AKA our crazy mixed up trip to the Long Beach peninsula.
Orion has been asking and asking to go to the beach, so I planned a trip to the Long Beach area because it seemed more reasonable and had a ton of free and inexpensive stuff for kids to do, and I was so excited my friend Jessica decided to come and stay at the same place with her kids. What an adventure it turned into! And what a lesson in accepting what is.... I thought it would be interesting to write it up from two perspectives.
When my glass was half empty:
We got on the road before Akasha's nap, as I had hoped. She did fall asleep fairly quickly, but she kept getting woken up and would SCREAM every time she did. This trip ended up not great timing for her as she seems to be really in teething hell right now. Damn one year molars!
I wanted to stop at Fort Stevens to break up the drive a little, and also because I wanted to see the shipwreck there. There isn't much ship left to see, but Orion was happy to run around in the waves. Unfortunately, he didn't even stop to change his clothes, and ran right into the ocean with his jeans on! Wasn't a big deal until he got soaked, and then he was really uncomfortable. But the much bigger issue we had was I totally messed my back up! I was happily sitting on the sand with Akasha when one of those famous sneaker waves came along. I kindof made a twisting motion to grab her - big mistake! Something tweaked and I was literally paralyzed. I had to call Ron to come and grab the baby and the backpack, and then I actually had to CRAWL out of the ocean and most of the way back to the car. It was pathetic. When I finally managed to get to my feet, I could only take steps that were like an inch big, and I couldn't carry the baby, so she was screaming the whole way back to the car. :( Great way to start the weekend. Ron thought we should just go home at that point, but I wanted to push through.
Just as we got back to the car, Jessica was pulling up. I felt bad we were on our way out, but I knew the smartest thing for me to do would be to get to the hotel and lay down. So on we went to Long Beach. Or to Ocean Park to be more precise. In retrospect, I think it would have more fun to stay closer to Long Beach. I thought the beach towns would all have a touristy flair, but Ocean Park was really nothing like Long Beach. There wasn't much there at all. The hotels in the area are also set really far away from the beach because of the dunes. It is nice they are protected, but I was feeling a sense of dread thinking about walking all the way to the beach.
The hotel seemed OK the first night. It was definitely a bit older, and it showed, but it was clean at least! The main issue we had was that the TV was on a stand only a couple feet high, so Akasha was very excited to be able to stand right.in.front.of.it. Orion, not so excited by that prospect. Much fighting and screaming ensued. Time to go out to dinner and get out of there for a bit! We went to a local place I thought was just OK. There wasn't much on the menu that appealed to me, so I just got a chicken salad. I didn't care for their honey mustard, which was a bummer as the dressing kindof makes or breaks a salad.
Ron was still in a bit of an overwhelmed mood when we got back, so when I decided to go to the hottub, he stayed in the room for some alone time. They were nice above ground tubs, but they seemed too hot for Akasha, and it seemed a bit stuffy in the room they were in. Orion also was adamant about not wanting bubbles, which was too bad as I was hoping to "massage" my back a bit. Jessica peeked in, but they decided to check out the beach. Turned out they went in later right after I got out! Darn again, we just kept being a little off in our timing the whole trip!
We really didn't have a major issue with the room until the next morning. It was supposed to be a full kitchen, but there were so many things missing! There was a list on one of the cupboards, and we seriously didn't have about half the stuff on it. Including no frying pan for the bacon and egg breakfast we had planned. Bah! I thought about using the microwave, but we had no paper towels. So this leads to the second crazy thing that happened. Ron decided to try heating up a glass casserole dish on the stove to see if he could cook bacon in it. Um, yeah. Don't try this at home folks. The pan EXPLODED, and I mean that literally. It was all over the stove, sink, floor in a ton of VERY sharp pieces. AND Ron was holding the baby at the time. She totally freaked out, and it turned out she had a cut on her foot. Ron ended up with several cuts on his hands. So yeah, that took a long time to clean up, and was really rough on Ron's knee that had already been hurting. Great, so now we have two hurt parents and oh, no stroller. Meant to bring it, but forgot.
