Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mummies and Egyptians

The Rosicrucian has the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in western North America
 For the third time, I helped chaperone a field trip to the Rosicrucian Museum in San Jose and vowed  I would return again on my own time. I still have to make good on that promise - perhaps I'll buy a family membership for Christmas! The point is, it is a fantastic museum!

The museum is hidden in a quiet part of town
It has spacious rooms and plenty of educational signs
The museum has artifacts from the pre-dynastic through early Islamic eras (I confess my ignorance on what that really means). They concentrate on four broad topics in the museum: 
  1. Burial Practices, Afterlife and Mummies
  2. Gods and Religion
  3. Kings and Pharaohs
  4. Daily Life, Trade and Neighbors
They have a great website with much information including a summary of these different areas.

Here's a tiny example of some of the artifacts you can see at the Rosicrucian.

Statue of the Goddess Sekhmet
Royal rings - these are the real thing!

Egyptian writing on papyrus - amazing!

Ba Birds

And of course there's the mummies. This is how you bribe your kids to go to this museum - promise them they will see mummies!

 The museum guides are careful to explain that these mummies are not the scary ones you see running around in movies. These were made with respect and reverence for the dead.

A mummy Ox and cat (Egyptians loved their cats)

The wrappings on this mummy have been peeled back to reveal the actual remains.

Their website has a great page that explains the process of mummification. Check out "The making of a mummy: A real one!"

I love this museum! My daughter loved visiting the museum! My son loved visiting the museum! All the kids on the field trip seemed to enjoy their visit.  I can't recommend it enough (though I wouldn't recommend it for anyone under the age of seven, unless you want to rush through your tour).

You can sign up for workshops on the weekend (free with admission); you can download an audio tour from their fantastic website; you can become a junior archaeologist; and you can even walk through a composite replica of an ancient tomb. Have I said enough?

1660 Park Avenue
San Jose CA 95191

Admission:  $9.00 general admission*
$7.00 seniors 55 and older and students with I.D.
$5.00 children ages 5 - 10
free children under 5
* $1.00 discount on general admission for members of AAA, AAM, KQED, and Military

Photography:  the museum allows non-flash photography but they don't allow video, tripod or flash photography.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Lost in a Maze at Arata Farm

The Endless Maze at Arata Farm

The main attraction at Arata's Farm in Half moon Bay, CA is not the pumpkins, it's the maze. Our kids both wanted to try it but I didn't see the point in going myself - why pay $10 to get lost when I do that almost every day for free? My husband would have gone, but not for $10! Anyway, this maze is so complicated they actually have a lifeguard ready to direct people to an emergency exit.

On the right is the lifeguard, checking on the "fun."
Do you want to know the secret to getting out of a maze? My son told me. You stick out your right hand and trace the wall as you walk. If you get to a dead end, come back out but make sure you keep your right hand tracing the wall, That way you will not double back to the same place. He told my daughter this when they first entered the maze, but since she tried it on an island of hay (!) she was convinced it didn't work, and ran off. :-) . So my son got out in 20 minutes and she got lost for 45 and had to be directed to an emergency exit. But my daughter made it to the center and received a prize from the Minotaur and my son didn't. So who's to say which way was better. All I know is that I got very nervous worrying about my daughter getting nervous. And it took too much time!

Peeking through an emergency door but too chicken to go in myself.
While the kids were in the maze my husband and I explored the farm. They had some fun things to look at.

Finally the kids were done with the maze and we could look at pumpkins. They had many to choose from but none that you actually picked from the vines. So we decided to go to another farm (Bob's Pumpkin Farm) for a more authentic experience and less expensive pumpkins. But I must say that Arata's had a greater variety to choose from.

Arata's Farm is less crowded than Lemos Farm but much noisier than Bob's. But it is lots of fun, I do recommend it.

If you go:  Arata Farm is south of Half Moon Bay on HWY 1. Drive past Bob's another 1/4 mile and you'll see it on the left.

The View from HWY 1
Look For This Sign
Again, leave early in the morning because HWY 92 gets very crowded by late morning.
Have fun!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Bob's – An Authentic Pumpkin Patch

Last weekend, the whole family went to our favorite pumpkin patch – Bob's Pumpkin Farm in Half Moon Bay CA. Why was it our favorite? Because after the noise and crowds of the other pumpkin patches, the authenticity of this quiet farm was a relief.

