Friday, June 26, 2009

Short Sydney Story

Monday morning I turned the TV on. I usually try to leave it on ESPN when I turn it off because I know that's an okay channel for Sydney to watch no matter what time of day it is. (And it's an okay channel for me to watch, too.)

This past Monday ESPN was televising the end of the U.S. Open Golf Tournament. Sydney is aware of most of the major sports from watching ESPN or sports on TV with me. She immediately knew golf was on and watched for a few minutes with me.

At one point they showed a golfer getting ready to make a shot and Sydney said, "Daddy, is that Tiger?"

"No, Sweetie, that's not Tiger," I answered. I was, of course, talking about Tiger Woods.

"Oh," she said, sounding a bit disappointed. "Is he Kipper?"

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Santa Barbara

I have two things to mention before getting into the Santa Barbara trip.

First, happy birthday today (Thursday) to my Grandma Monette. (She's Sydney's Great-Grandma.) She turned 87 today. To celebrate she had surgery and had a heart catheter and four stents put in. She seems to have come through surgery fine and when Mom (Grandma B) left the hospital a little while ago she was awake, having dinner and chatting with the cardiac nurses. (Edit: Finishing this post up on Friday, Grandma is now home and doing fine.)

Second, I need to post some pictures of stuff from our Montana trip that I forgot last post. Grandma B asked to see some pictures of the things we bought at the stone shop and I completely forgot them last post.

First up is Sydney's hedgehog. Our friend Shawna crocheted it and brought it for Sydney when we met. The hedgehog lives in a little mushroom. Sydney loves it.

Sydney and her Hedgehog

Here are the stones we found in our big pile of rocks. The ones on the left are the large, good stones that could be finished. The ones one the right are the stones that are too small or flawed/cracked to be finished.

Unfinished stones

And here are the items we bought in the shop. There are two pyramids Anne got to put in her Egyptian room. There's also a little camel there. And Sydney picked out a little stone hippo. The large rock formation on the right is something I thought looked nice and bought.

Stone carvings

So there's that. Now, Santa Barbara.

We went down to Santa Barbara the first week in May. Anne had some training to do for work. The company they bought some new lab machines from (I think hey got the ones where the lightning crackles up between two flanges) flew her down and she had to go to training for four days. They paid for the hotel so Sydney and I got tickets and went down, too.

We arrived on Sunday afternoon and immediately started to explore. We were right down at the waterfront. We were across the street from a beach and marina and a few blocks down the road was Stearn's Wharf. That's a large wharf with shops and restaurants on it.

Pelicans made a sand bar/break water out a ways from the beach home. In the late afternoon they would all get up and start flying at the same time. Then they would spread out and go fishing. It was neat to watch them dive into the water and then pop back to the surface a few seconds later.

Swarm of Pelicans

Out near the end of Stearn's Wharf a few pelicans apparently decided it was a nice place to be rather than the sand and rocks. You could actually get pretty close to them before they seemed to care. (Though we didn't get too close.)

Pelicans on the Wharf

And sometimes they were flying close enough to be able to capture them with the telephoto lens.

Pelican Flying

The candy shop up on Stearn's Wharf had a caged Tasmanian Taffy Turkey right outside the door. It bobbed up and down at the taffy. Strangely enough, in all my time spent over at the Museum of Hoaxes I have never heard of one of these creatures. But I got a picture of it to make sure I had documentation for further study.

Tasmanian Taffy Turkey

Anne didn't have to go to her class on Monday so we all went exploring. And if I had updated my blog earlier I'd probably remember exactly what we did. But I'm sure it was exciting and that some of the pictures came from then. In fact, I believe we walked to Stearn's Wharf and got the pictures of the pelicans and the creature outside the candy shop.

On Tuesday Anne had training so Sydney and I were on our own. We went to the Santa Barbara Zoo.

Santa Barbara was very easy to get around even though we didn't have a car. We could pretty much walk anywhere down along the shoreline or, if it was too far, they had an electric bus that ran during the day. It cost $.25 per person to ride. There was a bus that ran along the shore and one that ran up the street where Stearn's Wharf was. Up that street was the downtown area. The zoo was at the far end of Santa Barbara along the beach so Sydney and I took the bus down there.

