Planes, Trains & Automobiles (Spring Break 2019-San Diego)

Well we did it. We loaded up our rental not-minivan and headed to San Diego for our first family Spring Break. Woot!

Note Toothbrush in Back Pocket: Jason is Packed!

First let’s get this not-minivan rental thing out of the way. We rented a minivan months ago through Costco as we’ve done previously, only this time when I showed up at the Budget rental location they explained to me they “only guarantee the number of seats” and explained they were out of minivans. They had a Ford Flex for me (which is most definitely NOT a minivan) and they had me over a barrel. I protested but there was no other vehicle available and our bags were packed in anticipation of leaving within the hour. Gah! Having 2 car seats and a booster with limited space was majorly inconvenient during 4 of our 8 days of rental as we had to unload a suitcase next to the car any time we were getting kids out of the back seat. Additionally it was dirty, there was personal information from a previous driver still in the glove box and I can’t find anywhere in their paperwork a policy that says they only guarantee the number of seats, unless “or similar” means anything with 7 seats can be swapped for a minivan. Lesson learned. The icing on that cake was we decided to return the rental a day early (Sunday) in order to not have to deal with doing it Monday morning around work/school and found that although the website online said they were open they were most definitely CLOSED. We left the keys in the after hour drop box along with our customer information/survey requesting a call from a manager. I don’t often complain, but this time I will be complaining.

As Paul Harvey would say “now for the rest of the story”.

After the rental debacle we loaded our things (jigsaw puzzle style) Dramamine’d the 3 of us who need it, and headed down the road. We stopped briefly for a visit with Garth and Maydene in St. George before spending our first vacation night in Las Vegas. Nice hotel, nothing exciting unless you’re trying to keep 3 kids quiet in a hotel room. Yikes!


Day 2 we headed down the road to check out some Joshua Trees taking the slightly less direct route and jogging over through Joshua Tree National Park. The trees were blooming! The desert was blooming! Pro tip: visit the desert when it’s blooming. I didn’t think much of it until Jason told me he didn’t think he’d ever seen a Joshua Tree in bloom. Joshua Trees are cool and we got in a small hike at the park out among the trees and the blooming desert scenery. By far, however, the highlight (or low point) of day 2 was poor Andrew getting a little too up close and personal with a cholla cactus. Let’s just say there was screaming, cactus spine removal, and for the rest of the week Andrew would attempt to cross the street at the very sight of anything resembling a cactus. Poor little guy! The end of day two found us safely tucked in at our Airbnb in San Diego. Whew!

THE Infamous Cholla Cactus


After a quick trip to the grocery store, day 3 was dedicated to checking out the beach. We walked along the ocean to Crystal Pier and drove a few minutes up the road to check out the La Jolla tide pools and Seal Rock (spoiler: there were seals). The boys were less interested in tide pools than Jason had hoped, mostly because it takes patience to spot little sea creatures and they were much too wound up to be patient. They were just excited to get the the sand and start having fun in the ocean. Upon reaching the sandy portion of the beach Christopher and William were pretty immediately wrapped up in playing a game of chicken with the waves. They were both a little flustered the first time a wave knocked them down, but quickly recovered and played until exhaustion. Andrew wanted nothing to do with the water but rolled up and down the beach in the sand making sand angels, elated that suddenly the whole world was his sandbox. We wore them out good and retired to the rental house.


Views from the rental house:

Day 4 was more of the same, a morning at the beach, Andrew caught his only actual nap of the week and in the evening we drove  to a park (per Andrew’s request) that looked interesting. When you have 3 kids ages 7 and under you drive 800 miles across 3 states to play at a park–at least it had palm trees.

