Monday, May 22, 2017

California Adventure

We recently went to California Adventure on a "Hey, it's alright" rated crowd tracker day. And guess what? The crowds were alright. We had a fantastic time walking the park and riding all the rides. Dan's favorite ride was Soarin' Around the World:

Random Family from the Internet having fun on Soarin'
This ride is pretty great because it has fans that create a wind effect for when you're flying around the world and the wind also emits scents such as jasmine when you fly over the Taj Mahal.

My favorite was the roller coaster, California Screamin':

Mary and Dan in front of Mickey's Ferris Wheel and California Screamin'
We also rode the Cars race coaster, Radiator Springs Racers, a couple of times:
Pretty cool fake red rocks, huh?
 We passed by Ariel's Grotto and I had to snap a pic for Kevin A. (Ariel was his all-time favorite Disney character as a kid if I remember correctly).
Ariel's Grotto
 We didn't get any tattoos at the boardwalk, but it's nice to know that it's an option if we want to get a Minnie or Mickey tat next time we're there:

After we got off the swings we serendipitously came across a parade - yay! As longtime readers will know, there is a special place in my heart for a good parade, as seen documented here, here, and here.

The GI Joes were dancing in formation

Dancing JellyFish? Yah, we saw that too
Probably the most impressive parade participant was the woman who did a constant gymnastics bar routine while dressed as a cowgirl. Whew - we got tired just watching her!

Dan has not been to Northern California yet, but we did get a good taste of NorCal when we went through the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail.There was part of a real tree that was older than the state of California which included tidbits about the history of the state. Dan took an interest in this display:
Dan dissects California Adventures version of California History
 Sadly, earlier this year one of the state's great giant sequoia trees, The Pioneer Cabin Tree, in Calaveras Big Trees State Park fell over. But alas, dear readers, don't worry, Dan was still able to walk through a replica of this terrific tree at California Adventures.

Dan was mad when he found out this was a fake tree 
To really get the full Northern California experience we also went on the Bakery Tour hosted by Boudin Bakery (the original sourdough manufacturers in San Fran). We were treated to sourdough samples and then we walked through the bread factory as the bakers made the famous sourdough (and yes, they even shape some of the loaves into Mickey Mouse - this is Disney after all).

Do you see the Mickey Bread on the top rack?

A baker hard at work
The day was capped off by a fun dancing fountain extravaganza put on to Disney hits, and sung by Disney employees (and maybe helped by the crowd).

Dancing Fountains

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

May Visitor and Back to Joshua Tree

Earlier this month Peter was in town attending some presentations by students at Keck Graduate Institute here in Claremont. He came by the house and then we went out for our favorite Indian food and then gave him a tour of the Claremont Colleges.

Peter and I on the roof of Kravis at CMC
Then to celebrate classes being done we took a camping trip to Joshua Tree with our friends Zach and Jérôme. We had a great hike in the park up to an old abandoned gold mine

Abandoned Gold Mine
 We looked out over the great Salton Sea where we could see all the way down to Mexico.

Dan at the Overlook
 We also all found a spirit tree that we felt at one with.

Zach and his spirit tree

Dan finds a cool tree

Mary does yoga with her tree

Jérôme finds a tree he likes
 We had a fantastic campsite in Indian Cove and we enjoyed hanging out by the fire, talking, and make s'mores.
Our campsite
 There were lots of rocks to climb and Dan got busy climbing:
Dan climbing rocks

Sunday, April 30, 2017

This is how you celebrate Birthdays!

On Sunday Julian and Audrey were up early and excited to help celebrate Auntie Mary's birthday. Audrey quickly got to work in the kitchen helping make fruit salad for birthday brunch.

Kitchen Helper
After preparing for birthday brunch friends Katie, Maria, Chelsea, and little Leah arrived to help us party!

The kiddos creating masterpieces for the refrigerator
 After a lovely brunch we moseyed down to the Farmer's Market where many goodies were procured.
Chelsea, Leah, Katie, Audrey, and Mary post-Market
Then we walked up to Memorial Park (picking up donuts along the way) where the kiddies showed off their swinging skills and demonstrated great slide technique.

