June 26, 2010

One Final Thought (Carp Vacation #10)

Well, there you have it. I think I finally finished blogging about our yearly Carpinteria vacation. But, I have one last thing I on my mind.

On clear days, you can see the oil rigs off the coast of Carpinteria.

At night, they're lit up, and Tomas calls them pirate ships.

Each day we were at the beach, I thought about all those people along the Gulf Coast who have beaches that are as special to them as Carpinteria is to us. I thought of all the animal and plant life being destroyed. I thought of all the lives that will dramatically change.

Today is the 68th day of the BP oil disaster. I am disgusted, appalled, and angry.

Here is what I would like to say to BP:
I always tell my children if they made the mess, they have to clean it up. This goes for you, too. And when we go camping, we always try to leave the place better than we found it. I suggest you do, too.
And here is my plea to the other oil companies and the government:
Make sure your acts are together, and don't let this ever happen again. 

San Buenaventura Mission (Carp Vacation #9)

On our final day, we stopped by the San Buenaventura Mission. We had never seen this one, and I thought I'd take some pictures—good practice for photographing the cathedrals in Vienna next year. Be sure to notice Tomas and the freakiest votive candle we've ever seen and also what may be the world's largest Bird of Paradise flower.

Click to enlarge.

Tienda Ho (Carp Vacation #8)

This is a longstanding tradition. Our vacation would not be complete without a stop at Tienda Ho, a unique women's clothing shop in Santa Barbara. The store sells its own style of clothing made from fabrics from Southeast Asia. In my opinion, the store is incredibly overpriced except for one thing. Way in the back of the store is the $5 bin. Over the past decade, Katie has found some incredible deals in this box. And what Katie loves most is that nobody in Utah has anything like it. This year, Chloe has finally grown tall enough to find things that fit her. 

 Rummaging through the $5 bin, and once again, they scored.

The boys entertaining themselves while the girls shop

Dancing to the funky world music playing

Tomas in one of the changing rooms

 By the waterfall

Harbor Seal Preserve (Carp Vacation #7)

One morning, we got up with the sun and took a walk along the beach down to the Seal Harbor Preserve. Along the way, we looked in tide pools and picked up shells. It may have been early and I might not have been completely awake for most of the walk there, but it was completely worth it. Here's a slide show. Enjoy.

June 25, 2010

Good Eats (Carp Vacation #6)

We ate, and we ate, and we ate. Here are a few highlights.

The Palms is probably the most famous restaurant in Carpinteria, and it's been there more than a century. The big draw is that you cook your own meat. Not being a huge meat eater myself and a novice at barbecuing, I don't really see the appeal. Why do I want to pay to cook my own meal? However, I like to go to The Palms because it's tradition and it's fun to be there with the family.

Click to enlarge.
(beginning top left and going clockwise)
1. Half of the group
2. The bacon wrapped filet mignon I ordered. I know there are those 
who would be appalled at what I did to it. I prefer my meat medium-well. 
However, I forgot it was on the grill, and it turned out overly-well done. 
3. The group in front of the restaurant
4. The other half of the group
5. The palms outside The Palms—They're a historical landmark. 
6. Liam cooking his steak—The gentleman next to Liam parked himself 
in front of the grill and proceeded to give everyone one grilling advice.  

It is a universal truth that everything tastes better when you're camping. The dutch oven cobbler was out of this world. So good in fact, we convinced my parent's friends who actually made it to make it a second time. Nom, nom, nom!

The blueberry cobler was made with blueberries picked that morning.

Each Thursday, there's a fantastic farmers market in Carpinteria. All we needed was some salad fixings. But holy cow! Look what we came back with.

Amazing! However, my mom needs to invest in a new knife to
bring camping. Cutting up that much produce with something
as sharp as a tongue depressor can take a while.

It's not camping, unless you do s'mores at least once. I actually think we made them three times. This year, I finally did something I've always wanted to. I made s'mores with Reese's peanut butter cups and also with Pepperidge Farm's Geneva cookies. Now, those were some gourmet s'mores!

Tomas became quite the s'more connoisseur.
Need some help with those graham crackers? I don't know
about you, but my mother taught me not to use my teeth. I
guess her mother didn't teach her.

Katie and I have often said there are only two things Utah still needs, an IKEA and a Trader Joe's. We finally got an IKEA a while back, but we're still waiting for Trader Joe's. When we spent a day in Santa Barbara, we stopped at Trader Joe's and picked up some things for a picnic on the beach.

An epicurean picnic consisting of artisan breads, European
cheese, Italian soda, fresh fruit, and...

I have never tried these cookies before, but they seem to be the 
rage with all the food bloggers. I hear they are very 
temperamental to make, so I was happy to shell out $5 for a
package. We unanimously voted that they are very good and
wished we had bought a second package.

One afternoon, we went to a local burger joint in Carpinteria, The Spot.

There is usually a long line outside this place. Maybe everyone
was watching World Cup.

And, might I recommend a chili burger with fries?

What in the world is Katie doing in front of the liquor store looking very suspicious?

Oh... She's buying a torta, a Mexican sandwich. Some ladies at church told Katie this liquor store makes the best tortas this side of the border.  If some of the local LDS church goers are willing to risk going into a liquor store for a sandwich, it must be pretty dang good. And, yesiree, they are.

