On Friday June 23, day seven of our two week trip, we departed from our small Zion/Hurricane camper and headed southwest to California where we would take a break from traveling with Terry's cousin Jackson and his wife Janae. We drove on Interstate 15 past Las Vegas and then the big, scary desert. We made the mistake of stopping in Barstow, NV for gas - it was super busy, very dirty, and worst of all, crazy hot. We didn't even want to attempt the gas station bathroom and instead went to next-door Starbucks, which was insane inside since everyone else was doing the same thing. We gladly got back on the interstate and followed it into Los Angeles until we hit traffic. We switched to another highway and another until via the Waze traffic app Jackson had suggested.
I was pretty nervous about the traffic but we finally made it to Jackson and Janae's place around 7:15pm or so. We greeted them enthusiastically, unloaded our stuff, and took a half mile walk down to the beach. The kids had never seen the ocean before and we were eager to show it to them. Here we are just getting to the seaweed filled beach (we stayed on the sidewalk).
Jackson, Terry, Ezra, their dog Winston, Noah, Janae, and Samuel. I think Evie was behind Noah and Janae was pointing out something to her. Evie loved that dog but it took him a while to get used to us.
The kids were pretty impressed by the ocean, especially Noah. He loved it right away.
They watched the waves crash into this big concrete wave breaker wall.
Terry and Jackson catching up and the kids a bit mesmerized by the waves.
Janae offered to take our picture in front of the ocean. Yay!
We were leaving when I saw a little crab scurrying along and tried to show Evie. From there we walked back home to their place and Janae made dinner for us! Yummy pork steaks. After days and days of microwaved breakfast burritos and chimichangas, not to mention the daily sandwiches, it was amazing to have real, hot, home-cooked food. Absolutely wonderful.
The following morning we all slept in a bit and Jackson got up and made us all pancakes! The kids were so happy about that. Next we walked/hiked up the steep hill behind their house to a seal rescue place.
Apparently the seals eat a poisonous kind of algae that makes them lose their minds a bit. We learned a lot. The seals were fun, they sounds like little goats or sheep!
Right next door was an World War II bunker that you could just walk through. Here's a big ol' gun...
...and a big ol' shell.
After we were done wandering around the bunker, looking at old newspapers and pictures, we climbed the steps to the top of the bunker where you could see the ocean. Beautiful. We had thought our next destination, the Korean Bell was right next door, and it was, but we had to walk back out to the road to get there.
Janae took our photo again. It's nice having family photos!
Korea gave this bell to the US in 1976 as a gift.
More family pictures by Janae.
Noah really liked the painting.
A plaque explaining and describing the Friendship Bell.
Next we walked back home, put on swimsuits, loaded up the van with all eight of us, and drove north to Hermosa Beach. The kids' first touch of ocean water!
The "marine layer" was still hanging over the beach so it was rather chilly, in the lower 70s, but that didn't stop us. WAY better than 110.
Janae hanging out with Ezra while Terry and Jackson went to get some sub sandwiches for lunch. Man, they were delicious.
The kids were getting more brave and sat down in the surf.
Jackson and Janea were just so incredibly hospitable, giving, and gracious for our entire three night stay. They had got the kids four boogie boards, beach towels for all of us, and sand castle tools. Here the kids are experimenting with the boogie boards.
Ezra finally gave the water a try.
Pretty little girl.
Ez running around in the waves.
I like Samuel's expression.
We hadn't arrived until about 3pm and the cloud cover finally started to break around 4:30. Jackson grabbed a board and joined Terry and Noah in the water.
He started to teach Noah and then Evie how to catch and ride a wave into the beach.
I like how you can barely see their faces because of all the frothy water.
Next up to learn was Evie. She was having a blast as you can see by her expression. It's hard not to put in like every photo of her happy face. Even though she sick, it did not slow her down a bit. Jackson was not feeling well this day either. Terry caught Evie's cold and the following day was the worst for him.