Ellen, Chris, Katie, Maria, Chelsea, and Dan enjoying some Grizzly donuts

Leah exhibiting great slide form
 After saying farewell to the girls. We hung out at the house, ate some snackies, then had a fantastic birthday dinner of Dan's famous vegetarian Bahn Mihs topped off by chocolate hazelnut cake.
Audrey, Julian, and Mary showing off their birthday chocolates
Audrey and Julian were kind enough to help Dan put the candles in the cake and even offered to help me blow out the birthday candles; lucky me! :)

Audrey, Mary, and Julian blow out the birthday candles!
 After dinner and dessert we skipped up to Pomona College where we arrived just in time to enjoy James Turrell's Skyspace: "Dividing the Light". The box in the middle is the night sky - look how it changes depending on the light displayed on the surrounding ceiling. Aunt Mary and Aunt Patty know how cool this Zen-like space is. All you others who have yet to visit Claremont: look what you have in store for you:

Admittedly, Julian and Audrey were more interested in the merry go round in the science area
We have been so lucky to have so many wonderful visitors lately! Gee, who would have thought Claremont would be so much more popular than SouthWest Missouri?!?! Up next, Uncle Peter will be in Claremont from San Francisco for a quick work trip.

McGRundallnesses Invade Claremont!

Last weekend was a blast as we had the McGRundallnesses visiting with us in Claremont on Saturday and Sunday. After camping in Zion for two nights they drove through Nevada to SoCal and after a snack and kiddie yoga we headed out for a campus tour!
Audrey's Triangle Pose

Audrey and Julian doing the Tree Pose
 To kick off the tour we explored the Pomona farm, said hello to the chickens, investigated the smurf house, and admired the various herbs, fruits, and veggies growing in the garden.

Audrey exiting the Smurf House
 After the farm we strolled through Pomona's campus and Audrey and Julian took their rightful spots in the theater's throne chairs after they had some silly antics on the outdoor theater stage.

Audrey in her Queen Chair

Julian lounging in his King Chair
 We took them to the floating living room at CMC surrounded by a moat. Everyone (except Dan) went inside to explore this unusual floating room:
CMC's floating living room as seen from Above
While we were enjoying Scripps' campus Audrey made friends with a lizard.

Audrey pet this Lizard!
Audrey and Julian were able to spot the gargoyles guarding Scripps' Denison Library. Audrey posed in front of the beautiful Denison Library doors:

Audrey is ready to enroll!
The next day all involved helped my birthday celebration be extra special!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Hiking Potato Mountain

This weekend we had more visitors. Dan's brother David was in town for business in LA then he drove out to Claremont and spent Friday night and Saturday with us. On Saturday we did a hike up in the Angeles National Forest to the top of Potato Mountain. At the top we found a cool potato family.

Potato Family

On Sunday my college buddy and her husband drove to visit us for brunch and a tour of town and the campuses. They were visiting the area from DC to visit family for passover. Sadly I didn't get any photos of them. We look forward to showing Claremont to the McGRundallnesses later this month!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Durango Dan and his crew visit SoCal!

This past week Dan, Erin, Ethan,Elliot and Erin's mom Sue and Stepdad Slim were in Anaheim for a little spring break resting and relaxing. On their way from Phoenix to Anaheim last week Dan, Erin, Ethan, and Elliot stopped in Claremont for some time at the park playing frisbee, campus tours, and dinner. We had a great visit!

Elliot exploring the Claremont Playground
The next day Dan and I drove down to Anaheim to have dinner at their place and visit for the evening. On Friday, Cesar Chavez Day, Dan and I had the day off so we met up with the gang in Newport Beach for a whale-watching boat cruise. It was a very windy day so the water was pretty choppy, but luckily nobody in our crew got seasick.

Fellow passenger's hair was completely windblown!
We saw two separate pods of gray whales. One pod had three adult gray whales and the other pod had two adults and a calf. They were popping up out of the water frequently and the one group even displayed a bit of courtship behavior which was fun. It was hard to get photos of them but you can see them below shooting water out of their blowholes:

Gray Whales
On the way back to the boat dock through the harbor our boat was tailed by a playful sealion who was swimming along right off the back in our wake:

Playful Sealion
After our fun boat cruise we had a picnic at the park along the beach before heading down for some fun in the sand.

Elliot and Ethan enjoying a picnic lunch

Ethan playing in the surf

Dan, Erin, Mary, Sue, and Slim lounging on the beach

Elliot was very busy building sand castles in the sand
We had a wonderful visit with everyone and look forward to seeing them again soon in July in Michigan!

Back in Claremont Annie has been enjoying the California wildflowers popping up all over the place.

Annie poses next to the California poppies