Thursday, July 28, 2011

Fresno Fun

Tom and Ruth asked me to go to Fresno with the family to watch the kids while they went to a Mona Vie/Team convention.  I am not sold on Mona Vie or Team, but I am sold on family and those grandkids, so I took a day off work for a long weekend in Fresno.   

After getting to our hotel (the Radisson) Friday, we walked to Joe’s Steakhouse.  Ruth, good on-line researcher that she is, found a hamburger lunch special at Joe’s.  (I liked the name.  Joe and Steakhouse are among two of my favorite words, not that I can remember the last time I have gone to a steakhouse!)  The restaurant was full of cowboy d├ęcor but empty of people.  Well, it was late for lunch and early for dinner.  The waitress said they weren’t doing that special anymore.  Ruth reminded her that it is currently on the website.  The waitress said they had a new webmaster.  Ruth expressed hope that they would honor their advertising. Ruth was very pleasant but firm.  I am not sure, but I think she won.  The hamburgers were ok, not the excellent food we expected from the word steakhouse, but not bad.  The kids really enjoyed the lunch. 

The kids and I hung out in the hotel room while Tom and Ruth crossed the street to the convention.  Since we were right across the street, friends who were in a cheaper place further away had their teenage girl baby sitter and the week(s?) old baby come to our room.  They were both very quiet and cute.  I was glad that Sophie (my laptop) had come along.  The Hinds had brought some DVDs but the hotel room didn’t come with a DVD player.  Sophie to the rescue!  Ruth and Tom came back with Pizza for supper and came back again around 9pm to see the kids before bedtime.  Then back to their meetings until around midnight.  (Another reason I do not belong in Team!)  

I woke up at my usual 5ish Saturday morning and was lying there wondering what I wanted to do about it when surprisingly the Esther and Jared woke up soon after.  Although they were using soft voices, Ruth woke up and then Naomi.  The folks were not pleased that the kids were up before the sun, but the kids got to see the sunrise as our window faced east. 

Tom and Ruth returned to their Team Meetings which they seemed to be enjoying thoroughly.  The kids and I headed out to the Pioneer Day Breakfast being held behind the Fresno Temple.  We met up with our cousins David & Melissa, their daughter and nephew who had heard Hinds were coming to Fresno and told them about the breakfast.  (Melissa’s great grandfather is my ex-husband Glen’s grandfather.)  We go there just as they were announcing last call for seconds, but we got scrambled eggs, sausage and cinnamon roll. Not bad.  The only thing I know we missed is orange juice, but we got milk.  Naomi loved the cinnamon roll.  Got it all over herself.  Esther played Stick Pull and Tug-of-War.  Jared got his face painted.  The kids had snowcones.  I think they passed on the cotton candy.

It was getting pretty hot as the Pioneer Day wound down and the kids were eager to visit the Splash Park in Playland.  First we walked around the Fresno Temple.  It is a good bit smaller than the Sacramento Temple, which is a smallish temple.  I think it is a wonderful plan to have more small temples close to more people!  
Roeding Park is a bit like Sacramento’s William Land Park – Zoo, Storyland, Playland, duck ponds, picnic areas.  Roeding has playground which William Land does not.  I don’t know if Roeding has a golf course or a outdoor theater, but we didn’t look around all that much.  At the Splash Park, I admit I was selective about the rules I read.  I seem to have missed the rule about being in swim clothes, but I definitely noted the rule about walking not running on wet cement.  Jared and Esther played for over an hour.  Naomi and I dabbled a little, just got our feet wet, but mostly sat in the shade and watched.  Jared’s cat face disappeared leaving only smudges here and there.

Finally, refreshed, the kids were ready to move on.  Esther was too cold then for their promised carousel ride, so we went exploring at Storyland.  I told Esther I wasn’t buying the key because the kids wouldn’t hold still long enough to listen to the stories, so the nice lady “loaned” Esther “her” key.  (She only turned on one story book, partly because she hadn’t realized what they were.  It was fuzzy and hard to understand, so that was that.  But she liked wearing a “golden” key around her neck).  When Esther tried to return the key as we left, a different nice lady told her to keep it.  Story Land is somewhat like Sacramento’s Fairytale Town only it appears older, both in style of the storybook characters and the need for maintenance and repairs.  What a fun place for children to explore!  Shady trails winding up down and around.  Not ADA or stroller accessible everywhere, so as the kids happily scampered  up stairs I would keep one eye on them while looking for a stroller friendly route to their destination.  The kids were not much interested in the literary aspect of the park, but they loved exploring, running and climbing.  From StoryLand we went back for their carousel ride. 
Ride over, Esther and Jared felt ready for sandwiches so it was time to go to Subway.  Jared had the sandwich of the day – roast beef.  Esther and I shared a bacon sandwich –tomato for me, not for her.  Naomi had bits of each.  

