Wednesday, September 30, 2009

So. Cal Days 4-6: Beach Time

The next 3 days we spent at the local beaches and in the pool. It was perfect weather, even warmer than usual for San Diego and we soaked it all in. From our condo, it's just a short walk to the beach. Plus we spent one day down on Mission Beach in San Diego.

I bought a cheap Boogie Board with plans to use it for the three days, but Caleb shut down that idea after I showed him how to surf the waves. He was hooked. He surfed the shallow breakers for hours without as much as a short visit to the rest of us. We learned to set up our towels near a life guard station after the first day since Caleb would be gone for so long and by the time he was ready to come in, he'd be 1/2 mile down the beach. So we made sure he knew we were next to station #12, and he found us every time.

Abby gave boogie boarding a try, but it didn't interest her much. She spent a lot of time jumping in the waves, taking naps on the beach and collecting sea shells. She was very cute while hunting for shells. Every time she found one, she'd pick it up and hold it to her ear in an attempt to "hear the ocean". Even the shells that were the size of a dime, she said that she could hear the ocean....."psst..Abby, you could hear the ocean because it's 15 feet away from you"....Ahh kids..
Monica took in the days by being a hotty, catching some rays, and taking pictures. I think she was also spending a lot of time thinking about eating at the Crab Shack Restaurant since we seemed to end up their for dinner.

With my boogie board hijacked, I rented a surf board and tried surfing for an afternoon. I knew surfing for a beginner would be difficult, but I figured my wake-surfing experience would help some...I was wrong. The boards they rent are the long boards, and made of foam. So I started out among 20 teenagers looking like the surfing equivalent to a grown man, waiting for the short bus, with a helmet on. I just tried to stay out of their way. After several attempts, I started to get the hang of it. I was able to stand and head straight to shore, but their wasn't much carving going on.

The days at the beach and by the pool were perfect for us. And except for Mon's buckets of king crab, the price was good for us! It was all very relaxing and enjoyable. I can see why leaving near a warm coast is so know what would be even better? Living on a sailboat in the tropics...yeah baby...2017...that'll be us.

*Reminder that you must visit the website to view the vidoes, they're not available via email*

Sunday, September 20, 2009

So. Cal. Day 3: Disney's California Adventure

We spent Friday at Disney's California Adventure, a park that we didn't go see last time we were here. It's not nearly as famous as the original Disneyland, it's only 10 years old, but it's gaining a reputation as having better rides. We all had a great time. Caleb was tall enough to ride every ride except one and Abby saw dozens of characters (I think she still believes they're real).
We were again thrilled to see the lack of people. The majority of the day was spent with no lines, not until the evening did we even have a wait of more than 15 min.

*It took some coaxing (I had to pay him the first time), but Caleb went on the California Screamin Roller Coaster with me. It's one of the fastest and longest coasters in the world. It's a great ride that combines the feel of the old fashioned coasters with new smooth technology. For example, instead of climbing a big hill and dropping, it slingshots to 75 mph from a standstill and flies over the first big hill...awesome.
*The last ride of the day before it closed, Caleb and I got placed in the front row of the California Screamin...some people wait hours for this privilege, but we were just lucky.
*Due to the lack of crowds, we were able to get our pictures taken with a lot of characters. Usually there is a long wait to stand next them, but we found them walking around the park all day.
*Abby was able to watch a street show featuring High School Musical....sigh...Is it a highlight realizing my daughter likes girly stuff?
*Caleb's description of how he felt while on the giant Mickey's Ferris have to watch and LISTEN to the video down below. Beware, it's rated PG-13.

It's amazing the detail that Disney puts into their theme parks. Every square inch seems to be created to match the corresponding theme. We've now gone to several amusement parks, but Disney really goes all out in their decorations and creativity. Though, I'm not sure the kids appreciate it yet, I do.

We left California Adventure at closing at 8 PM and walked across the street to Disneyland, apparently we shared this idea with about 100,000 other people since it was shoulder-to-shoulder crowds for the 1-mile walk to the Disneyland Castle.

We have never really gotten into watching some the of the theatrical shows before. But we made time for some 4-D shows, the night-time spectacular (firework show with a flying tinkerbell and dumbo), and Fantasmic (light laser and water show featureing Micky Vs. evil witches), and they were all worth the crowds and long waits.

You can view all our pictures on our web album from Picasa here.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

So Cal: Day 2

Our vacation has been booked for almost a year, yet we haven't really planned anything. We have had a great summer and the Southern California vacation never really came up. Then school started and we realized that with a late start, it meant only a few school days and then we'd be pulling the kids out of school for a week?? oh well. So here we are, in sunny So. Cal. We have a paid-for Condo for 8 days and money to burn! (the money part was for effect).

Our first day was spent driving from the airport south on Hwy 1 from LA to Oceanside in the rental car (note: I LOVE driving rental cars for obvious reasons), frolicking in the ocean surf, and then ending our day in the condo's pool.

Day two we headed to the safari part of the San Diego Zoo. I had the idea a week ago or so to look on the Internet for cheaper tickets to the amusement parks and zoo but I didn't find much. But this morning I had the idea of checking the local Craigslist for tickets to the zoo. I drug my feet some in the morning since I had little confidence in the plan even though we planned on leaving the condo at 9:00. To sum the plan up: I checked Craigslist at 8:30 AM, sent two text messages at 8:45 and picked up 4 tickets for the zoo at 9:15 saving us about $90. I love technology.

We knew we were here in the off-season, but we didn't think we'd be lonely in the zoo. It felt like there was only 100 other people in the place. We enjoyed a great day seeing all kinds of animals. We also were lucky enough to continue our streak of seeing animals peeing and pooing, a great thrill for Caleb and Abby.

