The day came when we had to leave San Diego. I woke up around 4:30am to pack things and prepare to leave at 6 to head to UCLA. We had a tour at 10:15am that we were trying to make. Cade will be a Junior this year and has talked about going to school in California. So we booked 2 college tours for him to take while on our adventure. FYI: Y’all traffic to LA is crazy! You basically map it on your GPS and then add an hour or more to your journey… especially if it’s rush hour…we stopped and fueled up on Starbucks and continued on our journey to ucla. We got there literally just in time for the tour! We had an overview first (which Kian and I had to dismiss ourselves from because he’s almost 2 lol), then we toured the campus. I had NO IDEA this UcLa had a gorgeous campus. It was a 2 hour tour and we didn’t see everything. What we did see was fantastic though! And they have 10 libraries on campus. One library we saw had all kinds of way for the students to study. They had couches, desks, stand up desks, a coffee shop, and more in that one library. It was the perfect college students study place! After the tour, we went to IN N OUT 🍔, because it’s the best and they are all over Cali! Then we headed to Costa Mesa to Hawleywoods. A little back story, back when we had our lovely retro shop, Beauty’s, we sold a ton of Layrite hair pomade. It was a water based men’s pomade that smelled like angel food cake. Layrite was started at Hawleywood’s, a sweet old school style barber shop, in a California. One of Arthur’s dreams, was to get his hair cut there. We finally made that dream a reality! He had his long lucious locks chopped off and now has a clean cut fade with a little length on top. He looks good😍❤️😘, he looked good with long hair too, but I think I’m a bigger fan of the new cut. Then we drove to Oceanside to check in to our condo at the beach! It was beautiful! Our balcony has an ocean view. After a week in one bedroom accommodations, I was looking forward to spreading out in a 2 bedroom condo! My parents met us in Oceanside. It was great to see them and share our adventures thus far!
We woke up and had a leisure morning. Arthur had a business meeting with the hotel manager and then we all went and enjoyed another breakfast at the Waffle Spot! All I have to say is: the huevos rancheros was amazing! Then the hotel manager gave us a tour of one of their remodeled suites, now called the Gidget suite at the hotel. I’m posting pics of the room in case anyone wants to reserve it! It’s fabulous!!! Just call the Kings Inn in San Diego and ask for the Gidget suite if you want to book it! Then we gathered the troops to go check out Cabrillo and the lighthouse. About Cabrillo national park, As per the NPS website: Climbing out of his boat and onto shore in 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo stepped into history as the first European to set foot on what is now the West Coast of the United States. In addition to telling the story of 16th century exploration, the park is home to a wealth of cultural and natural resources. We were able to use our America the Beautiful pass to get us in. Woohoo! First of All the views are amazing! And the lighthouse is super cool. The inside was preserved from the late 1800s and its beautiful! Then we went to check out the tide pools, it wasn’t low tide but it was our first contact with the ocean on this trip, so we were happy! The boys loved it! Then we loaded up and headed to La Jolla to the children’s pool to see the sea lions! Apparently it was a designated are for the children of La Jolla to swim in, and the sea lions took it over! We were not disappointed! There were so many in their natural habitat, just laying around sunbathing! It was awesome! Next we headed over to my cousin’s house for dinner and hot tub time. We have maybe met once or twice. But I contacted them and made plans to hang out! They were super cool to hang with and get to know! They were great hostesses! His name is Chris and his wife is Carole. They have a lovely home in San Diego with the most Amazing view overlooking the city! The boys had a blast in their pool and hot tub. Then We called it a night and went home to rest up! We had to be all loaded up and packed up to head to UCLA for a 10:15 tour the next morning and so I can to get up at 4:30 to make that happen. It was another great day in San Diego!
