mcg family vacation recap | McGowan Images Blog


mcg family vacation recap

So, here’s the deal… it’s the slow season. That’s why we took vacation. Because it’s the slow season (and has been icy and gross), we’re not shooting much. There hasn’t been a real McG Photography post up for like two weeks, and there won’t be one again until Friday. Next week will start up again… we’re back to work now!

But I had to make a decision. Either have 2-3 weeks worth of personal posts, or have emptiness. Some choose that, and there’s no shame there… one of my favorite photographers hasn’t blogged since January 3rd. It’s a personal decision. I choose content. I hope that the clients checking us out for the first time will scroll back a page or two to see fun shoots and weddings, and not just read the first few posts… because in doing that, they’d deduce that all we do is take pictures of ourselves. 🙂

Today and tomorrow, I’ll share our vacation pictures. Today will be the actual recap of the trip, and tomorrow will be scenery & such. Friday, I’ll share a sneak peek of the shoot we’re doing Thursday evening. Next week is full of lots of goodness. I pinky-swear, if you stick with your favorite photog-bloggers through the slow season, you will be MIGHTILY rewarded when spring and summer are in full bloom!

Our vacation began on Thursday, Feb. 3.

You might remember, that was a really gross day. It took us a little over 5 hours to drive the first 90 miles of our trip. That’s because the roads looked like this:

Thank goodness, the ice all cleared away by the time we got to Sweetwater. Despite it being late, and us ALL being tired, Mack and I decided to push ahead so we could stay on track… we got to Carlsbad, NM by midnight (when we should have been there around 4 p.m.). Whew! Long day!

The next morning, although it was a brisk NEGATIVE ONE in Carlsbad, we all got bundled up and excited to go to the Carlsbad Caverns. And no, the following picture hasn’t been photoshopped… that’s just how very brilliantly blue a morning sky in New Mexico can be!

Jack saved up $188 dollars of birthday, Christmas, allowance money, and loose change we tossed him for this vacation. I wish I was as good a saver! His first big purchase was this stuff spider from the Caverns, who then kept us company on the dashboard.

That night, we stayed in Eloy, AZ, outside of Tucson. Not much to report.

By lunchtime on Day 3… BAM! McG in California!

A little west of El Centro, in Devil’s Canyon, there’s this incredibly poorly marked, privately owned-viewing tower… it was SO COOL.

The couple that runs the place had decorated each landing of the tower with lots of art, and random junk. I think I preferred the random junk. 🙂

The $2 admission to the viewing tower also got us admission to the adjacent boulder park, which was tons of fun as well. Jack kept telling everyone that we’re a family of explorers.

Another couple hours on the road, and we FINALLY hit San Diego! We drove straight over the bride to Coronado Island, so the kids could stick their feet in the veeery cold water. Jack loved it right away :

Dot, however, needed some time to get used to it:

Day 4 started early… very early. Our clocks were all sorts of screwed up. The good thing about being down at the water next to the Maritime Museum before 7 a.m. is that we pretty much had the place to ourselves!

I love all the public art down by the boats:

Jack took the next two pictures… he’s got quite an eye for composition!

I love me some fog in the morning!

We drove down to Seaport Village, where I spent many a warm weekend as a kiddo. Mack and Jack can be seen below adding to their EXPANSIVE squished penny collection. Seriously, they got like 18 pennies on this trip alone!

After a nap, before the sun went away, we went to Cabrillo and then to Ocean Beach. I loved exploring the tidepools with my babies… it was my favorite thing to do when I was Jack’s age!

We woke up way early on Morning #5, of course… to the smell of this lovely lemon tree right outside our hotel! Because we had a few hours before the zoo opened, we drove up to La Jolla Cove so the kids could get some good playtime in. (There will be more pretty pictures of this tomorrow)

My favorite favorite FAVORITE thing at the zoo is the elephants, and San Diego has the BEST elephant exhibit. We probably stood there for 20 minutes.

After the zoo, we drove up to Calabasas to have dinner with my sister and her boyfriend. Day #6 dawned bright and early, and we went to play at El Matador beach in Malibu.

Let me tell you… February is the PERFECT time for Texans to go on vacation to California. All the joggers in SoCal were all bundled up in sweaters and scarves, while we were in jeans and t-shirts thoroughly enjoying the 70 degree weather!

The above picture of Jack, and those following, probably make us look like terrible parents. The truth is, we took swimsuits, but told Jack he wasn’t going to be able to swim because the water was too cold. Well, he was just miserable. MISERABLE. He wanted to get in that water so bad. We finally just said, “Ya know, whatever. Just strip down and jump in.” And the water was cold, but that kid had more fun…

Below is an animated GIF file of Mack and Jack chasing a huge flock of seagulls… LOVE IT!

Later that night, we dropped the kids off at my sister’s so that Mack and I could have a date night. We went to Moonshadows in Malibu… also known as the place Mel Gibson likes to drink before he drives up the PCH and makes anti-Semitic remarks to police officers. That glowing recommendation aside, the food was WONDERFUL, and we had a great time.

Day #7 was probably the best day of vacation. Why? DISNEYLAND.

