Tuesday, May 12th, 2009
A Quickie Vacation
We went on an ordinary overnight vacation on Monday… a 3-hour trip to meet up with my parents and spend the day in Redding, California.
I tell people that our home is so remote we live five hours from anywhere (meaning 5 hours from San Francisco), and by that I’m also saying Redding is not anyone’s idea of a vacation destination. Still, we had quite a bit of fun.
Above left, my daughter was kneeling this morning on a chair to watch swans outside our hotel window. Above right, her highlight of the trip was a playground (one of two we visited) that wasn’t all that special, but don’t tell her that.
This was the view from our hotel window. The preening swans are about 10 feet away. This is a lame photo. You missed us lounging on the patio the previous evening with these beauties next to us. Their feeding bowl was under our window.
Cool, eh? My wife made the find after we were unimpressed with lodging reviews for Redding hotels linked in Google Maps. She looked 10 minutes south to an obscure town where she found a Gaia Hotel that is hell-bent on being eco-friendly in all things. And it was only $70 for two queens (kids share the beds).
But for a 4-year-old, the real joy of any hotel is the hotel pool. She would have liked to stay another day if only for the pool.
By the way, Turtle Bay was the name of a logging company. The park itself is about 100 miles from the ocean.
For me, the highlight of our trip was caused by our arriving too late at Turtle Bay and missing all of the (morning-oriented because of the summer heat) live shows. By chance we came across animal trainers working with a performing eagle and a fox in an empty amphitheater. The trainers were very cool, letting us watch as long as we sat quietly and didn’t have any food with us.
Another couple who cared a little too much about their french fries chose not to watch. I’m sure years from now they’ll look back upon those french fries with fond memories.
The eagle flew around the amphitheater to assigned perches on verbal and visual cues dropped into the trainer’s speech. The fox, on the other hand, ran wild sniffing for bologna sandwiches, ignoring the silly humans.
Apparently, in an earlier show a careless audience member left half a bologna sandwich on the ground and the fox ate it. Now he’s cuckoo for Cocoa-Puffs, or, well, anything that smells like processed food. I’m not sure what the trainer was more upset about, that one incident had derailed the fox’s training, or that he’d eaten the crappiest of human food.
That’s my daughter in a hands-on pick-up truck exhibit at Turtle Bay. An audio recording plays of some guy saying something-or-other while you sit in the seat. I couldn’t tell you what the exhibit was about, but it’s definitely set up for photo-ops.
Anyhow, that was our vacation. Turtle Bay was pretty cool as far as manufactured eco-museum tourism spots go. They put a lot of attention and care into their exhibits. I just didn’t take many photos. Carrying a camera became a bit of a nuisance. I need to come to terms with sacrificing image quality, and finally buy myself a pocket camera.
Oh, and about the stuff that really matters… The car trip itself was fairly painless. On the way there, we talked to our daughter about forest fire damage evident along the way, sparked by lightning strikes the night of her being read the Thunder Cake story last year.
On the way back, my wife read her The Enormous Egg by Oliver Butterworth — a fairly long chapter book about a triceratops that inexplicably hatches from a chicken-laid egg. And we stopped at the vista look-outs along the highway that no one ever stops at because they are singularly focused on getting to their destination fast.
Meanwhile, our 1-year-old boy was super easy. He’s a terror on legs, but put him in a car seat or stroller and it’s relative parenting bliss.