Thursday, August 12, 2010

Krejcha Family Adventure - Part 2 - Summer Travels

Grrrrrrreetings, Aspierations Friends!


** I noticed while I was away that Blogger took the liberty of changing some of their formatting again.  Arrrgh!  I will be trying to figure this out over the next couple days but until then, I apologize for any weird paragraph breaks!  Nice people out there, please let me know if you can read this okay and if so, what kind of browser / OS you are using!  THANKS!  (Other comments are welcome too!) **

Well, I must be getting back into the swing of things because I'm starting my blog tonight at 11:30 p.m.  Those of you who have been following me with regularity know that many of my postings come in at right before the midnight deadline.  Those of you who are new, hello!  I hope you will become a return Aspierations visitor as well!

Sooooo....  In my last blog, I mentioned that our family had just returned from a round-trip drive from Washington to California to visit my parents.  We left town on Monday, August 2nd and returned back on Wednesday, August 11th.

As I tend to be a bit lengthy in my writing, I wanted to be able to break down for you bits about our journey through various anecdotes.  My husband John at Life and Times of John Krejcha will also be blogging about our trip.  His writing style is different than mine and I invite you to check out his version of our journey.  Usually his writing is more succinct as he tends to share facts.  I tend to editorialize and occasionally go off on a tangent.  Sometimes my tangents are humorous, sometimes they'll leave you scratching your head wondering "why, Why, WHY did I just spend 2 minutes of my life reading that?" (Those of you who stick with me and accept me for who I am, goofball, emotional fireball and all have a special place in my heart!)

I'm having trouble trying to figure out where specifically to start in my anecdotal ramblings so I'll take a quick cheat from John's blog yesterday and give you a quick recap of what we did while we were gone with mini-summaries of each day and then I'll write more in-depth later about specific events, challenges, opportunities and reflections.  Sound good?  

By the way, after I get through these blogs about our family trip, I will get back to different writing topics that will have relevance to my life as a Mom of two boys on the autism spectrum who happens to be an Aspie traveler as well.  If you're coming in for the first time or haven't been here much, there are a variety of topics on the right-hand side that you can read about to get a feel for my various forms of writing.

Okay, still with me?  Great!  I knew there was one of you out there!  I wish I could give you Aspierations bonus points or something.  If you have any ideas, let me know!

Krejcha Family Adventure Summer 2010 - Trip Schedule Summary 

TAKE OFF:  John essentially packed everything except my suitcase.  I did that on my own. (Yay me!)  He likes to have things organized when we start a trip.  HA HA HA HA HA... poor man!  Sometimes he forgets who he is married to!  That being said, I'm really really good at remembering to ask him before we leave about everything we potentially left behind.  I'm such a catch!



According to the GPS, our journey would take us approximately 10 hours.  The GPS lady with the voice that Justin, Ryan and I love to mimic (much to John's chagrin) didn't know about newly potty trained 4 year olds and their incessant need for potty breaks.  Oh but she soon would, my friends, she soon would!

Monday, August 2nd - We drove from Vancouver, WA to Yreka, CA where we stayed at the Miner's Inn Best Western.  Whenever we stay here I think of the Miner 49'er from Scooby Doo.  Who is with me?  :-)

Interestingly enough, the Best Western Miner's Inn in Yreka is almost exactly halfway between our place and my parents home in Mountain View so it makes a good overnight stop since they have a pool and we have kids that enjoy the water.  By the way, I swam there too.  The water was rather chilly!




Tuesday, August 3rd - We arrived in California and stayed at the Embassy Suites near Great America Parkway in Santa Clara.  John and I had the bedroom and the boys had the sofabed in the adjacent room.  I blogged to you guys and gals this evening after we came back from a delicious dinner at my parents' home.  See: Going Back to Cali, to Cali, to Cali.

Wednesday, August 4th - Marine World, Vallejo!  It was longer of a drive than I had remembered but the adventure was worth it. I look forward to sharing with you my TIGER pictures!   Here's one to start.  As with all my photos, if you click on the picture, it will enlarge it.  If you love tigers like me and want to save the picture to your computer, just right-click it and then select "save as" and you should be able to save it onto your computer.





Did you know Tigers could dive?

If you have children on the autism spectrum or with other special needs, make sure to stop at the Marine World Guest Services area at the front of the park and they will give you a free special access pass for up to 4 people. This allows you to enter through the exit and jump to the front of the line. It also saves you the additional expense of having to buy a Fast-Track type of pass for additional money.  This is a HUGE time-saver as lines are not the friend of autism spectrum kiddos. Be prepared to get looks from disgruntled other park attendees who don't understand but then again, if you're like us, you're used to that and know it comes with the territory!  Most people are cool but some are just turds.  Know what I'm getting at? 





