Friday, July 20, 2012

Las Vegas Natural History Museum

las vegas natural history museum sign

This is the Las Vegas Natural History Museum, whose driveway we drove into, by mistake, while looking for the Lied Discovery Center. They are across each other on Las Vegas Boulevard North.

The museum has different sections but the most interesting part for the kids was a recreation of King Tut's tomb. They told me they knew all about Egyptian tombs and embalming because of the book, Beyond the Grave, Book 4 of the  39 Clues series.


G was happy to point out things she knew about, just like these Shabtis here below.

Both G and C love to read and the 39 Clues is one of their favorite series (there are 11 books).

Even if it's a small museum, there's still lots to see and fascinating things to learn about. We spent about 3 hours here.

After going through all the three floors and having a vendo-chip snack in between, we went back again to King Tut's room and went through all the displays all over again.

Our last stop was the Young Scientist Center, beside the dinosaur display, where you could play with the displays.

G took notes and wrote down her impressions of everything she saw. C liked the more interactive displays.

I had no idea this place was here, so I was happy to have discovered it by mistake.

Las Vegas Natural History Museum
900 Las Vegas Blvd N.
Las Vegas, NV 89101
(702) 384-3466

Monday, July 9, 2012

Cafe Gourmand in Paris

I first saw them at Chez Dumonet, where we shared a beef bourgignon and confit de canard, B's most favorite dish in Paris. Our meal ended with regular cafe cremes and we were happy with what we ordered until...

I saw dessert plates on other tables on the way out. On each plate was an empty cup of espresso, with remnants of a macaron, a cookie, a small cake and a little pot of mousse. I was intrigued--what did they order?

Later that evening, I asked Bea about it and described what I had seen at lunchtime.  She said "oh, that's a cafe gourmand--an espresso with a sampling of the restaurant's desserts."  "Really? since when did they serve those things? This is the first time I've seen them! And why didn't you tell me about it?!" She looked at me like, "huh?.." (as in what's all the excitement about?)

Sometimes you don't realize what's commonplace and what's unique in a place where you've lived for a long time. Bea's been in Paris for almost nine years now.

I counted how many more meals we had on this trip. I was going to order a cafe gourmand after each one, and nevermind if I didn't drink espresso.

I had a cafe creme instead of an espresso here

Restaurants have their own versions of cafe gourmand--some more elaborate than the others.  It's a little surprise at the end of the meal because you don't know what you're going to get. Your coffee bill will go from 2 euro to about 8 euro, but it's a small price to pay for non-guilt-inducing, pleasurable dessert.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

There Are Places I Remember...

No this is not a travel post. I just need to say I love my iPhone and Draw Something.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Post Office on Hamilton Street, Palo Alto

On our list of errands was a stop by the post office to mail a gift to New York. The closest one to us was this Hamilton Street branch. I already liked the facade so told the kids to "hold that pose."

Palo alto post office
Love the grillwork at the top
The last time I was in a US Post Office was at a typically utilitarian one at the Ala Moana shopping mall in Honolulu. I didn't expect this post office to be any different so I was surprised when I walked in and saw this.

palo alto post office

I was fascinated with the grills, the exposed wooden beams, the lighting fixtures, and the patterned floor. The PO boxes looked like they were straight from set of a period film.

Original ornate brass PO boxes
The kids were not interested in the interiors and was wondering why I was oohing and aahing, taking pictures of everything. They were more thrilled seeing and experiencing a real working post office.  I don't think they have ever been to the main post office in Makati. Come to think of it, neither have I.

post office

They wasted no time trying to figure out how to use the Priority Mail envelopes and the self-serve station. They weighed their package, wrote the label and then got the rate by punching the zip code into the machine.

kids at post office
Package to Sloatsburg costs...
They could've printed out the stamp and dropped the package right here but they still wanted to talk to a live person and see exactly what a post office clerk does.  I think they also wanted to make sure their package was in good hands, and not just dropped into an impersonal box.

This post office was built in the 1930's by Birge Clark, Palo Alto's first architect. Clark was also responsible for designing many other Palo Alto landmarks, giving the city a cohesive Spanish Revival feel, or something Clark liked to call "early California." 

In the 30's, space was not a premium and lots of people were probably coming in to mail letters and packages, perhaps even socializing here like a community center. But in this age of email plus other alternatives for sending parcels around the country, dedicating all this space to a post office seems like a waste of prime property.

It didn't surprise me then when the post office staff mentioned they were moving to a smaller location sometime soon.

kids at post office 

The post office experience must've made quite an impression on the kids because when we got home from this trip, they promptly set up a "post office" in their room complete with free envelopes and lots of stamping paraphernalia.

kids at post office

For a couple of weeks they got everyone in the house to write notes to each other,  which they  delivered to the rooms in the evening (for a fee of course, just like in the post office!).

These would look good on my porch trellis
I wonder what will happen to the building when the post office moves out. Would the new tenants preserve the building exactly as is, with grills and light fixtures intact? I look forward to my next trip to see what becomes of this historic building.


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