Nothing like a holiday!

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Now we are on holidays and it is so good to sleep in and catch up with so much stuff that has been waiting to be done such as getting rid of stuff for our move! So far I have cleaned out the sewing room but I still do not have a cupboard’s worth of fabric, hey I could be here up to another year so I have to keep some fabric to keep me occupied in my spare time!

Yesterday we did a coop clean out with another 4H family and we came home covered in dust. It was so much fun to see the chickens again, Ruby even got to go on a walk with a chicken leash ūüėÄ Now their coop is super clean complete with an indoor dust bath made from play sand and diatomaceous¬†earth to help keep the feather mites at bay.

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Saturday I went to yoga after weeks and it was a brilliant start to the weekend with my idea of cleaning my house I may as well cleanse my body too with some hot yoga! The spring flowers are starting to pop up but with the current weather with overnight lows of 2-4 degrees, I only see it in the sunshine during the day.

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These lovely watercolour pictures are created with salt on the watercolour to create the sky in the background. This was a discovery for me as I have not had much experience with watercolour. Our art teacher worked on planet paintings with the kids and these were my favourites with the bottom on looking like Salvador Dali.

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Wednesday we had wandering time in the chapel and the kids worked on an exercise of what feelings arise when you look at particular colours and this is what happens when you give a 1st-grade girl the colour brown.

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These made great gifts though next time I will wrap them individually on cardstock so they do not tangle plus they need to be made long so the string can get over the child’s head. In the end one was so small it went on one of the kindergartens¬†stuffies!

A quick little Valentine gift

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With Valentine’s day around the corner, I had a bit of a task on my hands to make last-minute valentines for my Kinder and 1st-grade students. So here is a quickie tutorial on making these cute little wooden bead heart necklaces.

Supplies needed: a stash of wooden beads – 25mm (about 1″), watercolour paint, brushes, skewers, a tall mason jar, sharpie, concreters string (from OSH) and Mod Podge.

Paint your beads all the colours of the rainbow using a watercolour wash on each bead, use a skewer to hold the beads in place. When the paint is dry draw a heart with sharpie and seal with mod podge on aluminium foil. The beads are ready to be strung and given to the kiddos as little Valentine gifts from their teacher! A super cool and somewhat quick project, I did have help with quality testing from my 9-year-old daughter – lucky!

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This is a super cute kinder card my co-teacher came up with using tissue paper squares, glue and then cutting the card to make a card for their parents.

These are observational watercolour drawings made by the 1st-grade class for a card for their parents Рsuch beautiful watercolours created.

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This was another kinder card using sequins, a sticker and a heart doily – I really love seeing what the kids make when given the opportunity to craft.

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This is an invitation for making the paper plate heart sewing with yarn craft for the 1st-grade class. All you need is some yarn, paper plates prepped with a heart shape and a hole punch and yarn needles. This is the perfect craft to practice sewing with a large needle and ready punched holes.

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And sewing last week with my volunteer class at Stevenson Elementary was making felt emoji keyrings – featured is one make by a 5th grader. We precut the circle and the kids can embellish whatever emoji they like from our emoji poster for ideas or create their own.

And I thought last week was pretty quiet with the 100th day of school – the Kinders bought in 100 of different¬†things like coins, seeds, Perler¬†beads, pom poms and these two with beads and little tiny felt houses. I remember when I did it with my kids it was 100 buttons stuck on some cardstock, maybe I was too overwhelmed with the two kids to be super creative at the time ūüėČ

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Again the amazing ramen recipe from Minimalist Baker and this time with a poached egg and seaweed – an absolute favourite at my place each week, especially in the winter.

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This is the Japanese Pizza from 101 cookbooks with a watermelon radish salad with a side of chanterelles and homemade miso mayo drizzled over the top – such a divine meal for the mushroom lover.

And I thought last week was pretty quiet – checking over all of this it seemed like quite a busy week for me, oh and I got some sewing done on the weekend too as I was inspired by some love bird fabric I found at FabMo. It is so good to sit at my sewing machine again ūüėÄ we have a break from school/work next week so time to organise the study/sewing room and do some sewing.

 

Relaxation at last

It is no wonder my lack of sleep is catching up with me now Рit all started with staying up each night finalising my Case Study for my final assignment for the teaching period. Now that I am done this week it is such a weight lifted and I feel free for a month and I can catch up on other things that I have left behind!

