Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Day 11 - Ghost Town in Calico, CA

We drove about 60 miles into the desert, toward Las Vegas, to Calico, a ghost town.  There is one original building still standing, and many silver and gold mines.  We all had a great experience here.

We shopped...

The kids panned for gold...

We climbed a lot...

Tucked ourselves inside the miners' shacks...

Rode a train...

The train ride took us around the outside of the town where some 80 homes once stood.  The only remnance left was a small stone wall.

We walked through a mine...

...and came back up.

We walked across the foot bridge to the schoolhouse...

The outhouse was down the hill behind the schoolhouse.  I told Katie how an outhouse works and she thought that was gross!
Then we ate...

Once we returned to our hotel, we swam and played games in the pool.  Emily said she loved our family time together!

Day 10 - Relaxation

There’s not much to say about today.  We went to an “open air market.”  Turns out, it was a Mexican flea market!  It was a cultural experience for all of us!  After much walking, we left with only a bag of kettle corn.
Jason picked up his cookies from Marie Callendars (yes, he ordered them yesterday to ensure he would get some!).  The kids swam.  I took a poolside nap while Jason played tennis with the kids.  Emily and I went shopping at the JC Penny Outlet Store, finding many bargains.  And we picked up Jack-in-the-Box for dinner on the way back.

Day 9 – The Grove, Farmer’s Market & Beverly Hills

At the request of… well, let’s just tell it like it was – it was at the begging of the girls, we went back to The Grove where the American Girl Store is.  They just had to go back!  I can’t blame them.  Since Emily had some money left, she graciously offered to buy Katie something else from the store.  And Katie so graciously accepted the offer!   Emily decided to get her doll's ears pierced and Katie settled on a pet bunny for her doll.
We strolled through the Grove, which is a popular place to spot celebrities, and then we moved into the Farmer’s Market.

This place was a hoppin’!  It’s hard to describe.  It’s a large section of the Grove that has LOTS of food, kind of like a continuous food court, produce stands, meat markets, and some shops.  The smell caused hunger pangs, it was so good!  But, not knowing what would come next, we didn't eat there.
We continued on, walking all the way around the market.  At least I think we made it through.  For the most part, the meat and produce were reasonably priced, especially for being in Los Angeles.  This is a place I’d like to return to during the week when it’s less crowded. 

Just outside the Market, in the Grove, we saw lots of Paparazzi waiting for any celebrity to make an appearance so they could get their best shot.  After explaining to Katie what Paparazzi are, she called me the “family papsarazzi!”  The Paparazzi work together and are easily recognizable because they stand alone or in groups of two or three with cell phones on the ready.  Not all of them had cameras but they all had phones.  My understanding is that if one of them sees a celebrity, they immediately phone the others who either come running to get their shot or they pull out their giant zoom lens to shoot from their post.  It’s quite an operation!

We drove through Beverly Hills again and took pictures of the famous sign…
...and the huge tree in the park...
We took a walk down a couple streets, in awe at the size of the homes built on them, each one secured behind locked gates.

We drove up and down Rodeo Drive and saw a two million dollar car parked on the street.  Don’t ask me what kind it was – I have no idea!  We couldn’t even afford to buy a button in the shops on Rodeo Drive, nor would I want to.  We saw one employee of a men’s shop standing at the door, dressed in a nice suit, holding a tray with a glass of champagne as he waited for the arrival of their next guest.
In front of another shop, a woman’s boutique, two ladies sat in cushy chairs sipping on their drinks while they were chatting amongst themselves.  Who are these people and how do they have so much money?  Then, just around the corner, lying in the grass, is a homeless man (or 2 or 3), using his duffle bag filled with everything he owned, as a pillow.  It was one extreme to the other.
We saw the high school where the outdoor scenes of Beverly Hills, 90210 were filmed.

The front of the school wasn’t as recognizable, but the back, behind large iron gates, was where all the action took place.  I wanted to hop out for a picture through the gates but I knew Jason wouldn’t go for that!  I didn’t even ask!  I snapped a picture of the front of the school and we moved on.  This school is actually located in Torrance, which is in another zip code and about 30 minutes from Beverly Hills.  I can’t imagine all the time it took to film the outdoor scenes at this school, moving through all the L.A. traffic each time.
We ate dinner at Marie Callendars again – kids eat free on Saturdays!  It was another great meal.  The rest of the evening was spent relaxing in our room.  Believe it or not, none of us swam at all today!  This was a first since we’ve been here!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Day 8 - Homestead Museum

This museum was a home originally built in the late 1800’s.  It sits in the middle of the City of Industry in Los Angeles and many locals don’t even know it exists.  What a great treasure to have in the area.  The story behind it is full of history and the homestead possesses such cultural beauty.  I can’t believe it was free! 

There’s no way I could possibly write all about it in a short journal entry.  And I can’t even begin to express how difficult it is to choose which pictures pictures to post!

Before our tour of the Homestead, we took a short walk to the pond,

and the family cemetary & mausoleum.

This is the first time the girls had seen a crypt.  They found it both interesting and creepy.

Poor Phil, our tour guide, was so patient with me taking pictures!  He was an excellent tour guide who seemed to know the history of the place well.  We were his only guests during this tour, so we got to ask lots of questions and take our time.
Phil shared many things with us...
How farmers made candles and soap from cow fat.  The candles and soap were inside the basket he held, pictured below.

Cattle was raised, not for the meat or the milk, but for the hyde.  The California Gold Rush had just begun during this time period and the farmers would trade their valuable hyde for gold, thus becoming very rich.

The process of making mud bricks, which is what was used in the building of this home.  We learned about this process during the school year, so it was neat to hear it again and actually see how they were used and what they look like.

Softballs were really soft.  The inside of them is filled with horse hair.  Since ball players didn't have gloves back then, they tagged others "out" by throwing the ball at them.  Therefore, the balls were made soft to prevent injury.

Bats were just carved out of wood.  I wish I had gotten a picture of the whole bat.  One of them looked more like a paddle, the other resembled a bat like what is used today.

The kids listened intently as Phil told us the history of the place and the family and they were very well-behaved.

Since the family was a mixed breed of English and Mexican, the design of the Homestead reflected both styles.  A hand carved relief surrounds the 800-pound wooden door that opens into the front of the house.

Katie got to push the door open...

...and we entered the grand foyer.

The windows in the music room displayed composers etched in glass,
each one carefully built in.

Since there was no TV, almost every member of the family played a musical instrument for entertainment, so the music room was used often.

Hand painted tiles dressed the walls and floors with original beauty...

And other windows told stories of their own...

This place is a treasure to be found and I'm glad to have done some digging for it!

This building served as an office...

This was the private water tower...