I love Monterey. LOVE it! I totally miss being there, spending time with family, eating yummy food at Asilomar (their chef is awesome), the cool weather and the sound of the waves. That's probably the only place in California where I would really love to live. But until I have a few million laying around to get a house there, I'll have to settle for visiting :)
This is probably going to be our last reunion in Monterey for a while, so I took tons of pictures. I'm going to miss going there so much!
A big group of us met at Phil's Fish Market in Moss Landing before going over for afternoon check-in at Asilomar.
Phil is famous for his cioppino (which is what Ryan always gets) - he actually beat Bobby Flay in a throwdown. Of course, most of us who went actually don't like seafood. lol. Their fried artichoke hearts were awesome, though.
After check-in, we gathered in our lodge and hung out along the benches as the family rolled in. My cousin Natalie and her husband Jon brought their new baby, Ethan. He's a miracle baby... both in the story of his birth and the fact that he was potty trained at 4 weeks. lol. We didn't believe that was possible, but proof was provided. We're all expecting big things from Ethan ;)
During our family gathering on the first night, we gave family reports and we all had to come up with a recognizable song to play on our one-note seashell pipes. That was challenging. Then, since it was Eraleigh's actual birthday, the entire family sang "Happy Birthday" to her. As you can see, she hates being the center of attention.
On Saturday morning, we decided to head into Monterey to see Fisherman's Wharf. A bunch of us carpooled over there and were excited to see TONS of harbour seals sunning themselves. It was so cool! But boy did they stink.
We shopped and got caramel corn and other goodies... Nicole and I also found some fun blown glass seahorse ornaments to add to our eclectic Christmas tree ornament collections.
After lunch came the family volleyball tournament. It was a bit smaller this year since we had groups trying to go to the aquarium before some of the family had to leave before our day out on Monday... as usual, Mom got funky things for everyone. This year we had to wear jungle hats while playing. The prize for the winning team was Pop Rocks, but they didn't want to wait and broke into the stash.
I was a zebra.
And then they played. The most beautiful volleyball court ever!
That night after dinner was our traditional White Elephant Gift Exchange. This is usually a crap-shoot. You can get something really cool or something totally funny. I think the Windmill Mole Chaser sets were at the top of the list this year.
There were a few things that got fought over... an iron wood road runner carving, an air gun, a cheetah print snuggie... Mom brought this hysterical clown face kit that Kim's fiance Brian ended up with (until Aunt Pam stole it... lol).
Sunday morning a few of us got up early for a nature walk... we went out through the Asilomar sand dunes to the beach where we walked along looking for tidepools and admiring all of the gorgeous plants.
On this walk, I went with my Aunt Annette, my Aunt Annie and my Uncle Tommy.
After breakfast, we had a family testimony meeting. And here's Eraleigh, being cute while everyone was gathering.
Then we took family photos (because taking pictures immediately after an emotional testimony meeting is always a good idea. lol). I'll have to get the big group shot from Uncle Merrill, but here's us with Grandma Kimball.
And Nicole showing off the baby belly...
From lunch until dinner, we worked on tying a quilt for Kim and Brian's wedding gift (just a few more weeks!) and working on scrapbooking. Each family made up the reunion scrapbook kit that I had put together and then I brought tons of supplies with me so everyone could work on scrapbook pages for our present to grandma for her birthday. We made an A to Z scrapbook where we had at least one layout for every letter of the alphabet, including each person, family and lots of other fun topics. It was like running a marathon! We managed to get an enormous album completed in one afternoon. Whew! I didn't take pictures, but Brian snapped a few.
I snapped a picture of the view walking down to dinner that night... Asilomar is just a gorgeous place to stay!
This post is already too long... but let's finish it off!
Monday morning, Rick, Erin, Eraleigh, Mason and I went to the aquarium. I always love going there, and Eraleigh loves fishies so I thought it would be fun. Aside from 2-year old tantrums at regular intervals, it was great.
Eraleigh was enchanted with the tropical fish tank (this is where Nemo and Dory live, after all).
And I love the jellyfish. This picture turned out pretty good, if I say so myself.
And Rick and Erin in a giant clam. Because that's always fun.
After the aquarium, we ate a late lunch in the car and then drove back to drop off the wee one. We picked up a different group and headed back to Monterey to go to Cannery Row... Ghiradelli and shopping! Woohoo!
Nicole and my cousin Kris at Ghiradelli. Their sundaes are ridiculously over-priced, but oh so delicious.
After ice cream, we went to our favorite shop, Treasures of Monterey. Nicole and I both indulged. We decided it was time to get back for dinner and to get ready for Grandma's birthday party. We all wrote her a note in a card in addition to the scrapbook. Even Eraleigh wrote a card!
At the birthday party, mom and her brothers and sisters each told memories and stories about grandma, which I think was really fun for all of us. Then we had a talent show. My cousin Anna's kids Meryl Rose and Kimball did a duet of a song that Kimball composed... the lyrics were really cool! We have such a talented family.
We also had singing, fantastic piano numbers and the Allen Kimball family performed a primary song (Pioneer Children) with these whack tube things. I think they're supposed to be used on the floor, but they used each others' heads. It was hilarious. And Rick and Erin swing danced (and Eraleigh and Mason joined in).
We presented Grandma with her scrapbook and the cards from everyone... I think she really loved it and will pour over it!
Tuesday morning before we left, we took another nature walk and Mason came (he wants to be a marine biologist). We found some fun stuff... starfish, little sea urchins, crabs and more. It was cool.
After breakfast, everyone got packed up and started to take off... always my least favorite part. But as Dr. Seuss says, "don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." And I smile every time I see these pictures... especially this one. "Bye Genny!" (that's what she calls me... well, when she isn't calling me 'Colie. lol :)
So that's it! A little while later I had lunch with Tommy and Annette and then took off to drive home. I ended up staying the night in Wells, Nevada before heading back to hot and hazy Utah. But it was wonderful and I can't wait to see everyone next time.
I uploaded most of my pictures to an album here for anyone who wants to see more photos... especially lots of photos of Adorable-Niece-Eraleigh!