Saturday, November 6, 2010

I Heart Vacations: Part 1, Catalina Island

Brian and I had a heckuva time trying to figure out what we wanted to do for a vacation this year. After having not so much fun flying with Austin last summer (where we swore we wouldn't fly with children until they're 18), we were even more reluctant to try that with two kiddos in tow. And tent camping with said kiddos didn't sound incredibly appealing either. And anywhere we could drive to didn't really sound all that fun. So when Brian suggested we go to Catalina for a few days, I knew that would be a good idea. It's so close and yet we totally forget it's there!

Brian had the whole week off of work and while we wanted to make the most of his time off, we didn't think spending a whole week on Catalina was a good idea. There's not that much to do with little kids and not knowing how well staying in a hotel room with two under two would go, we decided to go for just a few days. We decided to use one of the other days to take Austin to Disneyland for the first time. We scheduled a "rest day" in between Catalina & Disneyland. BEST.IDEA.EVER! Austin was able to fully enjoy both parts of vacation without being overly tired. We couldn't have planned the week better if we had tried!

As you know, I take way too many pictures, so rather than trying to squeeze them all into one post, I'm breaking it into two. So without further adieu...Catalina Island 2010...

We caught the semi-early boat to Avalon. Scooped up both kiddos still in their PJs and whisked them off. We had to be at the boat at least an hour early, so Austin ate breakfast in the terminal and then we got them both dressed there.

I wish I had taken a picture of our gear. It's amazing how much stuff it takes to go on vacation with two kids for only 3 days! And Catalina Express has the rule that you have to be able to carry it down the ramp to the boat in one trip. That's including the kids! Without them in the stroller. I think I carried Austin in the Ergo, the computer bag, my purse and pulled our large luggage, while Brian carried McKenna in the carseat, wore a backpack, pulled the small luggage and carried a duffel bag. It was comical. We looked like Sherpas. We probably didn't use everything we brought, but I can guarantee we would have needed it if I hadn't packed it!

Austin did so very good on the boat. It was so nice not having to be confined to a seat the whole time! He & Brian went exploring and when it got too cold, they came back to the seats and Austin played with his toys, ate fishies and watched Veggie Tales on the laptop.

McKenna thoroughly enjoyed the ride, as you can see.

Shout out to the Crowley Tugboat (wish we had a stake in that, but sadly we don't) and the Coasties.

It was a beautiful day with perfectly calm water.

The beautiful Casino

When we arrived in Avalon, we left our luggage at the hotel and wandered the town for a bit, then got Austin down for a nap. Then we went to dinner at Armstrong's Seafood (Yummy!) and enjoyed a beautiful evening!

Good first day!

Monday morning was spent as at the beach. Our hotel, The Hotel Metropole, was very close to the water. (Loved our hotel. Highly recommend it!)

How cute are my boys??

Austin did NOT like the water. It was relatively cold and really the only experience he's had with water was a heated pool, so I didn't blame him too much. He wanted nothing to do with it when Brian took him down and whined to be done.

So we let him play in the sand for a while. This boy dug and dug and dug. The pictures do not do justice to how much sand he moved!

Then I took him back in the water with me to get all rinsed off. He still whined, but I tried distracting him with his bucket and he did okay. Still was signing "all done" like a crazy man, but he did get some legitimate ocean time in.

McKenna enjoyed her beach day too.

Lunch was at the hamburger place at our hotel. Austin found some new friends to smile at. I love that he is such a sociable kid most of the time! It didn't hurt that they had french fries that he really really wanted!

After lunch we took a walk past the Casino but Austin fell asleep in the stroller and we figured it was a good time for naps. Brian apparently needed one too.

After naps, it was Mexican food for dinner and a walk around town. We listened to some local kids play music on the strand (they were really good!) while we munched on ice cream. Austin discovered he really likes ice cream with chocolate all over it. He was covered! But if you can't get messy on vacation, when can you?! Such another wonderful day! Austin and McKenna just happily took in the sights and were really well behaved! I was so proud of both of them!

Then it was bedtime for the kiddos. We set Austin up in our big bed for video time. He LOVED our big bed! And despite not having very good sitting up skills, McKenna did pretty good sitting up next to him. She adores Austin and you could tell she felt pretty special to be sitting next to him!

My two sweeties!

Yet another good day!

Day 3. We signed up for a submarine ride. We thought Austin would enjoy that and that would be a good way to show him some fish up close. We had considered the glass bottom boat, but figured in a submarine he'd be contained - no possibility of falling overboard! It was a fun ride. They stop twice to feed the fish. Food shoots out of the side of the sub and you can see the fish vying for some right outside your portholes. For a (exorbitant) fee, you purchase shots of food and then you have a button you push when you want to use one. Austin was in heaven. This kid loves giant red buttons! (Which makes riding in elevators always a little dicey! Why do they put emergency stop buttons near the bottom??) He didn't understand the point of rationing the food, so we had to hold him back from hitting his button too often.

After the submarine ride and some yummy lunch, we had about an hour to kill before our boat left. So we hopped on a trolley that takes you around Avalon. Austin thought it was a Choo-Choo. And since he was getting a little tired, we didn't bother to correct him. Whatever kept him happy and entertained was fine by us!

McKenna was there too. =P But she was more interested in her toys than the local scenery.

My enthusiastic little train trolley rider

One last family portrait before we left.

Austin started the boat ride out perky...

Even learning to how to honk his nose...

But before long, the excitement of the trip caught up to him.

Such a wonderful trip! I don't think I could have enjoyed Catalina anymore. Vacations aren't usually vacations for the momma - it's just the same gig, but harder, in a different location! But that wasn't the case this time. I enjoyed our vacation more than I thought I ever could!

Stay tuned for Disneyland...

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