Barking at print…

Saturday 19th – Monday 21st November
The Cheshire Son-in-Law has chortled, indeed crowed, over a spelling mistake in the last post.  Little did he know that "Pajama" was taken directly from the Pacific Coast Gymnasium newsletter​ given out to parents after Saturday's gym classes, but it does highlight the surprises that assault the eye when reading American English. On a previous trip I struggled with the word "docent": it turned out to be a volunteer ranger, as at a state park or a historic centre. "Faucet" seems to be a tap and on Monday we engaged with "Transit Centers" (railway stations}. Those are the sort of word for word puzzles that you might meet, but then there are newspaper reports. "Octomom doctor under scrutiny" referred to the doctor in charge of the woman who gave birth to octuplets: that could be guessed at. "Farmers' market to begin at adobe" relies on you knowing where the adobe site is (traditional building?) but my favourite reading matter is the type which can be read, but no easy meaning can be gathered, an example a couple of days ago being " California randomly selects redistricting panel". A walk out on the Oceanside Pier provided a fair sprinkling of notices about beach and fishing regulations, although the one photographed apparently is comprehensible to regular anglers.
Saturday and Sunday were marked by rain so indoor attractions were sought. After the 9am gym classes and lunch in a diner an expedition to Escondido's Barnes and Noble was made. Think Waterstone's but with a far larger floor area, plus a Starbuck's corner, a new toy department, a huge audio section, stationery, paper gifts, maps and so on.  Cal Guy had a birthday book token to exchange, Cal Girl was not to be left out.  A local author was signing copies of her children's book, royalties going to the local educational foundation. Families were dug in, reading for the afternoon. Rarely parted from a camera I had secreted mine into the store ready to gain evidence of a friend's cousin's book on sale in the US. But oh, the book is in print, though not on the shelf, one single copy is on order for that store but it was impossible to establish whether stocks were universally low or in high demand elsewhere… I feel my bookstore experience was incomplete – and have put it to the Captain that we do an evening visit later in the week: after all, they are open until 11pm. 

Sunday saw us head south, initially through heavy rain, to San Diego, specifically to Balboa Park. Twelve museums, a world-renowned zoo, botanical gardens, a thousand plus acres of trails and paths, the park established to mark the 1915 -16 Panama – California International Exposition. The buildings are breathtakingly beautiful in an ornate Spanish -Moorish style … but we were heading for two particular destinations. Parking was difficult, crowds were gathered along the roadways, many clapping pairs of pink balloons together as they urged on the three day 60 mile charity walkers to their final meeting point at the new baseball park Downtown. First stop for us: the San Diego Railroad Museum. An entire room for toy train layouts, N gauge, HO gauge, O gauge, accurate representations of western states' rail routes, one layout taking nearly two hours for its trains to complete the route! A lunch (Cal Babe too) then a dive into the Reuben Fleet Science Center, a totally interactive hands-on science experience. The Big Ones went to the IMAX theatre for a space movie, while Cal Babe and I strolled the galleries and exhibits, before sniffing the air outside and half way along the Prado Colonnade coming upon a jazz saxophonist. Balboa Park draws in all sorts of people – hikers, joggers, art-lovers, musicians, performers and Hispanic wedding parties for their formal photographs. Although we haven't before seen the Park in rain or so green it never disappoints, the glorious buildings are the stars, while the visiting crowds also provide much to gaze at.   
"We're going to the beach," was the announcement on Monday morning, a widely popular plan. Four adults, three children, a stroller, one bucket and one spade headed to Oceanside. Again we did the  stroller-pushing walk along the diagonal boards of the pier. A pelican and a small school of dolphins were clearly sighted. Conditions were perfect: we were comfortable in shirts and light fleeces, surfers were in and out of the sea, young children played on the beach-side climbing frames and on the sand. With the one bucket and one spade retrieved from the garage a fine 5 towered castle was built, with battlements and garden. (To any listener curious enough I could have launched into a lecturette on the development of stone keep fortifications into concentric castles…!)    

Homeward journey was by the local light railway system which runs from the coast inland to Escondido, its primary purpose being to serve the university campus of San Marcos, right at the bottom of the hill from the family's house. The campus station sits on a bridge over the road, an excellent vantage point for a photo of the Californians' neighbourhood. Cal Guy reads well and he skilfully interpreted the Sprinter timetable for us, ensuring that we got off at the right "Transit Center". 

Back to "barking at print": after a time in the Science Center in Balboa Park you realise that all information is presented in English and Spanish; so too is a picture board book belonging to Cal Babe that he gazes at when strapped into his car-seat!

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