Best Of The Road - Part Two

    I’m back to finish the other blog post that I started a few months ago.  When last I wrote about our summer vacation my family was deep in the landscape of the rural midwest.  We pick up the narrative as we meandered our way from Galena, IL to Mineral Point, WI.

    We arrived in Mineral Point and I thought, huh, this looks like it could be a cool town but it’s not exactly a thriving town.  Mineral Point is tiny.  We arrived mid-week to learn that most things in Mineral Point are only open on the weekends.  The place is strange.  They have many things that a town this size shouldn’t have i.e. a huge public swimming pool, an opera house, a train museum, a really old house museum, a school for arts and crafts, and a living history museum.

    We settled into our home for the next few days and decided it was a pretty good place to rest one’s head.  Maple Wood Lodge isn’t the fanciest of accommodations, but it was lovely in it’s own quiet way.  It’s set a few miles outside of town on a 20 acre parcel.  The yard is large and well-equipped for family fun with a fire pit, volley ball net, hammock and teether ball.  From the yard you can start out on a few different hikes that let you explore the property.  The hikes are short enough that even small kids can hike the distance, but long enough that you feel like you’re sort of on a hike.  I think we would claim Maple Wood Lodge as our favorite place that we stayed during the trip.

    The highlight of Mineral Point for Mazie was definitely Pendarvis, the living history museum. I’m not sure what happened, but something about Pendarvis clicked with her and she couldn’t stop talking about the place for the next few weeks.  Even today if you mention the name, she will start off anew on the wonders of Pendarvis.

    Pendarvis consists of several very old stone houses constructed in the early and mid 1800’s.  The historical society runs costumed, guided tours through the houses that tell about the various families that lived there and what life was like for them.  It’s worth a stop if you are in the area.

    We had a hard time finding much else to do in Mineral Point as most of the town is closed during the week.  I think Mineral Point is a cool, little spot, but if we ever returned, I would go on the weekend.

    After a few nights in Mineral Point we loaded up our awesome mini-van and hit the road for Cedarburg, WI.  Cedarburg is located just a bit outside of Milwaukee.  It feels old and preserved, but in a touristy way.  It’s similar to Stillwater, MN, but bigger.

    Our accommodations in Cedarburg were strange,  but interesting.  We stayed at a farmstead that used to be in the country, but is now smack dab in the middle of suburbia.  The farmstead consists of the owner’s house, the old barn which the owners use for antique storage and two small cottages that are rented to people like us.  The good news about the cottages is that they could be really, super cool and extraordinary.  The bad news about the cottages is that they aren’t; in fact they are a little creepy.  We wouldn’t ever stay there again, but it was certainly more interesting than hanging our hats at the local Days Inn.

    We had a nice time in Cedarburg.  We visited a covered bridge that seemed too simple to be entertaining, but ended up providing at least an hour of enjoyment.  We walked the Main Street and shopped the many stores.  We sat down at Tomaso’s, a weird pizza place with great pizza (sauce on top) and superb cheese bread.  We dined at a restaurant with mediocre food and a fabulous outdoor patio that took all disappointment out of the meal because of the view.  We watched a dumb movie in our creepy cottage.  Jamie and Mazie made art at a local studio while Tyler napped.  It was a simple and sweet way to end our road trip.  I would return to Cedarburg again, especially with older kids.  I think the area has plenty to offer a family for a long weekend.

    Next year there will be no road trip through the rural midwest.  I’ve promised Jamie and I’m going to keep my promise!

    Best Of The Road - Part 1

    On our recent family vacation, we did the most American of things…We hit the road for a week-long road trip.  Because of my general fear of flying, this is something my family is very accustomed to doing.  For us, it’s not some novel concept of returning to the family vacations of my and Jamie’s youth, it’s just the way we roll (I think I just did a pun; how cool is that?  I don’t pun often).

    This year we took a slightly different take on the all-American road trip:  We traveled the road less taken.  I mean that quite literally as most of our route directed us onto small, never heard nor seen before roads.  Roads that make you wonder why they exist, as they don’t lead anywhere except to some other nowhere.

