Grandma and Grandpa get pretty tired fairly easily. I mean, Grandma had heart surgery less than a year ago! Who can blame them? Anyway I knew that I wanted to spend the first day mostly at their house and that the kids and I would take off and see some sights the second day so they could rest a bit.
On the top of my list of things to do was Bidwell Mansion. I had toured it as a kid and had many memories that I wanted my kids to have. We got there a little too early so we made the quick trip downtown to Bird in Hand a really cool toy store with a YoYo museum inside of it.
We messed around there for a while until it was time to go back to the mansion.
Here is the 26 room mansion. I think they said it was around 15,000 square feet. And it 's PINK! (Maybe that's why I love it so much)
The mansion has a long extensive history. The house was even transformed into a dorm after the Bidwell's had passed away. A lot of the original items in the home were lost but a lot do still remain.
This square grand piano was a gift from John to Annie. It was purchased in New York and had to be shipped all the way around North America to San Francisco. Both kids got to play it. Emma did Chariots of Fire and Andrew played Crazy Frog. The guide was laughing a little since most people play on of the hymns out of the book that rests on the piano. Not my kids!
This is a hair wreath. It's hard to see all the detail but this is all made of hair that was collected out of brushes. Gross but something I remember from my childhood.
This is the laundry room as it once was. It makes me appreciate my washer and dryer that is in the garage.
The kitchen sink is original to the house. I love it! I want it. How cool is that?!?
The piano was really gorgeous but with the lighting and my limited experience shooting in low light with no flash or tri-pod this was the best I could do.
This is a life sized portrait of John that Annie had painted after he passed. It is painted so that his eyes follow you and it appears his body shift as you look at it from one side to the other. Andrew declared nice and loudly in the middle of the tour, "That's creepy!!!"
This is one of the fainting couches that I also remember from when I went as a kid. The corsets were so tight the women could pass out at any given time.
I love this picture. One of the things I really miss about living in Chico are the grey squirrels. They are sooo sooo cute with the biggest, fluffiest tales you have ever seen. I promised the kids many squirrel sightings before the trip. I had just gotten the kids were I wanted them on the steps and right when I took the picture they both pointed and yelled "SQUIRREL!"
They posed themselves for this picture.
Another thing I remember from one of my field trip to the mansion was this Monkey Puzzle Tree. My grade school teacher had asked all of us while we were eating lunch on the lawn which tree we thought was the monkey tree. We had to guess just by looking around. I remember her saying it looked like a bunch of monkey's tails and at that point I think we all guessed it. I couldn't drive by without seeing that tree and thinking of that. Now they have all the trees labeled.
We said good-bye to the mansion and went to get something to eat. La Comida here we come!
They are known for their chips AND salsa (that's for you mom!) It was so good I even brought some home. It all got eaten by the way ; )
Emma got a giant plate of nachos.
Andrew got a taco and I got enchiladas. It's not the best food but it was somewhere I went at lunchtime as a teen and the kids enjoyed it.
The nachos were seriously huge!
I had seen this plaque when the kids and I were at the mansion but forgot to read it. On our way back downtown that night I ran in and grabbed this picture so I could read it later. This is Maggie the mansion tour guide I remember as a kid. She was totally blind but knew exactly where to point, were to stand and where to walk. I remember being in such awe of her abilities as a kid. It looks like she has passed away. I was so glad to see that they had honored her memory this way. She was really special.
After we ate lunch we went back and went swimming for the rest of the evening.
The next day we had a lunch date with my aunt Becky. We stopped off at her store so we could meet Bailey the shop cat. He is so pretty and spoiled. The kids were missing Marius so they were happy to see this big boy.
We had a delicious Chinese lunch at Peter Chu's and then took a four generation picture before we left. We have taken several of these through the years and I knew I will always treasure each one.
This is me and my aunt Becky. We are so much a like it isn't even funny. She is a wonderful listener and really great, strong woman. We get along great but agree if I had been her daughter we may have killed each other. I love her with all my heart and am so thankful I got to spend some time with her.
My mom with her sister Becky.
After lunch it was more swimming. Andrew taught himself how to do a back flip.
I think he is so cute!
That evening my cousin Nick and his family came for dinner and swimming. It was great to see my baby cousin being a wonderful, doting, loving husband and father. We all enjoyed visiting. His kids were really cute and fun to be around. Charlee let me hold her and put her on the raft and push her around for a while. I really liked her.
Josh was more interested in the big kids. You should have seen his face when he saw Andrew do his flips. It was adorable. Here is Andrew trying to teach Josh to drive. It started out looking like it might work.
But in the end, not so much LOL! That's okay. Josh has plenty of time to learn.
Charlee and great-grandma Louise. We knew my grandparents were getting tired and they had more relatives on the way. We decided to get an earlier start than we had originally planned. We left around 9:30 pm on Thursday night. We decided to spend the night in Sparks, Nv. On our way through the Feather River Canyon we say deer, skunk, bats or some night bird and some mystery cats. We have no clue what they were but they weren't domestic, that we do know.
We said our soggy good-bye's and took some final pictures. The kids really didn't want to leave. They really fell in love with their great-grandparents. It was a wonderful thing to watch. My grandparents played such a vital part of my childhood that it killed me to think they could leave this earth without my kids really knowing them. The whole time we were there my kids were amazing. They never argued. They didn't complain about getting bored. They weren't rowdy. They were as close to perfect as I think they are capable of. It was really special. I am so thankful for this experience. It wasn't perfect but it was truly wonderful and I will cherish it.
I took this picture of them as we drove away. I hope it isn't the last time I get to see them but it is a possibility. I love them both so much and I am grateful to them for letting us stay with them. It is an experience I will never forget.
When we drove into the state of Utah the next day I started texting Maggie. I knew that she and her family were heading to California. We kept texting mile markers back and forth until we knew we were really close. We actually got to honk and wave as we passed each other in no mans land Utah. It was crazy!
Paul met us...somewhere. It was so good to see him again.
The kids were thrilled and so was he. He was getting pretty bored without us around. It was good to be home.