The 24-hour Tourist: San Diego

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Photo Courtesy: http://www.voiceofsandiego.org

I’ve been around the world… and no matter where I go, landing in San Diego is always breathtaking. As in, everywhere I turn, it takes my breath away. From the moment we prepare for landing and glide amongst the tall buildings of downtown San Diego, to the sailboats bopping along the San Diego Bay the views are always remarkable. There are a million things to do in San Diego, with the weather being a perfect 70 degrees almost 200 days of the year. What you don’t accomplish on your first trip, you can go back for more, time and time again. Easily, one can fall in love with this eclectic city, rich in history and contemporary charm.  Even after visiting a handful of times, one can never really get sick of spending time in a city that is considered one of the best climates in the world. With all that San Diego has to offer, the sprawling beaches to the quaint coffee shops, the adventures never end. No transportation? No problem. There is a trolley that will zoom you around the area in no time. Uber and Lyft are in abundance. Taxis. check. Local city buses and trains are also available. Not to mention the local bicyclists who will trek you around town in a carriage. No need to rent a car, transportation in San Diego is everywhere.

With so much to do where do you begin?

I decided to break it down by category because I could really spend an entire day writing about things to do in San Diego. Here are the categories. Beach Bums. Thrill Seeker. History buff. Museums and more.

Beach Bum:

La Jolla Cove

Windansea Beach

Pacific Beach

Mission Bay Park

Ocean Beach

Torrey Pines State Beach

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Photo courtesy: http://www.dreamlajolla.com

Thrill Seeker:

Jet Pack America

San Diego Sky Tours

Fly Guy Water Sports

Belmont Park

Torrey Pines Gliderport

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Photo Courtesy: http://sandiegan.com

History Buff:

Old Town State Historic Park

Cabrillo National Monument

Mission San Diego De Alcala

Haunted San Diego

Star of India

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Photo Courtesy: http://images.fineartamerica.com

Museums:

The San Diego Museum of Art

Museum of Contemporary Art

Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum

The Maritime Museum

San Diego Air and Space Museum

USS Midway Museum

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Photo Courtesy: http://www.sandiegomagazine.com

If I had to send you to just one place, I would hands down tell you, head to La Jolla. Then make the trip up the mountain to Mount Soledad. The glider port also has some of my favorite views.

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Photo Courtesy: http://blog.studioearchitects.com

The view from the top of the mountain is beautiful; on a clear day you can see for miles. The history is rich, the panoramic vistas are spectacular and you can even enjoy a picnic lunch on what feels like the top of the world. These lists are just places I have chosen to explore. There is so many places that have been omitted. This list does not even begin to explore wine country, the award winning casinos, or the avocado groves that make the countryside of San Diego so unique. Come once, come a thousand times; it never gets old and you will NEVER run out of things to do.

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Pennsylvania: Day Three

A real Philly Cheese Steak sandwich. Another thing on my checklist, done! It was not nearly as good as it sounded, or as I had imagined it to taste. But, we can say we tried it! With all of the road closures due to the Papal visit, we did not get to see all of the historic and famous Philadelphia landmarks. I guess that means we will have to go back.

Our visit would not be complete without Felipe visiting the local firehouse. This one is situated in downtown Philly. Engine CO. 24. The guys there were very welcoming, as usual. With little time before we had to make our way to the airport, we accomplished two big things we wanted to check off our list. With just a few days to see the area, I feel like we did a great job making our rounds.

Amish Country. Check.

Shoofly pie. Check.

Selfie with an Amish. Check.

World Meeting of Families. Check.

Seeing the Pope. Check.

Eating a famous Philly Cheese Steak sandwich. Check.

Visiting a local firehouse. Check.

Having a family style dinner. Check.

Feeling accomplished. Check.

Marking off another state. Check!

 

 

 

Pennsylvania: Day Two

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The changing of the seasons in Lancaster County is beautiful. Fall Harvest at its finest.

We found a farm that gave horse rides. The little boy, is already an entrepreneur. He charged us $5.50 to walk around the field two times. I was a bit confused about the $.50, so I asked him about it. He said his parents made charged him $5.00 to use the horse. He got to keep the rest. In addition, he gladly accepted tips!

Here is Elijah and the boy, from two different worlds, finding a common ground. I love it!

Did I mention, I had a goal of taking a selfie with someone Amish before I left Amish Country? Mission Accomplished! He allowed me to take a selfie with him!

