Tuesday, July 31, 2018

High Sierras

Hiking on the John Muir Trail has been on my goal list for at least 5 years.  And it has been Mark's goal for at least as many years to bring us to Tuolomne Meadows in Yosemite.  This summer, it finally happened.  
Thankfully, it was before the fires near Yosemite, so we had clear, non-smokey days.  Here we are looking down toward Half Dome from Olmsted Point.
We lucked out and got sites in Tuolomne Meadows Campground.  In the middle of the summer without reservations--amazing!  The John Muir Trail passes right across the back of the campground.  And as an extra bonus, this segment of the the trail also doubles as the Pacific Crest trail, so we bagged some time on that, too!
 The river ran past the front of the campground.
 Peas in a pod!
My experiment with smores in a cone, instead of graham crackers.  Great success!
We hiked up to Gaylor Lakes.  This trail looked easy on paper, just one mile to the lake.  But we were going from 9,950 ft to almost 11,000, so the air was RARE!
And there was still SNOW up there!  But that didn't stop Mae from jumping into the lake (in fact, I think it encouraged her)

The view from the old mining camp above the upper lake
This hike had gorgeous views of the high Sierra
 Later, we chilled out at Tenaya Lake.
 We also did a longer, flatter hike to Lyell Canyon.  Probably about 10 miles round trip.
 The river there was amazing.  These pics don't even touch the real life colors.
So put this one in the books.  John Muir Trail dust on our feet.  A good day indeed.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Man Who Walks with Goats

Last Spring, when I announced my desire to bring home a pair of baby pygmy goats, my husband rolled his eyes and shook his head.  "OK," he says, "but it is ALL YOU.  I want nothing to do with it."  In theory, the "you" included the girls.  But we all knew it was really MY project.
Fast forward six months.  Here we are, going for a Sunday walk.
The goats trot along the path, following the dogs.

I think the goats think they ARE dogs.

Or maybe they think the dogs are quiet goats. 
 Either way, we are one big happy strolling family.  Clearly, Mark has accepted his fate as a goat daddy.  Maybe next time, we'll let the older kids (A & M) come too!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Alaska 3: Out and About

I really should have had a map of Alaska on my first Alaska post, but better late than never.  So Eagle River is just north of Anchorage, which is on the center south side of the state.  Anchorage is on the shore of Cook Inlet. Our river rafting adventure from the last post took place northeast of Anchorage, up the Glenn Highway on the Matanuska River.

For this next adventure, we traveled southeast, to Portage.  One of my fixations as we visited Alaska was a moose sighting.  I really felt that I would be a slacker if I didn't spy a moose.  I mean...they were pooping and eating branches in our friends' driveway.  Surely I would see one!  And finally, I did.
Of course, the mountain (me) had to to to Mohammed (the moose), by way of visiting the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage.  Moose, bear, bison, porcupine, caribou, and much more.  Highly recommend.  
 Next stop, an actual glacier that we actually touched, with our actual feet.  We had a short hike to Portage Glacier, through the dreaded Alaska mosquitoes and flies.  But well worth it.
Of course, the you can't actually see the girls' feet here.  But you can see they were happy.
 Look, this is the soil at the base of the glacier.  The glacier grinds this to a silt, which is carried away as the glacier melts in the warm months.  This explains the color of the glacier-fed rivers.
 The fam, plus Buckley, who our friends' dog, as well as our dog's brother.
 This is Turnagain Arm, in the Cook Inlet, at low tide.  We learned Alaska's Cook Inlet has tremendous tidal surges.  This section is full during high tide, and a mud flat during low tide.  There are some pretty gross stories about people who venture out there on the mud.  It's like the quicksand that used to show up on scary movies and Gilligan's Island.  I guess people risk it for hunting, fishing, etc.  No thanks.

Next we headed north, visiting the Independence Mine Historical Site.  On one hand, it was fascinating to see how industrious people can be, building this incredible infrastructure out of nothing in some pretty spare conditions.  They did leave kind of a mess, though.  Preserved so we can learn from it.

We passed through Wasilla, so we had to take a look around, searching for a Sarah sighting.  No joy.
We also looked for Russia, but the curvature of the earth seemed to block that view.
We ended up in Willow, for a family get together and had fun singing along with John on the guitar.  His family has a rich history of singing and playing, so it is always fun when the guitar comes out.