Katie assures me she only bought the torta.
However, I recommend hat, sunglasses and 
trench coat next time.

And finally, we had to stop for a dipped soft serve cone at the Foster's Freeze.

I have mastered the true way to eat a dipped cone by 
breaking open the top and scooping out the ice cream with
a spoon.

And that gives you a small taste of all we devoured while on vacation. I'm now afraid to get on a scale, but I'm sure I need to stop playing on the computer and go for a very, very long walk/run.

June 24, 2010

The Candy Man Can (Carp Vacation #5)

Another must-stop every year in Carpinteria is Robitaille's (row-bi-ties), the local candy store. The kids especially love it because Aunt Bita always gives each kid some money to buy candy.

Click to enlarge.

Each year, we devote the better part of morning to the outing because with six kids, it's always takes a while. My rule is to get something you can't buy back home. I personally like the chocolate covered honeycomb or the giant peanut butter cups. However, Tomas goes straight to the aisle stocked with the same candy found at the grocery store back home. This time, though, we found something that screamed Tomas' name. For the kid who can eat a dozen deviled eggs in one sitting, Tomas enjoyed one made out of white chocolate.

 And no, we didn't let him eat a dozen of these in one sitting.

In addition to the honeycomb, I decided to try Robitaille's mints. They were the official mints of President Reagan's inauguration, and they were served in the White House.

Yes, they're Republican mints—but mighty tasty.

We can never wait to get back to the campground before diving into our bags of candy.

Gimme, gimme, gimme. Must. Eat. Candy. Now.

Happy kids on a sugar high who now need to brush their teeth.

June 18, 2010

Photos of the Week (Carp Vacation #4)

Katie has always hated petunias—probably because practically everyone in Utah and Idaho has them in their yard. I, however, have always had a soft spot for them. They remind me of the red, white and blue ones my mom planted in front of our house in Washington when I was young. However, I do think petunias look rather sad compared to the flowers I saw growing in the yards in Carpinteria.

One morning, Tomas was game for an early walk around some of the streets near the beach. I was fantasizing which homes I would love to live in if I somehow came into a huge amount of money. I brought the camera along and photographed some of the plant life. Now that I'm back in Utah, I realize I should have photographed some of the houses, too. I guess I'll do that next time.

Click to enlarge. The colors really were that amazing.

Anyone Want a Dog? (Carp Vacation #3)

My parents and my sister have brought their dogs to the annual family Carpinteria campout for years. Since we are A) magnets for animals who need homes B) never have the guts to say "no" and  C) once again have a dog, we thought we'd try it this year. Actually, I think it was more that we didn't want to inflict our dog upon one of the neighbors, and we were too cheap to put him up in a kennel. I admit Scooter was for the most part very good. He traveled well, and his barking was overly annoying just a couple of times.

And, he is pretty cute, too. Here he is out for a walk on a beautiful Carpinteria morning.


We are now back from vacation, and this is the note I found when I came home from work that Tomas had left for me. He wrote it completely by himself in his best kindergartner spelling.

Scooter pooped in the play room.
You pick it up.
Love, Tomas

Argghh! I know a little dog who is about to find himself going for a song in the classifieds.

On the Beach (Carp Vacation #2)

Of course, we spent quite a bit of time on the beach. Here are a few of my favorite photos, followed by a slide show.

I love the look of total happiness and amazement on Tomas' face. He'd just found a shell. Everything about the beach was exciting for him.

I hope it's just a phase Liam is going through. Whenever I get the camera out, he hides or gives me a goofy face. Even though, I didn't get his whole face, I captured his eyes.

Chloe, the bathing beauty. This vacation was all about the tan.

In keeping with tradition, Aunt Bita buried the kids. Tomas wanted no part of it, and I think Liam's disappearance was more than coincidence.

And, here are the rest. The song accompanying the photos is "On the Beach" by Chris Rea, one of Katie's all time favorites and always part of our Carpinteria soundtrack. Enjoy!

June 17, 2010

I Need Another Vacation (or Carp Vacation #1)

We just spent a week on the beach camping in Carpinteria, CA, a place that is in my book pretty close to paradise. And although we had a fantastic time, the break did not have the desired effect. Unfortunately, I, in no way, feel refreshed and ready to get back to the real world. Rather, I'm tired, behind on all kinds of things, and have little desire to do much. I need an after-vacation vacation.

But today, I decided it's time to pull myself up by the bootstraps and get something done. Even though, it's not on top of the to-do list, blogging about the trip sounds like a lot more fun than mowing the yard and various other chores around the house. I'm sure it will take me several posts to cover the vacation, but here I go.

This is Carpinteria Beach, voted the world's safest beach. I don't know who awarded the title, but I don't disagree. And, I think it ranks right up there as one of the most beautiful.

You have to get your camping reservations six months in advance, and the spots can be difficult to come by. This year, my mom scored big time in reserving our favorite spot. The lifeguard tower to the side shows how close to the beach we were. At night, the sound of the waves puts you to sleep.

OK, there you have it, the first of the Carpinteria vacation posts. Now, I feel a little better that I've accomplished something. I guess I'll go tackle the lawn.