For some reason when the wave his Noah, he would puff out his cheeks like this. Every time. Ha ha.
Look behind Terry on the right at Evie's face and hair just almost overcome by water!
She's having so much fun!
Evie was the perfect length and weight to ride a boogie board of this size and she could therefore ride like every single wave in all the way up the beach. It looked like a blast. There were some pretty long waves!
I like this video because of her yelling. She's having the time of her life.
Samuel running away from the wave.
Riding that wave.
Once Evie had her fill of boogie boarding, she started constructing a sand castle. That is Daddy's favorite beach activity so he was happy to help. Janae taught the boys how to pack down sand for good castles, and Noah and Jackson were chilling in the lawn chairs.
Evie's freckles were especially vivid.
Daddy and Evie building walls around the sand and Samuel fetching a bucket of water for more castles.
On this first day it didn't take long for the waves to overcome their entire sand castle.
Samuel and Ezra's towers were pretty safe farther up the beach though.
The boys lost interest after a while and just started frolicking in the water.
I think I was trying to capture the dolphins that kept jumping. I think that little splash out further was from one of them, but Samuel looks pretty cool with those breaking waves too. I was so happy to see the dolphins though - I never had before!
Evie started boogie boarding again. Love this shot! It looks photo shopped!
Samuel started to try to catch a wave too.
Samuel didn't quite get it figured out, but he still had fun.
Ezra had fun just letting his board float.
SO MUCH FUN!
We didn't leave until after 8pm and boy was Ezra tired out at that point - insta sleep. We stopped at In-and-Out Burger on the way home, ate at home, showered, and hit the hay. What a big day we had! We hadn't had enough beach though and would be back tomorrow.
We spent the morning sleeping in, eating more of Jackson's delicious pancakes, watching the Lego Batman movie again, shopping at Costco (me and Janae), and eating a take and bake pizza. After lunch we were finally ready to leave for another afternoon at the beach.
I did some boogie boarding the day before but the second day Terry took some pictures of me. It sure was hard to catch a wave with a big body and small board, but every time I did made it worth it. What fun!
Some day maybe I'll learn to surf, if I'm not too old and scared.
The weather started out nicer the second day and the kids just jumped right in.
After a while Evie joined me with a board.
She did way better than me.
Once my hands started turning white due to cold, I spent some time in a towel to warm up. Not for long though since I had to take a look at that sand castle happening down there.
Evie had started making a sand castle village with the little cups and then Jackson joined in her effort. He started adding bigger castles around the little ones. Terry then joined them and started making moats.
Meeting up on the other side of "Sandy Town," as Evie named it.
About done with the first defenses.
The littles didn't help that much but had fun watching.
By the time they were done Sandy Town was pretty expansive. They just kept adding to it over and over and over.
Even when the surf was getting closer, Evie was putting little cups outside the barriers. She said they were the "maniacs."
While we waited for the ocean's attack, Janae took our picture.
Our time on the beach was Terry's favorite part of the whole trip and my second favorite after the Narrows.
Someone had dug a pit nearby and Samuel hung out there while we waited for the waves to come.
It took forever for the waves so I took more pictures.
The kids had a blast. The beach is perfect for everyone, endless entertainment. On our drive home and since we arrived back, Terry would keep saying, "Only two days to the beach..." We want to go back so bad. I can see why people want to live on the beach.
Tall Terry and not quite as tall Jackson...
...There, now they're even. Ha ha ha.
Here come the waves finally! The maniacs were the first to go, obviously. That guy with the baby was so kind as to stop his kid from trampling our sand castle every few minutes.
Terry got his phone out and Facebook "live" video recorded the attack and demolition of Sandy Town. It was fun to watch. It took forever!
The final wave that took out the whole thing.
Terry took a couple pictures as we were about to leave at 6:15pm. Beautiful. Perfect.
These photos are fun to see "live" since there's a bit of video with them. It was definitely hard to leave the beach.
Ezra fell over in his sleep behind Samuel on the way home. Samuel was faking.