Pismo Beach 2018

It looks like our Pismo trip is turning into an annual tradition which is fun, but also unfortunate since we're escaping the bad air due to fires. Last October, after several days of bad air quality due to the Napa and Sonoma fires, we left town and headed down to Pismo to visit Chip and Julie. We stayed at a great airbnb and had nice weather. This year, the Butte fire up north had already given us 6 days of bad air quality before we decided it was probably time to leave town again. The boys had not been outside for PE or recess for that whole time, we were bringing them right home from school to stay inside, and the same for Colette. For the first time, the air had crept into the purple -- really bad. Once they canceled the boys' school and all other SF school that for the next day (Friday), we started researching to get away. You either had to head to Tahoe (mid-50s) or as far as Pismo Beach (about the same distance but warmer) to get 'green'/good air. We explained to the boys that we're the lucky ones -- we weren't affected by the fire like all of those who lost their homes, and we have the  means to be able to book a last minute trip.

View of the Golden Gate Bridge from Crissy Field on Thursday in 'purple zone' air

We drove on Friday and the air was absolutely awful for the majority of our trip. Then we arrived around 2pm to clear, sunny skies and were finally able to be outside. We rented the same condo we did last year during the fires. We spent the afternoon at the beach and got a nice sunset, then headed to Chip and Julie's for pizza.

Saturday was another beach day -- it was really the only thing the kids wanted to do. In the afternoon we met up with Chip and Julie again and went to a winery 10 minutes from their house to sip on a bottle of rose while the kids kicked the soccer ball around and Coco sat at the table with us and played with a little lego house Simone had brought. As long as she has some little characters, she's happy!

We ran some errands on the way home -- the air wasn't looking any better in SF so had extended our stay until Monday so needed to pick up food. We grilled that night. There was a lot of back and forth with my family. My brother was already in the Bay Area with his family, and my sister was planning to come up with her family from LA but with the horrible air, we were all reconsidering.

On Sunday, we decided to take advantage of being so close to Santa Barbara (still 1.5 hours away but better than the 5+ hours from SF) and take the kids for a visit. We stopped off in the Danish town of Solvang and the kids loved that. There were quirky toy stores and great bakeries. We also go freshly made pretzels. Next we drive the 30 minutes more to SB. It was fun for me to drive around campus and see how things had changed. They just opened a new children's museum down there that I thought the kids would love but all they wanted to do was go to the beach so I found a spot, Shoreline Cafe, where we could eat on the beach. The food was good and the kids had a blast playing. After much back and forth, it was decided that my parents would come down with my brother and his kids (Elizabeth was still working) and their dogs. And my sister would also come Monday with her family. They booked hotels room and we were finally all set.

Monday morning we knew we had time before the others came, so we stopped at Avila Valley Barn, which we had last been to when the boys were 18 months old. Even at 5, they still loved feeding all the animals and running around the hay maze. They have an awesome bakery and produce market so we got some stuff, including two pies to have for dessert that night.

Next, we drove about 20 minutes to Morro Bay, stopped for lunch at an awesome taco shop (the scallop tacos were so good!) before checking out their beach. We had fun playing frisbee and the kids found friends who were exploring the tide pools.

We made it back to Pismo right as the others were arriving and after a quick quiet time, headed to the beach with all the cousins. So much fun! I love seeing everyone together. My sister's boys, while getting older and not super into family vacations at the moment, are always so great with my kids. Dave stayed behind and grilled up sausages for everyone for dinner. It was nice to have the space of the condo so we could host the 15 people.

We were lucky to get sunny mid-60s days. The kids even went in the ocean (though were very cold afterwards), but I was perfect in yoga pants and a tshirt.

We spent the morning at the beach, then went back for a short quiet time before heading over to my sister's hotel, the Lighthouse Suites to swim. That place is awesome and we'd definitely consider staying there for a shorter stay where we don't need a kitchen. They have affordable 2-bedroom 2-bath suites, a pool, it's right along a cliff so you can take walks overlooking the water and it has a super fun games area with a play structure, spinner, multiple ping pong tables, giant chess and connect-4 and badminton courts. The kids had a blast and then we headed back to the condo where Dave had made tacos for everyone. A fun night of hanging out again, playing games with the cousins. The air was still bad in SF, but rain was predicted for Wednesday so we were all checking out as planned. My sister would go back to LA and the rest of us would head up to the Bay Area.

Tuesday morning, Dave and I were busy getting everything cleaned up and out of the condo, then we headed over with everyone else to my sister's hotel for more swimming and playing until starting the drive home around noon.

The kids all had so much fun together and it was such a nice surprise extended family vacation that we're considering making it an annual tradition. Dave and I hosted, sort of last minute since my parents no longer wanted to host after being gone, a simple Thanksgiving. I missed the deadline for Whole Foods but luckily was able to get a cooked turkey from our favorite roasted turkey sandwich place. We all made some simple sides and had pies from Avila Valley Barn. It was low-key but perfect. Dave and I were exhausted after the busy trip and all the hosting but it was worth it, and he was a great sport about it.

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