Sequoia National Park

Filed under: Travel — Administrator at 11:37 am on Thursday, May 18, 2017

This has been a busy year so far. I planted a garden, went on many hikes, watched Laura Marling perform, saw a parade, and attended a lobster and rose tasting, where I eavesdropped on rich people arguing about servicing their Audis. I learned that an Audi oil change costs $100, but the service agreement is $700, so if you’re only going to keep the car for three years, it’s better to pay for the oil change out of pocket. However, the other rich people argued, what if your Audi is a lemon? Then you could be out thousands. What then, huh?

I also took several small trips. I went to Monterey, visited the snow in Tahoe, and wrote in a cabin in the redwoods. But the best thing we did was take a spontaneous trip to Sequoia National Park.

I mistakenly thought that sequoias looked like coastal redwoods. Not at all. They are orange, for one thing. Their bark is flat, scratchy, and brittle and spongy at the same time. Imagine a bunch of giant orange trees on top of a huge granite mountain, and that’s Sequoia National Park. Pictures:
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Kyle by sequoias

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Looking up at one of the trees.

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We came upon this cute family holding hands around the tree.

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General Sherman, one of the biggest trees in the world.

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Ranger holding up a pine cone

We also climbed to the top of this:

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That’s Morro Rock. There was a staircase going up to the top. It looked like this:

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Here are some views from the top:

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Gideon also climbed the rock. I was proud of him. Here we are as a family, at the top. This was right at the moment Gideon started acting squirrely and scared us by flopping around.

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No one died.

Yellowstone National Park Part 2

Filed under: Travel — Administrator at 7:36 am on Thursday, December 15, 2016

Here’s more from our trip to Yellowstone National Park. See Part 1 Here.

Yellowstone is the Earth’s largest active geyser field.

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We’ve all heard of Old Faithful Geyser, but it is one of hundreds of geysers in Yellowstone. There are so many that the landscape steams with them.

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It rained for part of our trip, so many of my geyser pictures didn’t turn out, but they are quite a sight. Some look like the mouth of a dragon. Some look like bubbling mud puddles. Some shoot water hundreds of feet into the air.

My favorite was the Grand Prismatic Spring. Here’s a picture of it from the air:

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Because of the fall weather, we didn’t see that version of Grand Prismatic Spring, but what we did see was fascinating. The colors in the spring are caused by heat-loving bacteria. As such, each area is a different color and pattern, often reminding me of stained glass.

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I have to stop myself from posting more pictures. I mean, the mud looked like this.

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And this.

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I would definitely go back to Yellowstone. We barely scratched the surface of what there is to see there.

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Ominous witch cloud bringing the rain.

Yellowstone National Park Part 1

Filed under: Travel — Administrator at 11:31 am on Tuesday, December 13, 2016

In October, Kyle, Gideon, and I went on an RV trip. We rented a Cruise America RV and drove over 3,000 miles through Nevada, Idaho, Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Glacier National Park in Montana, Seattle, Vancouver BC, and Portland, Oregon. Here’s the route:

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The RV looked like this:

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We covered a lot of the country, but the highlight of the trip was Yellowstone.

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For one thing, the park has the best wildlife viewing I’ve ever experienced. On this trip, we saw buffalo, elk, coyotes, antelopes, deer, chipmunks, bald eagles, and big horn sheep. Most of these were in Yellowstone.

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At one point, a huge herd of buffalo crossed the road right in front of us. The bulls sounded like bears growling.

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Speaking of bears, there were signs of them everywhere. For example, these claw marks:

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Yellowstone has a varied landscape that includes forests, waterfalls, plains, a huge lake, and even its own Grand Canyon.

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Because of all the volcanic activity, the earth was all kinds of cool colors, red, pink, yellow, orange.

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The fall foliage was colorful too.

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And of course there were the geysers. PART 2 HERE.

Majestic Humboldt

Filed under: Travel — Administrator at 8:43 am on Tuesday, October 18, 2016

I’m writing something based on Humboldt County, where I grew up, and where I go fairly frequently. So I took a road trip there earlier this year and spent some time in the old-growth redwood forests.

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Majestic, huh?

A few more pictures.

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This is the kind of forest I grew up with. I saw so many beautiful places this year, but these forests continue to be in the top.

I Went Up In A Hot Air Balloon

Filed under: Travel — Administrator at 7:26 am on Sunday, June 5, 2016

When it came to celebrating Marcia’s birthday this year, we decided to go on a hot air balloon ride, something both of us have been wanting to do for years. It’s great! I recommend it, even though you have to get up before the sun comes up to do it. Here’s a picture of the sunrise:

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We watched them blow up our balloon, which was exciting to see.

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Marcia and I went with five other people, including the pilot. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this, but it turned out that it was fun to go with other people. We were all first timers and experienced it together. Here we are in the basket right before take off:

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Going up in the sky is smooth and surreal. It feels like being in a slow, exposed elevator. You’re an inch off the ground, and then feet, and then suddenly you’re very high up:

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At first, I was scared and had to fight against thoughts about dying/crashing. Then I got used to it and enjoyed the gorgeous views.

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I even got the nerve to look over the side of the basket. I saw tiny cows and horses, vineyards, cars, and trees. We also flew over other hot air balloons.

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Landing was fun. It turns out that hot air balloons don’t have a lot of control where they land, so they end up going down in all kinds of weird places. We ended up in a field surrounded by high grass and hundreds of tiny hopping tree frogs.

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A van had to come and get us out, which meant attaching a strap to the balloon and towing us through the air. In a way, it was the most exciting part.

