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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Disneyland July 21-23, 2014

Our adventures in Disneyland... we've been planning this for years!  Finally this year seemed that the girls were at a good age to enjoy it, and we were able to save enough money to go.

 We stayed at the Park Vue Inn across the street from the park entrance.  I got an online deal that worked out to be about $150/ night.  It was the best price around, I know, I looked for hours.  You really couldn't get any closer to Disney than that, either.  It was nice because parking was free, there was a warm breakfast, the rooms were comfy, clean, and updated, and we could just walk home for a rest if we desired (which we did.)

We ate at the Denny's across the street from the park, because it was cheaper.  The only food we bought in the park was Beignets (I'm not sure how to spell that, but their basically french donuts), and a large Mint Julip.  That is a must drink if you're there.  It is SO GOOD!  We brought in Uncrustables and Granola bars and water bottles, and they didn't confiscate those, although they did bag checks and did take food from other people.  I heard someone say the reason we could keep ours is because it was prepackaged "snacks" and not considered mealtime food.  I did have a doctor's note saying I could bring food in, just it case, but they never asked to see it.

It was a bit of a blessing that we had to rent an electric wheelchair scooter for Steve's ultra-pained,


sunburned feet because then the girls could take turns riding with him or sitting on his lap as we waited in lines.

Doing so helped preserve some their energy.  Also, for some less popular rides, we got to go pretty much straight to the front.  For the more popular rides, we had to get a pass to come back later to wait in the handicap line.  The California Adventure theme park is definitely better equipt than traditional Disneyland for accomodating wheelchairs.  If you ever have to rent a wheelchair, don't rent from Disney, go through the company across the street at the Ramada hotel.  They have scooters with a canopy (so nice to have some shade) and they cost less and you can take it anywhere, not just within the park, and there were no rules about letting kids ride on your lap.  It's what we did, and it worked well.

And now for our slideshow of our 3-day Disney adventure:
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Grandma and Grandpa Lauret's House

 Our California trip was solely planned so that we could visit my grandparents in Patterson.  Everything else- the beach, Disneyland, SeaWorld, Jelly Belly Factory- was just an appendage.  I miss my grandparents.  When I was young, we would go yearly to visit them in California.   The road trips felt like forever, but I have many happy memories of my grandparents home.

I remember the big welcoming frog by their front door.  My brothers and I would straddle it's back and pretend to ride it.  We would watch birds build their nests in the eaves of the covered courtyard.  And all this we would do with a can of soda dripping down our chins.  There was always endless soda pop available in the garage.

It made me smile when we pulled up to Grandpa and Grandma's house to see that big frog still welcoming everyone by the door.
We stayed with my grandparents from Wednesday night to Sunday afternoon.  Grandpa was (and still is) recovering from his heart surgery, so he was VERY low on energy.  He walks with a walker now, but he doesn't like to use it.  While we were there, his walker snagged on the wall corner, and he fell and couldn't get up.  This was at midnight.  My grandma came and woke Steve and I and between the 3 of us, we were able to get my grandpa back up on his feet.   

Grandpa has always liked to cook for his guests, and it was no different when we were there.  I knew he wanted very badly to do more, but he really needed to be resting.  However, when we woke up the first morning, he cooked up a pot of oatmeal for everyone, since that's something my family eats fairly often.  He has a bar stool next to the stove that he sits on with his legs off to one side, as he cooks over the flame.

While grandpa cooked our breakfast, I perused some of his cookbooks.  I liked this one put together from the relief society sisters from their old ward in Kaneohe, Hawaii.  That would have been the ward that my mom was baptized in, and shortly after where she met my dad, fell in love, and got married.
I thought these recipes sounded yummy, so I took pics of them.
 Lily and Amara kept themselves entertained with dominoes and mini plastic trains and puzzle boxes for hours.
 They set up their own city of sorts in the living room.

