Stay at Avila Beach,CA November 2017

I was trying to find and interesting B&B to stay over during the drive to LA. Something in the middle. After some search on google maps I found this place called Inn At Avila Beach.
It is an all inclusive hotel. It isn’t exactly all inclusive in the tropical resort sense with tons of food available 24 hours. They serve decent breakfast with eggs, very good coffee, and pastry. There is some open bar between 2 and 5PM also with coffee, pastry, and sad pizza (also beer). And some local pies with ice cream at 8M. Not too bad. I can probably live on that.
The staff at the inn was very friendly. The lady showed me around the area, talked about the features they have like bike rentals and beach towels. Very good. They recently gotten a liquor license. So now they had a very large, locked, cabinet with all sorts of drinkable goodies. The only problem is that that lady wasn’t a drinker. As a result, she couldn’t recommend me any of those bottles.
We arrived mid afternoon. It was still light and almost at the end of their afternoon eating. We had sad pizza and chips and stuff. Sam was mostly loading on chips. After that we went to stroll on that short promenade. There were nice swings on the beach. We were basically stretching time till the 8PM pie with ice cream. The pies there were good, from some local bakery. Ice cream was fine. Sam is really into ice cream now. But, luckily, he doesn’t eat that much yet. We spend the evening trying to get Sam to take a shower in that weird shower room and searching for some places to go around.
I the morning I got up earlier than the others. The breakfast the hotel provide starts at 7AM. I went up the roof to see a rather glorious morning. I’ve gotten good coffee, some egg dish, and scone. I could enjoy some amount of peace and silence and beauty.  Then Sam woke up and the regular running began. He ate something, we checked out. The host said that we can still use the services during the day. We went to a tiny local park next to the Avila Beach Aquarium. I like aquariums. But this one was a bit too small for the price they were charging. So we stayed at the playground. Man, I forgot that multicolored parents are not the norm. The parents at that playground were primarily very white women with their white kids. Very few men. It seemed like those women were stay at home wives of some rich dudes that lived in the area.
Then we had some of our leftover heavy Chinese food back at the hotel’s kitchen and went to the beach. It was a bit weird to play at the beach in late November. I wasn’t prepared for it. Some people were swimming even though the water was quite cold. Sam eventually started playing in the sand around some family. I don’t know if he is shy or his lack of English makes him weary of other kids. I’ve never really seen him play with others per se. Maybe he does this in the daycare.
Closer to Sunset we went to the roof for some freebies and headed to LA. There was still one place left to explore in Avila – trail leading to Avila Hot Springs. I was searching what to do in Avila and found this great place. Well, another reason to visit this place.
On the way to LA we passed through Pismo Beach. I drove through it several times and always wanted to stay there. But Avila is a much better place.
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Camping at Gualala River Redwood Park. August 2017

I found this place in the Weekend Sherpa newsletter. There is a small state park with a campground, close to the ocean. And there is a commercial park farther inland – Gualala River Redwood Park. I was very concerned about the closeness of the ocean due to cold. But I was also concerned about the commercial park. Usually those parks are tight and overpriced. Some people on the internet were complaining about mosquitoes. Well, that’s nature. So I had to take a gamble of sorts to book that campground. I took out two backpacking (read – small) sites for the total of 4 families. Eventually only two came.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Start driving. The distance is closer than Tahoe and also the direction is different. We made a decent progress right up to Sunset. Then we went into this winding and no reception area. It was dark and very winding. Took about an hour to get through last section of the PCH. Arrived at around 10PM. Girish was there helped me set things up.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Morning start. Regular breakfast and stuff. The mornings in these areas are cold and foggy, which wasn’t bad concidering the heat we were getting lately.
All I had planned was to go to the river next to the campground. Just enjoy the nice weather and nature. No cell phone reception here. Sam liked to play with numerous rocks there. He was happy. Then we had lunch. I managed to get him to sleep. Walked round a bit. And then it was dinner time. We just had fire, watched the kids play – just enjoy the nature. The benefit of this campground is that it had some amount of play things – swings and slide, and ping-pong table. Enough to occupy little kids and big kids.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Sunday started with a little rain! There wasn’t much to do but just pack and drive home.


It was hard to get the boys out. We stopped at a tiny local beach right outside Gualala. The weather was great – warm and sunny. But the water was still freezing. It was interesting to see all those sand crabs on the beach. After the beach we went back to Gualala for some lunch and headed home.


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National Atomic Testing Museum

National atomic testing museum, part of the Smithsonian, is right next to the Las Vegas airport. One more interesting thing to do in Vegas if you are not into gambling or shopping.

