Saturday, Dec. 17, 2005 || Rock opera, moose, and 1400 miles in 6 days

Nicole feels The current mood of nacwolin at

I am pretty excited. Today, Rob and I are going to a Tr@nsiberian Orchestra concert in Philly. This is like Christmas music on speed. Perhaps a better description (if you haven't heard their stuff) is rock opera. I used to be all about keeping Christmas music traditional till I heard this. It's incredible. I hope the concert lives up to my expectations (especially at what I paid for the tickets!).

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Last night we babysit our friends' four and two year old. These two are the most literal, well-spoken preschoolers I've been around in a long time. I baked some of those Pi1lsbury cookies with the reindeer face and gave one to the four year old.

"There's a moose on them!"

"I think it's a reindeer," I said.

"It can't be a reindeer. It's NOT Christmas yet. It's a moose."

"You can have Christmas cookies before Christmas."

"Oh, no. It is not a Christmas cookie, and it is NOT a reindeer!" he insisted.

(He won that little exchange, by the way.)

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So last Friday afternoon, while I am knee deep in school work, Rob calls.

"How would you like to go to CA next week?"

The when's and what's and why's begin, and I realized that not only does he want us to all go with him, but he wants to leave that night so we can spend some time in San Diego before heading to the central part of the state to work.

We negotiated and agreed to Saturday morning instead.

That bought me about 12 hours, several of which I needed to sleep through. Oh, and we were going to fly out of BWI, so that meant an hour drive as well.

We did it - booked five plane tickets, printed our boarding passes, packed up five people for a week, managed to leave the house in decent order, and made it to the airport early enough to be fairly close to the front of the first cattle call line for S0uthwest.

One thing we didn't get was decent sustenance for the 6-hour non-stop trek. Rob managed to grab a trail mix and two food bars for approximately $100 at an airport giftshop (well, that might be a slight exaggeration...), and I'd slipped some fruit snacks and brownies in my bag from home, but we were pretty famished by the time we landed.

We ended up at a mall food court, waiting for our friends, J and E, and a guy Rob had trained last spring to bring him a part he needed. I order some special at a "fresh-mex" kind of place, and ended up trying a fish taco for the first time. It was really, really good. I am kind of glad I "accidentally" got that - I am not sure I would have ever tried one by knowingly paying for one.

See what happens when you are cheap, I mean, frugal like me and order by price rather than item?

Anyway, we bummed around the hotel that evening with our friends and their little monkey (their affectionate name for their 10 month old son). Sunday morning, we went down to a church our pastor recommended (he wanted Rob to see how they do things, since Rob has been hired to help incorporate change at our church), and Rob saw an old college friend who is now the youth pastor there. After lunch and a trip to Old N@vy, we went up to Del Mar for the photo shoot featured in this entry. E invited us back to their condo for a homecooked meal (she is an amazing cook, so we said yes, of course), and it was wonderful to just sit and chat and sip Chenin Blanc.

The original plan for the trip was to land in San Diego, spend Saturday and much of Sunday there, and then head up to Rob's mom's that evening. Rob and I were then going to head out to handle the testing in central CA, which would take 2-4 days and cover about 1K miles, while the kids crashed at his mom's pad and got some grandparent time.

Upon arrival to SD, Rob had received a (think low, pitiful, sad voice) voicemail:

"Rob. (long pause) It's Mom. (another pause) I need to talk to you."

All the why's and what-for's and all of that seem pretty unimportant right now, but in summary...

It's a good thing Rob rented a large vehicle.

Altogether, we traveled over 1400 miles in six days, leaving San Diego on Monday afternoon and arriving back at the point of departure Friday evening. The kids were real troopers, for the most part, and we were able to see some amazing things. Not a lot of time to sightsee, but we now have several areas we want to go back to visit.

Napa. I've wanted to see Napa Valley for a few years now, so Rob planned our route farther northward than we needed to go. The kids just weren't into it, but Rob and I hope to go back soon. The vineyard dotting the landscape were brown and gnarled this time of year, but I imagine they are lovely in autumn or spring!

