I love traditions. I cling to the ones given to me by my family, I start my own, and I'm happy to adopt the traditions of others. I'm just a traditional gal. So when I came up with the idea of going to San Diego again for our anniversary, who was going to say that making it into a tradition wasn't a good thing? It was brilliant!!
This year, we stayed at the Dana on Mission Bay. Not quite as ritzy as last year's hotel, but a whole lot cheaper. We stayed two nights instead of one, so it was a fair trade. On our drive to San Diego, we fed the kids dinner in Yuma, but we saved our appetites for after we dropped them off at Grandma and Grandpa's house so we could have a dinner date at one of my favorite restaurants in San Diego... El Torito! We even splurged on fried ice cream. Then we headed to our hotel to look for a blanket so we could take a stroll down by the water. Somehow this Arizona girl can't seem to remember that it gets cool at night in San Diego all year long, so I've had to buy a lot of coats during our trips. I hoped the kids could make do... oops. Anyway, we thought it might look suspicious if we just hauled a giant blanket out of our hotel room, so we tried to stuff it into a backpack. As we were both struggling to force it in, I told Russ I knew a trick for cramming things into bags. He said, "Get a bag that is bigger than the thing you're trying to stuff into it?" Hehe. I'm sure we didn't look suspicious at all with an abnormally overstuffed backpack! We took a little late night walk by the bay, sat on a bench...
Next day, we headed over to the resort we stayed at last year to have a late breakfast because we knew we could sit outside by the water and the food was so yum!
It was a beautiful day with hardly a cloud in the sky, and we counted ourselves lucky to have two years in a row with perfect weather for sailing. There's something peaceful about gliding across the water under the power of the wind... well, at least in concept. I love the sound of the sails getting caught by the wind, the fluttering of the sail in the gentle breeze, and the water lapping at the hull... even the little splashes onto the front deck. Peaceful, right?
I had my expensive camera because I couldn't find my small one before we left, so I was totally nervous whenever we tilted suddenly (well, there's also the psychological damage from the catamaran ride with Uncle Stan when I was a kid that I have to contend with). Russ said, "You know this can't tip over, right? It's designed to turn into the wind if it leans over too far." Right. Sounds great. "Want a demonstration?" No thanks, I'm good. Not one minute later, the side was far enough down into the water for us to take on water. I headed for higher ground while Russ loosened the line to the main sail, and we averted disaster. I couldn't help but say, "You weren't so sure about that tipping over thing just then, were you?" He had to admit he thought we might go in the drink, his new iPhone and everything. Next year, I think I'll invest in a waterproof camera!! The $50 fee to be rescued would have sucked, too.
We had lots of fun anyway, cruising back and forth across the bay for an hour.
When it was time to head back, Captain Russ was cool and collected... he came straight into the dock with perfect form, nice and slow, right into an open spot. The problem? Last time, a dude from the rental company came out to catch our boat and help us off. No dude in sight. "What's the plan, Captain Russ?" He didn't say anything, just stood up and walked confidently to the front of the boat. I thought he had it... I really did. As he stepped off, Newton's Law took over and pushed the boat back out toward the sea without a line connected to the captain on the dock. What is a brave captain to do? Rescue his crew by grabbing at the jib and getting pulled into the water!! I was laughing so hard and snapping pictures while the guys next to us on the dock tried to pull the captain out of the water. Fat lotta help I was!!
He couldn't laugh about it for a good two hours. Meanwhile, I was saying that if I ever forget that moment, he should have me checked for Alzheimer's. Despite the close call and the docking incident, we both agreed that was the best part of the weekend. We had so much fun out there, and we made some great (and hilarious) memories!
After the boat, we had an afternoon to fill and decided to take the ferry over to Coronado Island.
We walked around, crossed right through someone's quinceanera footage, and ended up on the beach. Even though no one else was down there, we decided we could walk in front of the sea wall since it was low tide and make it to the other side. We did, but not without having to try to avoid worms, slimy moss, and other unidentifiable gross things. On the other side, we just sat on the rocks and enjoyed the view. Russ was impressed by the kite surfer.
Since we had a late breakfast and were planning a nice dinner, we decided we could have some ice cream as our lunch without ruining our appetites. We stopped by Cold Stone Creamery and ordered a Love It to share... we decided to combine each of our favorites, so we ended up with cookie dough, chocolate, caramel, and Reese's PB cups in vanilla ice cream. We both realized that the combination was better than our favorites alone... kinda like when you combine Russ and Stacey. Awwwww...
When we got back to downtown San Diego, we walked down to Seaport Village to pick up little souvenirs for the girls. Shells, of course! Then it was back to our car so we could head to La Jolla for our traditional dinner spot... Forever Fondue. Last year we got there early and were practically alone in the restaurant, so we weren't prepared for the dinner crowd and had to wait an hour to get in. No, there weren't a lot of people waiting, but there is a reason it's called forever fondue... it takes a long time to eat a fondue meal! We sat out on the patio for an entertaining round of people watching, and when we finally got seated it was nice to slow the pace down and ask each other hypothetical questions over dinner.
And to wonder why Russ' straw seemed to be moving under supernatural powers.
Even though it was late and sprinkling a little bit here and there, we just had to take our traditional walk on La Jolla Shores... the beach where we fell in love. Of course, we had our handy dandy hotel blanket in the back seat for warmth. After walking down a ways and back, we climbed onto the lifeguard tower. When we were dating, we did that once. We had a candle then, and the manual for the marriage preparation course. I guess it worked since we are still together! We wrapped up tight in that blanket and watched the surf roll in. It was dark, and I couldn't take a picture because some things are only meant for the human eye to see. Dark, heavy clouds pressing low in the sky with a few scattered breaks that let a couple stars shine through. White lines of surf materializing from the dark abyss and forever rolling forward, row after row, to bathe the shore in suds and glistening starlight. The pale orange glow of fires in the periphery and the hollow sound of distant voices... people having fun. I sat and took it all in...
We missed Mt. Soledad, but traditions don't have to be exactly the same... they should be a little new every time. Next year, we'll return, but for now it was enough to be there in that place. It will always be our place... the place where the story of "us" begins.
I'm waxing awfully poetic. Today is the actual day of our anniversary... twelve years. Twelve challenging, surprising, chaotic, wonderful, loving, rewarding years of marriage. I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes just thinking about how much we've been through. Every challenge has proven to strengthen our bond, our resolve, and our commitment to each other. I am thankful to be in a fulfilling marriage with a man who treats me right. I love that we can laugh together because we "get" each other, that we have shared hopes and dreams, that we are united in our family's cause, and that we support one another through it all. There is no one who knows me better than he does. Every face I put on when I go out into the world, every layer I use to cover my imperfections, every defense I put up to protect my heart... they are all stripped away when I come back home to him because I know I can trust him with even the most delicate pieces of my soul. He loves me for me. That's it. Warts and all. There's no price you can put on the safe feeling you get from someone who loves you at your very core.
All right, cue the barf bags. I gave you a warning in the title, so it's your own fault if you had to endure that. It was good to put that out in words, so that was for my benefit, y'all... if all y'all didn't bail already. Hehe.
This morning, we met back up with Russ' parents, the kids, and Russ' brother, Ian, and his family for a nice brunch and a short visit. Then we packed up and headed for home. The girls loved their shells, which they called "shell phones."
Happy 12th birthday, Johnston Family!!