Monday, 3 November 2014

Review of Worlds of Fantasy at SAP Center, San Jose

As we enjoy watching ice skating we decided to catch the Worlds of Fantasy show at the SAP Center,  San Jose. I went online on Ticketmaster and bought tickets for the opening night - which price wise was a bargain at $15 per head. Unfortunately though the seats I picked were not so good - while on the seating chart online they looked like first level stadium seats, they were in fact almost level with the rink, and so the little ones couldn't see very well :(. As always there are lots of unhealthy sized drinks and expensive toys to buy, so its best to have a plan for that going in else, you may have an unhappy time.

The show was totally about 2 hours long and had 3 segments and a short intro. The inro was based on the Cars theme and was nice but very short, highlighting Mater. The next one was about Ariel - here the show started well and the highlight was the music, which really started to engage the audience. The next segment was about Tinker Bell - and this is when the audience really joined in. The props and dancing was good and this show had the best visuals. There was a 10 minute interval after which there was the Toystory segment. This had all the characters, but the the sets were not great and it was not as much fun.

Pros - they allowed food to be brought in unlike the last time, there were less loud vendors in the stands.

Cons - poor sound quality, show transitions seemed a bit haphazard and rushed.

All in all a bit of a let down, specially as the last one we had seen Dare to Dream at Stockton Arena - was really good. 

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Monday, 6 October 2014

Our Farm stay at Naylor Organic Farm, CA


Always  on the lookout for interesting travel experiences, we decide to spend the last long weekend of summer staying on a farm. We looked for farm stay options online, farmstayus.com (http://www.farmstayus.com/) was one of the better sites listing possible farm stay option by state. California is known for its produce, fruits in particular and after looking at some of the available options we decided to visit the Naylor Organic Farms (http://www.naylorsorganicfarmstay.com/)- a Peach farm at Dinuba, CA. A quick call later our booking was confirmed and we were on our way.

It’s a couple of hours from the SF bay are, so a couple of stops ( Gilroy, Forestiere Underground Gardens) and some hours later we arrived at the farm.  Check in is 2pm, but we had let them know we would be later and we arrived around 3pm to a warm welcome by our hosts Mike - The Farmer and Nori - his lovely wife. No doorbell required as Penny their dog will let them know and safely guide you in. Nori had a lovely pitcher of iced peach tea ready - so we quickly completed the formalities and settled on the verandah for nice chat. Within  the fist hour we had already started learning  - the difference between a peach and a nectarine :).  By the end of our weekend we had seen pomegranate, almond,  walnut trees and lots of hummingbirds.

Peach Tree


Pomegranate Tree

That evening we stepped out for a drive to see the country side and stopped at the Bravo Farms for dinner. Next morning we met Mike and Nori at breakfast at 7 as agreed. Over a hot breakfast with eggs, potatoes, toast, fresh orange juice, we planned our day with tips from our hosts and decided to visit the Giant forest at Kings Canyon and cavern at Sequoia National parks. The next day we had our official farm tour with Mike - learning about different types of peaches,  about how farmers are managing with the challenges posed by the drought, about organic farming etc. Our 4yo was busy running with Penny and doing some exploring while following us around the farm. We followed this up with some fruit picking - once again learning about the hygiene while fruit picking and trying to make sure we were picking the fruit the right way.  We got quite carried away and picked a lot - luckily handpicked fruit from a organic farm was a great gift for friends and colleagues back home.


We left that day after the fruit picking, but we definitely recommend / want to do this farm stay again. Mike and Nori have a beautiful home and like they make you feel part of the family from the moment you arrive. Of course our 4yo was extremely  happy with all the open space around the farmhouse and Penny, he didn’t ask for TV even once the whole weekend!!

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Monday, 29 September 2014

Dennis the Menace Park, Monterey, CA

A hidden gem in Monterey for families with kids is the Dennis the Menace Park at
777 Pearl Street.

