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So. Cal. Skate Trip - October 2012

We had a free week from school (well, not really, but we took one anyway) and I decided to hit the road again. The kids made it clear that we weren't to camp so I tucked my Eurovan tail between my legs and complied. We're in the truck instead....and hotels.

I couldn't help but notice the ease that the kids slid into in Drive Mode. They're seasoned road travelers now. They can get in a car and expect some long hours of road travel...and hang tough...and point out Starbucs and Subways....and DQs...

They still suck at map reading though. But we're working it out.

We started the day one at the Etnies skakepark in Lake Forest. I spent a wonderful 90 minutes talking with a home school mom while her sheriff / real estate broker husband and kids skated and we ended up talking about the flat out goodness of God. I love when those whole heart conversations can happen between strangers.

Then we struck out through the great LA and beyond to Simi Valley. We got there before the next skate park on our hit list opened and decided to grab something to eat at the Old Susana Cafe then over to Skatelab skatepark for a few hours.

We had planned to make it to Ventura tonight but the skatepark had special rates at the local Best Western so we decided to stay in town.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Anytime I take the kids out for an outing I'm trying to find the balance between something that will enrich their lives...make their worlds bigger...their understanding greater, and a good serving of fun. FUN becomes the bargaining chip to make it through the enrichment. Thankfully skating is a super cheap and easy bargaining chip. "Hey! If you can't just walk around this museum and keep your mouth shut, we won't be going to such n' such skate park afterward...blahblahblah.” So that's a continual battle.

But really, there is a lot learning that comes when we are just driving...sitting side by side, talking about current events, historical events with no great agenda and no time constraints and no eye contact.

Today, just a few days shy of the VOTE 2012 with the Libya /Obama scandal in the news and all that is involved with that, there is a lot to talk about. The 11 year old child has a lot of questions about power, integrity and honesty. Lot's of questions...! So maybe the learning isn't so much about stuff and things as it is about world view. Then the conversation turned to how our worldview shapes the way we evaluate pretty much everything else we see.

Since the younger child is studying the California missions at school, we were integrating a visit to a couple of them into our trip plan. Our discussion turned in that direction for a bit. How does our worldview cause us to look at the California missions, and the Spainiard's mission with the Indians?

When we saw the great number of homeless people living on the beach in Santa Barbara...what does our worldview "do" with that...compassion vs. responsibility? So, I think that this kind of learning can't really be measured...these kind of field trips can't be photographed to capture the "learning" and yet this time..our time on this road trip, really is a great education...the kind of learning that gets the wheels of the mind turning and pondering…when one question spurs on another, and when there’s nothing but road and time ahead to talk about it... and if your lucky, and well behaved, respectful and cooperative there'll be a skatepark coming up here somewhere soon.

We took off from Simi Valley this morning with the goal of hitting up the Santa Barbara skatepark then heading up to Solvang. We walked around the quaint town for a bit and grabbed some lunch with the promise of stopping in at famous Olson's bakery afterward. Poor Shayne just had her braces tightened so eating was almost impossible (and not very attractive). She decided that a meringue would be the easiest thing for her to eat/melt. Nate opted for a custard filled little number with chocolate frosting on top.

Our next stop was the Hans Christian Andersen park, filled with oak trees and a nice little skate park. The kids skated for an hour or so and we got back on the road toward La Purisima Mission near Lompoc, making an entertaining stop at Ostrich Land along the way. Those are some hilariously hideous animals.

I really like La Purisima Mission (as much as anybody can like a mission, I guess) because it is one of the more primitive ones that I've been to. Some, like Tucson's San Xavier del Bac is so ornate and stands in such stark contrast to it's surroundings that it's hard to relate it with the community it was serving. Purisima seems more like the "working man's mission". The basic set up is the same as many of the other missions but the decor is less....flashy. It stands in a open field with a couple of towering oak trees and has large corrals which hold some long animals, a few goats and long horned bovine (couldn't get the right perspective to make a gender judgement call) a couple of turkeys, some chickens and two really cute pigs.

By the time we left the sun was getting low in the sky and the shadows and golden colors of the field and hills around us were warm and beautiful and it was quiet and easy to feel like we were back in time. We headed back toward Solvang for a bowl of soup and Pea Soup Andersen's and decided to drive down to Ventura to find a hotel. The drive through the hills was really pretty but the herds of deer...I mean like a whole lotta deer!....grazing along and right up to the shoulder of the highway was horrifying. Though somewhat smaller than the Texas deer, and though I was driving a vehicle somewhat bigger than my Eurovan, I (and the kids) were terrified that one of the deer my just decide to bolt out in front of us. It didn't happen....And for that we are thankful.

It was a sunny day with light santa ana winds which made the sunset drivealong the coast to Ventura just beautiful.

Ventura, California, United States

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I remember during the 2008 election the word "gravitas" being thrown around... a lot. I can't say I'd really heard that word before then, that I remember.

Google tells me that it means: Dignity, seriousness, or solemnity of manner, and the commentary in 2008 seemed to have a lot to do with Obama having it and McCain, not so much... (although I would think that all the toughness required to make it through that whole POW thing might qualify him of having some)

Today, back in Simi Valley, as we walked around the Reagan Library the word gravitas just reverberated in my mind. But it had more power in reference to Reagan than it ever will in reference to Obama.

That may be offensive to some...but it's true)

I wanted to make it through all the exhibits with a minimum of complaining and foot dragging so I promised the kids that if they were engaged and decent that we would stop at the Van's skatepark in Orange County on the way home. We moved through the exhibits at a moderate pace, stopping to read at least a couple of the informational plaques for each topic to try to give them a feel for what the cultural and political climate was "back in the day". Nate, of course was interested in the Secret Service and the Hinckley shooting. Approaching the room which houses Air Force One was truly breathtaking. The size of the room itself is magnificent and the view to the outside is really beautiful. We enjoyed walking through the plane and I was surprised that it wasn't more "plush", as the newer versions are.

I can't lie, I did find myself tearing up several times during our time there...especially as we read the letter he had written to the American people after being diagnosed with Alzheimers... Dignity.

And seeing the photos of Nancy at his funeral. Grace.


So, the kids had behaved... We headed south toward the OC and Van's.

I have wondered what would happen if, when out on one of our trips if I became too sick to drive... and as my joints are getting achier and achier, and I'm hot and cold, I'm realizing that I've never really finished figuring out what I would do. I guessed that as long as I could still see straight I would just keep going and that I could lay down in the car while the kids skated for a while.

They were having so much fun, it was hard to tell them that we had to go, but at 5:30pm we left for the last part of the drive which is 67.7 miles. But anyone who has ever driven on the 5 or 405 knows good and darn well that it's not likely to be a straight shot. We arrive home in 2 and 1/2 hours and I walked straight up stairs to bed.

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