Let me explain… I’m a Disney kid. Like, whoa. All the way back. Living in SoCal, we were able to go to Disneyland a few times a year. I even had my 5th birthday party there! Lots of wonderful memories. Jack has been before with my parents (as well as the 2 times they took him to DisneyWorld in Orlando), so he’s a Disney junkie, too!

This was Mack & Dot’s first Disney experience, so it was super special. We had such a wonderful, WONDERFUL day. We’re already planning a trip with my parents to DisneyWorld when Dot’s about 4… I might already be counting the days! 🙂

Jack’s favorite ride is, of course, The Pirates of the Caribbean! We rode it 4 times! Dot even loved it… she laughed and clapped and talked to the pirates. I’m so blessed to have such agreeable children.

Mack even loves me enough to ride “It’s A Small World After All”… although, it may have just been this beautiful baby standing in the front of the boat that made it tolerable. 🙂

Ice cream break!

We got to meet Mickey! (No lie, I cried here. Don’t judge. It’s a big deal for a Disney-phile the first time your kid meets Mickey. I did it with Jack, too!)

Later in the afternoon, my sister met us at the park so she could have some more time with the kiddos (and Mack and I could ride a few roller coasters). Thanks, Sam!

I highly recommend taking vacations where family members can meet you at important places and take pictures of everyone together. 🙂

Day 8 was mostly spent in the car, but we stopped off for a couple hours in Temecula, CA… where I lived as a youngin’. We went and checked out my house (below), my elementary school, my church… and spent some time at my favorite park!

(the baby isn’t drinking the diet Coke… she just likes to play with cold, unopened cans. Weird, I know.)

The rest of that day was looooong. We stayed that night in Phoenix, but got there late because of an alignment issue on the truck. Hey, something like that has to happen on a 10 day road trip!

Day 9… also, mostly in the car. But our last night on vacation, we stayed in a KOA in Las Cruces, NM, where I made lots of fond memories as a child. It was way fun!

And that’s it! Then we came home!

Thank you guys so much for your prayers for our safety, and your well wishes here and on Facebook. We so appreciate it. This trip was very special to me… as a child, I drove this road with my parents every year to visit my grandparents in Texas. It was so wonderful to get to share these places with MY family, and to watch my children have the same kind of fun I always did.

One thing is for sure, though… I can’t let it be 5 years before I get back to California. I just love it TOO much. That could work out well for a San Diego bride… I’m just sayin’.

If you’re not sick of us yet, come back tomorrow. That’s when I’ll be sharing the less people-centric pictures from our vacation. Artsy-fartsy landscape-y stuff. 🙂 See you then!

  1. Liesa says:

    These pictures make my heart happy to no end! There are some pretty studly pictures of Jack in there, and Dot is simply precious in all her shots, too. Thank you for sharing such a long blog; I’ve been having blog withdrawals! I’m so glad you guys had a blast, and got to and from safely! See you tonight!

  2. Hannah says:

    Oh how I loved this post. Love seeing you and your family getting to enjoy each other and experience the world. Makes me happy. Thank you for sharing your life with us out here.

  3. Being that I have never got to go to Disney World OR Land, I totally love your pictures. It is on my to do list to get to some Disney place SOON!

    Seriously though, your family is adorable! What a fun vacation!

  4. annie says:

    Oh this whole post just makes my heart happy!!!

  5. Christian U. says:

    Ok McGowan family!!! You caught so many wonderful moments!! I love the expressions and vacation pics!!! THANK YOU thank you THANK YOU for sharing!!! It made my day! 😀 Dot is growing up oh SO fast!!! and I love Jack’s spider! Seriously, it looked like an awesome vacation!!

  6. angie stanley says:

    Thank you for sharing your family vacation with all of us. I am sitting at my desk with a huge smile on my face because you guys look like you had a super fun time !!!

  7. Carman says:

    Your vacation blogs could end up being very expensive for me. I always want to go to the places you photograph. Beautiful pics, and I’m glad you had a safe and fun vacation!

  8. Nicole says:

    Family pic with Mickey Mouse FTW!

  9. Courtney says:

    I just got back from a weekend vaca at Lake Tahoe with my grandmother and some family friends who have a little boy that looks just like Jack! Seriously. I thought it was him at first. And the funny thing is his name is Zach! He must have a Californian twin! And I took a photo under a California sign just like yall! Yay for funny coincidences 🙂 SO happy yall had a great trip! I was really longing to see more of Cali than I did so these pics definitely helped!!

  10. Brandy Frank says:

    yay!!!! vacation!! the pic of Mack and the kids and that seagull, Mack’s face just cracks me up. btw totally agree with you on personal posts vs nothing. the more the merrier! they happen to be my favorite anyway 🙂 xoxo B

  11. Misty says:

    Such beautiful family vacation pics! Jack and Dot are just too much, seriously, they obviously had a blast and I LOVE seeing that! Next time you go back to CA, take meeeeeeeeee with youuuuuuuuuuu please!!! 😉 VERY much looking forward to tomorrow’s post…

  12. Mike says:

    LOVE. the GIF animation is totally wicked! 🙂

  13. Ambo says:

    I LOVE these pictures! I’m so glad you guys got to get away and have some amazing family time! I love the shot of you and Dottie at Seaport Village and those pictures of Jack all serious by the water….wow. Amazing guys!

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