You actually walk among the vines when you pick one of these pumpkins.

Bob's Pumpkin Farm is on HWY 1, south of HWY 92. If you are driving south it is on the left hand side. There are billboards north and south that advertise it.

Nice and quiet…
Bob's has a good variety of pumpkins, gourds, and other vegetables. Besides that, there isn't much else except a few fun signs and a small farm animal area.

They call this a swan gourd but we thought this one looked more like a snake or hissing goose!

He walked to the very end of the patch to find just the right one.

Hey! How come I'm the only one making a silly face?

Bob's does not have a petting farm but it does have some animals that you can look at up close. We lucked out, there were piglets and baby goats! When it was time for us to go, we had a hard time because the babies kept doing cute things and we were drawn back again and again.

Sharing her sandwich.

I want to pet this one!

What a face!


This guy bathed in the water then rolled in the dirt, just like a kid at the beach.

Now for those of you who say you can buy a pumpkin for much cheaper at your local grocery store, remember you are not going to a farm just to get pumpkins. You are going for the whole experience. I highly recommend it, and bring your camera!
I chose these two – too interesting to carve!

Friday, October 3, 2014

A Hyperactive Pumpkin Patch

If you want to visit a pumpkin patch, the place to go is Half Moon Bay, California. They call themselves the"Pumpkin Capital of the World," and they just might be right. There are many pumpkin patches to choose from along Highway 92, the one I'll focus on today is the one that attracts the most kids – Lemos Farm.

I call this a hyperactive pumpkin patch because there is so much going on - you don't go there for peace and quiet. Our family has been there a few times but now no one wants to go anymore, we've had our fill. So the few photos I'm posting today are several years old, but believe me, we did enjoy our visits.

Dad Having Fun
The Farm is open year-round. They have pony rides for the tots (they ride around in a small circle), a sweet petting zoo with friendly animals - 

I had to keep the goats from eating the beads on her socks!

 - a play area, a "train" ride (when we rode it, it went through a skeleton town with friendly animated skeletons. It may have changed because they now call it Cowboy Country), a hay ride in a pickup truck, laser tag (new this year), a jump house, and a haunted house. During the month of October, the entire area is decorated with amusing and slightly scary Halloween displays. And somewhere in all that jumble they actually sell pumpkins! Oh yes, they also have a food stand that sells some delicious treats.

To this day, we don't know what she was upset about!

One of my favorite memories is when I took the kids through the haunted house. You can choose the "fun version" or the scary version. We chose the fun version but it turned out to be way too scary for my young children (6 and 4).

The house is deceptive, it looks small, but once inside you walk through so many short hallways that it seems endless. And once you go in there is no turning back. As soon we entered, the combination of scary background music, screeching, darkness, strings hanging from the ceiling and touching your face, and most of all the creatures jumping out at you (I don't know if they were real or fake), combined to scare the bejeepers out of my children. They took two steps in and spent the rest of the walk with their eyes closed, heads buried into my ribs, clutching me around the waist, screaming and crying. And I (bad mom), couldn't help but laugh the entire time, whenever I wasn't screeching myself. So parents be warned.

Upon exiting, I had to grab my son to keep him from running away in total panic!

If you go: There are many photo opportunities at this farm so remember to bring a camera. And check the weather, it can get very hot in Half Moon Bay during an Indian summer.

Climbing on the tractor was free last time I checked!

Prices: The farm is free but each activity costs a separate amount of money, varying between $1 and $10 (laser tag). They have day passes, $17 for kids, $5 for adults, but the day pass does not include laser tag, the Dig Zone or the wagon ride. The pumpkins vary in price depending on the size.

What I recommend: We used to enjoy the sights of the farm for free, the petting zoo for $1 each, the train ride and buy a treat or two. And when we were done playing we would buy some pumpkins. Choose your favorite activities and limit it to that, unless you're totally gung ho, in which case I'd recommend a day pass.

Directions:  Google this - 12320 San Mateo Rd. (Hwy 92)
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
- and when you are driving down Highway 92 toward the coast, Lemos Farm is one of the first pumpkin patches on the right. Drive slowly and watch for cross traffic. I also recommend going early in the morning. Traffic on the weekends backs up almost all the way to the freeway!

If all this sounds too hyperactive for you, my next blog will be about a more traditional pumpkin patch.