It Never Rains In California- Unless A Family From Seattle Is There For Spring Break (Northern Cal Pt 1)



Napa Valley- one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Have you heard? They’ve been in a terrible drought. In the month of January they had .08 inches of rain and unseasonably warm weather.

The solution to a drought? Send a family from Seattle in desperate need of warmth and sunshine for a week’s vacation. The rain will follow.

Last year for spring break, we went to the Oregon coast. It looked like this all week:


This year, following a pretty dreary winter here in Seattle that has led me to nearly overdosing on vitamin D supplements and buying myself a “happy lamp,” I decided that heading further south was the solution.

Funny thing-in the weeks before we arrived in Northern Cal it was warm. Two days after we left, the city of San Francisco, known for it’s foggy mornings and cooler temps, hit 80 degrees. The day we got there? High of 56 and raining. The highest temperature the entire week we were there? 60 degrees.

It’s a gift.

My kids didn’t really care though. There was a pool and a hot tub, so they were in it. Rain or shine. In fact, one morning they came back from the hot tub and I asked, “How was it?”

“Painful,” Parker answered.

“What do you mean?”

“The hail hitting me on the head hurt really bad.”

Jeff said, “At least you have hair to protect you.”

Plus- we are from Washington- we aren’t afraid of a little rain.

Thankfully our first full day was dry. The rain was supposed to come back the following day, so we decided to make the most of it by packing in a bunch of outdoor activities.

First up- California’s version of Old Faithful- the Calistoga Geyser.


The nice thing about this geyser is that it goes off every 5 minutes, so there isn’t a lot of standing around waiting for it to happen. The bad thing about that is that after the second time, the fact that steaming hot water is being shot 60-100 feet into the air from deep inside the molten core of the earth begins to lose its impact.

Eh, there goes the geyser again.

We moved on.

This isn’t just a geyser, however, it is also a petting farm. I got pretty excited when I saw these signs. A guard llama? Fainting goats?! How exciting!


Here is the guard llama:


It appears to be guarding its spot under the tree.

How I imagined “fainting goats:”



These goats won’t faint.

100_0695 Photo courtesy

The goats did like to fight, though. As they butted horns, Jeff started yelling “Kumate! Kumate!”

Every time I got near the fence, these two goats would go at it again.

Jeff said, “They’re fighting over you.”

I said, “Yeah, I have that effect on goats.”

One goat kicked a baby goat out of the feeding trough causing it to fall in spectacular style. I shouldn’t have enjoyed that as much as I did.

I told Parker what happened and pointed at the goat that did it. Zoe disagreed, telling me it wasn’t the same goat.

“Well all of them look the same.”

“That’s racist.”

“I can’t be racist against a GOAT!”

So after about an hour at the geyser/farm, including a picnic, we were done. We weren’t scheduled for our safari tour until 4, and it was only about 1. We decided to go to the petrified forest.

Me: We need to turn on Petrified Forest rd. Parker do you know what petrified forests are?
Parker: No
Me: It’s when old wood turns so hard it’s like rock.
Jeff: Like What Cialis does.

So we toured the petrified forest. That took about 45 minutes. We still had a lot of time to kill, so we drove back to the resort, spent 15 minutes playing ping pong and pinball. (Just call me the pinball wizard.)

We headed back up the hill to Safari West.

I have to say, this was probably my favorite part of the whole trip.

While I’m not a pet person, I love seeing the exotic animals. Our guide was entertaining, and I think the kids really enjoyed the experience.

You take a giant old jeep reminiscent of Jurassic park to tour the grounds. There is one bench seat on the top as well.

Some of the animals come right up to vehicle.


We saw wildebeests (“I’m so hungry, I just gotta have a wildebeest”), Water buffalo (“everybody’s got a water buffalo, yours is fast but mine is slow”), rhinos, antelopes of all sorts.


1538638_10152322173749089_7200453269321392577_n1483401_10152298275599089_1019736696_n Zebra!


Oh my it’s a giraffe!

If you’ll notice, in the background of the giraffe picture, there are cabins that can be rented for overnight stays. I can’t imagine how cool it would be to go to sleep with giraffes and zebras wandering around outside your door.

After the driving portion you go on a walking tour. There is a bird sanctuary area that is filled with some of the most colorful birds I have ever seen. One of the cranes thinks she’s a person, and likes to interact with you while on tour.


1965015_10152298275459089_1048692922_n Parker wasn’t so sure what to think of this.

This bird was not a fan of mine:

1897880_10152298291814089_1316944513_n“Whatchu lookin at?!?”

And then proceeded to do some sort of mating dance/fight sort of thing.

As the tour came to an end, we noticed that people were streaming in to the courtyard from the cabins. Apparently they do a nightly barbeque for those who are staying on site. We were hungry, and not allowed in, so we headed into Windsor to look for something to eat.

We ended up at Johnny Garlic’s, one of the restaurants owned by local celebrity chef Guy Fieri. The other option was his BBQ/sushi fusion restaurant. We figured this to be a safer bet.

When the kids menu arrived, I found it pretty amusing that all of the activities were Guy-centered: color in the picture of guy, see if you can answer these questions about Guy, draw your own face on an outline of Guy’s head.


The food was okay- interesting for sure. They were out of fries, though, which seemed weird for someplace that serves fries with nearly every meal. I got something called “volcano chicken” which had some sort of spicy sauce. We had ordered appetizers of deep fried artichoke hearts and mozzarella sticks with pepperoni inside of them, so by the time my food came, I was feeling a little gross.

One of Guy’s kids attends the same school as Jeff’s niece, and we hear that the Guy on TV is the Guy you’d meet on the streets of Santa Rosa. Love him or not, at least he’s genuine to who he appears to be.

We had a pretty full day for our first official day in Northern Cal. The rain was coming back, though, so the plans for the next day were going to have to be indoors…

In the next blog- Parker takes on the streets of San Francisco.