Monday, August 2, 2021

California Adventure III

We just returned from a 10 day California Adventure. With the return of Joel two weeks ago we knew we wanted to take a full-family vacation before the start of school. I initially had grandiose ideas of flying to Spain, Mexico or Florida, or a road trip from Glacier to the Badlands, but then Joel's need to get vaccinated made flying problematic and Will's soccer tournaments and Young Men's camp made the timing tricky. In the end we decided to combine Will's Surf Cup tournament with some beach fun, some new rides at Disneyland, and some national parks which meant that there was something for everyone to enjoy. Joel got his first Pfizer shot on the day he arrived from Ghana and then six days later we were on the road. He (and a sympathetic Marie) dutifully wore masks when indoors.

Our family has enjoyed many a road trip to California. Here are links to two of our longer stays when we branched out from Orange County:

California Adventure I

California Adventure II

For this trip we added two new National Parks: Kings Canyon and Sequoia. 

The team of soon to be Seniors and Juniors from Utah County (Saratoga Springs to Payson) and excellent Coaches Jeff Lewis and Chad Bunce.

Will's Utah Storm team plays in Utah at the Premier 1 Level where there are consistently ranked as one of the top 10 teams in the state. This helped them get accepted to play in the prestigious Surf Cup tournament (held in Oceanside CA) which promotes itself as competition between teams that are the "best of the best". Teams and college recruiters come from all over the US. Storm played a game each morning on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They lost the first 1-0, tied the second 1-1 and won the third 3-1. Sadly this did not qualify them for semi finals and finals on Monday.

A huge mural in the entry to the complex listed all of the competitors.

When two heads collide. Will on the left. Luckily there were no concussions and both players were able to continue playing.

Will's cheering section.

The drive
The set

The cross to a teammate for a GOAL which helped with the win.

We arrived in Oceanside in time for a team meeting near the pier on Thursday night. We got to hang out at that beach for a while followed by excellent fish tacos.

When I went to make hotel reservations, there were few options for our family of five in the Oceanside area so I opted for a hotel in La Jolla 45 minutes to the south. My thinking was that if time and Will's energy allowed, we could sneak in some beach time too. It turned out to be an excellent plan. 

On Friday afternoon we drove to Tourmaline Beach on the southern edge of La Jolla. We were newbies to the area so from the beach parking lot, the kids and I all headed out into the nice surf. We had a blast jumping waves among what seemed to be an over abundance of surfers. After about 30 minutes of fun a life guard paddled out to us on a board and kindly alerted us to the fact that the northern portion of the beach was designated specifically for surfing. Oops. We then migrated south towards Pacific Beach for more beach fun. Sadly no one took photos of this beach day. 

On Saturday afternoon we booked a reservation with La Jolla Kayak to go on a fun sea kayaking adventure from La Jolla Shores beach across the La Jolla Bay to some cool sea caves. It was a great outing. Joel and Marie were in a double kayak and the rest of us in singles.

The dozen sea caves are at the base of the cliff and are only reachable via the sea.

Waiting our turn with dozens of others to paddle into one of the caves.

Joel and Marie's turn.

The last kayak coming out of the cave was our college student guide. While we waiting our group noticed a severely shivering young man in a kayak who was waiting for his snorkeling group and guide to return to their kayaks. Our handsome, fit guide took off his shirt and gave it too him which helped him warm up. We were impressed with his kindness.

Coming ashore. I capsized, but no one else in our group did. I hopped up and took this video of the other returning to shore.

Loved this tree and yard.

Sunday afternoon we walked form out hotel a few blocks to the Windansea Beach where the boys and I enjoyed more fun in the tricky surf.

Lots of surfers out waiting on these waves.

Some folks enjoy beaches for the sitting, the conversation and the view.

Lots of photo opps going on. Most of them were glamour photos of very pregnant mothers-to-be and their husbands.


I bought this Veracruz Red Sharks t-shirt in Veracruz in 1994. It was stored away and I found it this year.. 

Sunday between the soccer game and beach time, and after lunch at In-N-Out, we visited the historic mission of San Juan Capistrano.

