On the coast of Northern California is a lovely spot called Point Reyes. It’s a place that is noted for thick fog, punishing winds, and loads of whales. Our experience, however, was lovely weather, but cold, weather. The history and geology of the area is remarkable. I was particularly surprised to learn that it moved north 21 feet in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake!
We admired the ancient sedimentary rock formations, delicate rock dwelling plants, and spotted a handful of cetaceans. Then we made our way to the lighthouse. While its history was fascinating, I found myself fighting an urge to re-in-act the scene from Pete’s Dragon when Mickey Rooney and company were cleaning their lighthouse while performing a song and dance. Sigh… another lost opportunity to showcase my innate lack of talent. We climbed the inordinate number of stairs back and made our way to the parking lot.
As we passed by one of the docents, we were informed that just up the road was a colony of elephant seals. That seemed like a pretty good idea to us, so we made our way there. What a fantastic experience! The docents were full of awesome information, and had set up high power binoculars for the public to get a better view. Happily, we even got to see some babies!
Enjoying our day, we decided to check out the boathouse. There we were able to get even closer to the elephant seals, while staying a safe and respectful distance away from these incredible creatures. Honestly, I was amazed at how big they really are! Having sufficiently exhausted the kids, we hiked back to the car and headed home.
Hubby had a an extra day off due to his birthday. Normally we would take an opportunity like this to drop the dock lines and raise the sails. This time, however, it was really cold on the water. Freezing for days is not my idea of family fun. Hubby, therefore, thought of another plan.
Off we went to the capital of California. Annoyed at the thought of dealing with notorious Bay Area traffic, we opted to take the train. The kids were stoked. We seated ourselves comfortably, enjoyed the scenery, and two hours later arrived in Sacramento.
The station was about a 15 minute walk from the Embassy Suites. We checked in, left our luggage, and decided to head back to track down the source of an intoxicating scent we passed along the street.
It didn’t take long. The restaurant was called Lotus. It was fabulous Thai food. If you happen to make it there, take the restauranteurs suggestion regarding wine. It had the feel of a family run place.
We then made our way to the Sacramento Train museum. My my my how times have changed! Before our eyes, trains morphed from experimental curiosities to beautiful works of art, and ending with the industrial behemoths of today. Sleeper and diner cars set for guests invited us to imagine the experiences of a by-gone era.
Leaving the museum behind, we took a walk through Old Sacramento, and then to downtown. Passing the Wells Fargo office, we noticed a mini museum in the atrium. That was five minutes very well spent. An old Wells Fargo stagecoach was surrounded with artifacts from the wild west. We continued our walking tour of Sacramento. As I looked up the road, I saw a building that looked like it belonged in Washington DC. Once we made it there, we googled the structure and found we were on the steps of the State Capital Building. Not only that, but it was open during the day with tours available. Homeschool Score!
The next day, we hotfooted it back to the Capital Building; arriving just in time for a tour. We began with the Governors offices from 1906. The offices were classically and tastefully furnished. Our attention was then directed to the stunning architecture. Truly every where the eye turned there was a something to delight it. Mosaic and tile floors beautified the hallways. Our heads were crowned with elaborate crown molding, and the dome was absolutely spectacular. We visited the Assembly room and were given a crash course in California State politics.
After that, we headed back to Old Town to do the Sacramento History Museum. The city built itself up over 12 feet to save it from flooding back in the old west. We learned a great deal about Sacramento, and I highly recommend this museum.
Next up, we went to the schoolhouse. It’s a recreation of a one room schoolhouse from the 1800’s. The kids loved ringing the school bell and writing on slate chalkboards. I was stunned at the number of rules that teachers had to follow in their personal lives. They couldn’t even go to the local ice cream shop!
We had some dinner, then went back to our hotel and CRASHED. What a great day! In the morning, we packed up, had breakfast, and walked back to the train station. Getting off at Jack London Square, we met family for lunch, and headed home. What a fantastic trip!
With all the craziness with the most current election, I opted NOT to follow it in our homeschool. There was frankly way too much being brought up that I wasn’t comfortable exposing my kids to. Yet, given the climate, I felt we should do some kind of Government study. Since the Federal Government was going to be off-limits for now, the logical place to start was local.
This gave me a great response for when I asked by others why we weren’t following the presidential election. “Oh, we’re starting with local government.”
Anyway, I contacted my local City Hall in Redwood City. They were absolutely great and penned us in for a tour. We arrived bang on time, and were met by the Deputy City Manager.
He took us into the council room, and since there were only two kids, the girls got to sit in the Mayor’s chair!
Now THAT was exciting! The girls learned a lot about our city and it’s charter. They even got to see minutes that were taken over one hundred years ago.
This brought home the idea that we should have nice handwriting; you never know who is going to come along in a century or so and read what you have left behind.
In all, I think it was a very worthwhile field trip and am very thankful to Alex and the rest of the people in City Hall for their time and willingness to share their knowledge.