No more California after this, I promise! We'll be back to normal life again. This is just a scattershot tour of the highlights from Long Beach. in no particular order. If nothing else, you get a few more cute photos of Toby to look at.
Long Beach is part of the greater Los Angeles sprawl, and while it might not be your first choice for a holiday destination, it has a pretty harbour area and a few good attractions (the Queen Mary
of course being one). We spent several days just pottering around and enjoying time in the sunshine.
|Outside the Convention Center|
|Strolling along the boardwalk|
|The harbour and downtown.|
|An inoperative lighthouse had a pleasant little park around it...|
|...perfect for fun and games!|
|Shhh, don't tell him you can put money in it!|
We drove to Huntingdon Beach one evening, where we were appalled to find that most of the car parks wanted $15 from us! Finally we found a meter to put a few quarters in, and were rewarded with a nice sunset.
|Sun setting over the palm trees at Huntingdon Beach|
|The beach baby look: sunglasses and dummy!|
On Sunday we met up with some friends who live close by in San Pedro. We joined them at their very friendly church, where we were greeted warmly and Toby, to our surprise, made a beeline for the nursery (probably thinking, "Finally! Some different toys!") After church we headed for a local park, where the adults enjoyed a cookout and the kids enjoyed the playground. Their little girl is almost exactly the same age as Toby, and they seemed to get on well in that strange toddler fashion of mostly ignoring each other.
Being locals, they were able to give us a few recommendations, one of which was for the Frosted Cupcakery in the Belmont Shore area. Graham and I went citrussy with lemon and key lime cupcakes, and we treated Toby to a chocolate "hi-hat" - kind of a mini cake and frosting sandwich.
|Belmont Shore has some pretty streets, too, and so many of the homes had flowering bushes outside.|
Another recommendation was the Aquarium of the Pacific. It's a great place, but let me further recommend that you don't
try and drag your very cranky toddler around it. Having said that, the penguins and rays were interesting enough to pull him out of cranky mode for a while, and we managed a pretty good tour before we hit complete meltdown. We were even honoured with a great view of the octopus, who normally hides in her cave all day. It was obvious something special was happening when all the employees were calling each other to come have a look!
|Graham and Toby by the ray tank|
|You can even touch them if you want!|
|Look at those suckers!|
|One of the tanks was floor to ceiling and had some great big fish.|
|Anything with a steering wheel is always a hit.|
|Fast asleep on the bus back to the Queen Mary.|
On our final evening in Long Beach we were out looking for a place to eat, and stumbled across Kavikas. The first attraction was a patio overlooking the marina, which we inexplicably had completely to ourselves. The second was the sign saying, "Free kids meals". This, we thought, has got to be worth a try. We were not wrong. Toby's food came on a plate almost as big as he is! He thought he was in chip heaven, and tucked in with gusto. Meanwhile we were wondering how big the adult portions were, if that was a child-size one! Fortunately they were quite manageable and just as delicious. Isn't it great when your lack of planning works out that well?
|Is it bad that Toby is a pro at dipping things into ketchup?|
Our trip home was mostly uneventful, at least until we picked up our car from the remote parking and somehow managed to set off down the wrong road. What was worse was that it took us a good ten minutes to realise it! Suffice to say that Hwy 183 - I820 - I35W is not
the direct route home from DFW airport, and our Texas friends can laugh as much as they want, but I bet they've done something similar at least once!