As parents of an energetic 4yo we are always on the lookout for a kiddie attraction on our day trips. We like to do this first, to provide some relief after the long drive (for all of us) as well as to use up some energy so we can all have a more peaceful time for the aquarium, sightseeing, lunch etc.  So we drove up here first thing, reaching at about 10 am -  there is plenty of free parking and clean restrooms.





There is no entrance fee, and once in the park is just delightful, and lots of play structures with many happy little kids and big kids playing. There is a roller slide - kinda like a assembly line conveyor belt - looked painful but was very popular, everyone wanted to try it! My son enjoyed the rope bridge and the wooden maze the most and was so happy there it put us all in great spirits for the rest of the day. There is also a  rock climbing wall,  skate park and paddle boat pond behind this park.

Monday, 22 September 2014

The General Grant Grove - Kings Canyon National Park, CA

 We drove in from Fresno in the morning and parked at the visitor center. After a quick tour inside the visitor center, armed with a map we walked to the General Grant Grove. It about a 1.2 mile hike each way, easy but with lots of ups and downs around tree routes. Also we were there in the middle of the day so suggest you have plenty of water handy as together with the sun it can be tiring.

A section of the Kings Canyon National Park, with groves of giant sequoias including some of the oldest trees in the world. The Giant Forest is home to half of the Earth’s largest and longest-living trees with more than 5,000 colossal sequoia trees many over 300 years - it really is a most awesome sight.

It a beautiful walk through the woods and you will pass many big fallen trees and branches. And there's one giant tree trunk you can walk through - actually many people can walk through it at the same time!



The undisputed King of the Giant Forest, the General Sherman tree is  the largest living tree in the world. A giant sequoia this tree is about 2,100 years old and over 275 feet tall.


If you have ever read or heard of the faraway tree or enchanted forest stories ( courtesy British children's author Enid Blyton) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Faraway_Tree, then you're going to think you've found the enchanted forest :)

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Monday, 15 September 2014

A Stop at Bravo Cheese Farms, Traver CA


A delightful place to stop for quick meal while travelling in the Central Valley CA is the Bravo Cheese farm (http://www.bravofarmstraver.com/).  It has a gift shop where you can pick up interesting old trinkets - a great place for antique knickknack aficionados. Also a good variety of cheeses, breads and local snacks where you can fill up your snack pack.  There's a play area in the back with mini petting zoo with a llama , and old wagon,  some little cars, a video arcade from olden times etc. In the yard outside an old western town complete with county jail, housed in little wooden houses - that you can even buy. 

The best highlight about this place though is the 7 floors tall tree house, that you can climb into and play in - it’s a lot of fun even if you're not a little boy! 

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Monday, 8 September 2014

A Walk through Boyden Cavern, Sequoia National Park, CA


Within easy driving from Fresno (about 30 minutes) you can visit the Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks (http://www.nps.gov/seki/index.htm). There is an entry fee of $20 per vehicle, but longer term admission passes are also available.


One of the special attractions in Sequoia National Park is the Boyden Cave. Situated along the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway, The cavern is a limestone cave that was discovered by a fisherman, named Boyden, fishing on the nearby Kings Canyon River. He actually lived there and gave guided tours himself for 5 cents apiece, long ago. The cavern has many interesting formations of stalactites, stalagmites, including – an upside down miniature Disneyland, a wedding cake, a bear, a stack of pancakes etc. and there’s also a subterranean stream that you can follow out.  Just outside flows the beautiful Kings Canyon River that you can even walk down to. It’s always 55°F inside the cavern so a pleasant break even on a hot day.



A great way to introduce caves and their many wonders to kids – our 4 year old enjoyed the walk, following the stream back out, an ice cream at the gift shop and then building a cairn by the river.

Regular tours of the cave are given by a licensed guide company (http://kingscanyon-boydencavern.blogspot.com), the walking tour is 45 minutes and costs $14.50 per adult and $8.50 per child. For the more adventurous rappelling and canyoneering are tours also available. The tour guide is knowledgeable and friendly, ours even took a very nice family photo for us on request. Just bear in mind that it is a steep walk from the gift shop to the cavern – so take your time.


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