The fun last week was the Super Blue Blood Moon which we woke up for at 5:30am on Wednesday morning – it was very early but so worth it just to see the red moon – incredible! I have pictures from the NASA Live coverage plus a couple of pictures I took with my phone camera and you can see the tiny dot in a sea of black!

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Thursday we had week 3 of Arts Focus and it was embroidery and fleece pillows with a button and as our class has been working so well and completing their projects, my co-lead came up with the button tree blankie so the kids can have practice sewing buttons!

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I was back at work on Friday morning and the kids found a freshly hatched monarch butterfly drying in the sunshine, it was just beautiful to experience – you can see the cocoon just above in the bush.

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Come Friday the opening of the Community School of Music and Art School show was on display and work by Miss H was there so I dashed in to take a pic of it. This is her second piece on display with the CSMA over the last year and hopefully, we get her peacock pastel drawing back from the school soon.

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Saturday was a Ride with Lenny the Mountain View Mayor and Safe Mountain View and Great Streets were there to help out on the day and I found peeps who love Public bikes and here is mine in red, Janet’s in white and Tracy’s in Green – looking very Italian! We are all bike advocacy folks who enjoy our commuter bikes ūüėÄ

Sunday we finally had a family day of relaxation at the beach and enjoyed a small amount of time at the beach with a walk and a dip in the icy cold Pacific Ocean, it felt so good to be burying my feet in the sand and grounding with the earth.

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The kids were hungry so we wandered to downtown Santa Cruz and it was so quiet and lovely – maybe because the Superball/bowl was on and everyone was partying with their big screen TVs and dip? Anyway, we were out and about and found this brunch place right at the end of the main drag with these delicious poached eggs on a couple of muffins with avocado and hollandaise sauce with a pot of Japanese green tea – now that is what I like and thank you, Santa Cruz, for being so cool!

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Lulu Carpenter’s was a very lovely cafe with outdoor seating both on the main drag and out the back in a courtyard with a bunch of tables in the middle with students working away on their computers – I was glad not to be one this weekend! The range of teas was just divine and I really enjoy a good cup of tea I even had a decent cup rather than a mug to drink my tea which is refreshing for a cafe in America.

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And for our next visit to Santa Cruz, the Museum of Art and History looks like fun – we missed an event on yarn bombing, these guys are speaking my language!!

Arts with some crafts

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Yes, we can be bigger together, and it was such a big week of amazing art and time with incredible talented children! My friend, a ceramic artist, volunteers with our school and made this beautiful display of student work inspired by the book BIG by Coleen Paratore.

In addition to the ceramic works here are a few of my faves at the show Рat tribal mask made in the 3D class, a dragon made in the materials class and a picture on wood in the photography class. Of course, there was so much more art I loved, but I was too busy chatting with friends and socialising to get more pics!

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Thursday was the second arts focus class, and our amazing class of lots of enthusiastic sewers made some beautiful octo-pie from yarn.

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This talented 5th grader made a super cool cat hat out of fleece that I will feature in the art show.

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Another of young student made her octopus with help braiding from a 5th grader.

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This is an extra project made by a 5th grader who chose to be in sewing РI am so happy to see such creative and talented sewers ready to work with a needle.

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In my kinder class, the kids are working on ideas for a dollhouse and this is what they came up with for the kids working with blocks, and they have included their little dolls in the scene too. This is a wonderful way to explore architecture.

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These two rascals enjoyed chicken time on Monday with the yin and yang chickens Luna and Snowflake.

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And I am counting the time until my oven is fixed – the heating element broke last Thursday, and since then I have been trying to get it fixed when some clowns said they would charge $400 to fix it when the part alone is $70 now that is extortion. So my hubby said¬†he could fix it for me though let’s see how that unfolds, till then I have to be creative with the sandwich grill as I used that to grill the fish for Taco Tuesday today.

Anyway here is our delicious wild salmon rice bowl from Monday night as I wanted something easy for a Monday and a rice cooker is an excellent option of cooking while making something else Рlike the crispy salmon skin and salad.

 

A four day week of busy-ness

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These two little animals in their groovy little house were made by the Kinders with their these Magna tiles to play with on the light table. They are so colourful, and I love seeing the creations made by the kids. Kindergarten is such a fun age to be in the classroom.

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Other fun prep ideas with the salad in a jar taken to another level by storing it in the IKEA jars that you can have a fresh salad on hand for lunch or even when you are making a quick dinner over the weekend.

