Twenty Sixteen: The Year in Review

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With 2017 fast approaching, I think it’s time to check the rear-view mirror for one final glimpse of the year that has passed. As is our tradition, we rang in the New Year under a starry sky in the depths of Death Valley National Park. We took day trips to explore the salt pan at Badwater and the lush labyrinth of Darwin Canyon. Some day, these kids are going to figure out that other families don’t drive to the middle of nowhere to celebrate the New Year in the cold and inky black of the desert night. But we wouldn’t have it any other way. Later in the year, we logged two more camping trips to The Presidio (3 minutes from home) and Pinecrest Lake (3 hours from home). And with respectable Sierra snowpack, there were two ski trips to Kirkwood and Alpine Meadows. With both kids in ski school, Jody and I were finally able to ski together for the first time in too many years.

The highlights of the travel calendar came in the spring and summer. In April, we surprised the kids with a trip to LA where we got to watch our favorite show (BattleBots) being taped and doubled the surprise with a day-trip to Disneyland. In June, we made good on a promise to return to Italy and took a two week trip with the whole family to Tuscany, Rome and Sorrento. The kids are becoming more capable travelers, aided no doubt by the promise of gelato and ample pool time.

Carson

Our little man Carson bid a fond farewell to his pre-school homies from the Builders’ Workshop at 150 Parker School. He spent his summer days building forts at Camp Doodle and working through the wobbles with his sister at bike camp. After three years of drop-off duty, it was finally Carson’s turn to line-up for morning pledges and become a Lafayette Dolphin. Having both kids at the same school has been a game-changer for our family, and Carson loves his kindergarten class. He joined his friends on the pitch at Marina Green for his first season of soccer and has made it to the final stage of his swimming class.

Carson at the Colosseum

In March, Carson and Dad packed the car for an epic seaside adventure. We started our weekend touring the historic ships at the Hyde Street Pier. Heading south, we hiked along Devil’s Slide and tiptoed through the tidepools at Moss Beach. We spent two nights “camping” at Costanoa, checked out the otters and jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and stopped by Pigeon Point Lighthouse to round out the weekend.

Carson at Kirkwood

Carson still loves building with Lego and we keep him well-stocked on cardboard and masking tape. He’s quick with a smile (and sometimes tears) and enjoys knocking-out a hasty set of push-ups to impress the ladies.

Career Aspiration: Home Builder
Favorite Gelato: Arancia (orange)

Autumn

The little lady of the house is growing every day and in every way. She spent a lot of time with her nose buried in books this year, flipping through the adventures of Ivy & Bean, Clementine and the Babysitters Club. Like her brother, she has an affinity for building blanket forts and sand castles. She’s become a pretty good helper in the kitchen and always seems to be working some angle for more dessert.

cake!

Autumn continues to play soccer in the spring and fall with SF Sol soccer club, and has become a capable (if somewhat distracted) defender. She is gaining confidence on the ski hill and graduated from La Petite Baleen swimming school in the fall. She spent most of her summer at the de Young Museum summer camp, making time with her first love: art. Autumn moved upstairs with the rest of the big kids at Lafayette Elementary this fall. And while the third grade brings new challenges (multiplication!), she enjoys their regular field trips and lessons from Art in Action, which are taught by her mama.

Sutro Baths

Career Aspiration: Artist or Architect
Favorite Gelato: Limone (lemon)

Jody

Earlier this year, Jody’s grandmother, Natalie Salsig, passed away at the age of 95. Jody was close with her Grandma, having lived with her for a period during her childhood and again as fresh college grad. While her passing was tough for the family, they took time to celebrate a life well-lived and a legacy that will carry on for generations to come.

Autumn and Jody Chairlift

Jody clocked many hours on the ice working toward her pre-bronze skating test, which she passed in May. And while she enjoys her time on the ice, she decided to give it a rest for the time being. Seeking some new way to challenge herself physically, she discovered the pleasure and pain of barre class and makes time to get to the studio a couple times each week. She continues to take on evermore challenging sewing projects, completing several dresses for herself and concept-to-completion halloween costumes for both kids.

