At least once a week I go on an adventure with my grandson Calvin who is 16 months old. He reminds me of the joy and wonder of noticing the things we adults often overlook. Like the inlaid wood and carving at the Crocker Museum. Or the joy of going to the nursery in springtime.
Looking for Gramma J
Today we went to the Plant Foundry in Oak Park, Sacramento, California.
The challenge is getting plants whilst enjoying it from a wee man’s perspective. So glad my daughter was along to help out this time.
In a recently published book, 1001 Things to Do with Kids in Sacramento by Sabrina Nishijima, there are many ideas for kids of all ages. I have been looking for more ideas so I plonked down my debit card to buy this from Time Tested Books on 21st Street near K. Just remember, sometimes you can keep it simple and have a great adventure, like the time we never made it into the Railroad Museum because the wooden sidewalks and rocky paths were so fascinating.
Personal note: for a variety of reasons I’ve fallen behind on posting my travels. I am going to catch up but my sharing may be out of order to the timeline I traveled, so hang on!
Everytime I go to Humboldt County to visit friends I don’t have a serious intention of shopping. Then Harriet and I start fossicking around Arcata. All of the shops are unique and interesting–no chain stores on the Plaza. There are certain stores we always pop into. This particular day Nora wanted to have brunch at Renata’s Creperie. We stopped at the aptly named Fabric Temptations and I bought a wonderful book called Hygge Knits. Then on to Hot Knots to browse at clothes and the Garden Gate for garden related gifts. We walked across the street to Caravan of Dreams where I found the ceramic pie pan that had been elusive.
Special of the Day at Renata’s Creperie
We moved on to a new store that I’d never explored: Scrap. It is like a thrift store for paper, fabric, and all kinds of interesting items for collage and assemblage! I had a fascinating time, bought enough stuff to fill the back of my Mini and only spent $43.
We drove around the Bay to Eureka and started at Henderson Center where my favorite yarn shop has moved and I bought wool for a new project. There are many other wonderful stores including a Japanese market and a very good toy store. I was able to buy my grandson’s birthday present instead of relying on Amazon.
Then we continued our mooching in old Town Eureka. The wonderful local writer Amy Stewart and her husband own Eureka books. I went a little crazy getting used classic children’s books to donate to my local elementary school. I found another beautiful knitting shop in Old Town called Knitterly. By this time were famished again and stopped as Los Bagels for a sandwich.
It was a super day and I have no buyer’s remorse. It makes me happy to boost the Humboldt County economy.
I wanted to save money on my last hotel night in London before I caught my flight home from Heathrow, and still be able to do something interesting. I love, love, love the Royal Botanic Garden. If it is not the best in the world, it is in the top three. It also is conveniently located to hotels and a subway station. So my plan was to take the train from Essex to London and the Tube to Kew Gardens, check in and spend the rest of the day in the gardens.
Whoopsie, no one told the London Underground and they decided to do maintenance and close the station at Kew Gardens on Sunday.
I could recount the perils I faced finding my way to Kew, instead I am going to recount the many kindnesses I received:
UK Sarah driving me to the train station and staying until the train arrived.
Woman offering me the tip about taking the train to Kew Bridge station and then catching a cab.
Security man allowing me through with my goofy train/underground ticket.
Young man who carried my 50 pound bag up the stairs at the Kew Bridge station.
Pub man in Kew calling a taxi for me.
Hotel reception that included carrying my bag up the stairs and setting up my fan on a 90+ degree day.
Was it worth all the trouble? Definitely yes. Just look at this beauty!
The Royal Botanic Garden at Kew is constantly changing. It has been a few years since I last visited and it now has a Treetop Walk. I really enjoyed the experience of walking through the tops of trees with a bird or squirrel view. Please don’t make people who are afraid of heights go up. I saw people really suffering. It is not for everyone.
Another new feature is The Hive, a fascinating interactive experience to celebrate the role of honeybees in nature. I love bees and this was a joyful time for me.
It was a very hot day and I was already worn out from traveling all day. I found the gardens motivating me, still, some old men (one with a cane) were walking down the path faster than me. I stopped for an ice cream cone and it melted faster than I could keep licking and I used napkins to mop up my continuing mess. I tucked them in my bag because there wasn’t a trash can nearby. Later when I wiped sweat from my face, I must have spread chocolate all over my face! When I was on the treetops walk, a kind woman leaned over and whispered, “You have chocolate on your face.” I was chagrined but had to laugh. How long was I walking around with chocolate all over?
The Kew Gardens Hotel is a lovely, relaxed pub hotel. There is no A/C, but the fan did it’s work. The food was just okay but the environment was convivial and the staff super helpful. The journey to Heathrow Airport in the morning was a cinch. I hope I can return in a few years.
I have visited Akaroa three times and finally I was able to see The Giant’s House. It seems it is more famous with foreign visitors than with Kiwis. None of my friends from New Zealand–even those who love Akaroa–had heard of it. This sculpture garden is an eccentric treasure.
