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kristianne koch riddle photography
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[life] is model trains, water slides and snakes

We took off on a somewhat spontaneous getaway for our anniversary this past weekend. I started the tradition on our 5th anniversary when I planned a surprise weekend in Marina Del Rey. Now Jim expects it every year and I am getting to like the idea. We decided to do something different. Seeing as Jim usually never likes to go anywhere that is not along the coast, I knew the desert would be about as diferent as it gets.

We visited the Mount San Jacinto wilderness where they had just received a light dusting of snow the night before. We took the Palm Springs Aerial Tram up and went on a mini hike in Long Valley until Maliea’s hands began to turn pink. We don’t have snow gear for the kids because we are not big fans of hanging out in the mountains. It was beautiful up there for just the right amount of time because I just about had my fill of dry, cold mountain life when I spent years mountaineering BHAK (before husband and kids).

Then we headed to our penthouse suite at the Hyatt Grand Champions. It is a great resort if you have water babies. Merrik and Maliea loved the waterslide, jacuzzi and toddler wading pool. I enjoyed our stay there and it was probably the best pick I’ve made for accommodations for all of us on a weekend escape. As long as everyone has what they want from the hotel I’ve done my job. They had good TVs, room service, a big bathtub and a nice continental breakfast.

We then had to decide between snakes and model trains at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens or the waterslide and pool. Merrik chose the model train display at the Living Desert and spent the evening chasing joyfully after the long freight train that traveled the entire length of track. We also visited the snake house. We never made it to see any of the other fantastic animal exhibits that they have but it was a gorgeous way to spend the evening. We decided to play it safe and head back to the hotel for dinner in the room and we found Horton Hears a Who on the movie channel and both kids were glued to the TV until they collapsed in our king bed.

The next morning a full session at the water slide was in order and after Maliea took a nap we headed down to join in the fun. Maliea was in heaven playing in the raging whitewash that came off the slide and could have spent the entire day by herself in the toddler pool floating and diving under water. After a stop at the Cabazon Outlets for some Christmas shopping, we headed home and Jim was content to be reading books to both kids and Tiki in Merrik’s whale bed.

It was a surprisingly relaxing and rejuvenating weekend for all of us. Jim and I have always had tons of fun together and having the kids in the mix now is the most we can ask for.



Lifestyle and fine art photographer specializing in kids, portraits, lifestyle, and travel for print and web.