Lastly, we visited the Eagle River Nature Center, and ended up hiking the 6-mile loop.
Of course, it was torture with views like this.

Our Alaska adventure was a week of amazing experiences.  I hope to repeat it soon!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Alaska 2: Rafting

So when one is in Alaska, one must fish, or one must climb Denali.  We did a side gig...white water rafting.  Adventurous, but with a very known outcome.  And of course, it was amazing.

Coming down the glacier-fed river (that's why it is silty grey)

 Mae and Abigail got the front seats.
 I'm second on the left (far side), and Mark is third on the right (closest side)
 We worked hard...for fun?
 Still workin' hard.  And yep...it's fun
 Ah, we made it through that one!
 Oh so peaceful, now.
After the adventure, here we are in our poopie suits.  That's what they called these dry suits when Mark and I went through survival training.  Apparently they don't call them that anymore.  Our guide looked a little concerned. But I think they cleaned up OK.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Alaska 1: Eagle River

We have friends who moved to Alaska.  So of course, we had to visit!  So in June, after school let out, we headed up to the 49th state.  What an adventure!
Here we are on the seemingly urban streets of Anchorage, about to be attacked by a grizzly!
Our friends live in Eagle River, so this is...the Eagle River.  The color was striking--kind of a milky grey-green from the glacier silt.  Gorgeous, so of course Mark has to throw a rock in it.

Yay, I hit it!  Great success!
Then everyone has to get in on the action.
Consulting with the sensei
And here we are in front of our first Alaskan glacier that we HAVE EVER SEEN!  Clearly Mark and I are holding on to each other for dear life.  ;-)  

But wait til you see what we did next...(which will be my next post)

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Beach Trip Part 2

Day 2 of our beach adventure was a Morro Bay day.  Beautiful sunshine for a morning on the Embarcadero, doing what everyone does...riding unicycles and juggling?
 Abigail fulfilling her long-held ambition to do both at the same time.
 She had several successful rides, then maybe a little stage fright.
It was a friendly audience, though.
Except for some wiseguy who kept putting his hat out to encourage donations
 Another rousing session of goats and mountain lions
And another chilly dip as the fog rolled in, Morro Bay style.

And then a loooong, tired drive home.

It was a wonderful weekend for all of us!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Beach Trip

This year, we became the parents of two teenagers.  That's a biggie, and we knew we wanted to do something special.  The kids wanted to go somewhere with friends, so we set up a "fund" for their big trip.  They put Christmas money and later, birthday money toward their gift trip.

And that's how we ended up on the coast with seven kids.  We rented a house, which was FANTASTIC!  I do love AirB&B and VRBO.  I'd so much rather spend money on a place to hang out than on meals in restaurants.  Except for that first night, when we did splurge on our first meal: pizza by delivery.  Because when you are from the sticks, that's a big fancy treat to have a guy bring pizza to your door. 
Then we had the birthday salted caramel brownies (instead of cake).

Here we are, the next morning...
The girls are eating breakfast, while Mark, far left, uses the telescope to spy on whales.

Check out the ocean view!

Our first venture was to Montano de Oro State Park.  We hiked down Hazard Canyon to the beach.
It was low tide, so we hit some beautiful tide pools.
But the real draw for the girls are these dunes.  They love to scramble up and tumble down.
Champions of the Dunes!

 Next we went to the Oceano section of Pismo Beach.
 The girls introduced their friends to "Goats and Mountain Lions", which is a souped up version of tag.  Everyone seemed to enjoy it.
Abigail doing a ninja goat move.  Yes, she really IS about six feet in the air.
 Mark gets endless entertainment by dive bombing the girls with his kite.
Then, the girls got in the water.  Notice that there are no other people in this picture.  That's because it was totally stinking COLD and WINDY.

One great thing about Pismo is that you can actually drive your car on the beach.  This worked well ...here we are hiding in the car and shivering as they swim.  For real.

Then we get this scene.  Totally thought they wanted to go home...
Nope, they want to go to a coffee shop right off the beach.  For a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.  Because 60 degree water can be fatiguing. 

We did have a little adventure getting OFF the beach.  We got stuck in the sand and had to push the car to get it going.  Once it was going, was I going to STOP?  Nope.  Jump in, girls...pretend you're Dauntless (at 3 mph).  They loved it.

So here is what I love about being in a house.  Going home, chilling out, and cooking burgers and dogs. 

And boy, were those kids hungry.