A Travellerspoint blog

January 2012

Not So Quick Last Minute Trip

Travel at the last minute not so easy

Last minute travel, not all options are great.

So my son called this morning asking if I could come up by 11 tomorrow morning. The new baby will have her heart surgery and they really need someone to care for the 16 month old. Babysitter leaves at 11a.m. and my son has no time off available so they really need someone to help.

I looked at United but there are no flights available for tomorrow morning. The flight for early a.m. isn’t available. Then looked at Amtrak but that arrives at 11:40. It is only $49 but just a little too late and the return is too early. Looked at rental cars, esh- $120 + gas. Realized that I’ll need a round trip so looked at United again but it is $450 even though there is now a flight available. Looks like the best option is driving. UGH 5 hours in the Mazda, my poor back.

Mazda has a clunk but we now think that it may be part of the emission system that won’t pass smog, can’t tag it either but at least the registration fee is paid. Hope I don’t get a ticket for no tags!

I’ll try to leave at 5am. Dale peeled and packed 3 oranges; I cooked and peeled 2 eggs. I have an apple and a gluten free bar. Should make it to Petaluma without starving.

It will be good to see our little 16 month old. She apparently is excited to see her gama and points to the room I stayed in when there.

I’ll drive home tomorrow night picking up other grandkids on the way home. Wish me luck.

Posted by Miss Chris 22:03 Archived in USA Tagged flying travel train driving grandkids Comments (0)

Taos and Beyond

In and around Taos

semi-overcast 52 °F

Like I posted earlier we were going to fly to Taos, NM in order to save Dale’s Frequent Flier Miles from expiring. Good logic according to us.

We flew into Albuquerque and drove to Taos last night arriving in time to eat dinner. We checked into our hotel, The Historic Taos Inn, right at the plaza. I’d reserved early and got us a room with a kiva (pueblo type fireplace) and we were happily surprised to find wood and fire starter waiting for us. The old hotel is made up of adobe buildings from the 1800’s and I think, but am not sure, that there is a newer wing too. We wanted the old part.

We went to Doc Martins for dinner, the restaurant attached to the hotel. When the waitress came over I asked about gluten in the New Mexican meals and was dismayed to find that everything New Mexican contains flour. I can eat steak at home; I wanted enchiladas or something local. The waitress spoke to the chef and then reported that the chef would make a special meal, New Mexican, gluten free just for me. So I had a trout fillet with a cream/chili top and corn/small squash/chilies and cheese. We drank an entire bottle of New Mexico champagne with dinner.

This morning after a breakfast of chili stew from another favorite restaurant we went off to the Picuris Pueblo. This pueblo is off of the high road between Taos and Santa Fe, a road we have often wanted to drive. The road was cleared of snow so we were able to drive without a problem.

The Picuris Pueblo is quite different than the Taos Pueblo in that there is not a central plaza with homes on 2 sides. Here there is a church, the 3rd one built there from the 1700’s; I hate to ask the years of the prior 2. The church is not located in the plaza but stands alone then houses are nearby and extend up the hill.

We stopped at the administration building and asked about the store we’d read about. Well the store has been under remodel for several years and remodel has not been completed. We then asked if there was Picuris pottery available nearby, that we’d prefer to buy from the potter if possible. The 2 people in the office discussed who the local potters were and decided we should see Irene Simbula who lives at the top of the short hill. Now Irene doesn’t have a phone so we just had to drive there but she should be home. They drew a detailed map with Grandma’s house and Aunt someone’s house and Irene’s house.

About 5 minutes later we were at what we figured was Irene’s house. We went to the door and asked the woman who answered if she was Irene Simbula and she answered “yes”. We asked if she had pottery available and she said yes and invited us in. She pulled out of bags pots that she had made; after the mud was blessed she washed the mud then made the pots, then during the winter fired the pots in her wood burning stove that we were standing next to. The pots can be used to cook beans in; she brought in her own pot from off the stove, about 60 years old. Apparently, her daughter also makes beautiful pots that we fell in love with.

We were only going to purchase one pot and even though we loved the one by her daughter we wanted the one made by Irene. Then I felt very strongly that we should buy both. I told Dale that we had to get both pots, and then told Irene. After we paid for the pots she told me how she had just been divorced, husband had run off with someone else, business has been slow, she had recent dental problems and had been worried about how to pay for her car insurance. Now she was going to be ok.

On our way back to Taos I had a huge scare. We’d decided to drive the road thru the Rio Grande. We did but then had to go back to the high road due to snow. Once on the high road I wanted to stop to shoot photos. We crossed the busy highway and I shot photos from the shoulder. After finishing up we thought we run back across as there was a never ending stream of cars. As I got into the middle of the lane I tripped and fell, my camera banging on the asphalt. I was so scarred, as I’d noticed a car coming around the corner, certain that I was about to be hit I got up, trying to run. Fortunately my husband was right there and stopped me as the car had stopped in that lane. So hands scrapped, knee thumped and camera banged up we made it back to Taos. Camera was a big concern but with the heavy body it survived, lens didn’t even seem to take a hit at all.

I consoled myself at a little restaurant that only serves gluten free New Mexican food eating chili rellenos as a snack before dinner.

Posted by Miss Chris 21:31 Archived in USA Tagged travel pottery new_mexico taos picuris_pueblo taos_historic_inn Comments (0)

Exploring the Exploratorium

A visit to the Exploratorium in San Francisco

After getting adults off to the Fancy Foods we piled the kids in the truck and were off to Lucas Films then the Exploratorium.

