Thursday, July 23, 2009

Child Goes to Camp Richardson

Ahhh...what a way to beat the Sacramento Valley/Foothills 100+ degrees than to pack up the pop-up and head to the Sierras with some friends. There is a little jewel where the traffic backs up on Highway 89 after it departs South Lake Tahoe and starts winding it's way to Emerald Bay, Camp Richardson Historic Resort & Marina.

We made our reservations about a month prior to our visit so site pickings amongst it 100 full hook-up sites were very limited. We wound up in #33, but having looked around would have preferred #43, #44, #48, #49. Well, anything that follows my general rules on staying on the outside of any loops/rings. The inner located sites were very cramped, but luckily there is so much to do here we were hardly at our camper anyhow.

After popping everything up we fixed dinner of spaghetti (noodles already cooked al dente), veggie platter, and bread. Then we ventured out on our first explore before bedtime...the Ice Cream Parlor which was located on our side, the south side of the resort. The scoops were extremely generous. The kids could have easily shared a kids scoop and the adults could have had a kid-sized scoop. With probably 15+ flavors to choose from, waffle cones, etc it was wonderful. From opening to closing at 10PM this place has bodies strewn all over it's lawn and on it's picnic tables indulging the calories they may have just taken off on the bike trail, hike, kayak, or swim. We also hit up the general store for a couple of forgotten items and it had it all from souvenirs to sundries...and a deli counter. Again more tables inside as well as a lawn and picnic tables out. These places were always bustling, but well staffed.

Saturday morning we were up bright and early. And after a french toast and fruit breakfast we were energized to hit the bike trail with our tag-along and bike seat. Located on the North/Lake side of the road is the incredible Tahoe bike trail. Well, paved with well-mannered riders and incredible vistas it is a must do. And if you don't have or forgot your bikes the Resort's Mountain Sports Center nestled between the RV check-in and the coffee shop on the South side of 89 has everything you might want to rent...road bikes, mountain, tag-alongs, trailers, kids, etc.. They are also a wealth of knowledge on where to well as very kind to help with simple repairs of your own ride if needed.

Back for lunch we packed up coolers, chairs, and beach play toys and headed again to the south side of the road and the beach. With little kids we didn't want to try to trek it, but we learned it was $7 for parking even if we were staying at the resort. So we asked them for a drop-off pass and unloaded everyone & everything then one adult re-parked the car at our site and made the 7min walk/3min run back over. We set-up right in front of the Beacon restaurant which proved wonderful in the afternoon when a band started playing. We tried to get close to the water so the kids had easy access to us & the water without dragging sand and their wet bodies through other people's areas. The beach did get fairly crowded, but everyone was friendly and the kids did the usual toy swap all day. tip to not losing your sand toys...take a permanent marker and put your last name on everything. Really helps at the end of the day when everyone has the shovel and bucket set from the dollar bin at Target. I walked our 2.5yo back to the camper for a nap while my husband & nearly 5yo rented sea kayaks and went for a tour of the area. Sea Kayaks, Paddle Boats, SeaDoos, Ski Boats...and on and name it and it is available at the Marina.

Lots of sun and everyone was exhausted we spent the evening having your traditional hot dog & brat picnic style dinner with samores for dessert. After everyone was good and gooey we took to the free hot showers to de-dirtify. And all the kids nestled to watch a movie on the portable DVD player before heading to sleep. Which btw was quickly interrupted by a family of bears meandering through the campground. No bear lockers here, but you were advised to bring your food in every night. We opted to put it in the car. We'd rather have a broken car window than an attack on our pop-up with us in it. Apparently we did have a cub under our trailer for a bit until the park ranger with his truck's flashing lights and flash light moved him on to the back of the campground and eventually out all together.

Sunday morning was pack-up time and we squeezed in one more bike ride..this time to the east. We enjoyed a stop at Pope Beach and definitely agreed this is one we will return too. No music close by, but the longest beach in Lake Tahoe, clean, and a lot less crowded.

And even if you are coming to Tahoe to visit and are not a local with all the camping gear they offer cabins and a hotel. Child will definitely be going to Camp Richardson again....

