Saturday, December 28, 2013

A 3 day trip with a 4 month old

Its been almost 2.5 months since Amma reached US. We have not been able to go out as much as we wanted to because of various reasons like cold weather, adjusting with a 3 month old and me getting back to work. So when we saw that the predicted weather for the last week of December was finally reasonable, and when I happened to get a 3 day break during the christmas holidays, we grabbed onto it and decided to make a 3 day trip to Pismo Beach, CA hoping for the best. We did do a  trip to SFO and big basin( one day trips) the weekend prior to this trip and both went well which gave us the confidence to go on 3 day trip with Taru. Few things which we already knew before we started for the trip from prior experience
1. Whatever time we decided to start, we would only be able to leave an hour later or so because of me getting very less sleep, and the child being unpredictable.
2. We will have to take some food with us, especially because there are very few options for Amma and also to sit in a restaurant with a child is not easy if she does not cooperate.
3. We will have to choose the shortest route to the destination as we still don't know how Taru is going to react to a long trip.

I packed most of the stuff the day before itself, but still we were 2 hours late than the decided starting time. I was almost in shock at the amount of stuff we had in the trunk for merely a three day trip. I remember me and Sree traveling with just a small suitcase, even for much longer journeys.

Here are a list of items we packed and what was actually used

1. Our clothes and Amma's clothes - Two suitcases. - All of these came useful
2. My jewellery - Useless. I practically had no time to even change earrings. 
3. Diaper Bag - Its a little bulky to carry around, need to actually find a better way to carry the necessary stuff alone.
4. My Laptop and Bag- used it once to transfer pics
5. Pump - useful
6. Bottles - useful ofcourse
7. Water Cans - yup, useful
8. Food and paper plates and cups- yup!
9. Stroller - very useful
10. Sling - not useful for this trip( we practically went back to get this one)
11. Taru's toys - Yes to an extend
12. Crib - Yes! Thank god we have a pack and play
13. Camera Bag - Ya, what is a trip without a camera
14. My Handbag with hair dryer and straightener - completely useless
15. Taru's Body wash - Used this too

All the stuff that we carried!

The sad part is we thought we were overdoing the packing, but in reality we used 90% of the stuff that we took. This shows that every trip of ours in future is going to be filled with stuff to be carried.

The first day we started at 11 AM, went back twice into the house after starting to pick last minute stuff like sling, and checking if the door was locked, and started our drive to Pismo Beach.
We stopped once on the way for a coffee and feed for Taru, and then proceeded again. Taru was generally ok during the journey and I was able to distract her when she was uncomfortable in the car seat. We reached Pismo beach around 4 and checked into the hotel. Me and Sree had to do two trips from the car to bring all the stuff in. I expected the hotel ( Hilton) to have a microwave and fridge. This would have been extremely useful for us to store food and heat it up, but this hotel did not have either of these and it was pretty annoying to know that. The room was very clean and everything was neat and beds were freshly made.Then we unpacked our curd rice and had our lunch and I squeezed in a pumping  session too in between. Taru was relieved to stretch on the bed for a while. Around 4:30, we started to the beach which was just 2 miles. The sun had already set, but we still had fun for a little while playing in the water. We came back to hotel and played cards for a while and then had dinner. After which it was time to feed Taru and then sleep. The first night at the hotel was hard, as she kept waking up every 2 hours. It was also a little cold. So my sleep was pretty much broken a lot. The next day, we all woke up starting 6:30 to leave at least by 8:30. We also had the continental breakfast provided at the hotel. With a kid, we practically have to take turns to have breakfast and that in turn means having it quickly too. Even though we tried to make it as casual and close to how we are used to, it still required us to be in sync and always keep a watch on the kid.So gone are the days when me and Sree used to enjoy the free breakfast in peace whenever we used to do our trips :(.

We started for Solvang which was a short ride and had to fill in the trunk again with almost 60% of the bags we came with. We reached Solvang by 10 and started walking around the town. The weather was superb! So it took us sometime to settle down with the stroller, bags etc and then start walking. We also decided only to take the necessary stuff from the diaper bag, so that we can avoid carrying it around.We did not walk for even 10 minutes when Taru decided to cry out loud. We then realized that she needs her diaper change, and with the car quiet far behind, we settled her on a bench behind a shop. When we undressed her is when we realized that she needs a change of clothes, and that was left in the car. Sree rushed back to get the spare dress. The one she was currently wearing was a cute frock, which I had to convince Sree quiet a bit to put on her, as he is totally against these complicated clothes and loves her to be in her night dress all the time. So came in again, the night dress and she was changed into that. After that, we walked again, and another 10 minutes passed. We browsed through art and christmas decor shops ( Please note that one person usually stands outside with the stroller while other two goes inside to see the shop). After that Taru again cried. This time, we felt it was due to hunger and rushed back to the same bench where I could feed her. I sat down there and fed her for a while  and Amma and Sree hanged around. we made sure she was ok, and then again started off walking through Solvang. This time we could do the trip a little longer as she was completely settled. We then started feeling hungry around 12:00 and stopped at a restaurant. I had insisted Amma to give the idly a rest and try the sandwiches and we both even colored a decent picture of them for her.Ordered sandwiches, which turned out to be pretty cold. The hot chocolate was the only savior. Amma hated her sandwiches.  So she had a little bit of the bread and cheese and a good cup of coffee.

