Thursday Child – California Edition

Last weekend Big J, Big Daddy and I had the opportunity to go on a fieldtrip to California. This was for Big J’s ELP class. There were 16 kids, 8 parents, 1 teacher and a tour coordinator on a really big bus.

We left here Thursday night at about 11:30pm and drove to Ontario, California. We had a quick stop to eat a little breakfast and freshen up before a long day of sight-seeing.

We started our tour in Hollywood at Grauman’s Chinese Theater.


It was really neat to see all the hand and foot prints of so many stars. It was funny listening to all these young kids running around asking who is Marilyn Monroe or Paul Newman or Cary Grant, but they were so excited to see Hugh Jackman’s prints. J didn’t understand why I was excited to see Sean Connery’s prints. Hello? Bond, James Bond.

IMG_9643 IMG_9655

After leaving Hollywood and driving through the Hollywood Hills and on the LA freeways I am glad I don’t live in California and have to drive there. The traffic here in the valley is nothing compared to there.


We headed to the USC campus and the LA County Museum of Natural History. This is the class on the steps.


We only had a couple of hours to see everything and we could have stayed there all day. This museum has one of only 2 complete T-Rex skulls on display in the world. They also have an actual T-Rex skeleton, not one made of cast bones. I didn’t take my ‘good’ camera on this trip and my little camera has such a hard time taking pictures in low light. Anywho…this is Big Daddy and Big J in front of the skeletons of a T-Rex and a Triceratops.


After leaving the museum we had lunch at the LA Farmers Market – an interesting choice to take a bus full of kids.

After lunch we headed to the La Brea Tar Pits. It is really a cool place right in the middle of LA where there are these Tar Pits where they are still pulling up Ice Age bones and fossils. Not dinosaurs, but mammoths and mastodons and saber-tooth cats (we learned they are not tigers, just cats. Go figure).

IMG_9715 IMG_9721 IMG_9724

This is some of the methane gas bubbling up through the tar. And yes, it smelled that good.


We met this nice street performer who had plenty of stories about the tar pits. He was a very unique man.


We learned all about how and why there are so many bones found in this small area. Really quite fascinating.

IMG_9730 IMG_9727

After leaving there we got to spend more time on the bus.


We spent A LOT of time on the bus. I am so thankful for my blessed iPod.


Our day still wasn’t over yet.

We went to what I think was Big J’s favorite part of the weekend. In fact I think most of the kids said this was their favorite part of the weekend:

A reptile show at Prehistoric Pets.

And let me tell you, this guy loves his job. He was enthusiastic and knowledgeable and entertaining.


He brought all these different reptiles out for the kids to hold. Big J was one happy kid.

IMG_9735 IMG_9739

Even Big Daddy got in the fun.


At the end of the show he brought out this little gal.


I don’t remember what kind of snake it was, but I do remember she was about 23 feet long and weighed over 130 pounds.

IMG_9746 IMG_9747

After the Reptile Show it was time for dinner. I am just glad we didn’t eat at this place.


After dinner we still had to get down to San Diego. We finally got to the hotel about 9pm that night. It had been a very long day and we were ready to crash. The hotel had a power outage at 11pm, that in hindsight I think we were grateful for. The kids had to go to sleep because there wasn’t anything else to do. This is the sign at the hotel welcoming us. We were with Project Exploration, not the Vietnam Rangers…just in case you were wondering.


The next morning we had breakfast on a pier on Shelter Island.

IMG_9750 IMG_9758

We enjoyed the gorgeous views and were visited by a couple of sea lions.


We were met by the owner of the tour company who shared a little history of the San Diego area.

IMG_9755 IMG_9761

After that we made my favorite stop: The San Diego Zoo.

IMG_9765 IMG_9768 IMG_9791 IMG_9782

Of course they had to make a stop at the reptile house. The ELP class had been studying the top 10 most venomous snakes in the world and the San Diego Zoo has 7 of 10 on display. Including a green mamba. I think he would make a really cool pair of shoes.


They also have one of these bad boys:

IMG_9799 IMG_9796

After leaving the reptiles we took the tram over the zoo.


At the other end of the tram was the polar bears.

IMG_9839 IMG_9841 IMG_9837

The class was really excited to see this animal:


It is a Okapi. The class had learned about them earlier in the year. They are part giraffe, part zebra and part horse?!?

But for me the most amazing animal we saw was the Pandas.

IMG_9845 IMG_9847 IMG_9846

We could have spent more time at the Zoo, but we had more to do.


After the Zoo we went to Sea Port Village for lunch. This was my least favorite part of the whole trip. We all got off the bus and the kids and parents just went off to find places to eat and I realized I didn’t know where J was. I totally panicked. I went to the tour coordinator and she just looked at me like I was an idiot. Big Daddy was going around to some of the different groups and asking if anyone had seen him. It was totally surreal, nobody was helping us look for him. About that time J and Bill the Bus Driver came walking up. Big J had been in the bathroom when we had unloaded and no one made sure everyone was off the bus before everyone went on their own way. Ugh!!! So after calming down and having a little lunch we were back on the bus for the drive home.

We pulled up at the school at 10pm on Saturday night. It was crazy to think about everywhere we had been and all we had seen in a short 47 hours.

And we are supposed to do this again next year!?!


  1. Wow! Way to go Veitnam Vets.. Isn't J a little young to be a vet? hee hee
    That sounds like a trip that should of been a week not 47 hrs. But how fun. All the times I've been to CA. We've never walked & seen all the stars.
    I love the Zoo- Glad you had fun! Don't know if I could handle the bus for that long. The smell always makes me sick.

  2. Oh my stars...I love those kinds of field trips...so happy you were able to go with him.

  3. now that is a CRAZY schedule, thank goodness you didnt have to do any of the driving. we dig all those places, we havent done the museum of natural history yet tho. and i cant go to san diego without hittin sea world.. glad you had fun and most of all found J!!

  4. How fun!! I can't wait until Connor and I get to do this.