    It was not grand nor exceptional, but it was peaceful and refreshing.  We began our journey at The Natural Gait, just outside of nowhere, somewhere in the middle of Iowa.  I don’t remember the name of the town we weren’t in and it’s not really important.  No one should go to The Natural Gait, unless maybe they have horses and want to vacation with them.  And then, it’s just a maybe.  We hung out with some good friends from Iowa City and that made The Natural Gait a much better place to be.  Enough said.

    From there our mini-van took us to Dubuque, Iowa.  Dubuque is not a hot-bed of tourism and I don’t remember how I decided we just had to visit, but visit we did.  There are a few cool things in Dubuque, so if you ever find yourself there, hit these places up…

    The National Mississippi River Museum - It was a pleasant surprise.  The section on steamboats was the unexpected highlight of the visit.  We spend a couple of hours, but if we had been without children, we could have easily spent a couple more.

     Fenelon Place Elevator  (it’s a funicular) - This thing was a trip (Are you noticing this; another pun!).  A small, old, rickety car takes you straight up a very steep hill on a small, old, rickety track.  Jamie and I both felt elated to avoid death or serious injury while riding.  The kids thought it was a blast.  The history behind the Elevator was interesting to learn as well.

    The Hotel Julien - This is the type of hotel that I am always happy to find.  A lovingly restored downtown hotel with all the modern amenities including a pool, spa and lots of character from the past.  The rooms were clean, spacious and attractively decorated. We had breakfast at the restaurant two mornings and were impressed with our food.  The hotel also had a separate bar that was handsome in decor and hopping with people and good times, but we didn’t have a chance to check it out.

    L. May Eatery -  Our meal here was the best we had during the trip.  Outstanding food was in short supply during our trip, but this place was pretty darn good.  It’s a small, upscale restaurant with a charming atmosphere that focuses on the local, sustainable food movement, and both Jamie and I eat that kind of thing up (Is it another pun?  I’m flabbergasted.).  They didn’t have a kid’s menu, but they were accommodating and welcoming to our little crazies.  Jamie’s meal of lobster lasagna was particularly good and we all, kids included, had a charming time.

    From Dubuque we hit the road and drove a short distance (about 19 miles, hardly a drive to us city folk) to Galena, IL.  I’d never heard of the place until I was looking for accommodations in Dubuque, but it’s a touristy little spot.  The town has a quaint, expansive downtown that most women would love to spend a day or two perusing.  It screams, “Come, shop, dine!”  Turns out I am like most women in this regard and could see spending a weekend enjoying the historic blocks of downtown Galena.  The area also had things more manly to attend to, but in our short stay we did not participate in any such offerings.  We walked the downtown, had a sub par lunch, and jumped back into the mini-van to head to our next destination.

    This is turning into a much longer post than I’d intended.  Hopefully, I haven’t bored the ten of you to death.  I think I’ll break here and pick up with the rest of the trip in another post.  Till next time…

    My Tribute To First Love

    As I was driving down the road today, I had a flash of my first love Bessie.  She was a white 1986 Mercury Grand Marquis with blue cloth interior.  Grand she was, in size and stature, and grand she lives on in my memory.  Bessie was a hand-me-down from my mom.  She bought the car new and promptly hated it.  I did too.  It was huge, ugly, and really un-cool.  It was an old person car and neither my mom nor I were old.  However once the car was mine, it was no longer what it wasn’t, but what it was.  And what it was:  my very first car.  Her name quickly became Bessie and while I’ve had many cars since, she’s my only car to ever get a name.

    I was a sophomore in college and the once un-cool beast quickly became cool.  She was a sofa on wheels.  Her hugeness meant you could pile a ton of people or stuff inside her vast interior.  She was the perfect road trip car; my constant companion during my most transient years.

    Bessie and I spent many hours touring the highways and byways of this United States.  Many people joined us and all were left with a sense of wonder.  She was special and proved it at every turn.  Even though she was old, she never broke down and left her passengers stranded.  She even pushed another car up a large hill in northern Arizona near the end of her life.  She ran out of gas once, but had the decency to glide into the gas station on fumes and die just as we pulled up to the pump.  She tackled mountain, crazy terrain, cold and snow and never let it get the best of her.