On to town. We were excited to check out all the stuff we thought Orion would like, but the first thing he really wanted to do, it turned out he was too young for. Drat. Then it was no to the go carts, no to the surrey, yes but then no to the pony rides and no to the carousel. He kept saying he wanted to go home. Sigh. At least he went in Marsh's "museum", but that turned out to be more of a store and a money suck for coins into their machines than a museum. There was some neat stuff on the walls, but it was really crowded and hard to look at with a four year old running everywhere and wanting to buy everything in the store.
The only thing he did want to do was go to the arcade with Ron, so they did that for a bit while I took Akasha on the carousel - she was not really thrilled. After that, we had lunch and decided to head back to the hotel to hopefully see our beach a bit. We kept hoping it would warm up, but it never really did. We were both pretty tired and sore, but decided it would be silly not to see our beach, so we took a slow walk out there. It was cold and even drizzling a little bit, so we didn't stay long. I made dinner in the room that night, and then we were both pretty much too tired to do anything else! Our big excitement for the night was that Akasha's foot managed to find a little sliver of glass even though Ron went over the whole floor with a towel. I noticed her foot was bleeding, and sure enough, she had a little piece of glass stuck between two of her toes! It took awhile to get a grip on it, and then I was shocked to see how long it was since just the tip was sticking out.
By the next morning, we were officially unthrilled with the hotel. We had tried asking for a frying pan at one point (the sign on the cupboard also said to ask if you need anything) and were told they didn't have any. Then we were surprised to find when we got back from town that they didn't do any room tidying whatsoever. But the kicker was having upstairs neighbors the second night. We had already discovered the adjacent walls were thin and the plumbing was quite loud, even if coming from next door, but oy, the sound of people walking around above was insane! And these people seemed to be walking around all night. Needless to say, not a great night of sleep.
We had breakfast at a local place before heading out, and stopped at Seaside on the way home, which turned out to be the best part of the trip. The biggest bummer of the whole trip, however, was when we got home and realized we had left Orion's favorite blanket there. Somehow, based on the attention we got from the staff while there, I am thinking we may never see it again, but we will see....
When my glass was half full:
We got out of the house even earlier than I had hoped, and it was perfect timing as the baby slept for almost the whole ride. The drive was beautiful, with tons of different flowers blooming all over the place. We found the shipwreck beach fairly easily, and it was really neat looking. It didn't look like much at first, but upon closer inspection when the waves went out, there were some other smaller parts to it. I would love to go back and see it at a good low tide. Orion and Akasha both had a blast playing in the surf and sand. I hurt my back but was able to take it slow getting back to the car, and a thoughtful family approached us to see if we needed any help. Orion was also interested in seeing the battery, so I chilled in the car, nursing Akasha, while the boys went and looked at war stuff.
The hotel had beautiful grounds on the side facing the beach, and we had a nice view. The room was spacious, and it was great to have a seperate bedroom with a door to close it off. I was able to rest a bit before dinner, and we got to share our meal with Jessica, Samuel and Eva. Ron declared his hamburger to be quite wonderful, and Orion enjoyed adding ketchup to his peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and of course eating jelly straight from the little cartons. I had a nice soak in the hottub later on, and the baby and I both slept really well the first night.
We had a bit of a mishap over breakfast the next morning, but luckily we also had hardboiled eggs, oatmeal and lots of fruit. We checked in with Jessica and decided to head to the go carts first, as both boys had somewhat of an interest in them. Orion decided no on those pretty quickly, so we went to look at the surreys. He didn't care for that idea either, but Jessica rented one, and it looked like they had a blast with it! Our kids' interests didn't synch up too well that day, but how blessed I felt to be on vacation with another mom who honor the needs of her children and completely understands when we are doing the same.
