April 2017

Meeting up with Jay was awesome today, but it was kind of like hanging out with Fran. Since Ted and I knew that going in it was easier to handle. He never specified an actual meeting place, just agreed when I suggested one. We parked at the fort at the base of the bridge and went inside to look around. Jay said he felt bad that he had never taken his family into the fort all the times he’s taken his friends and family members to see the Golden Gate Bridge. I said don’t worry about it, now you have something new to show them the next time. Ted mostly took care of Jack, and Max and Akira played together while Jay and I did all kinds of catching up. I guess the last time I saw him was when we lived in CA…15 or so years ago!

It was a really pretty area, and we just walked down the river a little bit and talked and talked and talked. Jay and I tried to name every person we could remember from college, and every teacher, and who knows what which person is doing now, and who’s still in architecture and who’s not. It was a lot of fun for me! Jay had suggested packing a picnic lunch and eating at the foot of the bridge, but when it came time to get our lunches out he said what food do you like to eat, let’s go to a restaurant, so off we went. He took Max and Akira in his vehicle and we just followed him. He told us when we got out that the boys had voted and we were having pizza. I was bummed because I was hoping for some really good Thai food, but the pizza place was awesome. We ordered two pizzas, one the boys chose and one large one for the adults. We didn’t think we’d be able to finish them, but in the end we brought home two slices of pizza and one fried cheese stick. Not bad! Ted suggested to me that we would pay and I agreed. When the lady brought the check Jay was surprised obviously, and said you guys are homeless; I help the homeless, I should be paying for y’all! This is shameful, we’re in my hometown and you are paying for me to eat. We all laughed so hard when he called us homeless, and the waitress said you’re homeless? She couldn’t believe that anybody would actually not have a house. She said, but how do the boys go to school? I don’t know if she’d ever met a family that homeschools before.

After lunch we left the trucks and walked some more in Golden Gate Park. We watched a couple of teams play baseball, heard a symphony playing, and then walked through a tunnel and found a playground for the kids to climb on. All in all it was an awesome day. On our way back Jay asked if we were ready for dessert. Since we paid for lunch I think he wanted to repay the favor. We went to The Creperie and there was an amazing looking crepe that I wanted to try with lots of interesting ingredients, walnuts, pistachios, brown sugar, and several other things. But in the end I just stuck to old faithful and got strawberries, Nutella and walnuts. It was amazing! We walked back to the truck and split up at that point. What a fun day. On our way home we stopped at a grocery store to stock up, and drove by the Petaluma Creamery. I think we’ll visit that tomorrow.

Since we basically ate two full meals with Jay, when we got home we didn’t need any supper. Max still had 8 math problems left! So we told him to do that while I went outside with Jack to play on the playground right by the bus. This is a beautiful place; the mosquitoes are everywhere, but I haven’t gotten bitten once! There’s a pond on the far side of the playground from our bus, so we always want somebody going out with Jack. There are lots of willow trees around the pond, and a little island in the middle. Everything is so green here. There are also lots of geese squawking and flapping around. The funny thing is there are dog silhouettes on springs around here. I think they’re supposed to scare the geese away but they don’t do that at all. It took both Ted and me a few minutes to realize they weren’t actual dogs at first.

I haven’t looked at any of Max’s finals while he was doing them, because I didn’t know how hard it would be to not tell him to go back and look over his work if I saw that he was doing poorly on something. Since he was doing the same problem over and over, I told Ted we might need to put an end time limit on this math exam. If he were a public school he would have a limited amount of time to do the work, so we gave him 10 more minutes to finish up the last three problems he had. After we told him that I went ahead and looked at how he was doing on his test, and he made an 80. I figured out that even if he got zeros on the last three problems he would still pass the final, so that made me feel pretty good. I think he did get one of the problems correct, but he left the other two blank. In the end he made an 82 percent on his math final. Then Ted wanted to go over all of the problems with him really quickly, but really, how quickly can you go over 10 math problems that you got wrong? We did that though, and then Max said he was hungry. I gave him half a bagel to eat while he was getting ready for bed. Jack was already in bed but absolutely not near sleep since the lights were on and we were all being noisy. I’m so glad that school is over, but I forgot that Max still hasn’t officially turned in his final language arts project and I have to grade it. Ugh!

