by Lisa

We decided to drive to San Diego so my husband could attend ComicCon, and once we figured out that it was too late to reserve a camping spot halfway down, we decided to stop in Solvang.  For us, if it’s a toss up between a tent and a great deal on a hotel with an excellent restaurant and spa, we’ll take the hotel any day.

We left at 5 AM. That’s right, before dawn, because 1) we wanted to be in Solvang for breakfast and 2) Ella gets carsick, so we figured the more hours asleep in the car, the better.  I had a bag packed with boxed milk, strawberries, and bagels to tide us over until breakfast.  Of course, the kids were so excited that once we were in the car there was No Chance in H— of Sleep.   To combat Ella’s carsickness, I gave her Seabands, which proved miraculous. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a pair for Finn, and about halfway into the trip he moaned, and turned green, and threw up.  So that was the end of the food on that leg of the journey.  He eventually slept, and we did, in fact, arrive in Solvang in time for breakfast at Paula’s Pancakes. I was basically underwhelmed by the restuarant, but the kids quickly got over the sleep deprivation and Finn bounced back from the queasiness, and they loved this place. They both ate impossibly huge stacks (adult servings, actually) of pancakes and blueberries…



which kept them fueled for the rest of a really fun day visiting the Hans Christian Anderson Museum (ok, not their most favorite part of the trip):


riding a bicycle surrey with  fringe on top(really!):


and taking funny pictures of windmills and other such Germanic-Scandanavian things:


We tried to think about eating ebelskiver, and fudge, and ice cream, which everyone around us seemed to be enjoying, but we had no appetite for anything after all those pancakes, not a single one of us.

That evening, we had a really lovely meal at the Hadsten House, which I enjoyed all the more after a terrific massage/body treatment, and then it was on to San Diego.  The kids ate breakfast at the hotel, which made me quite nervous, naturally, but we got Finn a pair of Seabands at the local CVS, and they worked miraculously for him, too. No carsickness for either child for the rest of the trip, which left them free to munch on the granola bars, plums, and piles of pistachios I had packed.  Yes, the car was a mess, but they were happy & not too junk filled.  On the way home, we ate lunch at In ‘N Out burger, the one fast food we allow ourselves, and for which we all, admittedly,  have great weakness.

The trip was not supposed to be about food, but it was about me not having to cook for nearly a week (which was an excellent vacation in itself, mind you).  I was wary of theme park food (which was only truly horrible on one occasion), and I had brought cereal, milk, juice, fruit, bread, peanut butter and jelly, and snack crackers for our hotel room, which proved a really efficient and economical way to deal with breakfast and the occasional lunch.   The food at San Diego Zoo was more than tolerable, at SeaWorld was abysmal (and you can’t bring a lunch in), and we avoided the crowds and junk at Disneyland by making reservations for 2 sit down meals (Blue Bayou and Big Thunder Ranch BBQ, both of which were pricey, but we found worth it for the decent quality food and the down time both places afforded us).

For most of the rest of the trip we visited with beluga whales & dolphins:



where the kids (& I) were truly smitten at the Shamu show:


enjoyed very cute pandas who really did eat bamboo:



met various Superheros & other denizens of the 2 & 3-D world:




consorted with fairies in Pixie Hollow:



rode rides with abandon (including every roller coaster at Disney & Space Mountain (twice), with both kids, and no, for some inexplicable reason, Seabands were not necessary…):


and just generally enjoyed watching Finn vanquish Darth Vader (which video I can only link to for size restrictions, but below is a preview…):


But we did have a few absolutely memorable family food experiences, which will be chronicled here in the coming days, including two excellent local San Diego spots, the kids’ first exposure to truly fine dining, and then the antidote to fine dining:  room service.