Of course, there are people who would say the same about my 10-12 hour car trips to the Carolinas that I make on a regular basis. But in my car, I can stop as often as I need to, and I'm not crammed in with people whom I'd like to strangle after hearing them talk about shallowness, hour after hour.
Finally, the arduous plane trip ended, we found the rest of the family in the L.A. airport, and we were ready to explore Southern California.
First stop: Taco Bell! Yes, we could have eaten more authentic food, but when travelling with a 6 year old, sometimes convenience and familiarity takes precedence. Oh, who am I kidding? Half of our travelling team really wanted Taco Bell, and the rest of us could deal with that, so we stopped.
I didn't have my camera with me in the Taco Bell, so I missed my opportunity to capture a SoCal Santa. He rode up on his 10 speed bike and didn't take off his chunky headphones as he waited in line. He was African-American, skinny in his Santa suit, with a white (fake) beard hanging off his face. We talked about this Santa, keeping in mind that we were in the presence of a 6 year old.
My nephew came to my side and with some urgency, whispered in my ear: "Kris! Kris! That's not the real Santa." It was touching, as if he wanted to spare me the embarrassment of realizing that I'd been duped while at the same time, not wanting to unmask the impostor too publicly.
Ah, the joys of travelling with a 6 year old! We went places we wouldn't have gone if we'd just been adults travelling, like the Children's Discovery Museum of the Desert, in Palm Desert.
While there, we could do all sorts of cool activities, like testing our balance and flexibility, or dressing up in a variety of costumes, or building any variety of shapes that would get a ping pong ball across the room, or painting an old V.W.
We also went to Legoland: us and about a bajillion other people. We didn't ride many rides, since the wait time for every ride was 60-90 minutes, and there are very few activities that I like enough to wait that long to do them. It was also very cold, so it was good to keep moving. We saw a show that we wouldn't have seen if it hadn't been so cold and the thought of sitting down out of the wind hadn't been so appealing. It was great to see so many earnest performers singing about their wish for snow, both at that show and in singing groups throughout the park.
However, the highlight of that trip to Legoland for me was seeing the wide variety of fascinating things, many of them lifesize, built out of Legos:
There's also a whole section of the park called Miniland, where there are villages and cities built out of Legos. I loved that a lot of the structures were decorated for Christmas:
I found myself wondering about the people who had created this wonderland, whole cities and world attractions built out of Legos. Did the Lego builders say, "Wow, what a great job I have! To be paid to construct things out of Legos!" Or do they say, "I'd rather be making my own original designs, not replicas of New York City. I can't believe I have to spend another day making Santas out of Legos. I did not go to art school for this."
We started out our trip headed to Palm Desert, which I wrote about in this post yesterday. My favorite part of the whole trip was our exploration of a tiny part of Joshua Tree National Park. Still, it was interesting to explore a different part of Southern California. We spent the last part of our trip exploring Newport Beach and the surrounding environs. Below you see a shot I took with Balboa Island to my back. What the shot doesn't show is how much the area reminded me of pictures of Greece or Italy--not the Southern California of The Brady Bunch. I never watched Beverly Hills 90210 or The O.C., so I don't have those landscapes in my head.
I hadn't realized how mountainous the southwest is. I have never so mispacked for a trip. I thought Southern California/desert=hot. Ha! The temps in the day rarely climbed very far into the 60's, and the nights were cold, which I expected. Oh well. It won't be the only vacation where I appear in pictures wearing the same clothes, day after day.
To end our trip, we went to Huntington Beach. I have now eaten at Duke's, on Sunday, although not on a beach in Waikiki, to reference a Jimmy Buffett song. We walked on the pier and watched the surfers in a cold sea.
The next day, it was back into the maw of the airline-industrial complex, back to the tropics, back to a different sea on a different shore. And now, it's back to work!