Jess' Birthday 2022

September 22, 2022 6:34 pm

Jess got to enjoy her first birthday adventure this year. Trying to squeeze an adventure in to the evening while still leaving time to have dinner and eat cake is tough but we got it done.

The adventure started by reading a slightly modified version of "Let's go for a Drive" by Mo Willems:

Elephant and Piggy collected Jess, the family, and a cake. But when Piggy went to get the presents they had gone missing! Jess had to find Sherlock Holmes to investigate.

She found Sherlock lounging on the book shelf next to Hercule Poirot. Sherlock was called away on urgent business but directed Jess to a person of interest, but she'd need to collect a few clues to identify the right one from the lineup (of characters from Dinosaur Tea Party).

She visited the friendly moose (a carving we bought in Canada), the glowing jellyfish (a glass sculpture we got at an aquarium that glows in the dark), the grey dragon (a figurine on a shelf in our room), she who fell through the looking glass (Alice as found in "Through the Looking Glass"), and he whose house has legs ("Howl's Moving Castle"). Using the clues they provided she was able to identify the person of interest, Lloyd, and question him regarding his knowledge of the missing presents (by using the identifying features on his character sheet to determine the code for a lock on a mini chest).

Lloyd admitted to being present at the time, but swore he was only trying to get a taste of the cake in the fridge. He tried to follow the suspect but couldn't keep up. However, he ran across "a frog that fancies himself a prince" who might know more.

In the frog's mouth was a cryptex dropped by the suspect. The frog said he didn't know what it is, but she should visit Madame Roo, a psychic, who could probably help.

Corinne helped by presenting the cryptex to Madame Roo while Jess read the clue. Madame Roo was able to divine an image out of the mind of the suspect, but it was confused and difficult to make sense of. Jess would need to piece it together to find the password to open the cryptex (by completing a small puzzle with an "I Spy" style image of a jumble of stuff from Corinne's room. In the image were Scrabble tiles which could be used to spell "FAIRY").

Inside the cryptex was a secret message sent from one of Heather's stuffed animals to one of Corinne's stuffed animals instructing them to wait until the coast was clear and grab the purloined presents from under the chair in the living room.

So the presents had been found and could now be opened.

The girls picked out novelty socks from a store at the mall. Cats in boxes and a tuxedo cat running for president:

She also unwrapped an invitation to tea for two at a tea house in the next town over. And after tea, a special showing of "Howl's Moving Castle" at the theater (which very conveniently lined up with her birthday, I found out about it and bought tickets months ago)

Then it was off to dinner at First Street Ale House before returning home for cake. I made my signature caramel-cheesecake on a blondie crust with a layer of salted caramel on top.

And by then it was past the girls' bedtime and the day was over.

Heat Wave

September 10, 2022 3:18 pm

Our recent heat wave as measured on my weather station:

DateMax Temp (F)

Thankfully the power stayed on the entire time and the California grid operator avoided implementing rolling blackouts. But they did reach a level 3 emergency alert which authorizes rolling blackouts.

We pre-cooled the house with our excess solar before the mid afternoon and shut off the air conditioning during the worst demand period to alleviate grid draw. And we didn't use the oven so as to not add more heat to the house and to reduce demand.

Today the storm system moving up the coast finally pushed out the heat and some rain even fell.

Fort Bragg 2022

August 24, 2022 5:05 pm

We wanted to get out to the coast before school started up again so we headed out to Fort Bragg over the weekend of Aug 4-7. We stayed at the same place we've stayed for several years, but it now costs almost double what it did 4 years ago and it's getting a bit ridiculous--especially since they're not providing breakfast or housekeeping. It's gone from being a pretty good deal to being rather expensive. So in the future we may have to explore other options.

Regardless, we had a good trip this go around.

We drove out on Thursday the 4th stopping for lunch at Chick-Fil-A on the way. We got checked in and headed down to the beach for a bit before having dinner at a BBQ restaurant and ice cream at Cowlick's.