Jody and Kristin celebrated five years of PritchardPeck Lighting with a well-lit client party at their new digs on Market Street. In October they flew south of the border to deliver a presentation at the IALD Enlighten conference and took a few extra days to refine their plans for complete domination of the lighting world.

Hard at Work

Transcendent Moment: floating in the ocean beneath a full moon in Mexico
Favorite Gelato: Cocco (coconut), Cioccolato (chocolate)

Matt

This summer I celebrated my 40th birthday surrounded by family and friends at a party in Golden Gate Park. Jody and I stole away a few weeks later to Napa for a relaxing weekend and once-in-a-lifetime dinner at The Restaurant at Meadowood. I’m staring down my fifth decade on this planet and feeling pretty good about where I’m at. I can’t say that every day is a highlight reel of epic accomplishments, but I post enough wins at work and at home to keep the arc of my smile bending in the right direction.

Go Giants!

I continue to love cooking for the family and friends. Whether it’s school day lunches for the kids, sous vide steaks for dinner, or dutch oven biscuits in the backcountry, it continues to challenge me in the best way possible. I continue to log plenty of miles on the bike (1,500 this year), and started focusing more intently on my health as a remedy for too many hours behind a desk and too many “anything-in-a-breadbowl” lunches around my office. I look forward to more time in the shop and behind the lens focusing on creative projects in the new year.

Naples

Favorite Concert: Metallica at AT&T Park with Scott
Favorite Gelato: Cioccolato Fondente (dark chocolate), Stracciatella (chocolate chip)

I’m writing this post on December 27th, the day before we leave for our annual pilgrimage to Death Valley. I push myself to write this post every year, usually while Jody is frantically packing for our trip. Maybe it’s a silly tradition, but it helps me bring closure to the year that has passed and open a new page for the year in front of us. With that, we invite all of you to be part of our lives and our memories in the year to come. No matter how often (or seldom) we see you, we miss your faces and voices and hope this new year brings us closer together. Peace be with you and your loved ones, this season and always.

Matt, Jody, Autumn & Carson
San Francisco, CA

La Dolce Vita

 

La Dolce Vita

You come back in two years with the bambini…

Italians are an optimistic (and family-oriented) people. Maybe it’s the wine. Maybe it’s Catholic doctrine. Either way, their admonition for us to get started with the bambini-making (allegro, per fevore) was easy to laugh away. But the idea of a return trip to Italy was taken to heart. When we traveled as a group to Eric and Jen’s Tuscan wedding in 2006, we made a wine-soaked promise to come back with the kids some day…assuming there were kids to bring. Ten years passed, children were born, careers changed, friends moved away, and we all earned a few well-worn creases at the corners of our smiles.

But the realities of work and school and other commitments made it tough for most people to sign-on for another tour. By the time we boarded our planes in early June, our envoy was reduced to a small but enthusiastic crew of Pritchards and Schultzes. Our plan was to rendezvous at a top secret location in the Tuscan countryside. We took a two-hopper to Rome (via Paris) – the better to accommodate our return. Any concerns we had about the kids managing the long flight were dismissed as they slumbered their way across the Atlantic.

After landing in Rome and picking up the rental car, we drove north through Umbria and landed for a night in Orvieto. This hilltop town with requisite duomo, gelaterias and charming back streets was the perfect introduction to Italy for the kids. A quick ride on the funicular and a slippery walk down the double-helix of St. Patrick’s Well certainly made an impression, but the dizzying array of gelato flavors set the tone for the rest of our trip.

Orvieto Gelato

Later that day, we wound our way north through the rolling hills of Umbria and Tuscany. What Google Maps lacks in charm and serendipity, it makes up for in brutal efficiency. While we were nostalgic for our hapless nighttime drive through Tuscany a decade prior, we certainly didn’t mind having a capable navigator on board, especially with two tired kids in the back seat.

