Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Our 10-year anniversary trip -- part 1

In January Jamie and I celebrated 10 years of marriage, and to mark the occasion we planned a 4-day, 3-night excursion to San Diego. Just the two of us. Neither of us had ever been to California before and we were ready to have an adventure!

My mom flew down from Kansas City to take care of the kids and did an amazing job. Seriously, our family schedules exhaust me all the time and at least I know the lay of the land around here -- where the restaurants, schools and parks are located, how to do the bedtime routines, reminding Jack to go potty, etc... She didn't have the benefit of knowing all our family rituals and household details, yet came down to our turf and managed everything beautifully. Big award to RoRo (her nickname)!

So with her taking care of things at home, Jamie and I flew out last Thursday morning. Our plan was to spend the first two nights at a cabin on Lake Henshaw, about 80 miles north of San Diego. It would be a quiet, nature-filled and private retreat for us. The place we were staying said it had a cabin "nestled in the hill" on the lake. We envisioned just that, complete with crisp mornings with birds singing, and clear nights of stargazing next to the fire we'd build.

More on that later. First, we needed to get to the lake. Our flight was smooth and we hopped in our rental car and headed north from San Diego. We stopped in a small community/suburb called Scripps and had lunch at an awesome family-owned seafood restaurant (AJ, the food references are especially in your honor). It was called Nugent's Fishgrille, and Mrs. Nugent herself was our hostess. Jamie got the cajun tuna sandwich (with what looked like a 14-oz. filet) and I had the sliders. Awesome. And Mrs. Nugent visited with us a while and mentioned that if we liked the hiking, we had to go to Torrey Pines and do it there. Later on we loved her for that.

And then we arrived, and this was the view out our cabin door:

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We were nestled in a hill, alright. A paved hill, right smack in the middle of a big parking lot that included a bar/grill and about five other cabins mere feet from our own. And we had to cross the parking lot, the highway, and some other property to get to the lake, which in Texas terms was a respectable puddle. No fire pits, either. The cabin walls were thin and there were no curtains on the windows, giving us as much privacy as a glass house, basically.

We're not usually very picky, and we certainly weren't looking for luxury. All we wanted was a private place out in nature, but once that wasn't working we turned in our key, got in the car and continued the adventure! First we stopped near the town of Julian for some of their famous apple pie. We had the dutch apple pie, hot, with cinnamon ice cream. Then back in the car on the beautiful California roads (amazing hill country, vineyards, fruit fields, ostrich farms, etc...) to figure out where we'd be spending the night.

We ended up at a hotel not more than 100 yards from the restaurant where we'd eaten lunch! But it was perfect. The staff upgraded us to a jacuzzi room with a king bed for dirt cheap, and we couldn't have been happier.

We woke up Friday morning and drove to the Wild Animal Park. It's like a zoo, but with a much more open setting. Here are some pics and captions, and then tomorrow I'll bring you part 2 to finish the recap of our trip:

Here's a look at how open the terrain is. Giraffes, antelope, rhinos... all together in a more natural habitat.
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It might be hard to see, but a baby is nursing under its mother here.Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Bird of paradiseImage Hosted by ImageShack.us

These female gorillas were having a showdown. The one on the right didn't want her blankie stolen. They were quite entertaining.Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Okay, maybe not a totally natural habitat, but Land Rovers sure are comfy.Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

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--The beach
--Hiking at Torrey Pines
--Touring the Midway aircraft carrier
--More food!
--Hotel Salomar and the gaslamp quarter of San Diego


Logan said...

Very awesome!

Anonymous said...

I had a chuckle when I saw the picture of your quiet, nature-filled, private retreat at the cabin nestled in the hill on the lake. Glad you went on to have a wonderful trip. Happy Anniversary to you both!

Don said...

Still looking to take that honeymoon trip after 42...
Looks like you had a good one...so far.

Bob Barbanes said...

Great story, but Michael, Michael, Michael...I've just got two words for you: GOOGLE EARTH! There's this newfangled invention- it's called the interwebz or something like that. And there are these...whatchacallums..."sites" where you can...find stuff. In fact, if you go on www.maps.google.com you can type in Henshaw Lake and go right to the place. Google even lets you drag a little icon of a man to that highway (Pala Rd. evidently) and gives you a street-level view! Drag the view around and you can even get basically the same view as in the photograph you took. Cool!

Now, I have to admit, Henshaw Lake *is* way out in the boonies, even if it was not *quite* what you were expecting. Looked a little too touristy for me - they put that big parking lot there for RV's, evidently.

Glad you found someplace better though. And aint that the beauty of traveling? Be spontaneous! Looking forward to reading all about the trip and seeing the pics (I mean the ones you can publish, natch).

But I don't go anywhere anymore without hitting up maps.google or Microsoft's www.maps.live.com sites and getting the lay of the land ahead of time.

Ah, technology!

Redlefty said...

Good point, Bob -- I remember uninstalling the full version of Google Earth but I don't remember why!

In this case I'm not sure it would've made a difference, as the lady on the phone at the resort described "Cabin #1" as seeming an awfully lot like what ended up being "Unidentified building" in the picture. Right on the lake and all.

But for next time, you bet, we'll check the online maps!

~aj~ said...

Keep the food stores a coming. You know the way to my heart! ;)

I'm so glad you're doing a trip recap because I was hoping I'd get to hear all about it. The safari pics are amazing...that is something I would totally love.

I'm also glad you guys didn't stay at your reserved place. Your time there was too short to spend it being disappointed and I'm thrilled you were able to find something nicer!

Looking forward to Part 2!

~aj~ said...

Well I meant "food stories", but if you have any stores you'd like to send my way, that would be even BETTER! :oP

MamaRose said...

Well, THANK YOU VERY MUCH for the BIG COMPLIMENTS!!!!! "IT" was really VERY EASY--esp. with Melissa's/Jamie's Mom's HELP--mainly BECAUSE your kiddos ARE SUCH 'GOOD'/GREAT KIDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!
AND, all the instructions & directions & things Jamie 'left' behind for me!!!!!!! THX Jamie!!!!

We really had a GREAT TIME TOGETHER--getting to share more time than usual together & learning MORE about each other!!!!!

I LOVED teaching Jack 'Chopsticks' on Nana's Piano & hearing him say--'AGAIN'!!!!! And, I LOVED teaching Samantha those 5 Bible Verses--SHE'S GREAT AT MEMORIZING!!

They are BOTH VERY BRIGHT & CREATIVE & OBEDIENT kiddos--ya'll/we ALL are VERY BLESSED by/with THEM--as we are WITH YOU!!!
And, NOW, they're going to have another BABY sister or brother to HELP you 'raise'/train up!!!!!!!!!

SO VERY GLAD you took the time to TAKE this trip TOGETHER & also that you were FLEXIBLE enough to CHANGE reservations when your 'place' was NOT what you expected & wanted--like AJ said--'LIVE IS TOO SHORT'!!!!!!!!!!!!!

GOD BLESS!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mom

James W said...

glad you guys were able to find a nice place to stay and the animal stuff was really neat! I especially liked the commentary.