Off To A Great Start!

This post will be written in real-time but published post-trip. There are lots of details to help you feel immersed in every part. Get ready to experience this trip with me!

All packed and ready to go! Tickets have been booked. Reservations have been made for lodging. Rental car has been reserved. It seems everything is in order after the house has been checked and plants have been watered. The arrival of the taxi marks the beginning of our first family flight to California. Sunny skies, here we come!

The first few minutes were quite contrary to the title of this post, as things were not at all off to a great start. I hope the end of this taxi ride will put my worries at ease about the success of the rest of the trip.

At the airport

We made it through security with a breeeeeze. Check-in, luggage check, and on through security was a no-brainer. We quickly made it to a convenience store before boarding First Priority. We strapped in for an anticipated long trip and flew nonstop to LA, California. We sat in the middle seats because the plane is large. We thought the coast was clear regarding the middle seat in front of our middles seats just before a lady and her crying infant strolled by. I felt bad for her more than anything else as a fellow “retired-infant-mother.” Picture this….the baby is crying hysterically, the mom is apologizing profusely and the plane is super hot because we are parked at the gate and delayed for almost an hour with absolutely no air conditioning.

Eventually, all things calmed down. We all pitched in and fanned the baby while the mother sorted herself. The mother and baby moved to a more spacious area thanks to a friendly flyer who offered her seat. Once we began moving, the temperature started to cool. And then we were off! Only 5 more hours to go.

Shot on iPhone | Kaptured By Keni Photography | July 2021
This is a shot I captured while riding shotgun from the airport to Marina Del Rey, CA.

Universal Studios California

It’s the next day, and we decided to have a family outing at Universal Studios. Can I just say the landscape and terrain of this place are unlike anything I’ve seen? As we climbed the mountains and weaved through the valleys, I snapped a few photos of the drive. Once we arrived at the park, we paid for premium parking and made our way to the park entrance.

There were so many things to see. From Hogwarts to Springfield and all things in between, there was no shortage of fun attractions and rides. We first went to Krustyland for a kid-friendly simulation ride. The Simpson’s Ride was by far my family’s favorite. Next, we were caught in a battle of the bots while the Decepticons and Autobots went head-to-head over the possession of the AllSpark as we rode the 3D & 4D ride Transformers: The Ride-3D. Then, we took a stroll to Jurassic World to see some live dinosaurs and took a ride on Jurassic World – The Ride. Thankfully we made it out alive without getting eaten by the ferocious Indominus Rex.

As our tummies began to alert us of hunger, we stopped for a bite to eat at Jurassic Café. I split a massive chicken sandwich with my mother and had an adult beverage. We continued our journey and made a stop at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but my little one was too small for the ride he wanted, so we trekked on for more accessible adventures. Soon we stumbled upon Despicable Me Minion Meyhem and underwent a procedure to turn into a minion. Unfortunately, the experiment failed once we were accidentally turned back into humans.

After such a long day of fun and adventure, we made a final stop at Super Silly Fun Land and let the little guy play at the most wonderful miniature waterpark I’ve ever seen. After about 40 minutes, we packed up and headed back for a much-needed night of rest.

Beach Day

With the start of a new work week, Monday morning was a bit slower. Later in the afternoon, my mother and I took the little one over to Playa Del Mar. We wished the weather was less cold, but we still had a great time with the partly cloudy weather. After the beach, we drove around the area and picked up food in a little all-in-one shopping center on Washington Ave. (I snagged something special for myself to relax before bedtime. When in Rome?).

Sleeping and Shopping

There wasn’t much planned for today. I wanted to go sightseeing and take a nice drive, but somehow the day got away from me. Where do I start? The plan was to eat a bit of breakfast then take my mother and son for that drive after she finished with work. Unfortunately, every time she seemed like she was wrapping up it turned into more work than expected. I wasn’t too bent up about it since I expected that might happen.

