Friday, March 30, 2012

Adventures with Nana, part two

March 5th-25th
The camper's home base for the next three weeks:

Travis AFB Fam Camp, site #60.
We had a GORGEOUS backyard...the kids LOVED playing in the lush grass!

We spent a couple of days settling in, doing school work, grocery shopping, doing all the things we needed to do to live fulltime in the camper again, and just enjoying Team Monty time.  We've been visiting family for one month straight!  It was our first time just being us again.  :)

So, what did we do?  

We had a throwback adventure... to the 1970's and we played racquetball!
Look at Jolie run down that ball!
It was so fun playing racquetball together!  We laughed so hard!  Jon and I played a couple matches against each other.  The kids had a great time cheering us on.  I don't move quite like I used to, but it all came back and was a blast!  We played 3 times during our stay and we can't wait to play again.  

We did puzzles, ate ice cream, did our hair in funny styles... and just were.

We spent a lot of time playing outside chasing bunnies, geocaching, letter boxing, playing soccer, making mud pies and other "delicious" snacks :)

We also spent time playing with "neighbor" kids:

We brought out the jump ropes and I threw down a double dutch challenge!

We had a great time and we discovered that this is a great way to reach out to our neighbors...
all kids love to jump rope!

My mom stopped by to join us for dinner in the camper a couple of times.  We BBQ'd, of course.  

Loving this spring weather!
She was there during the end of the day ceremony that happens on all military installations at 1630:

The National Anthem is played to end the duty day.  Everyone on the base that is outside is required to stop and face the American flag or face the music if no flag is present.  It is an awesome ritual that we have grown to love.
At Travis AFB:  they start the day at 0700 with Revelry and close the day at 2200 with Taps. can hear ALL of these loud and clear at the Fam Camp :)

AND...we had to go to the Apple store...AGAIN!
Unfortunately, this time it was my fault :(  
And I forgot to take a picture of it before we turned it in for repair!  
I shattered the screen on our BRAND NEW laptop :(  
So, we made a couple of trips to the Arden Fair Mall in Sacramento.  At least we had a good time while there:

Jolie's store  :)
A Lego store....yippeeeee!
Daniel and Jolie both celebrated their 1/2 birthdays this week:
They each got a new Lego set, of course :)

We were able to pick up our repaired laptop when we went to Sacramento again to see dear friends.  We attended church together in Florida.  They moved to California due to a job change.  Oh, how we've missed the Broughtons!

Ah...the kids have missed their buddy!
We got to play Lego Rock Band...what a blast!
Dear friends:  Ken, Jack, and Karen
Thanks for your hospitality!  It was wonderful handing out with old friends again!!

We celebrated St. Patrick's Day with sweet, cold treats :)
Shamrock Shakes...does it get any better?

AND we took a few field trips!

Jelly Belly Factory tour
We have all done the tour before, but it was years ago and none of the kids remembered it.  So, bummer... we had to do it again. :)  Unfortunately, no pictures of the factory are allowed.  On the flip side, I found it very enjoyable to be very present during the tour and not distracted by trying to photograph it all.

Looking so spiffy with our required hats :)
There are many wonderful portraits and artwork made out of Jelly Bellies.
President Abe Lincoln:  our favorite homeschooler!
They used to take years to create, but computers have dramatically reduced that time.
Our favorite place of the factory, the Sample Bar.
Check out these flavors!
Barf, Booger, Skunk Spray, Pencil Shavings...ewwwwww!
Well, except for Daniel's choices.  He chose from the selections above. :)

