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Road Trip!

By Tara Zandra | November 1, 2011

So Halloween night Chris left for a business trip. In general I’d rather not stay home without him if I can help it, plus I still wanted a trip up north to make up for the cancelled one during puppy-rama. So at 5am I packed the car, grabbed the children and headed up the 101.

The trip was designed to be a California history trip so our goal was California Missions with other stuff thrown in. By Santa Barbara both kids were waking up so we made a quick stop at McDs which turned out to be the first McDonald’s in the country to offer the Egg McMuffin. See? History.

Eventually we ended up at our first destination.


It was so beautiful there. We were practically in the middle of nowhere, the weather was gorgeous, and it was a road trip (which is one of my favorite things ever). We grabbed a map and let Tabitha be our guide and I was pleased that she enjoyed it as much I had hoped. See, I grew up in San Gabriel where there is a mission. I went there on a field trip every year from 1st to 4th grade. Knott’s Berry Farm has (maybe that should say had) a section of dioramas of all the Missions and visiting them on Knott’s trips was one of my favorite things. I don’t know why, but I’ve always loved the Missions, so I was definitely glad to see the kids have a good time. Even Daisy enjoyed the Missions and it was very hard to explain them to a 6 year old.




On our way again after grabbing snacks from the car. We made it up to Soledad and had to go off the beaten track a bit to get to the next Mission. Tabitha was disappointed that hardly anything from the original building was left. It was very small and only had a couple graves. This is where my kids decided they liked seeing graves. A lot. I don’t do graves as a rule, but if they are old, like 19th century and earlier, they don’t bother me as much.


On our way up the kids kept pointing out the bells from the El Camino Real. I was pleased to find one for them to take a picture next to at Mission Soledad because it really became a symbol for our whole trip.


Even more impressive was seeing an actual Mission bell up close.


We then sat down on a provided picnic bench and had a wonderful lunch. Still a beautiful day and the fields beyonds provided a nice view, though pictures cannot do it justice.



Now we were taking a slight detour and going off the 101 and heading west to Monterey. At this point things both went awry and got insanely better.

The awry part would be the road construction that meant we couldn’t get on the right path to where we were going and I had no way to know what to do. Tabitha had my GPS as well as our printed directions but both were proving useless. I was able to get us to Monterey but finding the butterfly sanctuary was next to impossible. My GPS, well my phone actually, hates me. It has told me to make UTurns when I’m in front of my destination, it has told me to make left turns when illegal, and one time it told me over and over to get back on the freeway despite the fact that I was on the freeway the whole time. So it’s not the most reliable, hence the printed directions. But they only help if you can do what they say, which we couldn’t.

So we drove around and found a lighthouse. I figured we’d park and go up and ask. There were people in the parking lot who I asked first, but they were also from out of town. We went to walk up to the lighthouse, and it was closed on Tuesdays. *sigh* We turned around to go back to the car and saw the most amazing sight to our city-slicker eyes.


Deer in a cemetary. Dozens of deer roaming around uncaring to humans who want to get close.


Unbelievable. But we couldn’t stay long as the butterfly sanctuary was going to close in 45-minutes and we still hadn’t found it. So we headed off again and luck was with us this time. Even after seeing a sign, it was still in an odd location sandwiched between houses. I don’t feel so bad about not seeing it the first (second, third, fourth) time we drove by.


Monarchs migrate every winter and they go to the same Eucalyptus trees in California every year. There are thousands of them and it was truly amazing.


All those orange spots are butterflies clustered together.


Since it was so hard to capture on camera, I put my lens up to the telescope to get a better idea.


We walked the nature trail and I just tried to take it all in. I would love to just sit there for an hour and observe.

By this time it was later than I would have liked. We were supposed to head on to San Jose via a redwood forest but I really didn’t see that happening so Tabitha and I discussed it. We decided to go back to the cemetary with the deer and hang out there for awhile and then go straight to our hotel in San Jose.

There were still a ton of deer and interesting trees, rocks, and, of course, graves. The girls both brought their sketch books and I brought my camera.











We finally tore ourselves away from the experience and went on to our hotel. We had an uneventful night, though my bed sucked and I had left my pillow at home so I didn’t sleep well. Thankfully we did not have to get up early the next morning.

Topics: Life, Homeschooling, On the road again |

One Response to “Road Trip!”

  1. Mel Says:
    March 18th, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    Cool road trip. I’ve never taken one alone with B before. It sounds like something fun to do even if T would freak. He’s a wee bit protective. Still, next time he travels I want to do something like that. Neat about the deer. You guys would love elk season in Estes Park, CO which is in September. They come down from the hills and just hang out around town. Except they are more scary then deer. Up close they are the size of a horse and so I never got very close to them. LOL