San Diego is in the super southern part of California, almost all the way to Mexico! I had never been there before and was stoked to be close to the ocean. Someday I will live near the ocean, someday, it just calms my soul. We made plans to check out the San Diego zoo. We had been told it was the best zoo there is. And we LOVE zoos, so we had to check it out. We took our time and had breakfast at the Waffle Spot, which is a cute retro diner at our hotel, and then we packed all the snacks and things for the zoo. It was a cool and overcast day, which was perfect for zoo exploring! When we got there, there was a beautiful gate at the entrance. We went up to the cashier to pay and our total was almost $200… for the zoo. Oops I didn’t check prices beforehand!! We were expecting like $100 for our family! Lol! We decided to go in and check it out, after all, we had told the kiddos we were going to the zoo! Y’all this zoo, it was amazing. It definitely lived up to its hype! Tons of volunteers everywhere, that were super helpful. Every exhibit was beautifully clean and perfect for the animals to thrive in. We saw all kinds of snakes, birds, wild cats, koalas, wallabies, pandas 🐼, giraffes, hippos, polar bears… basically any animal you can think of! The little kids both picked out polar bear toys. Kian picked out a stuffed polar bear and Arthur Thomas picked out a transforming polar bear that transforms into a robot! They had a gondola that had amazing views!! They called it skyfari! The zoo was super hilly which is good because we need to burn off all the vacation food we’ve been eating lol! Thankfully almost everyday that we aren’t in the car, we’ve been super active! I Highly recommend that zoo! In fact, I can’t wait to go back! Plan on spending an entire day (open to close) there! We were there for about 5 hours or more and didn’t see everything! Enjoy the pics! It was my favorite day so far on the trip!
A Joshua tree looks like a twisted and mangled palm tree. So unique and beautiful in their own way! This trip is educational for our boys so we googled where the Joshua Tree got its name. This is what we found: “The name Joshua tree was given by a group of Mormon settlers who crossed the Mojave Desert in the mid-19th century. The tree’s unique shape reminded them of a Biblical story in which Joshua reaches his hands up to the sky in prayer.” Isn’t that awesome?
On day 5, We woke up and packed up at the echolove casita. We then started our journey into Joshua Tree national park. The only thing we knew about Joshua Tree was that it was the name of an awesome U2 (one of our favorite bands) album. So we wanted to check it out!!! Y’all it’s so hot there that you just drive through it and then pick our sites throughout the park that you want to stop and take pics at. Throughout the park there are TONS of Joshua trees and super unique rock formations. How did these crazy huge piles of rocks get out there!? I have no idea. But they are cool to climb on! And take pictures of! Our first stop in the park, we met a couple from Fayetteville, AR! They were super sweet and they took a pic of our whole family in front of the beautiful scenery. We stopped a few places throughout the park. We were looking for skull rock! It was one of the last rock formations to see before we left the park. You’ll see pics of it below. So many cool rocks y’all! The boys loved it!!! Arthur Thomas could have stayed and hiked all day!!! Then we made our way back to Joshua Tree for delicious burgers at the Joshua Tree Saloon. I Definitely recommend their sweet potato fries and cheeseburger 🍔! Then we loaded up and headed west to San Diego. This was a short car ride of about 3 hrs, compared to the rest of the traveling we have done so far. And it was a beautiful drive through the mountains! We saw this area with tons of windmills and a random piece of 🌈 in the sky! Rainbows are a great reminder that Yahweh is faithful and always keeps His promises! He is so good!!! We reached San Diego and we checked into the Kings Motel, which was in the middle of everything and it has been completely remodeled to a beach theme mid century wonderland! Totally adorable and affordable! I’ll post pics of their rooms soon! We were stoked to be in one place for 3 nights and beds were super comfy!!!! 🛏🛋🛁
Kian woke us up at 5 am on day 4. It was his first time to tent camp, and I think the sun peaking through woke him up. Our tent has a completely open screened in ceiling, so we can see the stars. I slept really well, Arthur said he could hear coyotes or wolves around 3am and some wind. We got up and I started cooking breakfast over a fire with my pioneer woman skillet. I felt totally pioneer! I fried up a package of bacon, nitrate free of course, a bunch of eggs and some toast! It was a breakfast feast and everyone was happy! I just have to figure out how to cook over a fire and not inhale so much smoke lol! Then we started packing things up! I took the dishes down to the community outdoor sink to wash them and saw a big spiny caterpillar! It reminded me of a time when I was a kid visiting my nana and pop in ponchatoula, LA and I was stung by one! Y’all those little spiny things stick in your skin and hurt like the