Our California Adventure
The subtle vibrations of Matt’s alarm were enough to entice me out of bed Monday morning without a fight. The neon red clock read 2:45 am as we fumbled around in the dark, attempting to keep Cyrus asleep as long as humanly possible. The car was already loaded with most of our luggage, and at the very last minute, I carefully scooped up my sleeping toddler and fastened him in his car seat to head to the airport. I guess he could sense the excitement because his groggy eyes opened and didn’t close again until we had nearly reached our destination. This should be interesting, I thought to myself and prayed desperately for a smooth trek.
Cyrus did surprisingly well the first leg of the trip. It wasn’t until we were exiting the plane before our two-hour layover when Cyrus launched and subsequently lost his only pacifier. If you are a parent, you understand the ramifications of that statement. We managed to survive the next few hours with only a few meltdowns on record. And after a twelve hour travel day, we finally reached our Long Beach destination with three hours to kill before we could check into our Airbnb.
Three o’clock eventually rolled around and we pulled up to a cute, ocean-blue beach house a mile off the coast. Ready to veg for the next few hours, we opened the door into an uncomfortably warm living room. I scanned the walls for a vent only to realize there was no AC. I headed to the bedrooms upstairs to be hit with air ten degrees warmer. Apparently, there was a discrepancy between the information on the phone app and the website, which normally wouldn’t be a huge deal, but California has been experiencing record-breaking heat. Completely exhausted and frazzled, we reluctantly decided to stay the first night but requested a refund for the rest of our trip. We were eventually and unenthusiastically reimbursed and all three of us were forced to spend the night on the couch in the living room downstairs (after Cyrus’s baby monitor indicated the upstairs temperature was 89 degrees that evening).
After a restless night, we woke up to overcast skies but were determined to remain optimistic. We scored a deal on a room at the Hilton near Disneyland and checked out. As we were loading up our car to drive off, a woman in uniform walked by and slipped a $50 parking ticket in our windshield. We fought frustration, holding back some unkind words and spent the next hour on the sleepy beach just down the road. I undecidedly kept telling myself that God would redeem our trip. We had four hours to kill before our hotel check-in so we decided to drive a few miles south to Huntington Beach Pier.
That is when I felt the shift. The sun broke through the fog and I could feel the air fill back up in my lungs. The rest of our trip was filled with ice cream cones, sandy feet, a quaint diner on the pier, a luxury hotel and two days spent at the happiest place on earth.
You would have no idea just by looking at the pictures, but I wanted to share the not-so-great moments, as well, because maybe you can relate. We love to travel, but with our modest income, we don’t get those chances as often as we’d like, which is why every moment of this trip mattered so much. On Monday night, I was ready to turn back around and come home. But I knew if I let Him, God would do something to surprise me. Waiting with Cyrus to get on the Dumbo ride in Fantasyland, I was reminded that God is a God of redemption, not perfection. Life is never as perfect as the online world would have you believe, but it also carries with it a continuous hope of renewal and second chances. At some point, we had to make the decision to stop collecting bad experiences and start looking for the silver linings. Eventually, we were graced with a cloudless sky and the blessings became much more easy to find.