san diego zoo pink flower

There was Something Just so Enjoyable about This Vacation

Erik Personal Development and Lifestyle, Thoughts of a Mastermind 15 Comments


Friday, October 13th, I shipped off to California. I was spending the next 7 days with my parents and sisters. After my California trip, I was off to Dallas, to FinCon 2017, to hang out with a bunch of personal finance bloggers and like minded individuals. I’m home now, and want to share my experiences with you. It’s 34 degrees outside here in Minnesota… take me back! 🙂

In this post, I want to share with you why this vacation was so enjoyable, recap and show you a bunch of the pictures I took in California, and reflect on my vacation. I posted my takeaways from FinCon earlier this week, so please check out that post to read about everything I did in the 2nd week of my vacation. Warning: I’m going full travel blogger in this post.

Hanging out in La Jolla

The first night, we stayed in La Jolla. It was an interesting looking hotel, and I think it was actually a condo complex turned hotel.

I got the couch, since my 4 sisters took 2 of the double beds, and my parents got the other bed. No worries for me, I’m flexible 🙂

Waking up the next morning, my 15 year old sister and I went for a run and worked out before breakfast. Basketball season is right around the corner for her, so we both were motivated to get into shape.

After breakfast, we were off to Los Angeles where we were staying night 2.

We took our time along the way to Los Angeles, making a few stops along the way:

Sea lion on the pacific ocean

Sea Lions at La Jolla Cove

Torrey Pines golf course

Torrey Pines North Course #10

San Clemente beach pier

San Clemente Pier

Beach at San Clemente

Around 6 PM, we got to Los Angeles, and checked out the sunset before turning in for the night.

Los Angeles, Hollywood and Santa Monica Pier

The first thing we did Sunday was head downtown LA to check out the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. I really like looking at cool architecture, so this was interesting to me.

After church, we headed up the hill to Griffith Park. Griffith Park, home of The Griffith Observatory, is a fantastic spot to take in the view of Los Angeles. Here are some pictures from the park.

hollywood sign
Griffith observatory

After checking out Griffith Park in the 95 degree heat, we headed down to check out Hollywood. I didn’t bring my phone because the Walk of Stars has a lot of people who want to get stuff from you. I don’t need to go there again.

After spending 2 hours there, we headed to the coast to check out Santa Monica Pier.

That’d be a pretty cool area to hang out around if I lived there. It was dinner time and our next destination was Anaheim for Disneyland!

Of course, since we were in California, we HAD to stop at In-N-Out 🙂

In-N-out the best fast food restaurant


My mom is obsessed with Disney, and well, frankly, I’m a kid at heart as well. We woke up Monday morning and hit the Disneyland theme park. It was a blast going on rides such as It’s a Small World, Peter Pan’s ride, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and others. Monday was a 10 mile day walking and were exhausted by the end of the day. It was a lot of fun and the only downside was there were no fireworks!

California Adventure!

The next day, we woke up and hit the other part of Disneyland: California Adventure! This was my second favorite day on the trip. In California Adventure, they have some pretty cool rides, an awesome roller coaster, and Radiator Springs, from the movie Cars!

Also, we hit the Ghiradelli chocolate store twice for free samples.. don’t tell anyone 😉

The last 4 pictures were from the World of Color show put on at 8:15 PM most nights at the park. It was incredible to see how the park combined fire, water, and light to put on a magical show for the viewers.

It was another 10 mile walking day, and we headed back to our hotel tired again.

the next day, Wednesday, was a travel day back to San Diego. We went to the beach on the way in Huntington Beach, and enjoyed the sun in preparation for the next day at the zoo!

Some Beautiful Flowers and Animals at the San Diego Zoo

Thursday was my favorite day in California. There’s just something about nature and animals I love, and I took a lot of pictures at the San Diego Zoo. Here is a collection of flowers that I came across:

san diego zoo pink flowersan diego zoo flower
san diego zoo white flowerSan diego zoo purple flower
san diego zoo red flowersan diego zoo black inside flower

I was a little bit sad that the pandas were sleeping, but overall, it was fantastic. My favorite animals to see are the big cats: lions, tigers, and CHEETAHS, oh my!

panda at san diego zoo

The zoo was amazing. I’d highly recommend it to anyone going to San Diego 🙂

After the zoo, we quickly went to the tidepools and point before that park closed. The kids had an intense quiet game where the stakes were incredibly high: who ever wins could pick who loses phone privilages for 24 hours! We ended it with a tie between me and my 13 year old sister… but I still think I won.

