Monday, December 17, 2007

Vacation Days #2 - 10, A Recap

Day 2 - Saturday

We drove from San Jose to Salinas; ate brunch with youngest daughter and her "best, best friend" before driving over to Monterey and beginning our descent down the coast along Hwy 1. It was a beautiful sunny day, about 52 degrees, sweatshirt weather. We stopped in at our favorite spots along the way, Heart Beat Gallery and The Phoenix Cafe at Nepenthe's, both in the heart of Big Sur, then dinner at the Lucia Lodge where we sat outside on the veranda overlooking the cliffs.

Stopped to enjoy the sunset and arrived at Mom's house just in time to pick up our tickets to the Christmas concert in the old (137 years old) church where we got married. It was beautifully lit and we all enjoyed a challenging walk up the hill to get to it. The concert was very simple but beautiful, three young girls singing Christmas carols a cappella. The church has no electric lights so it was lit with candles and decorated with greenery and poinsettias. Wonderful and peaceful, a true celebration of Christmas as it was intended to be celebrated.

Old Santa Rosa Chapel

Day 3 - Sunday

We started the morning with coffee and cinnamon rolls downtown. Then my husband drove up the coast to visit a good friend and I strolled through downtown Cambria before heading up the 160 stairs, through the woods, and back to Mom's house. Along the way, I finished my Christmas shopping with a giant lizard for Mom. But I didn't carry her home. I arranged for delivery. This thing must weigh at least 100 pounds:

"Jasmine Akhenaten"

I hung out at home with Mom enjoying tea and fruitcake. And a little mud cake. And Christmas cookies. When low tide arrived, we went beachcombing and drug home a handful of rocks and moonstones.

Day 4 - Monday

Coffee and cinnamon rolls downtown again. I will have gained approximately 10 pounds by the end of this journey. 10 pounds that I don't have room for, I might add. After breakfast, we drove to Morro Bay for a fishing license, fishing bait and salt water taffy (life's essentials). We played tourist at the Shell Shop (it's been in business longer than I've been alive and still looks exactly like it must have looked in 1955, more like a state fair shell collection than a gift shop) and then into San Luis Obispo for more fishing stuff, Trader Joe's (jalapeno tortilla chips, cinnamon almonds, fig basalmic vinegar and wasabi mayonaise...more essentials). We had hoped to enjoy lunch at Pete's Southside Cafe (only Pete's was closed which is a sad, sad thing because they make the best ceviche, fish tacos and enchiladas in all the land). Instead, we walked across the street to the Del Monte Cafe and had soup and grilled tuna melts which weren't so bad, but it was not Pete's. After lunch, we went back home to Cambria and back to the beach for more beachcombing...this is therapy for me. There is nothing so relaxing as walking along the beach, listening to the waves crash, smelling the ocean, and looking for those special little gems called moonstones. We also picked up plenty of other detritus which we will later have to find room for in our suitcases.

Day 5 - Tuesday

It rained all day today, which was much needed in this region of the country (the hills are brown) and we enjoyed sitting inside (at least I enjoyed sitting inside while my husband donned his rain gear and headed out for a solitary fishing adventure...he was nearly the only one on the beach, but he caught three fish and then, according to him, the seagulls stole the biggest one and fought over it in mid-air...there was nobody there to corroborate this story). Mom and I drank tea, ate cookies and chatted about all sorts of things. It was a nice day.

Day 6 - Wednesday

Back to beautiful and sunny weather, more beachcombing (this could become a serious addiction), then we drove up the coast and enjoyed lunch at Ragged Point:

We returned home in time for dinner out with the folks, then exchanged Christmas presents (we received a beautiful watercolor painting from Mom, of the San Simeon cove, where my husband spent his time fishing). After dinner and presents and a strong cup of coffee, we hit the road, picking up our youngest daughter in Salinas and driving to San Jose for our early morning flight out. We stayed at the lovely Motel 6 in technology land, just a few blocks from the airport and got through security in plenty of time for a Venti Gingerbread Latte and a few chapters of my book.

Day 7 - Thursday

After a smooth, easy flight from San Jose to Seattle, we enjoyed lunch and a little shopping at Pike Place Market, then drove out to see S/V Sophia. Her guts were laid out all over the salon as she endures what looks like brain surgery. We were supposed to sleep on the boat but due to these unforseeable circumstances, we decided to rent a hotel room. We were successful in winning a nice 4-star room on the waterfront for only $89/night via Priceline. No complaints. Except for the fact that the primary reason we came to Seattle was to spend Christmas on our boat with our daughter. Oh well.

Sophia's (aka Dancing Queen) innards

We decided to enjoy Seattle anyways, but I do miss spending the time with our family.

