Martha actually texted me and invited me to come visit them during the upcoming school holiday week, so here I go!
I was so excited that I sorta forgot that it is also the first week of March Madness, which is my favorite basketball watching week of the year. There are 16 interesting games on Thursday and 16 on Friday, which winnow down to eight even more interesting games on Saturday and eight on Sunday. They are all televised in real time, which is basketball heaven if you’re at home with cable and a two-channel DVR, but the Martha household has the most featureless cable subscription possible, a sad little throw-in with their internet, so I will see nothing on their tv.
I hit the road around 2pm, pretty good for me! There is so f—ing much snow up around Donner Pass that driving over was quite beautiful and interesting today.
I drove straight through on the usual roads to Yuba City where I escaped the beaten path. I really liked the scenic detour I took coming home last time, north out of Colusa along the east side of the Sacramento River and just south of the Sutter Buttes to Yuba City. I set out to do that again today in reverse. The fresh spring grass covering the fields and Sutter Buttes was lush and beautiful, but the elements would not let me go all the way. I made it past the little town of Sutter onto Pass Road, to a place called West Butte where an warning sign I’d seen earlier escalated to a “Road Closed ahead” sign. So I had to cut back to boring ole US 20, but the side trip was well worth it anyway!
I still have daylight, so I stopped at Colusa NWR as I love to do. The Auto Tour was closed due to flooding, so I just stretched my legs and took the little nature walk. One of the rangers was taking his dog on a sunset walk, and I had a nice little talk with him about Refuge stuff.
Thence onward to Granzella’s. Sleeping in their parking lot is actually pleasant in the off-season. It’s cool enough to keep the windows closed and the parking lot isn’t too busy in the morning. In another couple of months both those won’t be true, but this time of year is pretty nice.
I made it to breakfast! I ordered a big ole prosciutto omelet which took care of my food needs for the rest of the day. I thought about going the back route through Middletown, but decided to stick with old. boring I-5 to I-505 to I-80, except cutting off the Vacaville corner by taking 128 past Winters to Lake Solano and then 179 south to Vacaville. It was excellent! I never had to get on 80, A feeder road in near 80 let me parallel it until I could merge on to Route 12 without ever getting on it! I hate I-80, so that made me happy.
The Lake Solano website had a scary warning about boat access being closed because of high water, so I was interested to see what that looked like. No really big deal as it turns out, although that placid body of water along the campground wasn’t so placid today. In the quiet months you could think it is a lake instead of a river, but today it was flowing strongly, and all the many varieties of duck that are usually there had retreated to safe harbor somewhere.
It’s early enough in the day that I missed the bad traffic across Napa and Sonoma. When I arrived, Martha moved her car to give me the perfect van parking spot. It was nice to see the good ole family again – she’s a just in time kind of girl..
WednesdayWhen the kids are in school, there is always a lot of quiet time. As I get older I love quiet time even more. But this is Spring Break week, which is not a week for quiet time.
Today the standard posse (me + Martha + 5 year-old Rylan + 3 year-old Tula) headed south around 9:30 to spend a couple of hours at Fox & Kit, an upscale coffee house / playground in downtown San Rafael. The deal is that you pay them $20 per kid and they have the run of the place for two hours, and you get to sip coffee or chat or read in relative peace. It was kind of cool – fancy moms and fine-looking au pairs and a few lost-seeming dads hanging around while the kids went nuts on the other side of the see-though and soundproof wall. I now get the name – foxy moms and their foxy offsprings, hmmm…. The rhythm of the place was way different than your usual coffee place. Usually people go after 10-15 minutes, but here most of the people that were here are still here, because they paid for two hours of child care relief, and by god they’re gonna use it.
I hadn’t paid close attention to the fact Martha’s plan for today involved a appointment until 8 pm, so I spent the next eight hours at the other grandparents house. Wasn’t so bad really, in fact it was probably good for me to remember how to fill time away from my laptop(!!!)
Up and out around 9:30 again, except this time we west on Petaluma – Pt. Reyes Road for a fun day at the beach!
The plan is Coast Highway to Stinson. At the turnoff to Bolinas I have the bright idea to check out good ole “Bo” instead of Stinson. Generally Martha ignores my awesome suggestions, but instead of the curt “NO” I expected, she actually did it. It didn’t result in any beach time (high tide in Bo means no beach), and it cost me $82 on a light breakfast for the four of us at the Coast Cafe, but the memories are priceless ( = $82) or at least so I tell myself.
