At not-quite-four-years-old, Solomon could recite by memory all the words to “Larry Goes to San Diego” by the time Spring break and the long-anticipated trip from Pennsylvania to San Diego had arrived. He could barely contain his excitement about taking two airplanes for the trip. The travel didn’t go quite as planned: they waited more than an hour on the airport runway before heavy snow and airplane mechanical issues caused their first flight on Sunday night to be cancelled. Not to be deterred, his father and mother woke Solomon and his sister, Lydia, very early Monday morning to drive to Harrisburg for a re-routed itinerary. They arrived in San Diego by late Monday morning to low sixties temperatures, swaying Palm trees, and boisterous spring flowers.
Doug and I met them with big hugs at the baggage claim area (where we learned the two car seats and large suitcase didn’t make it with them) while listening to stories about the snow delays, the plane rides, and the last airplane buzzing over housetops during its low descent into San Diego International Airport. Christopher and Kate were tired and a bit frazzled but the kids had energy to spare. The adventure had begun.
We quickly made our way in the rental mini-van (the first time ever for us; and hopefully the last time; a huge boat of a car that bounced those in the back seats whenever it drove over potholes or rugged roads) to the rented house, which was a short trail from the perfect beach: broad swarth of smooth sand, surfers and kite surfers riding the waves, two piers a mile or so south of us, the beach communities of Mission Beach and Pacific Beach mere blocks away. Solomon kept asking to go to “San Diego.” We tried to explain that we were in San Diego…until we realized he meant the sandy beach! Ah, “Sandy-eggo!”
Little boys (this one a month shy of four-years-old) and beaches will be forever linked in my mind. We walked to the beach after a quick lunch and took off Solomon’s shoes and socks, rolled up his pants, and pointed out the waves. He gingerly walked over the dry sand to the firmer, wet sand and then, no longer hesitant, he was off. Running back and forth, carrying dry sand to the waves, squealing with joy, grabbing someone’s hand to run with him, this boy had found his San Diego! Forget the long plane rides, the missing luggage, the tired parents, this was what we’d hoped when we decided San Diego made more sense for the March family vacation than at our home in Boulder (for us, minus one degree when we flew out from Denver the day before).
Lydia at six months old probably didn’t appreciate the setting as much as her brother, but she was all smiles, her bright dark eyes focused on everything that was happening, trying new foods, and going for boardwalk stroller jogs with her father.
My biggest disappointment was that I couldn’t really hold Lydia except when sitting on the sofa because of the cast on my right arm from recent tendon re-attachment surgery. Making faces and “talking” with her as my primary source of interaction had to suffice for this trip.
The days melted together: early morning beach time for Solomon and Christopher (the three-hour time difference from East Coast to West Coast made for early rising) while Kate stayed at house with Lydia. Doug and I ran along the almost flat Ocean Front Boulevard, adjacent to the sea wall and sandy beaches. Most mornings surfers were out catching the waves, while walkers, runners, bicyclists, skateboarders, and the ubiquitous motorized scooters crowded the boulevard. These five days of running were balm to my soul after the hand surgery and recuperation and very cold, icy winter. I’ve had to postpone some Spring race plans, but am energized by this soupçon of encouraging movement.
We incorporated sight-seeing into the middle of the days, wanting to make sure Solomon got to see more of the area (highlights from his San Diego book) while having a second beach time in late afternoon. He’s becoming a boat/aerospace buff (John Glenn, Buzz Aldrin, Mae Jamison, and the Endeavor Space Shuttle are favorites), so the tour of the USS Midway aircraft carrier and “navigating” some of the helicopters and supersonic fighter jets were a must-see.
The San Diego Zoo and Safari Park’s caravan ride to view the plains’ animals was also on the agenda (although his chicken nuggets lunch and sparkly stuffed alligator were the highlights).
Solomon was mesmerized by the shark feeding at Birch Aquarium while Lydia was intrigued by the tanks of sardines. The seemingly hundreds of pupping seals at La Jolla Cove were a treat: the barking, the fighting between several males, the gathering at a “day care center” of the furry pups, and the stomach jumping from rock to shore were a delight.
Alex joined us for the last two days before he flew to Bogotá for his hiatus. More beach running and “uncle” time for Solomon and huge smiles for me to be with both sons, grandchildren and daughter-in-law. I am honored how well my sons get along, being silly, speaking of important topics, truly enjoying each other’s company.
Another sandy beach in Coronado and racing among the guys (Solomon was certain that “Christopher and Alex” ran faster than he, but that he could “kick his butt with his feet” while he ran) before walking around the Del Coronado hotel and lunch and ice cream nearby. Lydia was a trooper, hanging out in the Baby Bjorn carrier, fascinated by the sights and sounds, putting her feet in the sand.
And then we had our final dinner together, sandy clothes were washed and packed, and a 5:00 a.m. wake-up on Saturday morning was set for everyone to make their respective ways home.