Wine Country and Jelly Bellies

Once we found the TALL TREE, we headed south through wine country to the Jelly Belly Factory.

Obviously, I’ve been to the Jelly Belly Factory here which is basically an indoor train ride around a warehouse (but not actually the real warehouse because the real warehouse is there). The train here stops at various stations which are mostly artificial flowers and dusty rabbits and you watch segments from a DVD of there.

So the Jelly Belly Factory here tells you about the Jelly Belly Factory there which is actually where Jelly Bellies (at least some of them are made). And since we were there on a weekday, we actually got to watch the proceedings – real life there of the DVD here.

Otherwise, it is very similar with the Jelly Belly Factory cars and lots of opportunity to buy Jelly Bellies and a small cafe.

But no artificial flowers.




Search for the Tall Tree

DSC03377Ok, I have it – an Amazing Race Challenge. Have a clue box at the entrance to Humboldt State Park (a park featuring redwoods) and tell the teams to find the “tall tree.”

We knew it was there somewhere because the brochure told us it was … and we were determined. This was our journey … (Seriously, this would be a great challenge.)


The Chandelier Tree
The Chandelier Tree

Back to California. Well, I’m not really back in California … but blogging wise I am.

We headed away from the coast and inland through the town of Leggett and then north toward Humboldt State Park.

“You want to go there?” C. asks me, pointing toward a sign for the Chandelier Tree.

“Yes! Yes! Yes!” I say. I do not care that we will see many other big trees. I do not care that it will take time away from getting to the park. I do not care that it costs $5.00 … because this … this very tree … is the site of a Weddle Family Adventure.

When our kids were young we went a lot of places on very little money. One of the ways we saved money was buying a box of donuts for breakfast. A couple dollars for a dozen donuts certainly was less expensive than $20.00 to buy four people breakfast at a restaurant. (Ok, nutritionists – we usually ate healthy breakfasts – just not on trips.)

On one of our many journeys, we drove through Washington and then headed south through Oregon and northern California on Highway 101.

C. driving through the tree.
C. driving through the tree.

We had stayed in Redcrest the night before in a quaint little cabin, surrounded by redwoods. I remember the cabin being cozy with patchwork quilts on the beds and …  I digress.  The next morning we started on down the highway and broke open the very nourishing breakfast of chocolate donuts. I had one. Kelli had one. Ken had one (maybe two) and Jeff … well, let’s say he sat in back of our station wagon in chocolate donut glory as he finished off the rest of the box.

Several more miles down the windy, bendy, slightly hilly road – the donuts once again made an appearance – this time rather forcefully. You have never (well, if you have kids, you probably have) seen such a mess – all in the back seat of the car.

We pulled over by the South Fork Eel River. And Jeff did what he could to get cleaned up. Didn’t help. We wiped and scrubbed and wiped and scrubbed the car. Didn’t help.

No way were we going to get this mess cleaned up without a for-real bathroom with for-real soap … and yet there we were out in the middle of miles and miles of California redwoods.  The nearby outhouses didn’t really provide any kind of solution.

We decided to continue down the road and look for a place to do the job.

And that’s when we found the Chandelier Tree. And paid the money. And used their restroom. And we’ve always teased Jeff about having to pay to drive through a tree to clean up the chocolate donut mess. (We had already driven through a tree for free further up the road.)

Us on a long ago summer vacation driving through the Chandelier Tree with a (once again) clean son and a fairly clean car.
Us on a long ago summer vacation driving through the Chandelier Tree with a (once again) clean son and a fairly clean car.

So how could I miss the opportunity to drive through it again?

The Chandelier Tree is called that because supposedly the branches look like a chandelier, but I didn’t really notice that (either time) and didn’t know that’s why it was called that until I got home and Wikipedia clued me in.

The place consists of the tree, a picnic area and a gift shop.

C. and I were there on a March morning and we had to wait for one other car. I’m guessing summer Sunday afternoons there would be quite a long wait. Because you just don’t wait for the cars to go through the tree, but for the passenger to take a picture of the car while the driver drives through and then for the driver to trade places and the other person drives and the …  You get the picture (no pun intended).

But wow – what a nostalgic memory … and to this day, Jeff no longer eats chocolate donuts.



The 10-year-old munchkin asked if I would take him to the Lego Discovery Center for his birthday (which was actually back in February). I said, “yes.”

I had checked it out before and most reviews talked about it being overpriced, but if you went later in the day you saved $2.00 per ticket. So – the dilemma – go early and pay more or go later and experience rush hour. I’ve been in the area for rush hour before and know you often have to wait bumper to bumper to get back on the highway.

So we went early – on a Saturday.

And it is expensive – $18.00 a piece no matter if you’re 3 or 103. They also had an activity pack for sell which we didn’t get – for $5.00 a piece. (Later I checked on their website and read that it’s simply a couple puzzles.)

You gotta figure – How great could this place be when it’s stuck between two other stores in a strip mall?

The first area we went into was the Lego Chicago which was my favorite display of the entire place. From there, we went through a jungle area and then a Star Wars area. We also went on two rides – the first where you go through a tunnel and shoot at displays and another ride that goes round a center pole and the harder you pedal, the higher you go. Maybe or maybe you just go high and low no matter what you do.

We skipped the 10-minute 4D movie since the munchkin doesn’t like 4D and I’m not all that crazy about them myself.  The “factory” tour was sort of pathetic and took about three minutes.

Next we stood in a line waiting to go into a room and get a lesson in Lego building. We were all given a little bag filled with about 12 pieces and learned how to make a giraffe. That was all well and good and cute – but to actually KEEP them, we had to pay $5.00 for each bag. If we didn’t want to keep them, we had to take them apart and stick the pieces back in the bag for the next group. (Don’t even think about the germs.)

We wandered through the gift shop which is not as big as the downtown Lego store or the Disney Lego stores either.

But it wasn’t really a negative experience. The munchkin had fun and I had fun with the munchkin and liked seeing him having fun, so I was ok with it all.

We then went across the parking lot to the Rainforest Cafe – which was also fun.

The end.

Chicago - in Legos
Chicago – in Legos
The lights went dim to give an appearance of night ... which was very cool.
The lights went dim to give an appearance of night … which was very cool.


The picture and the letter was part of a scavenger hunt which wasn't very hard to scavenger.
The picture and the letter was part of a scavenger hunt which wasn’t very hard to scavenger.


The Jungle Room.
The Jungle Room.


A scary spider/black light
A scary spider/black light
Star Wars
Star Wars