Well, we knew we would be a little late, but the bed fiasco meant we pulled out at 10:40. I awoke at 7:30 with the alarm. Actually I was awake before that…we slept with the windows open again (like we have almost every night since Tucson), and the light from the bathroom skylight/fan shone like a flashlight in my eyes. Ted woke up about 7:45 when Jay was fb messaging me about meeting up tomorrow. How does fb messenger override the DND setting on my phone? This is the dumbest DND setup I’ve ever heard of. I was so excited that I got a tangible button on the side of my phone to mute it, but it bugs me to no end that the in-app alert on Textra alarms even with DND set. And now this one. Oh well. Technology isn’t perfect, but so much of it is really nice to have.

Back to getting ready to go. We decided to all shower this morning since we won’t be hooked up to sewer these next two days. Also, Ted wanted to flush the back black in case we had a blockage. So maybe we should’ve gotten up earlier? Nah. We got almost everything done, truck all hooked up and everything, and then the bed.

We’ve had troubles with it since that Florida trip the first year, but at least we’ve been able to get it up and down. These last few times I’ve pushed up on the right side as we’re putting it up to help it along, and we thought all was fine. But this morning the left side would go up a couple of revolutions and then stop! I tried pushing up on that side and couldn’t get it to budge. Then I pushed the button and Ted pushed up on that side and it worked fine, but then the right side wouldn’t go up enough to put the pin in. Ugh. We stayed calm and tried a few other things…I even suggested having Max come in and press the button while both Ted and I pushed up on the bed…but before we resorted to that we got it up. I think we shouldn’t put the bed down until we get to our next long stop in about 2 weeks, but Ted thinks we’re good to go again…that it got off track but now we know how to keep it on track. I guess we’ll see!

We stopped at about 1 o’clock to gas up the bus. There was a Wendy’s connected to the gas station so we had lunch there. Ted turned the Honda off, so we had to redo the tow vehicle/three minute deal before we left. After we checked the lights and I was heading back into the bus the car alarm went off in the tow vehicle! Later we figured out that it was the panic button on the other set of keys in Ted’s pocket that must have set it off. Fortunately that was our only excitement at the gas station. We got back on the road and I texted Jay a little bit about where we’re going to meet tomorrow.

I’m having fun. Ted tells me I’m playing Sigourney Weaver’s part in Galaxy Quest. I’m repeating everything Google says to him about how to get where we’re going today. And I just stuck my whole body out of the bus to adjust the side mirror that just got whacked by a tree. Good Times!

For supper I made a dish similar to a Pioneer Woman dish: I cooked a pound of turkey, added some black beans and other stuff, and added in some tortillas that I had laid on a burner to toast a little bit. I just ripped those up and put them in. It was good, but I think next time I need to over season the meat so that when we add lettuce and Greek yogurt etc you’ll still get that good flavor. I think I’m not going to buy anymore Cotija cheese either, because it doesn’t have a lot of flavor itself. Cheddar would have been better than that. And next time I’ll use 8 tortillas to a pound of ground beef.

Max has 5 reviews, and 5 finals today and he needs to finish his autobiography. I think he has about a hundred words left to write and then to refine his autobiography. I hope this is his last day of school, but with the craziness that travel brings I won’t be surprised if he needs to do some of his work tomorrow.

I had kind of an epiphany yesterday as our whole family was on a walk by the base. We were talking about Jack wetting his pants and I said something about if it was like math where I knew he just didn’t understand it that would be one thing, and it made me think that maybe it is like math, maybe he just doesn’t have the capability to not pee his pants. He hasn’t had an accident in years that made a puddle on the floor, but he often has accidents that leave a significant visible spot on his pants. I think I want to stop punishing him for wetting his pants, just reiterate how sad his dad and I are when he does that.