Tuscan Hills

We eventually landed at the end of a dusty road, tucked beneath the hill town of Castaglione d’Orcia. Our landing pad for the week was a beautiful villa (or farmhouse, depending on your POV) on a working farm, complete with horses, chickens, two cats and a Lamborghini tractor. The Schultzes arrived a couple hours later, and we opened the first of many bottles of wine to toast our trip.

Vino

For the next week we settled into a nice rhythm of wine drinking, eating, swimming and day tripping around Tuscany. We had outings to Pienza, San Gimignano and Sienna, each marked by a lazy pace, good food and plenty of gelato. In San Gimignano, we revisited the the Town Hall where Eric & Jen were married 10 years prior. And in Sienna, we toured the incredible duomo with it striped columns and stunning frescoes. We alternated our day trips with a couple of lazy days spent poolside with dinner prepared by a local cook who spoke zero English, but made delicious, authentic Tuscan meals of us. It was all terribly charming and privileged, and we’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Pienza

At the end of the week, we bid the Schultzes “arrivederci” as they headed north and we made our way south. We dropped off the rental car and embraced train travel for the rest of our trip. We arrived in Rome mid-day. After settling into our apartment in center of town, we showed the kids one of the best parts of any foreign trip: walking across the street and checking out all of the weird and awesome stuff in a local grocery store. I love the variety we have stateside, but we’re totally getting screwed on the price of pecorino and prosciutto.

Colosseum

We spent the next three days touring Rome: the Coloseum and Roman Forum, Vactican City, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and Capiltolene Museum. We ate good food and took a twilight stroll through Trastevere and stared in awe at the Sistine Chapel and dodged speeding Vespas with each street crossing and had the rain chase us into the best damn burger shop this side of the Tiber.

Knick Knack Yoda del Papa

From Rome our journey continued to roll south, landing in Sorrento at the end of the line. Perched above the Bay of Naples and surrounded by lemon and orange groves, Sorrento was a great basecamp for the next four days of our trip and provided a view of Italy we hadn’t seen on previous trips. We spent a day at Pompeii, touring the dusty Roman ruins in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. Before we left for the trip, we read David Macaulay’s classic City, which provided helpful background on the construction of Roman cities and made sense of many of the details we saw.

Pompeii Baths

The following day was a different kind of adventure in Naples. Our goal was very simple: eat as much pizza as possible. We queued up for the legendary pies at Da Michele (which absolutely lived up to the hype) and promptly walked directly across the street to try a different style at Trianon. Two hours, five pizzas, zero regret. We wandered through the back alleys in a pizza induced stupor and escaped the heat with an underground tour of the city, which provided claustrophobia-inducing access to ancient greek quarries, roman aquifers and WWII bomb shelters.

Da Michele

On our final day, we ignored the conventional wisdom (take a bus or a boat or a box of dramamine) and instead rented a convertible to tour the Amalfi coast. We white-knuckled our way south along the serpentine coastline with stops in Positano and Amalfi, soaking up the dolce vita before our long journey home.

Positano

One of our goals with this trip—our first international destination with the kids—was to get them excited about travel. Months later, after the sweet taste of gelato had faded, we got a glimpse of encouragement. In parent-teacher conferences for both kids, given their choice of topics, both had completed class assignments about Italy: Autumn wrote about Pompeii, and Carson wrote about the centuries-old paper factory we visited in Amalfi. Our list of vacation dreams (the Pritchard Wanderlist) is full of curious and exotic destinations, but Italy will remain in heavy rotation. The food, the people, the history, and the art all provide such a rich and inviting experience, we see ourselves coming back for decades to come.

