I'm sure no one will be surprised that Pumpkin did just fine with her grandparents over the weekend. They have a hilarious video of her dancing with joy, taken about 5 minutes after we left to her wails and anguished cries of "Mommy! Sit!" She even did fine in the middle of the night, allowing herself to be rocked back to sleep on Friday night and actually sleeping through until almost 5 a.m. on Saturday night.
I would be annoyed that she saved all of her good sleep for my parents, but I slept through until 7 a.m. both mornings. Besides, she slept pretty well last night, too- only waking up once to nurse and sleeping until I pulled her shades open at 6:45 (she needed to get ready for day care). I think my Mom could run a lucrative business as a parental get away enabler and baby sleep improver. And then there is the emergency day care she provides....
Anyway, I did pretty well, too. Hubby and I had a nice couple of nights of sleep. Unfortunately the beds in the Hyatt in Irvine are not as comfy as those at the Wyndham in Costa Mesa (site of our last getaway), but I slept well anyway. The room had the requisite TV with cable, and we ended up spending three hours watching Doctor Who episodes on BBC America, which was quite nice. The last time I watched that much TV, I was recovering from a bad case of food poisoning.
We spent part of Saturday wandering around Balboa Island. This is something we've wanted to do since we first saw the car ferry headed over there while we waited to board the ferry on our first trip to Catalina Island, back in 2003. (For those who have never been to Newport Beach, there is a small ferry that holds three cars and some pedestrians and shuttles back and forth between the main part of Newport and Balboa Island. Balboa Island is also accessible via a bridge on the other side of the island.)
Balboa Island has the sort of shops and houses that you'd expect in a wealthy tourist spot with beautiful water views. It also has the Balboa Bar, a hunk of vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate and rolled in sprinkles, which sadly looks better than it actually tastes:
(Which is not to say that it tastes bad, just that neither the ice cream nor the chocolate are really the best that they could be.)
The other flaw of the Hyatt in Irvine is that is walking distance to nothing, really. We decided to eat at the restaurant at the hotel so that we could both have a couple of adult beverages. The restaurant was surprisingly good, and had a nice outdoor patio with a fire ring and an acoustic guitar player. The drinks weren't excellent, but they were strong enough to encourage Hubby and me to spend quite a bit of time discussing bars that we'd put on a "Top Ten Bars" list. Hubby argues that this is not a valid list, because bars change so frequently and because so many bars make the list on the strength of their location alone. I argue that the list references bars as they were when you visited them, without concern for later changes, and that while location may be a large component of a top ten bar, it can't propel a mediocre bar to that status. For instance, the bar at the top of the John Hancock building in Chicago has an excellent location, but I don't think anyone would argue that it is a top ten list bar. The bar at the Sydney Opera House, in contrast, has an excellent location and enough other charms to potentially earn a spot on the list (although the surprisingly bad food at the Opera House bar works against it).
Despite the pleasant location and fascinating conversation, we didn't stay up late. And despite the lack of toddler cries, we didn't sleep in particularly late- we were up by 7:30 both days. Still we had a good time. My only regret is that we didn't manage to find a good, greasy, big breakfast either day. On Saturday, we decided to look near UC Irvine, which turns out to be in an even more soulless location than UC San Diego. I had to settle for a breakfast sandwich at a chain bakery. On Sunday, we drove around Tustin and Costa Mesa looking for a likely spot, to no avail. Finally, hunger drove me to stop the search at the Lab "anti-mall" in Costa Mesa. We had breakfast at the cafe there (The Gypsy Den). It wasn't bad, but they only had veggie sausage, and the potatoes suffered from being far too healthy (i.e., not enough butter and salt). Luckily, the corn meal pancakes were good enough to make the entire meal OK. We had a similar problem finding breakfast during our last getaway. Do the people of Orange County not like big greasy American breakfasts? If you live in the O.C., tell me where we should go next time. Because unless Pumpkin suddenly transforms herself into an excellent sleeper, there is sure to be a next time!