Zoe riding the horse, with her new pilgrim bonnet. We found that at the restaurant gift shop, the night before. 

If you want a unique place to stay while in the area, I highly recommend the Red Caboose Motel. This family-friendly motel has over 40 historic train cars, buggy rides, picnic areas, a petting zoo and more. In addition, right across the railroad tracks is the historic Strasburg Railroad.

The location is near several exciting attractions. Not only did we find the horse rides, the buggy rides, the train station, but, we also found the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum. We did not get a chance to go in, but we think it looked like a fun place to visit. 

These types of farms were scattered throughout the countryside. It never got old, the beauty and the history that lies behind those walls.

We stopped at this breakfast joint, Katie’s Kitchen, to enjoy a few pancakes. The statue is quite fascinating. An Amish boy, and his pigs.

The pancakes were some of the biggest pancakes we had ever eaten. We ordered what we thought would be enough to feed our family of six. Well, it turns out, we ordered enough for our family of six, for an entire day! The potatoes, were delectable.
  Outside, the kids enjoyed a play structure, while dad and I enjoyed the greenery. 

Zoe and Elijah, hanging with the Amish boy and his pigs!

This buggy was parked outside, next to the barn intended for just this occasion. Note the doll laying on the floor of the buggy. 

A traffic jam in Lancaster County, is not your ordinary back up. Here, we we slowed down by a group of young adults, on their way to a “play date”?

You quickly become used to the slower-paced life. Every time you turn a corner, you seem to encounter, the Amish, living life. After all, this is their little corner of the world. 

Pictured above, you can see this basic schoolhouse, which is still in use today. It is simple, yet, impressive. note the scooter rack in front of the school. No need for parking spaces. This school house is intended for grades Kindergarten through 12th grade.

Don’t mind the ladies, they are transporting newly purchased furniture back to the farm.

I found this mill bridge picture to be beautiful!

We discovered Herr’s Mill Bridge, and found it to be fascinating.


  

This bridge is the longest in Lancaster county. It was replaced by a concrete bridge and is now on private property.
  

As is common in these parts, a fruit and vegetable stand sits on the corner of the road as we headed out of town. Notice the young man, laying in a bed of corn stalks? We found many stands similar to this one. Some, just were very basic and offered jams and quilts.

After enjoying two days of spectacular countryside, we were off to the city of Brotherly Love. What a stark contrast. Countryside to concrete jungle.

In the center of this picture, is the famous William Penn statue, sitting on top of Philadelphia City Hall. It once held the title as tallest in the world, until 1908.

We found ourselves a four-bedroom house to stay in for the night, on airbnb. It was very inexpensive, and served our purpose. sleep. We found airbnb, easy to use. It was our first time trying out the app. There were a few minor kinks along the way, but, overall seems like a great way to stay in a bigger space, with all of our kids. The place we stayed, was a few blocks away from Rittenhouse Square. It is widely considered one of the finest urban public spaces in the United States, according to Wikipedia. We agree, it was very fine indeed.

Our reason for heading out to Philadelphia was to attend and volunteer at the World Meeting of Families . Of course, getting a glimpse of Pope Francis, was high on our list of things to do on this quick getaway. Check!

Attending the Festival of Families 2015 was also a highlight of our trip.

We were pretty far away from the event, so we had to watch the event via a large jumbo-tron. It still was a really exciting event to be a part of!

If there is a firetruck, there is a picture. Here it is.

We sure did cover a lot of ground, in a short amount of time. I am tired just recapping our trip. Time for bed!

Pennsylvania: Day One

We made it! A day later, but we are here! All six of us! A direct flight from San Diego to Philly. Easy peasy!IMG_6921

No sooner had we gotten off the flight, were we being interviewed by a local radio station. I wish I could find the interview to share with everyone. Of course, everyone assumed we were in town for the Pope, which was a correct assumption! Everyone in town was here to attend the World Meeting of Families. It was a really big deal, over a million people came into town for the event. We never make solid plans until we land, so we had to come up with a solid game plan. First stop the rental car place. We picked up a mini-van and were on our way… to Amish Country. Lancaster County to be exact.