Highlights of the Zoo:

*seeing the Gorillas being fed, one of them refuses to eat bamboo that has touched the ground, apparently he's kind of finicky. You're a gorilla! You'll eat what we feed you! Is everything in this country spoiled?
*feeding the lorikeets (small birds), for a couple bucks we bought some nectar and usually a few birds would fly over and eat out of your hands, but apparently my sweetness was very attractive to a bird size brain.
*during a bird show in which trainers had birds show off some talents, one of the trained birds was none other than a northwest wild turkey. I can actually train one of those things? As soon as I get home, I'm going to train dozens of turkeys from crapping on my lawn.

Also similar to the last time we were in So. Cal, we're enjoying temperatures way above normal. We topped off the day with a crab-fest meal at a seafood restaurant, Monica even donned a bib for the meal (sorry no pictures were allowed).

Here's some pictures and videos:

**remember you need to visit the website to view the videos**

Friday, September 11, 2009

Merry Christmas! Shitter was Full!

**Please visit website link to understand title**

****you can't view videos on email****

Ahh the pleasures of living on acreage: Our closest neighbor is 400-500 ft away, I can stand on my porch in my underwear, I have my own water source and I also have huge tanks to collect the waste products produced by me and my family. Who doesn't grow up dreaming about their own 1000 gallon tank to fill with poop? You could say that the septic tank is like a sports referee, the less it's noticed the better, but when it's a really stinks (get it?).

Last week, our septic alarm went off. I pressed the alarm reset button and the noise went away. Problem solved, right? Wrong...bummer (get it?). A few days later, I was tooling around watering the lawn and killing gophers when a stench overtook me. Now, I'm used to some bad smells being a man, a father and a nurse, but this smell was different and I knew something was wrong. Upon searching for the source I noted that sewage was overflowing our septic tanks. Crap! (get it?)

I was really confused at first with the smell. Since I know for a fact that my own personal feces has a fragrance similar to that of roses and fresh baked bread. But I guess when it's mixed with Monica's, Caleb's and Abby's waste, even my own sweet odor is taken over by a very foul smell.

We have a three tank system, with the third and last tank that pumps the effluent (left over liquid) into a sand mound that filters our waste until the water eventually makes it's way down to our well for drinking...yummy.

After a few phone calls, a lot of research, and a little haggling, I had all of our septic tanks pumped out and a brand new septic pump installed. Of course my wallet is much lighter now, and I'm trying to convince the kids that Disneyland isn't as important as a working sewage system...but they're not buying it. I'd like to see Goofy turn my pooh into drinking water.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


About a week ago, we were coming home from the lake past dark and as we pulled into our driveway (about 1/4 mile gravel road) we saw a small critter run away from our head lights. I followed it for about 10 yards with the car asking out load "what the heck is that". It was the size of a raccoon, but it sat low to the ground like a marmot. But it was dark grey and had long fur, unlike the brown short fur of a marmot. I was quick to realize my mistake in asking out loud what it was, because poor Abby, 5, wasn't about to go to sleep easily as she kept asking us what kind of monster we saw when we were in the car. I did some research on the Internet that night pulling up pictures of all the possible animals I could think of including skunks, badgers, marmots, and raccoons. I still had no idea what is was, but to put the minds of my family to rest, I lied to them all (including Monica) and told them it was defiantly a marmot. We've had a history with marmots and everybody is comfortable with the cute little creatures.
Then over the next few days, every time we came home after dark, the stupid thing would always be right near the same spot. We'd turn into our driveway and there it would be, quickly running out of our head lights. We must of saw it 5-6 times in a 10-day span. Truthfully, I was getting a little uncomfortable not knowing what is was and I was getting concerned that it was getting too close to our yard, especially since I hadn't ruled out that it could be an aggressive beast like a badger. Last night, as I left late at night to work-out (you think I got this body by watching America's Got Talent every night) it was again in the driveway. I took the Accord for a 4-wheeling session trying to keep my head lights on it for a better view, but it scampered away into the brush.
As I came home from my work-out, I had this quick idea to pull into my driveway really fast so I could get a better idea of what is was. So I took the 90 degree turn doing about 35 mph and there it sat. Suddenly, like a cold-blooded dude that I try to portray, I thought too myself, "you're going down sucka!!". The tires jumped like I had just ran over a log going too fast and my heart sank. I backed up to assess my actions and I felt like the biggest turd on earth. Even though, I still didn't know what it was, it surely didn't deserve to be murdered by a Honda Accord. As it lay there squirming around, I felt I had no other choice but to put it out of it's misery, so I ran over it again. I left the crime scene feeling both sad and amped-up. There was one thing for sure though, there was no way I was going to get out of the car and try and figure out what is was alone in the dark....let's not forget that I may be a killer, but I'm still afraid of the dark.

The next morning I walked down to the dead animal to once and for all, figure out what it was....but even being 2 feet away in broad day-light, I still had no idea. It had black and grey long fur. It had a wide stocky body with a smaller pointy head. I called a fried who's a veterinarian who agreed to come by before work. I must admit that I felt a little better when my vet friend pulled up and the first thing he asked was, "what the heck is that?". He took a close look and then brushed his shoes along the critter's back. But as he pulled back his tennis shoe it was full of was a young porcupine! Mystery solved.

Caleb and Abby helped me give the little guy a proper burial with my tractor. I still feel odd about the whole ordeal, I don't kill many things (mostly just my wife's dreams of a normal life), but I do feel better knowing what type of animal it was. Maybe next time, they'll identify themselves better. Now if only the word could get out to all the moles that Killer Clint is on the prowl.