dickens! Needless to say I left that thing alone! Camping definitely brings out the pioneer woman in me. We got the van loaded and then headed over to the canyon. I highly recommend staying at Mather campground! It’s SUPER close to the Canyon and only $18 a night! Just request to stay near the bath house, if showering is important to you! They even have a grocery store near the campground! This was my 3rd time to the Canyon. And y’all let me tell you, they have done MAJOR building onto the visitors center! It’s so nice! They have a movie you can watch about the history of it! It’s really interesting! And they have put walkways and railings everywhere! Last time that I went there wasn’t railing everywhere! They even have a super nice gift shop and coffee shop (where you can also rent bikes)! The Canyon was breathtaking as always! Pictures will never do it justice. It is such an amazingly huge site! A true US wonder! We thoroughly enjoyed it! And we got our US National Park passport stamped while we were there! Then it was off to our next adventure! But first, we had a late lunch at RPs stage shop! They have coffee and build your own sandwiches and WIFI (we didn’t have cell service for about 24hrs)! Arthur did some work and then we hit to road for Joshua Tree, California. The drive from GC to Williams had 2 stops we wanted to make but we’re out of time for the day! Bedrock city, its a creepy cool Fred flinstone mini park. We went in probably 2010 and it made for great photos! And then Bearizona, a drive through zoo with bears, wolves and other animals! We soon left Arizona and entered Death Valley. 109 degree temps, lots of sand, and weird sphere shaped buildings that make you wonder if aliens really are real. Much of southwestern US looks like Mars, IMO. We went through one stretch where we went probably 2.5 hours without seeing food or a bathroom, and very very few cars…. We did drive through Amboy on old Route 66. I googled the history of it! I highly recommend you look up Roy’s in amboy! We saw a few houses here and there and some looked like they didn’t have electricity running to them. It was such an odd and interesting drive! God’s creation will never be boring! We reached Joshua Tree around 8:40 and went to a pizza by the slice, super cool and funky place called Pie for the People. Y’all I had a pesto, veggie pizza and it was so so good. Then we headed to our Airbnb for the night. It was at Glenn’s house! It’s a tiny guest house and it’s super nice inside. And he lives our where you can see a HUGE open sky and tons of constellations. We used his awesome hot tub and looked at the beautiful stars. It was the Nicest hot tub I’ve ever seen!!! The 2 older boys stayed up really late with us and “swam”. They loved it. I highly recommend the EchoLove Casita in Joshua Tree if you need a place to stay while in that area! Glenn and His daughter, Gwen, were really sweet, informative of the area, and greT hosts! We slept well in Joshua Tree.
Day 3 began bright and early early again. I didn’t want to leave one of my favorite cities, but we had reservations in the Grand Canyon, so onward we go! We woke up and packed everything. And Bill the owner of the yurt we were staying in, promised to bring one of his sweet llamas out of the pen for us to hang out with. He brought out Marduke and what a treat it was! Llamas eat everything, so he was enjoying the grass and weeds. He was such a beautiful llama, with perky ears, bright eyes and thick llama dreads. The boys loved being there with the acres, the view, and the llama farm. They ran around outside and chased each other while we were packing. My heart yearns for land to live on with our family…. Someday, someday. We got some pics of the yurt and Marduke before we left. And then said goodbye to Bill and Robbyn and headed out. If you are looking for an off the grid feeling but close to everything, their place is it! Bill uses lots of GREEN methods in his farm and in their yurt. We learn a lot about water conservation, a compost toilet, and llamas while staying there. And he painted some beautiful pics of his llamas that he hung up in the yurt. We loved it! Off to the glorious Grand Canyon we went! It was about a 7 hour drive for us. We arrived in time for a quick bite at We Cook Pizza and Pasta, right outside of the canyon. We happily flashed our America The Beautiful Pass to get into the park and off we went to set up camp! Keep in mind, this was our FIRST time to camp together as a family of 5. And mine and Arthur’s first time in probably 7 years!!!! The big guys set up the tent and Kian and I went to find firewood. We found some at the general store and brought it back to our site at Mather campground. We set everything up and then did what all campers should do FIRST! We roasted marshmallows and made S’Mores!!! It was a sticky delicious mess. Then we wiped down, cleaned up and went to bed. It was such a perfect night… the sky was clear. We could see the moon and stars as we fell asleep. It was beautiful! Arthur heard wolves or coyotes howling in the night! Everyone else slept soundly until 5am, because that’s how we roll… Kian or Arthur Thomas wakes up early and they wake everyone else up! I’m sure all you parents can relate!