This mission was made famous in the1930s by a pop song about the annual return of swallows to the mission where they would build mud nests. After some renovations, the migration pattern was disrupted for several decades, but efforts to attract swallows to return is slowly paying off as evidenced by the four nests in the top of the eave.


In the beautiful gardens I was happy to see monarch butterflies flitting about (left of center). It has been years since I have seen one in Utah.

Bells from the bell tower of the collapsed main church.


 At this point in my life this sounds life a great job: gardening and bell ringing.

Original church (Serra Chapel) that was abandoned for a newer bigger church (which collapsed), but is now in use again.

Saint Peregrine, the patron saint of cancer. Over the years this small shrine and prayer room off to the side of the original Serra Chapel has seen an increasing number of cancer patients coming here for heavenly help.

This visit was Sarah's choice. I came here when I was young and had never returned. When I told her about it she knew it would be a welcome change from watching soccer games.

Will was most enthused about all the large koi in the pond of the interior  courtyard.

The big new basilica outside the original mission compound.

With no finals games to play on Monday we set out for some unplanned adventures. First stop was the National Veterans Memorial on Mt. Soledad.

The view south to San Diego and Mission Bay.

Northeast towards the San Diego LDS Temple.

Northwest to La Jolla Shores Beach

Mormon Battalion visitor center in Old Town San Diego. We enjoyed the informative, multi media tour.

We then drove along San Diego harbor to see where we boarded our Semester at Sea voyage in January 2015.

San Diego LDS Temple

A few years ago while on a layover in Taipei, my nephew Andrew Lowman picked me up for a morning tour of the city. We ended that tour with the best Chinese food I had ever tasted--the steamed dumplings at Din Tai Fung. I recently learned that there are now franchises in several west coast cities included San Diego (near the temple). Reservations were all booked for lunch so we ordered take out and ate by a koi pond in the mall. We all loved the meal except for the red bean desert dumplings (of which I ate 3/4ers).

Dumpling making.


On our way to Anaheim, we stopped to see my niece Melissa Emmett Marquis (with son Smith) and then Marie's sister Martha and husband Jeff--where we had a delicious dinner of takeout Persian kabobs. 

Wednesday was Disneyland day. Our main purpose in going was so we could ride the new Rise of the Resistance in Galaxy's Edge. To do so Will, Sarah and I all downloaded the Disney app so that we could queue up at 7:00 am for a time slot to ride the ride sometime that day. Sarah was quick on the draw and earned us a mid morning slot. In the meantime we did the best we could to do as much as we could without the aid of the discontinued fast passes. I killed everyone on Buzz Lightyear, but did miserably at the Toy Story Midway Mania the next day. Will was our guide. He used the App to check wait times and to plan our route. I soon learned that he was OK with ping ponging from one side of Disneyland to the other and then back all to save a few minutes in line. Finally I told him his parents legs were wearing down too fast and we needed to stick to one area and then another.

photo by Marie

photos by the kids

Even with our appointed time slot, there was still a long wait for Rise of the Resistance. Half way through the winding cavern wait line, it was announced that the ride was down. We were told that we could leave but if we left we would have no chance to get in the queue for a later time. So we and most everyone else stayed. Gladly there were places to sit and we were inside a cool area. Hand slapping games (this this, that that) helped keep us occupied. After about an additional 45 minute wait the ride resumed. It was fun.The ride reminded me of a much fancier Mt Toad's Wild Ride or others compared it to Indiana Jones. We rode in a car through a story about being recruited to help the resistance, being caught by the Empire and then escaping. It was fun.

Receiving our orders to help the resistance.

We ordered food via the app from Oga's cantina. I had some plant-based meat like substance in a pita with kimche on top. Pretty tasty.

Splash Mountain and our second stall of the day.

Last time on this ride before it gets a make-over. I'll miss "Zip-a-dee-doo-dah" --a joyful song caught in an awkward movie that should rightfully be retired.

The kids have mastered the art of Disney ride photos! It took Will and Sarah the rest of the day to dry out.

The updated Jungle Cruise no longer included depictions of "natives" and it is now African monkeys (whether in Africa, SE Asia or South America) and other animals that are the marauders wreaking havoc on clueless tourists from a variety of ethnicities. Here are two good articles describing efforts by Disney to make sure rides (Pirates of Caribbean, Jungle Cruise and Splash Mt.) are not culturally insensitive:

No more "natives" climbing the poll to safety from the rhino's horn, now its tourists who run afoul with the wild life.

