So this is how we found ourselves arriving at the Riedinger family home on December 22nd to meet Alex's parents Bob and Anna while Alex was a work. We didn't know it until after we had arrived but the Riedinger family house was already famous for its hospitality and good times, it even has it's own facebook page called Camp Turlock. After initial introductions including meeting their five dogs we were shown to the trailer/caravan out in the pasture. The Riedinger's seemed to feel a little bad about putting us out there but we couldn't have been happier the trailer was gigantic compared the Dodge and even had it's own toilet and sink! The privacy and ability to let Scout straight out the door in the morning was an added bonus so we moved in and spread out for the first time in ages; it was bliss!
One evening leading up to Christmas Alex and her boyfriend Jamie invited us to go to Del Osso Farms which was a county fair type thing. We sat in the car drinking Southern Comfort and eggnog out of mason jars for a while, then did a spot of ice skating or ice falling you might have called it if you were watching us. Next we wanted to do some down hill tubing but it had already closed for the night so Will decided to have a go at riding a big spinning, bucking, pumpkin! It was absolutely hilarious and one day I'll put the video of it online but for now you will have to settle for a screen shot. The evening of cheap thrills continued when we bought tickets for this giant bouncy inflated thing and bounced around laughing until it hurt. Afterwards we stopped in at Bass Pro for some last minute Christmas shopping then went to meet Alex's brother Zach briefly at his bosses house.
During the week between Christmas and New Years the good times just kept coming one night we went out to watch Steve Frost the lead singer of Placebo who went to school with Jamie and Alex sing live, then finished the night with Moscow Mules (lime, ginger beer and vodka) at Alex's favourite bar 10 East. Then on the 28th we went with Alex and Jamie to a party at this crazy Medieval village at the back of someone's farm. They actually had a trebishe, a chapel, a banquette room, accommodation and a full on pub with four beers on tap! We had heaps of fun exploring the place and meeting all of Alex and Jamie's friends. Apparently they usually use the village for real life jousting competitions and have everyone dressed up medieval style and speak old English.
Will and I also really enjoyed Bob and Alex teaching us how to shoot bows, as that wasn't something we had ever done before. After an initial practice session in the back yard to get the basics Bob took us down to the range. Alex's dad Bob has a real passion for archery and was at the range almost every morning and he also has a nice head collection in the garage to prove the practice paid off. Bob helped set up the range which had about fifteen 3D targets set along a trail inside a wooded grove. They ranged from a beer climbing a log to a cougar in a tree. We thought we did pretty well for newbies as we weren't the only ones losing a few arrows in the brush. The only problem I was having was the string of the bow kept catching my arm leaving me with a few bruises but after a few days rest we returned to the range for more. On one occasion Will decided it was time Scout did some more swimming so he coaxed him into the freezing river that ran through the range. Scout struggled a bit in the fast water so crazy Will joined him in his undies then it was home quickly for a warm shower!
I will write about our Yosemite trip in another blog but will finish this one by telling you about what happened when we returned to Turlock. So I may have said that we planed to leave straight after returning from Yosemite, well that pretty quickly turned into three more days in the trailer. The nice food and time to wash our clothes was too hard to resist! When Alex heard the news she organised to take us on a flight in a Cessna 172 with her and her instructor during some of her private plot licence training. We flew over the surrounding farm lands and country towns and got a new perspective of the Central Valley. We could really see how dry the region was by the vast areas of brown grass and we also got to see the dairys from above. It was strange and a little unnatural for us to see the cows constantly confined to such small enclosures and grain fed compared to the free range grass fed cattle in New Zealand.