 We came at a very wonderful time of year- July- when Grandpa's peach tree was ripe and ready for picking.  Those peaches were small, sweet, and juicy.  Grandpa said that he didn't prune the tree or spray it for bugs, so there were many, MANY ripe peaches.  Some the birds had nipped at, but there were still plenty for the picking.  I checked each peach thoroughly for bugs, because I remember my dad's cherries always had worms, but I never found any bugs in these peaches.  I wish we had more time there to pick and preserve those.  They were seriously the very best tasting peaches I've ever had!

While we were there, one of grandpa's friends came by with a sack of large freestone peaches from his orchard.  Although they were good, and impeccable in size and form, they paled in flavor to grandpa's peaches.  
We feasted on peaches everyday while there.  Speaking of feasts, my girls enjoyed going outside to make fairy feasts with the leaves and petals they found around the yard.

Then, there was the feast I was really looking forward to.  It was the only plans we made with Grandma and Grandpa for the 5 days we were there.  The place is a Basque restaurant in Los Banos, California, called Wool Growers.  My grandpa took my family there when I was a girl, and I've remembered it all these years for the good food and the unique experience.  Grandpa looked forward to taking me and my family there, so we made plans to be ready to leave at 4:00.  We got all dressed up in our best casuals. We did Lily's hair nice.  Grandpa kept on reminding Grandma that she needed to get ready for dinner that night.  He didn't want us to get there too late and risk not getting a table. 
 Although we left a little later than planned, we were able to get Grandpa and Grandma into our van, fold up grandpa's walker, and drive the half hour to the restaurant.
 Luckily, the parking lot wasn't full, and we were early enough on a weekday, that there was a table ready for us.
 The place is a dining room at the end of a dark hall.  It really doesn't look like much going into it.
 When you enter the dining room, you see banquet tables set up in long rows to pack in the people.  I'm told this is how the basque restaurants always do it.
There is no menu, and no prices listed.  It's not what you're used to when eating out.  They start you off with fresh french bread and butter, and a bottle of house wine.  No one touched the wine, of course, except Grandpa.  He only had a touch of it.  In fact, he only had a touch of everything.  He kept saying how he can't eat as much as he used to.
 Lily has always been a big bread fan.  She would've eaten the entire basket on her own if given the chance!  They serve most of the food here family-style.
 The waitress gave us our choice of meats for our entree, including lots of different cuts of steak, lamb, or chicken.  Surprisingly we all ordered beef tri-tip, so they just brought that out family style too.

As for the other food, there was a bowl full of crisp iceberg salad was dressed with an amazing light vinegarette (my favorite).  There was lamb stew (also my favorite), cabbage soup, french fried potatoes, a bowl of flavorful savory beans, excellent potato salad, and even little cups of ice cream for dessert at the end.
Pass the lamb stew!
 Our meal was so pleasant to share with those we love, and one I'll always remember.  I know it must've cost grandpa a pretty penny, which was so generous of him.  I must say I sure felt treated!

Much of my time was spent looking through photo albums and absorbing any family history I could get my hands on.  Grandma showed me a set of her old dollhouse furniture she played with when she was a little girl.  She keeps it on the top shelf a of a curio in her bedroom.  The doll furniture is so remarkable.  It's all wooden, nothing like the neon plastic stuff you see so much these days. 
 There is also a clock hanging at the end of the hallway that is an antique.  My grandpa related the following concerning that clock:
 "Grandpa Lauret, also known as 'Papa,' or 'Henry,' had a liquor store on the corner of Market and Santa Clara, right downtown San Jose, California.  It wasn't right on the corner cause right on the corner was the fire station and the liquor store was right behind it.  He ran a restaurant and liquor store and bar.  He knew a little bit about cooking.  When he bought that place, it had a clock in it.  We have that clock now in our house at the end of the hall.  It's been fixed and repaired so it's supposed to work, but it's not hanging perpendicular.  Close to the turn of the century, it's an antique worth a few thousand.  That clock has a unique poured glass, not rolled glass."
 I loved visiting their home and seeing that nothing has really changed since I visited as a kid.  The last time we visited their house, I was engaged to Steve, and we came to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.  That was more than 11 years ago.  I hope to visit again much sooner than that.

