Saturday, July 31, 2010

Tour of America - Day Twenty One

K and T came and treated everyone to a wonderful French toast breakfast, after which we started packing up. Uncle L took lots of pictures of everyone before we hitched up Popper and pulled out.

Before leaving Agua Dulce, we pulled into the Vasquez Rocks Regional Park to gawk at the rock formations which have been featured in many Hollywood movies.

Then, down the hill toward the valley. Papa Bear got to indulge a little nostalgia listening to KLOS, and “in town” we stopped off at a family favorite for lunch.

The entire building is designed after a chalet in the Yukon, complete with (artificial) snow on the roof.

Boys and snow shoes.
Probably a good thing there was no real snow.

The best part of eating here is....

...the peanut snacks with permission to be as messy as you like. The boys loved that.

The Cubs all had their first Shirley Temples (which BooBoo later dubbed "Cherry Palace").

After a satisfying lunch.

A hop, skip and a jump later, we were at our hotel where we met up with family friends for swimming, dinner and catching up, and Banana Bear rejoined us after a few days spent with her mom and friends.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Tour of America - Day Twenty

T-Bear and I were up early to go meet Dr. Steve, a dear friend of Uncle L’s who is a respected and very talented naturalpath and practitioner of Chinese medicine, chiropractic, acupuncture, and I don’t know what else. We talked about T-Bear’s T1 and sensory processing challenges, and Dr. Steve recommended some supplements and dietary changes, which we will begin implementing once we’ve returned home. It was one of the least stressful meetings with a medical practitioner that we’ve had in a very long time, Dr. Steve is a wonderful person, and we enjoyed being in his remarkably peaceful and restful home/office.

Back to the house where Papa Bear was catching up on work and roasting coffee. Then he took off to go visit his cousin in the hospital in LA while the rest of us relaxed (again!). Papa arrived back at the house just in time for a little birthday party for Auntie L. Papa’s Santa Clarita cousins and their families were there, and much laughing and enjoyment was involved.

After a long night of partying.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tour of America - Day Nineteen

Another “down” day at our temporary home base. Everyone relaxed, swam, and played, except Papa Bear who got some work done from his laptop on the back patio.

BooBoo became Auntie’s helper feeding the horses.

Loading the trailer with hay.

A private ride...with hay.

Having a chat over breakfast.
Right there from the house, we got to see another California icon...brush fires.

From the back the right...

...and to the left.
They never got close enough to threaten the house. One was put out within a few hours, and the second moved off over the hills to burn the Lancaster area. The glow from the blaze was seen far into the night.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tour of America - Day Eighteen

Off to the beach! But, first, the infamous LA traffic and hazy skyline.

We met up with The LA Cousins at the Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica, a nice little grouping of food vendors, playground, pool, restrooms, showers, etc., set up in a very family-friendly way. It was cold and windy, so though the kids did spend a fair amount of time in the water, there was also plenty of time for visiting, eating, and other dryer activities.

Brother Bear and his frie.

T-Bear indulging.

T-Bear chillin'.

Banana Bear hangin'.

Papa Bear visiting.
BooBoo was feeling a bit poorly and snuggled under a towel for the first hour or so...

...before popping up and dashing off to romp.

Can't keep a good man down.

Bro & BooBoo digging.
After packing up or shivering selves and heading out, we passed the Santa Monica pier...

...and went through downtown LA...

....and past the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra's famous building-sized portraits...

...before heading to The Cousin's house for pizza dinner and a visit. Then, the long drive back up the hill to our home away from home.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tour of America - Day Seventeen

A full day of blessed rest and relaxation. Except for Papa Bear who made calls and answered e-mails much of the day while the kids romped in the pool, zoomed around on the quad, played DS and Wii, and watched TV. Papa did take the opportunity to amaze everyone with his coffee roasting prowess. In the evening, old friends who live in the area came by for dinner and a visit. As usual, I forgot to take pictures of people. Bugger.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tour of America - Day Sixteen

We were treated to a lovely pancake breakfast before packing up and attempting to head out. Another electrical glitch which disallowed lowering the roof of the camper. But, Papa Bear figured it out, we got Popper buttoned up, and off we went. Mama Bear drove so Papa could jump onto a conference call at noon. Hauling up and over Teton Pass was no problem for the Sequoia, but dealing with the crazy truckers was another matter. One of the more interesting features of driving through so many states is noticing the difference in “driving style”. I have to say, California is my least favorite style.

I realized at some point that I was having difficulty deciding what to take photos of as we passed through California, because it’s all so familiar to me. I lived most of my life in various parts of California, have seen much of its landscape, and as such, nothing felt “new” to me. So, I tried putting on “new eyes”, seeing things as a first-time visitor might, and taking photos accordingly. Probably with mixed results…

At the top of Teton Pass we saw Diamond Lake (which is much larger that in appears in this picture).

