As we headed south down I-5, our beachgoer in the back seat had on her typical car face, which is a frown underneath a binky, and a mi-mi (purple hippo blankie) up her nose. On this joyous occasion of our first family roadtrip I wanted her to have a happier face, so I turned on the doot-doot song, followed by a series of Caspar Babypants tunes I’d gathered as part of my pre-trip to-do list. She smiled and asked for us to play the familiar songs again. I obliged.
Just before 11 am we spotted a big outlet mall with lots of restaurants. We must’ve been about 20 minutes south of Olympia. We feared we might be heading into a stretch of nowhere, so we decided to stop, pretty much right on schedule. We chose Subway so I could get Sonja her favorite lunch – chicken noodle soup. Did you know that Subway discontinues their soup in the summer? Neither did I. The kid’s meal was too complex for our picky eater so we got her a plain ham sandwich on wheat bread. She started by eating just the ham and then some bread, and surprised us by finishing with actual bites of the sandwich. I’d gotten her to eat a few bites of a peanut butter sandwich before, but I definitely consider this good progress.
We took our time eating and about an hour later we pressed on. I left the Caspar Babypants on until she fell asleep, which was less than twenty minutes later, again right on schedule. She slept for a little over an hour, which is far short of her typical two-hour nap, but I expected this. I have a theory that during her regular naps, she awakens and stirs halfway through. I think when she’s napping in the car she realizes during this midpoint that she is not in her crib, then must figure out what’s going on. She finally started to get restless near Astoria, so there we stopped, outside of a maritime museum, just long enough to let her stretch her legs. She was reluctant to get back in the car, but remained calm the rest of the journey, which was maybe a half an hour.
We arrived at the hotel around 3 and though check-in time is not until 4, they let us in. You could tell Sonja was happy to be out of the car as she excitedly explored the new room. She started a game with me where she would close the bathroom door then open it and tell me to come in. Once I was inside she would shut then reopen the door, say “see you soon!” and shove me out.
We decided our first stop should be the beach. It would be the perfect pre-dinner activity. Sonja seemed perplexed by the sand underneath her feet at first, but took to it quickly. The three of us walked towards the water, the harsh cold wind whipping our fine hair every which way. Shaun and I had forgotten our jackets but fortunately I had remembered Sonja’s. Unfortunately, it was polka dotted and she was wearing plaid bermuda shorts. When we reached the wet sand we stopped and built sand castles, teeth chattering, me silently berating myself. (How does a Northwesterner forget a coat when going to the Pacific ocean? How? Idiot.) I had hoped to take her down towards the water and let her get her feet wet, but it was simply too cold for that. She was quite enamored of a kite someone was flying, and was nearly bonked in the head when she went to explore and it came crashing down. We spent maybe 30 minutes at the beach, and that was the only time during the trip we went to the beach.
Next up was dinner. Shaun found a nearby pub with good online reviews that was family-friendly so we gave it try. The one other time we had been to Seaside, we found almost nothing remarkable to eat. The place had good for greasy food, but it was still just greasy food.
After dinner we hit the Seaside mall for a spin on the carousel. I doubt Sonja remembered the one other carousel ride she took last summer, but she was sure she wanted to go on this ride. She was also sure she did not want to ride on a horse, so we sat on the bench. I think this was the highlight of the trip for her. Trying to get her off the ride when it stopped was a bit of a struggle, but we didn’t make a scene.
After this we did a bit of shopping and wound up with some wooden magnetic letters, a pinwheel and a tea set. Probably stuff I could have found in a specialty toy store at home, but hey, we were already there and there was Oregon, where they don’t charge a crippling 9.4% tax on everything you buy. We very nearly came home with a round stuffed panda Sonja found when I was shopping for a sweatshirt. Oh how she giggled in delight at this soft, silly panda. It was all I could do to keep from plunking down the ridiculous amount of $25.oo. Instead I distracted her and Shaun put it back, and we walked out of the store, panda almost certainly instantly forgotten – by her, at least.
It was nearly 8 pm now so it was time to call it a night. I had thought previously about how strange it would be to have to halt everything at 8 and essentially turn in. It was strange, even though there have only been a handful of times since she was born that I have been out of the house past 8.
Back at the hotel we gave her a bedtime snack and some warm milk, let her watch a cartoon and I read her two bedtime stories. Even after all that, she fought us a little bit on sleep. I turned off all the lights, leaving only the glow from Shaun’s laptop. I left the room – an essential step in our sleep routine – and got myself ready for bed in the bathroom. She was still awake when I came back and complained some more. When both Shaun and I got in bed, quietly reading by the light of our electronics, she finally went to sleep. This was around 9:30. Shaun was out by 10, me 10:30. I can’t even remember the last time that happened. I was tired though and I slept fairly well, which is usually not the case when I am on vacation. It was a good thing, for the next day would require my full energy.