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We had read ahead of time, that they do family style dinners out in Amish Land. So, off we went, for some downright, home cooked meals! Our crew ended up at a great restaurant called Plain & Fancy. It had the most amazing gift shop while we were waiting for our seats. I could have spent a lot of money in there if we had not been called pretty quickly to our seats. Family style dinners, are large long tables, where you and your family, may or may not share a table with another family or two. We ended up sharing the table with a family of five from the Jersey Shore. They were such a great family. It was fun to experience dinner this way!

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We enjoyed the most delectable meal of fried chicken, chicken pot pie (what I remember as chicken and dumplings as a kid), veggies, rolls, meat, salad, mashed potatoes, gravy, etc.  The list goes on for quite some time. The food was never ending. I can not even begin to explain how yummy this food tasted.

IMG_6945Of course, the dessert tray was overflowing with yummy goodness. There was the shoofly pie, homemade ice cream, pumpkin pie, cookies, candies… oh my!

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You can tell by my picture how I reacted the first time I saw a real life Amish folk. I was jumping out of my seat, literally. This picture is blurry, but it really depicts the excitement in the moment! I couldn’t sit still. This was so fun to see for the first time!

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Day Seven: Swimming With Whale Sharks in La Paz

Today. Is. The. Day. We might be crazy! We are going to swim with whale sharks!!!

   
              This is what we saw above water👆this is what we saw under water👇

Snorkeling with a whale shark <—-click here to watch the underwater footage.

Zoe petrified of what was below the surface.     The brave children on S/V Coatal Drifter and S/V Pesto  Monica and I waiting for a turn.  Dad and Phoebe relaxing after having a turn.  We finished up, and exited the dock.  Zoe and Savannah crossing the street to get some well deserved ice cream.  Daddy and his youngest daughter, Phoebster. An unspoiled view of the boats at anchorage. We had such a fun day, but we were just getting started. Felipe’s great aunt was coming over to have dinner with us. Another family member, he had never met.  

                                 

Sometimes words are not even necessary. We had a spectacular day. 

Day Six: (Felipe Arrives) La Paz

Today, Felipe will join us!

   
  

Footie Friday… My view from our balcony.  

A morning coffee and donuts meet-up at Club Cruceros De La Paz with Debra of S/V Coastal Drifter  

Even if there were no kids in sight, they were ready for them just in case!

If the club is famous for something, it would be it’s hearty book and dvd collection. The library is ran on the honor system and by local sailors. I found the first book in the Hardy Boys series for the girls. I love that it is a book swap sort of thing. 

    

A message board for the local and ever changing sailors of the La Paz area. 
A cool picture of the clubs flags.  
A different view.  
As a Delta Gamma, a lover of sailing, a wife of a Navy Sailor and anchored in my faith, my all time favorite symbol, aside from a cross, is an anchor.  
This Phoebe girl is pretty cute!  
This guy. He has my heart. After his dad.  

The girls. They can find a good time wherever they go.    

The girls “Footie Friday”. The kindle has to be the center of it!   

Some ladies, keeping my hubby company for his two hour bus ride from Cabo San Lucas. Us enjoying a drink to welcome them.  

My really favorite guy.  

Yummy chips and salsa. I love his wedding ring.

A sailor statue near the entrance to our condo. It represents the children of the sea. Perfect, right? 

Goodnight sun. Good night. I will sleep good tonight knowing my hubby is back in my arms.  

Day Three: Cabo San Lucas

   
Our family vacation is almost complete! We woke up this morning with the anticipation of picking up Monica and Zoe! We slept in, ate breakfast, swam and went for a little drive around downtown Cabo to familiarize ourselves with the area. 

It was time to pick up Zoe and Monica! Yeah! We snatched them up from the airport and headed to Zipper’s On The Beach! 

 
I can, without a doubt, say that this margarita was the strongest drink I have ever had in my life! Period. I decided a few things while sitting on that beach. 

1.The Mexican’s are brilliant. Every place we went, there was a play structure while we ate. 

   Club Cruceros
Cerritos Beach Club

  Zippy’s on the Beach, Los Cabos

Stella’s  Burger King

Not a play structure, but a polka dot painted tree and striped benches at the ice cream shop (it had to make the blog, too)

2. Mexico will always have the best margarita’s. (Hands down)

3. You can always talk down the vendor pricing to about half of the original asking price! They usually ask high with the hopes that visitors will be naive. 

  
He had us at dresses and jewelry!   