BattleBots and a Big Surprise

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Season 1 of BattleBots was a summertime hit in our household last year. We try to limit the kids’ TV-time, but this celebration of creativity/industry/mayhem was perfect for a pair of geeks-in-training. The kids eagerly anticipated new episodes each week, debating the merits of each robot and constructing their own models in both Lego and cereal box formats. When Season 2 was announced, we started scheming how to get tickets to watch the filming in person. When we found out this season was being filmed in L.A. and not the Bay Area (like Season 1), we hesitated…for about 1 minute. We jumped on the site as soon as tickets were available and scored four tickets for two of the final rounds. We surprised the kids and told them at dinner the night before we left. We made the responsible choice and pulled the kids out of school on a Friday, hitting the road at 3:00 a.m. for the grind down I-5. We watched two days of epic live battles (no spoilers) at a studio near downtown L.A. along with 300 other robot combat fans. Watching the process of the show being filmed was almost as interesting as the battles themselves.

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After connecting with some old friends on Saturday night, we tucked the kids in late and packed our bags for the drive home. The kids didn’t notice when we got on I-5 southbound Sunday morning. Absorbed in their backseat activities, they didn’t notice as we pulled off the interstate 30 minutes later at Disneyland Drive and made our way through traffic past dozens of Mickey Mouse signs and billboards promoting the latest Main Street parade. It wasn’t until we were navigating through the parking garage and Jody handed them each their mouse ears that they realized what we were up to: surprise trip to Disneyland! The kids found their energy reserves and we clocked 20,000+ steps on the day. The full list of rides is below. We hit some favorites from our prior trip and discovered some new ones as well. We wrapped the day with an unexpected dinner at the Blue Bayou and a final journey down Splash Mountain. After changing into jammies in the parking garage, we were on the road by 8:00 p.m. and landed back in SF at 3:00 a.m. Monday morning, making it a tidy 72 hour adventure. Three hours of sleep and then  “Hello, Monday!” Epic weekend.

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Disneyland April 24, 2016

  • Finding Nemo Submarine
  • Astro Orbiter
  • Star Tours
  • It’s a Small World
  • Gadget’s Go Coaster (Toon Town)
  • Mickey’s House
  • Show: Mickey and the Magic Map
  • Show and Ice Cream Sundaes: The Golden Horseshoe
  • Thunder Mountain
  • Winnie the Pooh
  • Enchanted Tiki Room
  • Dinner at Blue Bayou
  • Splash Mountain

Twenty Fifteen: The Year in Review

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Before 2016 kicks down the front door and makes himself comfortable, let’s take a look back on the year that has passed in this Pritchard Life. Knowing no better way to reflect on the days of auld lang syne, we welcomed the new year from our fortress of desert solitude: Death Valley National Park. For a taste of something new, we visited the northern reaches of the park, camping at Mesquite Flat and taking day trips to Ubehebe Crater and Scotty’s Castle. A couple of days in, the weather went from bad to ugly and we made a hasty exit, leaving that desert tempest in the rear view mirror.

In October we found a few days to escape to Yosemite. It had been about 3 years, and while the waterfalls (and everything else) were dry, we enjoyed some beautiful weather and tackled our first (minor) summit as a family. Lembert Dome in Tuolumne Meadows rewarded our effort with incredible views of the Yosemite high country and a first summit for the kids. On the same trip, the kids earned their Junior Ranger badges and we made our first fireside pizza in a new dutch oven that we’ve affectionately named The Crusty Dutchman.

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The marquee adventure in 2015 was certainly our trip to the Canadian Rockies, where we visited Banff and Jasper National Parks, along with Golden, BC. After a week of camping, hiking and relaxing, we boarded the plane home with plans for at least two return trips: a winter trip to sample the epic powder of the region and another trip to venture further afield and experience the backcountry of the region.

And sometimes an amazing experience is just outside your front door. During a sunny day in early October (AKA: SF Summer), we were splashing and swimming at China Beach and were suddenly joined by a huge pod of dolphins just off shore. A month later, while snacking on Arizmendi pastries at Lands End, a pod of humpback whales put on a show for us around Mile Rocks Lighthouse. We logged these events as reasons #437 and #438 why we live where we do.