Anyway, I will write more about this particular day separately because I had a lot of interesting observations I wanted to share.  The boys for the most part had awesome behavior but in some cases there was too much stimulation, too much heat, not enough perceived parental fairness and meltdowns ensued.  I think I'll do a whole blog on how to work with children with special needs melting down in an amusement park setting.  Would you be interested in that?  If so, please let me know in the comments section.



First ride of the day and we're already quite wet!


My favorite part? The ride attendant squirting me in the face at the end!  What a comedian!


I Say, I Say Boy! The Foghorn Leghorn train rocks!



I didn't have the heart to tell John the bird pooped on his head.  Well, maybe I did.... (and maybe the bird didn't)....  Ryan and Justin sure thought it was funny!


Why, yes, we ARE at Marine World and our boys are playing the Wii!


Not much else needs to be said here, folks!


Great choice of car, boys!


Talk about "mane" attraction!  Truth be known, I felt like "lion" around too at this point!


My new reality show!  Soon coming to FOX! (Channel suggested by an Aspierations blog visitor!)


Just in case my Tiger Island reality show doesn't take off, I have a back-up plan!



Dolphin Show Time!


Ryan got splashed by a dolphin and loved it!




As seen above, we had many adventures, did lots of rides and we also got to see the Dolphin Show and the Tiger Show (of course).  After a full action-packed day, we left the park around 5:30 p.m. and went back to my parents home for taco night.  


Thursday, August 5th - We all needed to sleep in after our Marine World Discovery Park adventure.  Unfortunately the people in the adjacent room didn't agree. Don't you just hate it when you have hotels with thin walls and noisy neighbors?  (Of course, to be fair, I think sometimes those neighbors are us.  Maybe that doesn't count...)


John and I dropped off the boys at Gram and Grandpa's for a couple hours while we headed to a mini-afternoon hot tub, cold plunge and steam room date at Watercourse Way in Palo Alto, CA.  We had our usual Room 9.  (This is a place we'd been coming to for a recharge for about 6 years.  We would visit a few times a year when we lived in San Jose and since we moved away, we would come back once a year for a couple hours when we visited my parents.)  It was nostalgic but I found myself feeling both wistful and melancholy.  Something this time was definitely different and I think John sensed it too.  Still, I highly recommend the experience, especially if you're looking for a romantic date or afternoon / evening getaway with a loved one.



After that, we headed to downtown San Jose to pick up my Dad's main birthday gift.  We treated him and my Mom to a season's subscription of Broadway San Jose with the San Jose Symphony.  It is rare that they get out for dates and we wanted them to have a lovely shared experience together.  I hope that when I'm my Dad's age (80) that I will still feel romantic and have a desire to enjoy adventures.


For dinner we had Round Table Pizza, a simple hit for the boys. 


Friday, August 6th - Happy 80th Birthday, Dad!  We planned for a family day, taking Gram and Grandpa and the boys to the newly renovated and re-opened Happy Hollow Park / Zoo in San Jose, then taking them to dinner and coming back to their place for dessert and presents.  





Wow, did we have some changes in schedule.  I would like to talk about my Dad's birthday in a separate blog as he deserves his own tribute.  What I will say here briefly is that unfortunately my Dad fell at the park early on while coming back from the parking lot with my Mom to get something out of our vehicle for Ryan. I didn't see the fall, just my Mom coming back into the park saying my Dad would be coming in shortly in a wheelchair.  My Dad has diabetes and sometimes he has variations in blood sugar level.  When it gets hot, he can get shaky.  It was so scary for me to see my Dad hurt and my Mom so worried although they both played it off like it was no big deal, I'm sure for the sake of the boys. Dad ended up hurting his arm and I found out a couple days later his hip was sore too.  The first aid staff at the park were immediately responsive and I commend them on their assistance. 





Dad wanted to continue at the park but I saw he was shaky and assertively suggested that we all just go back to my parents home, relax, maybe open some presents (Justin made Dad a great 30 minute video) and if he felt like it, we could go out to dinner later. So that is what we did and I will share more of the story later.  The rest of the day and evening turned out fairly positively minus a few incidents here and there.  I do think my Dad had a happy birthday and I am so happy we could be there to share it with him.

































Saturday, August 7th - John and I had planned to take our Raincheck Anniversary Date Saturday evening but I was worried about how my parents might be with Justin and Ryan, especially after my Dad's fall.  The boys and I visited the Intel Museum in the morning, had a Togo's lunch (something we don't have in Washington but certainly could use), checked out the Computer Museum in Mountain View in the afternoon.  (Justin was TOTALLY in his element.  I will share fun anecdotes about this later.)  












John and I had already purchased tickets in advance for the 7:00 p.m. showing of ComedySportz in San Jose.  We had hoped originally to go out to dinner too or maybe dance afterwards but upon further reflection, we thought it might just be best if we did our show date and then picked up the boys afterwards.  Justin LOVES Fresh Choice (but doesn't eat salad...) and Ryan loves lettuce so my parents met us at Fresh Choice in Sunnyvale for an early dinner.