We ended up getting two pretty embroidered dresses, 1 sarong and secretly we bought the ring above to give Monica for her birthday. Shhh… All for half the original asking price!

 We found a puffer fish, it sure did stink! See the new embroidered dress?

Next up? We headed down into the heart of Cabo to enjoy the beach. 

   
 

We found a pet iguana as we settled in at Medano Beach. The best swimming beach in Cabo and easy access to Los Arcos. Once we bellied up to the bar, err, I mean beach… 

  

  

  

I decided we really needed to ride a water taxi out to the Arcos. So off went went! 

   
                            It all happened so fast: iguana’s, water taxi’s, swing seats, and everything in between. Remember that really strong margarita I had a few hours ago??? Everything seemed a bit of a blur!  

The sun finally hid for the night. We set off some glowcopter’s and headed back to our hotel for one last night in Cabo. We planned to make our way up the west coast of Baja Sur to our next stop, Todos Santos.

   
          Good bye Medano. It was swell. 

 

   

Day Five: La Paz 

Our first full day in La Paz.  

We moved out of our hotel at Las Gaviotas Resort and relocated to Vista Coral. It was much closer to our boat friends and much nicer, all around.

  

View from the balcony at Las Gaviotas  

Master bedroom Las Gaviotas Resort  The best breakfast taco ever!!! Bacon, cheese, shrimp… Oh and some grease!  

Once we secured our new condo for the week, we hurried over to the Museo De La Ballena (The Whale Museum)We enjoyed a personal tour with the curator of the museum with s/v Pesto and s/v Coastal Drifter, thanks to both of them for setting up this meeting!  

The gaggle of girls hanging out!  

Whale bones  

Phoebe hanging out in the skeleton of a whales mouth.    

Phoebe hanging in a different whales mouth.  

9 kiddos and Phil!   

Bartering for our whale shark adventure a few days away!  

Burger King for lunch!

No day would be complete without ice cream!! Yummy!    

The Malecon
Our new digs!  Vista Coral and it’s view!  

  

The condo’s interior kitchen view   

The hotel’s location…  Vista Coral at the Marina!  

The swimming pool! The sunset’s are to die for… 

Day Two: Dallas/ Ft. Worth to Cabo San Lucas

 Good afternoon from Cabo San Lucas! a picture of us arriving at the aeropuerto.

We (Molly, Eli, Phoebe, and I) woke up super early, cleaned ourselves up from a very long travel day yesterday and headed out from our hotel, Renaissance Worthington. We were hoping it would not be such a long travel day and it wasn’t, but it did prove to be stressful between getting us all to Cabo, getting Zoe her passport in Phoenix, and catching our flight on time. This was all while traversing three terminals, four trams, and lugging six bags around the airport with three kids under 10. We actually accomplished everything we needed to and got back to our gate with about 10 minutes to spare. 

We were then faced with the decision of who was going to sit where. We were all getting on, but not next to each other. Originally, I had been told we all got seats but not together. Then, I was told I had to sit on the jumpseat. As a flight attendant I am able to sit on the jumpseat if there are no other seats available. Why? The plain fact is, if an emergency were to occur, the flight would have another pair of trained hands to help.  Then, I was given a seat next to my three and five year old. Yes. They could travel fine without me next to them, as they have in the past, but I always feel better when I can be next to them. Wait!?!?! The gate agent told me there were only two seats left and a couple trying to get on together. So, the agent discreetly asked me if I would be willing to take the jumpseat so that they both could get on. In tears, I said yes. I would not want to be that couple separated while traveling. Long story short, I sat in the jumpseat while my three kids were on their own.  It was a stressful flight and I felt bad I was not next to my kids. But, on a positive note, the couple got on and we were heading to Cabo San Lucas. 🌴

As we were flying over to Mexico, I booked my hotel for the night via booking.com. We stayed at a very cute boutique hotel in downtown Cabo San Lucas just a few blocks from the Marina. It was called Estancia Real. We enjoyed the quaint pool, location and services, so we ended up staying here for two nights. The price was right for a mere $52.00 per night.