Our last night there, Grandpa thought we should grill up a tri-tip roast he had.  Although Grandpa started off with intentions of manning the grill, he realized he needed to rest, so I got to man the grill.  When we switched spots, I went to check on the meat, and it was engulfed in flame. I quickly lowered the heat, turned the meat, and babysat it until the meat thermometer gave me the OK-good signal.  It took close to an hour to cook at the lower heat, but it turned out very good.  We all sat at the table and enjoyed our meal together, on pink knitted placemats that grandma made.  We had mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, and Grandpa's delicious cauliflower salad. 

Grandma's short term memory is definitely weakening, but she still can recollect things from her past really well.  She still does her handiwork projects with precision, although sometimes it takes her a little longer than it used to. Grandpa took lots of naps in his chair while we were there, which is good. 
Steve was just about as laid up as grandpa.  Unfortunately our jaunting about at the cloudy beach was sun poisoning Steve's fragile skin.  Steve was completely covered from head to toe, long sleeves, long pants, sun hat and all.  But he rolled his pants up just past his ankles and went running in the water with the girls.  That was all it took.  His feet got so badly burned, he couldn't walk on them the remainder of our trip without extreme pain.  His feet swelled up, they turned red and splotchy.  He never got blisters, but from what we read on the internet, he had the symptoms of sun poisoning, which is basically a sunburn that your body reacts to as poison.  We used aloe every few hours, other burn medicines, he felt relief mostly when his feet were up and nothing touching them. 
 He literally spent the entire time in bed, except for dinner, which he just endured the pain (bless him!).  And when he had to get up to help my grandpa up in the middle of the night.  Sunburned Steve= NO BUENO!
So, I'm already hankering to go back for a visit.  Maybe this next time, Steve will be able to get up and about and we can do a little more.  I'd love to interview my grandparents some more.  I didn't get a lot of interview time this time around because grandpa napped a lot, and had difficulty speaking.  His voice was very weak and he spoke in a high tone that could barely be heard.  Grandma can't hear well and her hearing aids were out of batteries or something.  She had the T.V. turned up quite loudly.  She and grandpa kept getting frustrated with each other because grandpa would try to talk, grandma couldn't hear him well enough so she'd tell him to speak up, grandpa wanted to talk louder but couldn't, grandma wanted to hear him, but couldn't.  Dear me.  I tried to be the interpreter and speak loudly for grandpa because I could hear him just fine.  Let's just say, it all eventually worked out, but interviewing wasn't gonna work this trip.   I can never get enough of hearing the history of my loved ones, so I gotta get back there! 

Our time flew by while we were there.  We left a couple hours after lunch on Sunday after we went to church in the morning. I took grandma and the girls to church, which is about 15 minutes away.  It took grandma a long time to get ready, and she had to keep being reminded that we were going to church.  We were late, but we did get there.  There was only a smattering of people there.  I'm used to a lot fuller congregation. 

Before we left, it was nice that we got to visit with Uncle Everett and Aunty Edith.  They came by for a visit and it worked out that we could sit and chat for an hour before getting on the road. They told us about their upcoming plans for a family reunion at a cabin on the lake.  They seem to be doing very well and are in good health. 

We packed up and got on the road to the next stop, Anaheim, California... Disneyland!  It was a very long drive in some nasty traffic, and we didn't check into our hotel until close to 10pm.  Grandpa sent us with a brown bag with some peaches.  They were a real treat to have as snacks in the car, at Disney while waiting in lines, and for breakfast.  Still wishing I had some more...

