Image

Descanso Gardens – Japanese Garden

Tags

, , , ,

Descanso Gardens - Japanese Garden

Cherry blossoms in full bloom during the Cherry Blossom festival at Descanso Gardens, which typically is held annually in late March or early April.

Advertisements

Road Trip on PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) 1

Finally, I am getting back to my blogging after a long hiatus!  I never did post my road trip to Monterey along the PCH.  It was such a beautiful trip and my daughter and I had a wonderful time.  Boy, was she the trooper, she did lots of walking and hiking and we were gone from morning to night.  Here are some highlights of the trip last summer.

Image

Point Lobos

Image

Point Lobos

Image

The Mission in Carmel

Image

Flags in the grand dining room of Hearst Castle.

sea lions

Sea Lions north of Hearst Castle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also made numerous other visits to some key cities such as:

Santa Cruz – the boardwalk, more fun for kids than adults

Pacific Grove – very cute, I liked this city a lot, with their Victorian style homes and luckily, we were there during the lantern festival so all the shops along their main street had paper lanterns of all different sizes and colors strung up)

Paso Robles – nice pit stop for dinner but not much was open as it was a bit late by the time we were done eating

St. Luis Obispo – stopped by on a Farmer’s Market night and boy was it crowded and such a fun atmosphere, and there were a few shops that we liked browsing in

We liked Point Lobos the best, and then just hanging out in Monterey and Pacific Grove, at Cannery Row, the Fisherman’s Wharf and shopping at Pacific Grove.  It was just so scenic and peaceful.

And we did all this in 4 days!

California Road Trips Ideas

I’ve been looking into other road trips to take in California so am linking to some sites here that have some nice, sometimes overlapping, ideas.

http://www.consumertraveler.com/traveler/10-family-friendly-california-road-trips

From the above site, I found a new place to visit – Gilroy Gardens theme park – I’ll update if we make it there and like it:

http://www.gilroygardens.org/

Other nice sites to sift through:

http://www.myfamilytravels.com/what/road_trips/11658-Very-Cool-California-Road-Trip.html

http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/road-trips/california-pacific-coast-road-trip/

http://adventure.howstuffworks.com/destinations/road-trips

We were looking for ideas for Sacramento and Yosemite, but the weather website indicates it might be really hot, over 90 degrees, and Audrey will not do well hiking and walking all day in hot weather.  So even though I was just in Monterey on New Year’s Eve, it was rushed and we’ve decided to return but spend more time hiking the parks and beaches, and also hope to visit Santa Cruz.  The Monterey visitor’s bureau website is terrific, had I seen this earlier, I wouldn’t have bothered looking through a lot of other websites: http://www.seemonterey.com/

Halloween pumpkin patch at Irvine Railroad Regional Park

Tags

, , , ,

What a fun day for the kids at Irvine Regional Park!  We traditionally go here every year and it’s quite popular with the locals but this year was especially crowded and more fun because of the many things they had to offer.  Pumpkins everywhere, bounce houses, a couple of carnival games, a small maze, a small haunted house, face painting, driving of John Deere mini tractor cars, and panning for gold.  It gets quite pricey though, they charged one – two tickets per kid for a few of the activities and one ticket costs $4.  I highly recommend going earlier in the morning to find parking nearby and then spend the day there having fun in the pumpkin patch area , seeing the small zoo and getting into the paddle boats if you have time.

Paris, France

Tags

, , ,

Of all the places I’ve visited, Paris ranks up there in terms of being the most memorable.  I’ve been there three times, once in the spring, and twice in the fall.  I’ve never been there when the weather was warm enough to not wear a jacket, so I wonder what that would be like, to see it in the summer.

The first trip there was a 3-day weekend, and yes, this was completely insane, to fly across the ocean on such a long flight just to be there for 3 days.  Most of the first day was spent recovering by sleeping.  I remember waiting at the Charles de Gaulle airport for over an hour for my boyfriend to meet me (he was coming from a business trip from London) and feeling a little worried he wasn’t going to show up and I knew nothing about getting around.  It was not my first trip to Europe (I had been to Belgium before on business but the company had already booked my hotel so I knew where I was going) but it was my first time sort of going it alone.  I didn’t get to see much on this visit, I remember all the wonderful crepe stands on every corner and going to the Centre Pompidou, and that was about all we had time for, other than walking to the nearby places near our hotel.  We had a wonderful location, it was within 10 minutes walking distance to the Louvre.  I also remember this fantastic gastronomic restaurant that we had foie gras and a 4 course meal at, but the name of it escapes me.  It was the first time I had serious French food and I loved it.

The second visit to Paris was on my honeymoon.  We spent about 6 days there and did so much in that amount of time.  Everyday, there was a site to see and we traveled by metro and taxi and fell in love with public transportation (something L.A and Orange County frankly stinks at).

