Wednesday, May 29, 2013

day two, 'cause day one was kind of a bust

(finally getting around to posting about our cross-country move.  thank you for your patience.)

moving.  it's one of the things in life that can cause high levels of stress.  in my case, much of it is self-induced.

after luxuriating in the time spent with friends on the day prior to our departure, i had optimistically unrealistically insanely planned to have the moving truck leave first thing that monday morning, drive by the post office to drop off our sealed-stamped-addressed moving cards in the mail, pick up a final dutch brothers salted caramel chai, and drive merrily on our way to yosemite.  it would be such a shame, everybody had told me, if we didn't take the opportunity to see at least one of the falls while we were living in california, so i thought i'd jam a drive-through-the-area in there on our way down to san marcos.  after gasping at the prices for staying in a hotel in the park itself, i broadened my search and was so enchanted by the yosemite bug that i booked us our first travel night there, so sure i was of our ability to get on the road on time.

right.  in what reality, you might ask, would this have actually happened?

i will spare you and my memory the sordid details and reasoning, but suffice it to say we did not depart our fair city of woodland until approximately 5:00 p.m.  the moving cards were sitting in a bag, unsealed, unstamped, and unaddressed and most definitely not ready to take to the post office, which was already closed, i think.  the truck did get picked up, the apartment was left in decent shape, not to my usual standards, but i was working with a deadline, two children, a rabbit, a fish, and a temperamental vacuum cleaner.  thanks to the excellent planning of my husband, we had already acquired our transportation for the members of our household, a fancy-schmancy minivan with ever so many buttons to automatically do this and that.  in the end, we pretty much tossed everybody and everything leftover from the truck into it and left.

driving down to merced was fine.  even getting to mariposa was ok.  but that last stretch to midpines, in the dark, following a winding road with few other vehicles on it, was pretty tough.  i just kept hoping that our room was as comfortable as had been advertised.  it was, but i was too tired to take any pictures of it, so you'll just have to look at the image of the private room private bath two queens here.  ander had already fallen asleep in the minivan, and he fortunately fell back asleep on the couch after we made our way in the dark from our parking space to the cabin.  it didn't take the rest of us very long to be tucked into bed and snoring away.

when steve and i first checked in that night, we knew diana would want to come into the main building to see the gift shop.  sitting right on the desk was a large black tarantula encased in acrylic.  a similarly-preserved scorpion sat nearby.  the next morning she was as enamored as we predicted.

the yosemite bug was an ideal place for diana.  she appreciates insects of many kinds, and her appreciation is greatest when said insect is not, in fact, living, or is, in fact, in a safely enclosed space.  acrylic was, therefore, an excellent medium for examining the deceased yet fully intact arthropods.  resins are also useful when displaying insects in a lovely, unusual way, such as in jewelry (we have both worn her new insect necklace on the trip.)

bugs like these do not bug her
i enjoyed the atmosphere of the cafe, at least the little of it i experienced while waiting for our to-go order of breakfast burritos.  the wait was long but worth it in terms of taste.  the large room was comfortable, friendly, and easy-going.  it reminded me of the charm of hartford coffee company in st. louis, mo, where you could find a place to sit and enjoy your comestibles and then bus your own dishes.  there were plenty of spaces to be alone or share the company of others to talk or play one of the games on the ample shelves.

margaret the gps was in some kind of mood on that second morning of our adventure.  as we exited the yosemite bug she took us some roundabout way up into the mountains, well off the paved roads; heck, well off unpaved roads and right onto grass.  maybe she was irritated that we had come so far but would not be driving into yosemite itself to view any of the spectacular waterfalls.  steve finally got us back on track and on our long way down to to san marcos.

seriously, we followed the gps directions up this road until the road abruptly disappeared. so we came back down.
nice view, though. yosemite valley, i surmise.

after being in such a forested, mountainous area in midpines, i was startled to see flat land appear almost out of nowhere, complete with cattle

ander in his luxurious car seat

diana has the back row to herself, just the way she liked.  snowball spent the first two days in her carrier on the floor, then diana moved her up onto the seat next to her so we could see inside. the fabric banner was thoughtfully made and given to us by friends just prior to our departure; diana put it up in the vehicle immediately.

we may not have hiked in yosemite, but at least we could see what we missed

the view from diana's vantage point

rowenne, diana's betta, traveled the first two days in a bug gulp cup from 7-eleven. we thought it would be more comfortable for him instead of sloshing around in his tank.

