Monday, 11 February 2013

Review of Dare to Dream at Stockton Arena

This weekend we had a special treat planned - we were going to see the Disney on ice show - Dare to Dream - Disney on Ice. I've always been a fan of ice skating, and so had bought tickets online early last month for an afternoon show at Stockton. We started off after lunch on Sat - this way we - better half and me had a peaceful drive through the beautiful California countryside while 3yo had his nap. We passed rolling farms, with sheep and cows out to graze, majestic hills and lots and lots of windmills.

Once in Stockton the GPS will guide you to the Stockton arena easily enough and there is paid parking available at $ 15 for the duration of the event +1 hour. There is also $10 parking available in a lot opposite. The weather was cold and windy, so best dress warmly  in layers. Also no outside food or drinks are allowed in, except baby food - they check the bags at the entry together with your tickets, so leave any food/ drinks behind in the car. Entry in is quite quick in spite of long lines, and once in you are in a world of Disney…merchandise that is. From wands and lanterns that light up and spin, to Mickey Mouse dolls and photo opportunities. Most of the items are prices between $12 to 20, so be prepared :). Similarly lots of food vendors once you are inside with buckets of popcorn, cotton candy, iced lemonade again in the $12-20 range. The atmosphere inside is like a fairground - with vendors calling and lots of kids and toys and a party all around.

The lights dim and the show begins - with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Donald waving to kids and introducing the show. First a short skit based on The Frog Prince, then Cinderella and finally Tangled - the story of Rapunzel. It was a good show - intricate footwork, great facial expressions and a nice lively tempo. The volume was on the high side, but it allowed all the kids to be as noisy as they like without spoiling the music or effects for all the rest of us, so it was ok. Tangled had the best effects and the 2 main characters Rapunzel and Van Ryder were not just good but also looked like they were enjoying themselves too. Needless to say most of the kids were having a very happy time, especially all the little girls all dressed up as princesses. If you have a little princess and want to make her feel extra special, consider buying rink side seats - then she will be part of the show too, the grand duke will try her foot for the glass slipper, or she will get a chance to float a lantern for Rapunzel... :)

Altogether a worthwhile experience, though the next time I go I will definitely look for tickets that are discounted online, closer to the show dates.

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Monday, 4 February 2013

Specialized Sirrus, off road

Someone I know on donated a pair of new cyclocross tires - 700x28 Kenda Kwicks - so I put those on the Sirrus, removed the rack, fenders, lights and went off roading. The trail probably doesn't count as anything much for real offroaders, but I had a blast. The tires had enough grip to keep me from sliding about, and I had much more fun than I imagined riding off road. Will do more of this on the weekends - and carry a better camera next time :) Till then -

See the bar ends? Nashbar, $9.99 on sale - and really nice. I'll try them out a little longer, but at the moment, they seem a bit too wide - so if I still find them too wide after a few more rides, maybe some handlebar shortening is in order.

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Day trip to Aquarium of the Bay, Fisherman's Wharf - San Francisco

The weather forecast predicted a sunny day with a high of 64F in SF so we decided to revisit an old favorite - Aquarium of the Bay, at the Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco. We went by car, but a Caltrain and Muni combo will work just as well. Parking in downtown SF can be expensive most parking lots charge $12 for day long parking, street parking is better but getting parking around where you want to go can be tricky. Take along plenty of quarters just in case :).

We had a late start around 11 and reached SF Pier 29 by noon. We walked along the water seeing the boats and birds, and just before we reached the museum came a across a little blue play structure - slide etc. in a little park. So we took a break while our 2yo ran up and down and limbered up after his nap on the drive in. Lots of boats to look at on the bay and along the road, you can start to see the crowds and sightseeing bus tours.

About 30 minutes later we walked into the Aquarium, once again thanks to complimentary passes from Discover & Go. 
The first exhibit is about the bay’s ecosystems that support a wide variety of marine life, next an elevator ride and a walk through clear tunnels, with marine life from the bay and surrounding waters. There were beautiful jellyfish, schools of anchovies, sea bass and many colorful starfish. Here we also saw a beautiful Giant Pacific Octopus, rescued from a crab net, hermit crabs and red abalones.

In the second clear tunnel the deeper water habitat is shown with sharks, rays, sturgeon, rock fish etc. You can also see face to face (:)) - Sevengill sharks, Soupfin, Spiny Dogfish and Brown Smoothhound sharks. I liked watching a Skate glide by and then go and rest at the bottom of the tunnel, at a 45 degree angle to the wall, just as if he was parking! Once again there is an elevator ride and this time there are 2 pools where you can reach in and touch - rays, starfish etc.- typically the highlight of the visit for my 2yo. 

Then we were out and in the sunshine, and had a picnic on a bench overlooking the bay. Once done, we walked out into Fisherman's wharf - enjoying the sun, music and crowds. A little window shopping and 1 carousel ride later ( $ 3 per ticket), we walked out from the shops to see the sea lions. It was an interesting sight - the pier was full of people looking at the sea lions, and the barges on the water were full of sea lions basking in the sun.

We then wrapped up as it was time for another nap for the 2yo, with the feeling of another Saturday well spent :).