Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Down by the Bay, where the watermelons grow.....

Well, I don't know about watermelons, but around Santa Cruz and Monterey they sure do grow a lot of artichokes and other delicious foods.

I had such a great time on my extended weekend getaway. The first day, Thursday, didn't quite go as planned, I got off to a late start and made it worse by stopping and shopping on the way over the mountains, but it was a good thing because I found a couple baby slings for Noel and some great gently used clothes for the family, as well as a bunch of cool old upholstery fabrics and some pillows. I stopped to see my very pregnant and very exhausted daughter and only had a little time to visit. I spent the entire time on the floor playing with my grandsons and letting the very grateful daughter sit for a while. I didn't have time or extra hands to take photo this visit.

Thursday evening was spent at my friend Kathy's for the night, playing dress up and relaxing in her hot tub. I already posted pictures of our fun in my last post.

Friday morning I picked my friends Deirdre and Timi up at the airport and took them, at their request, to The Winchester Mystery House. Yes. They've never been to the Pacific Northwest and when I asked them what they wanted to do, this was the only thing on their list. Forget the redwoods, San Francisco, or ocean views. In 30 plus years of living in California, I've never managed to go to it myself. I'd heard opinions from "boring" to "great", so I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was actually fun.

Apparently Mrs. Winchester was enamored of spider web designs. I really liked this window.

You can't tell in the photo but, by the time we got to this part of the tour it was pouring rain. Deirdre and I were the only ones to brave the elements and go out on this balcony to take a couple quick shots. This photo looks out over only about a quarter of the house.

It would have been even more fun if I hadn't gotten a frantic call from my daughter just after they'd locked the door behind us for the tour and right before we were asked to turn off our phones. Her doctor had called her worried about her blood pressure readings and wanted her to go to the hospital immediately for some stress tests. She was in the middle of a huge panic attack. Since I couldn't very well wander off and and leave my friends stranded in a spooky house in San Jose thousands of miles away from home with no car, I told her to do what the doctor said and I'd call her back in a couple of hours. I did a good but not perfect job of tuning out the mommy worries, and enjoyed the tour as much as possible. By the time I called her again she had calmed down, had everything under control and had been told to go home and put herself on bedrest. With her husband working out of town and two children under two, she told them that was NOT gonna happen. They told her to sit on the couch and be as inactive as womanly possible.

That evening we drove down to Santa Cruz and were met by another quilting friend, Julie, and her son, the five of us went to yet another friend's opening night for a play for which he was the set director. The set design was really neat, the play was enjoyable, although by this time Deirdre and Timi had not slept for about 36 hours. Time to go to the hotel and get some shut eye.

Next morning our friend Cindy met us and we went to a nearby state park to walk in a redwood forest. It was a first for the two East Coasters.

From L to R: Laume, Cindy, Timi, Deirdre

This pose was pretty much how Deirdre spent 80% of her time. She's the first person I've ever met who takes as many photos as me.

In the gift shop after our walk I spied some banana slug magnets. "Oh!" I exclaimed to Cindy. "We didn't get to see any banana slugs! Too bad." Deirdre and Timi came over to see what we were talking about, asking if they were really that color, really that big, etc. Deirdre said it it was a good thing we hadn't seen any! I suspect she's not a nature girl.

The weather was supposed to be cloudy and rainy all weekend, but we ended up having a lovely sunny break all Saturday afternoon and a bunch of us all met for a long lunch out on the deck of a restaurant overlooking the Monterey Bay in Capitola. It was so warm and sunny I got sunburned, unfortunately just on one arm and one side of my face.

Clockwise from the redhead: Timi, Deirdre, Red Deer, Owen, Julie, Jay, Cindy

Here is Cindy and I sharing a little umbrella hat. Don't we look lovely?

After wandering around the shops for a bit, Deirdre, Timi, and I drove down to Monterey and checked into our next hotel before going to Cannery Row to wander, shop some more, walk along the harbor, and eat out at another nice restaurant overlooking the water and lights of Monterey Bay. I ordered cioppino (something I love but never make at home because it's too expensive to make when I'm the only one who will eat it) and happily cracked crab legs and scooped mussels and dipped sourdough in the delicious tomato fennel broth until I couldn't take another bite.

