fun walking around the zoo together. One of the highlights of the zoo was seeing the baboons. When we got to the viewing window there were two baboons just sitting there against the glass. Madeline loved talking to them. She was so cute and tried to touch them through the glass. It was super fun to see them up close. After walking for most of the day we decided to head over to the shops to find something fun for Madeline to take home. She picked a baby kangaroo and a sequin snake as her souvenirs from the zoo. Then all the girls piled in Myisha's car and the boys and Madeline piled in the minivan and we all met up by the pier where we had fun playing at Waterfront Park. The kids had fun running around in the water and Madeline ended up getting soaking wet so on our way to dinner we stopped at the car and changed clothes. We walked to Puesto's where we had the most amazing Mexican food. We sat outside in the courtyard and enjoyed a casual dinner together and just had the best time. We just love Adam and Myisha and wished we lived closer. After dinner we headed back over to Waterfront Park where we picked up some dessert and ate it by the water. It was a great way to end an amazing day.
Our last big family trip of the summer would be heading to southern California to enjoy some time at the beach relaxing and visiting with Adam and Myisha in San Diego. Madeline was definitely the most excited for this trip. She has become obsessed with staying in hotels and flying on airplanes. When we are done with one trip she asks when we are going to stay in another hotel again. She gets easier and easier to travel with as she gets older and it is so fun to watch her excitement over the smallest of things. She loved looking at all the planes when we were waiting to get on our plane. She loved running down the runway to get on the plane and she was thrilled to have her own seat where she could watch movies on the iPad with her pink headphones.
We were super impressed by our airline in cleanliness and sanitization. It made us feel a lot more comfortable flying during COVID. Everyone was handed their own personally sealed sanitized wipe. We used those to wipe down the arm rests and tray tables and our general areas. Masks were obviously required during the entire flight and I was amazed at how well Madeline did with keeping her mask on. From the time we got on the shuttle to the first time she asked me if she could have a break from the mask it was almost 3.5 hours. I'm not sure many 4-year olds could do that without whining. When we got to LAX it was rather late at night, so we all piled in the rental car and headed down to San Diego to stay the night. All four big kids shared a room where they watched TV and enjoyed some food Andrew ordered from Grub Hub. Madeline slept in the adult room and well, we pretty much went to bed.
Up and running along the coast one last time. It really is a great way to see the area. Mike enjoyed stopping to take photos so he could rest and not have to run so fast. Too bad Sara doesn’t take photos all the time when running. It would make it a lot easier. We then went back and enjoyed being in the pool one last time. The kids had a blast. Since it was Memorial Day, there were lots of events and food and fun stuff going on at the resort. It was fun to play and just enjoy the day. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, it was time to go home. We headed to Airport, which was super close by and waited for our delayed flight to leave. The Orange County Airport is pretty great, so we ate at the deli and hung out before heading back to snowy Colorado.
Sunday! We headed over to church, which is right by the Newport Beach Temple. You know you are in Newport Beach when you pull up to the building to see a Ferrari, Porsche, Mercedes, and Tesla as the first four cars in the parking lot. Church was really good, and then we walked around the Temple Grounds. It really is a beautiful temple and the grounds are impressive. After church, we went back to the resort and played family feud. We won! Go Wilhelm family! We spent our Marriott Resort cash getting more stuff for Smores and some souvenirs. The weather was great and we had lots of fun.
Back in the pool! Every good day starts out in the pool. Every better stay then proceeds to the beach where you can play in the sand and the water. We bought boogie boards the day before, so today was spent with the kids enjoying some pretty great waves. We even saw Dolphins swimming out in the water. Jeff and Jen came with their kids as well, so it was fun to spend the day playing with family. We even got to explore the tide pools and find crabs, fish, and anemones. It’s fun how quickly all the cousins play together and become fast friends. Peter became the expert boogie boarder and really did great in the waves. After spending the day at the beach, we went back to the hotel and made dinner with Jen and Jeff (BBQ) and then had smores with all the kids around the campfire. With everyone there, we basically filled up all the chairs at the campfire. The sunset was unreal and the day wonderful. If this was my life everyday, I wouldn’t complain.
Sara and Mike started the day with a run through Newport Beach, which was a good way to be reminded that are some really, really, really rich people on this earth. It’s weird to think that the people staying at a Vacation Resort can’t even think about owning a house in Newport Beach. Of note, the California Coast is just beautiful and the house amazing. Also, the people were super friendly as well. You just have to watch out for the endless contractors, lawn people, and maids that are servicing the houses of the obscenely rich.
Today, we went to the beach and had a lot of fun playing in the sand. We went to Corona del Mar, which is a great little spot. It’s not too crowded and the beach is beautiful and the amenities good with plenty of parking. Madeline did great in the sand, and Andrew mostly sat in a chair under the umbrella and did his best impression of a teenager with nothing better to do. Peter and Emma worked construction most of the day creating giant sand castles and towns. We enjoyed and played at the beach all day, then went back to the Villas and went swimming in the pools. We also played tetherball, went glow golfing (Mike won a free smores pack for helping the grounds people get a frog out of the equipment), and then roasted smores around the big giant campfire. It was a great day
This morning we all slept in, even Madeline. With black out curtains it was really nice to not be woken up by the sun coming in through the windows. We spent the day just relaxing around the pool. Marriott knows how to do vacation rentals right…too bad their ownership points system is such a rip off and horrible mess. The pool was great and Madeline even got in on the action. The most fun thing to see was how facile our kids are in the water. Swimming really makes them comfortable in the water and the swim with such alacrity.
At night, we went for a hike down to the beach at Crystal Cove. It’s always fun to go to the beach. The walk was fun and seeing the giant sand wheel chairs was worth it on its own. There is something therapeutic about watching the waves crash on the rocks and sand. The ocean is the one thing that you can’t get in Colorado. It was so great. Our family could spend all day exploring the rocks, nooks and crannies of the coastline. There is an endless amount of fun to be had. After Crystal Cove, we went out to dinner to a crab shack place. It was OK, but the doughnuts afterward were worth it. The coast is windy and cold at night, so we headed home after walking out on the Pier a little.
This spring has been such a busy time for everyone, and so Mike and I decided that our summer family trip needed to be something where we could completely relax. We looked into Hawaii and Florida but settled on California. We flew into the Orange County airport and headed to the Marriott Villa Resort in Newport Beach. The flight was pretty good except for some turbulence and Madeline wanting to go back and forth between me and Mike. All of our bags arrived except for the car seat. Ugh. The United lady told us it would be on the next fight and so we borrowed a car seat to get to our resort. Luckily the airport was pretty close to where we were headed. We stopped to at HiroNori first to eat Ramen. It was the BEST ramen we have had since Japan. From the restaurant it was only a 10 min drive to the Marriott resort. While the younger kids and I unpacked our clothes Mike and Andrew went to pick up groceries. Most of us were tired and headed to bed pretty early but Mike and Andrew went for a late swim in the peanut shaped pool by our villa.