Family Vacation - April 2018

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Well this post is LOOONNGGG over-due but hey, it's FINALLY here! In April my family went on a cruise to Catalina Island and Ensenada Mexico. It was our first cruise ever and we will definitely be going on another one. They are seriously the best way to travel. We had a blast the entire vacation and it was soo good to have some quality time with the family. But enough chit-chat ... let's begin.

Barstow, California
On Saturday we got up early and headed towards California. Since it's such a long drive we got a hotel room in Barstow, California. It was neat to be able to stop there because I don't know if we ever would unless we were driving the route 66 all the way through. While in Barstow we did a little exploring and headed on over to the Railroad Museum. It was kinda fun to see some really old things and to look at the trains. 

After the museum we went back to our hotel room to go for a swim. BRR! It was WAY too cold in the pool. We didn't swim for very long ha ha. After swimming and cleaning up a little bit we all headed over to Popeye's to grab some food because we were STARVING! So of course since we were right there we HAD TO get a picture by the Barstow Route 66 sign.   

The next morning we were up bright and early to head on down to Long Beach to board our cruise ship! YAHOO! But - side note - if you ever stop in Barstow make sure to stay at the Best Western it was super nice and they even had towel animals! Isn't the elephant super cute?!

Long Beach
Aren't we a great looking group? Ha ha. After getting to long beach we met up with my brother and his wife and kiddo and headed down to port to board our ship. We were all super excited for the adventures of a lifetime that were only moments away.

Once we boarded the ship we had to wait a few hours before we could get into our rooms so we did some exploring to try and find our way around the ship. Mind you this was a small ship and we could still get lost .. so I don't want to know what a large ship is like. HA! It was so neat to be able to be on deck and see all the beautiful views from the ocean.

We were supposed to leave the dock at 5:00 pm but due to an incident we didn't leave until about 8:00 pm. But that was okay! And you sure could feel the ship in the dining room once we did start to move. Thankfully James and I didn't get sea sick. 

Catalina Island
We woke up again bright and early and headed up to eat some breakfast. But of course .. we had to run outside to see Catalina. WOW it is GORGEOUS! Absolutely breath taking. So we quickly ate breakfast and headed down to the other boat to take us into Catalina.

It was beautiful everywhere you looked. Even looking out and seeing all the fishing boats was breathtaking and pretty. I was in heaven taking as many pictures at possible. 

We even played on the beach for a little bit, but brr that ocean water sure is cold ha ha. But it was nice to feel the sand between our toes! 

After playing on the beach for a bit we headed up the road to grab some delicious pizza! If you're in Catalina ever I highly recommend this place it was super yummy. After eating we all split up, some went back to the cruise ship and some went exploring the island. James and I along with my parents rented a golf cart and took it around the island. Which is also something I would recommend doing if you're there!

The views from the top of the mountain on Catalina Island were breathtaking. So pretty to look over the top and to see the blue water with all the neat structures. 

 And ah.. there you have it our Carnival Cruise Ship! That was the bets place to get a picture for sure! And we totally lucked out because the weather was amazing. Not too hot and not too cold.

We ran into the Inn on Mount Ada (which is once of my nieces names) so my parents got their lovely picture in front of it. The inn was beautiful on the outside I can't even imagine what the inside looked like. I would LOVE to go back to Catalina Island again and stay there for a few days to explore even more closely. 

My mom and I couldn't get over how cute everything looked .. even the shopping center was adorable! Ha ha. But Catalina is super pricey on everything .. so I don't think I would ever be able to live there. If I was ever given the chance I would in a heart beat though. 

After a fun filled day in Catalina it was time to head back to our ship so we could go and do the activities they had on board and to eat some delicious dinner!

Carnival Cruise Ship
Back on the ship is was formal night for dinner. So we all got cleaned up and dressed up and headed up to dinner. We were a little early so Chloe and I decided to sit down and watch the water as we headed away from beautiful Catalina Island.

The nice thing about cruise ships is you have an assigned table that never changes! So we knew right were to go to eat. We LOVED our waiters & waitress. They were so kind and funny. And formal night was the most fun night. They sang songs and we even had a dance party. 

Oh and did I mention the food was to die for! Every night it was delicious and I was able to try a ton of new foods. It was a good time to venture out on the food. Needless to say we never went hungry.

