Cartoons and German Pancakes

Back up to Santa Barbara for a fun filled family weekend, we hopped on “The Five” Friday at Noon just hoping to make it as far as possible before we hit traffic.  It was BEAUTIFUL outside and so with the surfboards hanging out the back, we rolled the windows down, listened to some good music and were on our way.

We didn’t hit traffic for two hours and then for the next hour and half we sat patiently and maneuvered our way with the masses.  It was hot out, so we stuck our arms out like little kids flying the car in hopes to get a little sun!

We made it to Carpinteria (my Aunt and Uncle’s house) in time to take a walk to the beach and play a little frisbee with the waves crashing against the nearby rocks. We were close to a campsite, filled with Airstreams, tent campers, children riding bikes and the smell of hot dogs on the grill.  I felt like we had gone back in time 50 years into a quaint little sleepy beach town. It was the beginning to the perfect weekend.  We strolled back to the house to hear Jimmy Buffet playing on the radio, a little guacamole on the table and some football in the front yard.  The air was warm and we were comfortable in shorts, not yet needing a sweatshirt, we listened as the crickets played their music.   Inside, we enjoyed homemade fish tacos and talked about what was in store for the weekend ahead.

After dinner we walked into downtown Carp for the local “first Friday” festivities.

We settled into a local brewery and  sat outside to chat, seeing friends at nearby tables and checking in on what others did for their spring break, it’s the small town you dream about living in.

We crash in our beds, exhausted from the fulfilling day and excited for the next.

In the morning, I hear the Flintstones playing in the living room and come out to chill on the couch and take a trip down memory lane back to my childhood, while my uncle made German pancakes, another childhood favorite, for breakfast.  I could get used to this.

Not getting in nearly enough time with my family, but knowing we are coming back the next day, we head off to El Captain State Beach to spend time with more family.  This time, James’ side.  It’s his cousin, Rob’s, 50th birthday and we are delighted to get to take part in the festive occasion!

A few clouds in the sky and the tiniest bit of sprinkles  are not going to put a damper on the day.  We pick out a spot for our tent and as we are setting up, we are greeted by more family arriving at the campground.  Brother, sisters, cousins, grandparents, little babies, nieces and nephews, friends, old and new, all there to celebrate!

We take a walk down to the beach to see the waves and admire the flowers on the way.

The guys eye the perfect surf spot and head back to camp to pull on their wetsuits and grab their surfboards.  Back at the rocky beach, I sit and watch, cheering on the guys in hopes for them to catch a great ride. It’s not long before they tire out from the cold water and come back in.

Back at the campsite, people walk from one site to the next and visit with those they haven’t seen for awhile, happy to be reunited.

Soon enough, tables are delivered and we pitch in to help set up, people come back from their walks and dry off from their showers, lights are going up in the trees and colorful tablecloths dress the tables.

The food arrives from the caterer as noses turn to catch the yummy smells of Indian Food.

We all sit around the table, checking out old pictures of Rob from back in the day, a total California surfer dude and listen to toasts from family and friends as they celebrate their memories of Rob!

James and I enjoy this rare glimpse into the lives of our families who for so long where on the other side of the country from us.

As the night falls, the crowd migrates to their tents or to the campfire to roast marshmallows for their S’mores.  And who doesn’t love a good S’more?

Excuse me for a moment while I digress.  I must say, I’ve done my fair share of camping.  Hiking in or just car camping and have gone through some lousy camping pads.  Just the last time we were camping, I had to wake up TWICE to blow up my mattress pad.  Before this trip, I knew I had to get a better pad if I was going to be any sort of nice the next day.  I read reviews and went to REI to do some self-testing.  I even grabbed nearby items to put under the pad as though they were rocks or sticks.  I finally settled on the REI Camp Bed 2.5 Self-Inflating Pad.  Okay, so back to the night at the campground, my husband had forgotten his trusty Therm-a-Rest and borrowed my cousin’s air mattress.  (The kind you use in your house when guests come over and is probably way more comfy than a camp pad.)  We got the tent set up and I eyed his bed, jealous of the cozy bed he had in store, but also excited to get on my new camp pad.  Of course, I tested his out before settling in on my little REI Camp Pad, which I thought would be a mistake, but mine felt just as soft!  I sometimes sleep on my side and was worried my hips would dig into the ground.  It never happened. I slept great!  I was so excited in the morning that I had slept so well and that air never seeped out.  I was ready for a new day!  And ready for another camping trip!

Back to Sunday morning, we got up and started packing away what was dry.  Rob was on the grill already making blueberry pancakes for all of  the campers in our group.  Mimosas, strawberries, bacon and blueberry pancakes, I’ll camp with this crowd anytime!  The crowd gradually dwindled and soon enough we had said our goodbyes and were pulling away as well.

Back down to Carpinteria, we say quick hellos before we make plans to spend the day at the beach.  The next thing you know, we are pulling together bags of food, towels, toys and wetsuits and throwing paddleboards onto the roof of the perfect beach car, the Landcruiser.

We pile in, drive a few blocks and are at the beach, unloading the car.

We pull on wetsuits, James and Caden throw the football, Cameron and Craig hop on boogie boards and Kiki and I grab a paddleboard and try to get out through the waves.

We decide it’s easier to just take out one board so she paddles and I enjoy the conversation and relax sitting on the front of the board.    We come back in to warm up and dry off.  The guys pulled together an impromptu touch football game with friends and stragglers from the beach and we girls are off to the side chatting in between rounds of paddleball.

It really is the perfect lazy Sunday at the beach.

We all come back together and relax on the beach blanket.

Kiki and Cameron go out for a paddleboard excursion, but this time, the waves are too big to get through.  Kiki finally makes it through and Cameron watches as dolphins lead the way.

The sun begins to set and we soak in the final moments of it before piling back in the car and heading back for a quick shower and a warm dinner.

I love this pictures.  The camera was zoomed in and I didn’t realize it, but I love how it turned out.

We shared another great meal before my cousins got ready for bed, brushed and flossed their teeth and put on their jammies with the feet in the bottom.   The weekend with my cousins was reminiscent of the days you have when you’re a kid, when your only care in the world is what outfit you are going to wear to school, what game you want to play next and if your bed is made.  No worries of what to cook for dinner, if the bills are paid or if there’s enough toilet paper under the sink.   Just Cartoons and German Pancakes.

James and I had a truly AMAZING weekend.  I can try as hard as I can to show you the pictures and paint images in your head with words, but it was the feeling we had of spending time with our families, who for so long, we called the “California D’s” or the “California S’s”.  Families who we saw once a year because we lived on opposite sides of the country.  Families with whom we shared a last name, several Christmases but not nearly enough memories.  Families we are now learning more about and celebrating their birthdays or just a casual day at the beach.   We are truly thankful for the opportunity to create these amazing heartfelt memories.