Good citizens

I was jamming it last week with writing my 2nd essay for Indigenous Education and Perspectives with this essay focussing onThe Stolen Generations and bringing light to its relevance in education. I researched The Stolen Generations and its relationship to the Sorry speech by Kevin Rudd the PM in 2008, what a speech that was and so long overdue! It was an intense essay looking at racism and discrimination and I had a so much to draw upon with the connection to the Dumpo era here in the U S of A.

So with all that writing, I needed to focus and needed to eat well and drink matcha tea and made this delicious coconut milk matcha tea in the Vitamix after leaving it on for a while – beautiful, frothy and warm! And with my lack of time dinner has been super easy with taco Tuesday and tonight’s cool soba noodle salad topped with a fresh bantam egg.

Over the weekend we went to Open House for Missys week-long science camp coming up soon and we checked out the nature lab to touch this Trans-Pecos Rat Snake – it was so friendly. As as the kids have toyed with the idea of owning a reptile I found this info sign to share with them, it will remain here on the blog for reference if they have serious thoughts of snake keeping in the future. It is quite an expensive outlay and lucky for them there is an aquarium near our place in Melbourne and they can go an visit the reptiles there or maybe volunteer to give food to the snakes.

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I found this in a binder from my daughter’s 1st-grade class – if only this was the mantra of all humans! This is why I love being with kids they know where it is at and how to behave.

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As I have been cleaning out so much stuff and getting rid of boxes of everything from fabric to books to clothes and kids stuff, I found this lovely little scrapbook that Ash made when he was in Kindergarten – it is super cute. Our friends are in the pics but I have blurred their faces as they may not want to appear here ūüėÄ respect! The kids are so cute and so young and he has captured some good times from the redwoods to the snow even with our green car!

 

Family frolics

Back with my family in Redcliffe on Sunday as we took the train from the Sunshine Coast to the new train station at Kippa-Ring, it was very exciting and so picturesque with the pineapple fields and sugar cane. Very different from the slow Caltrain back in the valley. I have been eating a lot of fish and chips and my good food diet has gone out the window but hey I only visit here once a year and this food is so good!! The walk to the beach from the Air Bnb is only 15 minutes through the back streets leading to a beautiful boardwalk along the entire beachfront.

What I enjoy is visiting with my family when I am here – here is my aunty outside her place with us and the kids with their great aunt. Every time I go to my aunty’s place I check out her collection of retro housewares and she is happy to give them away, this time the glitter seahorse caught my eye!

The kids have been wanting to go for a swim at the lagoon by the beach so why not on a beautiful Queensland sunny winters day we took them out and enjoyed more chips and a delicious fava bean burger from the Suttons Beach Pavillion.  The playground was a lot of fun with a giant pink cage and the gran and grandad enjoyed spending time outdoors with the kids where they could see them in their element.

The weekend was a lot of fun starting with a big night Friday of big Australian wines, a Shiraz or two and a delicious dinner at home with the kids. Saturday we met some friends at a local handmade market and came back for a cuppa and biscuits at our Air BnB. The market was super cool with some wonderful local designers that I loved especially a woodworker who made these stools that fold and can sit together they were so functional and beautiful in design. I am on the lookout for furniture for our house in Melbourne but I will not know what we need until we build, my hubby and I are starting a Pinterest board of ideas for when the time comes. Oh and the added bonus of this market was the food trucks and they were both vegan, so I had a vegan sausage roll which was delicious – oh the food memories I am making on this trip. My sister’s man made a beautiful farewell lunch of potato rosti with poached egg and smoked salmon, sour cream and dill that I truly enjoyed! Until next time my friends.

And to wrap up our weekend we celebrated Christmas in July with the family which was so much fun and of course, I did not eat the roast but scored the grilled barramundi, chips and salad – oh those chips again! At least I know when I go back to California I will not be eating them as I do not like fries. I drank a couple of glasses of NZ Sauvignon Blanc and felt very happy but it was a sad afternoon as I said farewell to my sister, nephew and her cat Millie, until we meet again we love you all!

