BEYOND THE FIELD TRIP: If you grew up in Southern California, chances are good that one or more of your elementary school classes took a field trip to one of the region's 19th-century ranchos. There you learned about how food was grown, and how life was lived at night without electricity, and you likely put your hand against a wall to better feel the old adobe bricks beneath. And while the docent or teacher probably explained a little bit about the concepts behind adobe architecture, some of its muddier, messier points were likely lost on you, a kid who thinks bricks are very hard and very rectangular and very much the color of, well, bricks. Getting to know more about what was once the predominent building material of the area, and, indeed, the greater Southwest, is not only an important bit of hands-on learning but fun, too. Messily fun, that is, but that's a concept Rancho Los Cerritos in Long Beach supports. It's oh-so-popular Mud Mania event squishes mightily on Sunday, Aug. 17, and kids who've heard about adobe bricks, or read of them in a textbook, can go hands-on and build their own.
AND... get pretty muddy-goopy in the process, but, yeah, "Mud Mania" is the name of the day. The making of adobe bricks isn't the only to-do at the rancho, though; "mud relay races, clay sculpting, archeaology adventures" and other dirt-delightful haps are part of the plan. Old shoes are a required element of the day, and a clothing change and towel are recommended. Cost? Seven bucks adults, five bucks kids. Will you want to shower when you get home? Chances are good. Will you have deeper knowledge of an old form of house-making around SoCal? For sure. Will you reconnect with the fun of mud-play, be you a kid or an adult? They wouldn't have named it "Mud Mania" if not.