Sunday, November 24, 2013

E- firsts

Lukey's first game as goalie and his team's first win, 4-2 against New Westminster. He was feeling pretty awesome about  "robbing" a couple of players. 

California 2013

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What's SUP?

One of the things we'd talked about a few times over the course of the trip was stand-up paddleboarding. Eric wanted to try it out, but we just hadn't found the right spot or time. 

We couldn't leave California without giving it a go, so on our last day in L.A., we drove to Sunset Beach and rented a SUP. Good deal, too. $15 for as long as we wanted.

Once he had it, we all wanted to try. Even me. In my clothes. I know secretly (or not so secretly), they all probably wanted me to fall in...

I know I would have laughed pretty hard if Eric had taken a dip...What? You wouldn't laugh? C'mon.

Lukey was the only one who didn't go out on his own. He hitched a ride with Eric instead.

Finny took one spin as a passenger, but then wanted to go it alone.

Molly, too.

I only took a short spin, but I have to say, I really like it. The board is a lot more stable than I would have guessed. And I can certainly see how it is a good workout for your whole body, because while the board isn't very tippy, you still have to work at staying level.

Molly was probably the best. She has a natural feeling for paddling. She seems to know exactly what to do and she has great natural balance.

Finny struggled a bit to get her hands on the paddle correctly. She was strong, though...

Now, this was all kinds of awesome: Molly saw a poster advertising yoga on SUPs and she decided to try. She did a great downward dog and here she is getting into warrior pose:

We gave the paddle board back and piled in the van North. Boo! We had to head home eventually...

We left L.A. at 3:00 on Friday afternoon. We drove for twelve hours straight (a short dinner break, gas stops and bathroom trips aside...). We pulled into Redding, sorted out the beds in the van and slept for six hours.

In the morning, Lukey's tooth FINALLY fell out! Hooray! I was so happy to see it in his hand and not attached to his head. I don't know why I am so squeamish about loose teeth, but they give me the heebie jeebies.

It just plopped right out. Not one drop of blood.

After six hours of rest, it was back onto the I-5. We made it to Portland by 5:00, took a couple of hours break, then homeward. We made it back to Vancouver at about 1 a.m. Not bad. Thirty hours from the time we left. Hey, that's pretty good. Maybe we should just start heading down to California every weekend. We could grab some In n' Out burgers and head back home.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Knott's Berry Farm Fun

We have had some serious amusement park time in our past. Between our last two trips to Florida and our previous trip to California, the kids have been to pretty much everything. So, we knew we didn't want to spend a bunch of time at Disneyland this trip (two years ago we did five days at Disney World). And we did six days at Sea World parks last year, so that was out. So, we had to choose between a day at Six Flags and a day at Knott's Berry Farm. 

After some careful deliberation, we decided Six Flags would be good when they are a bit older and more into hardcore thrill rides (Finny excluded...she is plenty into thrill rides now...). So, off to visit Snoopy. 

We let the kids warm up on a couple of easy rides. You know, build courage and confidence. I love Finny's hair in the picture below.

This ride was perfect for Lukey...he pushed his boundaries a few times, but this is his comfort zone

Next up was the Sidewinder. It was a roller coaster where all the cars spun independently from one another as it went around corners. Lukey was hesitant, but we made him go on. You can see his eyes watering a tiny bit below. He is wiggling his insanely loose tooth for comfort. I know I mentioned it already, but I am really looking forward to getting that thing out. It's turned grey...shudder....

Lukey loved the Sidewinder. And he was really proud of himself. Tough to know when to push and when to leave kids be...but I think we made Lukey go on the right rides this time. His favourite was the Jaguar roller coaster, which he initially didn't want to try.

The next ride we went on was the Silver Bullet (pictured below). Lukey was worried...until he realized he was too short. Phew. He is just over 48", which means he can go on lots, but not everything.

You can see us at the back of the coaster...just look for my red clogs!
The most excitement was saved for the bumper cars. It was the first time Lukey was tall enough to drive his own bumper car. He was quivering with joy. Until he got hauled out of his car to go over and get measured by the operator. I took the picture below as soon as he was verified as legit and back in his own car. Happy boy.

We devised quite a complicated race system that involved me racing Eric in laps around the track, with us conniving to get the kids on our own sides and acting against the other parent. It got pretty heated. We battled three times and I lost two of them...but the one I won was a slaughter. I lapped Eric twice because my evil henchmen (and women) were very effective.

I don't know if people know this or not, but Eric and I can get pretty competitive.

He was not wearing this happy face when I humiliated him in our third battle...needless to say, he suddenly wanted to quit...

A big section of the park is a "ghost town", but unlike other theme parks, Walt Knott actually purchased real buildings from old towns like Prescott, Arizona and transported them in pieces before reassembling them.

It makes for an awesome Old West feel.

