“These are a few of my favourite things…”

San Marcos and Poway

    It was at the local play park the other day that Cal Guy Snr pronounced himself King of the World. He had scrambled to the topmost position of the climbing frame and adapted the well-known “I’m the king of the castle” expression. “Well, if you’re king of the whole world,” ventured Boatwif, “what would be your first rule?”

            Back came a reply: “All lessons in school will be about trains and planes and nothing else.”  Cal Guy Snr and Cal Gal certainly know their minds. In a pre-breakfast discussion we had listed all sorts of favourite things from foods (pizza for Cal Guy Snr, spaghetti bolognese for Cal Gal), to toys, to theme parks, then books (The Phantom Tolbooth, current third grade class reader, and A Thousand and One Things to Spot in Fairyland) and on to weather: snowy (Cal Guy Snr), rainy (Cal Gal, “because I like jumping in the puddles”).

A trip to Poway was suggested – and this too might have featured in a favourites list. In the park at Poway (a town about 15 miles north east of San Diego) is the Poway-Midland Railroad, run by a group of volunteers who restore, maintain and operate several antique railcars. Today was to be a steam day, when the Baldwin Steam Locomotive built in Philadelphia in 1907 for quarry work is operated.  We arrived just as the impressive engine came out of the engine shed, did a first circuit of the park and was filled with water.  We sat sideways on in the passenger car, waving madly at all the other visitors in the park as the train did its two laps. A brass bell rings, a hooter and whistle are sounded, steam hisses out at ground level when pressure needs to be released, smoke billows from the funnel – wondrous sights and sounds for all generations! We lingered; Cal Guy Snr asked questions, Cal Guy Jnr taking a keen interest too. “Would you like to ride up here?” asked the (female) engineer. “There’ll have to be an adult, you’ll have to listen to instructions…” and that is how Cal Guy Snr, Cal Gal and Boatwif became assistant engineers riding on the footplate of a steam locomotive, right behind the boiler with full view of the brake lever, the water pressure gauge, the bell rope et al!

“If you’ve got to make a report in school after Thanksgiving on something you’ve done over the holiday then I think you’ve got a topic!” Cal Son said sagely To Cal Guy Snr. What a good time had been had. Such was the lady engineer’s enthusiasm for old trains that she had visited the Rail Museum in York in 2008 – and as we left the Fireman called “Pass our regards to your Queen Mother…”

On the second day of our San Marcos stay we were dispatched to Sprouts Organic Food Market for various items. Just as we arrived at the checkout the Captain’s phone bleeped, signalling the arrival of a text message. Techno Son-in-Law, spending a night afloat nb Cleddau had written: Not sunk the boat but have a question. While the Captain’s attention was diverted into responding to a boating crisis five thousand miles away Boatwif had to deal with the checkout staff.

“Plastic or paper?” Blank look on Boatwif’s face. “Plastic or paper?” came the question again. Realisation: this was a decision to be made about carrier bags. No handy Sainsbury’s yellow everlasting elephant bag with us so a decision was required. It must be non-PC to opt for plastic in a shop whose name includes the word “Organics” so paper it ought to be – which is how Boatwif came to be standing in a parking lot in bright sunlight looking for an unfamiliar rental car holding a very heavy paper bag, containing amongst other things a gallon jug of milk, while the Captain texted and then phoned Techno Son-in-law to discuss the vagaries of Cleddau‘s central heating systems…  Apparently all is well and we are led to believe the boat is now tied up again back on the right pontoon!

“These are a few of my favourite things…” At some point Boatwif must check out the Barnes and Noble bookstore.  Will she be brave enough to walk down the hill to the university campus light railway station and get off at the right stop in Escondido in the next valley…? Perhaps she’ll have to recruit some local help, payment by book of course!

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