Fort Bragg 2021

August 21, 2021 4:10 pm

Back in May things were really looking up. Jess and I had been vaccinated. Infection rates were declining. We were optimistic about being able to take a small vacation over the summer since we've done mostly nothing since March 2020. I looked to book a room at the motel we like in Fort Bragg and their first availability was in mid-August. So we booked it.

Then the summer actually happened and we watched as vaccination levels stalled out and infection rates soared with the delta variant. So we became a little hesitant about taking our trip, but our plans were to be outside pretty much the whole time except for our motel room and so we decided to go for it.

We drove out to Fort Bragg on Friday, Aug 13. We made it to Oakland before Jess was feeling really carsick so we got off the highway and stopped so she could get out, recuperate, and take some Dramamine. Then we sat in a lot of traffic all the way through Santa Rosa for some reason. We eventually made it out there, got checked in to the motel, walked along the beach a little, and ordered a pizza to eat in our room for dinner. The county had a mask mandate in place and compliance levels seemed to be fairly good.

The motel wasn't serving breakfast, so breakfast on Saturday (and every other day) was toaster strudel, cereal, and yogurt that we brought with us (we brought a toaster). Saturday morning we had a reservation to ride the pedal cars on the Skunk Train railroad. I picked up some sandwiches from Subway and packed them for lunch and we rode the rail line up into the woods. The bikes have electric assist-motors so it was quite pleasant to pedal along up into the woods away from the noise of town and not get too worn out while doing so.

The company that runs the tours is building a little event space in the woods that's really only accessible by rail. We stopped there to eat lunch while they turned our cars around for the return trip. Minus the construction noise, it was a really nice spot. Deep in the woods and shady. We ate our lunch at a picnic table and then walked around for bit until it was time to head back.

Since the rail lines fall under DHS/TSA railroad regulations we were all required to wear masks while on the ride, which is probably a bit silly since we were quite well spaced out, but presumably the railroad regulations were written with passenger cars in mind and not bikes, so, whatever. It really wasn't a big deal, because wearing a mask isn't a big deal in the first place.

Once we returned from our ride we walked down to the ice-cream shop for dessert, then back to the train depot to look at the gift shop (once their next train ride left so it wasn't crowded with people). Then we went back to the motel and down to the beach.

After some time of playing about, Corinne got knocked over by a wave she didn't see coming and needed to head back to the room to warm up. So Jess took her up and I stayed with Heather for a while longer digging a hole ('cause that's what one does at the beach, I guess).

Dinner was burgers from Jenny's Giant Burger eaten hunkered down in our motel room.

On Sunday we went out to the Mendocino Botanical Gardens, which is a regular destination when we go to Fort Bragg. We walked around for a while and then went looking for lunch. Heather continues to successfully grow in her garden.

After bailing on a couple of options due to being crowded with nowhere outside to eat we ended up in the slowest McDonald's drive-thru lane ever. I think it took over 30 minutes to get through. We took the food back to the motel to eat.

Then it was more beach time for the girls while I napped in the room. We had more pizza for dinner and another trip to the ice-cream shop. Then we walked along the trestle bridge after dark as a novelty for the girls who are rarely up after dark much less out and about.

Monday morning we packed up and checked out. We stopped at Glass Beach to look around. This is an area of beach which use to be a garbage dump. Now timthough by the time we were ready to leave it was about lunch time so we ate our one and only meal in a restaurant. There were only two other customers in the restaurant (which was a "full-size" restaurant, lots of space) and they had signs like this up, which actually made me feel better that they were taking things seriously:

We had our lunch and then drove home. And that was our trip. Our only real vacation for 18 months. And it looks like that's going to be true through quite some more time now.

School starts on Tuesday--thankfully with a mask requirement in place and vaccination requirements for the teachers/staff. Given how much exposure the girls are likely to get this year since the classrooms will be at regular capacity for full days we bought the girls some new masks that are supposed to help protect themselves from others as well as protecting others from themselves. Finding certified masks is a crap shoot--especially looking for things that fit kids properly, but the masks we bought don't seem like they can be worse than the ones they've been using. They fit more snugly at least.

Hopefully the emergency authorization for the vaccine for kids 6+ gets approved soon and we'll be able to have the girls vaccinated before too long. Maybe even get to go trick-or-treating for Halloween.

Gilroy Gardens

July 5, 2021 11:41 am

With at least the adults vaccinated and pretty much everything being outside we decided to take a trip down to Gilroy Gardens. We figured a Thursday (June 24) would probably not be super busy and then it turned out that the high was only ~77F. So it turned out to be an extremely pleasant day. Not too crowded; nice and cool.

We got there right at the open and managed to get on the paddle boats before the line got long:

Then it was over to the cars:

We wandered throughout the entire park, including a few hidden paths we've never seen before. We got the girls to go on the Timber Twister roller coaster which they both vowed never to do again. We ate ice cream and churros and soft pretzels--and ridiculously expensive pizza for lunch.

And back to the cars for one last ride before heading home:

Season passes at Gilroy Gardens are about the cost of 2 trips, so we were considering whether to make it a staple of our summer or not. After having gone through the whole park and seeing that the girls' interest in the attractions is beginning to wane somewhat we decided it would be a one-time trip this year. So instead of getting season passes, the girls got the sparkly narwhals they were goo-gahing over (which were not as ridiculously expensive as we thought they'd be). We don't know how or why, but our family has a thing for narwhals.

Dad's Retirement

April 6, 2019 9:58 am

Last week, we went out to Connecticut to celebrate Dad's retirement (March 29).

We arrived the night before in secret and spent the next day decorating. All the kids (and many of the grand kids) surprised Dad at his office in the afternoon. Erin, Mollie, and Megan sang a modified version of "For the Longest Time."

We spent the evening at the church building for a party. There was food and cake, the kids ran around like loons, and we played "Jobs Dad has had" Wheel of Fortune (minus the wheel).

Road Trip 2018: Craters of the Moon National Monument

December 9, 2018 7:44 pm

After our science-y adventures we finally reached Craters of the Moon National Monument.  I can vaguely remember going here as a kid at some point.  And I think we recreated that trip almost in its entirety.

I can remember hiking up Inferno Cone and the deceptiveness of the climb.  When you think you're just about at the top you find out the trail just levels out for a moment and the angle hides the rest of the cone.  Heather and I went to the top....

While Jess and Corinne waited at the bottom:

We saw the snow at the bottom of Snow Cone:

And look, pictorial evidence that I was on this trip!

That evening we had dinner at another Culver's, this one in Twin Falls:

And we pushed on to Elko, NV and found a hotel with a pool for the girls to do some swimming.  The next day it was all the way home and the Great Road Trip of 2018 was finally over.

 

Road Trip 2018: EBR-I & Arco Science Park

7:01 pm

As one drives west across Idaho from Idaho Falls on highway 20 there is a whole lot of nothing until, bam, EBR-I and Idaho National Laboratory.  EBR-I is open to the public and we decided, what the heck, we likely will never be by here again.  EBR-I is Experimental Breeding Reactor One and was able to power its own facilities as a nuclear power plant.

Here is the floor where fuel rods were stored:

We didn't spend much time there (Corinne and Heather were not exactly interested) so it was on to Arco for lunch at Pickle's Place.

Across the street from Pickle's Place is the Arco Science Park.  Might as well let the girls burn off some energy.  They have a torpedo and a submarine conning tower.

The conning tower from the USS Hawkbill, SSN-666:

Then we were ready for our main destination of the day, Craters of the Moon National Monument.