First we walked along the beach and stopped in the Visitor's Center to get a discount coupon. Along the way I snapped a picture of the beach, Stearn's Wharf and clouds rolling down the mountains.

The Morning Beach View

The big black thing near the center of the picture was a tractor that was raking the beach.

After we got to the Visitor's Center we still had to wait about a half hour before the bus started running so we checked out a park next door. There was a fountian there and Sydney always like to throw pennies into fountains so I gave her a couple.

Sydney Throws a Penny

The park ran a good length along the road and there was a playground at the far end. We didn't go down there. I figured we'd have time to play on it another day (we did on Friday) and that it might be hard to get Sydney away from it to catch the bus. So we crossed the road and found a bus stop to wait at.

Nearby where we were waiting there was a culvert that came in from the ocean. The sides of it were lined with rocks. In the spaces and cracks between rocks lived a bunch of squirrels. They had cute little baby squirrels running around too. We kept our distance but enjoyed watching them. A lady walking by fed one of the squirrels some peanuts. Sydney got slightly freaked out when, shortly after this, one of the squirrels started approaching her. It thought she had food and was coming to get it. I scared it back and we retreated to a safe distance to watch them and wait for the bus.

We reached the zoo shortly after they opened (which was the same time the buses started running) and went in. First stop was to use the bathroom. Sydney, for some reason, decided on this trip that she was going to have severe anxiety about using any toilet that wasn't in our house. And since we were in southern California and not northern Idaho that posed a bit of a problem. As the week progressed she got better about it - especially at the hotel - but early in the week she would have complete meltdowns about having to sit on a foreign toilet.

After a traumatic toilet experience we were ready to start our trek through the zoo. First stop was... Sydney tripping on the sidewalk and scraping her knee. So we headed back into the bathroom to clean it up. Then we headed out to start our zoo experience.

The zoo was good-sized, but not too big. The website said it was a good half-day trip. And it was.

We got to see California sea otters.

California Sea Otter

Madagascar hissing cockroaches.

Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches

Many types of tropical birds.


Including flamingoes.


We got to see some penguins.


And we got to hear them call out.

We got to see some elephants.


There was a nice fountain where we sat down and took a rest.

Sydney at a Fountain

But we didn't throw any pennies in because there were koi in it.

Sydney and the Koi

Sydney got to ride a little rocking car ride.

Sydney in the Safari Car

We got to see some California condors.

California Condors

And bald eagles.

Bald Eagle

But if you ask Sydney what her favorite part of the zoo was she will probably tell you it was the giraffes. Because she got to feed them.

Sydney Feeds a Giraffe

When we had lunch we were sitting in a little courtyard area near the entrance of the zoo. A mother and son, about Sydney's age, were sitting at the table next to us. The son had chicken nuggets for lunch. Some type of sea bird (not a gull) was hanging around and, when no expected it, it swooped in and stole one of the boy's chicken nuggets. The mother and I found it kind of funny but tried not to laugh. Sydney was amazed and couldn't talk about anything else the rest of the meal. The little boy was traumatized and upset. He guarded his chicken nuggets closely as he finished. And when the bird finally managed to swallow the one it stole and looked like it wanted another I had to jump to the rescue and scare it away.

While we were at the zoo a forest fire started up in the hills of Santa Barbara. You might have seen something about it on the news back then. It didn't affect us that much, really, since we were down at the ocean. But in the late afternoon winds would shift and start blowing out to sea. So the smoke clouds would cover the sky above us and ash would fall from the sky.

Wednesday morning when Sydney and I were out and about there wasn't much smoke up in the hills. It seemed like the fire was mostly out. But it wasn't. We went to a park with a playground at the far end of the downtown area, so we were somewhat close to the hills. Planes and helicopters kept flying overhead. That afternoon the fire burst up again and spread as high winds hit it. The fire was still going (but mostly contained) when we left on Sunday.

