Thursday, August 31, 2017
After such a good Friday, we were ready to spend our last day in Southern California in a similar fashion. This time, we stayed close to our house, packed a picnic of quite the assortment of foods we had accumulated throughout the week, and set up camp at Seal Beach. Seal Beach is known for its quiet, less touristy appeal compared to its neighboring beaches and we loved it from the moment we pulled up to the empty parking lot. Not only could we park just steps away from the shore (quite different than the setup of Crystal Cove), but the beach was set up on a hill that inclined to the water, creating this perfect place to sit and look down on the water, swimmers, and surfers. We got there early and spent most of our last day soaking up the California sun.
Our last beach day in pictures...
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
We woke up Friday morning rested and ready for the beach! After doing a little research of the abundance of beaches within an hour radius of Long Beach, we decided to head south to the Laguna and Newport Beach area. We not only wanted a good California beach to play in, but we wanted pretty scenery while we were at it. And as we climbed the pretty mountains along the Pacific Coastline, catching glimpses of the bright blue waters and big waves, it seemed we had hit the jackpot.
Our first stop was Crystal Cove State Park. Because it was mid-morning and we had plans to explore in town and find lunch before going swimming, I had instructed the kids to keep their clothes dry for our first stop. I don't think Cruz heard me against the big waves. ;) We were soon reminded that our boy loves himself some ocean waves, and these waves were no joke! In all of about three seconds, Cruz was head to toe in salty, sandy seawater, with a grin on his face that rivaled the three-mile coastline.
We walked up and down the shore, watched the surfers, and laughed as Cruz appeared to be fighting the waves, celebrating when one didn't take him down, and swallowing his pride (and a lot of salt) when they did. Some of them would break a foot taller than him, but he didn't flinch. That is, until we told him it was time to get in the car and his undies were full of sand... ;)
Our next stop of the day was the beautiful Heisler Park in Laguna Beach. This was a dream! Stretching high above the ocean along the bluffs on Cliff Drive, this oceanfront park has walking trails, tide pools, picnic tables, and the most gorgeous gardens. The views were unbelievable. We strolled, talked to some locals, and took some pictures against a backdrop that was truly breathtaking.
The rest of the afternoon was spent back at Crystal Cove, this time to stick an umbrella in the ground and stay awhile. We ordered hot dogs on the beach, Beau tested out the boogie boards Jan had lent us, and we built sandcastles, buried our feet, and collected some shells. Mila started off a bit leery of the wild waves, but got enough courage by the end of the day to hop on a boogie board herself. She loved it until Daddy misjudged a wave and she ended up with ocean up her nose. :)
We walked (dragged ourselves) to the car with armloads of stuff and bodies full of sand after playing all afternoon. Then we slowly inched our way home on the PCH along with all the other weekend travelers until we pulled up to our little tree house. It felt SO good to shower and clean up and we all got our second wind, ready to explore the city of Long Beach for the night. Jan and Dale had told us 2nd Street was the place to be in Long Beach and that it just so happened to be within walking distance from our house. So we dressed the kids up and headed on foot to explore.
This night ended up being one of my favorites of vacation. It was once again gorgeous outside and such a pretty night to be on a walk. We walked through quiet neighborhoods, admiring the Spanish Colonial houses and landscape designs that are so foreign in the Midwest. Mila didn't want to be in the stroller, and chose to skip ahead of us by a half block or so for the entire walk. She looked so California in her pretty blue twirly dress and pink flower headband, and seemed to feel as alive and carefree as she looked.
We loved the energy of 2nd Street, with its abundance of outdoor restaurants, bars, and shops. We chose to eat at Simmzy's, and loved the atmosphere, the wiki sticks they gave the kids that occupied the kids and made Beau and I almost feel like we were on a date, and the delicious shrimp and chorizo chimichangas. We got ice cream to go for our walk back to our house and I secretly wished the walk and our night would last forever. This was vacation.