I am playing major catch up on blog posts, as this post shares the adventures from our first family vacation, which was two months ago in July 2014! Better late than never, though, right?
Dan and I love to travel and explore and since Vivian was born in April, we had yet to embark on an actual vacation. I told Dan that it would be nice to go away for a long weekend – somewhere within driving distance – and relax as a new family of three. I am normally the travel planner in our family, but this time, I asked Dan to plan everything. I knew that I did not have the time or energy to organize a trip away. In my mind, I was envisioning that we would perhaps spend a weekend in La Jolla or some other beach town. I pictured walking on the beach, listening to the nearby waves, and walking to cute brunch/lunch restaurants. Because my mind is extra fuzzy these days, I don’t recall if I shared my visions with Dan or if I just said “please plan a vacation for us!”
After searching online at VRBO, Dan suggested to me that we rent a cabin in the woods in Palomar Mountain, CA. He told me that the cabin was well appointed and recently remodeled, which he knew would be important to me. I was still just trying to successfully get through each day with an infant and had little spare brainpower to fully consider his recommendation, so I just told him, “sure, whatever.”
As the date for our little getaway approached and we received additional information about the cabin and the directions for getting to it, I started to internally fret. This vacation was going to require me to pack everything I would possibly need for two adults, a baby, and a dog for four nights, as the cabin was truly in the middle of the woods. There would be no services nearby. Not only did I need to pack clothes, a Pack-n-Play, and dog food and dishes, I also needed to plan ahead and pack all of the food and drinks that we would need for four days. No restaurants nearby meant that I would be cooking all weekend. My visions of a relaxing beach vacation were certainly dashed.
I dutifully packed up our 3-month-old baby, dog, and all the food that we would need for four days. After Dan got out of work on a Thursday night, we loaded up our 4×4 truck and drove southeast. We made it to Pala Casino before we had to pull over so that I could nurse Vivian. After she finished eating, burping, and pooping, we continued our drive, in the dark, up Palomar Mountain. Finally, we got to the end of the paved road. From here on out, we would be driving on a steep, rutted, narrow, dirt road while following directions that literally instructed us to “turn right at the tree that forks to the left” and “keep going straight when you see a sign fashioned in the shape of a bluebird.” The directions were multiple pages of instructions similar to this. I was convinced that we were never going to make it to the cabin. The dirt roads seemed to go in every direction, it was pitch black in the wilderness, and there really was no room to turn around if you thought you made a wrong turn. Oh, and there was no cell phone reception, so even if we wanted to, we could not call for help! Somehow, though, by the grace of God (and the help of one mountain neighbor), we made it miles into the forest to the end of one of the dirt roads and to our little Falling Cedar cabin-sweet-cabin.
The cabin was closed up and did not have A/C. In the dark, we unloaded the truck, set up the Pack-n-Play under the kitchen bar counter top, put Vivian to bed, and then collapsed in bed ourselves in the heat of the night. We were then rudely reminded that Snoopy is scared of wood floors. He refused to walk on them – and the entire living area of the cabin was covered in wood flooring! While we were trying to fall asleep, he was crying because he didn’t know where to go that was “safe” from the wood floors. We were finally able to get him to settle down on the living room rug.
By now you’re probably thinking that this vacation is setting itself up to be not so great. But…the opposite is true! I documented all of the things above to show that despite my misgivings, this weekend away with our little family of three + Snoopy was one of the most special times in my life. Two months after this trip, I still cannot stop thinking about it and thanking Dan for planning it for us. My heart is full of the best memories from this vacation. How did I go from dread to delight? Read on…
Our first morning in the mountains, Vivian woke up at 7am, as per usual. I nursed her, and then she fell back asleep. Dan and I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast while drinking our coffee sitting on the cabin’s deck, which overlooked the expansive forest. My soul was already calmed.
On our first full day in the area, we visited Palomar Observatory. We toured the little museum and checked out the huge Hale Telescope.
On our second day, we visited the nearby town of Julian where we ate lunch and walked around. We drank some of their famous hard cider and I bought an apple dumpling to take back to the cabin with us.
And on our third full day, we hiked two miles on the Fry Creek Trail in the Cleveland National Forest.
Family Hike on the Fry Creek Trail
In between our activities we sat together on the couch in the cabin and watched movies (while I nursed Vivian) and read (again, while I nursed Vivian). I read my first postpartum book while on this trip – The Red Bikini – which was written by one of my Book Club friends! Cooking dinner turned out to be very enjoyable. Dan grilled and we ate very well. One morning, we woke up and – glory be! – it was raining! Each night, after Vivian went to bed, Dan built a fire in the outdoor fireplace and we sat around, drank, talked, and looked at the stars and satellites zooming by.
There were a few hiccups during our stay – like a minor ant invasion in the cabin, the appearance of bat poop in the living room, large spider sightings in the cabin (we were in the wilderness, after all!), and, at the end, the onslaught of mastitis in me:-( But, the things that I will remember most about this trip are the three of us (well, plus Snoopy!) just being together. It was just us. And it was wonderful. Dan and I work really well together at everything and it’s so easy and pleasant to be together. I was reminded over and over again how insanely blessed I am to have him as my husband and Vivian’s father.
First Family Vacation at Falling Cedar Cabin