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Child Goes 48hrs in San Francisco

We are lucky enough to have a few friends who have managed to stick out the high costs of housing in San Francisco. Lucky because we have people to go and visit...and have free lodging. Lodging in the city costs well over $100 a night...generally starting more at the $150 range. So with an offer from a friend on the Richmond side of Golden Gate Park we headed to the "city" for a couple of days prior to the 4th of July holiday.

Little kids in a big city, especially ours who are from the country...just the stimulation of all the noise, lights, etc can be very tiring, so we plotted out small adventures for each day.

Mass transit may feel completely overwhelming with small children in the big city. But really it is the only way to go...and once you plot your path you will be pleasantly surprised at how well it goes. Because to a child...a train is a train. And they are all amazing fun! The BART, MUNI, and Ferry Services of San Francisco are amazing and easy to maneuver and for children under age 5...FREE!

Day 1 we opted to head out to one of San Francisco's endearing spots...Pier 39. It has it, aquarium, arcade, theatre, rides, ferry boat tours, restaurants...and the Sea Lions. We hopped the mass transit and with one transfer at Embarcadero to a line made of of historical rail cars called the F Line which runs along Fisherman's Wharf and will drop you right at Pier39. The kids' followed their ears to the sea lions and sat on and climbed the wooden tiered seating system for a good 45minutes. Next we ventured to the center of the wharf where the kids enjoyed meandering through a few shops and then a ride on the 2nd floor of a 2 story carousel. And thanks to my husband's watchful you face Pier 39 after exiting the street car on the right you will see some green space. There surrounded by a hedge is a play structure as well as a small house made of vines. We lounged looking out on the city's downtown, Coit tower, etc while the kids stretched their legs. Then we decided to stretch ours and tucked them into our double McClaren stroller and wheeled them back down to Pier 1...The Ferry Building. Again my husband had been watchful that day and noticed it was Farmer's Market Day. Here we grabbed lunch at Mijita. We always tend to choose this location because it is on the backside of the building and has outdoor seating right where the ferries dock and load and unload. This consumed our morning...and with a small cup of Ciao Bella Gelato in their hands we headed back on the trains we made our way back to our friend's for naps.

After naps we went ventured a few blocks via the L bus line to Golden Gate Park's Children's Playground. The playground is makes every adult want to take off their shoes and climb, jump, etc.. Two amazing play structures...for the smaller and bit larger children. A massive webbed climbing structure, waves which hidden in their foam are holds that create a long, tall climbing wall as the crest over a soft padded ground., and swings. As it this was not a gorgeous surrounding...there is a unique slide made of concrete that children descend on via pieces of cardboard...and a beautiful carousel.

Dinner time we deferred to our friends who live or have lived in the city with children. San Francisco is an amazing wealth of culinary delights, so we did not want to stay in every night and dine on mac-n-cheese. We opted for the Park Chow. Always on San Fran's top 100 when we walked into the bottom floor we were a bit worried about our choice as it's long bar and narrow seating. But the bartender said our table awaited upstairs...where the mood was still loud and fun (drowning out our own children's noise), but also under a glass roof and very open and somewhat rustic surrounding. A children's menu, coloring, and fast service...and we had definitely made a good choice.

Day2 we headed over to the Academy of the Sciences. This renovated San Francisco classic has received huge amounts of press and rightly so, but with it comes crowds, lines, etc.. Lucky for us our hostess was a member which put us in a different line than the general public and allowed us to purchase extra tickets at a different kiosk as well. With our children being toddler and preschool in age we forwent the planetarium and Rainforest...both which had large lines even at opening. We instead choose to spend most of our time in the aquarium areas and at touch pools and waving to divers who cleaned to tanks. 2.5hrs later and we had seen it all...and this seemed to be perfect timing for the well as the perfect child on the go in San Francisco.
(NOTE: Above I reference my McClarren Stroller...and I do this because it has been a saving grace in many situations. It is one of the few doubles that folds up end to a short 48hour umbrella like. And a funny connection to San Fran...seems like everyone has a McClarren. I think it is due to it's rugid construction of steel that can withstand the rigors of the city streets and life)