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Thursday came around all too quickly and the second session of arts focus began! I was teaching with minimal instruction this time as we have dedicated volunteers for each table group. The kids made a stellar effort on both of their first-week crafts of a pincushion and a fleece hat complete with embellishments. I left the class thinking that went so well, and how great it is to reflect on the first session. We examined what went wrong and how to improve it for the next time (it does help we have more 5th grade kids!) I planned to get the kids into working their projects as soon as possible with minimal direct instruction on the rug.

These little wooden people were made with our art teacher at Ventana for the children’s story workshop where this character represents themselves for a personal narrative they will be writing. I love how they have come out, and even the one in blue to me looked like a grandma, but it is the persona of the little girl in the story with a swimsuit on and a swimming cap and just super cute!

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Friday I went to work and helped with the kids in 1st grade as one of the grandparents Nonna is helping the class make this fantastic quilt for the auction prize from their class. They have made hand prints, and she was getting the kids to place the border around the quilt from the scraps. It is so detailed, and Nonna is one talented quilter – I am quite excited to see the process directly from a professional. She has made the continents on a sea of blue in the centre which took ages to piece together! One trick she showed me when carrying her quilt back home was to use a pool noodle to wrap the quilt in – such a cool idea.

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Thursday was a big day for my hubby and my daughter who became a part of Russian history at Fort Ross for an overnight field trip. They both had night watch with 2am for the little one whose name was¬†Paraskov’ia Kulika and she was a Gardner. My hubby was a clerk at the store, and he traded goods to all the workers. They both came back Friday quite tired, but we did go out and catch up with friends for a birthday that evening.¬†

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Then came the weekend and¬†I was studying and trying to focus on doing a decent amount of work. We enjoyed time out with friends on Friday, and after study on Saturday, I like to go meet friends at the park and take the kids to play. Sunday came, and we went to see.¬†Mary and the Witch’s Flower by¬†Hiromasa Yonebayashi – famous for Howl’s Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke and Ponyo.¬†We went to enjoy the exquisite detailed Japanese animation. The story was lovely, and my son really enjoyed it so much it is now his second favourite film with¬†The Lego Movie for the number one position.¬†I highly recommend this movie for its rich animation and for the fun and original story inspired by the book The Little Broomstick by Mary¬†Stewart, plus it has cats in it!

Here comes the rain again

It was lovely to see the rain last week even though it was inside recess and I did not get to go out of the classroom to enjoy the fresh air of winter. The highlight was Thursday when I saw the sunshine at last which made me realise I probably would not enjoy endless overcast days without the sun!

With the kindergarten class, I work with I enjoy watching the kids interact during curiosity¬†time – a time where they get to explore materials and create little stories with each other. We were lucky enough to have a light table in the room and I remember when I was at the Portland children’s¬†museum and saw these Magna tiles on the lightbox it was just beautiful. Unfortunately, this lightbox needs a bit of a fix and we did not enjoy the light shining through these!

The scene above of the forest animals arranged in their territories was created by M and I love to see what she comes up with every day Рthere is even a bit of moss in the scene and the wooden circles make the best materials to create stories with for the kids.

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Thursday began the show at Mountain View City Hall where we hung the pieces for the art show which is running until January 26th, the range of work is incredible from the ceramics to the weaving and dying to photography and theatre. Our school is so lucky to have such a wonderful program for the kids to enjoy. We introduced a couple of new projects in sewing class this session an emoji keyring and a yarn octopus. The projects went well with most of the kids giving a personality to their emoji and the yarn octopus had a lot of braiding so the kids who could not braid were a bit stuck with this one. The quilt was also a new design creating community amongst the kids and switching out pieces to sew to create the 9 square pattern plus my co-lead kept track of each square so that the kids could embroider their initials on the square they made, even the leads embroidered their initial in the center, see the T and the G.

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Because of the rain, the kids wanted to have ramen and I flat out refused as I could not be bothered to go downtown to try and find parking in amongst all the tech heads who invade our downtown during the week. It is great for the business of the restaurants but I just cannot be bothered to wait in line for dinner and listen to a bunch of people talking about themselves. Anyway enough of my rant about downtown Mountain View, there are many people who love it for this energy but after work, the last thing I want to do is wait for ramen in the rain amongst a bunch of self-centred geeks. So I promised the kids I would make a vegan ramen and my fave is the Minimalist Baker vegan broth and we just add whatever we have in the fridge as the toppings. This has some mushrooms, radish, broccoli, capsicum and tofu and it was just divine. The plan is to make a big pot of it and have it in big Mason jar ready to heat up and add the Miso and the veggies, super easy weeknight meal.

