Family,  Travel

Days 5 and 6 – and a vote, if you please?

I know it seems like I ask for your help a lot, but we are a houseful of girls (and a boy) that always has something going on.. whether it be fundraisers for the American Cancer Society or Facebook contests for Smashbox, it seems like every time you stop by, I'm asking for yet another favor! If this type of thing annoys you, then please know that I certainly don't want to irritate anyone; I just like to have a little fun with my girls when they enter these crazy contests, so I try my best to get a few extra votes in for them – even if the odds are sorely against them! 🙂

In this case, Sabrina has entered an American Eagle "Your Best Shot" contest, in which one must submit a photo that shows their true "AE spirit." I thought the photo Bean chose was appropriate, considering it's full of denim! And I think it's kind of all-American-looking, but that's just my opinion. 🙂

If you have the time to stop here and vote, it would make my girl very happy! I imagine any college student would be more than happy to win the grand prize ($3000) to put toward their tuition… or maybe toward a 4-year-supply of Ramen noodles.

Thank you so much!

Moving on to the next couple of days in California…

Thanks to a bad roller-coaster experience, this was the most harrowing day of our adventure:

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There are lots of really good rides, but there is also one that I do NOT recommend (I won't name names, but it starts with The Green Lantern). Here's a quick shot of the family (sans me) getting ready to leave on one of the milder coasters that day; I had already ridden it once and didn't want to push my luck with getting a headache…

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I didn't take many photos at all that day bc most of the time I was busy getting whipped around on mile-high tracks while screaming for all I was worth.

The next day we drove north, to Salinas. Mike's Aunt Helga (he mother's baby sister) lives there with her family, and since Mike hadn't seen them since his mom's funeral (and some of them he hadn't seen in many years), we decided to visit for a couple of days.

What a wonderful, warm bunch of family they are. We adore every one of them, and are so glad we were able to spend some time with them.

One of the things we got to do while visiting was to go whale-watching in Monterey…

This is part of Fisherman's Wharf:

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There was a seafood place handing out samples of clam chowder, and we all agreed it was the very best we'd ever tried. Sabrina is NOT a seafood-lover, and even she thought it was good…

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From left to right: Mike's cousin Randy (Hi, Randy!), Sabrina, Mike, Aunt Helga, Bre, Sophie, and Mike's cousins "Little" Helga and Cathy… there were lots of other family members too, but this was the group that went to Monterey with us.

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Randy is such a sweetheart. When we stepped into the sign-up office, the owner let him choose any hat he wanted, which absolutely made his day!

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Soon we boarded the ship (we called it a boat, but one of the workers told us that anything 100' or more is deemed a ship), and sweet Randy was petrified. It was the first time he'd ever been on a boat (fine, ship!), but as soon as he spotted some sea life, he forgot his fears and rather enjoyed himself…

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As soon as the boat started picking up speed, it got very chilly and windy!

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After about an hour or so, we saw our first whale! The director kept reminding us to look for one of the four "B words"… birds (hundreds of them in one area), bubbles, blows, or backs. Everyone got very excited when we spotted the first blow… I didn't have my zoom lens with me, so I didn't get any really good pictures, but here's one of a tail…

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Btw, after you see the blow of air/seaspray and then the whale's back, the tail is the last thing you see. Once it's completely submerged, you probably won't see the whale come back to the surface again for another 30 minutes or so – and you never know where it will resurface. Every time a tail would break the water, the director would say over the loudspeaker, "…aaaaand, goodbye!" and then the tail would disappear.

Here's a distant view of a blow and a back, from a family of 3 whales…

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"…Aaaaaand, goodbye!"

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The wet cold got to be a bit much for everyone but Mike (you will never hear him complain that weather is too hot or too cold or too windy), so one by one we started heading inside…

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…But some of us scurried back out on the deck when the director announced that she'd spotted a basking shark…

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This particular shark had been injured on its fin, perhaps by another creature or a boat. Sabrina Googled "basking shark" on her phone, and when she showed the director, it was soon announced over the loudspeaker that "A CUTE GIRL HAS A PICTURE OF A BASKING SHARK ON HER PHONE, IF YOU'D LIKE TO SEE WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE!" Sabrina wasn't sure if she should be flattered or embarrassed, but lots of people approached her to look at her phone.

Here is a photo of a basking shark that is similar to what Sabrina had pulled up:

Basking shark

(Can you believe the size of that thing? They don't eat people, btw.)

After almost 4 hours, we headed back to shore, and the skies finally cleared…

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Bre and Bean grabbed a quick picture with Little Helga before getting off the boat…

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We were all very hungry after our 4-hour-tour, so off to Bubba Gump's we went…

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While waiting for our name to be called, hoola hoops were our entertainment… Randy's sister, Alicia, joined us for dinner too; she's in the blue top, next to Mike…

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And a trip to Bubba Gump's is only complete once you've stepped into Forrest's shoes…

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Not to be outdone…

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What a memorable day that was! And with the sweetest bunch of people I've ever met!

But before I go, let me share just one last photo with you. It was taken just after we got off the boat in Fisherman's Wharf, and I do believe I'll use it if I ever need to blackmail either of these girls…

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Only in California.


  • Leslie

    I have been enjoying your vacation posts! I looks like you had a blast. Love the picture of the Sabrina and the California dude! Too funny!

  • natasha

    Wow, great photos!! I live just about 25 miles south of San Franciso. Looks like you guys had a blast.

  • Tanya

    Great vacay pics – sure was an action packed time. Lots of fun, looks like 🙂 That last pic is a hoot – I don’t know, we might have some like that in DC around here … just not that tan. LOL

  • Linda

    Oh, I am SO enjoying this trip! The pic of you and Mike is wonderful!!! You need to frame that one!We took a boat (eh, ship?) to Catalina years ago and it was great fun. While there we took a glass bottom boat tour around the island. Beautiful! Looking forward to more fun pics and stories! Linda in CO

  • Sheryl

    I voted. I had 2 girls in college at the same time (twins) and I know that any money can help.
    Love your pictures. The last one made me laugh so hard I had to go to the bathroom!!!!
    Glad you got to spend time with Mike’s family.

  • Margaret

    lol! Love that last picture! Oh my stars! Sorry once again about that roller coaster experience. Ugh. Looks like you all had a lot of fun otherwise though! And Monterey — OMG, that and Carmel are two of my most favorite places in California!!!! Oh I’m envious.

  • Lynn

    Great pics! The whale watching brought back memories of our whale watching expedition in British Columbia last summer. I managed to get some pics of the tail as well.
    Ah, hula hoops! My granddaughters brought theirs with them on their last visit. Seems I no longer can make one of them work. They just get stuck on my wider hips!
    The desserts at Bubba Gump’s look decadent!

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