Saturday, September 19, 2015

California Part 1 - Santa Monica Pier


That's the Santa Monica Pier.

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The last time I was there I was a preteen on a road trip with my family to visit my aunt & cousin. It was a good memory, that evening at the pier, so I recommended it as our first post-airport stop.

Getting out of LAX was fine, but the rental car place??? Insane. Absolutely insane. As in, a line out the door, hundreds of people waiting for a car. And Justin had read the reviews before booking, they're all like that. LAX is, after all, ranked the 5th busiest airport in the world. Also, it was HOT. We know 90-100 degree days in Colorado, but it's the humidity that kills Coloradans. We're from the most arid state ever.

After some amount of chaos and gnashing of teeth {Justin had signed us up for an express checkout while my parents had to wait the whole line long for their car}, we were finally on our way in two separate "mid size" vehicles{for adult sanity when traveling with children}, beach bound.

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So I'd thought Santa Monica could be a good, fun way to let the kids blow off some steam after the flight. It's only about 30 minutes from LAX, and from there we could drive north on the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway and Topanga Canyon highway toward our hotel. {We sadly missed all that beauty in the dark, but it was worth it to watch the sun set at the beach, you'll see.}

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Driving through Santa Monica without stopping was rough on this mama. There were about 100 adorable shops I wanted to stop and browse. Instead we pushed onward toward the pier.

It was busier than I remember it. We had to park blocks away, pay meters, and walk and walk and walk to the pier. We were understandably hungry, borderline hangry, when we got there so we stopped at The Albright on the pier for dinner.

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My landlocked-state-born kids were like--WHAT???--at the crabs and lobsters. Actually, we see lobsters at the grocery store often. But never crabs.

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And you just don't see many nautical themed restaurants in Colorado, either. For obvious reasons. But this place was adorable, from their stringed lights to the black and white Popeye cartoons playing overhead.

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{Looks like all Violet ordered was a beer.}

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The food was good! I loved that they served entrees in vintage enamelware meat trays. Love it!

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The rest of the pier is nice with a carnival feel--there's a roller coaster and a Ferris wheel--but it was hot and crowded and we've all been to state fairs that look just like it {sans ocean, of course}.

So then, the beach. Where my girls wanted to find shells even though I knew they wouldn't. At least nothing more than the tiny white ones about the size of  your thumbnail.

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Santa Monica State Beach has soft, deep sand that is a workout to walk in. And it's a busy beach.

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It's the Santa Monica Beach where my kids met the ocean for the first time. You know how you hot-state folk see snow "for the first time"? Yeah, it's like that for us, but with roaring waves, gurgling sea foam, seaweed that clings to you, and lots of eventual glee. A tentative introduction, at first. {Most of their previous knowledge about the ocean came from Spongebob.}

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Marine life is new to us landlocked folk. Except the seagulls. We have those here, we just call them parkinglotgulls and they are more likely to feast on Rocky Mountain oysters than regular oysters. {Ahhhhaaa! ;-) }

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And they're not, I think, as prone to attack in Colorado. I'm just saying that because I've never seen them swarm around my mom like this before. {Not to worry. Violet chased them away while other beach-goers filmed the chaos and laughed. We're probably YouTube stars somewhere right now.}

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The girls warmed up to the strong waves quickly and it felt like Christmas morning, watching them unwrap delights of life.

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Last time dad and I were here together was probably close to 20 years ago.

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Pax! Not quite as certain as his sisters, and that's okay.

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Colorado can have breathtaking sunsets over the mountains, it's true, but we see that all the time. Over the ocean is a whole other sort of beauty. It's hard to capture it in photos--the blue and greens of the sea against the reds, pinks, and oranges in the sky--but it's marvelous.

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{I took almost all our photos from our trip via my Samsung Galaxy S6, didn't even bring out the bulky Nikon much.}

I'm basically going through withdrawal right now. What I wouldn't give for another Californian sunset. Just one.

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So that was how we made the most of day one in California. Post-airport and pre-Howard Johnson {aka The HoJo} which was actually a very nice hotel. At least on the long walk back to our cars we had the sea-level oxygen going for us. Coloradans can breath easy at the beach.

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Hey, we got three kids to sleep first night of vacation in one bed. Eventually.

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When they finally did all fall asleep, I set to work rinsing the ocean out of our clothes. I hadn't planned on doing "laundry" the first day, but sand and sea water has a way of getting all over and smelling you up a bit. I don't miss this situation.

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But first, a dance on the pier while my husband looks on in an annoyed fashion.

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Haha! Justin looks put out, but it was just the chaos of the candid and my kids freaking out about sand in their shoes. My parents busted out their moves when a street musician started playing. We had a long walk back to our cars, and were frankly sort of punch-drunk on the Pacific.

To be continued...

{I miss this.}
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3 comments:

  1. While I am so happy that you all had such a wonderful time, I'm super bummed that you were on my coast and we didn't get to see each other! Someday Heather! Whether I head to Colorado or you back to the west coast, we will meet in person :-)

    This post is so sweet. Love the kids' reactions to the ocean! Oh, and your parents dancing? The CUTEST DANG THING EVER!!

    ~Erica

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  2. Thanks for posting this, it adds to a happy memory! Lovely photos too, that we'll all treasure! Can't wait until your next post!
    Love, Your Dancing Dad

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  3. Parkinglotgulls--LOL, but so true! Oh my goodness, seeing these photos makes me want to go back there right now, as well (sigh). But what lovely memories we will all have as a remnant of this splendid trip <3
    ~Mom

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