California Dreamin' Part 3

The adventure continues! Today I'm actually going to combine days 3-6 into this one blog because we did one big road trip as a family on Sunday, and Husband actually had to work Monday-Wednesday, so Little A and I were on our own exploring. As a result, we did less per day than we did on Friday and Saturday.

Sunday's road trip took us through mountains and past dreamy fields of sunflowers.

When we first started thinking about this trip, Husband and I realized that Redding, CA isn't all that far from San Francisco, at least not when you compare it to how long of a trip it would be to go from home. So, we decided on Sunday to load up the car and take a little road trip: we drove the 3 hours north to Redding to attend church at Bethel! We both agreed that we have never driven that far for a single church service, and it was probably a little crazy, but it was also worth it. Little A slept most of the way there, so Husband and I had ample time to talk and plan and dream; that was wonderful in and of itself.

We were planning to attend the 1pm service, so we rolled into town around noon. We were told many times that we absolutely could not go to CA and not have a burger from In-N-Out, so we stopped for burgers on our way to church. No offense to anyone who thinks In-N-Out is the end-all and be-all of the burger world, was just a fast food burger to us. I do have to admit, however, it will always have a special place in my heart as it was the first cheeseburger A has ever had in her life, and she loved it. ;)

Church was awesome. If you're not familiar with Bethel Worship, I'd recommend checking out this song or this one or this one. None of those were sung Sunday, but the worship was still amazing. And I have more respect for Bill Johnson now that I've heard him in person than I did before. I already knew that he was an excellent preacher, but now I've also seen that he's a loving pastor.

I didn't really take any pictures inside the church, but the parking lot offered views that could not go unphotographed.

Redding is also a very beautiful town with mountains on all sides. That alone would have been enough to make me love it. :) I had also seen online that Redding has this beautiful bridge called the Sundial Bridge; it just so happened that we passed this bridge on the way home, so we stopped with the intention of walking across it and maybe even doing a little hiking before making the long trek back to our hotel. That was a great idea in theory, but the 100+ degree day quickly drove us back to the air conditioned car. I don't know what people are talking about when they say that "dry heat" is soooo much better than our humidity because, after trying to hike Sunday afternoon, I think heat is heat!

The Sundial Bridge.

View down the Sacramento River from the Sundial Bridge

Monday was a pretty lazy day. A and I went for a walk in the morning, after which she was ready for a nap. I planned to walk to a park that's about a mile from where we were staying in the afternoon, but we made it about half of the way there when the 100-degree day had us turning around in favor of the hotel pool instead.

One good thing that did come from Monday's oppressive heat was when I noticed that the temperature was only in the 60s in San Francisco (we actually stayed in Walnut Creek which is about an hour outside the city); it was in that moment that I decided that A and I would be going into the city on Tuesday. We also found a great restaurant for supper Monday evening. There was a small Mediterranean place next door to our hotel in Walnut Creek that we decided to check out that evening. I have to be honest; when I walked in and saw that they seemed to be in the middle of Senior Citizens' Night Out (not being rude here; every other person in the restaurant appeared to be in their 60s and 70s) I was afraid that our rambunctious one year old would be less than welcome. I could not have been more wrong. They were so kind and welcoming and eager to help. Every table was full, so they brought A a cup of water to drink while we waited. After we were seated they kept our bread basket full, and when they brought us our food, they also brought A her own little plate and tiny fork. The food was incredible, and the whole dining experience was a highlight of the day for me. If you're ever in Walnut Creek you should definitely check out Taheri's.

After doing a bit of research, I finally settled on the San Francisco Zoo as our Tuesday destination. Little A loves animals, so I knew that would be an activity she would love, and the zoo seemed to be an easy train ride away. That was a great decision. A loved seeing the animals (especially anything that even remotely resembled a duck), and the zoo ended up having a great playground where we spent about a third of our total zoo time. If zoos are your thing then I definitely can recommend the one in San Francisco.

We arrived at the zoo about an hour after feeding time, so a lot of the animals were in a pretty lazy mood. Normally when A sees a picture of a lion, she roars, but I guess she didn't recognize these cats as lions because she just pointed and said, "Meow!" when she saw them!

That boulder off to the right is actually a sleepyhead rhino. ;)

She saw a picture of a soft pretzel on one of the snack stands and immediately asked for the "cracker." It was lunch time, and I had only packed a couple of granola bars to munch on the train rides, so I figured a soft pretzel wasn't too much to ask.

The two animals A was most excited to see were the quack-quacks and the hippo. The hippo, unfortunately, was under water the whole time we were near his enclosure, so she missed seeing him, but the quack-quacks did not disappoint.

Wednesday was our last day in California before hopping the plane back to the East Coast on Thursday morning, so I wanted to make the day count without making it too busy. I decided that trying the park after Monday's half-hearted attempt would be the perfect way to spend our morning before the day heated up too much. I wish I would've thought to go in the morning on Monday, too. You guys. This was the nicest park, and it had the best playground I have ever seen. It was truly four times bigger than any playground around our home; the fact that it was an easy walk from the hotel just made it even better.

A field of quack-quacks; A was beyond thrilled!

Looking up from the quack-quacks to see this? The icing on the cake.

The park is called Heather Farm Park, and it really has something for just about everyone. It's located on the beautiful Contra Costa Canal Trail and boasts a gorgeous rose garden, a nature preserve, a duck pond complete with turtles, geese, and a fountain in addition to the expected ducks, the biggest playground I've ever seen, and probably a number of other attractions. I wish we had gone earlier in the week because when we first walked up, Sweet A noticed a huge flock of geese by the pond. That was enough to completely make her day, but then she looked up and saw the huge playground and said in an awe-inspired tone, "Wowwwww!" The next hour was spent with her running all over that playground, going down slides, swinging, and playing with every playground implement she could figure out. She was literally squealing with glee and excitement the whole time. Heather Farm Park is definitely on our list of places to go next time we're out.

We wrapped up Wednesday with a long swim in the hotel pool, laundry, and packing, and, just like that, our week on the West Coast was over. It was a great week, and we're already excited to go back sometime. But, for now, we're also really thankful to be home. :)

Our last night in the hotel

What trips are you planning this summer? And what trips do you enjoy daydreaming about? We started writing a physical list of places we want to go one day for a home-improvement project I have planned, and it is even longer than I remembered! I'd love to hear about your favorite places!


Enjoy this time lapse over the rocky mountains