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National Bonsai Museum

bonsai_page_2Another little gem in our bustling with museums capital – National Bonsai Museum. The museum sprouted into life in 1976 when the people of Japan presented Secretary of State Henry Kissinger with a gift of 53 bonsai trees to commemorate the U.S. bicentennial. (This wasn’t the first time Japan gave the U.S. a botanical gift—in 1912 it sent over the 3,000 cherry blossom trees that still decorate the National Mall).

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DEA Museum

dea-museum-1-700x525Tucked in the back of the lobby of the Drug Enforcement Agency headquarters in Arlington, Virginia is a public museum detailing the effects of drug addiction and the law enforcement agency’s history in fighting their manufacture and trafficking.

The museum is located one block north of the Pentagon City metro stop. It is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 AM to 4 PM. Admission is free.


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U.S. Space Walk of Fame Museum

One more interesting museum to visit – U.S. Space Walk of Fame Museum in Titusville, FL. The museum is part of the Space Coast area in Florida. american-space-museum-logo-300x174

The U.S. Space Walk of Fame Foundation was created in 1988 when a local physician wrote to the Titusville City Council suggesting a project to preserve space history and to honor men and women associated with America’s space program. With a downtown redevelopment program in progress to enhance the riverfront, the suggestion was welcomed by the council and the Titusville Community Redevelopment Agency. The idea resulted in the formation of the U.S. Space Walk of Fame Foundation, a non-profit organization.

There will definitely be busy visit to Florida at some point. I just hope I can convince my kid that Disney world is overrated.


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Car Camping in Tahoe. Sept 2016

Went to Lake Tahoe for some car camping. Two nights required Friday off. It was good because the drive to was just insane – 6 hours. We arrived late, way late. And Sam was just besides himself. It was a difficult sleep for all of us, but especially Rita. I don’t think we should do it again. Next year I will buy a 3 person tent with more gear for Sam so he can sleep properly. I hope he will sleep by that time.

Saturday, September 10

In the morning we eventually rolled out of our tent and went around. The campground was clean and neat. The bathroom was a bit far though and also the water source. There were, however, a lot of edible pine nuts on the ground. A small nut with one wing. It would rotate on the way down allowing the seed to be flown further with a possible wind. Unlike the nuts I was founding around the Bay Area with ~1mm shell thickness, these local Sierra nuts were just like sunflower seeds. And they were everywhere. So after some setup we went to the local West Shore Market for some food. Rita gotten a burrito and I had some pastry and coffee.


Out team-mates woke up a bit late. The other team-mates weren’t coming either. So, after some food, I picked a trail to hike and went on to it.

The trail was Rubicon Trail in the Emerald Bay SP. I was hoping to drive to the park, leave the car, and hike as far as possible along the Emerald Bay and come back. The map showed the trail to be on the flatter side. The trail also lead passed some sort of Vikingsholm Castle. I actually never been there so it should be interesting.

Apparently a lot of people had the same idea because all the possible parking spots around Emerald Bay on Ca89 were taken. Well, we also started a bit late. My plan was to bypass all of this madness and park somewhere in the Eagle Point Campground and walk from there.

The campground looked very nice. It seemed to have been recently remodeled. It was also closed. There were a couple of parking spots right next to the closed gate. At least we gotten lucky there. The hike started on asphalt. I thought I would just go to the end of the campground and start the trail. However, the campground ended, but trail didn’t start. In reality the Rubicon Trail starting from a small obscure amphitheater used for some presentations. I’ve missed it on the first pass, but then I found it. The trail itself was very nice  – relatively flat and shaded. We were able to get to the water quite quickly. Then we looked around the visitor’s center and just stayed on the beautiful beach.

There were some kids playing in the water. Sam was a bit shy first. But then he stated doing almost the same things as those kids. I wanted to leave sooner, but Rita wanted to stay. In the retrospect it was better because we skipped the main heat time. The way back wasn’t that hard – just slowly climbing the trail.

dsc_1455We arrived to the campground to the full active cooking by our friends. Just the fire wasn’t there. There was enough food to feed several groups like ours. A lot of booze too. Kids managed to occupy themselves relatively well. They also didn’t try to get bare hands into the fire. I was surprised Sam didn’t do it.

It was interesting to see the difference in age. Even Ayan, who is a bit more than a year older than Sam, focused on other people and communicated. Sam, on the other hand, was rather absentmindedly picking things to play with, without much direction. Give him another year or so.

Sunday, September 11

The day was supposed to be rather slow. We would slowly do something and then start the long drive back. As a result we slowly packed our things and wet to Kings Beach on the North shore. It was recommended by Girish. dsc_1463Sam was a bit reluctant to get into water.But eventually he even started running after birds, which didn’t end well with Sam falling into water. I also took a dip, finally, to wash away my sweat and dust. That was nice if a bit “refreshing”.

The drive home was uneventful and fast.

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