By far, the biggest downfall of moving has been leaving our friends and family both in Nashville and in Kentucky. The move from Louisville to Nashville was easy and seamless, but there is a HUGE difference when you add an extra zero to the number of miles between you and the people you love. Nashville was 300 miles away from Louisville and was easily drivable. San Francisco is almost 3,000 miles and even a plane trip takes at least 5 hours. So, I was really hopeful that coming out here I would be able to make some friends quickly. Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case thus far. Landon has been able to do that, but he is three and the friendliest child on the planet. I work in a very small office and, while everyone is nice, there just isn't anyone I have really clicked with. It doesn't help that my Nashville co-workers left some pretty big shoes to fill. Moving to a new city, working full-time, and having a family doesn't leave a lot of ways outside of work to meet people.
On the upside, not chit-chatting all day with my friends at work has again given me the opportunity to listen to Dennis Prager three hours a day. Just a few weeks ago, he was having an hour on the importance of friends (he ALWAYS speaks to me!) and brought up that you should date for friends like you date for a spouse. He mentioned how great it would be for there to be a friendship dating website of sorts. Just a few minutes later a caller mentioned that there was a wesbsite called Meetups. I immediately downloaded the app and spent the evening scrolling through the thousands of groups in the Bay Area. This website might not be as popular in other cities that are not as large, but believe me when I say that in the Bay Area there is a meet up group for EVERYTHING you could ever think of. Scrolling through, I found of number of meetups that caught my eye. In order to “meet up” you must ask to join the group, give a little information about yourself, and sometimes contribute a small amount of money. I found a small girl's group in my immediate area, a book and wine club, and a travel club. I also came across a young adults group for the church we might become members of and a family group centered on adventures with children. It seemed like this could be the answer to solving my loneliness. Now, I just needed the courage to actually go to one of these group meetups.
Last weekend the family group had an outing and I thought it would be a good way to try out these meet up groups while doing something together as a family. Adam’s case of the shingles has been pretty debilitating so I wasn't sure if he would join us, but I really wanted to get out and do something fun with Landon. The group is ran by an organization called Tree Frog Treks. They're an organization who are all about making science fun, connecting with nature, and exercising one’s imagination. How perfect is that for a little boy? Their aim is to take kids outside of the conventional classroom and bring them into contact with the nature in their own back yard. They have a number of events and activities all over the city including at their facility. Most of these things are still a little too advanced for Landon, but it definitely seemed like an organization we’d like to get him involved in as he gets older.
The adventure they had planned for this weekend was exploring the Tidepools in Half Moon Bay. As low tide approaches in the late afternoon the receding water exposes a rocky sea floor that is littered with pot holes. These pot holes become shallow pools of water and trap all kinds of sea life temporarily and allowing children a glimpse into life underwater. After a short hike to the tidepools, we arrived at 3:30pm just as the low tide was beginning. As the water continued to go out, more and more of the ocean floor became exposed.
This adventure was recommended for children over 4 years old and you could tell that some of the older children, around 8 years old, were getting a lot more out of the experience. It took Landon awhile to understand exactly what we were doing and to be patient and look for animals, but once he did, he was really excited. The program had two guides who were both extremely knowledgeable and were able to make it fun for kids of all ages. They suggested we bring containers with us and Landon really enjoyed scooping up the water to try and find something.
Some of the older children were able to find large crabs, nudibranch, hermit crabs, and shrimp. We found a crab and shrimp more Landon's size.
But size didn't matter to Landon who still thought it was pretty need to scoop his container into the water and come up with animals. Mr Science, the guide, was able to show us some larger crabs that he was brave enough to pickup.
As we continued to explore, the tide was continuing to recede and the amount of exploring seemed endless.
Someone would shout they found something and everyone would run over to look and see what it was.
Funny thing is, I think I was more excited to explore and find some animals than anyone in our family. It was a little intro to scuba diving for a three year old that can't be underwater.
For me, the most interesting thing was the millions of anemones. When they are underwater they look like this...
But when the water recedes they close up all of their arms to become a small lump with a center hole. As the water pulls out they become covered in sand and shells and look nothing like the animal they are when they are underwater.
Yeah, that's right. It's an animal. When you touch it, even the closed up exposed ones shrink even more. Adam's favorite part was that the arms, when touched, are sticky, because they are injecting small amount of poison into whatever is touching it. For humans, it is harmless, but that is how they catch other animals to eat.
Just about the time they were beginning to spot the big animals, such as starfish and octopus, Adam started to feel really badly and we had to leave. It was his first time out of the house in over a week and while his shingles were getting much better, he was still in a lot of pain. We had to say goodbye from the group early as they continued to explore.
Despite our shortened trip, it was a ton of fun. I was so happy that I was turned on to meetups and discovered that family group. We will definitely be doing more events with them in the future and be going back to the tidepools again. Not only did we learn a lot about animals and the habitat, but it was an absolutely beautiful setting. I don't know if I will have as much luck with the other groups, but this one was a hit.