    On the way home from our last road trip together in 1997, on the border between Arkansas and Missouri, a man from Iowa named Elmer had the audacity to rear-end my darling with a full-ton pick-up truck and large trailer on the back.  It was a sad, heart-wrenching moment.  I was fuming with rage as my sweet Bessie sat mangled at the side of the road and this loser from Iowa didn’t seem to care.  Bessie was like that dog who jumps in front of danger to save his/her master.  She took the bullet and I walked away.  Sure, Elmer’s insurance had to pay some money for ruining her, but no amount of money or wishing could bring Bessie back.  Elmer killed her and I’ve never been able to forgive him.

    Bessie, wherever you are, you were the greatest car a travel loving college girl could ever have hoped for.  As my friend Liane used to say back in high school, thanks for the ride, see you at school.

    The Curious Garden

    Last year I bought Mazie a book called The Curious Garden.  It’s about a boy who starts a garden on an old abandoned railroad that is elevated above the city.  We’ve read the story many times and I’ve always thought it was a cool idea to turn an old railway into a linear garden.

    I subscribe to a blog/website, I’m not sure which it really is, called Web Urbanist and every day in my e-mail box I get their daily post.  It’s a hodge-podge of cutting edge, modern design.  One day it might have twenty pictures of crazy, whacked-out cars and the next day it’s innovative iphone covers or mind-blowing hotels.  I usually glance at the e-mail, but every once in a while the e-mail really grabs my attention, just like it did today.

    Today the post is all about The High Line.  The High Line is an elevated city park in NYC built on an old abandoned railway.  Sound familiar?  The visual images of the park instantly reminded me of The Curious Garden book.  I grabbed the book off of the shelf and read the author’s note.  Turns out his book is inspired by the High Line and the wild garden that sprouted there when the railway was left unused.


    If you live in NYC have you checked this park out?  What do you think?  Is it as cool as it looks and reads?  I spent some time on The High Line’s website learning more about the project and park and I think it’s really inspiring.  I’m planning to visit the next time I’m in NYC.

    "B" Is For Barn

    After having such a great experience staying at a barn last month, it makes me want to try these two barn environments even more. I came across Lake Superior Barn a year or two ago, but so far haven't been there.  The price seems to go up $100/night every year, so if a group of us don't get there soon, it will be out of my price range for good.  I love the contrast of this place.  It's über modern and cool, but barn.  It's 320 acres of private lakefront living just 30 miles outside of Duluth.  I can imagine hanging here for a week in the winter when it's a bit cheaper would be magical.  Winter break anyone?

    The Barn House a few miles from Dubuque, IA is another place that I would like to check out.  This place looks pretty awesome and it's much more affordable than the place on Lake Superior.  I tried to book a mid-week stay in August, but the dates were already taken by another lucky party.  As a group of 5 or less this place can be rented during the week for only $250/night.  Considering the size and fabulous-factor of the place, I think that is a steal.  On the weekend the rates go up significantly, but for a group the place would still be pretty doable if you added a Thursday or Sunday night to balance out the higher weekend cost.

    Has anyone stayed somewhere recently that they would highly recommend?  Fill me in!



    I have a little love affair with a town named Lanesboro, Minnesota.  It’s located about an hour’s drive past Rochester in South Eastern Minnesota’s beautiful bluff country.  I’ve been to Lanesboro many times, but I hadn’t been back in about 5 years until just a few weeks ago.  A friend and I ventured down for a childless Mother’s Day weekend (great thing!) and the trip reminded me about everything that I love about Lanesboro.