I admire people with vision who develop the skills to execute it so masterfully. I am such a gadfly in my interests, I cannot imagine sticking with a project 17 years, let alone staying with it still. Josie Martin combines her love of horticulture with her artistic expression through painting and mosaic sculptures to create a truly original garden on the hill.
Someone in the village told us that she offered to create mosaic sculptures for the town of Akaroa, but the town council said no. She turned the no into a Yes! Yes! Yes! The hours are limited because she manages it herself. On the day we visited we paid the artist $20 each to visit her garden and gallery. We could stay until closing. We made sure to return and thank Jose for the experience.
One of several ceramic self-portraits of the artist in the gallery.
I am so glad I finally got to see the Giant’s House. Find out more at Trip Advisor. (#1 of 27 things to do in Akaroa.)
Santa Barbara is a great place to visit but because it is awkward to get there from Sacramento I had not visited in years. Until UK Sarah selected it as our destination for our US adventure this year. It was an absolute joy from the food to the lodging to the variety of activities available. Then this is always a beach if you just want to veg.
The hardest part was navigating to and from LAX for the all important pick up and drop off to Air New Zealand. LA traffic. Need I expound?
It took us a little over 3 hours to drive north from our breakfast stop in Santa Monica. We were not in a hurry and the views are at times lovely. We were there before fire season thankfully. The sky was gray in the morning followed by a lovely blue in the afternoon. The temperature was perfect for walking in the botanic gardens and cycling along the waterfront.
We stayed at the Harbor House Inn conveniently located with bicycles for guests.
We stayed at the Harbor House Inn and found it easy to walk almost everywhere we wanted to go or to use the guest cycles to pedal to the downtown shopping or along the shore. The first night we walked to the harbor and enjoyed amazing chowder and seafood at Brophy’s. The next morning we walked around the corner to the only remaining (and original) Sambo’s restaurant. I have so many memories of breakfast and lunch with my grandparents Olson at the Santa Rosa Sambos. I had to relive this experience. Nothing, and I mean nothing, has changed… menu, decor, and politically incorrect name.
On our first full day we checked out the Old Mission Santa Barbara somewhat of a misnomer since it is still an active Catholic church. It is a great way to get grounded in the history of Santa Barbara.
After a refreshing break at the Daily Grind, we visited the beautiful Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. The warm afternoon had us seeking the shadier walks and moving just a little slower. There is an interesting early water irrigation system and some beautiful old trees.
You may also reach Santa Barbara by train. One of the other group of guests at our Inn had walked a couple of blocks from the train station with their luggage. Almost everything is walkable or biking distance from the Inn so it makes a completely viable car-free option.
I have met avid gardeners while visiting other famous gardens and seminars and they always gush about Longwood Gardens. I have finally made it to see it in person. Wow. It is amazing. The conservatory is incredible. The photos will do a better job of telling the story. Take a peek.
Longwood Gardens opens everyday at 9:00 a.m. and August 3 will stay open for extended evening hours for a celebration they call Nightscape.
We dedicated about 4 hours to see the gardens and Pierre DuPont’s house.
All along the way we saw the healthiest specimens of flowers, trees, shrubs, with an emphasis on native plants. The regular summer rain and humidity produce gardens I could never replicate in California.
All along the way the staff members and volunteers did their best to enhance our experience with information and help. How do you maintain a 300 acre garden, conservatory and historic buildings? With 400 employees, 700 volunteers and student interns.
The Italian Water Gardens have a timed fountain display. It was very soothing to watch. There are so many fountains, including a gigantic display under reconstruction in front of th Conservatory.
We stopped at the Terrace Cafe for a light lunch and a cool drink. My food was disappointing. I barely at the everything cookie. Yes, I didn’t eat the cookie. The pita chips with hummus tasted stale. Plus it is expensive. You cannot bring anything besides water so sometimes you just have to eat at the cafe. There are more upscale restaurant options too.
Pierre DuPont’s weekend home was lovely and full of interesting historical information about the property. It allowed a peek into DuPont’s impressive life–he was CEO simultaneously for DuPont and General Motors.
This part of Delaware is beautiful and I can see why so many people choose an Inn or Garden for their wedding.
Children were really enjoying the Conservatory’s children’s garden.
This Conservatory is vast.
The parking is free and admission is $20 per adult. Our Brandywine Treasure Trail Passport included Longwood. The gift shop is excellent so save some time to shop.
“Last year Dave planted a field of sunflowers. His neighbors thought he was crazy. No money in sunflowers. When they asked him why he would do something so foolhardy he replied, ‘Because I can’t afford a Van Gogh.”
Do you love fields of sunflowers to photograph or to admire? Well you are sure to find satisfaction on your Sunday drive if you first consult the blog at VisitYolo.com. They update the Yolo Sunflower Map weekly.
If you see fields that are not listed, contact them so they can share your sightings with other sunflower enthusiasts.
VisitYolo’s website has a wealth of information about the attractions of places in Yolo including Winters, Davis and Woodland.