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Aunty Cheryl's Home, Jelly Belly Factory, KOA Watsonville, and Manresa Beach

~July 2014~

Vacaville and Watsonville, California

Uncle Bob got this "GROUND UNDER REPAIR" sign from a golf course, and thought it would be a perfect addition to his front yard.  You gotta love it!
 Aunty Cheryl and Uncle Bob live in Vacaville.  Their home is laid out a lot like my grandparent's home, and it's pretty cool.  We loved touring their home and garden (that will be a different post). 

I was particularly fond of the family heirlooms Aunty Cheryl had in her home.  My Great-Grandma Adelman apparently had a rooster theme running throughout her kitchen.  Now Aunty Cheryl has her kitchen accessories.

I had never seen one of these.  What appears to be little drawers are actually hinged doors that hide rolls of aluminum foil, plastic wrap, etc.

You can see the rooster canisters and Salt and Pepper shakers.
 My Great-Grandma and Grandpa Lauret owned these rustic salt and pepper shakers.
Aren't they cute?
Apparently they are originally from Shasta dam. 
 My Aunty Cheryl collects Crayola.  She has an entire room displaying her collection.  It is remarkable.  I remember her collection from when I was a kid, and it is so cool to see a whole room displaying it now.  My kids, of course, loved it.  Steve and I slept in this room on a hide-a-bed. 

 My Aunt's pets made my girls so happy.  Buffy, their dog, was a major favorite with Lily.  They also have 2 cats, Frieda and Frisco, and fish.

 After breakfast, we went to the Jelly Belly Factory for a tour.  Aunty Cheryl and Uncle Bob joined us.  They had artwork everywhere that was completely created using Jelly Bellies.

 At the factory, they have a tasting counter where you can try any 3 flavors you'd like.  We picked gross ones, just for fun.  My brave girls tasted Rotten Egg, Dog Food, and Moldy Cheese. 
 Ew.  Lily hated rotten egg so much she wouldn't try the others.  Amara tried them all and said the worst one was rotten egg.  According to her, the least yuckiest was Dog food.

After the Jelly Belly Factory, we bid farewell to my Aunt.  She was off to take care of my grandparents 2 hours away, and we were off to the beach, 2 hours away in a different direction.

We set up our tent at the KOA in Watsonville, and got changed into swimsuits to hit the beach.  Manresa Beach is not even a mile away from where we were staying, which was really convenient.  We could've walked there if we wanted to.  Once there, the sand was warm and soft, and the beach was pretty much all ours, there were a few surfers in wetsuits, but really no one was there.  It was pretty cloudy, yet warm outside, and we had a blast.
We played in the sand and built sand castles, fairy houses, etc.

There were a few sand dollars that we found.

A couple walking on the beach showed us how they feed popcorn to the seagulls, and they shared some with our kids.  The seagulls will catch the popcorn midair.
 We spent 2 or 3 hours just hanging out in the sand.

Burying my little mermaids.

Showing off our tiny stash of sand dollars.

As you can see, it was cloudy, which was actually really nice.  It wasn't cold there (the water probably was), the sun wasn't burning us or overheating the sand.  Just perfect.

I found a cool hermit crab.
 We were pretty happy beach-goers!

 When we got back to camp, it was so nice that we had access to warm showers to get all the sand off.  We got showered up and into our PJs, and went out to eat at a gas station Wienerschnitzel.  It was the only restaurant we could find nearby (Watsonville is largely farmland for strawberries) and we were about out of gas.  P.S.  The gas prices were outrageous!  Everything was between $4.15 and $4.50 per gallon.  Eeek!
 There was still a little daylight, so we let the girls go play at the playground.

 And they got to jump on this big bubble thing.  They loved it.
This is an optical illusion.  Lily isn't standing on a magic carpet.  That pink thing is someone's jacket on the sand in the background.

Our tent site wasn't very private or anything like the mountain camping we're used to, but since we had respectful people around us, we slept fine.
The bathroom was just down a little paved path that was across from our tent site.  Only a short walk.
We would stay here again.  It had good proximity to the beaches, and with the showers, and activities, it would actually be fun to spend more time here than we had available on this trip.