And of course ..the cruise ship also did adorable towel animal friends to let us know that they had been in the room for turn-down service and to clean. Every night was a different animal! Talk about fun and a lot of talent.

Ensenada, Mexico 
The next morning we woke up in Ensenada. We had a fun filled day ahead of us. While waiting for our tour guide who was AMAZING we explored a little on our own and found a little play ground. The kiddos sure were excited and had so much fun playing.

After playing for a bit we met up with our tour guide who told us the history of Ensenada and also filled us in with some secrets on our way to the blow hole. 

The blow hole was super cool to see! It is loud though when that water crashes against the rocks. But it was very pretty and we lucked out to be there when someone else was so we could get this super cute family picture. 

The views from on top of the blow hole were very pretty. There is something beautiful in the way the water hits the rocks. Again I was in heaven taking pictures.

I mean look how beautiful everything is! Again we had the perfect weather not too cold and not too hot. Which made the scenery even better.

By the blow hole they have an AMAZING shopping experience. It was so cool to see everything that has been hand crafted. And yes .. we did pick up A LOT of goodies. We couldn't resist and we didn't know if we'd ever have the chance again.

After exploring all day and into the night it was time to head back to the ship. Which was sad because it meant our cruise was coming to and end and when we woke up we were back in Long Beach. But it ended up being okay because we were headed to our next fun location.

Hollywood, California
After leaving the ship we headed over to the La Brea Tar Pits. Which I don't recommend. Super expensive and not that cool. I would recommend just walking around and not going into the museum. In my opinion. But it worked out we had another family photo moment.

After the tar pits we walked over to the Farmers Market and the Grove (where they shoot the finale of dancing with the stars. ha ha!) We ate some lunch and explored a little. Of course we had to stop by the candy store which smells heavenly .. and we got some gummy candy. YUM, I'm craving some now. I think I need to go back to California. 

The Farmers Market was fun because it had a little bit of everything! I wish I lived closer because I would of gone home with some flowers for sure.

After the farmers market and the grove we headed to the Hollywood Walk of Fame because it had been forever since I had been there and James and never been there.

Unfortunately it was bad timing on our part because everything was shut down as they were getting ready for the Avengers movie premiere. So we weren't able to see the Chinese theater or many of the stars on the walk. So our time there wasn't very long at all. 

But that was okay because then we headed to our hotel! Where we relaxed, ate dinner and went for a nice swim. It was fun and a good way to get ready for the big day ahead of us.

Universal Studios, Hollywood
Ahhh, we finally made it to Universal studios to see Harry Potter and of course for my niece to ride the Jurassic Park ride. She LOVES dinosaurs and was so excited for this moment.

But first things first .. we had to stop and grab our wands from Olivanders. Which that was a super fun experience and thing to do.

Then it was off to do the studio lot tour. Which is always a blast. It was especially fun this time because James had never been to Universal Studios before!

It's so fun to see all the cars from movies that have been filmed there! The Flintstones were some of my favorite ones.

And of course James and I were pretty excited to see the town where The Good Place is filmed! AND they were there filming! But we didn't see them. BUMMER. 

After the tour it was finally time to hit up the Jurassic Park ride. Little Miss was super excited! And we got pretty wet at the end of the drop. She got lucky enough that she got to go twice because someone was kind enough to give us fast passes which we used for this ride just for her. Well worth it for sure!

And don't let the placement of this picture fool you .. I think we had about three butterbeers because they are that good. We got the frozen ones which are AMAZING. Yum. Seriously .. I need to go back to California. 

On our way out of the park we ran into my old friend Hello Kitty. Yes, I know it's someone dressed up as her ... or is it really the little girl who plays her? Either way I fan girled. Because it's Hello Kitty! Obviously. 

Are day was long and we were tired and ready to go back to the hotel. We did have to prep for our long journey home.

But of course we had a blast at Universal Studios and we will be returning again hopefully soon. I need about five more butterbeers.

On our way out we stopped by VooDoo Doughnut. We then went back to the hotel and had a doughnut party and tried a little piece of each one. Then it was off to bed. 

I'm so grateful we were able to go on this trip and make the memories that we did. It was a blast and I hope we're able to do more family trips like this in the near future. I love spending time with family and making memories. Especially on vacation to new adventures. Thanks mom and dad for the fun Christmas present!