Monday, July 27, 2009

Anderson Valley

We said farewell to our friends in Marin County and headed towards Anderson Valley. Since much of the trip was done "by the seat of our pants" oftentimes we had no idea exactly where we would end up next. The kids were not always thrilled about the "unknowingness" of it all, but the openness of the adventure led us to some great discoveries. This was one of those times (as was the time when we found the hostel in Montara). We figured we'd stay in Philo, but there was a music festival happening in nearby Boonville that weekend and most places we called were booked. After many phone calls and much searching (although we enjoyed being unplugged from our cell phones and the internet for most of our trip, this day we were grateful for the ability to search on-line!) we found The Apple Farm just outside of Philo. We loved it here. After a good nights sleep we woke up to a delicious homemade breakfast (granola, fresh raspberries, yogurt, biscuits, and apple juice) made by the owner Karen in her gorgeous kitchen (where she often does cooking classes). Then we went on a tour of the farm where we saw the goats and horses (and how they fertilized the apple trees:), pigs, chickens, a couple friendly dogs and one lone kitten.

We happily did a load of laundry and hung it on the line where the fresh warm air could dry them.

Then we went across the bridge behind the farm to the Navarro River where we skipped rocks and did a little nature hiking.

Allie thought the roots of this tree just had to be a fairy mansion!
All in all this was one of our favorite places along the way on our road trip.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Corte Madera

Jena, Bill, Teige, and Pachinco in Corte Madera

Ten minutes outside of San Francisco we made our way to our good friends who live in Corte Madera. The kids were amazed at the amount of nature so close to the city (deer frequently visit their property). We enjoyed our friends, ate some yummy solar powered pizza, and hit the hay.

The next day Simon took off for a mountain bike ride with Bill and we went back over the bridge to the Exploratorium ("the museum of science, art and human perception") at the Palace of Fine Arts with Jena and Teige. (We were going to go to the new California Academy of Sciences, but decided not to fight the crowds since we were there on a Saturday - next time :).

We explored exhibits on sight, sound, touch, and light. The kids made frisbees and squirt pens. And we checked out the museum store where we bought a fun game called "Think-ets" that we enjoyed playing on the rest of our road trip.
(Thanks Shore family for having us; we had a great time!) - BTW Bill and Jena have a fun custom T-shirt business called Translation Tees - check it out!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

San Francisco

We left Montara, drove through Half Moon Bay and on to San Francisco.  At the suggestion of our host at the hostel we went to the Cliff House Restaurant for brunch.   We loved the history of this place and especially enjoyed learning about the Sutro Baths (magnificent public saltwater baths which first opened in 1896) - the ruins of which are next to the restaurant.

                                              Sutro Bath ruins 

The rest of the day we spent exploring the city.  So many fun things to see and do here: Chinatown, Fisherman's Warf, Golden Gate Park and our favorite tourist attraction Lombard Street (the crookedest street).  It was funny because we saw a great part of the city by trying to get to the top of this street.  Be aware if you've never driven in San Francisco before - you cannot make a left turn anywhere!

                                     Driving down Lombard Street.

Later in the day we left the city and drove over the Golden Gate Bridge to our friend's house in Corte Madera.  Gotta love San Francisco!

(A fun book to read about San Francisco is West From Home Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder San Francisco 1915).

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Point Montara

The next leg of our journey took us through Santa Cruz where we thought we'd stay the night, but instead we were inspired to continue traveling north.  We came upon a hostel with a hot tub on the cliff by the ocean.  We thought it would be fun to stay there, but they were not able to accommodate the six of us.  However, the hostel 20 minutes up the road could. This is how we ended up at the Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel.    We had great experience staying here.  It was incredibly "green" and clean, there were people staying there from all around the world, and we had a terrific ocean view from our private room.  The people in the room next to us were from Napa Valley and they said they come to this hostel every couple of months because they can't beat the view for only $65 a night!  
The view out our window.

The trail from the hostel down to the sand.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Up to Monterey

Outside of  Cambria we stopped by the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery near San Simeon.   The elephant seals looked like they were enjoying an afternoon siesta in the sun.
We also saw a pod of whales breaching and blowing along the coast as we traveled toward Big Sur.  Allie and Micayla were more interested in the squirrels though...

 We drove through Big Sur to Monterey where we stayed the night.  The next day we walked Cannery Row and went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  It was fun seeing the sea jellies, sea horses, and otters up close and learning about the life and times during the days of the canneries.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

SLO & Cambria

We left the beach and headed to the  Avila Valley Barn for berry picking.  The berries weren't ready to pick yet, so we decided to check out the newly renovated San Luis Obispo Children's Museum.

                    Nate had fun doing a magnet experiment with paperclips.

After some play time at the museum we continued north to Cambria and to Moonstone Beach where we collected beautiful moonstones, jade, and sea glass. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Avila Beach

After a fun day in Solvang we stayed a night in Avila Beach at the Lighthouse Suites.  We had a great room with an awesome view of the ocean.  Nate had fun golfing on the little putting green.
                      We played around with their giant chess board,

                     explored the tide pools and saw big sand crabs,

                          and had fun swinging on the beach.   

We could have spent a little more time here, so we may make a return trip to Avila Beach someday.

Monday, July 6, 2009

First Stop - Solvang

The first stop on our road trip was Solvang.  Here we met up with good friends and went to a miniature horse farm called Quicksilver Ranch.  There were lots of foals nursing on their mamas.  All the horses were really cute!
Then we went for some Aebleskivers (kind of a cross between a pancake and a donut) at the famous Solvang Restaurant.   Yum!

After a visit to the Hans Christian Anderson Museum, we went to a nearby park that we had seen on our way to visit the horses.  The playground equipment was unlike any we had ever seen before!  It was a fun day and a perfect beginning to our trip.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Western States Road Trip

With our bags packed, car loaded, and travel boxes (containers decorated and filled with art supplies, mad libs, puzzle books, games, snacks, glee gum, magazines, travel notebooks, nature sketch journals, maps, and mileage charts, etc.) in hand we set out for our road trip last month.  We traveled up the coast of California, crossing the border to Oregon, then through Washington over to Idaho and Montana, through Utah to Nevada and then home - phew!  It was quite an adventure.  The kids said they felt a bit like the "Little Travelers" except that we were not traveling to another country and our travels lasted closer to three weeks vs. three months!  Over the next week or so, we will post some of the highlights of our trip; some of our favorite places we went to and some of the things we did.