We went to check out Marsh's "Free Museum", and it was suitably kitschy, even if a bit of a money trap. Some of the old machines were really neat, and we got to see Jake, the alligator man, a highlight of any Long Beach visit. Then we reconvened with Jessica at the carousel, and Akasha and I got to ride next to Samuel! They headed to the candy store while I went to watch the boys at work on the pinball machines. Ron had spotted an "old fasioned" arcade on the way in and was excited to check it out. Sure enough, they had many of his favorite games. The cool thing was how good Orion was at pinball, and also how fast he got even better. I have to think the hand eye coordination he has developed playing video games has something to do with it, but still, I was amazed at how good he was!
Just as we were crossing the street to check out the restaurant there, Jessica and clan came walking down the street. Perfect timing! Lunch was really good. Ron loves clam chowder, and he said theirs was wonderful. The fish and chips were fresh and good, and Orion totally devoured his whole meal. We also got some onion rings, and they were HUGE and yummy (yay for enzymes). We didn't do too much the rest of the day, but we did manage to walk out to the beach at our hotel. The walk through the dunes was lovely, and Orion had a great time chasing seagulls and building some stuff in the sand.
Since our bacon was all ruined the previous morning, and we didn't have a frying pan anyway, we had an excuse to eat one more meal out! :) And that meant we got to share another meal with Jessica and her kids! I had read about a local place that was good, so we decided to try it. The tables were really small, but we put three together and got cozy. I decided I couldn't pass up the eggs benedict, so I took a couple more enzymes. It was totally worth it. They were so good. Orion decided on marionberry cobbler and ice cream. He didn't eat much of it, but yay for us. It was SO yummy. Totally off my low GI diet for this trip, but hey, it was vacation!
We stopped briefly back in town as Ron was hoping we could get somebody to take our picture by the giant frying pan, which we did. There is also a giant squirting clam and orca statue in the same little plaza, and Orion wanted to take pictures of all three things in every imaginable make up of people/no people. I also couldn't resist running in for a latte at the local scrapbooking/coffee/tanning place!
We decided to stop at Seaside on the way home and check out the aquarium where you can feed the seals, which turned out to be Orion's favorite thing of the whole trip! He had a good time tossing the noisy fellows fish and then was just thrilled with the rest of the aquarium. He excitedly went from tank to tank, asking us to tell him the name of every living creature. And there was a touch tank! It was the nicest weather we had seen the whole weekend, so we decided to hang out for a bit. The beach there is lovely. Orion got really into burying Ron and himself and just generally had a blast in the sand. It ended up great as Akasha was perfectly primed to sleep the whole way home!
And the best part of the trip? Yellowjackets cleaned our van! Seriously! We have this tree at home the bees just loved, but now it is dropping this sticky, sappy stuff all over the right side of the car. It is literally so bad it is hard to see out the window when it gets thick, and it was like that when we left home. I had noticed a few buzzing around and thought to myself, huh, I wonder if they are after that sap. Then Jessica mentioned the last morning how she saw a whole bunch of them working diligently, even getting in the crevices under the window! I am glad she reminded me, because I looked closely and noticed they had literally cleaned the whole thing! On the way there, I could barely see out the part of the winshield the wipers don't clean, and when they were done, it was almost clear! Crazy!
Well, somewhere in the middle of course. Pretty much everything in here was in my head at one time. Overall, I think we had a number of challenges but totally made the best of them. At the end of the weekend, we felt we had a great time. Some of the "half empty" stuff just was what it was. I wanted to include it in my story, but somehow when writing it up all together, I felt like I was dwelling on the negative because a few of the things really did suck. So I thought it would be a fun exercise to do it this way. It was interesting to see how almost everything that happened could have a negative or positive spin on it. I am working on being the glass full person as much as possible. I think I used to be like that most of the time, but I have let the stress of the last few years wear me down in ways I don't like very much. Awareness is the first step, eh?
And as for glasses half full, bah. How about all the way full? How about overflowing? Life is good. I'm thirsty, I think I'll go have a drink.
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