Heather's last day of school was Thursday, so I decided to take Friday off from work so we could go on an adventure for my birthday, which sounded much more fun than work.
We went up to the Lindsay Wildlife Experience in Walnut Creek. They have a wild animal hospital and outreach program and provide homes for animals that can't be released back into the wild due to injury. They have a roadrunner with bad eyesight, a peregrine falcon that can't fly, and a barn owl with a bum wing (as well as many other critters, particularly raptors). It's a bit of an island-of-the-misfit-toys kind of place.
Unfortunately, after getting the camera all prepped and ready, I left it on the couch, so the only pictures we have are phone pictures, which aren't nearly as nice.
Despite lack of quality pictures, the trip was great. The birds were really cool to see so up close. We watched a flight demonstration by the barn owl (with the bum wing). We had lunch in the park. We'll have to go back again sometime.
Due to the timing of the trip and a very late lunch (and Heather and Corinne were exhausted from the excitement) we postponed birthday dinner until the next day. So we went home and got some quick food into the girls and had cake and opened presents. It was a good day.
We took an extended-weekend trip out to the northern California coast last weekend. We left Wednesday afternoon (April 5) and headed out to the Red Lion Hotel in Eureka. We got in a little late so it was straight to bed the first night.
On Thursday we headed out to the Elk River Trailhead & Old Town of Falk Walking Tour to take the ~2 mile round-trip path out to what I was led to believe was a ghost town. But, at least as far as we could see from the trail, there really isn't anything to see left of the old logging town. You can see some of the remnants of the old caretaker's house from the 1970's, but that's about it.
Though the goal of the hike was a bit of a letdown, I really liked the quiet of walking through the redwood forest with mostly nobody else around.
After our hike we headed to the Loleta Cheese Factory (not to be confused with the Cheesecake Factory restaurant). They had already completed their cheese production for the week so we didn't get to see any being made, but we had lunch at their grilled-cheese bar and then completed their garden scavenger hunt.
We bought some cheese to bring home and then headed back to the hotel. For dinner we walked across the street to the China Buffet. Corinne was happy to have a plate of green beans and honeydew.
On Friday we got up and headed out to the Samoa Cookhouse for breakfast. They claim to be the last operating cookhouse (from the logging days). They have a daily-changing, set, all-you-can-eat menu served at communal tables. We had pancakes, eggs, sausage, orange juice, and biscuits with gravy.
We needed to fill up for our drive up north. Our first stop was at Trees of Mystery and stereotypical tourist trap, but with the unique draw of gondola rides through the redwood forest. We were thwarted in this plan due to a power outage and the gondolas weren't running. So we kept on driving up to Crescent City to see the Battery Point Lighthouse.
The road up to Crescent City from Eureka (US 101) seems to have suffered some damage from California's rain this year. Several sections were down to one lane due to landslides, with construction going on to rebuild the lost roadways.
Here the stormy weather made for a much more interesting visit. You can see a wave crashing over the far side of the cliff upon which the lighthouse sits. It's an operating lighthouse with a 24/7 staff. Its cliff is an island during all but low-tide and when low-tide aligns with midday they offer tours.
We got there a little early for the tour, so we headed to the Apple Peddler for lunch where we narrowly avoided getting caught out in an impressive hailstorm. After lunch we headed back to the lighthouse for a tour.
The stormy sea made for some moody pictures I really like:
I would have taken more long exposure pictures of the waves, but I didn't bring my tripod, so I took a few by setting my glove down on some seaweed on a rock and putting the camera on that. This rather limited my subject options.
On the way back from Crescent City we tried Trees of Mystery again, but the power was still out. However, I snapped this picture from the parking lot.
Dinner was at Marcelli's Pizzeria.
Saturday morning we got up and had breakfast/lunch at Kristina's Restaurant before heading out to Trinidad State Beach. Our GPS unit doesn't understand where that is and attempted to kill us. It wanted me to drive down some steep, dark, dirt/mud, little one-lane road. I vetoed that option and Jess used her phone to find our way to actual beach access.
After the beach we ate at the Lighthouse Grill in Trinidad and then headed back in to Eureka to get dessert at Vampire Penguin (shaved snow sundaes).
On Sunday we packed up and headed on the road back towards home. We drove through Avenue of the Giants where I snapped this picture:
Then we stopped off at Chandelier Tree to see if I could squeeze the van through a tree. We managed to squeak through but not much room to spare.
Heather and Corinne desperately needed to get out of the van and run around for a bit, so we stayed at the tree for a little while. Heather explored the meadow and Corinne played with the gravel.
Then it was back in the van until we managed to find a Taco Bell for a quick dinner before pushing on home.
Okay, the first thing to know about our break is that we've been sick almost the entire time. Heather threw up on Christmas Eve, and Corinne started a fever on Christmas afternoon. But Heather was mostly fine after throwing up, and Corinne's fever cleared up after a day. After that, it was basically just a cold for each of them: congestion, coughing, runny noses...you know, the usual. Nothing too dramatic. And there were plenty of up times in between the periods of misery.
(Also, a lot of these pictures are not great. They're mostly candid shots of the girls in their natural states of frenzy, which lends itself to blurriness. But I wanted to get them blogged anyway.)
