Weekend Trip, Chapter Two

This is later than it ought to have been, as my computer was in the shop. Also, Chapter Two is a lot more about what kind of stuff I did and a lot less about the autism side, since I’m no longer on the road at this point.


We visited my grandmother (my dad’s mom) for a couple days and had a lovely time. Camera in hand, I got some pictures of her cats:




Max, a massive cat with big whorls of dark orange running down his sides. He’s a gorgeous boy, and despite being told he ‘doesn’t give kisses’, I got a couple. (I suspect one or two were more for the chicken I was eating than for me…)

The camera got a kiss, too...


… And Squeak.


Hello Thar!

Squeak is more beige than orange, but while his stripes are more normal and less swirly, he might win the prize for spottiest belly, which sadly I have no picture of.


Both cats got up to some mischief in the night, and since I was sleeping in ‘their room’ (read: on the couch), that sometimes meant keeping me up…


Nothing to see here, move along.


(I couldn’t resist darkening and tinting that one green on the computer afterward. I took it at one in the morning, and it felt like such a night vision safari shot, but when I uploaded my pictures, the flash made it look like it had been taken in broad daylight.)


Of course, Max found trouble to get into during the day, too…


It's the quenchiest!


We said it was ‘evidence gathering’ and not ‘praising his jumping up in the sink all the time’. Every load of dishes comes with the need to wipe pawprints off the enamel… But I can’t argue with cute– and I caught him mid-lick!


Okay, on the autism de-stressing side, I will say, for me, staying in a house with cats is way easier than staying in a house with no cats, but that’s because I love cats and having one or two on hand calms me down.


And on the ‘Interests=De-stressing’ note, the other thing we did while we were in the area was a trip to the Bowers Museum! There was a free Egyptology lecture, and since it’s a subject that the whole family is fair-to-middlin’ keen on, we were thrilled to go. Obviously I have no pictures of the lecture, or the indoors exhibits, but I got some lovely ones of the sculptures and fountain out front.


The front gate...

And the row of fountains once you enter!

Here's a fountain bowl head-on.


I really loved the fountains– they spread out to either side of the front gate, six to the left and six to the right. And the sound of the water was really soothing.

'Pass Through'

More statue-garden


The Buddha head stood alone (well, sat on a bench alone, at any rate), and I was able to get a shot of ‘Pass Through’ with the plaque readable, but the big stone chain sculpture I didn’t get a good view of the provenance for, nor can I remember what it was called. It was all lovely, though.


Between the Egyptology lecture, visiting some family, playing with some cats, and a little odd shopping on the trip, I’d rate the trip a success. Nobody had a full-out meltdown at any point, which is always a point in the favour of any excursion, and I really enjoyed seeing what I got to see of the Bowers museum.





Weekend Trip, Chapter One

Okay, so, for anyone following this blog because you know/love me and want to hear about what I’m up to, here ’tis. And for anyone following this blog in the increasingly remote-seeming hope that I might actually stick to my mission statement and blog more about autism spectrum issues, here ’tis as well.


Welcome to my road trip with autism.


… Okay, that sounds more dire/exciting than it actually was. Of course, we’ve had more experience than we knew doing the road-trip-with-autism shuffle, so we have some coping mechanisms long in place. On the drive between Merced and Buena Park, we stop a couple-few times at familiar places- stopping gives people the chance to stretch their legs and avoid major car cramping, and choosing familiar places minimizes stress. Plus, it gives us the chance to use bathrooms/buy coffee, always important.


For us, and on this particular route, it’s usually one stop at Swan Court/Spike N Rail in Selma. We usually don’t eat there, though there have been a couple times where we hit Selma at a meal time. But they have pleasant restrooms, a little gift shop, a koi-and-swan pond, and their own Starbucks. Upsetting sensory issues are at a minimum, and are offset by the interesting/comforting aspects.


Coffee is often a drive-through Starbucks, but to get out and walk around, we usually hit a Target– there may be slight differences in layout, but Targets are largely consistent. They have similar tiles, similar aisles, similar other-things-that-rhyme-not. One can pick up food or bottled water or a large Pepsi, and Targets tend to try to keep their bathrooms nice.


Denny’s is another place we tend to stop if we need to eat, because again, consistency. Most have the same menu, the same decor, they’re clean and often not too loud or crowded.


There are other places, and of course the same exact things wouldn’t work for every family– for one thing, unless you’re traveling past Selma, the Spike n Rail is a bit out of your way, but really, the important thing is that there’s some consistency, and because we plan our stops hoping for the minimum of sensory disturbances and potential upset.


Now for the less-autism-info, more-me-info take:


We started the drive down to Buena Park in the early afternoon so we could get over the Grapevine before it got dark (we did!) (bonus AS tip: if you have to drive over the Grapevine, take gum! I forgot this time, and my ears tend to pop with slight changes in altitude, so that wasn’t the best leg of the journey. When we make the drive again in the summer, I’ll also want to remember a small personal fan, since we turn the AC off for a bit going over the Grapevine… so personal fans and gum, good idea for mountain passes in general.)


I took a bunch of pictures in Selma, at the Swan Court/Spike n Rail. It was cold, and they had a fire pit out by the outdoor seating. No one was using said outdoor seating because of the chill, but it made for a nice picture.


Fire and Water

I really loved how the fountain looked past the flames. I took a bunch of shots of the whole little area, and it was a lot of fun out there despite the cold air and the smoke (not just from this little fire pit– there was also a big barbecue smoker not far from where I was standing to get this shot!).


The courtyard

Here’s a shot of the windmill on the restaurant, as well as the big clock that faces the pond. And as for the pond itself…


Waterfalls at the Swan Court

Waterfalls at the Swan Court

The pond is always really lovely to look at. Personally, I love water, so I find the sound from the waterfalls and fountain calming, and I always love watching the koi (you can make a couple out down by that waterfall!). They’ve also got a couple swans.


Look, there's one!


They weren’t doing their usual, well, swanning about while I was out with the camera. One was off at the far end where I couldn’t get a good shot, but this one was right up where I could photograph him (her?) taking a little bath at the pond’s edge.


When we hit Burbank, we stopped at Ikea. It had been years since we’d last been. Those of us not vegetarian had Swedish meatballs, and we bought some very inexpensive towels and had fun walking around. We also planned to stop on the drive back (which we did, but more on that later). A good time was had by all, and from there it wasn’t too long a drive to get to our actual destination.


I’ll try and blog soon about the actual visit and our trip to the Bowers Museum, as well as any aspie/Autism spectrum travel tips that my recollections of the return trip spur!