 

Travels up North

Continuing our adventures in Melbourne for the rest of the week I caught up with my friends for playdates with the kids and of course. In St Kilda we had lunch at Dr Jekyll Рmy friend and I had the perfectly poached eggs with sumac and other delicacies. The kids scoffed down a lamb sausage roll. I caught up with other friends for fish and chips on Sunday and a dinner at their place on Thursday evening.

We enjoyed a TacoTuesday celebration with our good friends after a lovely chilly winter stroll to the beach to view the amazing sunset. Our dinner was enhanced with the New Zealand speciality pavlova with lemon curd and blueberries.

Later in the week, we met another friend for lunch at Supernormal – an upscale Asian restaurant in Flinders Lane. The boys enjoyed ramen and I enjoyed a super tasty lobster roll and raw kingfish and citrus sashimi and I drank the Fake Bews which was almond, pineapple and bitters which was very refreshing, I actually do miss having bitters as a drink option so I grab the opportunity when I am back home in Oz.

Oh and here is the Totoro crochet I made for my nephew! This guy took longer than I planned and was made in Adelaide, Melbourne and completed in Brisbane!! I do love the way it turned out in the end as I was a bit concerned as I ran out of grey yarn so he has black gloves on plus the grey tones change with the tail and the ears as the acrylic I was using throughout only made it to the bottom of his body.

The trip to the sunshine coast to meet the many animals Millie, the dogs Sailor and Leo and the koala. The kids had a blast together playing hide and seek in my sister’s house.

Our beach time at the Sunshine Coast is super special as the day we planned to go to Noosa – which I do not recommend even though it is so beautiful, it is packed with people and parking is hard to find. After the plan, I read that you can park at Sunrise beach and then walk to Noosa through the National Park and catch the bus back, such a cool idea for a day trip. The kids love the water so they were in for a swim, it was too cold for me!! I love the many vistas of just being at the beach and it makes me so happy to be there.

After the rain the day was spectacular and we went for lunch at the Chenrezig Institute in Eudlo, which is the hinterland up in the mountainous region of the Sunshine Coast. The energy there was just mellow after wrangling the children the time we had up there was chilled out and the lunch of a vegan shepherds pie, steamed seasonal vegetables and salad was so warming. Their temple for meditation space would have been perfect if the kids would have joined in though it looked like there was a workshop happening for the day. I would happily go back again and volunteer in the future.

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My sister and I have had such a special time together and it was wonderful to be hanging out at her pad in Buderim with a super cold pool which would be amazing in the summertime. I know the time we spend together I have to cherish but as I will be coming home next year, I can make it up over the winter to escape the Melbourne chill and enjoy the time together with my nephew.

Thursday was a big day out to Maleny Botanic Gardens and Bird World – these pictures captured the fun we had with our aviary tour and the parrots hanging out with us. The gardens were fun to wander around and provided many picture opportunities of the three cousins! The views of the Glasshouse mountains from the gardens was just the best. Oh, the female red-tail black cockatoo was a highlight for me and she just enjoyed her perch way up high observing everyone!

In the evening we went to Mooloolaba to Elixiba a plant-based restaurant and dining experience for a friends birthday. I was so excited to see a sparkler on her raw cheesecake with berries that we all tried. I had this cool colour changing cocktail called the using house-made chameleon lemonade. The food was fresh and tasty and the coco-mari a rif on calimari using coconut shreds was so moreish.

Our last day up the coast was to visit the farmers market and to enjoy a potato rosti I had only heard about and was hanging out to try. This was the spanner crab omelette with the crab caught off Fraser Island served with Asian herbs and chilli, absolutely divine and disappeared in seconds! And then it was time to say goodbye to Aunty where we took the train back to our place in Redcliffe to be with my family and enjoy some chilled out time at an Air Bnb with a highlight of Christmas in July coming up on Sunday.

 

 

 

 

Surprise food encounters

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We did a side trip to Adelaide and the pics were on my phone and I downloaded all the action today, now I can document the eating adventure we had with our family. We hit the airport nice and early for our flight to Adelaide from Melbourne and it was cancelled so we had a nice long 4-hour wait at the airport, it sucks when we could have been sleeping or watching Teen Titans at our other Air Bnb.

