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A Brief Staycation And Road Trip To Los Angeles

by Dewan Gibson
The Gibson boys chest naked at the Hilton Bayfront pool.
Tip: Look for the mural outside the Los Angeles Natural History Museum to find free parking and mad opportunities for selfies.
Stopped at Uncle Wayne's place in Orange County. The kids played their first video game (Pac-Man) and soon progressed to Mortal Kombat, where they learned to rip each other's spines out.
Fun fact: Ostriches typically weight over 250 pounds and can run over 40 miles per hour. Another fun fact: This one can’t because he’s dead.
F yo' museum!
Dinosaurs are cool and all, but my view is much more interesting.
Bridge from the Hilton Bayfront to the ballpark. You can run the stairs up or take the elevator that smells of...downtown.
Lil' Oedipus did what he had to do to make Mom wasn't going into Dad's bed.
Ca$$ius, and Larke and Nile to a lesser extent, are going through a dinosaur obsession. So it’s important that the “meat eat-tas” have space to eat and tear shit up.
This trip marked about a year since my wife quit her job to be a stay-at-home mom. How's it been? I think this pic says it all (minus the bills and the boys constantly fighting). If I was capable of crying I'd shed a tear.
Nice stadium to watch the Padres and leave in the 5th inning because you're bored as hell.
Tough choice as a parent: Scoot him over before he slides off the bed, or take the picture and hope for the best.
One of my favorite pictures of Amber. Nice dogs. This could be in a hotel ad, maybe more so if our racially ambiguous kids were in the background. (Of course ad executives would probably leave me out the picture.)

This is our second summer renting our home out through Airbnb. Last year, we made a nice chunk of money, actually a really nice chunk of money. But we booked guests far too often and spent most of our time away at the in-law’s place, where our three ill-mannered toddlers vastly increased their grandparents’ in-home noise level and took the good ol’ Cook family out of their daily routine.

This summer, we’re taking fewer bookings (1 to 2 per month) but spending the time and extra money to do the little things we’re always about to do, like visit the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles to see their dinosaur exhibit.

Prior to making the two hour drive to the museum, we checked into the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, with plans to go Los Angeles the following day. The Hilton Bayfront is a pretty slick four-star hotel smack at the end of the Gaslamp District, the city’s nightlife center full of bars and restaurants and great for watching seemingly unobligated young and youngish people drink themselves silly.

Thanks to Hotwire, we only paid $108.43 for a night at the Hilton, but of course the hotel tries to nickel and dime you once you’re there. The parking charge was $35, which I’m too frugal and smart to pay. I grabbed street parking in nearby Barrio Logan and walked about 10 blocks to the hotel. Now, I’ve could have taken an Uber back to the room, but I would have felt less accomplished (though maybe less sweaty).

Anyhow, the Hilton was unconvinced of my parking brilliance and added the $35 charge to my credit card (it was later refunded). They also added a $6 charge for local phone calls. Apparently, though it’s not noted anywhere in the hotel, these calls are a dollar each. But who uses a hotel phone, right? Well, my 4-year-old does when he wants to call me as I’m walking back to the hotel…from parking 10 blocks away. Thankfully this charge was also removed and the kids had a hell of a time in the Hilton’s pool and wide lobbies, which are great for running and maniacal screaming.

We spent the next night at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Costa Mesa, about a 30 minute ride from the museum. It was $95.51 for a night at the 3.5 star hotel, also via Hotwire. The good news: The rooms are recently renovated, and they have free lemon water in the lobby. The bad news: 1) A $10 charge for parking. You’d think a regular suburban hotel would let you park for free. 2) The Crowne Plaza was booked solid, so our room, to write as Kanye West would tweet, only had ONE DAMN BED FOR THE FIVE OF US. Still, most of our time was spent outside the hotel, and we often co-sleep at home anyway because my wife doesn’t believe in locking ’em out our room. So it wasn’t too much of a difference, but for 95 damn dollars…

The next morning, after a two hour get everybody dressed and ready process and a short car ride, we made it to the museum, which had free or discounted admission for teachers and other po’ people. The kids enjoyed the exhibits at first, especially the giant “meat-eat-tas” and taxidermy mammals, but the crowd quickly grew and they lost patience as their usual nap time approached. Unfortunately we missed out on the museum’s Dinasour Encounters, where, from what I watched on YouTube, lifelike dinosaur puppets walk around and scare the hell out of kids. That alone is definitely worth another trip.

After a little over an hour at the museum, we packed the boys in the car and stopped at a McDonald’s in the hood nearby for apple pies before car naps. We made it home about three hours later, having completed and even made a bit of a profit from what people who watch “Today” and other such morning shows call a “staycation.” Our next guests arrive in late July.

Hilton Bayfront (via Hotwire): $108.43
Crowne Plaza Costa Mesa (via Hotwire): $95.51
Trader Joe’s Food and Wine: $27.29
Pizza and Salad Delivery: $23.94
Gas: $22.83
Panera: $20.00 (estimate, used cash and lost the receipt)
Which Wich Sandwiches: $19.51
Hotel Parking: $10.00
Snacks from Walmart: $9.64
McDonald’s Apple Pies To Shut The Kids Up During The Drive Home: $3.88

Total: $341.03
AirBnb Payment: $469

Profit: $127.97

Note: I neglected to update our Airbnb listing to summer rates. So our guests received a “discount” and we lost out on about $120 of extra profit. Don’t tell my wife.

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