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The other tasty dinner was a riff on the Japanese pizza I made last week using egg, cabbage and flour on the cooked vegetables and bake this in the oven for around 30 minutes at 375 degrees and there’s dinner a frittata (of sorts) with a ready-made salad. The leftovers are a perfect addition to a sandwich with some mayo – delish!

Stepping into the New Year

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The first week back got off to a good start with a package arriving from Australia from my sister with some super cool prezzos¬†for the kids and the best surprise of all a pair of shoes from when I was in Grade 9! These shoes are vintage, they were from my mums family – either my nan or aunt which makes them even more special. They are just beautiful and are such a work of art in shoe design, I tried them on, and they were just like a Cinderella slipper way too small and too tight for my now flatter sole feet compared to when I was a youngin! So, for now, I will keep these shoes on show in my house as a piece of art from back in the day to remind me my love of shoes began a very long time ago ūüėÄ

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Last week I also began my 2nd half of the school year at my work as a Teacher Assistant at Ventana School covering for a maternity position until the end of the school year. I will be working with two amazing teachers in the Kindergarten and 1st-grade classrooms and I am so happy to be working with the kids too, they are just so sweet. I have forgotten how kids at these ages enjoy hugs and spending time with their teacher and in the classroom. In the Kinder class, one of my favourite things is the light table, and the kids were making up all sorts of wonderful stories with these little glass pebbles. I have to say a Reggio Emilia classroom is certainly a direction I would love to work in for the future.

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For the 1st grade classroom, there are rocks to explore and a glass container of mosses and lichen with lots of twigs and sticks, stones and many natural materials to use for when the children are creating stories. It is amazing what they come up with when you talk to them about what is happening in their creations.

The beautiful bead mobile on the left was created by the parents and the students with their intentions for the school year as a Back to School night activity. In the centre of the class the children created this branch, wire and bead mobile, I just cannot believe that I am working in a place with such an appreciation for nature and exploring – sometimes the serendipity of life takes you in the direction where you are meant to be!

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Going back to work full time for the next few months has also got me thinking about food planning a bit more and tonight I made a broccoli soup from Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Soup book, the base for Vegan Ramen from Minimalist Baker and tonight’s dinner a rice and vegetable casserole. Plus my neighbour who is moving back to her amazing remodelled house has cleared out some jars¬†from IKEA, and they¬†are perfect for stashing a kale, mustard green and watermelon radish salad for the week and these jars fit perfectly in the fridge.

Last week I made this incredible Japanese Pizza Okonomiyaki from 101 Cookbooks as we scored a massive cabbage in our Imperfect Produce box and this is a perfect way to use up all that cabbage (I also have a small experiment of Sauerkraut happening in the dungeon).

So between organising some delicious meals for this week and¬†food prep over the weekend, I wrote my second assignment for this teaching period creating a folio of resources for children with certain behaviours in the classroom. It feels good to have written my draft, and it is due next week, so I had better get into gear and start proofing this before I lose another weekend studying away! Not long now until I start the 3rd assignment which will be a case study in support children’s behaviour – whew, take a breath or two. In another 5 weeks and this subject will be over and I have a break for a couple of weeks. I have to say I am thankful for the Nintendo Switch and Just Dance to get me out of my study room and dancing in the lounge room with my family, it is such a great relase and excellent exercise!

Two O 1 8 make it great!

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Looking through the lens of last year made me realise that we all just carry on with our lives and make the most of the year even though there may be sh*t happening on the periphery. 2017 was off to a dodgy start but then with how everything panned out in the end life really kicked off into full motion and things are now moving along!

What makes me happy are these chickens! Who knew that I would end up being a chicken lady who absolutely adores the personalities of these little ladies. We visited them for Christmas day, and we had some kombucha scoby treats for them that they truly enjoyed. The stress these little ladies release is just the best, so when we move home, I am planning to have a small coop with a couple of ladies in the yard!

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Thankful for these Peaches as they have just rolled with the last 4 months of Mama working full time and juggling study fitting in family time when I can. This year is a plan for more of a work, study, life and dancing balance – hey if family time is stretched where we cannot get out of the house we have the Nintendo Switch and Just Dance 2018 to get us all up and about in the lounge room. Quality family time, after all, combining the love of the Nintendo Switch (purchased in Australia) who possessed my family with Zelda.

