Saturday, October 15, 2011

A wonderful morning bike adventure

This morning (oops, now yesterday morning... it's late), I was feeling like I needed to get out, the weather was beautiful and I had nothing planned. I suggested to my three non-school-age boys that we head out to Deer Hollow Farm in the Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve, and they were game. I decided right away to take the bakfiets. We can bike into the preserve a back-way through mostly pleasant residential streets and then ride inside the preserve right up to the farm. If we'd driven, we would have had to find parking (difficult in the morning) and then walk the mile to the farm. The walk is nice, but the idea of focusing our time at the farm was appealing too. When we walk the mile it can take a few hours-- there's a hollow tree and a creek (and bugs, mud, sticks, etc.) that we often stop at.

The 4.3 mile ride to the farm took us about half-an-hour. I felt rather wiped out when we got to the farm, but we were all happy. Nathaniel slept the whole trip and woke up right as we were parking. Here's our lovely bike parked in front of the farm (a little hard to see, I wanted the lovely tree in the photo too):

And here's my lovely children standing by some giant pumpkins:


We found a chatty man willing to take a picture of all of us by the Luna the cow:

We also enjoyed seeing goats, sheep, chickens, roosters, and two gigantic pigs. After looking at the animals we went to the nicely shaded hay barn-- decked out with picnic tables-- and had a snack. We then headed to the pit-potties, after which Nathaniel decided he needed to nurse, so we sat down on a few fallen logs. Behind one of them I noticed a blackish bag hiding. Here is what was on the outside of the bag (I only managed a blurry photo):

Here is what was on the inside:
Handmade pig stamp.

Handmade notebook.

Joseph and I both thought it was pretty cool. When I got home, I looked up the website mentioned on the bag and read up on letterboxing. It's kind of like geocaching, except there doesn't seem to be GPS coordinates involved (instead just written directions/clues) and instead of a treasure that you take and replace, you find a rubber stamp and logbook. You're supposed to sign the logbook and then stamp your personal notebook. You're not supposed to take the stamp and you're not supposed to put other things in the letterboxes. Joseph and I didn't get this... We didn't take the cool stamp, but we did leave a little plastic frog that happened to be in the diaper bag. We didn't sign the logbook either, since we had no pen. Oh, well.
After our fun letterbox find, we filled up our water bottle and headed toward home. It was mostly a wonderfully long gentle downhill. I realized then that I was so tired upon our arrival to the farm because I'd been pedaling a gentle, but definitely long uphill! On the way home, we stopped at Trader Joe's. This was Joseph's special request. He (and all the kids) love to find Joejoe the stuffed monkey hidden in the store. When you find Joejoe, the person at the customer service booth gives you a lollipop. The boys also had fun with these things (what are they called?):
One side had "Joe". Joseph thought it was pretty neat that it had his name written on it.
The other side had scarecrows.
Joseph and Jonah also liked the stickers the cashier handed out and the coloring pages at the coloring table. Trader Joe's is definitely one cool grocery store! Here we are about to leave:
Stickers and coloring page in hand, Jonah eating his lollipop.
It took a little while-- first because it just takes time to load kids and groceries, and second because we had two people come talk to us (as in more than the usual "cool bike" comment) about the bakfiets. One guy was considering buying one for his family, knew that he could get it from My Dutch Bike in San Francisco, and wanted to know how it did on hills (just fine for anything we have around here). The other was an older lady that asked if she could take a picture. I agreed and as we put on our best smiles, she took out her purple-clad iPhone and explained that she was going to send the photos to her son who was interested in bikes. Something about this older lady nonchalantly taking and sending photos with an iPhone was kind of sweet. We'd had a lot of questions about the bike while at the farm too-- including from a lady who also knew about the shop in San Francisco. I'm thinking more and more bakfiesten are going to appear on SF bay area streets in the next few years...

Anyway, we left Trader Joe's and arrived home to our messy house (riding to a farm is a lot more fun than cleaning up from breakfast) in time for lunch and a little (sort-of) quiet time.  My father brought the big kids home from school. The afternoon passed with the usual loudness, messiness, fighting, yelling, etc. The kids also played their "30 minutes of Wii" (we use a kitchen timer), but Joshua got quite upset about having the evil machine turned off, so I (perhaps too rashly?) confiscated it indefinitely. After a little cooldown time, the four boys and I had some nice reading time on the couch.

In the evening, the four big kids had a pizza party/performance practice at church. We ended up biking there as a family-- Jonah just wanted to go out with everyone, I wanted some time to actually talk to Jeremy, Jeremy had a few things to take care of at church anyway. The two little boys fell asleep in the bakfiets-- Nat in his carseat and Jonah curled up on the bench-- and I had a "great" idea that Jeremy and I could somehow have dinner together while the big kids were at church and the little kids were asleep in the bakfiets. I rode a little bit with the boys looking for Indian take-out (Jeremy's request) while Jeremy took care of his tasks at church. I ended up with Subway and the little boys ended up waking up, but we still had a nice little picnic before gathering up the big kids and riding home.

All in all, I calculated I rode about 17 miles in the bakfiets (loaded with either two or three kids)-- not bad. Tomorrow (now, today) we have another long bike adventure planned. But that's a post for another day...

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