A Doug's Life: Kids, Carnivals and Quackers

Around our house, you never quite know how "family time" is going to work out.

It was Sunday afternoon and the kids were over. That's four children, ages 28-33. Add four grandchildren, ages 2-5, and we can pretty much provide our own entertainment. Just watching the little ones interact with each other is kind of like going to the circus.

This time, the plan was to get out of the house and enjoy the beautiful day before the rains came. A previous plan to meet at Disneyland had already been scrapped. Who needs the Magic Kingdom when we have our own Frontier Land right here?

First stop was the Winchester Cowboy Christmas Festival. How could it not be? The grandkids know all about Pop's obsession with the Old West. The minute I told them we were going to a carnival where the cowboys lived, they were headed for the car.

What's not to like about a town named Winchester? I was ready for the mounted posse to meet us at the city limits. Perhaps there would be a shootout at high noon, or a rodeo, or at least a pony ride for the kids.

Maybe our timing was just bad.

Granted, it was the last day of a four-day festival, which had featured a live band, hay rides and other western-themed attractions the three previous days. True, it was pretty cold outside and the clouds were rolling in. Bottom line, the vendors were starting to pack up and the cowboys were nowhere to be found.

But guess what? The carnival was still there. Even little Blake, who dressed up like Cowboy Bob for Halloween with hat, boots, vest and six-shooter, forgot about the absence of gunslingers when he saw the miniature roller coaster and carousel.

All the little ones had a good time, which meant the big ones were all smiles, too. As a parent or grandparent, you often enjoy life through the eyes of the children.

When 5-year-old Kaylee climbed all the way to the top of the super slide and came flying down the chute all by herself for the first time, we cheered. When 3-year-old Riley led her cousin Blake onto the roller coaster, we reached for our cameras. When 2-year-old Cameron ran for the "horsie" on the carousel, we had to run to keep up.

Everyone had fun -- and we needed neither Mickey Mouse nor Sheriff John to do it.

Deciding that it was still early, we headed a bit south to visit the Temecula Duck Pond. Located on Ynez Road just off the 15 Freeway, it's a pretty, peaceful place with a Veterans Memorial -- which the grandkids didn't notice -- and a whole lot of ducks -- which they did.

It's amazing how entertained the little ones are by a bunch of birds they can see close up for free. The parents had to hold the kids by their belt loops as the little ones leaned over the water to drop bread crumbs and laugh as the ducks splashed around to get into position for a treat.

It was a gentle reminder about the simple pleasures of life and the joys any family can find in the little things that are all around us.

So while we'll still make trips to Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm (the cowboys, you know), our family will continue to explore things right here in our back yard. As long as we're together and the Menifee area has treasures to be found, there will be more good times ahead.

carnival rides
duck pond


  1. You and my husband should get together as he is a big fan of the "Old West"! You would probably have lots to talk about.

  2. Hi Doug! A suggestion for future excursions: At Diamond Valley Lake just up the road from Menifee on Domenigoni there is a lake of course that you can fish in when the water is high enough, There is a dam and an overlook for great viewing, there is a historical museum with a great film presentation about how the lake came to be and lots and lots of huge dinosaur bones and other artifacts to look at. Bones that came from that very spot from Mastadons and Mammoth and more. They have kids activities, a nice gift shop and another educational center next door that teaches all about the water cycle and shows you the great big fish caught at Diamond Lake. There is also a large nature preserve and bird sanctuary that can be hiked...Osprey and Red Tails can be seen...and during the summer there is an aquatic center for some water fun for the kiddos. Www.dvlake.com will tell you more. I enjoy your forays since I made them myself 4 yrs ago and am still happy to head out and explore our backyard. Jennifer Fakharizadeh

  3. I'm sure we would, Jan. There's no better subject.

  4. Doug,

    I love the photo of the kids on the ride! Precious! Thanks for sharing!