Carson

After four memorable years (with both kids) at Presidio Preschool, we went on the hunt for Transitional Kindergarden program for Carson. We were fortunate to find a spot at 150 Parker Avenue School. While touring, we were smitten when we saw the Dirt Kitchen and designated wrestling area. Carson has made fast friends and is thriving in a program that lets him explore his curiosities.

CarsonWoodworking

At home, his obsession with Lego, robots and anything with wheels shows no sign of waning. In May, we gathered all the Pritchard men together for a trip to Monster Jam, where Carson and his big cousin Rowan got to see what [horsepower + massive wheels + huge air] looks like. It looks awesome.

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Favorite Movie: The Iron Giant
Favorite Breakfast Food: Waffles and Chocolate Croissants

Autumn

Our super silly, super serious girl Autumn just keeps growing up, despite our best efforts. In the spring she made her off-off-Broadway debut in the first grade chorus for the school play, Shrek Jr. She continues to devote most waking moments to her first love: art. This summer, Autumn found her own little nirvana during three weeks of summer camp at the DeYoung Museum. Daily tours of the galleries, hands on projects and instruction, and plenty of time to run around outside made for a very happy little girl.

autumnSchool

Throughout the year, her confidence on two wheels has grown and we’ve begun taking short bike rides through Golden Gate Park, down to the beach and around the neighborhood. Autumn played soccer this fall with the all-girls SF Sol. The team’s first and only win, late in the season, was met with a degree of jubilation generally reserved for no-hitters and overtime bowl game victories.

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Favorite Movie: The Sound of Music
Career Aspiration: Fashion Designer, Artist

Jody

Jody has chosen the mantra, “Ice is Nice” and most Monday nights she can be found skating at Yerba Buena Center. Some weeks are great and some weeks are not, but she loves her time on the ice and is making progress toward her pre-bronze test. The team at PritchardPeck lighting shows no signs of slowing down. Feeling the squeeze of their small office, they upgraded to a bigger space in the heart of the city’s mid-Market neighborhood. They are doing complex and beautiful work on a number high-profile projects while managing to lean into a very demanding work-life balance. Growth like that requires strong roots, and Jody returned to hers in late August at the 20-year reunion for Glencoe High School Class of ’95. There were drinks, laughter and enough awkward conversation to last another decade. Roll Tide!

Favorite Book: The Neopolitan Novels, Elena Ferrante
Guilty Pleasure: Taylor Swift 1989

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Matt

Earlier this year, I was selected for a leadership development program at Williams-Sonoma. Along with an incredible cohort of peers, I’ve had the opportunity to see facets of our business that are far removed from my day-to-day role. The program focuses on developing self-awareness as a leader, which has been an enlightening and sometimes challenging journey. Away from work, I let my geek flag fly: building robots, rockets and making plans for a high-altitude balloon launch in the spring. I squeezed in one weeknight bikepacking trip to the Marin Headlands and continue to enjoy the world’s greatest daily commute. Next year is the big 4-Ohhh…steel yourselves for the requisite mid-life shenanigans.

Favorite Book: Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson
Best Sunset: Seeing the Green Flash from Sutro Heights Park

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It seems that Old Man Time just won’t slow the fuck down, so we’ll try to make these years count. It was so good to see many of you throughout the year. Let’s all continue to live, love and make memories. Peace be with you and your loved ones this season and always.

Matt, Jody, Autumn and Carson
San Francisco, CA

P.S. If you’d like to see more of our family portraits, they’re posted on Flickr.

Canadian Rockies Trip

Banff has been on the Pritchard Wanderlist for quite some time. I knew it first as the home of the Banff Mountain Film Festival, whose tour I’ve been captivated by since my days at OSU. But it wasn’t long before I realized that it was an incredible venue of another kind. Tucked into the Canadian Rockies, Banff and Jasper National Parks are among the crown jewels of Canada’s park system, beset by high alpine peaks, massive glacier fields, deep forests and aquamarine rivers and lakes. As we planned our summer vacation this year, we were looking for something a little different than last year’s awesome but terribly civilized trips to Paris and Disneyland. After consulting the notes, Banff caught our attention and we made plans for a late summer journey north. The video above tells the story much better than words, so I encourage you to check it out.