Bale Grist Mill
This great state park is located between St. Helena and Calistoga, in the Napa Valley.
We got a long informational tour and demonstration from a CA State Park Ranger.  He was so knowledgable about the mill and he actually mills grains.
They mill grains weekly for local restaurants and to sell to whoever visits the mill.  
Inner workings of the mill.
Faith hand cranking a machine that takes the corn off the cob.
View from inside the mill, top floor looking down on the corn that will be run through the millstones.
Do you know what the expression "Run of the mill means?"  Nope, it didn't originate to mean "average".
It meant... whatever grain was milled that day was the "Run of the Mill."
Fresh corn meal!
The miller would test the quality of the flour by "putting his nose to the grindstone" to smell if the stones are burning the flour...and by the "rule of thumb"... testing the texture of the flour.
Daniel sampling the freshly milled corn meal.  It was so good!
The corn dust flying through the air was captured with my flash, but I didn't notice it with my naked eye.
The mill is run by the miller and "Dusties"...young men that helped and apprenticed with the miller.
Daniel was asked to be a Dusty!
The ranger is showing the kids the they knew what Dusties had to do.
One of the Dusty's jobs was to spin this handle to separate the millstones after milling.
It was easy at first and then got very difficult and it took awhile.
DT used every muscle and eventually Faith joined in to help.  It took them both to do the job!
This lady gave us a demonstration on how to actually use one of these old stoves.
I've never known how they actually work and cook.
We learned how to tend the fire, which burner to use when you need a hot or warm surface, etc.
Very, very interesting...and I'm so happy to have a gas stove :)
There is a small museum that explains all about Mr. Bale, the grist mill's history, and all about milling.
We learned the expression "Cock-eyed" originated with how the milling stones were set upon installation.  If they were perfectly adjusted and straight...they were cock-eyed (named after the hole they were set in).  Funny how that expression means crooked or askew today.
The mill is in a state park that has lots of hiking after the tour we took a hike :)
And we discovered the Pioneer Cemetery.
I don't know why I'm so fascinated with people that lived in the 1800-1900's.
I want to know all their stories...and what drove them to be pioneers!
On the drive back down the valley to Napa, we watched the fog roll in over the mountains.
It was an amazing sight, especially when looking over the vineyards.
Unfortunately, those pictures didn't turn out quiet as magnificently as this one over the grocery store in St. Helena :)
California Academy of Science
in San Francisco

Ah, the Golden Gate...this sight never gets old, even in the rain.
I was hoping to walk across it with the kids, but that won't happen this day!
Running through the rain in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park
California Academy of Sciences
Our little "Night at the Museum" moment
Jolie with her favorite animal.  She's loved giraffes for 1 1/2 years now...ever since one kissed her while on "safari" in Napa Valley.
The ACS is part natural museum, aquarium, and planetarium
Black tip sharks and sting rays
Clyde, the albino alligator
The eel wanted to eat us!
Next, we found out what it would feel like to touch an electric eel...
The kids at the touch tank...most of the things in the tank they have found out in the "wild" of Florida's Gulf Coast and they could actually teach the teacher a few things :)  But they were patient and listened :)
This was an incredible you know what Faith and Daniel are looking at?
An anaconda eating a rabbit!  Can you see the lump in the middle?  They only feed this snake about every two weeks...and we just happened to catch it!
Even though it was fed a dead rabbit, it still squeezed it before eating it.
Very cool....
Where should we go next?
Costa Rica, of course!
A blue morpho butterfly landed on Daniel!
Next up, the natural history museum part...
a display of eggs.
God is just incredibly creative, even in the littlest details!
Creation scientist Jolie Cait
We enjoyed our trip to the ACS...and rainy San Francisco!

We spent time at my mom's visiting with her and my brother.  We had fun walking the dog, dancing with Xbox, watching cooking competitions and then doing a "Chopped" challenge with fresh lemons.  Nana and Uncle Chris also kept the kids for us so we could have a date night!  Whoop!!!
My brother recommended this restaurant and he was spot on!
I highly recommend ristoranteallegria if you are ever in the Napa Valley.

Ristorante Allegria is in an old landmark bank, built in 1916 in downtown Napa.
Food does not get any better than in Napa, CA!

My mom also hosted a family get-together.  I got to see sweet people that I haven't seen since my wedding almost 20 years ago...

Dale and Patti Smith...
I was the flower girl at THEIR wedding...35 years ago!

Springtime in the Napa Valley

The last three weeks have flown by and now it's time to head to our next adventure: 
 "Spring Break" in Yosemite National Park :)
March 26th-April 1st.

And with that... the blog is officially caught up!

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