Smokey Sky


Smoke Blowing Out To Sea

But that Wednesday Sydney and I went to the downtown area. We road the bus to the far end and then took a walk a few blocks to a park. It was pretty, but pretty bland and boring for a four year old as we approached.


But once we got through those trees in the middle of the park we could see the playground.


The playground was huge. It was of the same style as the Fort Sherman playground in downtown Coeur d'Alene that we have been to many times. But it was about twice as big as Fort Sherman playground. And Fort Sherman playground is a pretty big playground.

Sydney had fun playing.

Sydney on the Playground

Sydney Swinging

And then, without warning, Sydney was attacked by a shark. AHHHH!

Sydney is Attacked by a Shark

But she managed to wrestle it into submission.

Sydney Riding the Shark

Thursday the company Anne was training with took us out to lunch. Here's the group picture of everyone there (except me taking the picture).

The Training Lunch

And this is a shot of the tree we were sitting under out in the back of the restaurant.

Sitting Under to Eat Tree

On Friday the training was canceled. The fire had forced evacuations and the company was close to one of those areas. There was a warning that they might be closing the area they were in if the fires spread more, so they just canceled the last day of training rather than risk having everyone there and then having to leave.

That was actually good because Anne started to get a bit of a cold on Friday. And Sydney hadn't really taken much of a nap all week so she and Anne took one Friday afernoon. So I went out and took a walk. I took some pictures of an interesting tree in a park around the corner from us.

Tree Shot 1

Tree Shot 2

Somewhere along the line the last couple months Sydney decided that she is afraid of crabs. We don't know where or how it started, but she tells us at any and every opportunity. Although crabs in cartoons don't seem to bother her.

So after I snapped pictures of the tree I took a walk down along the marina. As I went along guess what I noticed down by the water, crawling over the rocks?



So after I went and got up Anne and Sydney from their nap we went for a walk. We went to the marina and I pointed out the crabs. We were well above them and Sydney was fascinated. She wanted to watch them and point out everytime one of them moved. But she didn't want to get any closer (not that we could have).

She still says she's scared of crabs, but she seemed to enjoy the time she actually got to see real ones.

Friday night Anne and Sydney went to bed so I got to go out on my own for a while. I walked down to Stearn's Wharf to get some ice cream. On my way there I was waiting to cross the street. A guy came around the corner, did a double take at me and walked right over to me.

He was completely high on something. I was wearing my LEGOLAND baseball cap. He said he loved my hat and wanted it. He asked how much he could buy it for. I told him it wasn't for sale. There was then the minute or so of, "Dude. Really. I want the hat. You wo't sell it to me? Really? Come on. Please? I'll give you anything. I really like it. I have to have it."

He finally gave up ad turned away. But, because I'm a smart mouth and don't know when to keep my mouth shut, I said, "How about $5000.00?"

He turned around and said, "Really, man? Sure." He reached into his pocket and pulled out his driver's license and tried to hand it to me. I told him I didn't want his driver's license and he tried to stick it in my pocket. I grabbed it and he turned around and walked off to go into the restaurant we were in front of.

I said loudly that he may want his license but he didn't pay attention to me. So I flicked it in his general direction and it fell to the sidewalk outside the restaurant. I went off to get my ice cream and on my way back I didn't see the guy or his driver's license anywhere around.

That night I hung out by the pool with two of the ladies from Anne's training, Stephanie and Tanya. (They're the two girls in the foreground of the lunch picture above.) We drank wine, wine, more wine, walked over to the 7-Eleven to buy another bottle of wine and drank that.

I wasn't feeling so hot on Saturday. I went to breakfast with Anne and Sydney the next morning, but didn't get any further than that. It was back to the hotel with me to recuperate from too much wine.

On Sunday we got up way too early and flew home. Overall it was a really fun trip. It helped that we were there during a warm and sunny (around the smoke) week. We were told the week before was cool and rainy and the forecast for the following week was the same.

There are other pictures that didn't make it into the blog over at my Picturetrail photo album if you want to check them out.