mama driving through the transverse mountains north of los angeles, at least according to wikipedia

our last view of the pacific. we'll be heading from sea to shining sea on this voyage.

a little later than we hoped, we arrived to see grandpa ralph, mema, and uncle martin.  we got to ooh and aah over mema's sewing room and grandpa's jewelry-making workshop and admire the setup of their hydroponic garden.  oh, and take turns climbing up on martin's cool scooter.

why is a scooter such a big deal for ander? well, one of his favorite episodes from carl sagan's cosmos series involves einstein's theory of relativity as demonstrated on a motor scooter.

after an arduous wait at the old spaghetti factory for dinner, we wrapped up our short but happy visit and tumbled into bed.

ralph, ander, diana, jeannie, and martin

martin & steve

ander wanted to try taking a photo, too.  we kept encouraging him to come closer, but he stepped back. i guess he had different ideas about what should be in the picture. i like that he included the purple sofa.
mileage via google maps, post-trip:

day 1 - woodland, ca to yosemite bug = 178 miles
day 2 - to san marcos, ca = 390 miles
miles traveled after day 2 = 568

on to the next travel post

Monday, May 27, 2013

frying pan farm park

diana thinks this is the coolest name ever.

she's extreme like that, but on this, i have to agree.

it's a park.  it's a farm.  it has plenty of animals to see from a comfortable viewing distance and lots of space to walk around in.  it has tractor rides and a carousel and a playground.  i have no idea what it has to do with frying pans.

plus, mister-uncle-brian (steve's brother) was with us, so that pretty much guarantees a good time.

he named his carousel horse "blandy"

hers was "lloyd"

Sunday, May 26, 2013

a dream come true

ever since steve moved out here last summer for his new job, ander has been (not so patiently) waiting to experience the best that this area has to offer, at least in his mind: the national air and space museum - udvar-hazy center.  why? 


his dream finally came true.

with uncle brian, contemplating what they will see

the observation tower, from which we could observe landings at dulles

actual air traffic control sounds are broadcasted within the observation tower
our first stop was the gift shop. he needed something to carry with him to meet discovery.  these were not available for purchase but were enthralling to him, nonetheless.

now for the real planes

steve explains how the machine gun and engine were tied so that the ammunition was fired between the blades. that's fairly important if you didn't want to shoot yourself down.

considering how he might fly one of these himself
the moment we were waiting for

this came in close second

i'm fairly certain he knows how many tiles are on there. you do know they are all different and are all numbered and have a very specific location, right?  he does.

whoa! look the size of those engines!


we'll be back.  oh, yes, we will

the best brownies in the universe

just sayin'  :)

we released ourselves from providing the burden of proof on this statement.  if you want to find a better brownie, knock yourself out.

i referred to this recipe over a year ago.  we've changed things up just a little to perfect it.  diana makes them entirely by herself.  i serve merely as sous-chef and reach ingredients from high shelves.

bossk brownies, from wookie cookies: a star wars cookbook

rule 1: this recipe is for a single batch.  but always double the recipe. they are too good to make just one pan, and we always make enough to share.  right now, the lucky recipients are our neighbors and uncle brian, who is visiting us for the holiday weekend.

  • 2/3 c. all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (we use kosher.  the bigger crystals make for a better taste)
  • 1/2 c. cocoa powder
  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. chocolate chip: we have used dark (heavenly), milk (pretty good) and white (diana's favorite) but not semi-sweet.  diana says they just don't taste right.

preheat oven to 350 and butter 8 in. square pan.  if you are like us and double the recipe and bake in a pampered chef stoneware pan, use the 9 x13 pan and don't bother buttering - it's not necessary with stoneware. stir flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt together.  mix butter and both sugars until well blended and creamy (about 3 minutes).  add eggs and vanilla extract.  add flour mixture until just combined.  stir in chips.  pour batter into pan and smooth top.  bake about 25 minutes or just until cake tester comes out of the middle cleanly.

we have found it makes a big difference when you melt the butter first rather than having it at room temperature.  when you are stirring by hand, your arm can get pretty tired and you still may not have the butter satisfactorily blended with the sugars, lending itself to a less homogeneous mixture.

p.s. this post was inspired by jen's cookie recipe post.  check it out.