When I think of California, I think of the beach. We were staying about 15 minutes from what I'm told is the best surfing in the world right now. Although I've been itching to learn how to surf, I decided that it would be best to 'get my feet wet' in less intimidating waters. So check back next year for an entry about surfing. (And if anyone in the PA/NJ area wants to give me a lesson, let me know!)
However, we did get to spend a bit of time on the wild windy beach by the Natural Bridges (well, Natural Bridge these days). The waves were pretty intense, so we were happy to stay out of the water. However, nothing could keep Rowan from making another lovely sandcastle. But how do you do that with no buckets or shovels? We were across the country from her sandcastle supplies and we forgot to make our way to a store to get replacements. So Rowan, being a kid, and kids being the most resourceful things on the planet (when it comes to play), decided that a couple of empty bottles and bottle caps were just fine. We used the caps for digging & construction. She delegated water-retrieval to me. I had the task of repeatedly filling one empty lemonade bottle and two empty soda bottles with ocean water so we could construct our palace. The absence of our normal toys also made the seaweed, sticks, shells and feathers that we found that much more interesting and useful.
Our cross-coastal beach trip made me realize that maybe I'm making too big of a deal of packing up for our own 'local' beach days. I'm sure that any parent has experienced that moment when they see their child transform the strangest and most commonplace things into the most wondrous toys. And, although I am fully aware and appreciative of the value of some of the wonderful toys, books & games out there, it's nice to be reminded that we don't need fancy things to have the time of our lives.