Gabe and I got to go ‘home’ this summer on our Southern California beach vacation. Gabe grew up minutes away from the ocean in Huntington Beach and I grew up in North Hollywood. We’ve realized that what is so familiar to us from our childhood is very unfamiliar to our kiddos. And since playing at the beach is relatively inexpensive it became the perfect destination for our summer vacation.
Mom & Her GoPro
This trip was the perfect opportunity to test out my new GoPro Hero 4 Silver! All the footage in this video was shot with it.
Friday: Redondo Beach Fever
We started in Redondo Beach visiting my sister Janai. My brother Jusin, his wife Sarah, and their three kids came too. Body surfing and Cafe Rio for dinner made for a great first day of the beach experience.
Saturday: Independence Day
We started Independence Day by attending an inspirational and impressive devotional performed by the Burbank Stake. Then we swam at my sister-in-law’s parents’ house in Burbank hills and had front row seats on their lawn for the nighttime fireworks show. I don’t have too many photos from this day. I was too busy shooting video.
Sunday: Standing on Holy Ground
On Sunday we attended church in the North Hollywood Ward. My Grandparents Buss & Althea raised my Dad and his siblings in this ward. My brother currently lives in their old house and attends this same ward. As I sat in the Relief Society room of the church building I was filled with emotion as I reflected on the last three times I had sat in that same room viewing the caskets of Grandpa Buss Carson, Grandma Althea Carson, and my dear Father Merrill Carson. I was filled with the warm comforting assurance of the Holy Ghost that I was sitting in a holy place and that I would see these three loved ones again! I happened to sit next to Patriarch Barton. He knew my grandparents well. It was a sweet feeling to hear him speak of his positive associations with them and validation of their lives of devotion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In the evening we headed to Point Dume at Zuma Beach just North of Malibu. This was one of my favorite spots to hang out at as a teenager. We attempted to take some fun family photos as the sun went down.
Monday: Surf’s Up and So Am I!
On Monday we headed down to Gabe’s old stomping grounds—Huntington Beach Pier. Lunch at Johnny Rockets did not disappoint!
Then, we were on to Doheny State Beach at Dana Point with our longtime friends the McInnes family. Brian McInnes offered to give us all surfing lessons. We enthusiastically took him up on his offer. It’s funny that not once during the 23 years I lived in close proximity to the beach and boogie boarded on numerous occasions that I never once tried riding a wave on a surf board. And now that I am living near Phoenix, Arizona and turning 40 next year I try surfing for the first time. I think I sense a mid-life crisis on the horizon 🙂 Thanks to Brian setting me up on my first wave, I was able to ride it all the way in. I was up on my knees on my second try and on one knee and a foot on my third! It was so much fun and now we all have the surfing bug. We’re excited to go back out in October during our Fall break from school to go surfing again.
Tuesday: Beach Exploring and a Hunky Life Guard Rescue
We went back to Dana Point to do a little coastal exploring. The kids got to climb on rocks and poke at little barnacles and sea creatures. We went back to Doheny State Beach and played in the waves. Our fearless Rebekah paddled out on a boogie board to hang with all the local surfers. She slowly started drifting beyond the breaker. She wasn’t in any real danger but also didn’t seem to realize that she needed to meander back towards us. So I calmly asked the life guard if it was okay for her to go that far. He said, “Oh, I thought she was one of the surfers. I’ll go get her”. So he swam out and towed her back in. Unfortunately she is too young to appreciate being saved by a hunky life guard 🙂 I think her pride was damaged and she denied that she needed any assistance. So, she dragged her boogie board back up on the beach and sat and sulked in a beach chair under her wide-brimmed hat. Fortunately I had my camera in hand so I caught the whole thing play-by-play, It looks way more dramatic in the photos than it really was 🙂
Wednesday: Hollywood Meets San Andreas
My older kids were dying to see the Hollywood sign. So, we drove into downtown Hollywood and entered a parking garage under one of the major hotels near the Hollywood Walk of Fame. As we started to snake around the parking lot we seemed to be going deeper and deeper under ground and the ceiling height seemed to be getting lower and lower and closer to the roof of my Yukon XL. Being the extremely claustrophobic person that I am, and having just seen the movie San Andreas, my palms started getting sweaty and my heart started racing at the thought of parking so far underground and relying on an elevator to get up or down. I realized I was having a panic attack! Not two seconds later, Tyler said, “Hey Mom, doesn’t this remind you of the movie San Andreas?”. That was it…I made a huge u-turn and snaked our way out of that parking garage as fast as I could. I don’t usually allow myself to give in to anxiety but that ultra deep basement parking garage was more than I could handle! We drove up the hill a little ways so the kids could at least see the Hollywood sign from a distance. I promised that on our next visit to the area we would hike up to the actual sign.
My oldest sister Christy lives in Aqua Dulce about 40 miles North of Los Angeles. We drove out to their house in the evening and watched Paddington Bear as the ‘movie in the park’. The movie was actually much better than I was expecting.
Thursday: Trick-roping Rocks
My sister Christy and her family have been blessed with lean physiques and endless energy. They took us on a hike out their back yard up into the hills. They can usually jog the whole thing—probably backwards—but had to resort to a slow walk to accommodate the slowest members in our group. In the afternoon we were off to more hiking on the Vasquez Rocks (filming location of lots of the old Star Trek episodes and Flintstones movies). Christy and her family still perform trick-roping which we all did as kids. I offered to do a promotional trick-roping photoshoot of her and two of her kids at Vasquez Rocks.
Friday: Riding Home with Comedian Jim Gaffigan
Danielle brought the book ‘Food’ by comedian Jim Gaffigan on the trip. Jim is absolutely hilarious and Danielle does a great impression of him. So, she entertained us by reading the book out loud all the way from LA to Chandler. It made the drive go by so much quicker!