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We wrapped up the year with a fantastic spread of hummus and pita chips, kale chips, home cooked pizza (Ken Forkish’s dough), salsa and tortilla chips, vegetable lasagne and salad. For lunch, we enjoyed my hubby’s¬†homemade bread, chips and these tasty little goat cheese mini quiches made with my fave dough from A Year of Pies. Missy rolled my dough and put it in muffin tins. I added the filling of goat cheese and leaves or zucchini and gouda, I have to remember for next time to grease and flour the muffin tins for an easier release of the quiche but all in all they looked so good on the table and were quite a treat. We made 32 and have a few left over for lunch this week at work, so that is perfect. Our NYE was a relaxed night with our friends from Oakland coming by after lunch and our neighbours and friends joining us later for pizza, it was a late afternoon and evening of fun dancing, gaming and chatting with old friends and new.

Heres to a year of good health, delicious food, family time, friend time and lots of dancing!

Adventure to Joshua Tree NP – Day 3

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Our stay at the Joshua Tree was wonderful as we were at the Atomic Tiki Ranch in Yucca Valley with its incredible collection of mid-century furniture and collectables with a tiki twist. We loved playing the record player with plenty of classic Hawaiian records to transport us to Hawaii and dance the hula around this super cool party house. Space was huge in the house with a dressing room in the master room with wall to wall mirrors and a huge closet. I imagine back in the day you could get dressed in there for your cocktail party and check your outfit, do your makeup and look fancy! We enjoyed the details in the kitchen with their collection of vintage cups and plates and its original oven in primo condition. I could see that a lot of love was put into this house to create this space and as I am a big fan of the mid-century furnishings and decor this was the perfect place to stay!

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Our last hike in the park was a small low key hike or two, and the weather was Blowing Sand and 4ňöC during the day in the sunshine. We thought it should be alright in the sun?!? But no, the weather was windy, the wind was cold, so we had to put on our hoods our jackets were zipped up, and I also had a beanie on! Which is what is happening in this pic with my hood over my head to keep warm. The kids were active and jumping all over the rocks, so they managed to increase their body temperature, and even though we were in the¬†Hidden Valley trail we still had the wind blowing in, brrr!

 

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Examining a prickly pear

 

Ash had bought the California flora and fauna book from the Visitor Centre with his Christmas money and was busy identifying the plants around the place. This was good to see as even though the desert is sparse, the fauna is so fascinating.

 

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Barker Dam with foliage in winter

 

Our other hike was the Barker Dam hike which was an easy loop just over a mile, but I somehow managed to lose the rest of the family in the hike as Missy was not too keen to hike in the wind. My problem is I usually hang back and take pictures and eventually catch up, but these guys were going so fast I kept on missing them at the vista stops. So I continued on following the path as it was a loop it was easy. The dam was very cool to see, and from there the trip back was through many Joshua Trees and distant desert landscape before I found the sign for the carpark.

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Close up of Joshua Tree leaves
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A majestic Joshua Tree with its many branches

The desert landscape was an inspiring place to relax and recharge with its magic and wonder over the land. I feel that winter or spring would be beautiful times to visit as the summer would be so hot!

The 741 km (461 miles) was so worth it as the kids like to break up the drive in the car and on our way back we were in another RV entirely off the highway for a bit but it was so good to discover a new town close to another favourite National Park of our Sequoia. This RV was very cosy with a gas fireplace all ready for us when we arrived in Exeter – we made it just in time for a sunset over the RV in amongst the citrus trees, this town is in the Central Valley – known best for agriculture production.

Missy found the cat, and we gave it some love while Ash enjoyed reading in front of the gas fireplace for the evening reading¬†Warriors.¬†For breakfast on the last leg of our trip home, we went into the town or Exeter and went to the¬†Exeter Whistle Stop a diner that lives up to what American diners are about with endless cups of coffee and big breakfasts. My hubby enjoyed 3 plates of food that morning, and my breakfast was just right with 2 eggs, a muffin and a cup of tea and half a buckwheat pancake! The service was the best, and the staff were just wonderful with their hospitality, as soon as you walked I was asked: “What would you like to drink?” I responded with a cup of tea. It was delivered quick sticks in a teapot with a slice of lemon, our order was promptly taken by the sweetest lady, and we soon had a table full of tasty breakfast goods ready for the drive home. I highly recommend this place if ever you are staying in the Central Valley and going to Sequoia NP or Kings Canyon.

This trip was delightful with the adventuring into new territory and spaces and it really felt like a break even with all the time in the car, I had better get prepared as Australia has some even longer roads to travel with famous deserts of their own to explore!