After that, we went to lunch in Napa and then to a Calistoga spa. Neither of us had done an expensive spa treatment before. We had facials. Here I am in a spa robe.

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I don’t know if I would bother with a spa again but hot air balloons? Definitely.

Monterey Trip

Filed under: Travel — joy at 3:21 pm on Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Last month, I took a short trip to Monterey. Turns out January is a great time to visit. Here are some pictures.

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It was a beautiful day.

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Me: There’s something very old-fashioned about that man.

Marcia: Is it that he’s wearing a suit to the beach?

Me: That must be it.

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Beautiful pelicans.

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Flower girls. I saw so many weddings while there. At least five, maybe more.

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Carmel Mission with yet another wedding.

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Beautiful silken water.

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See the seal head popping out of the water? It wanted those men to leave so it could go back to sleeping on the dock.

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Tor House, the home of poet Robinson Jeffers.

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Sea lions.

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I also saw a ton of sea otters but never managed to get a good photograph.

Belgium Pictures

Filed under: Travel — joy at 8:55 am on Tuesday, October 27, 2015

In addition to our trip to Amsterdam, we took a day trip to Bruges, Belgium. It’s a medieval town with several tall churches and a town square with a clock tower. Here are some pictures:

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That’s me taking a picture in a reflective art sculpture. ARTY.

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While there, we ate so much. I can’t believe I lost three pounds on this trip.

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Belgium chocolates. I had the best caramel I’ve ever had at Pralinette.

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Beer, of course. I was rather proud to see I was familiar with almost all the Belgium beers we encountered. Woman of the world. Or at least, a beer pub.

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Here’s Kyle eating a waffle. You can add lots of toppings: sprinkles, chocolate, fruit, and so forth. Kyle just had whip cream.

After eating, we walked around more.

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There are lace shops everywhere.

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You know how in 18th-19th century novels, women are always going on about lace, and how they have to buy a new lace collar, and how lace is so special and expensive and wonderful? I never understood that until this trip. Lace making is a complex craft that has been almost lost in the age of machinery. To see what I mean, check out this video of a woman in Bruges making lace.

Amsterdam Pictures

Filed under: Travel — joy at 10:12 am on Thursday, October 22, 2015

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Last month, I went to Amsterdam and Belgium for a week with my husband, best friend, and toddler. It was a great trip. Amsterdam is an easy place to visit. It rained, but not to the point that it ruined the trip. In fact, when the sun came out on Saturday, I got a sense of what the crowds would have been like if it hadn’t rained, and decided the bad weather was a blessing in disguise.

Of course, there are the canals.

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And the great architecture.

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We visited many museums. My favorites were the Anne Frank House–incredibly moving–and the Van Gogh Museum.

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Here are people crowding around Rembrandt’s Night Watch in Rijksmuseum.

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They have a whole room on the Battle of Waterloo. Here’s Kyle looking at things.

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Marcia and me standing in front of the Rijksmuseum. Marcia’s family is from Holland, so not only does she speak Dutch, she knows all about the culture, including the food.

While there, we ate things like: sandwiches, seafood, stroopwafels, BamiGoreng, Gevulde Koeken/Almond Paste Cookies, Dutch croquettes (essentially deep-fried gravy–don’t tell America about that), excellent French fries, and cheese. We took a side trip to Edam to try cheese. Here’s one of the cheese shops.

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The Dutch like to dip food in condiments. And you know what? They have better condiments. Better ketchup. Better mayonnaise. Hey, did you know that Heineken beer actually tastes good in Holland? What’s up with that?

The one thing I wasn’t crazy about is the pickled herring, which you can buy from stands all over the city.

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It tastes like you suspect it would.

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I was surprised to find that I liked bicycling in Amsterdam. In California, people are annoying with their bikes, wearing spandex and huffing and puffing up hills. In Amsterdam, people sail around on bikes wearing coats, smoking cigarettes, talking on cell phones, and dragging their children in carts. It’s charming.

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Crowds on the street.

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Woman and dog in the rain.

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I took lots of pictures of people in Amsterdam. She’s my favorite.

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Here’s the flower market.

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Marcia and I bought tulip bulbs that were inspected and approved for entry into the United States, but customs threw them out anyway. Welcome back to the US. Here’s a slap in the face.

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World traveler.

Turns out traveling in Europe with a toddler isn’t that hard. You have to go slower and you have to make sure he’s fed and happy, but overall, I think we’ll be taking him to Europe again in the future.

Stay tuned for Belgium pictures.

Coast Trip 2015

Filed under: Travel — joy at 7:27 am on Wednesday, July 22, 2015

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Last month, we rented a cabin on a bluff overlooking the California coast. It was a great four days. We played banjo and card games and took walks and roasted hot dogs over an open fire. There was even a fire pit. Here’s some pictures:

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View of the deck.

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There was even a fire pit.

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Look at that water.

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Lots of fishing boats.

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More gorgeous water

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And more.

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Flowers and beach and water.

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Sunset.

I want to go back there. Perfect place for a writing retreat.

Yosemite Trip

Filed under: Travel — joy at 7:55 am on Monday, February 23, 2015

I took a little trip to Yosemite on Friday. The park was gorgeous, uncrowded, and peaceful.

We saw a coyote–pictured below–and a bobcat, which strolled right in front of us, as casual as could be. It was my son’s first trip to Yosemite, and he was taken with the big rocks, and the fact that they had cracks in them. He’s two.

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Obligatory Half Dome picture.

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The coyote.

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You can’t take a bad picture in this park.

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Bridal Veil Falls.

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My son, investigating a crack in a boulder.

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