At the end of January thru the beginning of February, Tommy and I embarked on a week of visits and travel.

On the 25th, we flew to Oakland and spent the night with Mom & Dad. Then we flew down to Burbank on Saturday morning to spend the weekend with Jackie for her birthday. The original plan was to fly directly to LA on Thursday night, but SLC airport was closed for an entire day thanks to an icy runway so it messed with our flight plans. Apparently it’s difficult to take-off and land safely when the runway is covered in black ice!

Saturday afternoon Jackie treated us to a delicious lunch at Fusion Burgers. Jackie had their chili burger. I had a few bites and it was really delicious. And I’m not really a fan of chili burgers. Mine was the Sir Porks a Lot. It was a pork patty with some bacon and a delicious remolade. Even Tommy’s basic cheeseburger was delicious; very tender beef with a lot of melty cheese. I need to bring Bill to this place!

On Sunday, Jackie, Tommy and I drove down to Long Beach to spend the morning with a few friends at the Aquarium of the Pacific. It was a gorgeous day and we had a wonderful time. Jessica, Albert and Colin were able to be there along with Francesca, Elias and her newest love, Sophia.

Snacking on some popcorn while we wait for the sea lion and seal show to start.

We explored the aquarium for a while and then had a nice lunch across the street at Bubba Gump.

Sunday evening, Jackie, Tommy and I hit up the La Estrella taco truck that is walking distance from her apartment and had some amazing tacos. Tommy loved his carnitas tacos (sans onions or salsa). The meat was very tender and flavorful. I had some tacos al pastor that were delicious. This is definitely something we always eat when we’re in California.

Mmmmm, tacos!

After dinner she and Tommy made some brownies. Once they were cool enough to eat, we did the candles and singing thing.

Happy birthday Jackie!

Monday morning we hit the road and met Cari, Nathan and their friend, Charles at Disneyland. This was Jackie’s birthday present from us.

We first visited Disney’s California Adventure theme park so the boys could visit Cars Land. This was my first time visiting the mouse’s second theme park and I really loved it. Cars Land was amazing with its details. We all took photos with Mater and rode a fun tractor ride. Tommy was just about an inch too short to ride on the fun racing ride. In a few months I’m sure he’ll be tall enough.

I think these are supposed to be hats!

There you go!

After Cars Land we rode all of the fun kiddie rides at A Bug’s Land including a cute train and the slowest bumper cars I’ve ever ridden.

I love Cari’s photo bomb!

After we ate lunch I stayed with the boys while Jackie, Cari and Charles rode California Screamin’ (a roller coaster that I will likely never ride).

We stood in line and took photos with Buzz Lightyear.

And then rode on King Triton’s Carousel. Both boys rode on a different kind of fish.

We explored the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. It had a lot of rope bridges to climb and we had a blast letting the boys run around with Jackie.

The rope bridges were a little scary for Tommy… possibly because his feet could fit through the holes and I suspect he has a little fear of heights. When I snapped these photos, he was shouting up at me, “Mommy! It’s a little scary. But I’m fighting my fear!” I think Auntie Jackie was feeding him positive affirmations.

Nathan is helping Jackie out.

Oops!! I almost fell over laughing when Jackie got stuck!

The boys racing.

We walked over to Disneyland and enjoyed exploring. We rode the Buzz Lightyear ride and the Finding Nemo submarine ride. Tommy and Nathan loved both of them.

Everyone took turns wearing different kinds of ears.

And we got some really wonderful photos with Goofy.

I know it’s expensive to visit these parks, but it’s amazing to me how much FUN it is to be there with little kids who absolutely love the characters.

Passed out in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. Nathan ended up taking a nap in Jackie’s arms.

On Tuesday morning, Cari, Nathan, Tommy and I boarded Amtrak’s Coast Starlight train at the stop in Simi Valley (SIM) and spent the day riding to Oakland (OKJ).

Cari and I were originally planning to just rent a car for this trip, but taking the train was SO much less expensive than a one-way car rental. Both boys were excited to get to ride such a big train.

We had reserved seats and, while it took ten times longer to get there than just flying, it was fun. The boys were free to stand up and play and they didn’t have to stay in their seats like they would if we were flying or even driving. They spent time looking out the windows, playing with toys that we brought and watching videos on the iPad.

Tommy took a decent nap in the afternoon and Nathan was able to chill playing with his Leapster while Tommy napped. When they got bored we walked to the observation car and played for a bit. We ate both lunch and dinner in the dining car. The food was expensive, but it was nice to get a change of scenery for the boys.

The trip between Santa Barbara and Paso Robles was stunning as it went along the coast.

As the train headed inland a bit, we had a beautiful sunset over the hills.

Somewhere between Gilroy and San Jose, the boys were just about done with being on the train. Around that time a little girl the same age, named Emily, came over to play. She brought some of her toys and the three of them kept each other occupied for a bit.

An uncomfortable squeeze from the observation car.

We got into Oakland’s Jack London Square station just after 9:30 PM where Mom picked us up. Since Newark is pretty equidistant between San Jose and Oakland, I think we’ll get off the train in San Jose next time to make the trip a little bit shorter. For the four of us, the cost of our tickets was $168. If we do this again, we will probably only do one meal in the dining car to cut costs a bit. We would either purchase from the snack car or bring our own lunch or dinner.

All in all it was a fun trip and both Cari and I agreed we would do it again… even with the boys. If the train had had wifi, it would have been even better.

On Wednesday, the four of us hit the road after many, many thanks to Bill’s mom for letting us borrow her car. We headed up to Roseville to spend a couple of days with a fellow mama. She graciously opened her home to the group of us and we spent Wednesday and Thursday night with her and her family.

Her oldest son, Logan is a couple of weeks younger than Nathan. All three boys had fun playing and learning just how hard the whole concept of sharing is.

On Thursday, another fellow mama drive up from Fairfield with her twin boys who had just turned one. Another mama who lives in the vicinity of Roseville came by too with her 14 month old daughter. All of us played for a while and then headed to a local park to let the kids run around.

On Friday we played for a little while and then packed up the car to head back to my mom’s house for the night. Dad treated us to Thai food and the boys crashed for the night.

Saturday morning, Mom drove us to the airport and we flew to SLC together. Cari’s mom lives a couple of hours south of us and was waiting for us at the airport. We all had lunch together and went our separate ways. Cari and Nathan headed down to her mom’s house and visited for a few days and Tommy and I headed home. Later in the week, we drove down to play at Nathan’s grandma’s house for one night too.

Cari and I both enjoyed hanging out together, but it was quite apparent that Tommy and Nathan needed some time apart. After nearly a whole week they were getting very easily irritated with each other… and it was only amplified if one or both of them was hungry or tired. Thankfully, both Cari and I thought it was pretty funny. Maybe we can call it a taste of what things could be like when the boys are introduced to siblings one day.

It was whirlwind of a trip and Tommy and I were happy to be home. Now I want to see where else we can go on Amtrak!


About wobetxela

Artist, mom, traveler, hiker, babywearer (for as long as they'll let me) and hobbyist photographer.
This entry was posted in California, Travel and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. jandsschultz says:

    Amtrak to Chicago, then on to Indy?  Or we could meet you in Chicago.  Tommy would get to sleep on the train.  

  2. jackietebow says:

    It was an awesome birthday….thanks for hanging out with me. 

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