And, not too much further along, we pulled in to Aunt & Uncle L’s place in Agua Dulce. Despite it being the first meeting for most of us, we were immediately made to feel welcome and comfortable. The kids all instantly hit it off with Cousin C, and were in the pool for hours of swimming. Then, off to the stables for a ride on the quad and trailer.

Later that day, Auntie K and family came over, and Uncle T gave all the kids “the ride of your life”, zooming around the sables and corrals and kicking up dust, much to the glee of the kids. And, of course, I had to find at least one flower to photograph.

A nice dinner, lots of visiting, and then off to bed.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Tour of America - Day Fifteen

After packing up camp in record time, trying to ID and fix an electrical problem, we fled from the flies and zipped back down the mountain, much to the digestive distress of two of the kids (yes, a barf bag was involved). We did pause long enough to appreciate the incredible view from above the clouds.

Flat land yielded a very nice breakfast spot, Cedar House in Hollister. The kids were all over the all-you-can-eat breakfast-and-lunch buffet, the food was great, and the service was wonderful. If you’re ever in the area, it’s worth dropping in for a bite to eat. And, in the parking lot Papa Bear was able to figure out the electrical problem, which turned out to be a fuse.

We had to forego our daily Rush song, as Papa Bear had inadvertently dunked his iPod in the Rogue River; we settled for selections on Mama Bear’s iPod (including Doctor Dimento) to fill the drive time.

We passed by St Luis Reservoir on our way to Porterville (yes, it is very low).

And driving through the valley we were reminded of the difference between cattle ranches where the animals are out in fields grazing, and feed lots where they’re all confined in a tiny area and stand around in their own poo and pee all day. The smell was so vile a couple of us were gagging as we drove by.

We pulled into Auntie K’s place mid-afternoon, and the kids immediately settled in with their auntie. She had more help in the kitchen than she knew what to do with, and “Autnie K’s Kitchen” was open for business by dinnertime. After dinner and the kids settled in for the night, it was the two old-time girlfriends up into the wee hours catching up.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tour of America - Day Fourteen

Although the flies had disappeared during the night, shortly after sunrise they made their appearance. We dressed, packed our supplies into Popper and left camp intact as we bolted down the mountain to civilization. We invaded Grandma C’s place in Marina, and she and I took the kids to the beach while Papa Bear caught up on e-mails.

Four Bears taking in the mighty Pacific.

Despite the cool weather and colder water, the kids had a blast playing in the ocean.

BooBoo in the waves.

Contemplating going back in.

T-Bear having been doused.

BroBear doused and pummeled by a big wave.

"Did you see that wave?!?"

T-Bear and Banana, last ones out of the water.

Back to Grandma’s place to clean up, throw beach clothes in the wash, and lunch. Then a mini-Star Trek marathon (“The Trouble with Tribbles” was the kids’ favorite) and visiting before dinner. Then, back to our dark, tippy camper for bed.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Tour of America - Day Thirteen

Packing up took a little longer, as we’d been at our site for a few days. And added some equipment. Papa Bear picked up a “First Up” shade/canopy thing, which definitely came in handy. Thankfully, we’ve eaten enough food I could empty one of the food boxes completely and stack it, saving space inside the camper. We said our goodbyes to family and headed for California.

Just inside California, we came up on Mount Shasta, still showing off snow.

Mount Shasta

Shasta Lake

T-Bear sleeping. A popular past-time in the car.

Rolling hills of California

California oaks.

Ships at Oakland harbor
After a ten-mile drive up a TINY winding road...
...we reached the campground at Fremont Peak State Park. Definitely the most “primitive” camping we’d done; no water or electrical hookups, “non-flush” toilets, and no showers. There was water at a spigot. And flies. Lots and lots of flies. And we had an electrical problem with the camper, so there were no lights inside. And the site was not level, so despite our best efforts the camper was listing to one side. Made for interesting sleeping arrangements.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tour of America - Day Twelve

Crater Lake, Oregon. "Spectacular" can't begin to adequately describe. So, I'll just show you some pictures.

Just after I took this shot, a guy came up to us and asked if he could take our picture in the same pose for a documentary he was filming on the Park. He also shot a short video interviewing Papa Bear.

Yes, we ARE standing on SNOW! It freezes almost every night of the year up there.

As usual, I was amazed by the beautiful little flowers that survive in such a harsh climate.

We took a short hike.

This is Wizard Island.

There is only one path that leads down to the lake (this is not it), to a boat launch where they give tours.

The lake is a complete closed rivers going in and none coming out. It has reached a state of eqillibrium, so the water level varies only about three feet from year to year. The lake is almost 2,000 feet deep at its deepest point.

Our driving tour took most of the day, including the drive up, frequent stops at overlooks, and the drive back. Just in time for dinner and hanging out.

BooBoo with his Godfather/Uncle.