We've had some fun playing with different arrangements of the fort (I learned that blocking the TV is not ideal, but they found a way around it regardless):
Heather gave Kyle Wii Sports Resort for Christmas. I think he's played it for a couple of minutes so far, but she's dedicated quite a bit of time to it:
By the 28th, this kid was not looking great. She was snotty and eye-goopy and coughing and all-around yucky. Her mood was a bit improved, though.
We had made a date to go to the zoo with the Spencers on the 29th, and we figured the girls were doing pretty good, health-wise. Heather seemed to be mostly recovered from her cold, and while Corinne was still a bit yicky, she was going to be in the stroller most of the time anyway. And we knew everybody needed to get out of the house, so off we went!
The zoo was Thursday. Kyle spent Friday-Sunday at death's door. I was also sick, but not as bad. (My biggest issue was the migraines flared by the congestion.) Aaaand the girls got worse again. New Year's Eve was Heather's turn to spike a fever, so we didn't do any special festivities that night.
Corinne is currently obsessed with moving her food to other containers. Also, practicing her spoon technique.
January 2nd, we got the girls in to see the doctor. Corinne's fever was gone by then, but this virus was just dragging on forever. Both girls were still super snotty and coughing and lethargic, though Heather was showing real signs of recovery. Corinne was diagnosed with the first ear infection either of the girls have had. Very special! So she started antibiotics and started improving very quickly.
I don't know if it's clear what Corinne is doing here, but it's one of her current passions: feeding the critters.
Wednesday morning, Heather was bopping around, happy as a lark. That night, she crashed pretty hard. Thursday afternoon, she had a fever. Thursday night, she had a coughing fit so long and hard she was vomiting and I had to call the nurse line for suggestions to make it stop so she could eat (pro tip: there are basically none).
So this was us back at the doctor's office again on Friday, where Heather was diagnosed with an ear infection. Same ear as Corinne, even! The doc pointed out that that's one thing they really didn't need to share.
Both girls are doing much better now. For reals, I think. [fingers crossed!] Heather still wakes up very congested, and she didn't go to church this morning. (Actually, none of us went to church on Christmas or New Year's Day. And Kyle missed 2 full days and 2 half days of work this last week. This illness has been a beast!)
I'm hopeful that Heather will be able to go to school tomorrow, but I'm not 100% certain it'll be a great experience if she does. I'm envisioning her coughing for the first 2 hours and crying/screaming for the rest because she's worn out. But she'll be devastated if she has to stay home. So I guess we'll see how she is in the morning!
We got a Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving. We opted out of the cut-our-own route this year. The trees haven't been in good shape due to the drought, it's a long drive, and it doesn't save any money. So we just grabbed one from the hardware store.
We wanted another Grand Fir, like we had last year, but no one seemed to have them. So we ended up with a Nordmann Fir. It seemed to hold its needles well, but it has no smell at all, and the needles have an almost plastic-y appearance. We're going to try for the Grand Fir in the future (they apparently start stocking them a few weeks after Thanksgiving).
I added some berry-like lights to the decorations this year. I thought they'd look neat hanging from the trellis / wisteria. The effect wasn't quite what I had hoped, but I think I can re-work them next time around to have a better outcome. The picture overexposes the lights hiding their color, so they're more colorful looking in real life.
On Christmas Eve we got the girls to bed and awaited Santa's arrival.
To discourage Heather from diving right in to the living room in the morning Jess set up streamers across the doorway:
Then it was to bed for the night....or so we thought. At about 11:30 Heather got out of bed and came in to our room trying to tell us something, but refusing to open her mouth. She then ran into the bathroom (thankfully) to throw up. Once that was out of her system, she started freaking out about the streamers. She was apparently interpreting them as locking us in or something. We got her back to bed....and then Corinne woke up. And around 4 she seemed to decide she was done sleeping. And finally a little before 7 Heather got up, so we might as well all get up...
Surely Corinne doesn't have the cognitive capability to have been anticipating getting up Christmas morning, but she was definitely feeding off of Heather's energy throughout Christmas Eve day. They were both completely loony.
Anyway, up we got, and much excitement was had. But first with the requisite anticipation-building pictures:
Corinne ignored the shiny gifts and the colorful "Tote-a-fort" and bee-lined straight for the bowl of M&Ms on the desk (with lurking alligator) and starting shoveling them into her mouth (the kid is a chocolate fiend):
Heather, however, knows the routine and went for her stocking:
Gifts were opened, breakfast casserole was eaten, naps were taken, fun was had by all.
Corinne loves the fort:
Heather helps me open a gift (I think it's Funny Bones!):
Jess got a new jewelry box:
The brain flakes are lots of fun:
Heather, of course, wanted to do some science and try out the first project from The Magic School Bus Science Club (12-month subscription service). We built a model lung (balloon), chest cavity (plastic bottle), and diaphragm (plastic wrap). It actually works too. Pulling the plastic wrap will inflate the balloon. This picture is Heather recording her observations about the experiment.
A nice ham dinner was had later on in the day with fresh rolls, of course, and many dessert options. I had been having waves of mild nausea throughout the day, but my stomach seemed to settle down by dinner and I was able to enjoy the feast.
Corinne was thoroughly worn out by the day. She napped twice, so we thought she'd be up later than usual, but at about 7pm she dragged a pillow up to me, climbed up in my lap, set the pillow on my legs, folded in half on to the pillow, and fell asleep.