Monday, January 11, 2016

San Diego - The rains came!

Our trip to San Diego came about for a few reasons. 
  1.        We had tickets to meet our potential match that fell through so the tickets had to be rescheduled into a personal trip.
  2.        We discussed where to go and back to Hawaii was one of them and San Diego was the other.  With the rescheduling fees and the cost to go to Hawaii in winter being so high we Chose San Diego.
  3.      .  Even though I grew up in Southern California, San Diego was only visited a couple times as a small child to go to the Zoo and Sea World.  The only time prior to this trip I’d gone to San Diego as an adult was to get a hotel with Don and some friends so we could cross the border and go to Tijuana when I was 18. We only slept in San Diego so it’s not really a visit I consider as being in San Diego.
 So to those who asked “Why San Diego?” the answer is above all Why Not!? It’s usually temperate weather and has plenty to see and do for a couple days. Well, El Nino had other plans this year which put a damper on what we could do but we still had fun.
I checked the forecast about a week before our trip and noted that it had a 50% chance of rain.  Now California has been predicted to get rain to pretty much no avail, usually if it does “rain” it’s more a dew mist and gone or a light rain which is why they’ve been in a severe drought for years.  I checked the forecast a few days later and it was up to 70% and 90% rain but still no big deal, right? Wrong! I forgot just how rain happens in Southern California after living in Western Washington for so long.  When it says Thunderstorms that translates into flash floods and 3” of rain dumped on you in minutes causing said floods. Even Thunderstorm flooding in Texas doesn’t happen that quickly, at least in the area where we lived.  So now you know it dumped on us for the 4 days we were there and I’ve never had so many flash flood warnings on my phone as I did there for 4 days.

Day one:
This was our day flying in and we planned to just check into the hotel, find a store for drinks and snacks for the room and head over to Coronado.  This is also the day we got a call from LA on our 800# that I missed. 
We find our hotel and joy! It’s under renovation.  I was skeptical but our room was already renovated and was nice and clean. So I grab my lap top and check on said call, no message.  So we left for the Coronado Hotel.  It’s the first time I’ve seen an ice skating rink on the beach.  We stayed for the sunset and headed back to Old Town for dinner at a place Don went to with a friend back in 2006.  They serve traditional moles and have at least 2000 types of Tequila. They had guava margaritas this time (Don said they didn’t have margaritas 10 years ago).  We both had one of those and I had the chicken verde (I don’t like moles; too much going on and usually too sweet) because ground up green chilies is yummy and Don had the tamarind mole with langostino.  I tried his sauce and yep, too sweet glad I got what I did.  So day one complete and if you’re wondering, yes, it’s raining.
 having an appetizer to tide us over until dinner 
 Coronado Hotel
 Sunset on Coronado Beach
The ice skating rink on the beach (behind the barricades)
 Guava Margarita Selfie
 Don's dinner
My meal

Day two:
San Diego Zoo, Stars Wars and more
This is the day I wanted to go to Disneyland.  After some convincing though we chose not to because it was also 100% rain in Anaheim so we decided on Balboa Park with the museums and zoo.  Well it isn’t really raining although the chance for it increases through the afternoon so we chose the Zoo.  Don had never been and I hadn’t been since I was around 7 years old.  We have umbrellas so we’re set.  Yes, the rain would have the last laugh. The first thing we did was take the bus tour so we got to see a bunch of animals that wouldn’t be out later as we walked the park. Ok the rain and wind started so we stopped by a shop to buy hats, I wanted one to cover my ears so I picked a panda hat and Don just opted for a baseball cap.  As it would have it I really wanted to see the pandas and they’re in the back of the park and by the time we get back there it’s raining so hard the animals went back to their rooms and we missed them.  Of course by now I’m soaked head to toe, we’re at the back lower part of the park and the water is flowing everywhere especially over my shoes.
Now at home this wouldn’t be such a big deal, go home change and throw the clothes in the wash.  However, silly me, queen of taking too many shoes, only brought the one pair on this trip. So soaking wet we’re off to find another pair of shoes I can wear so we can go to the movies (Star Wars, finally!) and later dinner.  Found a pair that weren’t 6 shades of neon but they are boots and I don’t have socks for boots which leads us back to the mall on the morning of day 3 after they were rubbing my calf raw.
Lesson learned always take more shoes even if you think you won’t wear them and avoid this situation altogether.
We get back to the hotel and as we enter from the parking garage we noticed lots of people milling about and someone in the lobby saying we have to move you…..then as we approached we noticed part of the ceiling had come down.  UGH! They explained the water had gotten in and fried the electrical so we had been placed with other hotels in the area because we can’t stay in a hotel without fire alarms, water damage, and that they would fix it over night and we could return tomorrow.  So we walked up to our room on the top floor, packed and made a couple trips back down to the garage and were off to the hotel down the street.  Don talked to the guy at the desk to just switch our reservation to them for the remainder of the trip and he said he only had that night.  Once we arrived in room, Don got on the phone with the hotel customer service and our room reservations had changed.  We stayed in that hotel for the remainder of the trip. Thankfully he did that because they were still working on the other hotel the next day when we stopped by to verify we’d been checked out.

