Bee-yoo-tiful

Before school started this year, we squeezed in one last summer trip out west to California. We started in San Francisco and drove down the Pacific Coast Highway to Irvine. I don’t know why everyone thinks San Francisco is full of hipster-artsy-weirdo types; it is not like we saw a group of interpretive hula hoop dancers performing to tambourine music in the park. Oh wait.

HulaHoopers

[Note: that picture is blurry because I was worried if I got too close they would sense my incredible hula hooping talent and try to steal me away.]

The roadtrip was fun. We saw family and friends, and also, gigantic snorting elephant seals:
ElephantSeals
They were smelly and made obscene noises and fought constantly. I am talking about the seals, not the family and friends we saw. Just to be clear.

The hubz and I had done this road trip nearly a decade ago, right after I took the bar exam. That time we stopped at every charming coastal town along the way, drank wine, stared at the ocean, and wandered through boutiques and galleries with nothing but disposable income and free time. I knew the trip would be different this time with the kids in tow – less wine, more whine (ba dum, ching!) – but I couldn’t wait for them to see the coast. Because don’t all 4- and 6-year-olds appreciate scenic natural beauty? Answer: no. No, they do not.

I spent the first hour or two of our drive demanding calmly suggesting that they look out the window and enjoy the view. Here is a good example of the scenery:
Binky
That is a picture taken high above the ocean, while the marine layer rolled in over the water and melted away as it hit the mountains in the morning sun. The kids did a nice job of faking it, but they were not impressed. (And yes, that is a fake binky in my daughter’s mouth. The kids entertained themselves by pretending to be babies and “baby talking” for most of the drive, which did not drive me insane at all.)

Here is some more beautiful scenery from our drive:
Waterfall
You can just make out a tiny, thin waterfall splashing down onto a pristine beach, near turquoise ocean waters crashing into beautiful, rugged rock formations. Did my kids like that amazing scene? Sure, for about two seconds, and then they saw this:
Tunnel
That is a drainpipe/tunnel. They ran through that thing, laughed, made fart noises, giggled, and were thrilled to be running through a huge rusty pipe.

So after the tunnel o’ fun, I backed off and let them enjoy the car ride however they wanted. And along with enjoying the view and having uninterrupted conversations with the hubz (what?!), I was able to appreciate that my kids were cracking each other up in the backseat of our rental car for mile after mile after mile. They were whispering, and giggling, and saying totally naughty things, and making up silly games, and it was beautiful.

Not as beautiful as that freaking waterfall, but still pretty good. And now they’re back to school and I miss them like crazy. Even the baby talk.

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Overrated

Last week I took my kids to see the famous smelly corpse flower at the National Botanical Garden.

The trip from the ‘burbs took us an hour door-to-door, which included 15 minutes of waiting in line outside while it was 4,000 degrees with 9 million percent humidity. By the time we were almost in, the only thing keeping the kids from acting like wild animals was the promise that this flower was going to smell like the worst thing they could possibly imagine. My daughter asked me very earnestly if it would be “worse than a poop and vomit bubble,” and I said, “WELL OF COURSE.”

And then we overheard this conversation between a guy standing in line and a Botanical Garden worker:
Guy: “So this thing must be pretty stinky, huh?!”
Worker: “Nah, not really. There are so many people.”
Guy: [Stunned silence.] “Uh, what? It’s supposed to smell like dead bodies. And why does it matter how many people are here?”
Worker: “Yeah, it’s not really THAT bad. And with all the people around, it just doesn’t smell as much. I don’t know, it sort of dissipates or doesn’t make as much smell during the day or something.”

So to recap, this 10-foot-tall uncomfortably phallic looking plant that is plastered all over the intrawebs gets a little shy around crowds. I am pretty sure no one ever mentioned that to me.

Once we finally got up close to the thing, sure enough, it did not smell at all. My kids told me that they thought they could smell something stinky, but I’m pretty sure it was just all the sweaty tourists.
Titus Anum

Which reminds me: what the hell happened with the cicadas? I will tell you what. Nothing. I did not see one all summer long. Back in the spring I read article after disgusting article about the impending East Coast invasion, describing how the cicadas would take over the East Coast, steal our children, ruin our crops, and enslave us, AND NOTHING HAPPENED.

So I am grumpy about a not-smelly-enough stinky plant, and also about missing an invasion of noisy, creepy insects. Perhaps I need a nap. Or perhaps YOU do, DC, with your nature-hype machine.

Tomorrow it’s supposed to be beautiful out, and I’m taking my kids to the movies. So there.