Monday, June 30, 2008

Central California Trip Report - Days 2-3 (Paso Robles, Hearst Castle and Morro Bay)

Arriving in Paso Robles was somewhat of a shock. The weather was completely different from the California coast weather we experienced in Monterey. In the parking lot of the Hampton Inn, it was so hot that my first thought was to immediately jump into the outdoor pool and cool off. That we did, much to the Brewster Boys' delight. Russell and Punky played this interesting game where they would wade into the pool and hot tub alternatively every 3 or 4 minutes. They loved every minute of it, and I had a hard time getting them out of the pool so that we could go out to dinner.

After changing out of our swimming trunks and heading out to dinner, we found our bearings in Paso Robles, which is so small that there are only 4 Chinese restaurants in the entire town. Of course, this meant that we had fewer choices than usual, but luckily the China Gourmet restaurant passed the test. Afterwards, we bought some ice cream to eat back at the hotel and went to bed early so that we rest up for the next day's events at Hearst Castle and Morro Bay.

Eating ice cream in the main room of the Hampton Inn (Paso Robles)

Watching Mickey Mouse cartoons in the hotel

The main pool, Hearst Castle

Main Library, Hearst Castle

Indoor Pool, Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle is a scenic 30 minute drive from our hotel in Paso Robles. We had reservations for Tour 2 on our first day at Hearst Castle, which consists of a tour of several bedrooms, libraries, sitting rooms, pools and the kitchen. We were placed in a small group of about 12 people led by a single tour guide. The Brewster Boys were pretty good for the first hour of each 90 minute tour, then they started to lose interest and began wandering around the room. It was distracting to have to chase them around and stop them from touching the furniture. Still. it was a worthwhile tour to see and Jenny and her mom enjoyed seeing the artwork and furnishings from around the world.

After lunch, we drove down the coast for a brief stop at Morro Bay. We took a cheesy, glass-bottomed boat ride which the kids enjoyed a lot. It really wasn't worth it, but it was less than an hour long and it made the Brewster Boys feel like they had some fun, too. After the mini-cruise, we went back to the hotel to engage in more swimming at the pool and Mickey Mouse cartoons.

On a boat tour of Morro Bay

Our view of Morro Rock, an extinct volcano

The Brewster Boys view the fish from inside the glass-bottomed boat

Friday, June 27, 2008

Central California Trip Report - Day 1 (Monterey)

Russell and Punky just finished school, and with a week off before the start of summer school, we decided to get away for a long weekend trip down the California coast. Our destination was Hearst Castle and the Paso Robles area, approximately halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles (a 3.5 hour drive). Logistics were very important, since we brought Jenny's mom along for what would be our longest road trip since our Disneyland excusion back in February 2007. This meant we would have to stay at places which offered both a sofabed and free breakfast.

We weren't originally planning to go to Monterey, but since I was able to get a room at the nearby Embassy Suites and get free (!) tickets to the aquarium, we ended up staying for one night at what is now the Brewster Boys' favorite hotel chain. Our overnight stay turned out to be much fun. Russell and Punky especially enjoyed the hotel's indoor pool and checking out the koi and turtles in the atrium ponds. I enjoyed it because it meant that I didn't have to drive the whole way down to Hearst Castle in one day.

The next morning, we checked out and headed to the Monterey Bay Aquarium--our home away from home, it would seem. Once again, the Brewster Boys went ga-ga over the displays of fish and wildlife. However, Jenny was bored, so we left after around 2.5 hours and had lunch at Bubba Gump's. Before heading south, we browsed the newly-constucted Intercontinental Hotel on Cannery Row. Jenny was impressed and indicated that she wouldn't mind staying there the next time we come to Monterey. Since I am not a member of their Frequent Guest program, I don't think that will happen.

On the 2-hour drive down to our hotel in Paso Robles, I found the scenery of farmland and rural towns along Route 101 to be exhilarating and a refreshing change from the Bay Area's suburban sprawl.

Russell and Punky are all smiles as they get ready to head down to the pool

For the first time ever, Russell actually enjoyed playing in a pool

In a giant clam at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Russell checks out the penguins in the newly-renovated Splash Zone

Punky: "Check out my blue tongue!"

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Happy Birthday, Russell

Today is Russell's 6th birthday. It seems like only yesterday that Jenny and I were married. But a short 19 months later, Russell appeared in our lives and the rest is history. Happy 6th Birthday, Russell!

Russell holds the Cat in the Hat, and wears its trademarked hat (his birthday presents)

Russell with Dana, his autism specialist and case manager

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Pictures of the Day

We just bought Punky his first bicycle, a few months short of his 4th birthday. Although he's never been on a bicycle before, it took him only a day to master riding one (albeit with training wheels). Now the Brewster Boys ride around together in the backyard nearly every day.

Punky's the proud owner of his first bike

Russell shows off on his bicycle, which he got last year