Sunday, April 9, 2017

California Vacation

We are driving home right now from a family vacation to the Redwoods and San Francisco. It was a good reminder of how very blessed I am. I have such a beautiful family and my kids are so good. I love spending time with them. To keep it real, sometimes the little boys struggle with fighting with each other, and some of us are not very good about putting our things away. But really, I have an amazing family.

We got a few double takes, I think because of the size of our family, but also some compliments about how good they all were.  It was sweet to watch the older ones squeeze around the speaker, with their notebooks in hand, to hear conference and take notes during the drive there. I loved watching them take care of one another in the city and in the hikes.  Being a mom is the most rewarding job in the world.

Here are some pictures of our trip:

The car ride was tough on my nausea, but we did get to listen to conference so that helped time go by. I loved so many talks. One of my favorite lines, "Our family light grows as we increase in kindness and love towards each other." I have been reading some sad books lately - biographies or historical fiction that portray some of the dark things that go on in the world. It is so hard to see how much darkness is out there, and sometimes I feel like there is so little I can do about it, but I love the thought that we can fight the darkness with the light we send out to the world.

We made it to the beach on Sunday and walked around in between sessions.

The next day, we looked for some tide pools unsuccessfully and then drove to our camping spot in the Redwoods. We camped by a river so we spent sometime lounging and playing on the rocks next to it.

Then we went on a short hike that night, came back and had some chili and s'mores around the campfire.

The next day, we decided to do a day hike. Since our pace is so slow with all the little ones, a day hike for us is about 6-7 miles. And they loved it. Thankfully, we stopped at the visitors center before we went, and the ranger there told the kids about banana slugs and how one kid once found 14 of them while he stayed there. Our younger boys thought they could beat that record. They had such a great time searching for banana slugs that they forgot they were walking. In the end, they found 47. The ranger they told wasn't sure she believed them. she had to verify it with me. I guess if you go on a six mile hike at a really slow rate (it took us almost 7 hours), you notice all sorts of things that others miss. Joy was the one that got tired most often so we'd put her on someone's shoulders for 5-10 minutes and then she was ready to hike again. She probably hiked 4 1/2 miles out of the 6. She wasn't as interested in the slugs, but she loved talking to fairies (clovers) and her shadow ("Oh there's my friend again!") as we walked so she kept herself pretty happy. I think she forgot the rest of us were there most of the time.

Banana Slugs

Found a geocache

Putting the geocache back
That night we roasted hot dogs and more s'mores. The next morning, we went to another park in the Redwoods and went on the "Prairie Trail." I think it was my favorite. It was just so beautiful, I wish the pictures could do it justice. The younger kids turned in their Jr. Ranger pamphlets and got sworn in as Redwoods Jr. Rangers. Then we drove 6 hours south to San Francisco.

We slept at RV park in San Rafael and then took the bus into San Francisco. We walked through China Town to get to the Piers. Then we walked to the ferry to get back to San Rafael and walked back to the RV Park. It was a lot of walking for the littles (about 7 miles total), but they were super tough.  Then we had dinner at a Chinese Restaurant. Joshua asked the waitress how to use the chopsticks and she proceeded to show him and feed him the rest of the food on his plate. He was so full, but he ate everything she fed him. It was pretty adorable.

Walking to the bus stop

Waiting for the bus

Walking into China Town

Watching the sea lions

Walking to the ferry

Stepping out of the ferry for a bit

Getting fed by the waitress after asking how to use chopsticks

Feeling Full
The next day we drove to Elko and ate at Denny's and slept at a Wal-Mart parking lot. Then we drove the rest of the way home in the morning. We cleaned out the RV and watched Rogue One that night.  We had a great time together. I'm feeling so grateful today for my incredible family.

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