The third visit to Paris was for only a weekend but that’s because we were living in Ireland so it was an easy flight.  My parents were overseas visiting and we treated them to the trip, although I thoroughly regret it had not been for longer.  The trip was so rushed and we had the worse experience with our roach hotel.  I had booked a hotel via hotels.com and when we got there, we were told the hotel was full and we had to go to another hotel owned by the same chain.  We were dragging our luggage and trying to figure out how to get there, and most people spoke French and little English in the area we were at.  It was amazing we even found it.  It has been several years so alas, I do not remember the name of this hotel, I’m sure I probably gave them a bad review on hotels.com.  I think it was some kind of scam.

Tree lined path in the fall at the Chateau de Versailles

My new photo gallery of California Sights and other Travels

Tags

, , , , ,

As much as I like WordPress, I find it a bit more flexible to post my photos to a photo album at my other web site, which is not a blogging web site.  If you find any of the traveling and activities information helpful here, check out my http://www.notjustatechgirl.com website.  The “California Sights” section contains albums of all the California locations I’ve been to and I’ve just started posted to it so there’s more to come.  The “Travels” section contains photos of locations outside of California and also the U.S.  Again, I’m continuously trying to add more photos and information to it.

(Sorry, the site no longer exists, not enough time to maintain it.)

Sigler Park Splash Pad, Westminster

Tags

, , , ,

I hesitate to share this information with the public because it might get way too crowded and ruin the fun for the kids, but the City of Westminster now has a splash park and it’s right next to the traditional parks so you get two-for-one.  The kids had a good time here, the only down side is they got cold after a little bit of playing since the water is not heated.  (It’s recycled, by the way, in case that bothers you).  They would stop, dry off to warm up, then play again.   We also let them play at the regular playground for a little while and then they would be hot again and want to go back into the splash park.  The splash pad has spray areas where the water shoots up from the ground or comes down from palm trees.  The pelican heads were cute, when the mouth filled up with water, it would tip and dump a lot of water down, sometimes drenching any kids standing under it.  There are bathrooms there, and an area where you can rinse off.  The regular playgrounds outside the splash pad had a toddler play area and an area for 5-12 years old.  The splash pad is only open during the summer months (I think it closes after Labor Day), and the hours are noon-5pm.  The best thing is, it’s FREE, and so is the street parking by the park!  I hope it doesn’t get so crowded that they start to charge.

Sigler Park information page:

http://www.westminster-ca.gov/depts/cs/parks_n_facilities/default.asp

 

Playground next to Sigler Splash Park

Playground next to Sigler Splash Pad

Sigler Splash Pad

Sigler Splash Pad in Westminster

Hiking the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserves

Tags

, , , ,

Trees in the Water at the Ecological Reserves

Trees in the Water at the Ecological Reserves

After reading about it on Yelp.com, I decided to take the kids there (a 3, 4, and 5 year old).  Well, it’s not great for young kids as it can become a long hike depending on where you go and there’s hardly any shortcuts back.  I’d have to say the three kids were such troopers, though, they did 2 hours of hiking and went almost full circle around the reserves.  Along the way, we saw two rabbits, a small crab in the water, many birds (egrets, herons, small birds of various types) and on one of the bridges looking down, we could see large schools of fish under the murky water.  As an adult, I thought it was pretty scenic.  For the kids, the question “Are we there yet?” kept being asked and answered with “We are already here, this is it, but we have to keep going to get back to the car!”.  The most fun part for them?  Throwing stones into the water and chasing me or having me chase them when I wasn’t tired!  Oh, I forgot to mention, the building for the reserves has a couple of small aquariums in it and there was a pretty interesting little octopus in one of them that the kids really loved watching.  There were also quite a few sea stars in the aquarium, also.

Bridge at the Entrance to the Reserves

Bridge at the Entrance to the Reserves

View at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserves

View at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserves

Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserves

This looked like a hut but it's from a fallen tree.

Santa Paula Citrus Classic Balloon Festival

Tags

, , ,

Citrus Classic Balloon Festival

Citrus Classic Balloon Festival

I drove up to the Santa Paula Citrus Classic Balloon Festival  a couple of Saturdays ago and thought I’d post this picture.  It was very pretty at night time.  There were 11 hot air balloons that lit up, sometimes in sequence and other times all at once.  They also had an air show which was really cool to watch and some parachuters who did a great job landing in the middle of the field of audience.  As far as the festival, it’s not quite as large as I expected in terms of vendors and activities, but it’s definitely worth it to go at least once to see the hot air balloons.

There is an entrance fee and rides and bounce houses also cost.

More pictures of the festival and other children’s activities and sights here on my albums:

http://www.notjustatechgirl.com/Not_Just_a_Tech_Girl/California_Sights/California_Sights.html

Orange County Fair

Tags

,

Orange County Fair

Orange County Fair

Went to the OC Fair today.  Saved a lot of money with special promotions, it was $1/ride from noon-7pm and from noon-4pm, each food vendor had samples for sale for $1 (for example, 1/2 hot dog is $1 and an extra-small soda is $1).  You have to ask some of them what their special is, though, they don’t all advertise.  For people with smaller kids, the Kidland area near the Green Gate is the best place to be.