Saturday, March 30, 2013

Vegas babies,.... Vegas!

View of The Strip from top of Mandalay Bay.
Mommy, Where are the Black Jack Tables?

Wave pool at Mandalay Bay
Limo ride!
Back of Limo.
We could get use to this!
No autographs, please!
Not for children.

"Yeah, yeah...I know...Vegas isn't for kids." If you actually believe that, then you haven't been to Vegas where you are more likely to trip over a stroller than a stripper. And, the casinos are building with wave pools, water slides, lazy rivers and kiddie pools that cater to families. Alex called it "Lost Vegas" which may be more accurate than any other name for a city that still hasn't quite figured out its identity -- is it for kids & families or for the gamblers & drinkers? Answer: Its for both. The kids loved it. For Serene, the Excalibur casino was the perfect castle and the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay was a place where you could see lots of "fish".  Alex got to ride the waves at Mandalay Bay and cruise the Strip in the back of a limousine. Meanwhile, mommy got free drinks at the exclusive Foundation Room at the Top of Mandalay Bay. Yep -- Vegas is for strollers and strippers.

View of The Strip from top of Mandalay Bay.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Rocking the bubbles and searching for artifacts at the Cube

We love the Discovery Cube!

Alex on a bed of nails.

Is that Indiana Jones on the top of that truck?

Bubble Fest - making giant bubbles.
The Discovery Science Center in Orange County, California (a.k.a "the cube") hosts a Bubble Fest every spring that features a bubble artist who does turns soap and water into art. There are bubbles inside of bubbles inside of bubbles, spinning bubbles, smoking bubbles, giant bubbles, colorful bubbles and well....10s of thousands of bubbles! Its more Vegas than kids museum and worth the trip the price of admission.

The exhibits at the Cube change a few times annually. We got to enjoy Indiana Jones and the Adventures of Archaeology. Kids can take on an electronic scavenger hunt and see how artifacts in the movie connect to archaeology exploration. As a new Indiana Jones fan, Alex loved watching excerpts of the movies and being able to see the artifacts in glass boxes just below.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

8,516 Feet above Palm Springs

The City of Palm Springs is below.

Snow in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains.
Catching some rays and some zzzz's high above Palm Springs.
The ride to the top takes about 10 minutes. 80 people per car. 

Squirrel: I know I can get that little girl to give me a snack.
Serene: Come here little squirrel. I have a snack.

The views are stunning.
The inclines are steep.

One and a half miles straight above Palm Springs, CA is the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, which was designated a treasured natural and cultural resource by a special act of Congress in 2000. There are 54 miles of hiking trails in pristine wilderness with bighorn sheep, grey fox, mountain lion, deer, bobcat and many other animals. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, on the world's largest rotating tram cars, will take you there in about 10 minutes. More than 12 million people have been transported safely to the top of the mountain since the tramway opened in 1963.  I wonder how many of them were queasy and qualmish by the time they got up there?

The only thing worse than feeling totally sick is when your kids are totally sick and there is nothing you can do to help them. It only worsens when you are far from home. As we climbed the mountain, Alex turned green and spiked a fever. By the time we reached the top, the poor kid collapsed. At least a two hour drive from home, and 8,516 feet above sea level is not a great place for your child to tell you he's not feeling so great. The spectacular views and crisp fresh air didn't do much to help. Even pepperoni pizza didn't coax him back from feeling glum. We snapped a few shots, Serene fed a squirrel and we headed back down the mountain for the long trip home.

Never-the-less, thumbs up all around for this vacation destination. A definite 'must-do' if you're in the Palm Springs area. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

They call this the (Spagh---) Getty Museum?

Ninjas attack the The J Paul Getty Museum?

Alex enjoys the Getty Museum Gardens.

Serene played in Getty Gardens.
Looking for art at the Getty Museum.

Riding my bunny at the Getty Gardens.

Serene runs around the fountain at the Getty Center.

Getty Fountain.
Serene the pirate and Alex ride the tram to the top of the Getty Center.
The J. Paul Getty Center cost $1.3 billion to build. Its art collection is literally priceless.  And, over 1.3 million people visit the center annually. The Getty management is, however, apparently not interested in any of those visitors being children who may one day grow up to become world-class artists or (better yet!) donors who will fund their museum for all eternity. If they did, they they might consider spending a few thousand more dollars to expand their "Family Zone" to something larger than my living room. The "Family Zone" is a small room, hidden well-beyond where any visitor would care to venture with grandparent-aged docents posted at the doors to holler if your kid wonders beyond the tiny corridor they've (finally) been allowed to explore. I understand its not a museum for kids...but, given that Getty has more money than God, my suggestion for their 'box', is to spend a few bucks more on the next generation.

In the meantime, Alex and Serene "awed" at the sculptures and were "wowed" by the paintings as I dared to bring the children into the galleries. Alex kept his hands in his pockets and Serene used her pirate telescope to search for the art. (She also wore an eye-patch and 'arghed' like a pirate all the way through each gallery!)

Mostly, they loved the gardens. Robert Irwin, the designer of its exquisite central garden, called it a "sculpture in the form of a garden." Children are allowed to run freely in there. And, shhh --- don't tell the Getty staff that Alex and his buddy scaled the walls like ninjas.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Hiking near home

Less than one mile from our home in Los Angeles are foothills, forested gullies, rippling streams, small ponds and beautiful trails perfect for young hikers. Alex and Serene love climbing the hills (or as they seem them -- cliffs!), splashing in the stream-bed and most importantly -- finding the perfect walking sticks. The journey to the end of the street might as well have taken them to the Rockies, Alps or Himalayas. For an overwhelmed jetsetmom -- this was a lot easier. Check out your local hikes!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Look Mom.......New Bikes!

Happy Spring 2013! Serene and Alex are sporting new bikes. Soon that should include some new scrapes and bruises, but we're ready for 'em. Traveling kids need their own wheels to get around the 'hood.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

High Atop Mountain High

The people who post the pictures at Mountain High North Pole Tubing Park are big, fat liars! The park posts daily pictures on their website. Below is the picture posted the day before we visited the park (with lots of beautiful snow), alongside the picture that we took a few hours after the park's posting.
How those liars at Mountain High said it looked.
Now I suppose I should try to fair, so I will say they once we arrived on site, the resort did have staff posted at the entrance encouraging us to check out the slope before paying $20 for a 2 hour run. And, they did let us know the wait times were long. The problem was we had already driven 90 minutes with two anxious kids and it was hard not to at least give it a try. Since I emailed them two days in advance (which their website promises replies within 48 hours -- um, I'm still waiting) and tried calling multiple times before making the trip, I'm sticking with the assessment that they are LIARS!

How it really looked.

Heading up from the northern rim of Los Angeles, once you turn off the 138 Pear Blossom Highway, and start heading up into the Angeles National Forest the terrain changes entirely from barren, dusty desert to tall pines. The snow sprinkled throughout the forest floor was beautiful. The slopes were packed with skiers. We managed with a layered sweatshirts and Alex still had a blast gently coasting down the hills.

Next winter -- instead of waiting until March when the weather the same afternoon at our house was 80 degrees, we'll head to parts of the country that have real winters with weeks of snow.