City of San Diego from the Point

U.S.S. Midway

On Friday, we were back in San Diego to see the U.S.S. Midway. The U.S.S. Midway was an aircraft carrier of the United States Navy, the lead ship of her class. Commissioned a week after the end of World War II, Midway was the largest ship in the world until 1955, as well as the first U.S. aircraft carrier too big to transit the Panama Canal.

It is now retired and on display for the public. It was amazing to see this in the San Diego pier. Being on this ship was both humbling and inspiring. Walking in the footsteps of some of our nation’s heroes and a ship that served our country for many years made me feel small and insignificant. At the same time, made me feel motivated to get out and get back to work on my self and my goals.

Later that day, we said good bye to the Pacific Ocean for the last time and got ready to head home (or Dallas in my case!)

What a week!

Sorry for No Food Pictures

I don’t take many food pictures… because I love eating. When I get my food, my mouth is saying “GIMME” and my brain and stomach agree the best thing to do is to eat.

I had some great tacos throughout the week, and really enjoyed the continental breakfasts. Hanging out with my family was so much fun since I don’t get to see them as much anymore since we are all busy with work and school.

Reflecting on This Great Week of Vacation and Family Time

When I got on the plane to Dallas Saturday morning, I felt very thankful for being able to have this opportunity. I’m very fortunate that my parents are in a spot financially where they can take their kids on a week long vacation and not be worried about their retirement or current situation. They value their time with their kids and like I said, I’m very thankful for this. (Full disclosure: I got out my wallet a few times for food as thanks, but the majority was paid for.)

This trip re-established the burning need for me to become financially well off. My financial independence why is to be able to provide for my future family, and not be dependent on anyone or anything. I don’t really care about the working or retirement aspect since I love learning and growing, but the financial independence piece is what is key.

Why were my parents in a situation in their 50’s to be able to pay for this and not have to worry about their retirement? Saving and investing through their entire lives. It’s not that hard to do, but if you are consistent, you can do it too.

Vacations are Great for these Reasons:

Vacations are great to give our minds and bodies a break from the daily grind of life. Being able to go to the beach, see shows and animals, and enjoy the company of our friends and family is necessary once in a while.

Going to FinCon 2017 after this vacation was fantastic and now writing this after both weeks, I can safely say that there’s a burning desire in my stomach to focus in and be consistent with my work and play. If financial independence is my goal, then I must work towards it each day – apply the Slight Edge and make smart daily decisions 🙂

Concluding Thoughts

I went full travel blog on that one. That was a lot of fun – both the vacation and writing this post.

These past 2 weeks have re-confirmed that financial independence is my goal and now, it’s my job to take the necessary steps to work towards it each and every day.

Readers, have you been on any awesome trips lately?





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Comments 15

  1. Awesome post, Erik. You would make a great travel blogger. Being from California, I have been to all these places as well and you guys made some great choices. Looks like a really great trip. I’m right there with you – being able to take my family on trips like this is a huge motivator for me as well.

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  2. Great pictures. Glad you had a blast! I have only vacationed in California once and have fond memories.

    FYI on a strange thing. The Name/Website/E-mail forms were pre-populated with Cody @ Dollar Habits information. You might want to check whatever plugin is controlling that and clear the cache?

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      Thanks Amy. It was amazing, and now this gloomy weather in MN isn’t helping my thoughts 🙂

      Vitamin D from the Sun really is great!

  3. Hey Erik. Thanks for the vacation breakdown. Southern California looks amazing. I’ve been to San Francisco and Napa Valley, but haven’t been to LA and San Diego. My nephew recently moved to LA, so hopefully Mrs Groovy and I will visit him in the next couple of years. Hang in there in Minnesota. I imagine things will be getting cold in a hurry. Cheers.

    P.S. When my dad retired, he celebrated by taking the entire family to Disney World for a week, all expenses paid. I’ll never forget that vacation. It was one of the best vacations I ever had. My nieces and nephew were at the perfect age for Disney. Anyway, in the next couple of years, Mrs Groovy and I want to reciprocate and take my parents and our siblings along with their spouses to an all-inclusive resort in New Mexico, Vermejo Ranch. It should set us back around $25K, but it will be worth it. Ah, the joys of being financially independent (and the benefactor of a rising stock market).

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      You are welcome Mr. Groovy. It is amazing and I hope you can get out to LA shortly!

      MN… it’s in the 30s today. I don’t really mind – I just add another layer 🙂

      Also, thanks for sharing your story. I want to do the same for my family in the future.

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