Well, this past month has been no different. I haven't had a chance to keep up blogging, so here's a compilation of all the fun stuff we've been up to.
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
I'd been hearing about this place ever since we got to the area, but I never really knew what it was. Finally, I looked it up and I couldn't believe how awesome it looked. It's a boardwalk, on the beach, with tons of rides.
Sign me up.
Though the boardwalk looked promising, the reviews of the beach itself were sub-par, so we opted for Natural Bridges State Park just down the road and made it into a long day trip. We left Oakland around 10am and we returned around midnight!
First stop: Natural Bridges State Park. Park on the road just outside the park, or pay $10 to park inside (about the same distance if you can get a reasonable street spot).
We played in the water, searched for sea creatures in the tide pools, and played in the sand. Of course mom forgot to bring the sand toys, but there were a few left on the beach that kept the kids happy for an hour or so.
Second stop: Boardwalk.
A short 10 minute drive along the coast and you arrive at the boardwalk. Here's a helpful hint, even if the parking lot says full, ask the attendant. Our car plus a few others got in anyway because they won't change the sign off full for just 3-4 spots. We scored a great spot!
Max had a blast. Seriously, this kid was riding rides until we had to pry him off at 10pm.
We also had dinner at Firefish Grill which we thought was pretty good. The clam chowder was great and Max ate over half my bowl.
We can't wait to go back again... maybe next weekend!
Pancake Breakfast - West Point Inn
A few weekends ago we decided to finally make it to one of the pancake breakfasts at the West Point Inn. This Inn is only accessed through hiking and we thought it would be something super fun to do with the kids. There are many hikes one do take to get there, some steep, some accessible with a stroller. We decided to start our hike from the Rock Springs parking lot as described HERE.
Max did great and walked the entire way there! He loved counting the bridges and walking along the path. As you get close to the Inn you're temped to think you are only 2 minutes away, but its another 10 minutes as the path curves around the mountain side and through the valley. It reminded me a lot of the path from Vernazza to Monterossa al Mare in the Cinque Terra. Man that was a great trail and this hike brought back so many memories. Even better, we were doing the hike during the day and not in the pitch black night!
Once we got to the Inn we had our breakfast and hung out for a while before heading back. The pancakes aren't anything to write home about, but the experience is worth the trip. We found it wasn't very crowded and the food was very quick. Pancakes, sausage, orange juice, and cantaloupe. If you're looking for more, this isn't the breakfast for you.
Walking back home I carried Max in the hiking backpack and Jeremy packed Jesse. It's amazing how quickly the walk back went with two sleeping kids.
Max love firetrucks. That's no secret. A few weeks back I was at the grocery store and saw the fire truck from the local station. I asked them if they ever held open houses for kids to visit and they invited us over that night!
After an early dinner, we piled in the car. I wouldn't tell Max where we were going incase they were out on a call and the station was closed. Fortunately they were around and they were so happy to have us visit. They gave the boys hats, coloring pages, and other goodies and then spent about 45 minutes with us touring around the station and showing off the trucks.
Both Max and Jesse got to drive the big truck and they learned about the different tools carried on the side of the trucks. Max loved the surprise and Jesse had more fun than I thought he would. Man, they loved "driving" that truck.
In two weeks if firetruck week at Max's school. I'm going to call and see if they can stop by to give a presentation to the kids and show off the firetruck.
The family that stays busy, stays together. Man we never stop. There's too much to do!
Two weekends ago we had a free Sunday, the weather was beautiful, and Mom decided it was a good day for the beach.
I've been wanting to check out Alameda beach, so we headed out that way. It didn't take much convincing to get Jeremy to stop by the toy store first to pick up a few more sand toys and some big shovels for the kids.
All in all, I would say that it's an okay beach. The sand is very coarse and there was a bunch of seaweed, and a funky smell. Honestly, I'd probably take the extra time to drive down to Shadow Cliffs Regional Park in Pleasanton (also host to the Tri for Fun series in the summer).
But Max and Jesse had a blast. The water stays shallow for a while, so Max could run in and out, and he didn't seem to care that it was fairly cold water.
The boys played on the beach for over 2 hours before we headed to lunch at a nearby sushi restaurant and then to Faction Brewing for Mommy/Daddy drinks while the kids napped in the stroller.
Sonoma & Pumpkin Patches
It's taken me so long to write this blog post that I keep finding fun things to write about.
Yesterday we decided to take the kids up to Sonoma. It had been a while since we visited the area and there are a few really kid friendly wineries up that way. First stop was the town square to pick up lunch at the Cheese Factory. If you go, I highly recommend the Mission sandwich; turkey, brie, pesto, cucumber, delicious.
First stop was Sebastiani winery. They have a huge outdoor area with plenty of tables and green space for the kids to run around. As for the wine, I'd give it a 3.5-4 out of 5. Not the best, but it's good and very reasonably priced if you stay away from the reserve wines.
Next up was Nicholson Ranch. We are fans of this winery because of their huge outdoor deck, comfortable furniture, and large umbrellas to keep off the sun. The wines are good, but they are pricey and the tasting is on the expensive side ($30 if sitting outside). We opted to split a tasting then bough a bottle of Merlot which we drank there. This place is also great for kids who can lay out on the furniture.
On the way back home we stopped at a pumpkin patch which we happened to come across on our drive up. It was fortuitous that we took the Napa route into Sonoma or we would have never seen this pumpkin patch.
Overall the pumpkin patches out here aren't that amazing. There are a few big ones, but it's nothing like being back home with the cool air, leaves changing, and general country feel. Even driving 45 minutes outside of the city you still won't get that true country feeling. But this one was good and they did their best with the space and land they had.
They set up a large pumpkin area complete with vines and straw to round out the look. They also had a kids hay maze which was well done, a hay pyramid with slide (also well done), tractors, a greenery archway tunnel and lots of gourds and hay bails for sale. The kids had a blast climbing up and sliding down the hay pyramid and after playing around we picked out a pumpkin and some gourds. I also decided we NEEDED a large hay bail. Lets just say it barely fit in the car and took me 45 minutes of cleaning to get all the straw out. Note to self, next year, small bails that can be contained with a blanket when in the car.
If you're up in the area, check out this pumpkin patch off HWY 12 between Sonoma and Napa.
Well, I should wrap up this blog before the weekend starts otherwise it will never be finished. Until next time...