Day 5 we ventured downtown and toured the USS Midway Museum. The boys got a kick out of seeing all the planes and helicopters on the ship’s deck and watching boats come and go from the harbor. After lunch we drove up to the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. The view was spectacular but the lighthouse was a little bit of a letdown since you couldn’t really get up and look out at the top. By this point the boys (especially William) were in full meltdown mode, so we didn’t get to check out the visitor center. Ironically we found another mom to take our picture who was also from Utah and had just finished yelling at her kids. Fun family vacations were being had by all. Maybe that lighthouse brings out the worst in kids?



Day 6 we loaded up the kids and headed out to see Balboa Park. When the kids get bigger we’d like to check out more of the museums and the San Diego Zoo, but on this trip we stuck to the smallish model train museum which was about all their attention spans could handle by this point in the vacation. We played at another park (shocking) and finished up the day with one last hurrah at the beach. Suddenly Andrew was OK with the water and actually got in the waves to play with his brothers. We’re certain they’ll all have a blast the next time we visit the coast.


Friday (day 7) it was time to pack up and start the drive home. Andrew was especially ready to head home and helped us gather up our pillows and blankets from around the rental house. The majority of this day was driving with a quick stop over in Las Vegas where we ran the kids through Cesar’s Palace to check out the animatronic “Fall of Atlantis” show, grabbed gelato, and saw the fountain show in front of the Bellagio. The boys found the “Fall of Atlantis” show a little scary, enjoyed gelato, and absolutely LOVED the Bellagio fountains. Then it was back in the car to our hotel in St. George, Utah. Almost home!

The last day of our vacation started with a total crying meltdown (by Andrew) at the hotel and we decided to drive 45 minutes up the road before we even attempted to stop for breakfast. Christopher was so ready to be home that he would have eaten in the car if we let him. After brunch we continued up the road with the intention of driving straight though until an emergency bathroom break caused one last stop near Cove Fort. There’s good odds when you see a minivan/SUV fly off an interstate exit ramp in the middle of nowhere there’s probably a 4 year old in the car that suddenly has to poop…at least that was the scenario in our case. Safely back home by about 3:30 on Saturday and one successful spring break was in the books!

Herding Cats

Funny Andrew anecdotes: While at breakfast with Jason in the hotel lobby, Andrew loudly exclaimed “Daddy, look at that guy!” pointing to a black gentleman having breakfast a few tables over. Jason was expecting a very awkward exchange about the color of his skin when Andrew explained “He has no hair!” (the gentleman happened to have a shaved head) Ah out of the mouths of babes! On the way back we had a similar occurrence at the IHOP where Andrew kept referring to the “white people”. After a moment I realized it was because all of the staff members were wearing white shirts. While driving with the GPS running in the rental car we learned Andrew has a problem with the word “avenue”. Every time the GPS told us to turn on such-and-such avenue Andrew would pipe up from the back seat “Don’t say that, why she say that? No say Abanew”.

Christopher anecdotes: Christopher decided the first night at the Airbnb he could not sleep in the same room with Andrew so we elected to put Andrew and William together and let Christopher sleep on the floor in the master bedroom with us. We found out he absolutely could not stay on the foam pad/sleeping bag and ended up sprawled at least half on the floor every night. By the end of the vacation we had found a combination of blankets and pillows to keep him in place but had no idea he would be such a mover! Christopher also loved the walk-in shower at the rental house and spent a good amount of time standing in it chattering to himself. I’m pretty sure this was his first REAL shower. At the beach he was our seashell collector, which included all sorts of shells and shell pieces—he did not discriminate! He wanted to bring the entire beach home.

William stories: William made fast friends with a boy his age at Balboa Park. When it was time to leave the play area William told him about how he’d probably never see him again because he was only in town on vacation, the boy exclaimed “That’s OK, I’m just here on vacation too”. It was great on the this trip that William was finally old enough to read signs. It really helped at the museums and he enjoyed reading road signs throughout our trip (although getting him to look up from his Kindle sometimes was a challenge).






All of the boys especially liked this at the rental house….

…as we knew they would. 🙂

Happy Spring Break Everyone!


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