Our California trip came and went and we had such a great time, I’m already planning our next getaway. We flew down on Thursday night, declining our one first class upgrade so we could sit together. Thanks to Christopher’s status we cruised through security. During the flight Christopher booked our hotels for the first two nights and our rental car. The rental car, sadly, was the only hiccup on the trip, and we had to stand in line for an hour to get it (avoid Hertz!) However, without kids, it wasn’t all that stressful.

We spent the first night at a Best Western Plus in Santa Ana, near Anaheim. It was weird to be back in southern California. I hadn’t been since 2006, although Christopher travels down there fairly regularly for work. The hotel the first night was upscale but run down, if that makes sense. No worries, we were just happy to sleep without interruptions. In the morning we ate breakfast in the courtyard (it was decent; they had a waffle bar) and headed to Disneyland. We bought two tickets and headed down Main Street USA. The park was hot and moderately crowded, but without kids it was no problem. When we overheated, we ate frozen lemonade in the shade or sat in an air-conditioned theater. We started in Tomorrowland riding Buzz Lightyear and watched Captain EO (two of seven people in that huge theater). Space Mountain was closed so we walked up to Toontown and down to Fantasyland. We rode It’s a Small World and Mr. Toad. When we were standing outside Indiana Jones someone handed us a pair of Fastpasses. We split a turkey leg and chili-lime corn for lunch. We rode on the riverboat. When Christopher fell asleep in the tiki room, I worried about his stamina, but the ten-minute nap recharged him. We watched a parade, went on Pirates and the Haunted Mansion, walked through Innoventions, and went on Splash Mountain before dinner. We took just a handful of pictures, recreating moments from our honeymoon. And yes, I am terrified of heights. And falling.


Honeymoon pic below. Christopher has hair and I have boobs, but I think we look better now. And the change in camera quality is incredible. The picture above is from my phone, below from some big film camera.

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We ate dinner at Catal, in Downtown Disney, and it was fabulous. We ate things like bacon-wrapped dates and pea-mint risotto and arugula. After dinner, we watched Fantasmic and the fireworks, then got a pineapple whip for the road.

Friday night we spent the night in a gorgeous hotel in Costa Mesa. Christopher got us an upgraded room with an enormous jacuzzi tub. After all that walking, I felt like an athlete soaking after a big game.

Saturday morning we drove down the PCH from Newport Beach to Dana Point. We walked around Salt Creek, our favorite beach. The weather was perfect; we could have stayed all day. With a lot of sunscreen.

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Instead, we quickly showered at the hotel and headed to a wedding at the Newport Beach temple! The ceremony was beautiful and the reception was lovely. The groom was Pete Kuhnen, Christopher’s childhood friend from Yuba City. His bride, Lisa, has three younger brothers, and all four kids are getting married in the space of eight months! Christopher and I had a lot of fun imagining what it would be like if something similar happened to us in 20 years.

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After we danced and partied at the reception, we said goodbye to the OC and spent the night in Long Beach. Sunday morning we went to church in the Long Beach 10th Ward, our congregation when Megan was a baby. Christopher didn’t think anyone would recognize us, but as soon as we walked in a huge 20-something guy approached us: “Brother Richins!” When we were in the ward–nine years ago–Christopher was the young men’s president, and this kid, Ryan, was just a kid, 13 maybe. In what seems like a flash, Ryan had grown up, gone on a mission (New York ASL, cool!), and was using his sign language as a special ed teacher. He introduced his wife, and asked about Megan. “She’s what, like eight now?” No, she’s TEN! And she has three little brothers!

After that trip down memory lane–seeing the Fakatous, Joneses, Gaileys, Ashcrafts–we drove around Long Beach. We stopped by our first place, a yellow duplex where Megan took her first steps and Gavin was conceived; our first home purchase, a disaster of a townhouse that taught us the first rule of real estate (location, location, location); and the Port of Long Beach to Sea Launch. While we were taking pictures of the ships, a security guard pulled up to see what we were up to, and Christopher was able to tell him all kinds of cool stuff about Sea Launch. The security guard was impressed. Christopher’s always sad he’ll never have a job as cool as that first one.

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At 11:30 we headed to Christopher’s Favorite Restaurant in the World, Neil’s Pasta and Seafood in San Pedro. They weren’t open until 4:30, but when we called they said, “Oh, you want lunch? Sure, come on in.” We walked in and got the entire restaurant to ourselves for an hour or so. Later a private party came in, but we still were alone in half the restaurant. We ate the best pasta and fish and salad and lentil soup and crusty bread and limoncello gelato in the world, until we visit Italy, and perhaps not even then.

After we rolled ourselves out of Neil’s we headed to the airport and hopped on our flight back home. Corey and Benny picked us up and everyone was in one piece when we got home, including Corey and Pam. They even offered to do it again, and they won’t have to twist my arm to take another trip. It was a magical three days. I like my husband and kids better, and I’m quite recharged. I won’t wait five years to do it again.



2 thoughts on “California

  1. Awesome! SOOO happy for you guys that you were able to get away and recharge … makes me think I need to figure out how to do the same thing with my husband 🙂 !!

    Salt Creek Beach – yes, we love that place, too!!

  2. I love this post! I’m so happy for people when they get away because man, it sure is needed. You guys look great. I love the jacket you are wearing at the temple. And I’m so impressed you got to eat at the restaurant even though they weren’t open!

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