Starting Thursday afternoon, my family and I decided that we wanted to have some time together and go off and do some things together. This was a busy several days, but so very fun. We started out by camping in Big Basin Redwoods State Park down near Santa Cruz. Nick and I took responsibility for the cooking and setting up of the camping area, and the girls had fun helping set up the fire and just exploring the area around where we were camping (Blooms Creek, the first main camp area as you enter the park from the North side). Nick regaled everyone with his excellent Dutch Oven cooking skills, treating us to Coca-Cola Chicken and Philmont Ranger Peach Cobbler for dinner and Dutch Oven Train Wreck for breakfast. We then explored around the park and looked at truly massive Coastal Redwood trees and other stretches of forest that made us feel right at home, and far away from home, both at the same time.
After our time in the park, we drove through the various "mountain towns" that stretch along Hwy 9. between San Jose and Santa Cruz. These towns include Boulder Creek, Ben Lomond and Felton, among others, and we had some fun looking at various sites along the way. NNick spotted a house that was made to look like a castle. He asked if we could stop so he could get some pictures of it. By doing so he met the maintenance crew for the house, and they invited us in for a tour of the place; unexpected, but very cool :). As we continued driving down Hwy 9, we also made our way into Santa Cruz, and then turned up the Cabrillo Highway to explore some of the beaches and natural preserves that run along our coast. One of the neat stops was at Pigeon Point Light Station near Ano Nuevo Natural Preserve. It's a neat old Lighthouse that also has a youth hostel on its grounds. The Lighthouse is a rapidly disappearing method of navigation, but one that was used for centuries. Northern California has one of the foggiest coastlines in the world, and its fair share of shipwrecks. Thus, the various Lighthouses that can be seen along the California coast are great reminders of our recent past, and it was fun to stop and take a closer look.
We also celebrated our version of "Pioneer Day" this weekend with members of our Stake at Coyote Point in San Mateo. This was a big gathering of the six wards that make up our stake, and it was a lot of fun to see so many people that I only occasionally get to see. It was also fun to see Karina, Amber and Nick playing and hanging out with their friends. Recently, the Crystal Springs 1st Ward and the El Camino Ward merged their Primary, Young Men's and Young Women's groups together, so our Young Men's group has picked up several new boys. It was terrific to see both Young Men's groups spending time together and getting to know each other more :).
The final cap of the weekend was to get to spend time with the Delgado's. Carlos and Kelly are literally the longest tenured couple that Christina and I have known together. In fact, Carlos and Kelly were at the Stone in September of 1990 when I first met Christina (Carlos was and is the lead guitar player for High Wire). We had wanted to have an opportunity to get our families together to do something fun, and this weekend, that finally happened. We went to meet up with them at the California Academy of Sciences, and it was so fun to watch our kids interacting with each other. Amber and Gabriel were inseparable much of the time, which was really cute, and Karina loved doting on little Sara. Carlos and I had fun geeking out on all of the exhibits and explaining to our kids what they were (that is, when our kids weren't explaining them to us first (LOL!) ).
All in all, a fabulous whirlwind three day "vacationlet", if you will. Now it's back to work for one week, and then I'll be gone for eight days with Troop 250's scouts at Summer Camp.