Day 8 - Friday

We drove around parts of Seattle and explored the banks of Lake Washington and then to Tacoma where we visited our temporary home away from home and the Glass Museum, home of the Chihuly Glass Bridge. This pedestrian bridge spans the freeway and lights up at night to showcase hundreds of works of glass produced by Chihuly's "factories." This bridge was awesome:

Looking out over the freeway from inside the bridge

One of many ceiling panels

Our future home (the empty slip is ours; the Glass Museum is the silver cone across the water from the docks and next to that is Union Station)

After exploring more areas south and west of Seattle (Gig Harbor, Bremerton, Port Orchard), we boarded the ferry from Bremerton to Seattle and enjoyed the city lights from the boat. The rest of the evening was spent Christmas shopping in downtown Seattle. Boy, are teenagers ever expensive. My advice? Don't walk through Nordstrom's with a 17-year old girl. It is unpleasant for all involved. After pawing over a designer purse that she wanted for Christmas, the conversation went something like this:

me: "um, Did you happen to notice the price on that nice little carpet bag?" (seriously, it was larger than my carry on suitcase and uglier than anything I've seen in the purse department, but then, what do I know about expensive purses?)

her (loudly and only 2 feet from the nearest sales clerk): "How much is this? I WANT this purse! (think Violet, in the Chocolate Factory) Why don't they put price tags on these stupid purses?!"

sales clerk: "It's inside the zippered pocket" (pause)

her: "$3,700?! What the?! But I WANT this purse!"

Then, not being one who is easily embarrassed, she announced that "Nordstrom's SUCKS! I can't afford anything is this stupid store!" And then, we left. And Christmas shopping was pretty much over at that point.

Day 9 - Saturday

Rock climbing and shopping for sailing gear at REI. Here, she shows her other side, the side that doesn't need no stinkin' designer purses because she can climb three story buildings. So there.

The youngest daughter shows off

Dinner at a cheap hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant, and THEN:

Jesus Christ Superstar! At the Paramount Theatre. It was fantastic!! I've not enough energy to do it justice, but this was an unplanned event in our journey and a very enjoyable experience. Having grown up listening to the music, that was the best part, but the lighting and stage show were brilliantly done, both literally and figuratively.

Day 10 - Sunday

Today was a relaxing, room service and watch movies/football in the room kind of day. And we toured Pike Place Market again. And the aquarium...just a few doors down from our hotel:

Seattle Aquarium

More Chihuly

"Giant" Pacific Octopus (approx. 1 foot in diameter)

Tonight, we sat on the floor in the bay window alcove of another Thai restaurant. Even though we rested on pillows, we had a terribly difficult time getting up when it was time to leave. The old knees do not like sitting on the floor with legs at awkward angles for long periods of time.

After dinner, we drove down to Ballard Locks to watch the "world's largest lighted flotilla of Christmas Ships" only to see a single boat, which was not decorated in Christmas lights. What the?! Ah well, this just confirmed what the youngest daughter already knew, which is that she does indeed have the most boring parents in the entire world. We're also the "biggest squares." There are other adjectives as well, but really, who can bear much more than being called a "square?"

I think that's enough. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas to all!

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At 8:08 AM, December 24, 2007, Blogger beth said...

Sounds delightful - and the glass museum looks fantastic, I'll have to try to get out there at some point in my life.

Merry Christmas!

At 9:28 AM, December 24, 2007, Blogger Eric said...

Wow! I feel like I've been on vacation now. Thanks for sharing (and I especially enjoyed the Nordstrom's exchange ;-).

May you and your family have a joyful and blessed Christmas!

At 7:28 PM, December 25, 2007, Blogger Janie said...

I love, love, love, Chiluly glass.

Merry Christmas, Gwynne.

At 2:45 PM, December 27, 2007, Blogger DarkoV said...

What an intense 10 days. And you haven;t even described Christmas Day.
Personally, I'm at the edge of my seat wondering what's going to happen to that LOUD EXPLETIVE laden purse. It's good there was climbing involved during the trip. With our kids, if excessive loud talking and jittery movement were apparent, a few brisk walks around the block were ordered. Sounds like climbing tall structures works as well.

BEst of the New Year's to you, Gwynne.

At 9:31 PM, December 28, 2007, Blogger Gwynne said...

Beth, you're always welcome to visit!

Janie, you too. :-)

Eric, I'm sure you would have handled the Nordstrom exchange with more humor than I did. There are moments when I think aliens must have raised our kids. ;-)

Darko...I'm sure it's not quite what you were waiting for, but it's up now. ;-)

At 7:01 AM, January 03, 2008, Blogger Rach said...

Glad you are having a good trip!


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