While we were at Anzo-Borrego State Park Justin’s former coworker extended a very generous sweet offer to park in his driveway in San Diego for a bit. We had previously wiped Sand Diego off our travel list because for one, we had already explored it (though it was when our 5 year old was a baby) and because campgrounds were far from the city and/or pricey. But thanks to this kind offer, we decided to go to San Diego after all!

Our friend, who was letting us stay in his driveway, told us about a couple fun places to stop along our drive. One of these places was The Julian’s Pie Company who sells apple pies that are raved about from all over. We were so excited for this stop! However, we realized Justin’s phone had mixed up the order of our stops putting us off the path from our anticipated pie destination. We were all saddened by this and tried to find other places to grab a good pastry or something. After almost giving up on that search we passed a giant building that said, “The Julian’s Pie Co.!” They have two locations!!! We didn’t miss it after all!

We all celebrated which included both girls’ blood curdling ear piercing squeals of joy. As soon as we opened Dime’s doors a mouth watering scent of fresh apple pies hit us making our tummies all growl in anticipation. Heavenly! We all ran up to the building and burst through the doors.

Running to get pies!

The place was filled with pies pies and more pies! They even had apple cider donuts!!! Justin and I have been searching every fall we have been in Portland for apple cider donuts with no luck. People in Portland don’t even know what they are!! They are simply one of the puzzle pieces that make fall apple picking so magical! Before we got them I prepped the girls on how great and rare apple cider donuts were on the West Coast. We picked out a delicious freshly baked no sugar added apple pie for us and a frozen one for our friends (I was so happy they had one without added sugar. There’s no need for it if you choose sweet apples!). By the time we got to the register I was bubbling with joy! I told the cashier the story of how we thought we were going to miss their pies but their second location was on our route, how rare and exciting that they had apple cider donuts and that we were SO excited to be there! He found it amusing that we were so excited but had clearly not been that overjoyed to be working at Julian’s for a while. 🙂 He ended up throwing in an extra apple cider donut. How sweet! Maybe he hoped that if he gave us some extra food we wouldn’t bring our crazy back for a while. Haha.

After our delicious snack we did some grocery shopping where the girls were overjoyed to find tall trees and dandelions.

We hadn’t seen real trees like this in a long time!

After that we finally stopped at Ikea to replace the mirror that smashed on our bathroom door. Yay! A mirror in Wobbles makes the inside feel bigger. Plus, it’s good entertainment for the girls when they are putting on costumed performances!


By dinner time we had finally arrived at our friend’s house. It was so nice to have adult chat time while the kiddos played. The girls were excited they had so many neat toys to play with and books to read and Justin and I were happy to have friends to hang out with.

Wobbles nicely nestled amongst the palm trees in our friends’ driveway

Lunch with friends & van drooling

The next day we were able to meet up with Justin’s old boss for lunch. He is such a sweet person and it was so nice to catch up over a delicious breakfast-for-lunch place in Carlsbad called Gastro Brunch. They had just opened 3 days before we went and I’d recommend it to others.

After that we went to a camper van dealership and drooled over the Winnebago Revel van. It’s always inspiring seeing different layouts and various ways of using the space. The tricky thing is, there are some “must haves” that we have that makes it tricky to find used vans that fit the bill. New ones are just so expensive and lose so much of their value as soon as you drive them off the lot. It feels like you’re being ripped off (because you kind of are). Well, the girls had fun romping around in them at the very least. Dimes in a fine van and we really don’t need to upgrade– it’s just fun to look sometimes 🙂

The U.S.S. Midway aircraft carrier ship

What an amazing ship this is! Justin and I had explored it once before when our 5 year old was a baby but I hadn’t realized we hardly scratched the surface until we went for a second time. It’s like a small city on the water!

As you might imagine this ship had it all, it’s own ICU, operating room, dentist, metal machine shop, barber shop… the list is endless.  So many of the rooms and hallways were lined with hundreds of buttons, knobs and switches.  I can’t imagine someone remembering what all those buttons controlled!

Radio room

The kitchen was amazing to see.  Their giant soup vats that they stirred with a spoon resembling the size and shape of an ore.  There was a wall full of ovens for the large dining room but honestly, these kitchens were tiny considering the ship was feeding 4,500 men (500 officers among them).  One kitchen chef recalled hating when chicken was on the menu because that meant cutting up 1,100 birds into nearly 9,000 pieces, each of which had to be deep fried individually.  That’s just one item in one meal!  

Soup vats in kitchen

The hallways were also almost all identical.  We learned that the lettered and numbered inscriptions on the walls helped the men (and visitors like us) navigate on the massive ship.

We went down into the engine room which was below water level.  We learned that there were men who worked here who didn’t see the light of day for sometimes weeks at a time.  The only way they knew night from day was by the color of the lights in the rooms.  Red lights for night and white for day.  Can you imagine?  How disorienting and depressing.  We also visited the engineer quarters which shared a hallway with the ship prison.  Lovely positioning for those poor workers.  

