Since we were up by 6:00 anyway, we decided to try to get an early start at things, so we got ready and left by 8:00. My parents graciously lent us their vehicle - they are currently going without any sort of motorized vehicle of their own, relying instead on pedal power and favors from friends - so we loaded it up and took off on our 6 and 1⁄2 hour drive to San Diego. Before we left town we had to make a quick stop at Starbucks to get Jenny her vacation nectar, Tall non-fat Chai Tea Latte, and at the gas station for a Pepsi Max for me - it’s not a diet soda, it’s a zero calorie soda for men! At one point, Quinton asked “where are we going?” I explained we were going to Starbucks to get mommy a coffee - he responded, “oh darn it, I wanted to go to California.” I need to take this opportunity to say that the gas station/car wash/oil change establishment at the intersection of Highway 60 and Signal Butte Drive in Apache Junction is perhaps the most beautiful gas station I’ve ever encountered. From the clean, modern, southwest exterior, to the wide aisles, copious beverage choice, leather chairs, high definition televisions while you wait… It was spectacular!
The drive took us south almost immediately. After about 2 hours we were ready for a quick stop just as we were about to get onto Interstate 8 headed for California where we picked up some Mike and Ikes for Ethan and quickly used the bathroom. As we got onto I8, we had the option to go West to San Diego, or South to Mexico. So I gave the family the option, Mexico or San Diego. Ethan and Quinton both shouted simultaneously “San Diego,” so I guess we were committed.
The drive was mostly uneventful to Yuma where we used the iPhone to locate a park, Kennedy Park off of Exit 2, then navigated to it for a quick picnic lunch compliments Grandma Cheryl, meat and cheese sandwiches, Fritoes, bananas and apples. It was nice to stop and stretch our legs and let the kids play on the toys in the park. It was a beautiful day - 95 degrees, not humid, not a cloud in the sky. In fact, Jenny and I were amazed that there was almost nobody out to enjoy the beautiful day. As far as we could tell, people were either sleeping in (until noon), going to church, or it was just not such an oddity for them to have such a beautiful day on their hands so nobody was out taking advantage of it. A day like this in Wisconsin in October would be a recipe for some of the poorest daytime television ratings days of all time!
On our way out of town we had our first vehicle mishap. While putting Quin back in the car and trying to close the automatic sliding door, the door started to “misbehave.” We have a similar car at home, and if something gets in the way of the door closing, it reopens then starts beeping crazily. If you try to drive with the door open, it does the same thing. Well, that started happening. The door opened and would not close. When we were able to get the door to close by quickly locking it before it re-opened, it would beep uncontrollably. We drove for about a mile with it in that state until we got to a gas station where we filled up with gas and continued to debug the door. After about 30 minutes, I finally found a combination that left the door closed without any beeping of any sort. Since then, we have not touched it - Quin has been getting out on Ethan’s side!
We finally entered California for the last part of our drive. We were mildly nervous that we would get searched at one of three border patrol stops along the way and that they would make us open Quin’s door, but our fears were not realized and we cruised right through to San Diego, where the weather finally turned cooler. In fact, we stopped at a gas station for some Slurpees about 20 miles East of San Diego and the thermometer read 87 degrees. Not more than 5 miles down the road, the thermometer read 67!!!
We eased off the interstate on Rosencrans Road and were greeted by a big sign, “Live Nude Girls.” Jenny and I looked at each other and wondered without saying anything if our recent hotel luck was going to continue. The last two times we’ve gotten hotel rooms we’ve had less than pleasing experiences. Were we staying in the red light district? Well, again our fears were not realized as within a few blocks we started seeing signs for Trader Joes and seeing nice cars parked on the side of the road.
Our hotel, the Courtyard in Libertyville, is nice enough - clean, dry, and in a nice area. We took some time to walk around the area before we ventured out for some supper in the Ocean Beach area, only 4 miles from the hotel. We ate supper at a Mexican restaurant near the ocean while we watched Sunday night football. We then headed down to the beach to let the kids get their feet wet - Quin scared the heck out of me when he started to chase the tide out to the ocean. I had glimpses of the tide taking him out to sea and me having to frantically try to find him in the dark waters, but he must have seen the fear in my face and quickly came back up the beach towards me.
When we got back to the room it was about 8:00 - we got Quin ready for bed and he fell asleep within perhaps 2 minutes - the rest of us didn’t last much longer…