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Newport Coast Villas vacation, June 2011 Print

In June 2011, we spent two weeks in our timeshare at Newport Coast Villas.  It was the most relaxing vacation we've taken in years.  Many mornings, we'd start reading after breakfast and ask each other what we wanted to do that day, and after deciding, "Oh, how about nothing?", we'd go back to reading.  There's plenty to do in those parts, and we enjoyed some lovely excursions, but gee, what a great vacation.

The unit we had this year was perfect--on the third (top) floor, at the end of the building all by itself, with a gorgeous ocean view.  After unloading the car and settling in, I went to Trader Joe's for some supplies while Sue started relaxing.  We enjoyed dinner "at home" that night and relaxed even more.

Photography note:  All the photos embedded in this narrative were taken with my iPhone and processed in Photoshop Express on the iPhone.  Other apps may have been used also, such as iFlash Ready.  The "real" photos from this trip are, as usual, at the bottom of this story in SIG slide shows.

We walked around the facility our first day there, to re-familiarize ourselves, and confirmed that it's a great place.

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Sunday night, we went to the crow bar & kitchen for dinner.  It's a favorite of ours--a gastropub with excellent food and a large variety of excellent beers on tap.  It was, again, a great culinary experience.

After two days of relaxing, reading and recharging batteries, Jennifer came down with Christopher and Brooklyn.  We went to the pool--a favorite activity for both CJ and Bee--had lunch from the poolside bar and grill, and spent some time thrashing about in the pool and relaxing.  After showering and changing clothes, we went over to Balboa Island, parked on the island, and walked over to the ferry so we could go over to the Balboa Peninsula and the Fun Zone.  For CJ and Bee, going to the Fun Zone is huge.  We started with a snack;  Sue and I had Balboa bars, Jennifer had a frozen banana and CJ and Bee both had small sno cones.

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Yes, that's a SMALL sno cone. 

The next morning, we all drove down to San Juan Capistrano so we could go to Zoomar's petting zoo.  This worked out really well;  there is a wide variety of animals there and the feed sampler they sell is chock full of different varieties of vegetables and fruit that all the animals like.  Jennifer left to go back home (and work) and CJ and Bee stayed with us.  After lunch at the Ruby's in San Juan Capistrano, we went back to--yes--the Fun Zone!  This time, we drove the car onto the ferry so CJ and Bee could see what that was like.

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Back at the Bay Arcade, CJ and Bee resumed play at the skee ball games.

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We all played skee ball for a while and then came back to the villa for dinner and a movie.  The next day we took CJ and Bee back home and returned to the villa for a few more days of rest and relaxation.

The next weekend, Jennifer came back down with Duane's sister Shannon and they spent two nights with us.  Almost immediately upon arrival, they left for the pool and spent the rest of the day there, having a girl's day at the pool.  We decided to have dinner that night at Tommy Bahama's Island Grill.  We'd never been to one, but noting that it had good food ratings in Zagat, and knowing that we love the clothes, we tried it and it was very good.  They have a short, but very good, wine list there;  the Hitching Post pinot was an excellent match for the Copper River salmon special.

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After dinner we adjourned to the adjacent clothing store, where I found two more shirts and the girls found a few things they had to have.  The next day, Jennifer and Shannon spent the day at the pool again and that night we all went to the crow bar & kitchen, where dinner was, again, fabulous.

Jennifer and Shannon went back home Monday so Sue and I went back over to Balboa Island for lunch at Wilma's Patio and walked around.

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Great place.

We went over to Roger's Gardens on Tuesday, which is always fun;  beautiful gift shop and plant selection in a huge facility that is pretty and well maintained.  I took my infra-red camera and took several photos of plant life there.  We went back over to Balboa Island after lunch to walk around and did some shopping for CJ and Bee at Magnolia Charlie, a terrific children's boutique.  We stopped in at Too Sweet for a snack and I tried one of their frozen bananas; it was very good.

Wednesday, our friends Art and Ellen came down for the day and we all went to the Cedar Creek Inn in San Juan Capistrano for lunch.  Sue and I had never been there and it was really good--as Art and Ellen said it would be.  Everything freshly prepared there and very tasty.  We'd go back again in a heartbeat.

After lunch we walked across the street to the mission and spent a leisurely few hours enjoying (and photographing--of course!) the mission and the grounds. 

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The iPhone photo apps can give you amazing results for a cell phone camera.  I also had my D3 and my infra-red D200 and used both while there.

We had dinner with Art and Ellen at--you guess it--the crow bar & kitchen which was, again, wonderful.  They went home after dinner and Sue and I came back to the villa.

Thursday and Friday we went to the beach at Crystal Cove both days.  It's a great State park across the highway from Newport Coast Villas and is home to the Crystal Cove Cottages.  If you saw the movie "Beaches"  you saw one of the cottages in the scenes where Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey spent time at the beach cottage.  Anyway, we rented a large beach umbrella from Newport Coast Villas, took our camp chairs, and drove to the parking lot across the street from the park, taking the shuttle down to the beach.  We had already eaten lunch, so we didn't go to the Beachcomber Cafe for anything.  We learned that it probably makes sense to have lunch--or something--at the Beachcomber Cafe, because you get a parking validation that way.  Without the validation, parking is $15.  Ouch.

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The next day, we ate lunch at the Beachcomber Cafe.  It was very good and although a whole lot more than $15, it did save the cost of parking and the lunch was worth the money.  We recommend it, as it's a great location with good food.  Make your reservation when you get there;  we arrived at 11:45 and the wait was 1 1/2 hours at that point.  They gave us a pager, we settled in under the umbrella with our books, and about the time we were getting hungry, the pager went off.

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We spent some more time at the beach after lunch, and then came back up for another dinner "at home".  Saturday morning, we packed up and bade a tearful farewell to Newport Coast Villas, comforted by the knowledge that we have already booked two weeks there next year.  The photos I made with real camera gear follow.