Saturday, September 15, 2012

Summer California Trip

A few days ago I returned from California, where I spent 17 days visiting my family.  This was something of a momentous trip because I drove down there alone...well, almost alone...with my big dog, Bailey.  I broke the drive up in 2 days each direction, staying at the dog-friendly La Quinta in Redding, CA both times.

Bailey was a champ in the car.  He is allotted the entire back seat to stretch out his 100 lb. shagginess, and he only got fidgety when it was time for a stretch or a potty break.  And even though, at 11 years old, I'm not sure how threatening he would be to someone who would try to harm me, it was still a comfort to have him along.  My mom's dog, a passive but beautiful Golden Retriever named Brinkley, was very happy to have his friend return after nearly a year (we took Bailey down at Christmas.)  I know that Bailey enjoyed Brinkley too, and it was cute to see them walk side by side on familiar routes when they would get their evening strolls each night.

However, neither Bailey nor I enjoyed the CA heat.  Wow.  It hovered around the triple digits nearly every day.  My mom's house has air conditioning, but because of the remodeling going on, the heat from outside is not sealed off, so it was of little use.

Oy, the remodeling...

The company she is using is doing a great job, staying on schedule, etc., but it was hard for me to adjust to the pounding that would begin daily at 7am, and not having any access to the living room, dining room, or family room in an already small house.  The family room is what is being completely redone.  I knew that this lack of space would be challenging, which is why I wanted to bring my car.  It was a very good decision!

But, despite the heat and the tight quarters, I was thrilled to see my two favorite little people, my niece and nephew, pictured above.  They are so cute and so fun and I always want to be in touch with them.  I met my brother and the kids at a couple of parks, took my nephew one day to Kidspace Museum, and then the 4 of us went to the Aquarium of the Pacific last Friday.  That was a lot of fun.  My brother has talked to my nephew a lot about sea animals, fish vs. mammals, etc. and I could tell he was taking it all in.  My niece, who is only 2, kept saying, "Fishies!"
Playing at the park in the sprinklers with his new umbrella

My cute boy!  Too bad it turned out blurry.

She is a charmer.

It was tough to coordinate the animals and the kids' expressions!  Jonathan got a better picture of the kids, but with no sea lions behind them.

In front of the "Finding Nemo" tank at the aquarium.

These sea dragons never cease to amaze me!

Jellyfish!  I love looking at all of the different kinds of jellyfish.

After all of the fascinating live animals, my nephew's favorite part of the whole day was playing with the rain at the model showing the different reservoirs in Southern CA. 

The night before I left, my sister-in-law brought the kids over so I could see them one last time.  I packed and they played on the iPad.  Gosh, I love these kids!  

When I look back on the two weeks, I actually did quite a lot!  I had lunch with my cute grandma, lunch with my friend, Heather; my mom and I spent several days making trips to Ethan Allen and Calico Corner in Pasadena to look at fabric because she will be redoing a lot of her furniture; my friends, Heather and Amy and I did a session at the LA Temple, we had the Kidspace and aquarium trips, and my mom and I went to 2 concerts. 

The first concert we went to was such a treat!  We got to see Steve Martin perform on the banjo with the Steep Canyon Rangers.  It was all bluegrass and fun, upbeat music.  He was very funny and it was a great thrill to see him in person.  My husband and I have been wanting to see him perform and it was just dumb luck that he happened to be in LA while I was there, so my mom went with me.  It was expensive, but worth every penny.  Here is are 2 of my favorite songs they performed:

 Atheists Don't Have No Songs

Daddy Played the Banjo (Steve Martin on banjo, lead singer for the SCRs singing the lyrics; written by Steve Martin)

Lastly, the other fun thing was to finally meet my mom's new cat, Booker.  He was found wandering around an apartment house by my uncle, who knew that my mom had just lost her cat.  Booker is a delight!  He has no fear and he's everywhere we go, inside or outside, any room, with the kids, in the gazebo, front yard or back yard.  And to top it off, he's gorgeous!

All in all, it was a good trip.  I arrived home very tired after 17 days away and a lot of driving, but I'm glad I went.  I'm also glad I'm home!