Saturday, July 5, 2008

Pan Am Fiesta

Does your town put on a festival? Carnival?

When I was a kid, there was the Walnut Festival. It came the same weekend every fall to Walnut Creek. As a kid, I thought I would die if I didn't go. My parents never took me. (And I lived.) They told me it was overpriced, underrated and not worth our time.

Fast forward 20 years and now the kids are bugging us to go the the Pan Am Fiesta. After living here several years, we decided to do it ONCE and force our kids to promise they won't bother us to do it again. We have documented proof so when they whine and beg next year, we can remind them.

p.s. Mom and dad, you were right. It is overpriced, underrated and not worth our time. And, full of circus freaks and skanky teenagers.

The kids did have a great time.

State Capital

While Brent was working in Sacramento, I decided to take the kids to the State Capital Building for the free tour. You know, try to expose them to educational experiences. We walked up the street from our hotel, and I have to say, it was quite an impressive structure. Hard to believe it was built in 1860-1874.

Check out that door! That's quite an entrance. Everything about the construction was impressive to me. Maybe it's because our 60 year old house seems to be falling apart. But more on details later.

When we got into the building (after passing through a thorough security screening) everyone kept telling us we should go stand in a particular hallway. Turns out Governor Schwarzenegger was there that day signing something and holding a press conference. I was unsure - the kids had been cranky and the thought of standing and waiting with 3 testy kids did not sound appealing. But fortunately, about 3 minutes later, the door opened and out walked the Govenator.

This wasn't using the zoom. We were that close. Nate got to shake his hand, but Sarah didn't get her hand out in time.

After the tour, we stopped by his office, but he had already left.

Following are some pictures from the building. No wonder it took 14 years to build the capital. Look at the workmanship.

The domed ceiling.

The floor of the California House of Representatives.

Detailed carving on the staircase.

Doorknob. What if my doorknobs looked like this?

Mosiac tilework in the hallway. Different hallways had different colors and designs. I LOVE mosiac tiles.

Stained glass seal of California.

Sidenote: Nate went to scout camp earlier this summer and worked on the "Citizenship in the Nation" merit badge. Visiting the state capital (and the tall ships in San Francisco) fulfilled one of the requirements. His friends had to write an essay in place of visiting historical sites. We had fun AND have finished one required merit badge on the path to Eagle Scout.

Jelly Belly

One the way to Sacramento, we passed the town where Jelly Belly candies are made. Since Brent had two days of work to do, we thought that would be a fun (and delicious) way to pass some time. Nate had already watched the episode of "How It's Made" featuring the Jelly Belly Factory, so he was there to tell us if they skipped any steps. The cooking areas had such an overpowering sweet, sugary smell. I love sweets, but I think working there would seriously curb that habit. (Sign me up for a job!) Unfortunately, cameras weren't allowed where the actually MAKE the candies, but we got some shots before and after.

Free samples. woot woot!

And a tasting bar, where you could sample any of the flavors. We sampled.

The girls really wanted to trade the van in for this set of wheels.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Chance encounter

When we were driving up Comistas Court, there were two families walking with small children. We had to slow down because Comistas Court is a very narrow street. As we cautiously drove past, I looked over at one of the families. The mom looked eerily familiar. We passed and got to the cul-de-sac part of the street where our house was, parked and got out to look at the house. As the woman got closer, I had to say something. I asked her if she lived on the street, and she said no, but her parents did. I told her I used to live in the house we were standing in front of. I asked, "Are you Lisa Lockwood?" and she asked, "Are you Shannon Livingstone?" and we both sorta freaked out.

There were a few girls on our street - my sister Amy and I, Lisa Lockwood, Amy Corrigan, and Amanda Baak. Lisa and my sister were the same age, Amy C. was a year younger, and Amanda and I were the same age. We all played together all the time, went on trips with each other's families, etc. It was a total trip to see her. It turns out her parents do still live at the top of the hill, her 97 year old grandpa still lives next door to her parents, and her sister still lives next to our old house. She lives nearby in Walnut Creek.

Myself, Lisa and Amy playing dress up. I'm the one holding Shawdow, our black cat.

Lisa and I today.

Golden Gate Bridge & Muir Woods

Golden Gate Bridge
We couldn't go to San Francisco and not go to the Golden Gate Bridge. The day we went had classic San Francisco weather.

Here we are, standing at the base of the bridge, which you can't see due to the fog.

We decided to walk across anyway. Well, walk half way across and then back. That qualifies as walking across the bridge, right?!

The fog started lifting as we walked...

...leading to a beautiful day.

Muir Woods
After walking on the bridge, we hoped in the car and drove to Marin County. I love that the Bay Area offers so many things to do. Muir Woods was less than a 45 minute drive from the city. An interesting fact: Coastal redwood trees have indeterminate growth. The tallest recorded to date is 379.1 feet tall or 115.5 meters. This is the same height as a 35 story building.

After the hour hike, the kids were ready to head home. I was sad that we couldn't go to nearby Stinson Beach, but there's only so much you can pack into a day.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Fentons: It's as good as you remember

One of the special things we would do when I was a kid is go out for ice cream at Fentons.

This was no ordinary, grocery store ice cream. This was AMAZING ice cream. This was "skip dinner, we're going to Fentons for dessert" ice cream. Well, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

The infamous "Black and Tan" sundae. Don't you wish you were there?

I wish I was there again. Right now.

Brent had a delicious brownie sundae. cream...yummm

Nate enjoyed a sundae. Small steps, my son. You will graduate to the Black and Tan someday.

Sarah somehow talked us into TWO kids scoops!

Allison was excited about the cookie...

...and then not excited about her choice in ice cream flavor. Typical. We tried sharing what we had and offered ordering a new scoop, but nothing would tame the beast. Exactly the reaction you want when you spend $3.50 on a kids scoop!

Fentons. Can't wait to go back.