So after our meal we walked down the Wharf Road along Bolinas Lagoon to the beach access across the narrow strait from Stinson. The waves were crashing against the bluffs – no beach. So we drove around the corner to the official Bolinas Beach. The surf was coming up the access ramp – no beach. I would have enjoyed clambering around and watching the surf explode against the retaining wall, but not recommended with a3 and 5 year-old in tow.
So Bolinas was an expensive FAIL. We headed on around the lagoon to the original Plan A, Stinson. There was plenty of beach, and the nice downtown park with a playground and grass to be barefoot in, so it was a pretty awesome day. Kids fell asleep on the way home, as they should!
Up and out around 9:30 one more time. First stop San Rafael to drop off the kids, then east on 37 across the top of San Pablo Bay then awful I-80 to Fairfield on a doomed quest to buy a beat-up old truck for Martha’s new business.
Martha has a business idea that is essentially some kind of high end junk hauling, and she needs a truck to do the hauling. The trip was a failure, but we had a fun time and we learned a bit about small trucks. The truck was a 1990-something Isuzu with 290K miles on it. Isuzu’s are very interesting. The cab is right over the front wheels, so it has a ridiculously tight turning radius and handles real well in close situations. We loved the platonic ideal of the truck, but sadly the actual truck and the seller for that matter were way too sketchy to invest in. The dude didn’t want her to take it to a mechanic, but she did anyway. After a couple of miles the check engine light came on, then the mechanic said to not even think about buying it until the check engine light is fixed.
9:30 again, southward again, to Terra Linda this time for Tyler basketball games at Terra Linda High. He’s moved up from CYO to some kind of Petaluma all star traveling team. They lost both games, but they’ve only been playing together for a few weeks. They kept it close in both games, and I thought they looked pretty good.
SundayTyler has another game at 8:30 today. I went to bed early with steely resolve to bound out of bed at 7:30, but Martha did not bang on my door and I sure the heck did not bound out of bed on my own. I felt a little betrayed at the time, but it was all for the good. I enjoyed my quiet morning quite a bit. Everybody started trickling back around noon-ish and things got interesting.
Martha had bought a big, heavy outdoor fountain at one of her yard sales – a five foot wide concrete pool with a pedastal and the fountain. Brian and Collin showed up in his big truck to lug it into the front yard. Martha and Laura went off to the nursery to buy more plants. I noticed that the bushes we bought last fall to be a hedge someday could use a little trimming to be convinced to fill out better, so I created a bush-trimming assignment for myself. It was a great “work in the yard on Sunday” kind of day.
I got a ride to town to pick up a Sunday paper at the Market and celebrate the fact that Maguire’s has Sunday happy hour by having a beer there and finally getting to watch a March Madness game – Duke-Virginia Tech. A really close game! Reminded me of how exciting and heartbreaking the tournament is. Va Tech was SO close to putting Duke away, but just couldn’t do it.
I just discovered today that Tula’s third(!) birthday is Tuesday, so I got clearance to stay till then.
Finally, an normal day. Normal = the kids go to school, Chad goes to work or school, and Martha and her helpers are puttering around the house and I get to sleep late and putter around on the laptop til mid-afternoon. I have been too busy to go to the Petaluma Library and copy SF Chron puzzle pages, so today I take one of their vehicles and do that. It was a FAIL :( The Petaluma Library has a puzzle thief!!! Those four pages were missing from the Pink Pages, and they don’t keep papers as far back as last summer. Bummer. I did go to Safeway and Trader Joe’s to buy one of my favorite easy bachelor’s dinners which I fixed tonight, so that was a small contribution.
TuesdayMartha found a beautiful little Minnie Mouse outfit (puffy sleeves, polka dots) for Gemma Tallulah to wear to preschool today, and she was so cute I could hardly stand it. They go to a preschool at Santa Rosa State, where each kid gets their own student! I tagged along with Martha to pick them up. Seems like a cool place. Other grandparents came up from San Rafael for a birthday party. They brought TWO excellent cakes – chocolate gluten-free for Martha and regular yummy for the rest of us – and a good time was had by all! I am very happy to have been here for the occasion.
Today is supposed to be Leavin Day, but I’m Just Not Ready. Martha says ok, so here I am having another pleasant day hanging around. I was going to take everybody out to dinner, but other grandma keeps sending up casseroles with other grandpa, so I got out of that one! :)