An HD version of the video is available on Vimeo.

Twenty Fourteen: The Year in Review

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It is time once again for a look back on a year in the life of the family Pritchard. This year was one of growth and travel, laughter and tears, creative inspiration and not nearly enough sleep.

We rang in the new year deep in the heart of Death Valley National Park. Our little hideaway offered quiet days, incredible views and plenty of low-altitude passes from the local F-18 squadron. In May we celebrated our ten year anniversary! We kept the promise we made to ourselves years ago, and marked the occasion with a trip to Paris. Autumn and Carson remained stateside with the grandparents. We enjoyed a week of late nights followed by lazy mornings, incredible food and beautiful sights. It rained every day and we couldn’t have cared less. We spent the entire week in the city, scouting restaurants, museums and ice cream parlors. Highlights include an evening concert at Notre Dame Cathedral, more than a few mind-blowing meals and several hours sitting on park benches doing absolutely nothing.

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We returned home feeling a little guilty for leaving the kids behind and promptly planned an end-of-summer trip to Disneyland as a thinly-veiled attempt at penance. It was a memorable trip…you can read more about it here. A general lack of planning and preparation threw some salt in our camping game, but we did manage to sneak outside for a night or two under the stars. We woke one night in Samuel P. Taylor Park to the rumbling of an earthquake – an interesting experience when you’re connected to the earth beneath a canopy of mighty redwoods.

Autumn came bounding out of Kindergarten and tumbling into the First Grade at Lafayette Elementary. She devotes much of that energy to her art: drawing, painting, cutting, gluing, molding, sewing and generally creating. She entered the PTA Reflections Art Contest this year and saw her entry recognized at the school and district level before moving to the state competition. Autumn also began playing soccer with the SF Micro Soccer league. What the matches lack in competitive game play, they make up for in giggles and priceless views. The soccer pitch is at Marina Green – a stone’s throw from the water, with views of GG Bridge, Alcatraz and Angel Island.

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Carson started his second year at Presidio Preschool, where he made strong connections with his teacher Dustin and a small group of friends (both real and imaginary) who seem to focus their energy on building things up and promptly tearing them back down. When he’s not busy playing with Lego, he can also be found playing with Lego (this kid has a habit). Carson and Autumn got to experience MakerFaire for the first time in May. Fire breathing robots, giant bubbles, remote controlled battleships and massive Tesla coils sparked enough interest to make this a perennial adventure. In the fall we got our hands dirty as we designed and built our first medieval siege weapon and hurled unsuspecting gourds into the wild blue yonder.

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Twain Harte has long been a special place for the Salsig clan, and this year Jody poured herself into revitalizing the family cabin there. It’s a throwback to the mid-century, and has been renamed Winter’s Camp, in honor of Jody’s grandfather William Winter Salsig. This all came to life in stolen moments between growing a business and fulfilling her role as SuperMom. PritchardPeck Lighting continues to ascend in both the profile of their work and recognition from their industry.

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It was an engaging year for me at work. I took on a bigger role at Williams-Sonoma and had the opportunity to do a bit of travel. In May I traveled to Nashville to visit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, an amazing organization with whom we have a long-standing partnership. That inspiration led to some quick, creative work with a team of talented folks to bring online donations to our brand websites in time for our annual giving campaign. In September, I had my 20-year high-school reunion and had a chance to connect with some close friends and some vaguely familiar faces. All in all, I’d say we’ve aged pretty well. In March we said goodbye to my Uncle Dennis, who left us too soon, but left behind an amazing family and memories that will keep us laughing and smiling for decades to come. We miss you, Uncle D.

We loved spending time with you all this year – whether it was a weekend brunch, a trip to the mountains or just a fleeting moment as our paths crossed. And if it’s been too long, let’s do something about that in new year. May peace be with you and your loved ones this season and always.