Anyway after exhausting all the fun stuff at Tullamarine airport including a Metalicus 90% off sale – a sad sale as they will no longer exist! I also found Pressed Juices who had the most delicious selection of juice plus many vegan and vegetarian options so I was happy. We were flying Jetstar only to change to a Qantas flight so we scored some extra food on the plane which was great. In Adelaide, we stayed at an old fire station which could sleep 8 people but it worked out as we were close to our relatives. There are my new favourite boots by the “fire hose place”. We enjoyed meeting our relatives at a cafe by the beach but it was ice cold to be anywhere on the beach so we stayed inside and enjoyed a macchiato and hot chocolate.

Oh and the cold does make me super hungry so I found this wonderful vegetarian option of beet hummus with halloumi and rocket topped with balsamic, yummo at the Grange Jetty Cafe.

We only had a couple of fun days with Grandma Jane and Grandpa Lloyd and Callie so we enjoyed as many eating opportunities as we could by visiting Sarah’s Sisters, a sustainable cafe way before its time with many vegetarian options on the menu and wine in a sunlit space by the nursery with an alpaca and chickens. I was hanging out for a salad due to the amount of junk food I have been eating whilst travelling. Missy is wearing the beginnings of a Totoro amigurumi I made for my nephew.

On our final day in Adelaide, we went out to Marion to check out the gallery and enjoy some more food with a latte and cappuccino with some yummy food before we hit the airport again. Australians really know how to make a good coffee!

Oh and our day out to the Botanical Gardens and Sugar Republic where our lunch was captured at a 24 hour ramen place called Shujinko where I enjoyed a cold ramen on a cold Melbourne day. The rest of the family had the ramen and really enjoyed it, though they always compare it to Sha La La in Mountian View where they have been spoilt. I wanted to document the many food dates we had in Adelaide and Melbourne that I had not covered as yet, ta da done!!

 

Sweet as, alright!

 

Chilling out with the family in Melbourne over the winter we wanted to enjoy the sunshine when we had the opportunity so we headed on over to a fave place I used to frequent often years ago the Royal Botanical Gardens AKA The Tan.

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The kids were complaining about all the walking we were doing so we checked out Fern Gully, once a home to the flying foxes (they have been relocated to another park outside of the city) and the Guilfoyle’s volcano, which my daughter thought was a real volcano but she was a bit annoyed to find a volcano-shaped pool. I loved the design especially the water saving plants surrounding the pool. My son enjoyed touching the sharp cactus in his Pikachu hat.

While we were at the gardens we saw a cockatoo flying around – who knows what they are doing in the city these days? The botanical garden is a picturesque place to wander around and practice taking pics with my new camera.

After the gardens, we enjoyed ramen in the city and enjoyed our anniversary gift of a trip to Sugar Republic in Fitzroy. It was the Aussie version of the Museum of Ice Cream in SF, which I have never been to it is hard to get tickets – many of my friends have been and their pics are super cool.

This was so fun with spinning the wheel of treats to score some goodies, then we wandered into sugar heaven with a bag of wizz fizz – whew way too much sugar for me. After that hit, we enjoyed a charcoal cone of soft serve ice cream with sprinkles, mmmm! I have recently quit sugar so I was a bit high after all this and then I scored an iced vovo, yummo I have not had one in ages! The massive ice cream sculptures have one of my fave ice blocks a Golden Gaytime.

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We jumped out of a giant birthday cake in a room of confetti and each room was created by a different artist which made the flow of the space really fun.

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We really enjoyed the lolly shop with all the lollies that we used to score for $1 at the milk bar. The wall of neon was super cool with many treats including fairy bread, I must say this was the prettiest neon I have ever seen and I live in the land of neon in the US of A.

 

On our exit, we enjoyed some time in the ball pit of bubblegum bubbles, where it was important to take off all your accessories otherwise they would disappear to the bottom of the pool! The kids were very excited and really enjoyed the ball pit where they told us to swim under the balls, scary stuff!!

It will be our 12th anniversary on July 23rd and we will be on either side of the world so our celebration was to enjoy our time together with the family at Sugar Republic.

