Day 2 (January 7, 2017 – Carlsbad, California): “Testing Tahia”
It was about 6:30am when we woke up. Julie was already up making a healthier breakfast than what was on offer downstairs. I guess now that we were really watching what we were eating, this was becoming pretty customary.
After the healthy stuff was being prepared, we then went downstairs where it wasn’t as busy as we would have thought. They had an omelette bar, which we promptly took advantage of, but they also had a three-small-pancake maker as well as a waffle maker. There was no nutella though and instead, they had syrupped strawberries and whipped cream.
The rest of the brekkie was the standard fare of ham, scrambled eggs, cereal, oatmeal, potatos, and some fruits. We had a hard time getting Tahia to stop paying attention to the TV (seemed like any excuse not to eat was her MO and it pissed off Julie to no end). So we kept telling her that the longer it took for her to do what she was supposed to do, the less time she would have to visit Legoland after the hike to Cedar Creek Falls today.
The omelettes took about a half-hour to make (despite it not being so busy), so that was something we kept in mind for tomorrow. Anyways, by about 8:25am, we were finally in the car and heading east on the Hwy 78 towards Escondido and ultimately towards Ramona.
The drive went by pretty smoothly until we got to Escondido where we then had to follow some 99 cent truck. The guy in front of me was going slow and denied us the chance to get past this truck in the first place. It wasn’t until the truck finally pulled over somewhere well into the drive towards Ramona that the traffic was finally moving again. I guess legally when there were more than 5 vehicles in line behind the slow driver, the slow driver fronting the pack was obligated to pull over and let people pass.
Eventually at 9:35am, we finally made it to the Cedar Creek Falls trailhead on the Ramona side. Unlike the last time Julie and I were here, this time we intended to do this trail the same way as everyone else was doing it. The previous two times we were doing this trail, we took the less developed trailhead from the Julian side.
There were already a lot of cars parked at the trailhead so we had to backtrack towards the suburban community to parallel park alongside the residential street. When we finally started hiking at 9:50am, we noticed that there was nobody manning the permit station. This time there wasn’t that lady in the RV watching the trailhead. We wondered if they’d check for permits on the way out.
The hike down towards the San Diego River Gorge was scenic as expected. I had a taste of this when I hiked part of this trail before it started to get dark, forcing me to turn back. Now, we were pretty much doing this trail like everybody else. And indeed, this was a pretty busy trail as there were lots of people heading back out as well as others who passed us and continued their descent towards Cedar Creek Falls.
Tahia was getting cocky as she thought this was a pretty easy hike. In fact, she always cut in front of Julie as she wanted to be the group leader. Little did she realize (as much as we tried to tell her) that going down was the easy part. Coming back up would be the harder part.
Throughout the hike, we were looking at the signs marking our progress every quarter-mile or so. Even though we were going downhill, it felt long, which was probably why we knew it wasn’t going to be easy going back up. Still, despite the hazy sunny weather, the temperatures were mild (in the 70s) and it was pretty comfortable hiking weather.
During the hike, we got the usual pleasant reactions (especially from the women) who saw Tahia doing the hike and greeting everyone that was passing by. One lady was asking Tahia if she liked “this” (i.e. the hiking) though she was a little on the shy side to answer. Actually, Julie noticed that people seemed to be friendlier on this hike as we would exchange greetings with perfect strangers throughout. I guess that was noticeably missing on our more local hikes in the LA area perhaps because of how crowded each waterfall tended to be.
We could see up ahead that there was the side trail ascending high up over the San Diego River Gorge, and we knew that was the trail leading to the Eagle Peak trailhead near Julian. It felt weird seeing just how much climbing was involved on that trail though it was said to be just as long as the trail from the Ramona side.
Once we made it to the bottom of the descent, we made one short crossing of the San Diego River (which Tahia had no trouble getting across) and then we got to the familiar trail junction where the Cedar Creek Falls Trail, San Diego River Trail, Eagle Peak Trail, and the Ramona-side trail all intersected. We got to this point at 10:50am.
Next, we walked past the fencing and then followed the last quarter- to half-mile leading right up to the Cedar Creek Falls. There were a couple of creek crossings over Cedar Creek, and Tahia was insistent that she wanted to do these crossings by herself. She was definitely getting cocky at this point, but we knew that all it took was one bad spill and that would totally humble her.
Well, she didn’t take a spill, and we assisted her in the trickiest parts. The fact that these stream crossings were somewhat extensive suggested to us that the falls must be pumping pretty good. And indeed by about 11:05am, we finally arrived at the bouldery base across the plunge pool of Cedar Creek Falls. Indeed, as expected, the falls was pumping. It also wasn’t nearly as busy here as it was the last time Julie and I were here last year.
Tahia was busy conversing with perfect strangers as I’m sure it wasn’t often a little girl would be doing this kind of hike. It made me wonder if she was becoming quite the social butterfly.
While Julie and Tahia were taking pictures and checking out the falls, I did some scrambling around and sought a more elevated position to take in the Cedar Creek Falls. It was a bit precarious and slippery so I had to exercise a lot of care. And on the way back down, I had to do one of those slides of faith to land on a rock just below the smooth sloping rock that I was sitting and scooting on.
Like the last time, there was a chopper circling the Cedar Creek Falls and also the neighboring Three Sisters Falls (I’d imagine) as these were the two most popular hikes in the area. I wasn’t sure if the chopper was checking for people illegally climbing the rocks to do a cliff dive into the plunge pool, which seemed like a pretty popular activity at this waterfall.