By then it was 4ish.  I thought the zoo closed at 5:30, but we had heard that Fresno has an especially nice zoo, so we went.  The ticket lady told us the zoo closed at 6pm, however when Ruth and I were exchanging text messages about whether the kids were available for a parental visit a few minutes after 6 we were still having a wild time at the zoo.  We did drift out then.  The zoo had lots of shaded paths.  Nice.  The kids had a great time at the dinosaur diggings convinced that they were real. We saw sea lions, elephants,  fresh water rays, and a two toed sloth as well as animals that we might find at our own Sacramento Zoo.  The Fresno zebras were more white than the Sacramento zebras -different species.  The grizzly bear was smaller than I expected.  A young bear, or have I blown them up in my imagination?  I bet it would look bigger if we met in the forest!

We had a great day.  Naomi was an angel all day long.  As soon as we approached the hotel room door, she began to fuss.  Not as bad as Friday.  (She cried for hours Friday evening before and after Ruth’s 9pm visit.)   Ruth had brought a cooler full of food.  For Friday’s dinner we paraded through the hotel carrying our bowls of macaroni and cheese down to the microwave in the little Java shop off the lobby and then back to our room.   Jared was in the tub  when Esther who had been eating slowly announced that she felt sick.  I grabbed an almost empty waste basket out of the bathroom and she used it.  Too much outside in the heat, probably.  She just stayed quiet the rest of the evening and was better in the morning.  We watched Harry Potter until the folks came and told the kids to go to bed.  After Tom and Ruth left again (they didn’t finish until after 2), Naomi cried and cried, but Esther managed to soothe her and she went to sleep.  

We were a little late to Sacrament Meeting.  I was surprised how far we had to go to get to an LDS chapel.  A couple of good talks about honoring our pioneer heritage by a young married couple.  Then we hurried back to the convention center for the Team Interdenominational Church Service.  Testimonies of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Can’t argue with that.  We finished packing. Tom loaded up the car.  Tom and Ruth went to more meetings.  The kids and I, along with a couple of teens and their charges (1 year and nearly new), hung out in the hotel room until 2.  The other babies’ parents were done then.  It was also check out time, so the kids and I hung out in the lobby for another hour or so.  Oh, we went out to a little garden area by the pool for a few minutes – it was too hot to say out there and it was small with nothing to do. Except look for Jared’s tooth which came out as soon as we got to the little garden seat.  We didn’t find it.  

When it was time to get in the car to head home  Jared nearly cried, but it was none too soon for me.  Esther, Jared and Naomi were great, but I was ready to be home. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Saturday Plans

It's Hop A Park Day and Sugar Cookie Day.   I am hoping to hop over to a park today.  After some Saturday chores and before picking Benjamin up at 6.

Benjamin is at Stake Youth Conference having a missionary weekend experience.

The State of California is in a big budget mess.  The budget for State Parks has been cut back so much that we are going to have to close 1/3 of the parks in our system.  70 parks will be closed by the end of next year. 70 Parks!!  The good news is Mac Kerricher State Park one of my personal favorites where we have often
family camped in Fort Bragg is not on the closure list.  Near by Russian Gulch State Park is. : (  We are going to try to visit some of them before they are closed. Today I would like to visit South Yuba River State Park. The area includes the longest single-span covered bridge in the world, the steep rugged canyon of the South Yuba River, and the Independence Trail--the first identified wheelchair-accessible
wilderness trail in the country.

We also want to visit Jack London State Historic Park ( Have you read any of his books?  Call of the Wild.  White Fang.  Sea Wolf.  I cannot remember what else.)  and not far from there Bothe Napa Valley State Park and connected to it by a trail I would like to take, Bale Grist Mill State Park, the site of a water-powered grist mill that was built in 1846.  The mill and its 36-foot water wheel are a state historic landmark and have been partially restored. Additionally, the park includes the site of the first church in the Napa Valley as well as the Pioneer Cemetery.  We want to do those all in one day, when we have more time than today.

The trouble is we have so many Saturday plans!

Next week is granddaughter Naomi's birthday party - Dr. Suess theme.  What shall we do to dress for the occasion?

The week after that Tom and Ruth have  convention in Fresno and I am going with them to take care of the kids. There are some fun places for the kids and I to visit there.  I hope it is not too hot!  Fresno gets hotter than Sacramento, I think. And doesn't get the Delta Breeze.  Love the Delta breeze! even though wind makes biking harder for me.  IF we decide it is too hot, we might just stay in the motel, watch movies, play games (and jump on the beds?).  But I hope we can go out and visit places.  There is a place like Fairy Tale Town here in Sacramento that sounds fun.  I forget what else.  Need to do some research.  (Maybe Ruth will.  smile)

Then the next weekend is granddaughter Esther's baptism.  Sariah's family might do a mad dash down for the event and back?!  Happy face!!  Maybe a book exchange?  Acadia got some books for her birthday that sound good and she and Sariah might like The Help and by then we will be done with Cleo: The Cat Who Mended a Family.   Both great reads.