    1. Bed and Breakfasts -  As a teenager and young adult I hated the B&B experience.  There are rarely TVs and you have to have breakfast with a bunch of strangers and stay in someone's house:  creepy.  As an adult, B&B's are places that I'm learning to enjoy.  A lovingly provided home cooked meal that I don't have to cook, clean up or feel guilty about not cooking and cleaning up, and getting the chance to meet and learn about both the others at the breakfast table and the owners of the B&B are things that I now really appreciate.  Lanesboro has a ton of B&B's.  My favorite is the Habberstad House.  This is where we stayed over Mother's Day weekend and I continue to call it my favorite.
    2. The Countryside - The Root River rolls through Lanesboro and the surrounding communities.  It's a sweet, meandering river, not too big and not too small.  It provides recreation as well as beauty.  The bluffs are also scenic and lovely.  I could stare at their pretty looks all day long while sipping a glass of something tangy and cold or licking an ice cream cone.
    3. The Relaxed Way of Life - Lanesboro and the surrounding communities offer plenty to do, but I never feel in a hurry to do anything while I'm there.  I like to have a schedule so that I know what I would like to do, but if I miss out on something or many somethings, that's okay.  The town wants you to relax.
    4. Outdoor Adventure - The Root River Bike Trail and the Harmony-Preston Bike Trail offer plenty of paved multi-use trail.  You can spend your weekend biking your booty off, covering the 150 miles if you bike all of the trail or meandering the 4 miles to the pie shop and back.  I've done both variety of trip and enjoyed them equally as well.  As long as the water is high enough, you can kayak, canoe or tube down the river.  Lanesboro has a few different outfitters that will rent equipment and ferry you between your start and finish point.  There is also a nature center with a high ropes course and hiking everywhere you look.
    5. Variety - Considering the size of Lanesboro and the surrounding communities, there are buckets of things to do.  Harmony has a renovated movie theater, Lanesboro a professional theater company and a community theater company .  The area boasts two cool caves that both offer tours, a myriad of Amish tours & Amish shopping,  first rate bird watching, a winery, massage, a farmer's market on Saturdays during growing season, plenty of history lessons, and a very nice not-for-profit art gallery.
    If you've never been, give the place a try, and if you are like me and haven't been back in a couple of years, get your butt on down the line.

    A Barn On A Bluff

    One of my favorite past-times is searching for places to visit.  I like to find an area and then a place to stay, but sometimes I find a place to stay first and then the area is already decided for me.

    A few years ago, I ran across Barn on the Bluff and I’ve kept it in the back of my mind as a place I’d like to visit.  It’s located just outside of Elkader, IA, about 4 hours from the Twin Cities.  It’s a large barn that was renovated a few years ago to be a group B & B.  Your group gets the whole barn and the nice people who own the place bring breakfast each morning at whatever time you choose.


    I finally had an occasion to visit Bar on the Bluff last weekend.  Our family does an “Olson Family Weekend” once a year and this was my year to plan.  This was our 8th year and each year a different couple plans where we go and what we do.  This year included a game night, ping-pong tournament, capture the flag, photo shoot, line-dancing lessons, the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie, a nature walk, and lots of other fun stuff.  This was my second time to plan and I’m already excited about planning my next go-around in 2016.

    Most of the time when I find a place I really want to stay, I’m a bit let down by the place. It usually seems better in pictures and in my mind, than in reality.  Such was not the case with Barn of the Bluff.  It was exactly as I hoped it would be.  The decor was cool, kitschy, eclectic and just right.  The space was large and gave our group of 14 plenty of room to spread out and be together, while still being apart.  Having breakfast brought to you each morning is a lovely treat that I can’t get enough of.  I hate cooking, but I love eating and pj’s, so this arrangement is one I could definitely live with long term.

    The only downside to the barn is the somewhat open nature of many of the sleeping arrangements.  We worked it out and all found a place to hang our head, but having more enclosed, private bedrooms would be nice.  For a gaggle of older kids, the sleeping arrangements would be ideal and the adults could hide away in the private bedrooms, but for a group with just young kids and tired adults, it wasn’t the best.

    The town of Elkader was a pleasant surprise.  It’s a small town and at first glimpse there wasn’t much offered, but the longer we hung out the more our perceptions changed.  The first run movie theater was very nice, with digital sound and picture.  There is also a bar/restaurant named Schera’s serving Alergian food that has a beer-on-tap list that would impress even the most snobbish beer fan.  Jamie and the brother-in-laws each had a superb time trying the different offerings.  The bakery run by a young, cute couple with two kids was charming, and the coffee house, while not having the best coffee, did offer it cheaply along with pretty good ice cream.  We ordered a double-shot of espresso and three ice creams and our total bill was under $7.00.