Arthur and I LOVE Santa Fe, the smells, the sights, the old, the stucco, it’s all so romantic. We usually hang out in the plaza and shop and hang out downtown most of our stay. This time we decided to do the opposite, experience the history of the area and richness of the land. So we got up bright and early in the yurt, when the rooster crowed. We enjoyed our muffins that our Airbnb hostess had gave us, and quickly packed up to go to Bandelier. Bandelier National Park is full of old cliff dwellings that were left by the Indians. We drove about an hour out of town to go To bandelier. We parked in white rock and then caught a shuttle bus that took us there. The roads were windy and curvy and in the distance you could see all kinds of old homes in the cliffs that were once lived in by the Indians. When we got there, we purchased an America the beautiful pass! How exciting! It’s $80 for our family for the entire year. It gets you into tons of national parks and we knew we would probably get our money’s worth from it on this trip. We then went to explore! But first, sunscreen, lol! The kids did awesome! Arthur Thomas kept up with Cade and Arthur baby wore Kian, most of the time. We hiked and explored some of the dwellings! They were so cool. It was neat to imagine what their lives were like in those tiny cliff homes, so many years ago. We saw shelves and hooks, and nooks. We explored for a while and then we decided we were hungry and the sun was really blazing. We started the descent down and say tons of cool lizards and little furry wildlife. Then we went the shaded route back and found a creek. We had to stop and check it out And sweet Arthur Thomas slipped on a rock and fell in. His little hiking boots filled up with water and so we changed his pants and took his water filled boots off. Then Arthur put Arthur Thomas in the baby carrier and carried him the rest of the way and I carried Kian! Lol! Kian only weighs about 9 lbs less than Arthur Thomas, so it worked! We then finished the trail and met a Pueblo indian that carved the most beautiful little figures! He said Katie Perry and Cindy Lauper buy up his carvings whenever he puts them in shops in the plaza (the downtown shopping and dining experience area)! We bought a passport book in the gift shop to start documenting all the national parks we visit and then grabbed a bite at the gift shop. We had sandwiches and green chili fries!!! We had the eating area almost completely to ourselves. It was so nice! We love eating outside when it’s nice and shaded! Then we caught the bus and headed back to our van in white rock! That night we went to the plaza for dinner because, we love that place!!! And ate Some New Mexican food at, The Santa Fe famous, the Shed. It wasn’t great food but the atmosphere and outdoor dining was awesome! Then we had some ice cream and listened to a lady playing the violin on the street corner before starting to walk to our car. It was an amazing day!!!
We started our 5 week journey yesterday morning and drove from Fort Smith all the way to Santa Fe, NM! My hubby is a master packer and fit EVERYTHING into and on top of our van. He’s so sexy! 💪🏽 Everything for cold weather, hot weather, hiking, fishing, camping and the beach for a family of 5! We made a pit stop in Amarillo to get donuts, because it was National Donut Day! We ended up scoring 15 donuts and 2 coffees for less than $5!!! The kids were stoked for the pit stop. While we stopped it started hailing outside, so we gobbled our delicious donuts and hung out for a few minutes! The shop was called the Donut Shop and it was retro and cute. I highly recommend it if you are passing through Amarillo! The drive once you get closer to Santa Fe, gets more beautiful. We saw the most gorgeous sunset, painted just by the good Lord himself, when were getting close to Santa Fe. See the pics in the blog! When we got to Santa Fe it was late, but we had to make a quick stop at Best Buy (we forgot something), and were famished. We ended up getting take out from Boxcar Bar and grill. Art and I split there adult mac n cheese and it was so good and spicy. The babies fell asleep in the car. We got to the yurt that we had booked through Airbnb and Bill and Robin greeted us. They showed us how to use their compost toilet and there pellet stove. They are big time into green living, which just enhanced our yurt experience! Very cool people! They own a roswell themed skating rink and pizza place here in Santa Fe, if you are ever in the area on a Friday night, definitely check it out! We all fell asleep quick, in hopes of big adventures the next day!
ps. The kiddos did excellent on the road trip! They are such little adventurers! 🚙