Look at those cold hearted killer faces...
The atmosphere can't compete with the magic of Disney, but it still has a really cool feel. There are tons of little touches around the park that make it special. I think there are similarities with Disney, because both place were very much influenced by the visions of their founders. Walter Knott was a visionary, coming up with much of Knott's Berry Farm before Disney even existed. 

Do you like Eric's photo bomb in the background, there?

This Bottle House was amazing. All those dots on the building are the ends of bottles. It was beautiful.

They had a really good Wild West stunt show. The kids got little bullets to bring home and this excellent picture, too:

Finny never smiles like this when I pull her around by the hair...
There was a great little kids' section with tons of rides. Molly, Finny and Lukey sprinted from one to another while Eric and I took a break and attempted to regain some equilibrium after the more intense rides. I sure have noticed that even though I love rides, as I get older I am a lot more sensitive to rides that aren't smooth or spin too much. Eric's even worse than me. We both went between feeling great and feeling a little scrambled. Molly too, actually.

Trucker Finny looks quite a lot like Cowboy Finny. I wouldn't want to run into either in a dark alley
I went to Knott's Berry Park as a kid and I have strong memories of sitting on a bench while my dad on Montezooma's Revenge about a dozen times. Lukey said no and Finny has super game, but Molly was on the fence. See her face below:

Molly was hilarious. In the past, she's balked at some of the bigger rides. In fact, I have one very strong recollection of Space Mountain with Molly and it involved...well, it involved...a lot, it just involved ALOT. And most of the really fun rides at Sea World and Busch Garden were a pass for her last year, too.

This year, she brought a new attitude. She was nervous, but she was also determined. She wanted a "perfect record"...undefeated by any ride.

She did it. She went on everything.

She also developed a really funny technique. She asked every, and I do mean EVERY, ride operator if the ride was "scary". Every single time, whoever was checking restraints or opening a gate was peppered with questions and it always started with, "Is this ride scary?"

Some were earnest and answered honestly. Some messed with her. Some were kind. She kept asking.

She was really brave. And she conquered. Her crowning glory was impressive. She said no to the scariest ride of them all: the Xcelerator. Even I was a little nervous. She said she's wait with Lukey. We went and lined up and she and Lukey were standing at the exit. They could see us getting on. She suddenly yelled at us asking if she could still get on. She came in through the exit gate and got on. She even rode alone, with no one next to her. She was awesome. 

Here's a man who loves a swing ride...
We didn't wait for a single ride. We went on everything. In short, Knott's Berry Farm in November on a weekday is amazing. 

Finny flew for the whole time on the swings
Knott's Berry Farm was a great combination between family rides and legitimate big-time roller coasters. And if you aren't convinced there were big rides, look at Eric's face and hair after the Xcelerator:

The downside was he was less than pleased with his performance shooting three pointers at the midway portion of the park. He did fine, but just not up to his regular prowess. I will leave it to him to explain further, but the spinning, dipping, swerving and diving on the rides took their toll...

There was a Peanuts show right before we left and as a great send off, Finny and Lukey were pulled up on stage. Poor Molly was sad to be left behind, but there's no accounting for Linus' taste...

Sitting in the Sky Cabin...
We rode until they booted us out. We walked out filled with giggles and stories from our triumphs and failures of the day. We hit Denny's for dinner and laughed until we fell asleep. Success.

View from the Sky Cabin and the sunset of our great day...

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Clippers Day

We had been pretty busy, so we woke up and had a lazy morning. Slow hotel breakfast and leisurely swim in the pool. Eric took the kids to play basketball at the local park.

Eric and I have a friend from high school who lives in L.A., so we got in touch with him and he invited us over in the late afternoon. That worked perfectly, since we had to be really close to where he lives that watch the Clippers play the Timberwolves at the Staples Centre.

We had a great visit with Josh and his family and it was fun to see his new house. It sounds like the only place as crazy as Vancouver real estate might be L.A. (and San Jose, apparently). They managed to find a great little family house in a nice neighbourhood. It's fun to see what SoCal life is like, especially for friends from home.

As an added bonus, Josh works for the L.A. Kings. When they won the Stanley Cup in 2012, Josh got his own Stanley Cup ring.

Cue little boy stupefaction:

He wiped his hands before he touched it (see it on the table?)

Shock and awe

Still shock and awe

And because the girls caught on that something awesome was happening, they got in on the action. 

Molly even went all L.A. on us.

I told Josh that it might be smart to do a quick frisk on our family before we left. Just in case a small diamond-encrusted ring should slip into a pocket....

We had a short drive to get to the L.A. Live part of the Staples Center.

We set ourselves up with some excellent bottomless popcorn (five refills) and bottomless pop (four refills). It was a very entertaining game, so that was another bonus. 

Hanging out under a massive Blake Griffin billboard after the game:

Two nights in a row for the boys: hockey one night and basketball the next. If only we still had an NBA team...and reasonable ticket prices.

L.A. 1...Vancouver 0