    We also enjoyed browsing through the impressive selection of second-hand wares the town has for sale.  Several of the town’s stores were part rummage sale, part antique store and all strangely-awesome.  I spent a good hour in one room of one store and I’m sure I could have spent the rest of the day in just that one place.  It’s called the Turkey River Mall and it was amazing.  My general nature and self doesn’t like used things, but this place had many somethings for everyone and I was taken in by the weird-wonderfulness of the place.  I also loved how all of the second hand/antique places in town mixed new merchandise in with the used.  It was a nice change of pace from the usual.

    The area around Elkader is beautiful, including the scenery at the Barn itself.  Rolling hills, quiet streams, exposed limestone and lots of green.  Bluff country is my landscape of choice, so I’m a bit biased, but I think anyone would call it picturesque.  The area had a peaceful, easy feeling that sunk into my bones and made me feel good.

    The Barn books up well in advance, so if you are interested in visiting, make your plans early.

    P.S. - A shout out to my sister Angie for all of the great photos!

    The Good Woman

    Me and the Mister were in Bayfield, Wisconsin for a little R&R in July of 2009. Since then, there has been a new baby and a move, but otherwise much is the same. I started to write this blog post all those many moons ago and never finished. A mere year and a half later I am here to continue what was started…

    The evening of our arrival, we stopped in to the local candy/ice cream shop and noticed that it was also a bakery in disguise. A woman stood behind plexiglass with a daughter and husband in tow, making a pie. She was extremely unassuming. We also noticed a couple of carmel rolls hanging out behind the plexiglass. After inquiring we were told that each morning at open there were fresh caramel and cinnamon rolls available for purchase.

    The next morning like good little monkeys we arrived. What met our eyes was the loveliest of sights. Big, beautiful rolls fresh from the oven. The “Good Woman” that makes these delicacies was bathing each in a bounty of divine frosting. After acquiring the massive goodness and uttering a few more times about what a good woman this lady was, we headed outside to partake.

    This creature was the finest cinnamon roll I’ve ever had the pleasure to eat. The Good Woman has a gift and should be honored. Oh Good Woman you are such a good woman. You sit in your little shop all day and night and bake, bake, bake. You are very good at baking and very good at being a good woman. Me and the mister honor you, your gift, and your dedication to your craft.

    The Good Woman bakes all day every day at the little candy/ice cream shop in Bayfield, Wisconsin. If you are in Bayfield, Wisconsin you are advised to seek out the Good Woman and her baked goods. You will thank yourself, myself and most emphatically the Good Woman’s self all while licking the ooey-gooey goodness off of your dirty, sticky, frosting-laden hands.

    The New Resolution

    Almost every hotel you visit now-a-days features a little sign in the bathroom about saving the environment. If you want to use your towels again and forgo new towels thereby helping out the planet, leave your towels on the rack. If you want your towels replaced, throw them on the floor. So, what do I do every time I’m in a hotel, I put my towels on the rack. And what does the hotel do every time my towels are on the rack, they take them away and leave me fresh towels! Drives me nuts, but my apathetic and scared of conflict self has yet to mention this to any of the hotels in which I’ve stayed.

    Well, no more. I’m a little late getting to the party, but better late than never. My New Year’s Resolution for 2009 is to take a little control of the situation and try and end this maddening practice. I’ll be back with updates throughout the year. Stay tuned, I’m sure the updates will be riveting.

    Winnipeg Wrap-Up

    We spent last weekend at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. This was my fourth year and in some bizarre and strange way, this may have been my favorite festival. The weather was most unpleasant for almost half of the time, with one day of 50 degree, windy, rainy storms from morning till night, the mosquitos were out of control, it felt like we hardly heard any music and I was showerless from Thursday afternoon through Sunday evening. Despite all of this, I found myself sitting back and digging the experience.

