Sunday, April 28, 2013

R&F Railroad rules the rails in Riverside, CA

Nestled into an elegant neighborhood in Riverside, California, Roger and Faith Clarkson have turned their private backyard into a train enthusiast oasis with RF Railroad. Up to seventeen G-Scale trains operate simultaneously on over 3000 feet of track over bridges, across water falls, through scenic towns and tunnels. The property is 1/3 acre and the gardens are meticulous. Several open houses for the public are offered on weekends throughout the year. No entrance fees are charged, but donations are welcome. Much better than any train museum we've visited, for train hobbyists -- and little boys and girls of all ages --  the ride to Riverside will "wow" the rail lovers. 

Hunter Hobby Park and the Riverside Live Steamers

The Riverside Live Steamers boosts to be the only all steam train club in the United States. They've laid almost two miles of narrow gauge railroad track around 40 acres of Hunter Hobby Park in Riverside, CA. On the second and fourth Sundays of every month, they offer free train rides hauling up-to-900 passengers with multiple engines. Alex and Serene cruised around the track for at least 15 minutes and they gave it four thumbs up for railway fun!

Friday, April 26, 2013

LA Dodger Fans ....are serious!

Dodger Stadium got a $100 million face lift since last season...and it shows! New video screens, wider concourses, more merchandising options, plenty more food (and bar) choices, small play yards for little children and most importantly -- significantly more restrooms -- all make the Dodger baseball experience that much better. Kudos and applause goes to Janet Marie Smith the architect responsible for planning and development of the 51-year-old stadium's renovations for making Los Angeles baseball more mom-friendly. Alex, Serene and buddies took in their first game of the season with new hats, baseball bats and Dodger dogs. The Dodgers beat the Brewers 7-4 and the Friday night fireworks were a hit. Take us back to the ballpark -- we're ready for the next game.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Riding the Rails in Los Angeles' Griffith Park

Serene and Alex at the Los Feliz Station in Griffith Park.

Steam Engines!

The Griffith Park Train Ride Station.

There are three ways to ride the rails at Griffith Park: The Griffith Park Train Rides, The Travel Town Museum and the Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum.  Each ride will cost you just a couple of bucks, but all of them are take you on more than enough track to make it a worthwhile ride. While Alex is a train expert, Serene is a novice. She loved the chuchu and was ready for more: "Again, again!"

The Carousel: Merrily she goes around, goes around, ...

Serene loves the Merry-Go-Round.

Serene rides the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round.

Serene likes carousels. At the nearby indoor play park, she costs me several dollars each week spinning around in circles. After each ride, she jumps off and demands "more money" and won't relent until you pop in another quarter. Merry-Go-Rounds were popularized in the United States during the early 20th century, when once more than 4,000 spun children and adults round-and-round. Today, there are believed to be only 150 left in operation. One of those is located in Griffith Park in Los Angeles. Celebrating 75 years, this carousel is in dire need of a paint job, but the music is loud, the ride is fast & long and its still great fun for families on the weekend.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn?

Alex is part Tom Sawyer and part Huckleberry Finn. He's got Tom's innocence, immaturity and imagination alongside Huck's mischievous and recalcitrant nature. Like Huck, he sometimes provocatively leads his friends into trouble with silly games and little pranks. But he is also the kid that believes in fairy tales and wants to play all day long with his cousins and his friends. Its hard to stay ahead of his social calendar.

These days, he loves to hike. Give him a stick, a stream, some trees and tall grass and he'll hunt for bad guys, practice ninja moves and find ways to save the world from destruction from mutants and aliens, maybe even a few robbers. The name Alexander means "defender of humanity." His middle name means "calm and peaceful." In these times when people are doing so much to harm others in the world, may my son grow into a  "calm, peaceful defender of humanity."  And in the meantime, may he have the space to just have fun being a kid -- swinging on ropes, splashing in streams and hunting down bad guys with his friends in the woods.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The need to escape: Get me outta here!

When your kids want to leave home, there's no stopping them. When they get old enough, they'll just pack up their things and walk straight out the front door.  At just seven, Alex already has plans to move in with his friends when he gets old enough. (Of course, he asked asked if mommy would deliver him pizza -- everyday!) ( know I probably will, right?)

But, when they are little and they want to leave wherever they are, they'll just fuss and whine until they drive you absolutely crazy and even you'll want to leave. It is genius! I have to admit that before I had kids, I knew that one day I would be using them as an excuse. It would serve me well to get out of doing things that I didn't want to do, i.e. "Oh -- I would love to, but you know...the kids...I just can't." To date, in all honestly, I cannot say that excuse has served me enough. (To the Ninjago fans: I haven't yet reached my full potential on that excuse.) More likely, the kids really have prevented me from doing things I'd like to do. Every mom will tell you how bored, lonely, isolated, overwhelmed and tired they were at some point during child rearing. But guilt will prevent some from admitting how much they desired to escape their kids for just a little while.  (Please someone unlock that door!)

Right now, I'll do anything to keep my kids locked up with me safely -- forever. I suppose, one day, not that far away, they'll run off into the real world and a whole chorus of people will tell me "I told me so" in that nah-nah-nah-nah-nah sort of way that adults do when they fake smile and when they are acting like they are back on the school yard. I'll remember these days, as the best days of my life.

In the meantime, me and the kids get cabin fever and just can't get away often. I haven't finished the laundry from the last trip and I'm already planning the next getaway. One play date isn't over and I'll come up with a dozen more places that we absolutely must see and things we must do, you know, for the kids. Some call it wanderlust. I was diagnosed with wanderlust as a teenager and though 'treatable' (with frequent travel), it never really goes away. There is always the underlying desire to pack up and run off to find the next place to explore. My kids have it too. Serene was sick this week. After a few a days of being locked up in the house fighting a fever, she felt a little better and at just at two-years-old she grabbed her pretty pink shoes and declared she was heading for the park. She fussed and whined until the whole family packed up for the park. Its hard to argue with determination.