Monday, July 18, 2011

This Weekend The trip (one of three)

Well, really this weekend started on Thursday with a trip to the camera store....well, maybe we have to go a little further back.  My AmeriCorps Education Award is going to expire in November of this year and I realized a) I didn't really like Emergency Management classes and b) I would never get a chance to use a Masters in Emergency Management because I would never want to be away from my family for so long, c) our family needed a new camera.  Taking into account a,b and c, I decided to look into photography classes.  Originally I wanted to take community college classes but, funny thing, California's economy sucks and all the community colleges are filled up and have waiting lists miles long for classes that may or may not get a teacher.  So I turned to Google and found the Art Institute of Pittsburgh online division.  Now, these classes will more then likely be way over my head and, even though Matt and I plan on taking them "together," I do have the wedding of my brother and a little thing called baby number two coming up, so I don't know how many I will end up actually completing but I am really excited for them!  Which brings us to Thursday when I found out I was scheduled for classes starting on the 25th of July and needed a dSLR camera.  So we went to the local, family owned, camera store and walked out with a Cannon 60d and a bunch of other "school" supplies, just in time for our camping trip to Van Damme State Park just south of Mendocino, CA. 

We took so many pictures that I had to divide them into three sections, The Trip, Orson This Weekend and Flowers and Landscapes.  This section is The Trip:
We left early Saturday morning with a loaded down car and very excited son (who was so excited he refused to take a nap in the car).  We made it to just north of Nappa and decided it was time for a stop.  So we pulled over in Calistoga to take advantage of their awesome playground.  Orson seemed to remember it from Jessica and Dan's wedding.

Then we loaded back up and headed toward the campsite.  After a very long few hours, we arrived and set up camp and then headed up to the Fort Bragg area to visit Glass Beach.  The beach is covered in recycled glass that was dumped there a long time ago and that has turned slowly into glass pebbles.  Unfortunately people have collected the glass over time but there was still enough to make it a neat and different beach to visit.  

 Orson loved the tide pools!
 And wanted to love the unripe blackberries :)
  We made a quick stop in Mendocino to visit the toy store and look at their pretty gardens.

After the beach we headed back to camp to cook dinner.  

 Our "neighbors" had Legos.

We were hoping to introduce Orson to sitting around a camp fire, drinking hot chocolate and reading stories but half way through cooking dinner it started to rain.  So we quickly ate up my cast iron skillet cobbler (recipe at end) and got into the tent for reading and bed. Orson had a hard time falling asleep and both Orson and I had a hard time sleeping once Matt started snoring (apparently Orson took to hitting Matt and saying no Daddy no whenever it got too long) but we slept in later then expected and woke up to a beautiful day.  After pancakes on the griddle, we took off for the Mendocino Botanical Seaside Gardens.  Between the cool weather, the rain and the amazing garden I felt like I was back in Cornwall!

The gardens were amazing and Orson loved the signs throughout the showed pictures of what you might see...He took to pointing out birds on the signs and then "looking" all around :)
 Matt and Orson have the exact face in the above picture, I love it :)

 The hand over his eyes is how we knew he was "looking."  I have no idea where he picked it up but he has been doing this sign for a multiple months now.
We also loved the views of the beach, the vegetable garden and well everything!

 Orson found and then proceeded to try and eat a pine cone
 The dahlia garden was my favorite

After a bite of lunch we headed to Jughead State Reserve to let Orson have his much asked for beach and shovel time.  It was a great beach and we couldn't believe it wasn't more crowded.  We had a very hard time getting Orson to leave (and then to get him to leave his kelp snake behind).

On the way home we made two short stops, one in Geyserville for a drink and for Orson to see the fire trucks.  When we walked over to look, the firemen invited him to sit in any truck he wanted, he chose the rescue truck, and they let him turn the lights on!

Then we stopped in St. Helena for a Gott's strawberry milkshake and a little running around.
It was a great weekend and we can't wait to try camping out again.

Cast Iron  Fruit Cobbler (sorry I didn't get a picture, darn rain)
3-4 cups of fruit (used nectarines, apples and plums)
2tbsp sugar
1 tbsp of cinnomon 
dashes of your favorite baking spices (I used nutmeg, cloves and allspice)
2 tbsp gluten free flour mix 
1 tsp vanilla
mix everything together in a bowl with a lid and pack in ice chest

1/2 cup of oats
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup of gluten free flour mix
Mix in a baggie and bring with you
1/4 cup of butter (bring with you)

When ready to cook, get the fire nice and hot and place grill on top.  Warm up cast iron skillet, place filling on bottom, then sprinkle crust on top, place slices of butter evenly on top of everything.  Cover with foil and place on indirect heat of fire for 30-45 minutes (you will hear it bubbling).

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