Archive for the ‘Places to Visit’ Category

We are in the middle of a move. The house is half packed up. Many of the toys are packed in boxes. Too many are already in the RV (have I mentioned that we are moving into an RV?).

Today we took a break  from packing and we all went to a little amusement park. We met up with some friends and the day was filled with rides and Icees  and friends, animals, animal poop, a number of tears and many laughs and hugs.

The train got stuck on the other end of the park, so the guys hopped out and pushed it along the track until it got going again on its own.

The Icees hit the spot. Youngest was sad that they didn’t make chocolate flavor, but she settled for watermelon which tasted much more like cotton candy, imo.

The petting zoo was quite a hit until Youngest got poop on her hand, or rather, until everyone looked at her because she had poop on her hand…please don’t look at her…divert your attention. 

Middlest loves roller coasters. She tried both the back and the front cars and learned first hand that the back feels faster.

Oldest  was cautious with the rides. Today she enjoyed the merry-go-round, quite a few rounds actually. 

The hot air balloon ride made me dizzy. Trying to dial the phone and take pictures while riding the hot air balloon ride made me queasy and dizzy. 

This morning, Oldest and I were trying to figure out how the waitress at the restaurant did her hair, yesterday. I thought it looked like this, but apparently it was all wrong. We decided together that next time we’ll ask if we can take a picture. We spent some time browsing through Pintrest hair demos, but none of them were what she was imagining.

So, we have a project this week…find and bookmark hair styles for Oldest…oh yeah, and FINISH PACKING!!

Back to work.

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Last spring we took our first real RV trip, ending up as far north as San Francisco. While we were there, the girls and I visited the CuriOdyssey Museum at Coyote Point. One of our favorite exhibits was the magnetic gear wall. 

My husband came across this video over the weekend on gears showing the kinds of movements and timing you can get with different shapes.

Well, the video has sort of renewed my interest in gears and I’d like to have something for us to play with here at home. Based on their interest while at the museum last year, I think the girls would have fun with them for a while too. I’ve seen these refrigerator magnet gears in a shop once, but what I really want to do is make something ourselves. I’m contemplating making one with peg board from the hardware store at some point. I’m not sure exactly how we’ll do this, but its on my mind and I’ll let you know if we come up with anything.

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Today there were extremely high tides and extremely low tides. We’ve visited the Cabrillo tidepools on other occasions, but since we were here in San Diego and we have the National Parks pass AND the tide was going to be super low, we decided to head over there. We weren’t the only people with this idea in our heads apparently.

We waited about 25 minutes in a line just to get into the park area. We were lucky, very lucky, to get there right as they were opening up the road down to the tidepools. When we got to the bottom of the road, we were the fifth car into the parking lot where there were 5 open spots. Our sister and brother-in-law were not so lucky (as were many other people). I was grateful to not have to hike up and down the long, long hill.

After slipping into the water a few times in her not-made-for-slippery-rock-navigating shoes, our 4yo started singing a song about how she didn’t care for these rocks and stuff and wanted to go back to Bampa and Nonna’s. She only wanted to see a starfish. On our way back to shore that’s exactly what we found. Whew!
I enjoy coming here. I was a little surprised that our 2yo remembered our last trip to Cabrillo. On our way back to the car she asked if I was stung by a bee again like last time.

Great parking, a starfish and no bee stings, so many things to be thankful for  on this Thanksgiving weekend trip to the tidepools.

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We love to draw with chalk. Our courtyard is covered and semi-permanently stained with many, many colors of chalk. Several weeks ago, we drove up to Redondo Beach to check out their Chalk Festival. I had only heard about it the day before, so it was too late to register to have the girls participate. When we arrived, we walked right by, or would have walked right by, the arcade. My husband seemed as drawn in as the girls. They walked around for a minute and then the girls took a ride on the little merry-go-round. They bopped some frogs and then we escaped.

When we found the Chalk Festival, there were still plenty of amateur/family entries available and the organizers easily talked us into participating. We were handed a registration form and a bag of pale chalk. The theme was “the earth” and we took it pretty literally. Surrounding our beige and blue planet, however, were fairies, hearts, dinosaurs, other planets, a dolphin (I think) and a pink house. Deep stuff. If we could have explained it, we wouldn’t have had to draw it folks.

Even the baby got into it.

We were sandwiched in between two professional artists who were planning on spending the entire four available hours to complete their drawings. We took away a few things from watching them work: gloves, grids, starting in the middle and (the most exciting discovery for me) pastel chalk! I had only ever seen oil pastels. I had no idea chalk pastels existed. I still haven’t made it to the art store to pick some up. I think I might try to do that before we leave on our long trip.

You can kind of see one of our neighboring artist’s gridded square in the picture below. And there I am smudging Baja. 

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Horses It Is

Our 4yo loves horses. I’d like to be able to find ways for her to be around them more often. I plan on looking into local stables, but since we will be on the road for a while, the next month or so, we’ll just have to keep our eyes open for opportunities as we go.

We went by a stable on our way home from Pinecrest Lake last week where the older two girls were able to ride. Even though she was able to be on the horse for an hour or so, our 4yo was crying when we had to leave. She still talks about Susie-Q being her best friend and she makes sure to let us know how much she misses her.