The kids were swinging in the fairy floss room, it would have been so good to get some fairy floss too as part of the sugar high.

 

We had such a fun time eating sugar and getting the sugar high with the sweet of the day musk sticks!¬†The cool thing about Sugar Republic was that it was at a warehouse where the Macrobertson factory once stood back in the day and there was a wonderful story about “white city” that once stood in the streets of Melbourne – the home of Freddo Frog and Cherry Ripe. In the story, I liked how the owner of the factory wore a white suit and hat and rode around in a carriage pulled by two white ponies.

 

Chicken sitting

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This week we are chicken sitting, and we are just loving having a couple of bantam hens in the back garden eating bugs and wandering around. We have a makeshift cage out the back made out of a dog run, and they come inside at night time, just to be safe away from those criminals of the night Рthe racoons. I have heard some horror stories or racoons and chickens, not good at all. This little cutie is Nova, and she belongs to another friend in the chicken project, so we are taking extra care of her.

Sunday we met our friends from Oakland in the San Francisco Botanical Gardens and I just love this place. Unfortunately, it was full of people looking at their phones participating in a worldwide Pokemon Go tournament. So we walked carefully on the paths making sure we did not run into the Pokemon Go peeps not paying attention to where they were going.

Our first stop in the garden was the Austalia and New Zealand section of plants, and it was like being at home, so we added a lyrebird sound effect to make it seem like we were back in Oz. The ferns were amazing, and the Lilly pilly (bottom centre picture) was in bloom, and they looked delicious and apparently they can be eaten! It really made me homesick and being among native flora really makes you feel like you are there.

We wandered over to the neighbours across the meadow to find a wonderous redwood grove, and it felt just like hiking in the redwoods. The redwood sorrel was in full bloom after all the rain, and the meadow nearby was filled with little white daisy-like flowers.

We kept on coming back to the Australian section each time finding something new like the native Holly which was funny. The kids said look, Holly, this is you! Plus we saw old man Banksia in its stages of growth with its spiky leaves.

The kids were hanging for ice cream as the botanical garden was not as exciting for them as it was for the adults. We then found the twirl and dip ice cream truck across the way and went on over to the Shakespeare garden for an afternoon of flowers and sonnets, it makes me want to read some Shakespeare in my spare time.

Back at school/work today and the kids in the kindergarten class are ready for their next project Рbees! It is going to be super exciting with their first exploration of drawing their impression of what a bee looks like to them in their art class this afternoon.

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Later in the afternoon, I wandered over to City Hall to check out the art exhibition from our Arts Focus kids, and I found Ms Hollys beautiful tapestry purse. I will have to find out how she made this little beauty!

Friends, Food and Family

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A whole week of planning with the kids as my third teaching period for University commenced. To start the week off, I said to the kid’s let’s visit my friend who manages a book store to stock up on your fave author David Walliams. The USA does not get his book releases as much as Australia. So we did that and went to the cinema on cheapo Monday at the Nova to see Chicken People. We loved it as we are all a bunch of chicken lovers and enjoyed the quirkiness of the chicken obsessed at a chicken show in Ohio and Nashville!

I had to balance some study time in with catching up with friends and their kids for the school holidays. There is nothing like art time and then playtime for the kids and wine by the Yarra River.

I started two units, so I had to devote some time to carving into the work for this week, so I spent a morning in and took the kids shopping in the city and on the way back we found a park to play in complete with a flying fox.

The big day last week was quite random as I wanted to check out the National Trust House property of the Rippon Lea Estate as it is Aunt Prudence’s house from the Ms Fishers Murder Mysteries series that I love so much! The bonus of visiting Rippon Lea Estate is there was a fashion exhibit Night Life focusing on clothing on the 1920s-30s!!

Oh my,  I had such a fun time with my friend checking out the clothing and accessories worn around Melbourne in the high times of partying and living it up in this fabulous city. I loved this era in fashion especially with the bias cut dresses and the beaded dress silhouette including the accessories!

