Who says you can’t have it all? Ok. Lots of people, and they’re right. But I know one family with a very skittish, sanitizing mother who managed to have a lovely mini-vacation during a pandemic.
Bart found two super cute and almost entirely private Airbnb’s near Temecula, CA, about an hour and a half drive from us. At the first one, we had a bungalow on property that had a farm animal rescue! They have a full-sized horse, two Shetland ponies, a 3-week-old Shetland pony foal, a llama, an alpaca (yes, those are different), two pigs, a goat, 4 chickens, 2 geese, and 5 ducks. There’s also a barn owl, a hawk and some crows that call the area around the farm, which used to be a huge avocado grove, home.
While the llama was not very friendly, it was awesome for pictures, as evidenced by above, and this one (which was cropped poorly but still cute):
The girls got to pet the animals over the fence on the day we arrived, then the next morning they got to enter the corral to pet them up close while they were being fed. They were ecstatic! Even when the foal decided Zoe’s dress looked like lunch:
The view of the rolling hills outside our bungalow was gorgeous. In fact, Zoe said, “Mom. That looks like a painting!” We saw a lot of pretty scenery (one example below), and I’ll share more fun animal pics from this first part of our adventure at the end of this post.
Bart’s favorite roadside visual was what he affectionately named (much to the girls’ chagrin) “Butt Crack Rock”:
You know you can see it. We’ll move on. For our first night of mini-vacay, we enjoyed socially-distanced outdoor seating at a small winery named Avensole, our second real meal “out” since March. The girls proudly wore yellow dresses I made with my own hands, and we had an absolutely delicious meal!
On the second day we headed to our second Airbnb, one with a pool, which hadn’t been available for our entire 3-night stay. This was when vacation REALLY started, in my opinion. On a lovely, serene property, we stayed in an actual tiny house, and it was fantastic! The owners were retired general contractors, who had built and landscaped the entire space, and to the girls’ delight, there were FOUR gentle, playful dogs on the property. Pool, Peace, Puppies (well, dogs, but that word didn’t work as well).
You’d think we’d be sick of being stuck with one another for so long, but there was something about a NEW place to be stuck in, one with well-laid out living arrangements, that was just plain fun. In the 2nd door under the doorstep above, a TV pulled out on a sliding “wall”. And the downstairs bed served as a sofa, until it pulled out from underneath the kitchen into a full-sized bed, amazing.
Though the bed was magical, we hadn’t thought of what it might be like for the girls to sleep together, which they haven’t done in a long time. Apparently Ella is a bed hog, so on night two, we constructed a pillow wall, which worked but ended up like this:
The first morning in our new spot, we went horseback riding! I was lucky enough to own a horse when I was younger, which lived on my grandparents farm, but it’s been a long time. Ella had only ridden ponies in a circle, and Zoe has been on a horse once. Bart, well, he’s capable of anything, but this ride was pretty much his nightmare.
First, he’s allergic to absolutely everything outdoors (and dust). As we started out on our dust-filled trail, surrounded by ragweed and every other nostril pollutant on a trail, I realized riding a horse may not have been his first choice (though it was his idea). Second, his horse was not the most manageable… Whiskey liked to eat the fresh poop dropped off by horses in front of her and did NOT like to be corrected about it. She’d literally stop on the trail and have to be coaxed to move past the poop. Ew.
On the other hand, Zoe and Ella had a blast!
After the one-hour ride (Achoo! says Bart), they got to feed carrots to the horses, and also to a miniature donkey. Seriously, this vacation was filled with animals. It was like Dr. Doolittle without the intrigue, thankfully, and as far as I know, none of these animals talked.
Back at our tiny house, the girls tirelessly threw sticks and balls for the dogs, who fell in love with them. Riley, the younger German Shepherd, even brought tiny sticks to us in the pool and dropped them over the edge for us to throw. In fact, Ella, who is normally afraid of large dogs, said, “I love Riley because he understands me. He knows I’m little so he’s very careful.”
Another fun activity at the tiny house? We got a personal performance of a song from Disney’s Descendants. There are 3 movies, and I think they know EVERY word to EVERY song… Here’s a snippet of one of those songs that one day they’ll kill me for putting up on YouTube:
Bart was working the lights from the top floor – it was even his idea. If I die and get to come back as a little kid, I want Bart for a dad. No joke.
For our final meal out, we had lunch at another winery, called Fazeli. I’ll stick with my original assessment: It just feels weird to eat out. But the grounds were pretty, and Ella was able to steal a tiny grape off one of the vines by the parking lot.
So ended our official mini-break. But the BEST part of Week 22 was on Wednesday when Zoe got her BRACES OFF!! Yes, she’s only 9 and has already worn braces for 18 months (which would have been fewer if not for this virus). No one was happier than Zoe to get those things off, though I was a close second. Check out this beautiful girl in her BEFORE and AFTER pictures:
That’s one happy little lady. Her orthodontist sent her home with a box full of sugar, popcorn and bubble gum. We had our own celebration on Wednesday night with kettle corn, which we all enjoyed. We spent the last two work days of last week catching up, though we did pull off a “Cowboy Dinner” theme on Friday night, complete with ribs, corn on the cob and biscuits, as we watched Toy Story 3 to see a “real cowboy”. The final week of Camp Kikiwaka did not go out without some fun!
This weekend it was H-O-T here in LA, so we spent Saturday around the house and inflated the pool, played with more LEGOs, and did a little sewing. On Sunday super early we headed to Descanso Gardens again. That membership has paid off tremendously, and we AGAIN had lots of new experiences. Since this post is SO full, maybe I’ll write about that separately, so you can enjoy more pictures from our stories above without confusing the details. The things I do for you (and me).
Hope you’re all safe and well – and stay that way! Next week: Back to (virtual) School!