Day three of our trip was a very special day, because it was someone’s birthday! Flash*, our second born, woke up a five year old! We had to celebrate with his absolute favorite kind of breakfast…
I actually refrained from having donuts and ate something even more delicious – a chorizo breakfast burrito. Seriously heavenly. After eating it was time to head out to our next destination. A little mountain town called Julian. The birthday boy was excited to go mining, but first we had a little bit of a drive.
I really love this particular drive because of these things:
The giant windmills are one of my favorite parts about driving through this area of San Diego County. They are so amazingly huge, and look striking next to a clear blue sky. They move so slowly, yet are so powerful. They’re pretty magnificent in person.
Messy* took some time away from his donut to admire the windmills.
When we got to our destination we were greeted by this lovely sign. Ooops!
The kids were super disappointed at first, but we looked up their website and saw that they would be opening soon, we just had a little bit of time to kill. We drove around and found a neat little spot to have a picnic lunch.
The boys went on a little hike while I nursed the baby, and when they were done I set up their lunch. We had PB&J again – shocker! Seriously, we eat a lot of PB&J on road trips because it’s cheap, easy to make, and everyone will eat it. There is no sense in spending a lot on meals while traveling. We don’t like to eat fast food, and when we do eat out somewhere, we like to go somewhere we can’t go when at home, so it might cost a bit more.
Once we were done eating and got everyone and everything back into the car, it was just about time for the Julian Mining Company to finally be open. To say the kids were excited is an understatement. We purchased a bucket of ore to sift through, then an employee took us over to where we would be sluicing for our treasures. After a quick lesson, we got started.
The small sized bucket of ore was about $26 and had plenty of gems in it for both boys to share. They each ended up with a pretty sizable collection of really cool gems.
This was such a perfect activity for boys who love all things dirt-related. They couldn’t keep their hands out of the murky water, and each new gem was an exciting discovery.
We couldn’t resist getting our little troublemaker something just for himself, since the gem mining was more of a family activity. He picked something special in the general store (gift shop) and was quite proud of his new toy. It may have been a bad idea idea, but we just can’t resist those eyelashes.
We got out of there after that, before he could do any damage with his new weapon.
This was our last planned stop, so my husband thought we should head home since we were only a couple of hours away. But we still had quite a bit of cash left, and I wasn’t really ready to go home yet anyway. We had been to the desert, and on a mountain, and there was only one logical place left for us to head to.
I found us a sweet hotel room at the Howard Johnson in Carlsbad, right down the street from the water. We were a bit of a ways away, so we had to drive through a winding canyon. There were a few cool sights a long the way. We stopped and picked up some fresh eggs for our cooler because I couldn’t resist a fresh eggs drive-thru booth.
We also happened upon some hot air balloons floating by, which was a really beautiful sight to see.
The scenery got even better when we got to our next stop. After a couple of days in the desert you almost forget how beautiful the beach is.
We checked into our hotel room, and it was the first one that offered a free crib. We were so happy to finally have our toddler contained for a night! It’s not easy to keep a busy toddler from getting into trouble in a hotel room.
With Messy contained and the rest of us settled in, we decided against going out for dinner, and opted for something a little easier. I hopped onto Yelp and found a pizza place nearby with $5 carryout pizzas. They had rave reviews so we decided to try it out, and we were glad we did. We paired it with some drinks from our cooler and had a lovely little family dinner in the room.
After dinner we got nice and cozy in our beds and most of us fell right asleep. It was so nice not to have to wrestle a toddler to bed, and it was early enough that we would get good night’s sleep. Something we hadn’t really had yet on our trip!
Even Squeak* liked the hotel bed. I’m pretty sure I made the same face too, once my head hit the pillow.
*Names have been changed – mostly just for fun.
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A Spontaneous $600 Family Road Trip – Part Four