Next Stop… Woodstock

We had a very pleasant morning at the Escondido Children’s Museum today. By no means is it close to the size of the Denver Children’s Museum, but this little one room museum was a delight. A few simple displays such as a water table, bubble bins and child-sized kitchen kept Elias happily busy for over two hours. It was a morning of extremely easy parenting. Yes, we love the Escondido Children’s Museum. This afternoon, thanks to a pretty ugly rash on his tush, Elias spent the second half of the day naked in the sunshine. Check out the great video below.

Elias at the water table
Watching his brother play with bubbles

Vicarious

When we are children we live in a world of play and make believe naively unaware of the responsibilities and pressures that come with adulthood. As teens we are so eager to become adults that we practice, often poorly, the roles we hope to assume. Then as young adults, as responsibilities mount, we begin to realize that childhood was pretty glorious and that maybe we shouldn’t have rushed it.

The incredible thing about having your own children is that while responsibilities still exist and you have the added stress of raising another person on this earth, you have moments when childhood gets so close you can feel the absolute thrill of an ice cream truck’s song, the delight of a painted butterfly and in our case, here in Oceanside, the curiosity and fear that comes with seeing your first shark and the new, amazing sensation of the tide rushing over your feet.

Yesterday we visited Sea Life, a Lego themed aquarium associated with the Lego Land theme park in Carlsbad. A dark maze of sharks, octopuses, sea urchins and stingrays in this underwater adventure gave my once land-locked child his first taste of ocean life. Curiosity of the unknown shadowed any caution I thought Elias would have in the cavernous displays. I’d go so far as to say that he was fearless, but the giant stingray and bullhead shark that floated by gave him immediate cause for concern. While the underwater world does not thrill me so much I had an amazing morning watching Elias point at colorful fish, play with buttoned displays and dance on lighted floors.

From indoor to outdoor sea life we spent the early evening walking the beaches of Encinitas. Eli’s laughter when the water swept over his feet was intoxicating. It was joy personified. His sandals and pants were soaked but he remained unaware because the moving tide was all consuming.

I wonder when it is that we lose sweet abandonment and the ability to become completely engrossed in such simple effects. As adults have we lost this capability or is it hidden beneath layers of presumptive appearances? The good news is that you can experience it all over again with each of your children, starting from the newborn days until… well I hope indefinitely.

Oceanside Harbor

The boys gave me a wonderful gift by falling into deep sleep while we walked Oceanside Harbor. Eli did not budge in the stroller and Xavier stayed tightly tucked against my chest. It gave me the opportunity to enjoy the serenity of quiet kayaks and waves breaking along the shoreline.

Contrary to the hectic scene of Oceanside’s Pier, the harbor was a calm respite no more than half a mile north. A handful of casual restaurants with outdoor patios lined the harbor’s edge and its parking lot was dotted with aged Winnebagos housing surfing gypsies. The gentle hum of their generators could not disturb my peace.

Dozens of fishing boats with names like Wind Dancer and Carpe Diem remain docked in the dark water. I wondered why we can’t just name our boats something like Bob or Earl and I decided that if I ever own a boat, that’s what I would do.

While taking pictures of a flock of pelicans sleeping on the rocks with beaks held close I heard the bark of a sea lion. What a surprise to see this smooth swimming mammal of the sea glide past me. I am always amazed and humbled by their size.

Elias woke just as I was passing the restaurants again, 100 feet from the car. Too bad I told him. You missed the pelicans, the sea lion and the boats. But thank you nonetheless for your sleep. What a sweet present it was!

Mellow Memorial Day

Guajome Regional Park in Oceanside is the closet we’ve come to camping. The katydids and chirping crickets are a welcomed change from the compartmentalized RV parks we’ve been restricted to thus far. It is peaceful here and we’ve easily fallen under the spell. Rather than racing to the beach this Memorial Day we hung around the park, took bike rides, played in the dirt and did dishes. The video below pretty much sums up today’s activites.

Xavier hanging out
Cleaning out my milk cup

Bring on the Dancing Horses

A month long journey to reach the ocean makes the waves a lot more satisfying.

A month long journey through the desert makes the activity of a bustling beach town overwhelmingly surreal.

Although our mountain-locked selves are always excited to see the ocean, today we were more absorbed by the ridiculous host of characters and scenes which played out around us. Perhaps we have been too long in Buena Vista’s bubble because the pandemonium at Oceanside’s Pier resembled the opening act of a three ring circus.

Straight out of American Graffiti, cars cruised the narrow boulevard along the beach’s edge. Bike lanes were crowded with peddled surreys maxed out to occupancy with 2.5 children sitting in front baskets. Life guards leaned on the edge of towers making Baywatch seem more documentary than fiction. And all around hundreds of people moved in thousands of directions creating a steady stream of chaos.

The kids in particular seemed so foreign to me. I am officially of another generation. I know my reckless youth is behind me when I watch and am bewildered by their dress and dishevelment. How out of touch I am! I want to pull up the boys pants and tie their shoes and implore the girls to buy slightly larger clothing. Pier-side flirtations were rampant as boy shouted words at girl who replied with snappy remarks. We were caught in the middle with two babies in our arms, straight from the country and worlds away from the side shows.

While I talk about Generation Me, the digital natives, I mustn’t ignore the silent generation, the boomers, the X’s and the babies that swarmed the beach. We were in a packed snow globe of diversity on the ocean’s edge. How refreshing for us who left the security of a small mountain town one month ago and traveled through the desert hoping to find something different. Today we did.

Alex and Xavey on Oceanside's Pier
Me and Eli (not happy about being in the stroller)

Running around our campsite at Guajome Regional Park

 

Kimberly Crest

The Kimberly Crest house is reminiscent of Cinderella’s castle and its Italian style gardens contain flourishing magnolia trees that are more than 100 years old. With Xavier strapped to my chest I took a tour of this turn of the century French chateau this afternoon.

In such homes, where furnishings are left unchanged from the 1900s, it’s fascinating to see how petit and ornate everything was. From the chairs to the doors and the sofa, each piece is dainty and sweet. When did we find the need to make everything so big?

It was hard for me to completely enjoy the tour because I became deathly afraid that Xavier would spit-up on a priceless, antique carpet. I held his little sunhat under his mouth while he chewed on it. Can you imagine the humiliation had that happened? Thank goodness we made it out without complete embarrassment.

The Kimberly Crest House
Hanging out with daddy

 

Gorgeous

A small pocket of gorgeous in a busy city is mystifying.

The Japanese Tea Gardens in San Francisco transport you across the Pacific. Walking onto a back patio in one of New York City’s restaurants is like opening a treasure chest.  Santa Fe’s Canyon Blvd is a movie set where flowers rain on historic Mexico.

I have had the good fortune to happen across such beauty during our stay here in Redlands. Yesterday I explored Caroline Park, 17 acres of nature trails hidden amongst high bushes and green grass. A tumbling meadow sits in the center where dozens of native California plants and birds find their home. I loved how tall and green the bushes grew and that the grasses covered Eli’s legs.

Today it was Prospect Park behind the historic Kimberly Crest House. Paths climb up and down a small hill of manicured lawns, creeping vines and eucalyptus trees. A red carriage house sets the backdrop for a garden of another time. Blending in with the trees is a wood amphitheater painted green and built in the style of California Craftsman. Roses flourished next to plump oranges.

When traveling with two small children you don’t need much. The open space, these pockets of gorgeous that dot Redlands have become a gentle reminder of what it is that I love as well as sanctuaries of play for my little one.

Caroline Park
What kind of flower is this?!
Prospect Park