(October 15 – 18, 2017) Wow, what an amazing time we had here! It’s such a shame that the anchorage has a 72-hour limit (which we saw enforced during our stay there), because this is easily a one-week stop. Our trip was made all the more fabulous by my Aunt Cindy and Uncle Dana, who spent the three days we were there graciously playing tour guide. We loved seeing them, and can’t thank them enough for their time!
Our personal tour started off with dinner at Oceana Coastal Kitchen, a fabulous restaurant at the Catamaran Resort & Spa. After a week of disappointing fare on Catalina Island, a terrible Mexican restaurant in Ventura, it had been nearly a month since we’d found a good restaurant. But, our tour guides did not disappoint. From sushi to salads to southwest to mac ‘n cheese, it was all completely delicious. We walked the mile or so back to Aunt Cindy and Uncle Dana’s apartment along the beach, and from there we hopped in the car and drove back to the anchorage at Mariners Basin.
The next day was beach day. We were excited, even though we didn’t quite know what to expect. The girls hadn’t played in real surf yet, and had never gone boogie boarding. We didn’t know whether they were strong enough swimmers for the surf, or if they’d even be brave enough to try. But after breakfast, we packed up our beach gear, including our awesome beach tent, and headed to shore. We locked up our dinghy on the dinghy rail on shore, and met Aunt Cindy and Uncle Dana for a ride to the beach.
We were one of the first groups out on the beach when we arrived and set up camp. Beach chairs, beach tent, beach blanket, check. Then we encouraged the girls to try boogie boarding. They were hesitant at first, so I told them to put their life jackets on (because I was hesitant to let them out there in the surf alone). They were more comfortable with their life jackets and Uncle Dana’s help, and with those two security blankets, and their boogie boards, they headed into the water.
What followed was a six-hour boogie boarding extravaganza. They absolutely loved riding the surf into the beach, and picked it up within the first 30 minutes with veteran surfer Uncle Dana’s help. It wasn’t long before they ditched their life jackets for more freedom. Around noon, I walked down to the sandwich shop down the street and brought back an assortment of sandwiches for our group to share. We managed to get the girls out of the water long enough for, oh, maybe three bites, before they tore back into the surf. For six hours, they ran out into the waves, rode them in, picked up their boards, and ran back out again.
As the afternoon grew late, the girls were getting tired, but showing no signs of stopping, and the adults were getting ready for dinner. So, we coaxed the girls out of the water, packed up our things, and went back to the apartment. The girls had fun playing in the bathtub while the adults treated themselves to happy hour, and then we parked the girls in front of a movie so they get a few minutes’ rest before dinner. When the girls had partially recovered, we piled in the car and headed out to Old Town for some excellent Mexican food. Uncle Dana treated the girls to their first Horchata. After we’d had more than our fill, we took a stroll through Old Town, where Aunt Cindy and Uncle Dana treated us all to some fresh-made churros. My favorite! As we strolled along the streets on the other side of Old Town, we passed restaurant after restaurant with friendly señoras making tortillas by the sidewalk. Ellie and I stopped to watch, and one of the women offered Ellie a ball of dough, motioning her to flatten it. Ellie was too shy to try, so the woman cooked it up for her and gave it to her. It was warm and soft, and Ellie and I shared it on the ride home.
The next morning, we got a car tour of town, and its various neighborhoods. We drove back through Old Town, and then over to and through Balboa Park. We were going to stop, but parking was tight, and we were getting hungry. So, we drove through some of the neighborhoods Aunt Cindy and Uncle Dana wanted to buy homes in. In one of them, we found a great little cafe for lunch, complete with a small library for the kids to browse while they waited for their food. Morgan found a Nancy Drew book, and we didn’t hear a peep out of her for at least 15 minutes. After lunch, we walked to the library and playground across the street, and stretched our legs before getting back in the car. We circled back around to Mission Beach and the apartment, and spent another afternoon boogie boarding on the beach.
By the time we got the girls out of the water, the sun was starting to get low. We headed back to the apartment again, and again the girls were excited for a bath. They needed help washing their hair, and they wouldn’t let me near them – only Aunt Cindy was authorized to help. She was fabulous, and treated the girls like her own grandkids, and by the end of the three days the girls absolutely adored her and Uncle Dana. While the girls bathed, Rich and Uncle Dana walked to pick up pizza and sangria. We enjoyed a fun pizza dinner, and relaxed in the apartment until well past bedtime. With contentedly tired girls and parents, we climbed back in the car to head back to our dinghy. Our fun, fabulous, family-filled whirlwind in Mission Bay was over. We were so sad to leave, but Aunt Cindy and Uncle Dana probably needed the break! Our 72 hours of permitted anchorage time in Mariner’s Basin would be up in the morning, and it would be time to make the final leg of our U.S. trip, to San Diego.