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On our way back to the train station I found this very famous restaurant Attica in the streets of Ripponlea. I had only seen this on a show on Netflix and wondered where it was in Melbourne Рthe chef is very innovative and forages for a lot of bush food in the dishes and had me glued to the television when I watched it, and it did make me yearn to come back home.

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Oh and the dramas of public transport – we made it to North Melbourne, and one of the kids wanted to get off the train to go to the toilet, so we did with only two stops to our destination. Next train disappeared off the schedule, and the next thing over the loud speaker was we have problems with the train this evening we do not know when they will be running again, now this was 4 pm on a Thursday night – peak hour rush just on the horizon. So what happens next was this disjointed plan to get back to our place via the tram with everyone else leaving the city sardine packed into them as they travelled¬†by. It was a difficult choice to make especially with having the kids with me, so we just walked to the 57 tram near the Victoria market and waited… and waited… it was two and a half hours later, and we were finally home. My phone was dead we got back to the house and plugged in to see what was happening with my dinner plans. So, of course, everyone else was in the same situation, so we just stayed in had a bitch session about how crap it was and had some pizza and wine and catch up such a way to end a Thirsty Thursday!

FriYay and I spent most of the day studying except for lunchtime when I met a friend for lunch in the city, and we went out to Lygon Street for dinner in the evening with my sister in law, her hubby and the cousins. The kids had already had fun though exhausting time with their cousins playing all day, so we had pizza and gelato and headed on home.

Another friend catch up on Saturday with a very old friend of mine from way back when and we went out for Laksa to a favourite haunt of ours from back in the day, the Laksa King and it still tastes amazing! After lunch, we wandered around the hood to check out the million dollar houses and matching fancy cars.

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It was back to school for the kiddos this week in Melbourne, so we had our goodbyes to the cousins and the animals at their house. The menagerie of cats, chickens and dogs was enjoyed by everyone. I will miss my friends and family, but I know I will be returning real soon and knowing this does not make leaving Australia to feel all that bad.

Jammed pack family fun

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My final week in Queensland with my family was filled with so much action interspersed with food which I love! We began our relaxing weekend with my sister and her crew coming to stay with us at our Air BnB we enjoyed a Sri Lankan feast with lots of wine for dinner and the kids enjoyed their fidget spinner collection and enjoyed the challenges of timing them.

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We spent Sunday at my parent’s place and the kids watched a movie after a lunch of tasty pastries from the bakery and took some fun photos in the garden.

Monday we went on a family trip with my uncle into the city to see the Marvel exhibit at the Gallery of Modern Art AKA GOMA – it was a super fun exhibit and displayed behind the scenes costumes and sets but the kids just zoomed through it! For lunch we went to this delicious gyoza place for a sushi burrito for me covered in wasabi pea powder, yummo! The kids loved their doughnuts and ice cream by Mr Fitz.

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Tuesday we enjoyed a family pub lunch for my aunts birthday celebrating with cake and balloons, scoring some super photos with balloons as props!

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Wednesday my sister found this great German guy who custom creates bikes as well as hires bikes to visitors on the peninsula for $25 per hour – Street Art Cycles come highly recommended and as it is an excellent bike riding destination, this was a perfect score for a day trip and we rode 20 kilometers in total for the day. The kids were really enjoying the 24″ frames and really took off riding on this dedicated pedestrian / cycleway parallel to the beach front! I rode this Breezer bike called Uptown designed by a mountain bike pioneer Joe Breeze whose history in biking began in Marin, San Francisco (so random and so fun).

We also found some local cats of the neighbourhood that were just like our dearly departed. Monty the cat across the road was just like Yeti the Himalayan Persian who belonged to my parents. And on our side of the street was an orange cat just like our lovely boy Mack who enjoyed pats from strangers.

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And my sisters beautiful black cat Millie gave us a bit of a scare when she disappeared for hours and we found her stuck behind the washing machine!

Towards the end of the week I realised I really had to get out and enjoy the sunny mornings and find some local wild life – I found some rainbow lorikeets on my morning walk / run having a party at a local mansion by the beach in this amazing tropical native garden. My friend Markus came to visit for lunch and we enjoyed another meal of fish and chips and went to find Gollums door on a tree by the beach. My last Sri Lankan meal of rice sticks, pan rolls, vadas with salad was enjoyed and it was such a treat!