Its 2:40 and we’re about 40 minutes away from our stopping point today. Max has taken 3 reviews and 3 final exams. He’s made an A on all finals so far: Bible, language arts and science. We decided to let him go watch TV with Jack for the rest of our ride and then he can take his other two finals tomorrow on our way up to San Francisco.

We checked in and pulled into our spot. We unhooked the truck, leveled the bus quickly, hooked up the water and electricity, turned the a/c’s on and hit the road. We drove a little over an hour to the San Andres Fault. There was a woman there from a geology museum that I talked to a bit and then we walked around a bit and took some pictures. There wasn’t much to see…I was surprised that it was a creek at this time, but it’s cool to think we walked from one tectonic plate to the other. That may not be the only time we’ve done that, but it was the only time I knew it when I did it!

On the way there I had Max bring his laptop and work on his final project…his autobiography turned story of our trip. He turned it in and now only has Math and History review/final. For real. I probably already said he was almost finished but I’d forgotten about this 700 word autobiography he had to do.

Ted and I looked on Yelp for places to eat. There was a cafe there at the tiny town at the fault I kinda wanted to try, but Ted wasn’t hungry and we had no internet connection to see if they had any reviews. Of course when we got back to the bus he had to tell me they had a good rating. We finally settled on going back to the bus. While the boys set up camp I reheated our leftover french fries/rosemary potatoes, put cheese on the top, put an egg on top of that for the boys, and heated up bbq pulled pork and ribs to also put on the top of mine and Ted’s. We watched The Force Awakens while we ate supper and finished off the cake. I really don’t know how good that cake was, but the icing was amazing!!

We got up and worked on our second to last day of school! Woohoo! Around 2 or 3pm I asked Ted if we were going to the beach what time should we go. He said right now, so we wrapped up school, got our chairs and left.

We didn’t stay too long at the beach. It was colder than the other times I’ve been and Ted didn’t bring a jacket. We headed back to the bus and started packing up the outside stuff a little bit while Jack took a shower and got ready for tonight.

We left at 5 for the pirate show. There were hors d’oeuvres, they were probably all frozen prepared kids foods, but they were good. There were fried mozzarella sticks which were my favorite, fried macaroni and cheese bites which were Ted’s favorite, salami and cheese on french bread, ham and cheese on french bread, BBQ meatball on french bread, and we also went and got a plate of veggies with ranch dip. Ted got us all drinks and we sat at a little table and ate and laughed and talked until the the pre-show show started. Max and another boy his age walked around and played a bit, and then we had the pre-show.

After that we were all ushered into the dining area and got front row seats there. It was a good show, but again not quite as much fun as Dixie Stampede I guess. It did have my favorite part of all three of those types of shows though. I love it when the people dance with the huge strips of fabric hanging from the ceiling, they roll themselves up in it twisting the fabric around their bodies and then unroll quickly toward the earth. I just think it’s amazing what humans can do when they work that hard. It’s amazing to me to see the muscles and the poise that comes from years of training. I know I could do that with my body if I just worked that hard, but I have very little interest in sacrificing that much!

Today we went to Legoland. It was pretty fun, but after a few hours there we finally asked a dude who worked there what rides were good for older kids. There weren’t really any. I think Legoland is just mainly for kids up through age eight or so. The roller coasters may have been a little exciting for Jack but not so much for the rest of us. They were fun, just nothing that made me ever want to go back there again.

We started off at the front letting Max go wherever he wanted and be the one to decide what to do. This day was mostly for him. After a little bit Jack got bored so I took him around and let him take the lead while Ted stayed with Max playing video games. Jack and I rode a little water ride and then we rode a round and round ride. A little bit later we decided to go back and find the rest of the family.