    I throughly enjoyed my first visit to the festival when we camped in the family campground, but the last two years were a bit lackluster for me. We took Mazie when she was one, stayed in a hotel and while it was really nice to shower each day, hoteling the festival lacks something. Last year, we camped, but in festival campgrounds (i.e. the party campground) because you can walk right from the campground into the festival and I foolishly thought that it might be fun to stay up late and be young again, but alas it wasn’t. This year we returned to the family campground, with family and friends in tow, and the the magic returned. Long live the Winnipeg Folk Festival!

    Off the road

    The road trip is officially over. We are back home, unpacked and readjusting to a life of the comfort and responsibility of home. Tomorrow marks the one week mark. I gotta say, it feels like we’ve been home forever. The trip is already a distant memory in the back of my mind. I’m overcome with how quick the routine takes over and the novel fades away.

    What I learned at the Ranch

    1. I still like riding horses.

    2. At this point in her life Mazie isn’t a huge fan of kid camp.

    3. Kids get really tired after a week of kid camp.

    4. Jamie likes to ride horses (even he was surprised). Jamie likes to trot on a horse (more surprised) and occasionally canter (super-duper surprised). Maril and Kent also enjoy riding horses.

    5. Being at a guest ranch is a lot like going to camp when I was a kid, except it costs more. It’s cool to be able to time-shift a few decades and relive kid moments.

    6. It’s fun to be a staff member at the Ranch, but there is lots of drama.

    7. I wish I would have worked at a ranch, or somewhere similar, when I was in college.

    8. I would like to repeat this experience each and every year.
      [gallery] If you want to look at the full-size image, just click on a picture.

    Ride 'Em Cowboy!

    We are spending a week at the C Lazy U Ranch to wrap up our road trip. Our friends Kent and Maril and their kids joined us for the week. Getting back up on a horse has been fun, fun, super-fun. The first couple of days were a little nerve-wracking, but then everything settled in and life became good. I’ve ridden every morning and I gotta say, it’s a nice way to start out the day. Ouray has been my trusty stead and he’s a handsome and lovable guy. He’s been a great companion. I’m going to miss him.


    That’s my impression of Arches National Park just outside of Moab, UT. I’m not sure if I should feel shameful that until yesterday I’d never heard of the place, but whatever I’m supposed to feel or not feel, such was the case. I now know better and I consider myself lucky. We didn’t have very long to spend in the park, but the three hours we spent were nothing short of awe-inspiring. At every turn there was something that I felt great need to photograph. We did a couple of short Mazie-hikes which were also a ton of fun. For those of you not in the know about Arches, it’s essentially a park filled with red rock formations of all different shapes and sizes. Combine this with petrified dunes and scenic mountainscapes and it was hard to keep my jaw off the floor. We met a guy tonight who claims that this other park in Utah, which I’ve already forgotten the name of, puts Arches to shame, but until I see it, Arches is still top dog in my book.

    Pizza, Pizza

    My taste buds were in complete shock and awe this evening (in a good way). We dined at the New Jersey Pizza Company in Flagstaff, AZ and it was amazing. It’s the best pizza I’ve ever had. It was a simple cheese pizza, but it was sheer heaven. The crust was just right, soft, chewy, thick, thin. The pizza was ooey, gooey, delectable goodness. These people make fancy pizzas and we tried one of those too, but it had nothing on the plain ole’ cheese pizza. It was off the charts spectacular! If you live in Flagstaff and you’ve never tried this pizza, please put down your computer and in honor of my Ironman brother-in-law Hector, run, bike or swim to this place. If you don’t live in Flagstaff, you should consider hopping a plane cause it’s really that good. Jamie doesn’t agree with me, he says it was really, really good, but for him it fell short of “best pizza ever”, but then who are you gonna believe, me or him? Alright, so you don’t need to drop everything and go there right now, but if you happen to be in Flagstaff stop by and order up a cheese pizza. You won’t be disappointed. Oh and I almost forgot, they do the whole local, organic thing too, added bonus.

