Saturday, November 28, 2009

Of Tall Things

A busy and fun day yesterday, taking us from Oakhurst to the Sierra Forest to Fresno and back to Coarsegold.

It started with breakfast in Oakhurst. I had chicken-fried steak (and it's chicken, not country) with eggs and hash browns. That supplied good fuel for a short hike to one very tall tree, the Bull Buck tree in Nelder Grove. It's a sequoia, 242 feet high and 84 feet in circumference. And after passing many stumps of trees cut down in the late 1890s, stumps that are themselves as much as twenty feet high, the tree kind of sneaks up on you. Fortunately, we had my brother Andy as a tour guide, and he knows right where to go (and what to see along the way). The Bull Buck is very, very impressive.

The boys also had a blast hiking and climbing on stumps and taking pictures on the trail.

After that we drove down to Fresno to visit the Chafee Zoo in Roeding Park. After seeing a very tall tree, the boys got to feed a very tall giraffe, as well as seeing elephants, tigers, armadillos, geckos, emus, stingrays, and too many other animals to enumerate.

And after that we had dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory in Fresno. We didn't get to visit as much as we would have liked--the restaurant was crowded and noisy--but dinner was good.

And the boys slept very well last night.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

We had a wonderful day visiting with all the family in Fresno, with lots of conversation and a great dinner.

I haven't seen anyone here except my mother (who came to visit us in 2007) since the very end of 2005, so Danny and William really felt as though they were meeting these people for the first time.

This is pretty much the halfway mark for our trip, and the time is going much too fast. It's not just the visiting and the warm weather we're enjoying here; there are so many things to do, and so many favorite places to see, that we have no chance of getting to even a small fraction of them.

But we have vowed to return more often, and for longer periods of time.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I Hate To Brag, But. . .

I am sitting outside in the back yard of the home of our good friends the Reisch family, in late November, in shirtsleeves, watching my children play. I don't know what the temperature is at the moment, but I am sitting in the shade to avoid getting too hot.

The trip was very long, although I have to credit Jet Blue for doing more than any airline I've flown recently (though I have to admit that my last flight was some years ago) to make the trip more pleasant. I had picked Jet Blue for the lower fares, but found the service and the many nice touches very impressive.

They have an individual screen for every seat, with around 35 channels of progamming to choose from. I watched a fascinating show on the National Geographic channel about ancient crocodiles. They also have more legroom than I am used to, and I could easily get used to that.

And the people were very, very nice. The captain even made his preflight annoucement standing at the front of the cabin instead of facelessly from the deck.

I took the boys and their friend Madison to the park today to run off some steam. The last time I was there, with Thomas, there was a cute little play structure. Now there is a giant structure with lots of amazing new things to climb on and hang from. The children had a blast. My boys have never been on a playground that big before.

They've never, in their memory, been anyplace this big before. But in the true spirit of childhood, they are too involved with the moment to really notice much difference. To them we are just sleeping over with friends, visiting new and exciting places, and visiting people that, for the most part, they don't remember meeting.

On the other hand, I am still in awe of the contrast between New Hampshire, which even in its largest cities is more like a giant small town, and Los Angeles, a city with a population three times that of our entire state.

I sometimes wonder what it is I would miss about New Hampshire if we lived in California. When I think about it, the list is small. There are a few special places we like to go, but these are places that we could revisit on a vacation to the Granite State. Mostly I would miss my theater group. Not only do i love the theater, but The Village Players is a very special group of thespians. If I lived somewhere else, I would want to be able to come back long enough at a stretch to do the occasional play with this particular company.

But I feel very comfortable in the city. I love the availability of everything. When i first got in the rental car, I wondered how quickly I would adapt to driving here. I think it took about a minute, and then only because I was in an unfamiliar car.

I missed the entrance to the freeway because the rental agent sent me in a direction I don't normally use. But knowing how Los Angeles is laid out, I found my bearings immediately and found the entrance in a matter of a couple of minutes.

Even streets I couldn't remember the names of were instantly recognizable when I came to them. I picked the right freeway exits, turned at the right cross streets, and then faltered badly when I passed the Reisch house. The front had been seriously remodeled since my last visit there.

But other than that, there has been nary a misstep.

In ten days we will get back on the plane, back to school and jobs and house construction. I've been there for eight years, and of course it is familiar and I am reasonably comfortable with it.

But it's only in Southern California that I feel truly at home.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Blogging From a Bus!

Wireless technology is an amazing thing. As I write this, I am sitting in a bus on the way to Logan Airport, and I'm Internet connected.

It sounds very fancy, but taking the bus was actually a cost saver. The round-trip fare is less than half the cost of parking for ten days in Boston, and about a quarter the cost of a round-trip limo fare. This is our first time using the service, and so far I'm impressed.

Traveling anywhere from where we live is a day-long commitment. It's about forty minutes to the bus, then two hours to Logan, a couple of hours to allow for security check points and boarding, and six hours of flying. We'll arrive close to midnight, nearly three a.m. according to our body clocks. And after that we have to drive about an hour from LAX to the valley to where we're staying.

But after a little recovery period, it will feel very good to be back in California.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ready to Fly

As we approach our departure date, there are myriad details to sort out before we go, and so a couple of things are slipping through the cracks. Like pictures on this site.

At least today's picture is not event-specific; Daniel is still doing homework every night, so I can at least claim that the picture is timely. On the other hand, I do have some material to draw from, on William's camera and Karen's, that I will post before we go so that it isn't all recycled pictures while we're away.

And I should be able to post some entries and photos from the road. We're looking forward to seeing everyone in California, to visiting a few old favorite places, and to spending some time in warmer weather, although New Hampshire hasn't been so bad this month, at least compared with average temperatures.

And I think we're all looking forward to just getting away from the regular routine, and to having some long streches of time together. With conflicting schedules and so many things to take care of at home, there has been precious little of that.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Halloween Treats

The boys had a fun and successful "Trick Or Treat" outing on Saturday. Towns in New Hampshire now specify official days and hours for the activity, not always on Halloween. Strange.

We went into Wolfeboro, William dressed as Jack Sparrow, the Johnny Depp character from "Pirates Of the Caribbean," and Daniel dressed as a knight. Karen had to catch up with us, as it was a work day for her. We hit all of the side streets off the main drag, and then went up to one of the local haunts for dinner. About three or four blocks from the restaurant, it started to rain, but we didn't get terribly wet and it didn't dampen our spirits, although Mom and Dad had tired feet by the end of it all. Amazingly, neither of the children complained about his feet despite the fact that they both were wearing rubber rain boots, not because of the weather but because of the costumes.

The boys got quite a haul, and they will be enjoying it for weeks to come as we dole out the candy slowly. Not everything in the bags was candy, though. Of course there were the inevitable orange toothbrushes with black bristles from the local dentist (who, interestingly, also gave out the biggest servings of candy), but there were also treat-sized bags of pretzels and cookies. One of the administrators of our daycare center was smart enough to have packs of animals crackers on hand for the infants. People can be very clever.

Now it's back to the real world as we rush to prepare the house for Winter, and get ourselves ready for a trek to California, which we are all very much looking forward to, and not just for the break from the cold weather. Talking to Danny the other night, I realized just how many of our treasured friends and family members Danny has no recollection of.

It's been too long!