Saturday 8 March 2014

California: Day Three, Day Four and Day Five - Chico

Knowing how jam-packed the rest of our California trip was going to be, Brian and I decided to take it easy during the Chico portion of our trip. We slept in on Thursday and Friday, and spent the mornings relaxing and playing around on our tablets. On Thursday, his mom came home for lunch so we ate lunch together, and in the afternoon Brian and I went back to visit his Grandma. We also found the local Starbucks and spent some time sitting outside and enjoying the nice weather. That evening we had dinner with his mom, and went over to her aunt’s house so I could meet Brian’s great-aunt. It was great meeting and being able to put a face to the name! She also gave us a tour of the town.

Friday we met his mom for lunch, and went back to her work. We got to meet some of her co-workers, and see her in her professional environment, which was really interesting and fun! After we left, Brian and I wandered around the downtown area, and visited the National Yo-Yo Museum.

I love silly, different museums, which is strange because I am not such a traditional museum person. I have never been to the Royal Ontario Museum, or actually any of the Toronto museums. My first actual museum was the Smithsonian when I went to visit Brian for the first time, and even then my favorite of those is the American History museum, which is usually judged as being the “lesser museum” because its very pop-culture oriented. Seriously though, that museum is awesome and I loved it!

When it comes to silly and strange museums I have been to ones about Jell-o (Leroy, NY), I Love Lucy (Jamestown, NY) and Parade Floats (Virginia) so a Yo-Yo one was exactly something I had to see. The museum is a small section in the back of a store called “Bird in Hand” and also includes a Toy Museum. It took all of about 10 minutes to look through, and was free. But it was a silly and fun experience!
We wandered in and out of the local shops which were really cute and unique. We spent far too much time in another used bookstore – and Brian bough armfuls of books. At this point I banned him from buying another book on this trip, as I figured getting a suitcase of books home would be problematic.

To my delight we passed a Girl Scout cookie booth. I had bought some of the coconut cookies in Buffalo a few years ago and loved them, but the Girl Guides (Canadian version) only sell two flavors and nothing similar to the coconut ones. We bought 4 boxes, so I was thrilled. However, when I eagerly tore open one of the boxes to try a cookie, I realized either they have changed them in some way, or they aren’t really as good as I remembered. Fortunately, Brian likes them so they won’t go to waste.

My new life motto!

I guess it's good I didn't want to go here - My Canadian ID wouldn't have been good enough for them. Discrimination!
I had read some great reviews on a local coffee shop – The Naked Lounge – so we stopped off there. They had delicious hot chocolate, and had a really cool atmosphere and décor. It gave off a vibe of being a typical university/college town hangout. On our way back to the house we visited with his Grandma again which was nice. For dinner that night Brian’s mom made us fondue knowing how much I love it. It was awesome! We did cheese and chocolate so it was indulgent but totally worth it. Fondue needs to make a comeback! J

On Saturday morning the three of us went to the Chico famers market after breakfast which was a lot of fun. There were a lot of great stands selling produce, meats, dairy, breads and baked goods. I think that would be an awesome way to shop each week – everything is so fresh and you actually know where its coming from. We have famers markets here, but only in the spring/summer. I definitely plan to check more of them out when they start up again.

Our next stop was for a tour of Bidwell Mansion. 

According to the official site, “Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park is a beautiful, three-story, 26 room Victorian House Museum that stands as a memorial to John and Annie Bidwell. John Bidwell was known throughout California and across the nation as an important pioneer, farmer, soldier, statesman, politician and philanthropist. Annie Ellicott Kennedy Bidwell, the daughter of a socially prominent, high ranking Washington official, was deeply religious, and committed to a number of moral and social causes. Annie was very active in the suffrage and prohibition movements. 

The Bidwells were married April 16, 1868 in Washington, D.C. with then President Andrew Johnson and future President Ulysses S. Grant among the guests. Upon arrival in Chico, the Bidwells used the Mansion extensively for entertainment of friends. Some of the guests that visited Bidwell Mansion were President Rutherford B. Hayes, General William T. Sherman, Susan B. Anthony, Frances Willard, Governor Stanford, John Muir, and Asa Gray. 

When constructed, Bidwell Mansion featured the most modern plumbing, gas lighting and water systems. The overall style of the three-story brick structure is that of an Italian Villa, an informal, warmly romantic style. The building's exterior is finished with a pink tinted plaster.”

It reminded me a lot of Parkwood Estate in Whitby, and it was an interesting and informative tour. I love going through old homes/places like that,  learning the history and seeing the different décor. Our tour guide was great, and made the tour enjoyable.

Brian and his mom

The bells like Downton Abby!

Before heading back to the house we made a stop at “Orient and Flume” a local glass blowing company. Wow! They make incredible products with great quality and variety. I could have spent hours in there looking at the different vases, bowls, and decorative pieces. I fell in love with these adorable snowmen and would have taken them home if it wasn’t for the high price tag! But the price matches the products because they are truly amazing. I can see why people collect these items.

I did buy a small ornament for Nanny. She found a similar store in Niagara Falls and buys people special presents for Birthdays and such from it. She got me this gorgeous ornament one year, but of course would never spend the money to buy herself something. So I opted to treat her to something from Orient and Flume. It was a glass heart done in these stunning hues of blue, purple and green. It looks great in her living room.

That night we went to a local charity fundraiser of an organization that Brian’s mom had been involved with. It was Casablanca themed and from an event planner perspective, they did an incredible job with the theme and décor. The tables, the room, the programs – everything was just spectacular. 

The fundraiser was for this amazing organization that helps advocate for foster children. I had the chance to talk to a few volunteers of the organization and their passion for the program was evident in the way they spoke of their experiences. It’s always nice to support an organization that makes such a positive contribution to the community.

They had a silent auction, live auction, and well as a cake auction – something I hadn’t heard of. That was interesting, especially since it was so profitable – some of the cakes went for $300+. I never would have envisioned something like that working, but apparently it’s a popular thing, and cakes at other events have gone for over $1000.00!

The event started later then anticipated, so we left just before the live auction as Brian and I were getting an early start on Sunday morning. It was nice to spend time in Chico with Brian’s mom. It is such a cute town, and having some downtime before a busy week was needed. 

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