It seemed like Max could spend the whole day looking at all the Lego models, especially all the Star Wars creations. Many of the battles were there and there were buttons to press for sound effects and to set the people to fighting or dancing or whatever they were doing. It was also neat to see all the interesting places in the world recreated in Legos: Vegas, New Orleans, Washington, etc. So many of the interesting places were places we have just been to this last year :-)

Ted started getting bored so I tried to shuttle Max into choosing some roller coasters, and then we saw a build your own boat and float it down little water way exhibit. The boys played with that for a while and then we headed to lunch. We all had Bahn Mi sandwiches which were pretty good. It makes me wanna make some sort of marinated veggie slaw to put on our sandwiches and remember to put coleslaw on there too! The one we had was fried pork belly with slaw and cilantro.

After lunch we rode a couple of rides where you shoot bad guys and get points. Then we started looking for the dragon roller coaster, and on our way to it we saw a robotic arm ride. The line was so short I didn’t have a chance to read that there were five different levels of speed on this ride. Jack and I rode together on level 2. You can never tell how he’s going to react to a ride so we just hope for the best. I was told I had to take my earrings off, which kind of surprised me, but it looked pretty fun watching the other people. We strapped in and the guy turned the machine on and I just started laughing, it was so funny. That arm just picked us up and shook us around and around, oh my goodness I could have done that a few more times! Jack, on the other hand, was fussing the whole time. He kept calling my name and saying we’re finished we’re finished! I reached over to try to push his head back; the worst part of the ride was having your head banged around, but we were both in harnesses that came over our shoulders and down over our bellies which made it hard for me to reach his head, and yet I still laughed the whole time! Ted and Max rode it on a level 5 and I got a little video of that. After that we went through it again and Max rode by himself on level 1 and Ted and I rode on level 5. I much preferred level 2 just because of the head knocking around business.

The whole ride was 3 robotic arms reaching up from the ground, all set in a pool of water. When Jack and I were on it the first time I saw someone’s cell phone in water. When Ted and I rode it I asked the ride operator why the phone was still there. She said it was dropped this morning and they were only allowed to stop the ride and go into the water for certain things like medication and keys. Not phones. Doh!

We rode a couple more roller coasters after that, they were fine, just nothing exciting to talk about. About 4:30 we started heading back to the front because the whole place closes at 5. Right at the entrance was a minifigure shop so we let Max go in and look around and then bought him 3 mini figures.

When we got back to the truck we searched around for a place to eat for a bit. I said that BBQ was kind of calling to me and found a place that had more than a thousand reviews, so we went there. I needed to parallel park on the passenger side, and the traffic was somewhat low so I set about about doing that, but I quickly realized it wasn’t working out. I asked Ted to help me, and the second time he told me when to cut the wheel. I was lining up properly, just not lining up properly for my first turn. I forgot that I needed to be about even with the back of the front car before turning. My second time I got us all in perfectly! And that was even with realizing at the beginning of the second time that there was somebody sitting in the car ahead of me waiting to pull out…it was a cop!! I kept my cool though and parked and we went to the restaurant. At first Ted said I hope it’s not that restaurant across the street because that looks too much like a bar and I don’t feel good about taking the kids in there. Haha! That was it of course. When we got closer though it looked fine. And that was a good thing cuz it turned out to have awesome BBQ! He read about the dirty fries on the way there so we got that for the appetizer. That consisted of wonderful french fries, macaroni and cheese sauce, pulled pork and jalapenos on top. The boys and I split the barbecue sampler which came with brisket, sausage which was heavenly, and ribs which were also pretty good. Ted got a brisket plate that was awesome. We brought back enough food to probably feed us again.

On our way home there was a semi pulling two trailers in our lane ahead of us by a few car lengths. I noticed it weaving left and right left and right in an alarming manner. I backed off a little bit and then zoomed around it. Fewf!

One funny thing I noticed about CA but haven’t thought to mention till now is how surprising to me it is to see oil derricks right in the middle of the city. I had this notion that CA was a mecca for people who were supremely earth conscious, and that it would just be clean and wonderful living here. I’ve been here before, but it’s been several years. I don’t know what I was thinking, no one area/state is ever fully homogenized. But I was surprised at the congestion (both in traffic and in tons of houses all crammed together on a hillside…like a neater version of Mexico) and oil derricks in this state.