Friday was down to the beach again in the morning and wandering around downtown which we've never really done in the past. We took the scooters with us because I thought the girls might like to ride along the pedestrian path that runs along the shore. So I rode Jess' scooter downtown and wandered about while Jess and the girls stayed on the beach longer.

I wanted to find a sun hat since I had left mine at home and that was going to result in sunburning. I did successfully find a hat and then spent some time wandering about until the rest of the party joined me for lunch.

After lunch the girls and I scootered back to the hotel for a rest out of the sun while Jess visited a yarn shop. For dinner we picked up pizza from a local pizza shop. And after dinner I did a bit of walking around with the camera to take some pictures as the sun set. I got some really nice shots.

On Saturday we visited the Point Cabrillo Light Station because they were giving lens tours. So we got to climb to the top and learn about the workings from docents. Everything was going great until it was time to go back down and Heather had a bit of a panic attack about coming down the ladders. The place was busy with groups ahead of us and behind us and only one ladder up and down to each of the 3 levels. So after some calming and coaxing we eventually had to simply put Heather on the ladders while I guided her foot onto each rung/step and we made it down.

After a quick lunch and bathroom stop we were on to our next adventure--the long-awaited horseback riding! We got to Ricochet Ridge Ranch and picked out helmets and then situated on our horses: Nightcap (Corinne), Whisper (Heather), Voltaire (Kyle), and Pancho (Jess). Corinne and Heather were on leads, but even so they loved every minute of it as we walked through the woods to the beach and back.

I had my camera on my shoulder strap, which allowed me to snap some pictures without worrying about it falling; but I couldn't give it a lot of attention while still managing my horse. So there was a lot of spray-and-pray picture taking, especially over my shoulder towards Jess.

We had dinner at Lee's, the only Chinese restaurant in town, which was quite good. Heather just about managed her whole meal using chopsticks. Then a walk around the block to Cowlick's for ice cream afterwards.

On Sunday we packed up and started working our way home. Decided to take a slightly different route this time to try something new and see if the windiness was any better. So we came back via route 128 (instead of route 20), stopped in Boonville for lunch, and bought some real apple cider from a roadside stand. The windiness was about the same overall, but did have a break in the middle.

Micke Grove Park Japanese Garden

August 23, 2022 4:42 pm

Over the 4th of July weekend we drove out to Micke Grove Park in Lodi. We enjoyed the walking through the Japanese Garden there in which we found a rabbit hiding in the grass and a mamma cat with her kitties.

We also visited the small zoo. Then we met up with Thomas and Jill for lunch. As we finished lunch a brush fire had clearly started just across the railroad tracks which ran along the parking lot, but it got put out quickly. On the way home we stopped for ice cream at the Ghirardelli outlet store in Lathrop.

2022 Trip: Part 10 - Back to CT

August 21, 2022 10:21 am

The day after Santa's Village, June 22, we stopped at the Mt Washington Cog Railway and took a ride to the top. It was cold. Grandma bought Heather and Corinne blankets at the top. Heather's has bear ears and paws, Corinne's has a moose snout and hooves.

Some clouds blew in while we were at the top which made for some interesting pictures.

We finished that day by driving down to Concord, NH and having dinner and ice cream at Arnie's Place.

On the 23rd we road railbikes through the Concord woods which was lots of fun. Nice to be in the shade. We went out one direction, turned around, came back through the starting point out the other direction, and then turned around and came back.

Unlike the ones we rode in Fort Bragg, these were not electric so it was also more work and we made Heather start us off at one of the turn arounds to see if she could and she did!

The 23rd being our anniversary Jess and I went out to dinner after getting back to Cromwell. The girls stayed home with Grandma and Grandpa.

Before Jess and the girls got to CT I had asked for restaurant recommendations for our anniversary. For some reason, Erin was aware of a restaurant that had a whole area decked out as a totally-not-Harry-Potter-wink wizarding-world which sounded like something Jess would enjoy. So that's where we went, Cava in Southington. It was fun.

Friday was spent getting packed and ready to head home which we did on Saturday. And that was our grand trip of 2022.