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On our way up to Pinecrest Lake a couple weeks ago, we saw a sign right on the side of the road for “The Fossil Discovery Center” in Chowchilla (19450 Road 21 1/2) off highway 99. We were tempted to pull Classy off the freeway and go right then, but some of the girls were napping and I hesitated a moment too long. We looked it up on the iPad and discovered that they opened the center less than a year ago. It is built across the street from the Fairmead Landfill where fossils were discovered by a landfill employee back in 1993. The first of the fossils was a 500,000 year old Mammoth tusk that had been burried 35 feet below the surface of the ground.  A year later, the San Joaquin Valley Paleontology Foundation was formed and since then, Fairmead Landfill and Paleontologists from the center have been working together to excavate hundreds of bones from prehistoric animals including ancient horses, camels, giant sloths, and Columbian mammoths. A lot of this information is not available on their website yet. We ended up visiting the center on our way home (that’s how I actually know all this, ya’ll). The best resource, in my opinion, on their website is the video page.

On our way home once we had internet again we looked up the hours for the center. We realized then that we were still about 2 and a half hours out and the center would be closing in exactly 2 and a half hours. My husband set the cruise control a little faster than our optimal mpg speed (still well under the speed limit) and we arrived right as they were about to lock the door. Blake, the friendly tour guide/paleontologist let us join in on the end of the tour in progress, so we did get to see a good deal of what they have to offer. We are realy looking forward to going back and spending more time there. The highlights for me were getting to talk to a real live paleontologist and see actual fossils. I know they are all over the place, but they still make my heart beat faster.

This site is one of the largest middle-Pleistocene fossil beds in North America. Fossils have been found over more than 14 acres at depths of ten to sixty feet. According to Robert Dundas, a vertebrate paleontologist at Cal State Fresno, “There’s no indication of fossils running out any time soon. I don’t think anyone knows how big the site really is.” Seriously makes me giddy.

Our 4yo and the baby walked through the tour with us and our 2yo kept herself entertained by the table height rolling sand box with plastic dinosaurs and cave men and women figurines. I have to admit the juxtaposition of the humans and dinosaurs was a little too reminiscent of all the creationism of my past and made me a little uncomfortable, but I reminded myself that she often has Strawberry Shortcake play right in the midst of her elephants and giraffes and this to her is just as fantastical. Just about then she said something about the dinosaurs looking for worms for food and I noticed that their heads were buried in the sand like ostriches. She dug around them with her plastic blue shovel that she grabbed as we had hurriedly exited the RV, saying something to the likes of, “have to bring it to dig up fahw-sools.”

Our 4yo liked the fact that she could pick up fossils of giant shells and a few large bones.There were also coloring pages for the kids. Blake, our guide, told us it was fine to take them with us, so the girls enjoyed coloring them in their car seats for an hour or so after we left. I enjoyed studying the folding timeline of the ages that we picked up in the gift shop.

I don’t know much about it, but there is a mock dig program, that I believe is geared towards kids. Its $4. It might be fun, but I want to see a real dig! The center is open Tuesday through Sunday, 9am to 4pm. Its $8 for adults, $6 for kids ages 4 and older (with discounts for students, seniors and military).

I definitely recommend this if you live relatively near or if you are travelling along the 99.

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This morning we hiked around Gum Grove Park looking for bugs and sneezing our brains out. Well actually, the only two who seemed to be suffering the latter were myself and my poor niece who has inherited my side of the family’s allergies. My sister-in-law came along and we wore off some calories carrying the babies and pushing the other kids around in the strollers when they decided they needed breaks.

A friend of ours recently took some amazing photos here at this park and I was dreaming about the day when I would have more time to devote to things like photography.

There were very few bugs out to our surprise, so the bug jars only contained a couple snail shells and a single beetle. We saw a whole lot of yellow flowers and large patches of daisies and very tall thistles.

At one point, when my 4yo was walking up the hill a bit, she turned around with an excited look on her face and shouted, “bear!” It only ended up being a large golden retriever. I’m still not sure if she really thought it was a bear or if she was imagining that it was a bear. Her face was pretty funny and she didn’t seem at all worried, just excited, so I’m guessing it was pretending.

We walked along the road at the bottom of the hill to the Heron Pointe Cultural Education Center. We stopped at the end where there was a circular wall with steps leading down inside the circle. The kids ran while I found the ancient artifacts that had been inserted right into the wall. I think my 4yo might be able to find things like that soon. Next time we come down here I’d lke to bring some paper and charcoal or a crayon to let them take rubbings of the designs that have been etched into the rocks around the perimeter.

If you are looking for lizards, this is the place to come. We saw plenty. This one was moving a little slower, maybe because its tail has suffered a bit.

I’m including a gallery with the signs we saw that taught us a little history of the land. I’ve gotten into the habit of taking photos of the signs and reading them when we get home because there just isn’t enough time for me to do this in the moment.

I was surprised at how much time went by as we hiked along. I think I need to find some more parks like this where we can lose ourselves in nature. This was quite a pleasant morning and afternoon.

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