Once we landed we were treated to a  two hour customs line. Are you kidding me?!?! I have three very tired kiddos and I was a mentally exhausted Mama. Phoebe was so suped up on sugar that was discreetly slipped to her from one flight attendant after another.  They thought that would keep her busy until we landed and I could wrangle her in again. Bad idea people, really bad idea. She was so hyper in that line I thought I was going to cry. I was tired, unsure about Monica and Zoe getting the passport, unsure about being in Mexico by myself. Translating a foreign language that I only know “mas o menos” about proved to be pretty bueno. I was proud of myself and my Spanish skills. Even in my tired and stressed state, I still managed to get a stellar deal on a mini-van week-long rental, with full coverage, for $395.00 from Dollar rental car.

We made it through customs, picked up our rental car and were on our way 35 miles south to our hotel. We made a stop at the local Costco, our favorite place for a quick inexpensive meal, and picked up some pizza. After that, we made our way to the hotel, ate dinner and went for a lovely swim in the pool.  

        

Guess what we did next?????? We took showers and went to bed!!! Yeah for bed! I love bedtime! What mom doesn’t though. Even after a long day I was proud of my bilingual skills. 

Tomorrow was going to be a new day and knowing that we were going to pick Monica and Zoe up from the airport made it much better. I had gotten word that they in fact did got Zoe’s passport and spent the night in Phoenix waiting for their flight the next day down to Cabo. It all seemed to be working out okay. Good night!

Day Three: St.Thomas/St. John USVI

   
 Today was the day!!! We woke up bright and early to catch the 8:15 am shuttle to the neighboring beach, Sugar Bay Beach. It was finally happening! A full seven hour day of sailing on the Coconut. A 49′ ft custom built trimaran. After getting everyone loaded on the dinghy and settled in, we made our way to the back side of Lavango Cay. It was too windy on the front side. Lavango Cay is a privately owned island made up of three families.  

  

  

  

  

 All of the beaches in the Caribbean are public, but not all the land or islands are. The mooring ball’s availability varies based on the color of the ball. I learned the blue (insert the word mooring here so not to be confused 😉) ball’s are for commercial use. The red and white ball’s are first come first served. Our captain Ross was an amazing tour guide, weather predictor, and personal chauffeur.  His first mate Andrew did an exceptional job as our chef,  waiter, and an all around hospitality guide. They were very gracious and fun. It was amazing to spend the day with them. They truly were awesome!!!

Next stop was Mermaid’s Chair on St. John. 

Mermaids Chair beach on St John, US Virgin Islands
It is supposedly the smallest beach in the Caribbean. It is a smaller beach within Hawksnest Bay. We enjoyed lunch at this anchorage. It was much calmer than Lavango Cay.

We were glad to have  the chance to get washed up on this cute little beach. The only way to access it really is by boat/kayak or swim/snorkel. We got to see a few sea turtles and several different kinds of fish.  

  

  Sea Turtle

    


 We had lunch at Hawksnest Bay. It was a great spread as you can see below:
    
Lastly, we made our way over to Honeymoon Bay on St. John.

   

  

  

  

  

  We saw so many fun sea creatures: turtles, sting rays, Angel Fish, and “Barry” the Barracuda. 

   
    The girls finally warmed up to the only other little girls on the boat by our third stop. After they hit it off, they were inseparable the rest of the trip!  

  

Molly, Heidi, and Zoe  Heidi, Patushka, Zoe, and Molly The water was so clear! It was beyond amazing.  

 Felipe and I had been snorkeling at this beach on our honeymoon. Ha! I recognized it right away! We got married on a pirate ship at anchorage here. It was great to relive the memories. I wish he was with us this trip.

After 6.5 hours sailing/snorkeling around, we had to call it a day! We threw up the spinnaker and headed downwind.  

 Goodbye St. John. We will return! 

We made our way back to where we were dropped off and said our goodbye’s. A few numbers were exchanged and we were on our way! A quick dip in our hotel pool and we were done!

We went back to our villa and washed up for the night. Ordering pizza in, was exactly what the doctor ordered! Thanks Señor Pizza for some excellent food! The pizza, salad and garlic cheese bread were amazing! If you feel the need for pizza and you are near Red Hook, this is the place to go. However, a few things to know before you go! They only accept cash, they have free delivery and the picture on the website is not the actual interior of the place. Rather, it had video games and slot machines, along with more of a rustic look. Don’t let the picture fool ya!

While myself and the little ones nestled in for the night, Monica caught up with the captain of Coconut for a few more rounds of painkillers! (A local -favorite, rum-based drink)

 Making new friends was a great way to end our quick vacation. 

 
In case you can’t read it…

USVI 2015