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Friday came around and it was peoples day at the show so we went together with my nephew and enjoyed the pastel chickens, checking out sideshow alley with all the crazy clowns and toys and riding the ferris wheel yet again, I was a bit nervous of heights but I had to be brave as I was with Mr Ash and mum had to ‘make it work’.

Saturday we planned for our sausage sizzle and bought a variety of meat sausages from The Meat-ting Place – an organic butcher who could tell me where they sourced all their meat. The bonus was that they also had fish and I found Wild Barramundi from the Northern Territory which was perfect cooked in a foil packet with herbs and spices on the BBQ.

Sunday was our final “together” day where we went out for a day trip into BrisVegas to ride the free CityHopper ferry and eat some delicious Greek street food at Zeus Cafe in Southbank. We caught ferry down to the place where I moved to when I first left home and wandered the streets of New Farm before we went to New Farm Park with the kids. They loved it there and so did we, as we enjoyed the big old Jacarandas and the way the playground was built with a Strangler Fig!

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Before long it was my last morning walk on the beach where I said goodbye to the pelicans and our time in the peace and quiet of the Redcliffe Peninsula. I have to say it was an enjoyable couple of weeks with my family and catching up with friends!

The Pinnacles on Earth Day 2017

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Another weekend away this time with the Camping Crew from our elementary school. We have a super team of Camping organisers at our school and they found this great camp location the Pinnacles National Park on the weekend of Earth day. We were warned that it would be busy this weekend but I did not predict the crowds we experienced on Saturday. Earth Day coincided with National Park week which meant that it was free to visit the park so it was packed, lucky for us we had a group camping reservation for 80 of us adding to the crowd!

We had visited the park in March 2013 with our camping buddies and the only thing I really remember from the trip was that our 2000 Honda Civic broke down on the way home. I tracked down video footage of what it was like exploring the caves back in 2013 with the kids so small! And home from the Pinnacles is close to a 1.5-hour drive and 90 miles (144 km) away we had to tow our car back home Рthank goodness for AAA. Looking at a map of Australia Рit is a similar drive amount from Melbourne to Lorne, and from what I remember we camped there too (B.K. Before Kids) in the rain.

It was just three of us exploring the caves this weekend as the older one stayed with his friend at the campground with the other families. Missy was very excited to see the inside of the caves and explore with her headlamp and of course, it needed batteries! Anyway, we powered on in the dark for moments in time until we came out of the tunnels and back out into the daylight after being in the caves, we all enjoyed exploring the caves with moss covered rocks and hearing a water fall, that I could not see.

Pinnacles National Park unique rock formations were created from a volcano which eruped 23 million years ago. The movement of the earth created talus Рbroken rock fragments that have collected over the years to make the caves. It was crazy to look up and see a massive boulder held up by an arrangement of rocks below it.

It was the perfect hiking day but there were so many people on the trails as well so we went back. We wandered a bit more and we ended up taking a loop turn back to the entrance. On the way back to camp, we did wander by this mini cave that Missy worked out that birds lived in by the amount of poop residue on the ground.

The rock formations are like pieces of nature art with their colours and textures. I especially loved this rock with the coloured lichen of yellow, orange and green. This rock looks like a dinosaur mouth next to Missy who was excited to have found another small cave.

The photo opportunities were endless at the park and unfortunately, the sky was a bit overcast which was a shame as the rocks would be amazing with a blue sky behind them. The colours and formations of the rocks were amazing. As we were camping we hung out at the pool afterwards where a few kids were brave enough to go for a swim in a cold pool. It was hot enough for a t-shirt and skirt but not hot enough for a dip in a cold pool for me!

 

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Scooting around the campground
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The potluck area and the other group camp where we saw California quails

 

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Our group campground hangout

 

Such a beautiful spring weekend to be away and enjoying a National Park on Earth Day 2017 and hanging out with friends from school. It is always a perfect way to relax as the kids entertain each other and the adults are free to chill out and do whatever.