The big trouble revolved around my son and his not-so-acceptable behavior. Have you ever heard of kids who have an emotional day when they whine, cry, and complain the entire day? Yup, we had that kind of day. Nothing was good enough for him and he refused to take a nap at an appropriate time. That led to me accidentally falling asleep after he finally went down. I awoke to him playing on my face trying to wake me up. Instead of a fun outing, we drove to Westfield Culver Mall and did some light shopping before retiring for the night.

Los Angeles Natural History Museum and Shopping

This day will not be wasted if it’s the last thing I do! My mother made homemade shrimp and grits her way. It’s made with a (secret recipe….you didn’t think I’d tell you, did you?). She multitasked between work and making breakfast so that she’d be ready to go when she finished working. As we were on our way to the museum, we decided to stop at the mall again so that I could purchase her the sneakers she has been waiting for since two Christmases ago. In my defense, she didn’t find what she wanted until today.

“When mom like the sneakers, you buy her the sneakers”

Finally, we made it to the Los Angeles Natural History museum. We are all so excited! There will be dinosaur bones, gems and minerals, birds, animals from North America and Africa, butterflies, and a rose garden. I don’t think we will make it to Griffith Park today so we can save that for tomorrow.

Standing in this super long line at Zara makes me remember why I sometimes despise shopping. I know it sounds terrible, but I typically wait to shop with my mother or wait for her to do it for me (Did I mention she has exquisite taste?). I’m so hungry, but I have so many beautiful pieces of clothing in my arms to get out of line. I wonder where we may want to eat. The Promenade on 3rd Street in Santa Monica is nicely lined with shops and eateries. Ninety dollars bought me a few great things to add to my wardrobe and a belly ready to consume something edible and delicious. I’m getting tired and it’s getting late, so we will head back after this and get ready for bed.

Last Day

Last night, we got food before we left after shopping. I purchased chicken and waffles from a cool place called Bruxie Fried Chicken and Waffles. So good! We also got a pretty good salad bowl from Bibibop Asian Grill. Lastly, we picked up some adult beverages to go from another from Cult before heading back to our rental to enjoy it all.

Today, we went to Raging Waters Water Park in San Dimas. I hate to knock it, but I grew up going to Water Country Water Park in Williamsburg, VA, so I’m a bit spoiled when it comes to water and theme parks. Nonetheless, my kid had fun, so all is well. Afterward, we went back to The Promenade and had a repeat dinner from last night. Of course, we did a little more shopping too. Tomorrow we jet-set back home on a United Airlines flight bright and early.


The alarm went off at 6:15 am with a cloudy overcast blocking the sun. Upon reflection, I was a bit saddened that I wasn’t able to do ALL the things I had in mind. That just means I’ll need to book another trip back to explore even more! We are going to pack the rental car and start our trips back home.

We just returned the car and are on a shuttle bus to the airport. Check-in was a breeze. We had a bit of luggage to check on account of all the shopping. Next time I’ll be sure to shop early and ship my items home to reduce the number of things I’ll have to fly with me.

I stopped and picked up some food since the flight is nonstop. We’re at our gate and ready to board with the first group. I just kissed and hugged my mother goodbye while she goes to the next gate over for her flight leaving an hour after mine. Man, this is gonna be a long flight with a five-year-old.

Home Sweet Home

We have just landed and are waiting to deplane. We had a wonderful flight with an amazing pilot who navigated through multiple storms and safely rerouted us along the way. After retrieving our luggage, we quickly caught an Uber home and settled down.

I must say, this was a beautiful trip and I can’t wait to revisit to create more memories!

I really enjoyed sharing my trip with you all. I hope you had time to read until the end. I’d love to hear about your family trips this summer so keep me posted!

If you enjoyed this post, please like it and follow it so I may continue providing intriguing, thoughtful topics.

Published by Keni Dobbs

I'm an entrepreneur who loves to capture the essence of my surroundings. Whether it be events or real estate, painting with light is the perfect medium to provide the best visual experience. I invite you to take this journey with me as I navigate the world of photography in an effort to grow and expand Kaptured by Keni Photography.

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