I decided it was time to go to Old Faithful Geyser of California. I decided this as I drove home from dropping off Degen and Maggie at school and had to plug it into the GPS to find out if I could squeeze the trip to Calistoga in before I had to be back to pick up Maggie from Kindergarten. Yes, I could, but just barely. We went home, I showered, Heidi got her shoes on, I printed a coupon for $1 off admission from the web site, and we hopped back in the car. Halfway down the hill, realizing that if the literature was right and the geyser only erupts every 30-40 minutes and I only had about 30 minutes to stick around before I’d have to head back for Maggie, I called the Geyser office to find out their predictions for the eruption times today. At first I thought the heavily-accented woman who answered the phone said “in 10 minutes,” but was delighted on further inquiry to discover that she meant “every 10 minutes.” Hooray! Something about how there’s been a lot of rain lately…
Heidi and I continued the beautiful drive up to Calistoga, with 20 minutes of winding forest road at the end, and made good time. We walked into the gift shop to purchase my ticket (Heidi was free) and I realized that I’d left my coupon on the printer! So sad, but at least it was only a dollar. Admission paid, I realized I’d left the camera in the car! Lots of forgetting today. Back to the car, find the camera, back into the gift shop, out the door down the long bamboo-lined “hallway” to the geyser viewing area. The grounds were small and simple, but clean and tidy. In the center of a lawn was a little pond, in the center of which were some boulders with a small cloud of steam hovering around them. A handful of other visitors wandered around the pond, waiting and chatting.
Suddenly, I heard a gurgle and then water shot out of the steamy boulders! The eruption continued significantly longer than I expected, maybe 45 seconds or a minute. Long enough to take plenty of pictures, for sure! Heidi was slightly scared, but impressed too. I probably took too many photos and didn’t spend enough time watching.
Then Heidi had to go to the bathroom, so we visited the clean restrooms near the geyser. Heidi noted that they were for boys AND girls and painted white inside, which she said is a boy AND girl color. When we got back outside, we walked around the lawn and read plaques describing why one should not throw rocks into the geyser or touch the boiling water. Another one explained that we were smack dab in the center of a volcano that hadn’t erupted for a long time, but that it had been involved in making the mountains surrounding us. Hmmm…
Then the geyser went off again! More photos, more delight. Less panic from Heidi.
We saw signs labeled “4 Horn Sheep” and “Llamas” and “Fainting Goats” and followed them to the fenced pastures of the aforementioned livestock. Those sheep really had four horns each! I wonder how/why that happened. And the Fainting Tennessee Goats really fainted when startled, as demonstrated by the gentleman feeding them at the time. Just like on Mythbusters.
We even saw some black and white spotted baby lambs on the way back to the gift shop. So cute! Driving home, we stopped at a roadside cherry stand and got two pounds of juicy red cherries to munch on. Sitting in her car seat, Heidi did a great job putting her pits in a little Dixie cup I gave her for the purpose. Good job Heidi!
Picked up Maggie close enough to on time (three minutes late) and went home for a lunch of cherries, strawberries from last nights trip to the farmers market, a tuna sandwich for me and a peanut butter one for Maggie. Heidi wasn’t all that hungry. Then the girls went down for a nap. Sort of. Heidi stayed in her bed, but sand and talked to herself for quite a while before dropping off. Maggie protested until I said I’d read a chapter of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle to her. I read, she listened to the first chapter, then we switched for the next chapter. I fell asleep while Maggie was reading, but woke up to her fast asleep next to me when I had to leave to pick up Degen from school.
Degen was happy to report that he’d had PE today and played a game called Burpees, which doesn’t involve burping but he giggled for a long time when I asked if that was the premise of the game. We filled up the gas tank–ouch–after my morning trip, then went home for homework time and a snack. Degen ate the last of the cherries and practiced his spelling words while I took out my library book of touristy locations in our area and started picking out favorites for my next excursion with Heidi.
Homework nearly done, the girls woke up and I started making dinner–shrimp tacos. It was a partially improvisational recipe, assisted by a fish tacos recipe from my healthy cookbook from my beloved America’s Test Kitchen. I have no affiliation with them, except that their recipes are super-reliable, and thus I love them. Check it out. Anyway, Heidi and Maggie helped me set the table and make the tacos and the brown rice (a new item for a few in the family) while Degen finished up. Adobo sauce, mayo, and lime are a killer ingredient combination, by the way. And next time I make brown rice I’m definitely going to use more water.
After dinner I worked on my memrise garden, learning the Arabic alphabet, while the kids got their pajamas on. I’d forgotten how hard it is to learn a new alphabet, and even knowing a related one was only slightly helpful! Slowly but surely…
Yesterday our washing machine broke and I’ve got to do a bit of research on whether we can fix it or not before the Memorial Day sales–a good time to break, if it has to break at all. And I want to take the kids camping soon (Redwoods or Yosemite?) and need to do some legwork on that project tonight. And I have got to get serious about some healthy-food research related to the new diet Colin’s doctor ask us to go on. Colin even came home with a Craigslist juicer this afternoon after his karate class. Lots and lots to think about.