Thursday, April 25, 2013

Johnny's California Trip

Last week was Johnny's turn to visit the California kids and grandkids. He took the Amtrak train down and back, his favorite means of travel. Last week was kindergartener Kestrel's spring break so they had lots of time for fun. Johnny had a camera with him this time... hooray!

One day, they flew kites at a nearby park.

Uh oh! The kite escaped so Steve and Cedrus and Kestrel ran after it.

They soon caught the flyaway kite and Kestrel flew it some more.

One of their favorite activities seems to be creating Mentos volcanoes. Mentos candies react with a carbonated beverage to release the trapped carbon dioxide in a sometimes spectacular eruption. Diet coke, with its aspartame, works best. If you ever wondered what was good about Diet Coke, now you know. Here they set up their Mentos volcanoes.

This eruption was not as spectacular as some they've done, but fun anyway.

On another day, they visited San Francisco's Golden Gate Park and went paddle-boating. Johnny was fascinated by this strange, fractured-rock stream bed.

They paddleboated their way under this lovely bridge.

And saw turtles everywhere. Most seemed to be Red-eared Sliders, a non-native sold at pet stores and often abandoned in parks when they get big. They reproduce well at this park, it looks like, and seem to have eliminated the native turtles.

There were also big, flat, pointy-nosed turtles which are, I think, Spiny Soft-shell turtles, another pet store favorite.

On dry land, ironically, was a (former) waterfall to climb on.

Yet another fun-filled day was spent at Cal Days on the U.C. Berkeley campus. The kids liked the dinosaur bones.

Steve and Munazza asked Johnny to stay an extra day, after the weekend, to drive one of the cars to a field trip at the San Francisco zoo that Kestrel's class was going on. In this small zoo, most of the animals came from rehab centers, including the original five Magellan penguins who produced the many penguins in the zoo now. The children arrived at feeding time and the man feeding told them about the penguins. Here Steve and Kestrel and Cedrus and their nanny Nellie, who came along to help with four-year-old Cedrus, watch and listen.

Since Steve has sung the Hippopotamus Song to his kids many times (and heard it when he was a kid from his mom), this hippo was, I'm sure, a familiar animal to the boys.

Johnny said we have in our area, either on our farm or on properties where we do bird surveys, most of the animals at this zoo. But we don't have a cassowary, so he took a photo of that.

Here are all the kids on this school zoo day having lunch.

In the children's play area of a school was this fun rope contraption that Cedrus and Kestrel played on.

Johnny's trip was not all fun and games, but Johnny did not take many photos of the projects he helped with. I know he and Steve installed a hot water heater and new faucet in Kestrel's school classroom. Munazza helps with a cooking class every Friday and needed hot water. Johnny took a photo of the faucet. The hot water heater is hidden inside the cabinet below.

On his trip home by Amtrak between Klamath Falls and Eugene, a volunteer guide gave a running commentary of the history of the area they were traveling through, including the story of the pioneers who tried to take a "new" trail to the Willamette Valley that turned out to be no trail at all. Johnny found it fascinating to hear the history of the area as he traveled through it.

I'm very glad Johnny had a camera with him so I could enjoy his trip vicariously... at least the parts he took photos of. And I'm very glad to have him home again.

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