Citrus land

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The plan was to drive up past Valencia to buy a crateload of oranges. As it turns out, the area is also a treasure trove of easy things to do with kids. Next door to our orange supplier ($5 for 40 pounds!) is a state-run fish hatchery, one of a dozen or so in California, and it is well worth a quick stop. There are about 5 long rows of troughs filled with fattened-up trout. It’s perfect for small kids because they can see the fish easily without having to be picked up, and you can buy fish food for a quarter and let them throw it in themselves. If you time your arrival between 11 and 12 or between 1 and 2, you might get to witness the jumping spectacle that is feeding time.

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After eating lunch in the shadows of the hatchery’s kitsch-y 70s posters,  we drove 5 minutes to the town of Fillmore, where I knew there was a train station somewhere. Jack spotted it long before I would have. “Look, it’s a caboose!” he shrieked. “Mama, let’s go take a look of it.” The old trains weren’t running, but that didn’t dampen his enthusiasm one bit. There’s a winery right next to the train tracks that serves gourmet sandwiches. I made a note to return sometime with a friend in the hopes that the views of the trains will keep him still long enough to allow me to take more than two bites.

So we returned home with a trunk full of citrus and a 3-year-old bubbling with memories of coupling hooks, turntables, and jumping fish.

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