Day Three:
USS Midway Museum
This is what Don really wanted to do on this trip.  He loves ships and I’d never been on a carrier. After being in subs and WWII battleships I must say it’s super roomy.  It was nice that the majority of the rain could be experienced inside but we did go on deck and Don took some video and the end shows me bundled up, wind whipping my hair in my face and him asking what I think of carrier life to which I replied “It Sucks!” Seriously feel for the men and women who serve and deal with the high winds and rain who work on the flight deck.  After the flight deck we braved to stay outside and wait in line for a tour of the captains’ deck.  That was a cool tour given by a navy vet who actually worked on the ship.

After the captains’ deck tour I was ready to go relax back at the hotel and warm up for a bit before dinner.  Good thing we left when we did because I’d get flash flood warnings on my phone 5 mins into the drive back to Old Town.  Sure enough about 5 minutes back in our room and the street outside started to flood. That changed our dinner plans, especially after watching the news and seeing just how high the water was in some areas of the city. So goody we got to go back to El Agave which was across the street from the new hotel. I wasn’t really hungry because we had a late lunch on the ship so I had a margarita while Don ate and then ordered quesadillas to go.  Not sure what I ate later that night but it really wasn’t good, I should’ve just ordered the verde again. Now what they serve as quesadilla was 4 small tortillas one had mashed potato, another was a funky mole mushroom, and one had green chili which was good and chicken vegetable.  They didn’t have cheese as listed on the menu, which to me is what makes a quesadilla. Even Don said his dinner was just ok that night so if you visit go for the 2000 tequila varieties and the Moles.

Day four:
Disneyland 60th Anniversary
It’s about a 90 minute drive from San Diego to Anaheim and Thursday proved to be the best day to go.  I’d prepaid for our parking pass and tickets so if it was raining we could just use them another time before the end of the year.  Luckily it was dry in Anaheim and on the way we stopped for In n Out burger at probably the largest location I’ve ever seen.  The last time I was at Disneyland I was 18. We’ve been to Disney world just haven’t been back to the one in California in forever and good grief it’s the same and yet so different. They are taking out a big chunk of the park and making into the Stars Wars theme so it was a big deal for me to get to see the park as I remembered it.  They have changed so much over the years but it’s mostly untouched as far as layout and what rides they have.  Space Mountain is still there but they changed the name and removed the Black Hole stuff and made it Star Wars but the ride remains super fun. I made a point of doing a few of the story land rides (kid rides) and Peter Pan is still the best. The best part for me was that the holiday decorations were in place.  I’ve wanted to go to Disneyland or Disney World during the holidays for a long time.  Not just to see the decorations but because the Haunted Mansion ride gets turned into the Nightmare Before Christmas.  I was not disappointed and really wished I could’ve taken more pictures.  I also wish I could’ve taken pictures on the Jungle Cruise because that was decorated really well but it was dark when we took it, the downside to Disney in winter is how early the sunsets. At one point we stopped to have an afternoon snack and sat down in the town square just across from Sleeping Beauty’s castle.  There was a duck that stopped by to grab up a crumb that dropped, so I pulled a small piece off and she stepped right between my feet, doe eyes up, neck stretched and took it from my hand and came back again.  I really wish I could have gotten a picture of her doing that she was so dang cute. Someone else tried to feed her and her mate but they ran away.  When I was done I walked over and handed her a parting piece and tossed one to him as he was a bit more wary. I took a photo of her as I was leaving.  When we crossed the square we noticed someone else feeding a mallard some of their corn as well as I had done with the female in our area.

