Monthly Archives: August 2010

Sandy Lego

A vacation is when my wife and I go to the city for the weekend, leaving the kids at home to spend time with grandma.

A trip is when the kids come along.

The two usually don’t really intersect, except for this week’s family trek to San Diego, or as little C. calls it, Sandy Lego.

We set out with a pretty loose agenda over the course of four days. Legoland and the San Diego Zoo were musts for the kids. The rest of the time, we decided to play it by ear and hang out on the beach near our hotel in Coronado. That turned out to be a pretty good idea.

This vaca-trip left us all warm and fuzzy, mainly because there was something for everyone.

C. and A. loved Legoland. There’s no doubt about it: The park is a big ad for Legos and Volvos. But that’s not a bad thing. The place seems to have a European sensibility to it, with a good mix of rides, fountains for splashing and water cannons for shooting stuff. We were there on a pleasantly warm day, and despite a decent crowd, I didn’t feel the kind of claustrophobia I tend to get at other theme parks.

The next day we went to the zoo, a hilly, lush gem in Balboa Park. The last time I was there, it was just me and L. Those were the days long before kids. In the eight or so years since that last visit, the place seems to have become even more kid friendly, with plenty of animal statues that pretty much beg to be climbed upon. It was a muggy day, which slowed our crew down. We rode the gondola, which gave us a spectacular aerial view of the park and the city skyline. We rode a mega-escalator that helped us get up a big hill with ease. We also took a tour bus where the driver pointed out that elephants drop about 300 pounds of poop a day. The kids were in awe as one of the elephants did its business just as the bus passed. It sort of put changing diapers into perspective. I realize I have nothing to complain about.

The highlight was back in Coronado on the beach. I have a special fondness for this place, where my grandma first brought me in the late 70s for a stay at the Hotel del Coronado. This time, we stayed at a place across the street and just a five-minute walk to the surf. This is a place unlike any I’ve ever been. The beach is a little slice of heaven with Navy facilities to the north and the south. The result is that a light, afternoon snooze on the silky sand is often interrupted by screaming Navy jets coming in for a landing and helicopters thumping overhead. Just offshore, hulking, gray Navy ships pass by on their way out to sea. Playing in the waves and marveling at the military hardware overhead and offshore was great fun for all of us. One evening, we heard what sounded like heavy gunfire coming from naval training going on to the south. I like my vacations with a little dose of danger nearby.

One of the best times of the day for me was getting up a little before 6 a.m. to run on the beach just as the sun came up. The firm, moist sand and the pounding waves made for fine conditions. On the first day, it was just me, a few joggers and beach combers. The next day, the Navy was out there running in formation. Those in training were getting the butts chewed out by somebody in charge, and I was glad I was just a passerby.

On the last morning, A. and I got up early hoping to spot more Navy folks running on the beach. We didn’t see any, but A. was happy just collecting shells and building a sand castle as the sun came up. It was a nice moment, watching him enjoy himself on the same beach where I wandered as a boy.


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Beautiful Sleep

Just got back from a sleep vacation, and boy do I feel great.

Nothing like 10 hours of shuteye to get back on track after a long, long week.

I just borrowed a play from Little C. and A., who get plenty of rest and manage to run me ragged every day.

C. goes to bed at about 7:30 p.m., waking up 11 hours later. A. falls asleep at 8:30 p.m. and gets up at about 6:30 a.m. They’re like Energizer bunnies, keeping me hopping. When a 2-year-old and a 7-year-old are pitted against a 41-year-old, the kids usually win.

So there I was on a Friday night, passed out at about 7:30 p.m. I don’t just fall asleep. I dissolve into the mattress, becoming one with the bed.

L. says I sleep like a man who has not known rest for years. She marvels at how I can remain sleeping even when commotion fills the house. An earthquake could hit, a tank could rumble though the front yard and AC/DC could be playing live in the back yard and I wouldn’t even notice.

When we first met back in the late 90s, L. thought it was strange how I would sleep for 15 hours straight. I didn’t think it was a big deal, really. Sleeping was a hobby of mine at that point in life.

These days, sleep is elusive. I’m up at 4:30 a.m. on weekdays to be at work by 6 a.m. I keep moving until about 10 p.m., fueled by coffee along the way.

The toughest time of the day is usually that last hour before the kids go to bed. Somehow, that 60 minutes seems like an eternity. The kids need their baths and stories. C. does everything she can to avoid bedtime. She needs a story. A drink. A book. A. does much the same.

When the kids are finally in bed, both L. and I let out a long sigh. Whew. Another day nearly done.

But then we face all the tasks we can’t get done when the kids are awake: e-mail, bills and phone calls that need returning. And then it’s nice just to sit quietly, sipping a Sierra Nevada. Sometimes, I need to catch up on “Mad Men” and “True Blood.”

So for now, I’ve got energy. I’ve got powers like bionic Steve Austin, and I make the same sound as I go through the day.

Sleep has rebuilt me.

And as I prepare to take the kids to Land Park for a round at the playground, something tells me I’ll need the strength.

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