At Solvang

Around 1, we started back to the hotel, and this time we were pretty adamant on not missing the sunset on the beach. So after reaching the hotel, I fed Taru and then after resting a while, around 3:45 we left for the beach. This was the highlight of the trip. We were able to drive through the beach in the car and I have never done that before. The sun was slowly setting and the beach and water was covered with beautiful rays all around. There were these small birds who ran towards the water when there were no waves, and immediately when the waves came they ran back. There were a lot of them in a flock and it was fun to see them. Me and Amma walked around for a while. We parked the car on the beach. We fed Taru and kept her ready for sunset. I wanted to do the ATV ride, but there was no time to do that activity. If we wanted to do it, we had to come at around 2 o clock. So this trip, no ATV ride. Finally time for sunset and it was blissful. All 4 of us enjoyed. It was really nice and calm and we loved it. For that moment, I think the whole trip was worth it.

foot prints of the birds

The little birds


Tarakutty watching the sunset

For dinner, we all stopped at a Thai restaurant. Amma decided to have green tea which she loved and surprisingly she loved the tom yum soup which we ordered too. I had pad thai and Sree had tofu curry. All dishes were great. Half way through Taru was little irritated in the car seat and had to be carried around. Many of the other folks in the restaurant smiled at her. We left for the hotel and ended the night by watching serials on phone, playing cards and settling her down. The second night was peaceful as she slept well and woke up only once for a feed.

The next day, we again did the same routine of getting ready and then went and had breakfast. We also had to pack everything as we were checking out of the hotel. Did multiple trips down to the car with the bags and arranged everything again. Finally said bye to our room and started off to Monarch Butterfly park. We loved the time we spent here too watching the butterflies. It was remarkable that they flew around 2000 miles, and came to rest at this place. There were around 30,000 of them.
Amma watching the butterflies on a faraway branch through the telescope

Monarch Butterfly

Picture through the telescope

We were about to start from there, when Taru cried again and refused to sit in her car seat. We then changed her diaper, gave her feed, and walked around with her for sometime and then started off again. In another 15 minutes, she again started crying and this time uncontrollably. I tried my best to pacify her, but to no use. We stopped again to settle her. Amma carried her for sometime while Sree got us coffee. She finally slept off after 15-20 minutes and we started our journey back again. She slept 3 hours straight till we reached Campbell. So the return journey was peaceful and we spent it talking about different things and enjoying the scenery.

This trip has definitely given us memories and will never forget the beautiful sunset on the beach:). Also this was the first overnight trip with Tara!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Mendacino - A relaxing weekend!

I have heard about Mendacino from people who have been there. They describe it as a place by the sea,  beautiful, calm. But the one that most people have mentioned is "relaxing". I was curious on what is there in Mendacino, but never made a plan to go there until now. Some of my friends had rented a vacation rental place and stayed there and they said it was amazing and practically u just sit and relax there.
For me going on vacation till now, was exploring the place a lot, and never sitting in the house and relaxing.But now that I am pregnant, I was not too keen to on exploring the place a lot anyways, so when our gang initiated a summer trip to Mendacino and book a rental place there, I was all for it.

We left on Friday evening (7th June 2013) from here in a 8 seater ford. The vehicle was very good, but even then, the fact that I am pregnant and the long journey and windy roads, I was feeling a bit uncomfortable. The journey was not pleasant for me, but on the way we stopped at a thai restaurant, which had some amazing food! It was very good, especially their ginger tea. We ate nicely and then started on the journey again. We reached Mendacino by 10 or so, but took a while to find our house. It was actually an adventure, with no street lights, and we trying to find which house it is in the dark. Then finally we found the place, and then once we parked, we did not know how to enter the place. Shalini and pradeep got down and found the entrance, and then we entered the home. What a surprise!
The house was so nice, and beautifully done. It instantly makes you feel at home and very warm and cozy. The couches, the throws, the pillows, the lights, the nice kitchen, etc everything was so well thought out! It had an amazing dining table, and a deck that surrounded the entire house. The bedrooms were so nicely done, and every bedroom had its own bathroom which made dividing the bathrooms equally so nice!

It was amazing to  experience this! We had some curd rice, and then we all crashed.
The next day morning, it was such a surprise, when we opened the windows. The view of the sea was amazing. It was so relaxing for me and Sree. We enjoyed the morning bournvita watching the sea. After everyone had their breakfast, we all got ready, and started on seeing places. We saw pigmy forest, and went to an old book store, and had lunch in the mendacino town. We also went to see the glass beach, but finally found glass only towards the beach very near to the sea. The view was very nice. We then tried to see the light house, but since it was closed, decided to go back to the house. Once we hit the couches, no one moved! We all dozed off for a bit, and then had tea, and the guys decided to enjoy the hot tub! pradeep got some ginger ale and all of them popped in. I can't use the hot tub as I was pregnant, but Shalini and Mini also enjoyed the hot tub. Once we all came back, Ranga and Sree made soup, Sandwich and heated dokla for us. And we tried to do a candle light dinner, but well finally we put on lights and had our food. We talked for a while, played Catan, and then me, Pradeep, Shalini and Mini talked till 5 AM in the morning. we all went to get our sleep.

Waking up the next day was hard, but we had to check out by 12, and we all got out by 11:45 and dropped the key. We started our journey back, and stopped on the way to have lunch. We again stopped on the way for coffee at San Rafael. Then we reached Pradeep's place, unloaded and Ranga returned the car. We all dispersed, and once reaching home, I had such sweet memories of the whole trip! Would definitely do one like this next year also! Totally worth it!