If there were ever a place that is worthy of a stay-cation, Southern California is definitely one of them. When Mike and Heather mentioned wanting to visit, we were thrilled to pencil some visitors onto our calendar. The cousins’ spring breaks coincided which allowed us to spend a week together camping, hiking, beach exploring, cooking, and simply enjoying lots of long overdue family time.

First up was a quick-ish trip to Joshua Tree National Park. While our actual time in the park was brief since we only camped one night, the drive there wasn’t as short as we hoped. Turns out rental car tires aren’t the best in deep sand. Have no fear, the LX is here [insert Phil’s eye roll here]. Myself and a few others like to tease Phil incessantly about all of the “necessary” modifications and tools he loads up his truck with. However, it turned out that on this trip he got to put not one, but two of these “necessities” to use. Thank goodness for maxtrax and a winch, otherwise it would have been a long wait for a tow truck. All joking aside, Phil saved the day and guided us safely to what turned out to be an awesome campsite at an old abandoned mine just outside the park. After we filled our tummy with tacos it was off to bed to catch some sleep before the moon was up bright in the sky at 2am, and the sun shortly there after. Once we cleaned up camp we cruised into the park and spent the rest of the day checking out the cholas, scrambling up and down all the jumbo rocks, and spotting a Joshua tree or two.

Monday night we returned to Carlsbad to wash all the desert off our bodies and fill up on In-N-Out, a must when visiting SoCal. The rest of the week we hopped from beach to beach with stops for yummy Mexican food and seafood during the day. The kids also had fun taking their cousins on their favorite local hike at Annie’s Canyon.

Carolyn and Ben were super hosts extraordinaire and had all of us at their place for two fun family dinners. We managed not to burn the house down, although I think the kids were worried Mike was trying to. Last but not least, we continued with tradition and snapped a cousins and cones photo with the six cousins that were there (even Max made the shot san cone). Hopefully one day soon we’ll get a picture of all eight cousins together!