Matt, Jody, Autumn and Carson
San Francisco, CA

November Reign

My favorite type of project is one where I get to work hard on something for a short period of time (a few weeks or so) and then move on to something totally different – it suits my attention span. When Lindsay and Wayne issued the challenge for their Punkin’ Chunkin’ Jamboree I was fired up (right after I googled punkin’ chunkin’). I had a lot of fun building our trebuchet and the the whole family had a great time this past Saturday as we hurled unsuspecting gourds downrange. Our contraption is disassembled and waiting for next year’s event. And now I get to find the next project.

Disneyland for the First Time

Tinkerbell

Your first trip to Disneyland is a rite of passage. For the past couple of years, we’ve been trying to decide when would be the right time to take the kids south for their first trip to the Mouse House. My first trip was at the age of two (no memory). Jody’s first and only trip was at age five (faint memories). We put it off last year and were about to punt on the idea again this year. I think our anniversary trip to Paris (without the kids) left us with a twinge of guilt, which was promptly absolved by booking a trip to Disneyland.

We planned the trip as an end-of-summer bash, the week before Autumn went back to school to start the first grade. Never a family to shy away from a roadtrip, we decided to drive and took the long road (101) south. We stopped by Gilroy Gardens on the first day, which was unexpectedly awesome. It was the perfect way to start our trip. We spent the night in San Luis Obispo and rolled into Anaheim mid-day on Monday. We checked-in to the Grand Californian, and promptly invaded the swimming pool to wash 400 miles of roadtrip off our weary bones.

Whale

The next three days were exciting, fun, exhausting and memorable. Day One was mostly Fantasyland and Tomorrowland with a memorable trip to Cars Land over in California Adventure. Autumn and I stayed up late that night and had fun walking around Paradise Pier, eating ice cream and joining character drawing class at the Animation Academy. Day Two we switched it up and headed south to Legoland in Carlsbad. It’s a much larger park than I expected, but I thought it was missing some of the magic of Disneyland. We spent most of the time finding spots to just play with Legos and had a really fun afternoon in the waterpark. Day Three we were back to Disneyland, where we headed left and had some fun in Frontier Land and Adventure Land. Our plan to hit Big Thunder Mountain (my favorite) early was stymied by a beehive in the train station that had the ride closed for the first hour of the day. Changing course, we made a hasty and ill-advised decision to hit Pirates of the Caribbean, where we proceeded to damage the tender psyche of our children. Carson spent most of the ride screaming, “I don’t want to get killed!”. In retrospect it’s hilarious, though at the time I was second-guessing my qualifications as a parent. The kids bounced back and we had another fun and full day in the park, capped off by a great dinner at the Big Thunder Ranch BBQ and a late night to catch the fireworks.

Serves Two or More

Three days was enough for us. We spent our final morning relaxing in the pool before heading out for one last surprise. We took a small detour into L.A. to see the Space Shuttle Endeavor at it’s new home at the California Science Center. It was incredible to see in person, and I’m looking forward to going back when they have the installation and viewing area complete.

Endeavor

The trip was a total blast. It’ll be a few years before we find our way back, but we have some great memories to tide us over until next time.

Take a look at a more photos from this trip.

For the sake of posterity, we recorded all the rides we did on our first trip:

First Day in Disneyland

  • Dumbo
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Storybook Land Canal Boats
  • Mad Hatter’s Tea Party (AKA: the “Teacups”)
  • Monorail
  • Royal Theater: Tangled/Rapunzel
  • Star Tours
  • Soaring Over California (CA Adventure)
  • Radiator Springs Racers (CA Adventure)

Second Day in Disneyland

  • Astro Orbiter
  • Pixie Hollow (meeting Tinkerbell)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Tarzan’s Treehouse
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Mark Twain Riverboat
  • Disneyland Railroad
  • Matt: Indiana Jones
  • Matt: Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln
  • Jody: Indiana Jones
  • Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree (CA Adventure)
  • Matt: Tower of Terror (CA Adventure)