Family Time on the West Coast

After our awesome sister reunion in early 2010, I was lucky enough to visit Natalie again at the end of the same year. My entire family (comprised of me, my parents, and my other sister) decided to spend Christmas together in San Diego. Then Angela and I decided to continue with the family visits and head up to Seattle to visit my dad’s family: our Nana, two aunts and their families.

(December 24 2010) Day 1. Flying out from Boston, Landing in San Diego.

San Diego ChristmasI didn’t have to work on Christmas Eve, so I decided to fly to San Diego that day. I landed in California about 6 p.m, but the rest of the family wasn’t schedule to arrive until Christmas day, so it was just me and Natalie for the night. We decided to grab some food and a couple of drinks at a bar in a nearby neighborhood, where we met up with a couple of her local friends.

However, I was exhausted from traveling all day and not yet acclimated to the time change, so we didn’t stay out too late. We instead called it an early night and went back to Natalie’s apartment to promptly fall asleep.

(December 25 2010) Day 2. San Diego.

Ocean Beach Christmas TreeThe next day was Christmas! In anticipation of my parents’ and Angela’s arrivals, Natalie and I spent the morning wrapping presents and making guacamole.

They arrived in the afternoon, and we spent a while in Natalie’s apartment snacking, chatting, and opening some presents. We then spent the rest of the day exploring Ocean Beach. This was my parents’ first visit since Natalie moved to San Diego, so she introduced them to her neighborhood, including her favorite coffee shops and surf spots.

After sightseeing, we made a pit stop at Trader Joe’s and stocked up on snacks and drinks for the week. We also grabbed ingredients for Christmas dinner, which Natalie had graciously offered to cook for the family. It was delicious, and so much fun!

(December 26 2010) Day 3. San Diego.

TemeculaThe next day we decided to take a road trip to Temecula. The drive was pretty, but the town itself, with all of its picturesque vineyards, was breathtaking! We decided to stop at Longshadow Ranch for a snack and some tastings. We enjoyed about half a dozen tastings of delicious wine (and got to keep the glass), said hello to the animals on the property (horses and goats), and enjoyed a beautiful sunset in the perfect weather.

That night we went to old town and had dinner with some of my mom’s family at a Mexican restaurant. It was a chain and the food was pretty good, but it was more fun getting to know some family members that I had never met before. We shared a bunch of stories and enjoyed the pleasant weather.

(December 27 2010) Day 4. San Diego.

IMG_4479On Angela and my last full day in San Diego the family went to visit Sunset Cliffs. I had been here the previous trip, but it was still as beautiful the second time around. We spent some time walking along the bluffs, taking pictures, and enjoying the gorgeous day.

We spent the remainder of the day in Ocean Beach. With Natalie in San Diego, Angela in New York City, myself in Boston, and my parents in a Massachusetts suburb, it’s not very often anymore that all five us are together for a long period of time. Therefore, we wanted to make sure we had quality time on this final night and just spent it together as a family.

(December 28 2010) Day 5. Flying out from San Diego, Landing in Seattle.

San DiegoOn day 5 Angela and I had a late afternoon flight to Seattle with a layover in LAX. This was my first time at LAX, and it was intense! I cannot say that I particularly enjoyed the shuttle ride between terminals that included travelling on the tarmac directly beside some departing airplanes. Nor was I excited about the super tiny airplane we rode on the second leg of the trip, but the ride was short and we landed safe and sound about 10 p.m. We were too tired to do much by then, so we just cabbed it to our Nana’s apartment, said a few quick hellos, and went to sleep.

(December 29 2010) Day 6. Seattle.

Seattle SunsetOur time in Seattle was primarily spent visiting with our family, especially our Nana. We chatted, looked at old photos and scrapbooks that my grandfather used to make, and simply enjoyed each other’s company during our short visit.

In the early evening while visiting with our aunt who had stopped by Nana’s apartment, our aunt received a seal rescue call. (She’s a member of the wonderful sealsitters organization.) Someone had noticed a seal on the beach, and was concerned. Because Angela and I were with her at the time, we asked if we could come see her work and help her protect the seal. By the time we got to the beach the seal was no where to be found, but we did catch a beautiful sunset.

(December 30 2010) Day 7. Flying out from Seattle, Heading Home.

The next day Angela and I had red eye flights back to our respective home cities, so we tried to fit in as much family time as possible during our final hours on the West Coast. So we rented a zipcar and drove to the suburb where my dad’s other sister and family lived, and luckily the cousins were home, too. (They’re avid world travelers, so it’s not uncommon for them to be away when we visit.) We spent a few hours socializing with them before we had to go back to the city, pack up, say goodbye to our Nana, and call a cab to take us to the airport.

Our red eye flights meant that we didn’t really get home until New Year’s Eve, which made that night a little more interesting. I definitely took a very long nap when I got home, and only woke up just in time to head out to celebrate the first hours of 2011. But it was well worth it – I am so lucky to have such an amazing family, and I love spending time with them.

Sunset Cliffs

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