Archive for September, 2009


Summer in the Midwest

September 24, 2009

On August 20th we packed up the family and headed off for our annual Thanksgiving trip to the Midwest. Yes, I know we’re about three months ahead of schedule, but every year we miss out on seeing Debbie’s father, since he leaves right before Thanksgiving to go play Santa at some mall in another state. (For those of you who don’t know Ray, he’s the right jolly old elf with the beard in the photo above.)

So we decided to make our trip before Debbie had to go back to work. We made our usual stop in Minneapolis to visit our friends Dale and Jess. Here Sophie helps Smithers and Quimby keep a lookout for dangerous woodchucks.

We did have some fun taking Sophie out to watch the dogs run around at the dog park.

Dale and I did take the opportunity to get in some target practice. (The girls, surprise, surprise, headed to the mall.)

On Sunday we headed off to Wisconsin to meet up with Debbie’s father. He was participating in the Chippewa River Rendezvous in Cornell, Wisconsin. Here is a picture of Ray, Debbie and Sophie in front of Ray’s tent at the Rendezvous. (No. he’s not a Pirate, he’s a gentleman merchant.)

Debbie and Sophie check out some of the other campsites and displays.

Sophie tests out her fencing skills against her dad.

This giant crane-type-thing in the middle of the campground is apparently the only known pulpwood stacker in the world. Who knew?

After spending the afternoon at the rendezvous, we drove the rest of the way to Debbie’s parents house. Fortunately there was plenty of room for Sophie in our big bag.

The next day we headed down to the park near their house. There was a small  water park there, as well as a miniature train. (They also had a curling rink, but unfortunately it isn’t open in the summer!) Here we are on the train.

And here are some shots of Sophie playing in the fountains.

We also paid a visit to our favorite museum, the Leigh Yawkey Woodson art museum.

Here Debbie teaches Sophie how to run like an ostrich.

Sophie practices her drawing skills.

And of course we stopped for a group photo in front of our favorite sculpture.

We spent some time in downtown Wausau at the farmer’s market.

We also stopped by the local cheese factory (it is Wisconsin after all!)

It was our lucky day. We got to watch them erecting a new whey distilling tower. (Ok, I made that up. I have no idea what it was, but it was pretty big.)

Here is a picture of Sophie with the Woodchuck that lives in Debbie’s parents basement. (Wisconsin Woodchuck, that is.  He’s the head coach, Guido.  Really.  To call Guido a character doesn’t even begin to describe him.  Guido, if you’re reading this, thanks for the ice cream.  We’re still eating it;)

On our last day we headed up to Rib Mountain to explore nature a little bit. There are some nice views from the top of the mountain, and there is a tower at the top you can climb to get a view above the trees.

Finally we headed back to Minneapolis to spend a couple of more days with Dale and Jess before flying home. Here’s Sophie hanging out with her new best friends Smithers and Quimby.

And here are the girls waiting patiently for a treat.

Finally it was time to head back to San Diego. Fortunately Sophie’s a great traveler. She remembered to bring her stickers and her iPod (with Wall-E loaded up).

And when all else failed, just looking out the window with Mama was entertaining enough.

Below is a link to the full album.

2009-08-31 Wisconsin

Mission San Juan Capistrano

September 18, 2009

When we last left our intrepid adventurers, they had just finished up a day of hiking and exploring the beach at Crystal Cove State Park. For most ordinary mortals that would be plenty of action for one day. But not for us! So we packed everyone up and headed over to the Mission at San Juan Capistrano.

We did have a good reason for this. In California they spend part of the fourth grade studying the Missions as part of history class, and since Garrett will be in fourth grade this year Shay and Eric thought it would be good for him to see an actual Mission.

Here are Debbie and Sophie in front of the old bell tower and remains of the old church on the right.

And here we are hanging out on one of the benches in the garden.

Parts of the mission have been restored, but all that remains of the old church is the back wall.

Here is the interior courtyard behind the bell tower.

Sophie and Debbie explore on of the fountains on the Mission grounds.

After exploring the Mission we wandered in to downtown San Juan Capistrano for dinner. We found a nice Mexican restaurant a couple of blocks away. The best part was it was right beside the train tracks, and since we were sitting outside we could see and here the trains roar by every five minutes! (Ok, the kids liked it, and whatever keeps the kids happy keeps the grown ups happy!)

Our final stop on the way back to the car was in front of the elementary school beside the Mission. They, of course, had a bell out in front, and the kids had a great time trying to make it ring.

There are many more pictures in the album, just click on the link below:

2009-08-15 Mission San Juan Capistrano

Crystal Cove State Park

September 3, 2009

On August 15 we to go for a drive up the coast to visit Crystal Cove State Part to meet up with our friends Shay and Eric and their kids. We decided on Crystal Cove because it is about halfway between our house in San Diego and theirs in Simi Valley, and it has several hiking trails and some nice beaches.

We started the day with a hike up into the canyon that is adjacent to the beach. It was a little hazy out but otherwise we had a great view of the ocean.

The first part of the trail was a fairly steep climb uphill, followed by an equally steep climb down another trail called “powerline” (see if you can figure out why), then at the bottom of the hill the trail headed back to the beach where we started.

We did run into a few examples of the local wildlife (no bears, but what can you do?)

All of the exercise and fresh air lead to some quality family bonding moments.

After working up a big appetite, we set up a little picnic at one of the tables on the bluff overlooking the ocean.

When lunch was over, we headed down the boardwalk and stairs to the beach below. There were some rocky tide pools on the beach that the kids had fun poking around in.

The fun at the tide pools pretty much came to an end when Brynn accidentally walked backwards into one and got soaked from head to toe. She didn’t seem to find it as amusing as the rest of us did.

After a few hugs and some time to dry off, she was back to having a good time.

Finally, it was time to leave the beach, grab a quick nap in the car, and head to our second destination of the day. (More on that in the next post…)

Here is a link to the full album:

2008-08-15 Crystal Cove