My two favorite Pooh characters.

Day two started out with 7:00 AM app work procuring a time slot for the new Spiderman based ride called Web Slinger in the new Avengers Campus. In the meantime we did two times on the Incredicoaster and two times on Midway Mania, plus a way too long and hot line for Cars.

After Grizzly Rapids our turn to get in line for Web Slinger finally came. Being a new area of California Adventure meant there was a lack of trees and shade for this long line. I decided I would run for the planning commission of Avenger Campus on the platform of providing more shade. One of the line workers liked my idea and became my first campaign volunteer. Finally just after we made it into the entry orientation room for the ride it was announced that the ride was down. We sat and waited for about 45 minutes. Finally they came and offered us the option of coming back if it reopened so we headed back to to wharf for a ride on Silly Symphony swings. 

After a photo with Woody, Will then noticed that Slingers was no longer listed as closed so we booked it back to Avenger Campus and with a scan of our tickets were were ushered right up front. Sweet. 


Getting our marching orders from Peter Parker to go help capture rouge cloned spiders. That is done by slinging our spider man bent fingers at the spiders approaching our car. Out of our fingers come colored webs that entangled the spiders. The idea is similar to the shooting in Midway Mania. It was a lot of fun.

Thursday morning we drove north via the agriculturally rich (I loved trying to figure our which crops were growing in all the fields and orchards we passed--grapes and olives were easy to spot) San Joaquin Valley to Kings Canyon. That night we stayed in Dinuba in the valley and then on Friday we explored Sequoia National Park.

Kings Canyon--it was a beautiful in and out drive.

Hugging and smelling an incense cedar.

Will, who claims he doesn't like hikes, always finds enjoyment along the way.

Zumwalt Meadow

Home from Ghana for just two weeks. Quite a change in climate and elevation.

Roaring River Falls


Confluence of the South Fork and Middle Fork of the Kings River

General Grant Tree.

Sequoia wood is light like balsa wood. Its bark is sponge like. The trees are well wired to withstand forest fires--which are an important step in the scattering of seeds and growing of new trees.

Sequoia's were once used to house sheep headers.

General Sherman Sequoia. One of the largest trees in terms of diameter and mass.

The size of Sherman's footprint.

At 1:00 we met with paid guide (sign up via the park web site) Scott from the Sequoia Parks Conservancy Field Institute for a fascinating 2 1/2 hike on the Bear Hill Trail in the Giant Forest Grove. We learned so much about the history of the park, its inhabitants, its flora and fauna, controlled burns, bear safety and much more. Very educational and well worth it.

 Western Dogwood

This part of the trail was once a road up to the dump.

Sequoia saplings

Sequoia cones

Sequoia seeds. We each planted some.

Weather station that includes a rectangle area inside the green screens that monitors the weight of accumulated snow that can then determine the water content of the snow. Farmers down in the San Joaquin valley are always very interested in knowing water amounts from snow melt. This area usually gets an average of 20 feet of snow each year but only three feet last year.

This area was also once the town dump for the hotel and other amenities in the giant forest. The park service has decided that the dump is old enough to be considered historical and to be left alone for the benefit of future archeologists.

Sequoia sapling needles.

Wild gooseberries. We ate wild black raspberries and thimble berries.

A cone shaped not completely full grown sequoia..

A mature crown shaped sequoia. Most have had the main trunk stunted by lightening and then they start to send up new shoots giving it a crown shaped top.

Tunnel Log. On our hike we learned how the park service tried in the past to attract more visitors by such novelties as drive through trees. So we gave it a go. There was a long line.

I had hoped to end the day with a hike up Moro Rock (approach from left ridge and hike up the exposed rock with the aid of chains--similar to Angel's Landing) but the threat of lightening kept us away. Plus we had run out of time. All the more reason to return.

Delicious and authentic Mexican dinner in Bakersfield. I loved my ceviche tostada and chicken enchilada with mole sauce. Spent the night in Barstow and then drove the rest of the way on Saturday. Fun to see and do so many things with such a good crew. 

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