Then we followed them back to their home and dropped off the boys for a couple hours while we went to ComedySportz.  Fun improv show.  Clean fun for the entire family.  They have a Friday midnight show if you like more adult jokes but the Saturday 7 and 9 shows are family-friendly and we think we'll check out the one in Portland in the future.  It makes me want to do improv.  (Wouldn't that be interesting??? A female Aspie comic?)


Sunday, August 8th - This was our day in Santa Cruz.  First we went to the wharf and had lunch on the pier at Gilda's.  I have SO many intense memories of that place, including it being where I first spent time with my birthmom and birthsisters in 1986 and then again with my birthfather in early 1987.  I was saddened to see that Gilda had passed away in 2008.  She was almost always there everytime I went.  









We checked out the sea lions, I held my breath because of all the yucky wharf smells and then headed back to the car.  As we were exiting the pier, I noticed that the Dream Inn had changed ownership.  This was the hotel I physically met my birthmom at for the first time... I remember walking down that hall and knocking on her hotel room door like it was yesterday. 


We headed over to The Mystery Spot which amazingly I had never been to before and man, they must pack in the dough there.  If you haven't gone and you're in Santa Cruz, it's one of those touristy places you really should see and it's okay to bring the kids.  Just make sure you have good walking shoes and that your kids are past stroller age as there will be some hiking up the mountain.  That was one BIZARRE place.  I had major vertigo, sweating and nausea inside the shack on the hill (not real selling points, I'm sure) but within a minute of me stepping out of the shack, I was fine.  





After that adventure, we went to Natural Bridges State Park where we could have the boys play in the sand and run into the ocean.  I don't like crowded beaches AT ALL and when I was attending UCSC, I learned about Natural Bridges and would go there instead of the Boardwalk.  I'll show you many more pictures later.  It's a pretty place and the kids LOVED the ocean.




Then we went to visit the UCSC campus and it wasn't what I expected.  It was congested, the buildings seemed kinda run down (the ones I had attended for class) and although I certainly had some interesting memories there (100 proof Peppermint Schnapps incident notwithstanding...), I don't think I will be visiting again in the near future.  It just wasn't what I had remembered.


On the way home it was traffic galore.  We were not impressed but it did give us time as a family to talk.  I'll share some of our conversation later as I got some interesting insight from the boys.  :-)





For dinner we went to my parents home for steak and potatoes for the adults and Mac & Cheese for the kids.  (Originally it would have been my favorite spaghetti night but after my Mom's mini-stroke a few months back, she has had a little trouble with her sense of taste and she was afraid that the sauce would taste different.  I didn't want to worry her so I said steak would be fine and indeed it was tasty!  I'm proud to be a meat and potatoes gal!)







Monday, August 9th - We went to my parents' home in the morning for a few hours and then headed off to Great America in the afternoon.  Great America also has a Special Access Boarding Pass for children with special needs so we obtained that and were on our way.  As it turned out, we hardly needed it as the lines were short. The weather was relatively cool and it turned out to be a really great day for the kids including sitting still for the Snoopy On Ice Show where I snuck contraband Cheez-Its to Ryan because he was "quite hungry" and I didn't want a bonus scene in the theatre.



Contraband Cheez-Its snuck in the theatre by Mom save the day!  :-)



















Tuesday, August 10th - We had breakfast at Mom & Dad's.  Scrambled eggs, cinnamon rolls (yum), toast, bacon, all that good stuff.  We spent a few hours with them and then it was time to take off.  We drove halfway home and stopped again at the Miner's Inn in Yreka where we had pizza and the boys swam.








Wednesday, August 11th - Back home!  I have an even greater appreciation for how comfortable our bed is!


Thursday, August 12th - Clark County Fair in the morning and early afternoon, then back home for a webinar and a late afternoon and evening of email catch-up.  I will blog about this day later as it deserves its own space.

























What will Friday, August 13th bring?  Well, hopefully it will bring a happy day to you and to us as well!  We'll be doing shipping of orders that came in while we're gone.  I'll be doing more emails.  Website updates will start to take place.  I'll do a new business blog.  It's going to be definitely a working weekend.  I do plan to take sanity breaks and sensory breaks and blog at Aspierations.  


If you have any questions you'd like to ask about our adventure, please let me know in the comments section or you can drop me a private line at lettingmylightshine@gmail.com


Thanks so much for stopping by!  I will be adding pictures over the weekend and I will probably add some to this particular blog entry as well, so if you're so inclined, please feel free to come back for my edits!



It was such a MOOOOving experience, I had a cow!  


Happiness, hope and a heck of a lot of humor,
Karen

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