San Francisco. On the way back down from Napa, we drove over the Golden Gate, then drove a bit up by the Presidio for pictures. Rob wanted to see Fisherm@n's Wharf, and the map program took us down Lomb@rd Street, which I guess is the curviest street in the world (or some such thing). It was wild! We went down it twice (the second time I had my eyes squeezed shut while the kids squealed with glee, if that gives you any idea of how Mario, I mean Rob, was driving).

I didn't realize how gorgeous that city is. Same affect on the kiddos as Napa, but, hey, that just means Rob and I have another destination for a honeymoon-type trip.

The Pacific Coast Highway. We took this winding, gut-dropping route from Half Moon Bay down to San Luis Obispo. Now, I am going to say something that might be considered sacreligious for an east coast girl to utter: the east coast has nothing on the west coast. Words can't describe it. It is breathtaking. Glorious. Steep rocky cliffs, tall redwoods, rocky beaches. And sunsets. You can't even describe the colors that streak the evening sky - flaming oranges, shell pinks, cerulean blues, fucshia, purples...amazing.

It was a bit daunting to see signs warning of rock slides, looking at a wall of rock to the left, and then looking to the right and seeing nothing but a cliff and the ocean far below. No guard rail. Maybe some loose rock piled to the edge from the last slide. And the fog. We hit some as think as soup at times. Couldn't see anything but white and a glimpse of the double yellow line to the front and slight left of us.

After stopping in San Luis Obispo to finish the testing Rob had to do, we drove down to the Oxnard area and stayed in a lovely suite hotel (gotta love off-season rates) on the beach. The boys had a great time the next morning running along the shore, collecting drift wood. Instructions of "don't get close to the water" quickly changed to "roll your pants up and try not to get them wet". I don't know how they could even put their feet in. One thing I do prefer about the east coast is that the Atlantic waters are much warmer. Even in the summer, the Pacific is frigid. But they seemed oblivious to the fact that it was the first week in December and it was barely 60 degrees. They were little boys on a beach and lapping waves, no matter how cold, must be tromped in.

I am not sure our kids yet appreciate all the amazing places they have been in their young lives. The Grand Canyon. Niagra Falls. Montreal. DC. Up and down the east coast from SC to ME. Across the country from MD to CA. I don't say that bragadociusly (I am sure I slaughtered that word). I say it with awe and excitement and humility that we have been able to take them to some amazing cities and sights.

Except for Bakersfield and Fresno. Had to go through those for testing, and as we came down off the Grapevine (that part of I-5 that goes through the mountains in southern CA), we were greeted by the smell of a thousand diapers. I am serious. I suppose it was fertilizer, but it was like having a toddler again who just blessed us with a diaper full of crap and no place to stop and change them.

And brown. That is really the only way you can describe this part of the state. Oh, maybe another word. Tan. Brown and tan.

So, after our morning on the shore, we drove inland to Rob's mom's. Gosh, we didn't want to! Without getting too much into it here, we realized we had to go by there for the sake of the relationship and any long term affects (some of you know what it is like to be the adult in the parent-child relationship). I was afraid she would immediately ask Rob what was wrong, but she was so focused on the kids, she didn't even notice the set in his jaw or the stiffness of his shoulders the first hour. Or maybe she did, but chose not to address it.

Once his stepdad got home, we went out for an early dinner. What was to be a 4 day visit with their grandparents had turned into a little more than a 4 hour one, and I have to say, that was just about right after all.

We drove back down to the San Diego area that night, back to the hotel we'd stayed in the weekend before. Rob's buddy took a break from studying for finals and hung out with us for a bit. And then the fun began again - packing, then tossing and turning all night with that creeping dread that somehow the alarm clock wouldn't go off and we'd sleep through our flight back to the frigid east coast (come to think of it, would that have been such a bad thing!?).

Each time I return to CA, I realize how much I love it there. I am an east coast girl at heart, yes, but I don't think it would take me too long to get used to life on that side of the country.

Shhhhhh. I am not really saying that out loud. I still have boxes to unpack here, for Pete's sake!

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test - Saturday, Oct. 01, 2016
Just a reminder - Friday, Aug. 10, 2007
Rockin' Girl Blogger - Wednesday, Jul. 18, 2007
A good end - Friday, Jun. 01, 2007
Moving on? Yes and no. - Monday, May. 07, 2007

All entries (c) Nacwolin 2001-2006. These are my words. Use your own, m'kay?