As more and more people were showing up, we left at around 11:30am just as a foursome of folks were doing the long cliff dive into the deep plunge pool of Cedar Creek Falls. Julie and I thought these folks were crazy considering how cold the water was.
So on the hike back out, Tahia once again insisted on doing the Cedar Creek crossings on her own again. Other hikers were patient in letting her make the crossing on her own before they went across. Then, once we went back across the San Diego River, we then started the long ascent back up to the San Diego River Gorge Trailhead.
As we made the long and slow ascent, I knew that Tahia might be getting bored if it went for too long so we both started to sing some songs – i.e. the Triple J songs that were probably not appropriate for young kids like Tahia, but I modified the lyrics at the controversial spots.
We spent some time singing Everything Everything’s Distant Past, Raleigh Ritchie’s Cuckoo, D.D. Dumbo’s Satan, and Haim’s Don’t Save Me. That seemed to have passed the time quite well and Tahia was all into it. The other hikers who just so happened to be passing by as we were doing this must’ve thought we were crazy or something, but I guess when it came down to Tahia’s potential boredom and making fools of ourselves by singing songs, we chose to make fools of ourselves.
The strategy worked as we were pretty much back at the Ramona Estates (er. San Diego Country Estates as apparently they renamed the area to perhaps make the community feel more upscale and exclusive). When we got back to the trailhead at 1:05pm, there were a trio of USFS employees checking for permits. Tahia handed Julie our permit and we got a thank you from these folks. Julie was also talking to them about our waterfalls website, where they wanted to make sure we talked about the permit process.
By about 1:15pm, we were back in the car and now we had to make a beeline for Legoland as we promised Tahia that her reward for doing this hike was to use our two-day pass for Legoland starting today. During the drive, we tried to figure out how to get around the parking fee for Legoland, and I always had this notion of using the shuttle which was free. But Julie thought time was of the essence and she still wanted to have a late lunch in the park.
By about 2:40pm, we eventually made it to Legoland, but we had spent several minutes driving towards the Sheraton to see if it was possible to park the car and walk to the backside of the park at a cheaper rate than the Legoland parking. It turned out that they had barricades and so our strategy didn’t work. When we pulled up to the Legoland parking area, we saw that it was a whopping $17 for regular parking.
For just two hours in the park, I didn’t want to spend this kind of money. But Julie was insistent on us going in to park. Our verbal disagreement made the parking attendant uncomfortable and then he finally said that he could give us the Preferred Parking for $8, which was still more than I wanted to pay, but it was way better than $17.
That seemed to pacify things a bit, and next we proceeded to drive towards the preferred parking area, which was actually quite a bit of a walk from the main entrance because most of the spots closer to the main entrance was occupied. Either way, Julie wasn’t happy with me and so we entered the park with a little bit of husband-wife tension, which I’m sure Tahia could sense.
We ultimately went to some kind of rotisserie chicken restaurant near the Green Dragon ride, where we quickly had our lunner as it was on the order of 3pm when we got started. By about 3:30pm, we finally finished the late lunch and now we could ride the Green Dragon while keeping an eye out for the Lego Technic Coaster, which was closed when we had passed by it earlier.
When we rode the Green Dragon, we did manage to see that the Lego Technic Coaster was running so that was where we immediately went right afterwards. Upon doing this ride, Tahia was saying that this coaster was very much like one of the coasters at Knott’s, and it was probably the only ride that was worth doing for adults at Legoland.
After doing that ride, we then headed towards the Ninjago Ride since that was the new attraction that we hadn’t done before. After waiting in the somewhat long 20-minute line, we promptly got into ride, which was really nothing more than a fancier version of the Egyptian ride where you shoot towards the screen like a video game.
I thought this was a waste of perfectly good potential to make this a more immersive ride like Disneyland’s Star Tours, and we vowed not to do this ride again. That said, Tahia had fun while I had the lowest score. Julie was complaining that her arms were sore from raising it over and over again.
By the time we were done with Ninjago, it was around 4:40pm. We wanted to take Tahia to the big Go Kart course, but Julie thought we should do the Coastersaur instead. That turned out to be a somewhat long wait as they tended to let the riders loop around the track twice. When it finally came to our turn (Julie wanted us to leave the line and head out to make it to the 5:45pm dinner on time), it was around 5:15pm, which was past the closing time for Legoland.
By 5:30pm, we were back in the car and headed back to the Hyatt House, which we promptly got to at 5:35pm. With dinner at Benihana at 5:45pm, we were running late. We still had to get changed out of our hiking clothes before continuing on with the dinner. Eventually at close to 6pm, we finally met up with my brother’s family. We wound up getting seated at one of the rectangular grills where the chef would be at one end while we’d be seated across from him watching the show.
Eventually, my parents also showed up after getting a little lost from Escondido, and so Joshua’s birthday celebration was on. Tahia was having lots of fun interacting with Joshua and Sophia. Meanwhile, Julie was busy trying to ensure that whatever food she’d be getting would lack peppers, sugars, or other things that might cause her to flare up.
The dinner ended off with a birthday cake where the frosting was drawn like a football field with Raiders players as well as the logo. Clearly, my brother had a say in this as we all knew that he was a Raider fan though they had lost earlier in the day.
By about 9:05pm, dinner was over, and we made another grocery run at the Sprouts in Oceanside. This time, the shopping excursion didn’t take as long, and eventually we returned to the Hyatt House in Carlsbad, where we got settled and looked forward to sleeping in a bit, especially since we knew that Legoland wasn’t supposed to open until 10am.