Monday, June 17, 2013

The Trip of Sand and Legos

One of the many advantages of living in Arizona is that the school year ends in late May, which allows those of us with school-aged children to go on vacation prior to a vast portion of the country, for which the school year does not end until late June. (Of course, one of the many disadvantages of living in Arizona is that unlike most of the country, the school year starts up again in early August, leaving the youth of our state to sit at their desks in vast pools of their own sweat as the temperatures outside soar to 115-degrees. So maybe it’s a wash.)

In any event, we took advantage of our early vacation last week by going to San Diego. (Okay, technically we went to Carlsbad, which is about 20 miles north of San Diego, but unless you happen to be familiar with that portion of California, you would be confused if I said we went to Carlsbad, and might think I meant that we went to Carlsbad, New Mexico, which would be plausible since we live in Arizona, which is obviously adjacent to New Mexico, and Carlsbad Caverns is indeed a popular tourist site, but that’s not where we went and I didn’t want to confuse you, which is why I said we went to San Diego, even though we never really set foot in San Diego itself. Whew—I’m glad I got that off my chest.)

Clearly this travelogue is off to a terribly wordy start so from here on out I’m just going to give you pictures and captions.

I call this photo “Grapes and Croutons” because that’s what my four-year-old son decided to have for dinner on the night we arrived in Carlsbad. It was a very long day of driving to get from our house to the Motel 6 we stayed at on our first night, so we really weren’t going to make a big to-do about our son’s dinner choice. Besides, we were eating at Denny’s, so it’s not like we were offending the chef.


The following day, at The Armenian Café in downtown Carlsbad, the food choices were a bit saner. For lunch the boys dined on an open-faced grilled cheese on pita bread and seasoned French fries. As you can see from the euphoric looks on their faces they very much enjoyed their meals, despite the fact that they would both be hard-pressed to locate Armenia on a map.


After lunch we went to the beach. In the picture above we had just arrived at the beach and look happy and fresh-faced. About an hour later, after several encounters with unexpectedly aggressive waves, we looked more like extras from The Poseidon Adventure. No photos exist from that portion of the trip.


This is the lobby of the LEGOLAND Hotel, which opened for business about three months ago. For my sons of four and six, this place was more or less paradise. The Lego pit shown above was just one of the many things that made this place a walking fun machine. Get a load of the bathroom below…


And the super fantastic bunk beds…


And the overtly silly Lego-headed ice bucket…


And the snarky signage in the kids’ portion of the hotel suite.


Honestly, it was a blast, and was worth every penny of the relatively absurd asking price for a one night’s stay. Also there is no better place to prepare you for LEGOLAND itself, which is where we spent the next day.


Yes, we went to LEGOLAND, not Mount Rushmore. But we still got to see Mount Rushmore, albeit a version made out of something on the order of 180,000 Legos. “No way!” you say? Don’t believe that’s really made out of Legos? Well, take a gander at the more detailed close-up below and you will see that I josh you not.


Pretty impressive, huh? There are hundreds of these intricate sculptures throughout LEGOLAND. They are made by “Lego Master Builders,” which is a job title that I think would be way more entertaining to have on my business cards than “Director of Grants.” I’ll have to speak with my supervisor to see if she’s okay with me making that change.


The cool Lego creations only comprise a small portion of LEGOLAND. Most of the park consists of rides—lots and lots of rides. Pictured above are my wife and older son about to take off in a helicopter ride. If I wanted to be mean, I could have also included the picture I took about sixty seconds later when the helicopter was up in the air. In that picture my son still looks just as happy as in the first photo, but my wife looks like she just ate same very bad sushi. Clearly helicopter rides are not her thing.


A few hours later I took to the skies with my sons in this nifty little airplane ride. While I did not have the same visceral reaction that my wife did in her earlier copter jaunt, I’m pretty sure that it was during this ride that the sunburn on the back of my neck went from mild to crispy.


In between flights the kids took to the ground as they got to drive Lego cars on Lego racetracks. And yes, indeed, those are Lego pedestrians that my older son is driving by. Fortunately, he didn’t accidentally hit one of them and get slapped with a Lego lawsuit.

Of course we have hundreds of additional photos of this trip, but I don’t want this blog to turn into one of those painfully long slideshows of yesteryear, in which trapped guests would keep a fake smile affixed to their faces while all the while secretly wishing that someone would hit them over the head with a two by four and render them unconscious so they would no longer have to endure the incessant droning of their host. Suffice it to say it was a fun trip—one I’m sure my kids will be wishing they were back on when they’re sitting in a pool of their own sweat in August.