Monday, May 31, 2010

Last Day in CA - La Brea Tar Pits

And finally, the last full day of our California vacation. We decided to spend our morning on a bit of an Ice Age adventure by visiting the Page Museum and La Brea Tar Pits!

We began the visit by walking around the grounds and looking at all of the stinky tar! There are several spots where it has bubbled and oozed out of the ground. This next photo shows a pretty neat site - they've constructed a little viewing building over a large pit. There are still some bones down in the pit, so you can see how it looks to the paleontologists - and see how dirty they get when they are excavating the fossils!

There were also some statues of Ice Age animals that the kids loved.

In the museum, the kids immediately found books in the gift shop that interested them and plopped down to look.

Finally we convinced them to come inside the museum - and Carter was glad he did. There were so many animal fossils - mammoths, saber-toothed cats, dire wolves, giant sloths - very cool!

When we finished at the museum it was time for lunch, so we tried California's popular In-n-Out Burger. We got to drive around Hollywood a little, and saw the famous sign. Then we headed back once more to the California Science Center. We explored their very cool new "ecosystems" exhibit, and spent time in the Discovery Zone there - an area specifically for preschoolers. It was decorated SO CUTE!

After this big day of museum adventures, Courtney needed to rest!

The next morning we spent a little more time at the beach, then boarded our plane back to Austin. Such a fun vacation!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

California Day 7, Part 2 - Waves & Wind

I decided to put the rest of Day 7 into a separate post, since I did a rotten job narrowing down the cycling photos in the last one and it was already so long! :-) After watching the Tour of California, we went on a scenic drive through the Santa Monica Mountains...

And back along the Pacific Coast Highway, where we pulled off for some photos.

Carter immediately began throwing rocks toward the water. He would spend hours throwing rocks into the ocean if we let him.

It was massively windy, as you can tell from Courtney's lovely hairdo...

But oh so pretty!

We made our way down to Santa Monica, where it was still insanely windy. We tried walking out on the beach, but the wind was whipping the sand up and it stung as it blew against our legs! So we went up on the Pier for a bit, where we played a little skeeball in an arcade and posed for a photo, then left before the wind blew Courtney out to sea...

But the seagulls sure were lovely!

California Day 7, Part 1 - Tour of California

On Sunday we drove up to Thousand Oaks for the 8th and final stage of this year's Amgen Tour of California bike race! I've been a big cycling fan since 1999, when a guy from Austin started winning the Tour de France. It was so exciting to see a cycling event live and in person! I had no idea what to expect at the starting line - turns out fans could wander around the parking lot with the team buses and wait for a peek at favorite riders. How cool! We opted to hang out by the Team RadioShack bus. We were surprised how we were able to get in so close to see the cyclists - Joel pointed out it may not have been so easy if Lance hadn't crashed out of the race a few days earlier...!

We saw Popo...

And Jason McCartney (I took this one for Lisa!)...

Jani Brajkovic (who I've learned, thanks to Twitter, has THE CUTEST little boy!!)...

A roughed up Chechu - he had crashed a few days earlier with Lance, but stuck around to finish the race. I had read he "had no skin left" - ouch!

And Levi - yay! This photo cracks me up, it's like the kid is saying "Can I touch you?".

Here's some fans waiting at the HTC-Columbia bus. Mick Rogers, who ended up winning the tour, was in there.

The BMC team car - they'd be helping to take care of George Hincapie along the route.

Carter & Courtney have a new favorite - Team Jelly Belly!! And yes, they were handing out free samples! We also got some free t-shirts from Team RadioShack, yay!

Jens Voigt! (Truth time - I had no idea it was Jens until now when I was looking up the numbers - note to self, next time you go to a bike race, bring a roster so you actually know who you're photographing! But yay, how cool that it was Jens Voigt!)

The ceremonial starting line...

The cars lined up, ready to go...

After the starting line we had lunch then found a spot along the route to watch them fly by. As you can tell, Carter and Courtney were so excited... (ha ha)

Here come the leaders, George is supposed to be one of these?

And the peloton. Recognize anyone? They went by so fast...

And the cars, rounding out the "cycling parade".

YAY! Fun day. Now let's hope I watch a live stage of the Tour de France someday... :-)

California Day 6 - Tide Pools & Baseball

This day took us in search of tide pools! I thought the kids would enjoy looking at the marine animals in their natural setting. Joel did some searching and found that the coast in San Pedro next to Cabrillo Marine Aquarium was a good spot. So that's where we headed!

Turns out the aquarium staff lead walks out into the protected tide pool area - they begin with a slideshow in the auditorium where they introduce you to the animals you might see, and advise how to safely touch them (safe for the animal and us!). Then we walked out to the shore...

There was a large group of people while we were there, but it was fun! This nice girl showed Carter a couple things she found, first a tiny crab...

And also a sea urchin carcass.

I thought this was pretty...

The anemones were amazing!

This was an animal we had never heard of - a sea hare!! It looked like a gigantic snail and was really slimy to touch, just as you'd guess!

After about an hour of tide pool discoveries, we headed back to the aquarium, where we met back up with Grandma & Grandpa. The aquarium was nice - nothing fancy like the one we had gone to a few days before, but it was free! And really great and educational for kids. One really cool tank was this one - the BIGGEST sea stars we had ever seen!!

There was a touch tank at the aquarium too, so Carter got to poke more sealife...

And just a few more random shots from the aquarium grounds...

My favorite one - my little grunions. hee hee

After the aquarium we grabbed some lunch and then headed back to the hotel room, where Courtney took her first and only good nap during this trip - in an actual bed for a couple solid hours, yay! I hung out with her while Daddy and Carter ventured out to Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers were playing the Tigers, so of course Joel had to go. Grandma & Grandpa joined them for the game, too.

A couple more shots...

Thanks for stopping by!