 Couldn't resist wearing this shirt to Disney now that they own Star Wars

 My Duck friend 
 Haunted Mansion
Town Square tree
We had a drive ahead of us so we left before the parade and as soon as we crossed the San Diego county line it began to pour.  It was just so weird to vacation in Southern California and have it actually rain the whole time, we only got a reprieve by going to Disney but it was still a bit windy and chilly.

Friday we flew home.  It was a quick but fairly eventful trip. We tried to make the most of the crappy weather and I think we did pretty well by seeing as and goodness knows California absolutely needs the rain.

Friday, January 1, 2016

December 2015 - Where I've been

Good-bye 2015 and Hello to a New Year!
I haven’t written in a month and I needed that time off to focus on us and getting the house back in order after the construction completed.  Seems like it’s all I’ve talked about recently but we really accomplished a lot of small and not so small jobs around the house this last year.   It feels great to finally get some of these things done.
 Our first project was redoing the basement bathroom
Then we moved on to flooring
 We also repainted and added cabinets to this room

 We hired a contractor to redo this half of the basement and stairwell

Finished and furnished - new living room

So December was full of fun.  We returned from California late on Sunday after Thanksgiving and Don had to get on a plane the next morning for Houston.  I took the time to dig out the decorations so I was ready when Don got home that weekend to go pick out our tree.  I am like a kid in the candy shop on a shopping spree giddy about getting the tree.  If we do nothing else I just want a Christmas tree and the ability to decorate it and the house while listening to Christmas music.  Don is less interested because live trees are heavy but he does it for me every year (and I tell him every year he must really love me!).  I do look every year for a fake tree that I like without being a pre-lit tree but to no avail.  While I’d still probably get a small live tree, I have to admit having a fake one in the garage would be great. 
 This is now our dining room all decorated for Christmas

Ok, so the tree is home and set up, we have 12 days until Christmas.  Then we planned a gaming party for the Monday and Tuesday before Christmas.  As I’ve mentioned before Construction leaves a huge amount of dust and it just keeps coming even after cleaning up so I asked Don to help clean the kitchen walls, ceiling etc.  He went up to the kitchen and said you know if we’re clearing out the kitchen to deep clean, we may as well repaint and replace the temporary cabinet we put in 12 years ago.  Now if he is up to paint, I’m all for it so I jumped at it.  He made his way to the big box store on Tuesday while I began clearing everything from the kitchen. He picked out the paint which is something I normally do and he chose well.  It’s a sort of cranberry color which goes well with the other accessories in the kitchen and our floor is grey so we painted the ceiling grey instead of white.  It sounds quick and easy on paper but it’s a kitchen.  The walls were cleaned twice, as well as sanded down and wiped down again and they were still resisting the paint. We should have had it done in a couple days but I finally finished putting the kitchen back together on Sunday night at 10pm. Our guests were due to arrive around noon the following day.  Whew! At least it got done.
 new cabinets and kitchen color

The game day holiday party we hosted was a lot of fun.  We played every expansion of Talisman (hence the 2 days and we still didn’t finish it before people had to head home). Our friends from up north just stayed over and a good thing too since it snowed all afternoon and evening. We were supposed to have a white Christmas this year but it happened a few days early.  Our yard is great to sled in when it snows but we didn’t get enough on the ground.
 Talisman game
Christmas day was great! My mom was able to come which is something I’d worried she wouldn’t be able to do.  She was released from the Hospital the 2nd week of December but I was worried about her not being able to sit for very long.  They did leave shortly after dessert though since they’d stopped and saw my grandma for a few hours before coming up here. I’m just glad she is on the mend and getting better every day.
my mom showing me the blouse I got her as one of her Christmas presents
our nephew showing off his new shoes

So that’s pretty much the December review.  Not much else happened after Christmas except making homemade Donuts the day after Christmas. Our nephew ( the one pictured above) had surgery today to remove a tumor from his foot and luckily it was benign, yesterday they thought it was cancer after looking at his MRI. So ya seriously over 2015!  We stayed in for New Years Eve this year which was great. 

 Happy New Year!

I’m seriously glad 2015 is over.  It was a rough year but it’s made my resolve all that more strong. 
We have a trip coming up in a few days and I can’t wait to get someplace warmer for a few days. 
Here's hoping for a great year for all of us in 2016.