Sunday, August 23, 2009

24 Hours in Calistoga

We're in Ukiah, and this is our first connectivity since setting off from home, so here is my blog post for yesterday...

We finally got away from the house at 10:10am, though not for long. A quick trip around the block and we were back, picking up the bag we’d forgotten. Then we were off in earnest, over the Dumbarton Bridge and up I-880 to Oakland, Berkeley, and beyond. The traffic was heavy, but Hubby did a splendid job of steering Big Bertha. Her acceleration is non-existent, and he says the steering is “casual”, but we mostly stayed in one lane, and we didn’t hit anything – not even close really.

After initial pleas to be allowed to watch a DVD – if they watch a movie for the 2 hour journey, how are they going to cope on the 6 hour one? - the kids settled down in fairly good humor to look out the window and sing all the snatches of Beatles songs that they knew. After forty minutes, they plugged themselves into the iPod, and that was the last we heard of them till lunch, which we ate at a Marie Callender. (We love chain restaurants: The law recently changed so they now have to show nutritional info for their food, which means we can find out how many carbohydrates Deep Thought will be eating, and also tremble at the fact that my chicken pot pie had 1370 calories in it, whilst Hubby’s burger gloried in 1850. Didn’t stop us eating them though.)

After lunch, Little Starlet decided to entertain us with a song of her own devising about how Santa Claus met the Green Cheese People, a rhyming ditty spontaneously composed in honor of St Agur blue cheese in which the word “peas” appeared quite frequently.

It was obviously time to arrive at the Old Faithful Geyser of California in Calistoga. We dutifully paid our $9 adults and $2 children. (Having read online reviews in advance, I had thriftily printed out the $1 off voucher from their website so it would feel better value.) We watched the geyser for about half an hour. It must have erupted about a dozen times, including the advertised 60 feet high, 3 minute spectacular. Pretty impressive.

We arrived at the Napa State Park at 3:50pm. Ours is site 22, a partial shade RV site surrounded by scrubby chapperal, California oaks, and madrone trees. Very dusty, but okay. We finished off Deep Thought’s birthday cake, then Hubby and the kids went off on their bikes to the campsite swimming pool to cool down. I don’t have a bike, so I was left behind. Dinner was pre-made chili and more birthday cake. Hubby and I ended the day with The Economist, tea and crisps next to a fire.

Notable moments of the day:
1) Little Starlet wandering round the parking lot at Marie Callenders looking for the restroom because she had misinterpreted the instruction to “head for the entrance and turn left.” (Not *through* the entrance, you nitwit.)
2) The town of St Helena, very pretty and quaint, with white fire trucks and a Robert Louis Stevenson museum, which we didn’t visit.
3) Making tea using my tiny new kettle and discovering that Hubby had only packed the giant camping mugs.
4) Little Starlet touching a gecko that was sunning itself on the picnic table.
5) Deep Thought wrestling with Hubby’s new camera, a gadget which is obviously going to become a feature of the trip.

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