Monday, June 30, 2008

San Clemente Vacation, PART ONE

I am back from a dreamy vacation in Southern California. I am really not too thrilled to be home. I am happy to be with my Santiago again but really that’s about it so far. The weather was gorgeously perfect. High 60s to mid 70s, sunny, slight sea breeze, humid. The ocean was stunning as always, and more so because the water temperature was refreshing but not icy. Everything was beautiful. I miss falling asleep to the sound of the crashing waves, waking up to a cool ocean fog, looking out over the vast sea. I miss walking everywhere. I miss the laid back attitude and casual style of beach living. I wish I could just pack up and relocate to San Clemente.

And now my travelogue, posted in parts:


Arrive with my sister Jules and her partner T at the Salt Lake City Airport about an hour and a half early. There are no lines whatsoever so checking in at the Delta counter is a breeze. I am, coincidentally, given a seat right next to Jules and T. I am told the flight is not looking especially full, so chances of Pip getting his own seat are good. We go through security (also no line. Please remind me in the future to ALWAYS travel on a Tuesday!) and get to our gate in a somewhat low-budget looking portion of the airport. I am immediately greeted by a woman who tells me her son looked “just like” my Pip when he was little. “Now he’s a 26-year-old caveman,” she goes on to tell me. She continues talking awhile about her “caveman,” asking if that’s him coming, mumbling something about how she can’t see without her glasses, how she wishes he would hurry back, she really needs to smoke, and so on, and I am not entirely sure if she is still actually talking to me or just carrying on with herself. When Caveman arrives, she pulls me, with Pip in my arms, to standing and says to her son, “You used to look just like this little boy. Now look at you! You’re a caveman! What happened to you?” I politely smile and then, conveniently, Pipsqueak squirms free of my arms and I am excused to follow him. When I return, woman is in the smoke room and Caveman is chatting to T about music, recording, and his “awesome” 1-gig mp3 player, that is “the best one out there.” Jules and I exchange sympathetic looks on behalf of T, but leave him to converse with Caveman while we entertain the Squeak. So begins our traveling adventure!

We board the plane, only a bit late, and it’s small. Really small. 2 rows across, 2 seats in each row, and about 13 seats deep. However, after everyone boards, not only is the flight indeed not full, but it is so empty that each passenger get his/her own row. This means that I am able to buckle in Pip’s carseat and strap him into his own seat. The flight is rather uneventful. Pipsqueak does well, only complaining during the descent that his ears hurt, and I can tell he’s also just had enough of sitting still in his seat.

We arrive in Long Beach, pick up our baggage, go to claim our rental car, which is a somewhat lengthy process, and finally hit the road. Arrive at the condo in San Clemente around 10:15, where we say hello to my sister “Atina” and her husband “Uncy.” Grammy is asleep already. We settle in, and the exhaustion eventually wins out over the excitement as Pipsqueak finally falls asleep.

Pip wakes up at an ungodly hour, long before anyone in the condo wants to be awake. He and I head down to the beach to take a morning stroll to the pier. He is so excited by everything: all the dogs we see walking on the trail, the pigeons and seagulls congregating near the trash bins, the train that passes frequently and loudly (to which Pipsqueak quickly learned the accompanying sound, and for the entire week any squeaky, rattley, beepy noise he heard he would exclaim “train coming!” and demand to be held up so he could watch it pass), the group of junior lifeguards playing volleyball, the ocean water lapping at the shore, the palm trees and other plant life so totally foreign to our home, the boardwalk (or bridge as he calls it) and pier, all the people… We walk on the pier until Pip falls down and skins his knee just a bit (a fact that he will remember the entire week, every time we walk on a bridge, boardwalk, or even mention the word pier…), and then wade in the water a bit. Pip is delighted by the waves coming and going, and giggles frantically when the water splashes his feet. This will be the only time all week he will actually get in the water by choice.

After our morning stroll, we get groceries at Ralph’s and Trader Joe’s with Jules. We then eat lunch and take a long nap (we are all exhausted from our day of traveling the day before) while Grammy, Atina and Uncy go to the beach. After our nap, we meet up with everyone, including my cousin and his wife and their two kids, at the beach, where we do some swimming and some boogie-boarding and some sunning and some snacking. Unfortunately, when I go to take Pip to dip his feet into the water, the first wave is bigger than I anticipated and it completely drenches him, head to toe. He is forever traumatized by this, and for the remainder of the week, if someone says “ocean” or starts to walk with him towards it, he no longer frantically giggles but instead frantically exclaims, “Ocean, no!”

We clean up and head back to the condo for dinner, an Indian feast made even more delicious by the fact that we all have post-swimming appetites, i.e., we are starving! After Pip goes to bed, the girls play a rousing K-Fam. version of celebrity 6-degrees, but get stumped on how to successfully link Pierce Brosnan to Shia LeBouf, and the game turns into some late-night delirious fun. Eventually, we all go to sleep.

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