By: Tanya Ward Goodman
Today was the beginning of what I call “Mom Camp”. After two weeks’ of regular camp (computer for him, horses for her) I figured they could use a rest and I could use their company. We started big with a Road Trip. No, not a full-on road trip with motel swimming pools and the endless countdown of mileage markers, a one-day Road Trip that began at Krispy Kreme and took us down the 5 to San Juan Capistrano. Brief, fun, and easy to do if you’ve got no idea how to pass one single more summer day with your kids.
Starting with sugar may not be high on the Best Parent list, but it worked for me today because it clearly labeled me a “fun mom”. I needed to remind myself that I was a fun mom and I needed the children to remember that it was possible that fun was around every corner (if they could stop fighting for five minutes…). Somehow, it worked.
San Juan Capistrano is past Disneyland, but not so far as Legoland (or for you non-parents, between Anaheim and San Diego, deep into Orange County). The Mission was our mission – a play on words that endlessly delighted my son. He will be a fourth grader in the fall and 4th grade is, for some reason, the year he learns about the California Missions so I thought I’d make the day vaguely educational; plus, I like walking around historic buildings and gardens and the Mission has both.
For my daughter (who would probably enjoy the Mission, but would inevitably intuit that it had some more specific attachment to her brother and would find it abhorrent for that reason alone) I found bunnies. Zoomars Farm is just steps from the Mission and is the home to loads (loads) of bunnies and guinea pigs, several llamas, an emu and some assorted miniature versions of cows, pigs, and horses.
Though I’d pinned our day on these two attractions, we found lots to love in San Juan Capistrano. First of all, once you’ve made the trek down the 5 and parked your car, you won’t have to start your engine until the end of the day. Numerous restaurants, shops, a movie theatre, and a wonderful park and playground are all within walking distance of the Mission. We lunched on burritos, checked out the taxidermy moose heads in an Antique Mall, and played tag on a giant climbing structure in the nearby park.
And here’s the great thing – we could have taken the train. The Amtrak Surfrider stops a few blocks from the Mission. Just think, next weekend, while others are stuck in Carmageddon, you could be riding in air-conditioned comfort to historic buildings, burritos, and bunnies…