That fills up July.

The first Saturday in August MIGHT be open for our Jack London/Bothe-Napa Valley/Bale Grist Mill excursion.

The next weekend I am thinking about going to the Nevada County Fair in Grass Valley.  Huell Howser featured it in one of his programs I watched while doing some chores recently and it looked great.  The
fairgrounds are beautiful - in the Sierra Nevadas with lots of tall beautiful trees.  Treat Street at the fair is a whole bunch charities selling yummy food.

Then school starts.  I am planning on taking a Cost Accounting class so I can qualify for promotional opportunities and will need study time.  boo.  Benjamin and Andrew will be taking college classes, too,
but as they don't have jobs (yet) they have more study time.  I hope Joseph also takes a class.  He will need to study on Saturday, as well.

Have a great Saturday!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Probably my favorite New Year's memory was sometime in my late middle childhood.  I went to bed in my attic room.  Propped my pillow against the chimney and read until I was sleepy. When I heard the pot banging, horn blowing and carryings on outside, I briefly woke up, murmured Happy New Year, and went back to sleep.

Tonight I am sitting in my room with my computer and a book at the ready listening to classical and patriotic music inside and fireworks outside.  This time I have a cooler bag with snacks, as well.  And my dog, who wishes she were someplace else.

We attended our Stake's traditional Fourth of July Breakfast. (Stake: geographic based organizational unit of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints comprised of several  wards (congregations))  Flag ceremony which included our national anthem well sung and a touching, inspiring account of a couple of  Marines in the assault on Guadalcanal in WWII. The events were related by a war correspondent (not at that time a member of the Church) who witnessed them.  Waves of our brave boys approached the heavily defended island and many were shot in the water before they reached land.  The war correspondent came in a boat behind them. They found two badly wounded Marines and hauled them out of the water.  One of them appeared too badly wounded to have any hope, so they turned their first aid attention to the less wounded young man.  He, however, insisted that they take care of his buddy first.  They looked him over and determined that it was useless to try to save him and told the 2nd Marine so.  This wounded young man went to his knees, arranged himself so he could put his buddy's head on his lap, placed his one good hand on the dying man's head and commanded him in the name of Christ and by the power of the Priesthood to live until they could get him the help he needed.  The soldier not only survived untl they got him to the hospital ship, but he lived and made a miracle recovery.  I am going to try to find the reference for this story.

Anyway, enjoyed the breakfast of pancakes, hashbrowns, sausage, and OJ with the TRuth Hinds, Miriam, & Debi and patriotic music played by a live band.  It was good.

After the boys helped load up tables and chairs to be taken back to the meetinghouses from which they were borrowed, we went home, got our things together, including dog, and headed for the coast.

Alas!  As we turned toward our usual beach in the Marin Headlands, we saw that the road leading to it was closed!!  Fortunately I was able to turn the other way before being trapped into crossing the Golden Gate into San Francisco and paying a toll.  Time to find another beach.  We passed the turn-off to Muir Beach because we could see from the highway that the beach was crowded.  As we wandered further along the coast highway two problems developed.  One of us became motion sick and another developed a need for indoor plumbing if at all possible.  Not knowing how far we had to go before the next beach opportunity, we took a breather for the motion sickeness and headed back.  Tried Muir Beach - the parking and the creative parking were all full.  Back towards Marin/Sausalito. Upon sighting a Burger King, another pressure was relieved.  Then we found a park-like place and ate fried chicken, potato salad, watermelon, and chocolates.  Feeling much better we decided to try to find the alternative way to Rodeo Beach.  The tunnel road.  Open!  and so much less winding then the way we usually go that it may become our regular route. 

We took a rather short walk along the coastal trail, went back to the roadside above the beach and watched the people, the waves, and the surfers and headed home.  It was good. 

The boys' dad, my ex, had called earlier this weekend about getting together to set off the fireworks he had purchased.  And maybe play Astronomy Monopoly.  He thought our house is safer for fireworks and I thought now I will worry less about them getting home at a semi-decent hour, so they decided he would come here.  He had suggested 630, but the guys told him we were going to the beach and might not be back. They called him when we left for home and again when we arrived.  I filled a cooler bag with goodies and made my retreat.  I assume he came over.  Between the music and the fireworks, I cannot hear what else is happening.  However he would have arrived a little late to start Monopoly, so I hope they just do the fireworks and call it good.

It has been a good day.  Even better than my day is my gratitude for this country.  I truly believe that its founders were inspired.  America has flaws and problems, but America is great and good.  Not as good as she should and could be, but very good.  I love this land.  I am grateful to her founders and to her defenders.  America is a land blessed above other lands.  Sadly, we are in danger of losing our blessings as we forsake the God who gave them.  I pray that we as a people will again turn to God and live his  commandments. God bless America.