We had planned to eat lunch with Clayton at Lucas Films but he got busy with work so we just did a little walking and visiting. Fortunately we’d brought plenty of food so we were able to have a picnic.

We got to the Exploratorium and for those of you who are thinking of visiting, across the street to the north is a parking lot, maybe a 5 minute walk. When we were there it was free. We found a picnic table close by and set out our food, fed kids then off to the Exploratorium.

The Exploratorium is in what was the Palace of Fine Arts; it is an old building from a World’s Fair many years ago. The Exploratorium will be moving so you will want to check the location to make sure.

It is filled with everything hands-on for kids of every age. The 2-3 year olds loved running around with the light strips on the floor, running their hands thru the sand experiments and making lights go off and on.

I really enjoyed being with the 4 year old. He realized that there was a cause and effect so that cranking a wheel caused an umbrella to go up, air out of a pump caused balls to stay in the air at different levels depending on the amount of air. So much of the time he has to stop this or that, or he turns knobs just to turn knobs. He got so excited and would call “Grandma come see”. I loved the excitement in seeing the effects of what he did.

Our 11 year old, on the other hand, was not so enthusiastic. Her comment to mom was “machines were mostly broken”. She did little and had little interest other than guiding the 2 and 3 year olds around. It was quite disappointing but then you can’t make a person like something.

The 13 year old enjoyed the older kids’ experiments. I didn’t find out his favorites or impressions, but then he is 13 and at that age you just hope that things work out.

We were lucky at the RV park, guys had decided that they really didn’t need to stay for Wed, but the RV park said that we could leave the RV there until 6pm and they’d refund the difference. Most parks won’t refund anything so we were quite happy with that.

Posted by Miss Chris 18:01 Archived in USA Tagged travel family san_francisco family_travel grandkids exploratorium Comments (0)

San Francisco with Grandkids

Visiting the Aquarium/Natural History and Planetarium

overcast 50 °F

We got to the RV park by about 10:30 last night, Justin and boys asleep on the dinette and Camillo asleep on the couch. The night security met us at the gate and gave us a site but said it would cost $96 to camp, cash. The RV manager had not mentioned that we needed cash but fortunately we had nearly enough and our son had $20 so we paid up.

This morning the office found that the night security had charged too much so refunded some money. Fortunately we’d had enough otherwise we would have had to go find a bank for cash only to have overpaid. So it is the perils of travel.

We got out a bottle of Pipestone wine, some cheeses, set our picnic out on our bed and had a little midnight snack.

Today we took the 5 kids to the “California Academy of Science” which is comprised of the aquarium, natural history and planetarium. It is a little costly but worth it for a day of interesting play. We got into the building by about 11:00 and with only ½ our lunch we walked all day until about 3pm.

We started with the aquarium then stopped for a quick lunch. After lunch Dale took the 2 older kids to the planetarium program. There are no kids 3 and under allowed in the program and under 6 are discouraged. I took the little kids back to the aquarium to see the rest of the fish. The tide pool fish thrilled the grandkids just like our own kids so many years ago.

The natural history area is not large, much smaller than I remember, but maybe we missed an area too, we were getting tired by then. Kids loved the Lions and the Zebras. The natural history area consists of both stuffed animals and live in different exhibits of course. Kids loved the stuffed lions and Zebra’s, but also loved the live penguin exhibits, penguins swam right at their eye level.

We had to make one stop at the museum store. I forgot our 4 year old grandsons clothes and our 13 year old forgot his clothes. I bought them some clean t-shirts. Also we started buying some birthday presents for the 2 year old whose birthday is Tues. We planned to have a party at the Zoo but we will just get the presents instead.

When we got done kids were tired. They slept on the way back to the RV but didn’t sleep long; they will go down soon.

Posted by Miss Chris 22:02 Archived in USA Tagged family san_francisco aquarium family_travel grandkids Comments (0)

Starting our Grandkids Trip to San Francisco

Finally packed and headed to San Francisco with the gang.

overcast 55 °F

Finally, we are on the road! 3 little kids in car seats in the back seat of our truck, 2 adults and 2 big kids in the RV. We gave the 2 big kids Dale’s laptop and Justin brought his, so they will use the hotspot card we have and be online until we lose our signal, an hour or so up I-5. I have a hotspot in my phone so we have that here in the truck for my laptop.

Getting ready was such a chore, had a bunch of laundry to do and kids had made shambles out of the house. I did get bathrooms cleaned, sheets changes and with my grandkids help we cleaned the rest of the house plus washed the kitchen floor to avoid the ants.

As usual, the only way to do these trips within reason is to cook all of our meals, or as many as possible. Tonight, we will stop at In-N-Out as it is a 4-1/2 hour drive, putting us into San Francisco at about 10pm. We will just do instant oatmeal for breakfast then take snacky things with us tomorrow to the Aquarium/Natural History/Planetarium. Hopefully we can take food in but if not we will just get our hands stamped and eat in the park outside. We did bring 6 bottles of wine, wish I’d brought the hard stuff too as some may prefer rum instead.

Kids are asleep, Dale is driving and I’m having some quiet time with a cup of hot coffee!

Posted by Miss Chris 17:28 Archived in USA Tagged travel driving san francisco rv grandkids Comments (0)

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