The ship’s brig

On the main deck we listened to pilots talk about landing their planes on this boat.  It was mind blowing what these pilots were working with to land without killing themselves or others around them.  There are so many different factors those pilots were working against, one giant factor being the pitch of the ship on the water.  One pilot talked about one landing he did in the night where the ship, because of the turbulent sea went right out from under him when he was coming in for a landing.  Scary stuff!  

The control rooms were also a neat place to visit.  Machines were set up in a simulation so visitors could sit down at the control panels and imagine what it might be like operating this machine back in the day.  Visitors were also able to sit inside some of cockpits of helicopters and jets.  Not a lot of space in those jets but a LOT of buttons for sure!  

The anchor system was amazing!  The anchors were held up by ginormous chain links, with each link weighing 150lbs.  The ship had 2 anchors and each were 2 tons!  When released, these anchors and attached chain would travel at 50mph!  A worker at the time recalled when the anchors were deployed the noise of it all and the smoke and dust created was close to unbearable!

Chains holding the huge anchors

One of my favorite parts was that there were veterans all over the Midway eager to answer any of the questions visitors had.  How special to hear their stories!  The visit was incredible!  I’m so glad we went again. 

The girls have been enjoying spending their evenings at our friend’s playing with new toys our friends graciously shared, as well as picking lemons from their lemon tree and incorporating them into their play.  Can you imagine having citrus trees in your back yard?  You southerners are thinking, of course, but us from the north, we only dream of it.  

Visiting the seals, their pups, the sea lions & the beach

It was forecasted to be a rainy day in San Diego but we thought we should get out and explore regardless. Our friend’s brought us to La Jolla Cove where the seals were caring for their newly born pups! It was an incredible sight. One entire cove was sprinkled with mama seals and their sweet little pups.

Seals at La Jolla cove

One little pup was so new it still had it’s umbilical cord attached! They were so little and so SO adorable! The mama’s took turns teaching the littles how to swim and on land were coaxing them to nurse. One mama we were watching kept pawing at her little pup as if encouraging the little to latch on. It took a lot of encouragement but the pup finally caught on.

Seal pup nursing

We couldn’t get over how funny they look moving about on land. It reminded us of the movie Wall-e when the overweight humans fell out of their chairs and were having trouble getting up again. It’s just such a stark contrast with how they move in the water. We saw one mama fishing and she was darting through the water at top speed maneuvering around all sorts of obstacles and battling waves at the same time. It so neat to see!

When we visited the sea lions on another beach/rocky hill just a short walk from the pup cove, we found that there was a sea lion actually on the sidewalk resting! We kept our distance yet were shocked at how many others didn’t. Not only could the sea lion take a good bite out of a human but, seriously, leave it alone!

Sea lion in path

In the cluster of sea lions there were also some mama and pups mixed in.

Sea lion families

We spied a very very skinny young pup walking alone along the rocky wall. It was so skinny you could see all it’s bones unlike all the other plump little seals. I felt so bad for the little one as it appeared he had been abandoned. He tried desperately to get in to snuggle with a larger bunch only to be barked at and pushed away. Finally one did let the little one in to snuggle but it worried me that it wouldn’t make it much longer. Our friend’s that we were staying with told us there are people that monitor the seals for wounded or neglected ones and doctor them or bring them to Sea World if need be. That made me feel a little better but the poor little thing looked so unwanted and helpless.

Poor skinny sea lion

After visiting the seals and sea lions we ate a picnic lunch on a beach next to a great playground for the kiddos to play on. They enjoyed popping from the playground to the beach shore.

Collecting seaweed

Later that evening the girls were graciously given long sparklers to light in our friend’s back yard.  It was the first time they had ever seen them never-mind hold them!  Our youngest went right for it while our oldest was frightened at first.  After Justin and I did a couple practice sparklers our oldest warmed up to the idea.  It was fun!  


Baking and cleaning

The last day we spent baking, playing and cleaning.  Our friend’s were so very kind and gave us keys to their house so we could get our last minute stuff done.  Justin waxed Wobbles (it always makes me chuckle a little when he does this because in my mind it’s like giving your vehicle a pedicure, though I am grateful he does it) while the girls played and I baked cookies and granola and did laundry.  We also all got a shower/bath!  Thank you friends!!  

Playing in the back yard

It was a beautiful day so the girls had fun setting up a lemon store in the backyard.  It felt so tropical!  It was also so nice to stock up on our beloved granola again too!  Not only is granola from the store expensive, but it’s also nearly impossible to find it with low sugar.  It’s sad that companies take such a delicious and nutritious food and make it practically candy with the amounts of sugar they add.  Healthy granola makes us happy! Thank you for your oven friends!

Backyard lemonade store

Onto more San Diego sights!