Sunday, Cindy drove down with her two very sweet (and tiny - I forgot how tiny kids can be!) children and we all went to The Monterey Bay Aquarium. This was the only place in the area I had actually gone to before and upon reflection I realized that had been about 16 years ago and William hadn't even been born yet. It was as amazing as I remembered it to be, even more so as it's grown and has a lot more exhibits now. I'm determined to go back this summer, probably on the way down or back from San Diego to visit Joe and Lisa, so William can see it. My favorites were the otters and the kelp beds, a very close third being all the amazing jelly fish. If I say anything else about it, it will double the size of this post, so just suffice it to say if you ever get the chance - GO!

The otters had lots of toys. This little guy kept banging this colorful "starfish" on the side of the tank, like a toddler banging a spoon on his high chair tray. It's a natural behavior for them, as they bang their hard shelled food in order to eat the soft insides.

I could have sat for hours and watched the two-story high, kelp forest aquarium swaying back and forth.

There were dozens of different kinds of jelly fish, as well as an accompanying "jelly fish inspired" art show, including some Chihuly glass pieces and a wall of lava lamps (Groovy, man!).

Deirdre and Timi had flown in early to spend time visiting, but their primary reason for coming to California was to go to an art quilt retreat at Asilomar, and check-in was Sunday afternoon. By the time we got out of the aquarium, I could tell they were anxious to get there, get their rooms, and start the next phase of their vacation. The short trip down the coast to the retreat center was stunningly beautiful and after I dropped them off safely (in the rain), I spent an hour or so stopping on the beaches (in the rain) and taking photos. I didn't find out until I got home that at some point about midway through the trip I had some sort of oil on part of my camera lens, so my photos, although not entirely ruined, came out a big "smudged".

Here's just a sample of the beach, lazy sea lions on the rocks above the salt water. Sounds sort of like a recipe for an alcoholic beverage. It turns out they don't have sea lions on the east coast either. Nor do they have kelp. I did not know that!

That evening I drove back as far as Kathy's house and since she was on vacation, we stayed up gabbing late into the night. In the morning we relaxed some more over an IHOP breakfast and then I got on my way as the weather started to turn wet again. I drove with a storm at my heels east across the valley only to catch up with another storm already dumping rain and snow all over the mountains. Fortunately it wasn't sticking and so I still made decent time although it's never fun to worry about chain control. Once I made it safely over the mountains, I stopped in Reno at a warehouse textile place and bought pillow inserts and upholstery fabric to make cushions for my new red rocking chair, as well as some adorable flannels to make receiving blanket for grandchild #4, who is due at the end of this year.

Last but not least, I managed to get home before dark. While driving past Honey Lake about 35 minutes from home, I heard an odd noise and glanced out over the water. What I saw made me pull off the road, grab my camera, and jump out of the car. Hundreds of V's of Canadian Geese were flying out over the lake. I counted a few of the groupings and extrapolating how many V's I thought there were, decided there were over a thousand, maybe over fifteen hundred birds circling above. I took some pictures, but you can't really see the birds well. Try clicking to open up the picture and look really close at the clouds. They were visible in person but... oh well...

Still, I stood and watched until, after circling the lake three times, they flew off towards the distant shore and the sound of their honking faded away. It was......incredible.

This morning, happy to be home, I thought I'd settle in for a day of catching up on e-mail and laundry, only to spend much of the day with line men who came to repair our dead phone lines, mopping up a lake in my kitchen (twice, I'm a slow learner) before realizing my washing machine is leaking, and playing phone catch up with numerous family members. Last but not least, Noel called to say that they are so worried about her blood pressure that they have decided to induce her early Friday morning. Well, at least I can now plan! So I'll be home tomorrow and I'm off again on Thursday night to be there for the birth and immediate post partum.

I'm beginning to think I should take on a new nickname - Speedy Gonzalez? The Roadrunner? Anyone have a good suggestion?


Blogger Deb R said...

That sounds (and looks) soSO fun!!

If I ever get out there, I want to see the Winchester house too.

I can just barely see the geese in the photo - they sort of look like swarms of insects. What a cool thing to get to see. I grew up under a geese migration "flight path", but never saw that many all at once!

6:23 AM  

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