What a trip! Exhausting with three children and a husband working hard in the office Monday to Friday! It wasn’t a holiday, but most certainly an adventure and an experience – with some amazing sights either side of the working week and a couple of incredible weekends either side.
The drive back, from San Francisco to Santa Barbara, was broken up with a two night stop in Monterey Bay. Unfortunately it took us a little longer than anticipated to do that first leg – so many accidents and half of San Francisco leaving the city for a weekend away made the driving painfully slow.
We arrived in Monterey as the sun was setting and pulled in at Summerland Beach, attracted by the large sand-dunes. It’s often the half an hour stops on a journey that stay in the mind the longest.
All the traffic was soon forgotten and the stresses washed away….
Our hotel for our two night stay in Monterey was close to the waterfront, had a pool to keep the children happy and room service to keep the parents sweet. We checked in about 8pm and were in the swimming pool within ten minutes. The children finally got to sleep… they always do… eventually! Must have been about 11pm.
On the Saturday we visited the incredible aquarium in Monterey – the best we have ever seen and truly never to be forgotten. As well has having the most beautiful aquarium tanks showcasing wonderful, exotic and breathtaking sea-life, there are also plenty of hands on learning exhibits for children to learn about ocean life. I will have to write a special post on our visit another time.
The location of the aquarium, set on the Pacific Ocean, in the most spectacular scenery, abundant with sea-life and bird-life, completed the perfection.
The beauty of the natural environment continued, as everyone promised us it would, on our drive down the Pacific coast back to Santa Barbara. There were so many similarities to New Zealand. We found ourselves remembering stunning drives along the west coast of the south island, as well as the breathtaking coast drives on the east coast of the south island – filled with equally abundant marine life.
Elephant Seals dotted the beaches and whales made their migratory journey south.
The landscape was rugged, with the winding road teetering on the edges of the cliff, leaving a defined cut.
Where the road had been carved out there were geological layers laid bare, exposed to tell the story of the earth; reminding us of driving through the central plateau of the north island of NZ.
The stop offs were stunning. If we’d had more time, and more pliable children, we would have lingered longer, had a drink, enjoyed the road stop cafes and live music (we did make pit stops – but flies were a problem in one place and ‘stinky seaweed’ smells in another…).
As we got closer to Santa Barbara we pulled up at a beach to fly kites and cover each other in sand, before the last hour of the drive.
It was with relief we pulled in at our ‘home’ in Santa Barbara. It is a stunning home, but not our home and all of the children said as much in their own ways, which touched me deeply.
Our three year old said, ‘Mummy, how many nights now here, before we go back to Wellington? I do love it here though.’
Our ten year old said, ‘I don’t feel the same way that I used to feel when got back to our home in Wellington after a trip away.’
And our seven year old said, ‘Mummy, it is nice here, but I don’t feel like I am back home’.
Nevertheless, it is great to be back and have time to get reacquainted with all our belongings that only arrived from New Zealand three days before our road trip away.
The older girls have played together all day, from riding on their bikes down the lane by the house and swimming in the pool, to board games of Dragonology and ‘Bingo’ games! They’ve dressed up as knights and ran around the house brandishing swords and shields, whilst young Alice has played with everything imaginable – from play dough and matching games to painting and imaginary games with ponies and trains. We’ve swam in the pool and sang along to songs. I haven’t managed to get any of them out to the local supermarket so I could stock up on washing powder and essentials – but they can wait!
Our minds are busy digesting all that we’ve seen and done this past week. It’s good to have ‘down time’ after a trip away!
It’s going to take me a while to sort through the hundreds of photographs and get them printed off for the older girls to add to their scrap books (which should then keep them busy for a while!).