Sunday, June 23, 2013

California Adventure – Part 5: Surfing & San Diego

This June, AJ and I had the opportunity to take our first trip together since before Kai was born so we decided to go big and do 2 weeks in California! We planned a jam-packed trip that would let us see nearly everything Cali has to offer - the road trip of a lifetime. If you missed it, you can check out Part 4: San Francisco & the Coast here.


Our trip is now coming to an end, with just 3 days left. At this point, we were really missing Kai and felt like we'd been gone quite a long time. But he was having fun and in good hands and we were very excited for the next 3 days.

June 11 was our designated beach day. We were able to sleep in a bit and then headed to Oceanside for our 2-hour surf lessons. AJ was beyond pumped to try surfing. He's been watching surf movies for years and loves almost any water sport – Stand-up Paddleboarding, Wakeboarding, Skimboarding. So this was really his day and I was along for the ride, a little nervously. I'm not great at any of those sports and I wasn't looking forward to falling lots, swallowing lots of water and getting pummelled by waves.

Our instructor was Hoku, born in Hawaii and bred by California–a surfer dude for sure. The first thing he taught us was the Stingray Shuffle so we didn't get stung. Not good for my confidence. He assured us he had only been stung once in 13 years. Next, we practised popping up on the boards on shore. And then we were heading into the water. It was a little overcast, but not cold. We had wetsuits and the water was about 68ºF, which was pretty refreshing.

Hoku pretty much had us going right away. We were only in thigh to waist deep water so we hopped on the board and paddled a bit through the waves until Hoku saw one he liked. He helped us turn around and gave us a good shove at the right time. AJ was a natural. He was up pretty much right away. We weren't in big waves of course, so there wasn't a lot of carving he could do, but he rode most waves all the way in. So proud. I had a bit of a tougher time getting up. But I did get up and ride for a bit 2 or 3 times which I was very happy about. Also, I swallowed very little water and, because we were in so shallow, when I fell, I could just stand up and out of the waves and not worry about getting hit over and over. All my anxiety was gone after the first few minutes and that was awesome. I ended up really enjoying myself and I would even try it again. I would probably prepare better by doing more push-ups ahead of time. We were wiped, but happy, by the end of the 2 hours.

We stayed on the beach for a little while and then headed back to Mission Viejo for dinner with Paula and Shoubert. We went out with their family for Taco Tuesday, which is apparently a very big deal there. All over California, restaurants offer tacos for $1.50 on Tuesdays. Not just one chain, but restaurants everywhere, whether they're Mexican or not. We did choose an authentic Mexican restaurant and dinner was fantastic. Can't beat $1.50 tacos.

The next day we said goodbye to Paula and Shoubert for the last time this trip and headed to San Diego. First stop was the San Diego Padres afternoon game vs. the Braves. Petco Park really impressed us. It had a really cool vibe, with an old warehouse built right into the stadium. There was a pathway on the outside of the actual park with a bunch of yummy food vendors at The Park in the Park, which had a big grassy hill that looked over the outfield. You can by cheap tickets and sit on the hill, which seems great for families. There is also a mini replica diamond with a staff member that runs a game for kids all game long. Really cool. We ended up sitting in the front section, just passed 1st base with a bunch of season ticket holders. It reminded me of Fever Pitch. These people knew each other and were very excited. Padres won and we enjoyed a sunshine-filled afternoon of baseball.

After the game, we did a self-guided walking tour of the Gaslamp District, which is an older part of town with great architecture. We learned that basically every building used to be a brothel. It was an interesting and enjoyable walk.

We went for dinner and sunset on Coronado Island, which is a big vacation/beach destination. We ate at an old Firehouse turned pub that was playing the hockey playoffs that people were actually paying attention to. Perfect place for a couple Canadians. We walked along the beach, checking out the famous Coronado Hotel at sunset and waiting for it to get dark because the hotel is supposed to have some incredible lights. Although it was nice, the lighting wasn't terribly impressive. Turns out all the photos I've ever seen are from Christmas. Oh well.

The view of San Diego from the Island
We stayed that night with another couple we met through the couchsurfing website. They had recently moved to San Diego as the guy is in the Navy. We did get to meet this couple and went for a late night walk as they told us a bit about the Navy and the city. The next morning we went for breakfast with Nick because Kristen had to work very earl. He talked a lot of American history and politics and gun control and all the hot button issues. It was very interesting to hear an American's perspective and he was quite knowledgable.

He left for work and we drove out to the USS Midway and aircraft carrier that is now a museum. The audio tour took about 3 hours, which was a little long for me, but it was very interesting. You really got to see how the crew lived and work and got up closed with lots of cool planes. AJ was in heaven. He saw a couple planes from Top Gun and was very excited about that.

In front of the USS Midway
Trying his hand at some essential knots
Pilot and copilot
Ready for take-off. Unbelievable they can launch an
aircraft from a ship.
We had lunch in La Jolla, walked around and went to the beach quickly. We'd like to be able to spend a little more time there one day, it was really nice. Then we went to Balboa Park, which I didn't research much but heard was nice. We started in just a regular playground that was nice, but pretty normal. Eventually we walked further and found that the park goes on forever. There are all kinds of museums - many for free - tons of gorgeous Spanish architecture, fountains, even a replica Globe Theatre that shows Shakespeare plays. We were so impressed and disappointed that we only had about 2 hours before our flight. Balboa is also home to the San Diego Zoo, which we didn't make it too either.
Church in La Jolla
Beautiful Balboa Park

We found AJ some more fish tacos (maybe his 5th on the trip) before dropping off our rental car and heading to the airport for our red eye flight home. We were able to sleep on the flight and got through the border without issue. Kai was waiting for us at AJ's parents place and it was so good to see him! I was struck by how much he had changed in just 2 weeks. Not physically, but is speaking even longer sentences than when we left and he just seemed older.

California was a Bucket List trip for sure. We saw so much in a short time. It was amazing to get away alone with AJ, take some time off work and just explore. We both agreed that we'd like to go back one day and spend a full week just in San Diego, probably with Kai and see more of Balboa Park, visit the Zoo, Old San Diego and lots of other things we just couldn't fit in. Thank you to everyone who made this trip possible!

Our journey highlighted in pink

1 comment:

  1. Loved reading about your trip! Sounds like you two had a great time. :)