Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Redwoods

The Redwood is now the ideal tree in my mind. When I think of a tree, it is a Redwood. The Redwoods are awesome and I wish we could have spent more time hanging around them, but again we were on a timeline, so we did the whirlwind tour. We saw a lot of beautiful trees,  traveled the Avenue of the Giants, and did the drive-thru tree. We did not see the largest tree, or the oldest tree, etc, but we really enjoyed the Redwoods. 

San Francisco - Round 2

On our way back up Route 1 my cousin Heather and her husband Mark were gracious enough to allow us to stay once more at there place in San Francisco. Unfortunately it was another quick trip, so we couldn't see too much, but Mark was nice enough to map out a quick car tour of the city, so we did the fastest sightseeing tour of the city in history. We drove and "saw" most of the sights in about an hour. Our pictures all kind of suck, due to fog and time constraints, so if you want to see better pictures.... look them up!

I can't wait to get back one day and really experience the city for a longer period of time.

Route 1 - LA to San Francisco

We drove from Temecula over through L.A. (got a taste of the worst traffic in the US and a glimpse of the Hollywood sign) and then caught Route 1 basically from L.A. up to San Francisco. It was quite beautiful. Many, many vistas, each more beautiful than the last. We saw surfers, kite-surfers, windsurfers, lighthouses, a lot of vast open Pacific ocean, a lot of fog, and elephant seals!

The Route 1 drive is nice because California (like Oregon) was fairly smart back in the day and designated much of the land as State and National Parks, so as you drive along you see nice clean landscapes as opposed to hotels, fast food, trashy souvenir shops and tacky tourist restaurants. Route 1 is very tourist friendly however, with many pull-off areas, picnic areas, bathrooms, and nicely labeled “Vista Points” and “Beach Views”.

Dotting the coast you find “State Beaches,” such as the one we stayed at on the first night. These are camping areas run by the Park Service, complete with flush toilets and running water (some have showers). A cheaper and more fun alternative to staying a hotel!

Sandy Eggo Zoo

While down in Temecula, we took a family trip to the zoo. I was pretty excited having heard that the San Diego Zoo was something special and having several people mention “You have to go to the San Diego Zoo.” But all in all it was not as exciting as I thought it would be. As usual the zoo consisted of what seemed like 75% empty cages. Most of the animals were doing the only logical thing and hiding in their caves out of the hot San Diego sun. I can’t really say I blame them… but it is their job to entertain me! I want dancing bears! (Or at least visible bears)!

And I couldn’t find my favorite animal… the anteater, so it was kind of a bummer. I guess the zoo was nice overall (clean, nicely planned and laid out, nice exhibits, etc) but I think it was just talked-up too much. Or maybe zoos just really aren’t that interesting because the animals don’t have the same opinion about their role in the whole zoo scene that I have. Or maybe I’m just taking for granted the fact that I saw so many animals from all over the globe in one condensed place.

Bottom line…. It was fun, but not as fun as I expected, and I am zoo-ed out for about 10 years.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fulfilled a childhood dream: LEGOLAND!

When I was a kid I heard about this magical fantasyland called Legoland. There was one in Denmark (home of the Lego), and one in California. Both places seemed unfathomably distant, and equally impossible to reach, so over the years the hope of ever reaching this magical place faded…

Fastforward about 15-ish years… I find out that Legoland is only 45 minutes away from Temecula CA, and they can get a military discount! It has been so long since I have even seen a Lego, that I had forgotten that Legoland existed, but I was immediately obsessed with going. And suddenly, something which was completely unattainable as a kid, was simply a hop, skip, and a jump away. So we went…

The experience of being at Legoland, is maybe not as magical is it would seem if I was there when I was maybe 10 years old. When we passed through the turnstiles my initial glee quickly turned into a kind of what-the-hell-are-we-doing-here dread, when it occurred to me how old I am.

And it was pretty damn awesome! The Star Wars exhibit was in itself well worth the price of the ticket. Mini USA was also very impressive. We rode some rides, which would have been more fun if we were maybe 5 as the park is clearly designed for kids…

I got all I wanted, and more from the visit, which was to see some fantastic displays of creativity through Legos and live out a childhood dream. It really makes me want to play with Legos… or better yet, find out how you get the job of designing and building the exhibits at Legoland.

I am including several picture collages for your enjoyment.

We visited Tess' Sister in Temecula, CA

We traveled down to Temecula, CA for 3.5 weeks to visit with Tess' sister Jenny and her family. The family members included Jenny and Kriket and their 3 kids: Cypher (4 yrs), Bastion (2 yrs), and Chance (1 month). We enjoyed spending time with them and hanging out with the kids. Temecula is hot and desert-like. It didn’t rain a drop the whole time we were there.