    Larger than a Beetle

    White plate is car wash, purple sticks are instruments of bathing.I never would have guessed it, but Mazie digs toy cars. She’s picked up two on the trip, a rad VW microbus decked out with peace signs and 60’s memorabilia and a VW beetle covered with a scary leopard print (I tried to convince her to go for a different look, but she was set on the “cat” theme). At home Mazie spends countless hours conducting the lives of her dolls and stuffed animals. Her cast of characters include a life-sized dolled named Mark, who, in case you’re wondering, is a girl, and Johnny, a stuffed bear dressed in very girlie clothes who Mazie insists is a boy. She has a wooden pull-frog on a string, froggie, and a few other babies, all girls, with names like Just Baby, Baby Beans and Little Tiny Baby. Mazie spends most of her free-time at home making sure that all of these “individuals” get fed, take naps, dress and undress, take walks, and get to know one another better. We brought a couple of her dolls and animals with, but without the supporting paraphernalia (stroller, toy kitchen, crib, clothes, etc…), she hasn’t had much interest in them…And here enters the cars. The cars have completely taken over Mazie’s world of play. She drives them around hours each day, inventing roads, trips, pretend people, car washes and elaborate stories. It’s awesome.

    Quotes from the road...3rd Installment

    Yesterday, at the Shark Reef Aquarium, Mazie saw a bunch of fish schooling. She said, “Mom, look, a class!”

    Big Sur packs a wallop

    Today has restored my faith in “the vacation”. I must admit over the last few days I’ve grown weary and last night as I was trying to fall asleep I really wanted to pack it up and go home. But today was a glorious day and I’m feeling the travel buzz all over again.

    We took it easy this morning, no showers, breakfast in our little house, and then hit the road around 9am. The van cruised us down Hwy. 1 to the Big Sur area and there was nothing but Spectacular each and every way we turned. There are scenic spots to stop almost continuously and lots of quaint motels, shops, art galleries and restaurants tucked into the hillside. The drive continues on to the Hearst Castle and beyond, but in the interest of Mazie and her sanity, we kept our distance from home base around 50 miles.

    We lunched at this fabulous spot called Nepenthe where patrons are seated at two long wood counters that overlook a sheer drop-off with hills on one side and the ocean on the other. I’ve never felt so calm and happy waiting for and then partaking in my meal. Even Mazie was a picture of near perfection, only showing faint signs of “two-ness” while sharing dessert with Jamie.

    After 3 hikes, an awesome lunch, lots of picture taking and even a little shopping, we plopped ourselves down for a refreshing ice cream cone in the prettiest state park lodge I’ve ever been to, then turned the van around and headed back to our temporary home.

    Paradise lost, paradise found, and the pictures to prove it.

    SF + TKT = :-(

    I know San Francisco is a great city and so I figure there was something out of whack with me during our visit. It’s not that I had a horrible time or no fun at all, but I never fell into a groove with the city. Since I don’t have much to report, I thought I’d share a few photos instead. Click through the pictures if you want to see the full image or read the description.

    Mazie on the run San fran street scene San fran street The mazie The van in a truck Tkt mkt ggb Sf boats Tammy mazie clay The sf homestead A horse is a horse of course And on this farm he had some chickens ei ei o Mazie and jamie swinging

    Deep-Fat Fried

    I’m feeling like a horrible mom. I tend to be pretty blasé about certain things and the sun is one of those things. I know, I know, not putting sunscreen on your kid is a horrible crime and I’m so guilty no jury is needed. I could easily count the number of times I’ve applied sunscreen to Mazie on one hand. She’s never burned before; she’s always been the same shade of off-white. I try to ensure her sun exposure is low, keeping her in the shade or making sure that when she does get sun it’s early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Anyhoo…

    We were at a park in sunny San Francisco on Saturday, getting some quality time with the all-important swing, and by nightfall a small part of Mazie’s face was puffy and red. It’s now Tuesday and she still has red spots on her face. Jamie, who is much wiser about sun things than I, had put sunscreen on her, but even that wasn’t enough to counter the devious plans of this particular sun. I remember him being worried about Mazie getting too much sun and me thinking that he worries far too much and should just chill out.

    As with all things like this, I learned my lesson and changed my tune immediately. After realizing that my stupidity got my kid burned, I’ve become the sunscreen police. So, to all you moms and dads out there who religiously put sunscreen on your kids, good job.

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