Catch up with Part I here.
The Dana on Mission Bay was amazing. I checked in with the front desk, and we drove through the gated entrance and parked near what looked like a rainforest. Palm trees everywhere, and I listened for the sound of tropical parrots and expected to duck for toucans.
I thought to myself, is this real life? The room was cozy, refreshing, and spotless. They even gave us a welcome bag for the pups.
The balcony overlooked a mecca of sailboats, and we felt so happy to see this much water after being landlocked for a while.
We unpacked and went to check the place out. There was a poolside bar, hot tub, and events going on daily. I guess we had never "resorted" much, so this was pretty mind-boggling to us. I mosied over to the list of events and saw there was a poolside BBQ, kid-friendly poolside movie, and many other fun things to do without ever having to start up the car.
Insert wavy vision, and my mind started imagining us living here at this resort for more than a few weeks. We'd order room service breakfast every day and spend our days by the pool, sipping mojitos and watching Olin splash in the shallow end. I snapped back to reality and realized we were here for "work" and would make the absolute best of the next two days.
We threw on our guest robes and bopped down to the hot tub. And in case you're wondering, No we did not put Olin in the boiling jet water. Collin and I had been fantasizing about basking in a hot tub for a few weeks at this point and were determined to make it happen. We decided to take turns, the ole parent switchamaroo! We had gotten used to this via biking and hiking sessions- one waits with the kiddo while the other temporarily indulges. He eased into the hot fizzing water with one other guest already soaking on the opposite side. The man studied our family with a half-smile as if anticipating what our next move would be. I sat on the lawn chair with Olin under a night lamp, as the sun was almost completely down. Collin said, "Come on, she'll be fine in the chair." I laughed, knowing that as soon as I got into the steamy water that she'd be running around the concrete tempting her fate at falling into the pool. "I'll wait my turn," I said with a crack-like stare eyeing down the hot tub. "No, really, come on," he said. Fine, I thought, we'll see how this goes. I sat along the edge of the hot tub and dipped my feet in up to my knees. "Come all the way in," Collin persuaded. I momentarily debated if it was worth the toddler screams that would ensue if I were to leave Olin on the edge of the hot tub without an invite to join us. I took a deep breath and plunged waist-deep into the hot, steaming water. It felt wonderful, relaxing. Olin sat on the towel, and I held her hand as I sat with my back to a rushing jet. "Ahhhh, this is nice," I told Collin. "See? She's fine," he said. She had the look, though. I know that look better than I know the taste of mac & cheese. Why aren't you letting me in that hot tub with you and Dad? I imagined her almost two-year-old brain thinking. She started with a low squeal and teasing us like she would plop into the hot water. Collin smiled, and I couldn't help but crack up at the situation. We had done this to ourselves more times than we could count (the worst was the time we took her to a silent city council meeting and forgot the snacks at home mid-row, with no escape on either side). The man sitting across from us asked where we were from, and we struck up a conversation to distract him from Olin's nearing tantrum. We embraced a few more minutes of soaking in the hot water, then Collin said he was going to take Olin for a swim in the heated pool. I took in a couple more minutes, wished the man a good vacation, and followed my family over to the pool. The stars were out, and Olin was giggling as her Dad pulled her back and forth in the warm water. We were all enjoying our time at the Dana.
We woke up feeling rejuvenated and headed back to Ocean Beach. I introduced myself to a few Red Bull hosts and was stoked to see where the day would lead covering this event.
On the return from Big Bear Resort, the bus dropped me off with a few new friends at the University of California San Diego parking lot. They gave me a ride to meet Collin where he was parked a few miles away near the library. It was bad news.
As he had pulled into the parking lot, the timing belt had went AWOL.
Along with what Collin discovered as two missing belts, the harmonic balancer came loose on the crankshaft. We were S.O.L. I saw a familiar panic arise in his face that was present most of the summer we lived in the van. I felt an immense pressure of guilt that I had put my family in this situation. We were stranded at a college campus in SoCal with no idea what to do next.
A very sweet friend I had made on the Switchboard trip offered me a ride to an O'Reilly's Autoparts. Collin called in all the parts we needed, and they were available for pick-up. I came back with belts, but at the time that wasn't enough to fix the Subie.
We retreated back to the Dana via Uber. It took three Uber drivers before one finally let us all in for a ride- two adults, 1 baby, 2 dogs- CHECK. We were feeling less excited about all the resort amenities and didn't speak. We Googled mobile mechanics, but everything was closed, as it was almost 10:00 PM. It was a sleepless night to say the least.
The next morning, we got up at 7:00 AM and anticipated the mobile mechanics to open at 8:00 AM. Collin called a few regular mechanics, but they were closed for the weekend and would not return until the following day when we were scheduled to be halfway back to New Mexico.
$250 bucks and an Uber ride later, Collin was on the way home in the Subaru. A mobile mechanic had saved her, temporarily, and given us the okay to make the 15 hour drive home. We were relieved to be back on the road and celebrated with California burritos.
The burritos were worth the drive alone. Fresh avocado, zesty steak, grilled chicken, and rice all tightly wrapped into a wad of heaven. We hung along the sidewalks of OB and ate our burritos as the dogs sniffed every person that walked by.
It was time to go home.
And then this happened... See Part III.
Dogs & Diapers