One of my favorite places to camp and hike.
Love the rocks #JoshuaTree
One of my favorite places to camp and hike.
Love the rocks #JoshuaTree
…is right here, hiking in the desert.
One of my favorite places on earth, and yes, the water really is that beautiful turquoise color.
McWay Falls is an 80-foot-tall waterfall on the coast of Big Sur in central California that flows year-round into the Pacific Ocean from McWay Creek in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, about thirty-seven miles south of Carmel.
During high tide, it’s a tidefall, a waterfall that empties directly into the ocean.
The waterfall poured directly into the ocean until a massive fire, landslide, and highway reconstruction project near the area in 1983-84 filled the cove with enough material to form a sandy beach several dozen feet out.
The falls, creek, and canyon are named after Christopher McWay, an early settler and farmer from New York state who arrived in the area with his son Christopher Jr. around 1874.
The park itself is named after Julia Pfeiffer Burns (1868-1928), a local and legendary early pioneer and resident who impressed Helen Brown and had run a ranch in McWay canyon with her husband, John B. Burns.
Pinnacles National Park is an American national park protecting a mountainous area located east of the Salinas Valley in Central California, eighty miles southeast of San Jose.
Could the sky have been any more blue?
In the blink of an eye.
It’s true. You never know when the unexpected will occur.
We get up in the morning, drink our coffee and make plans for the day. Those plans NEVER include an auto accident or other unforeseen catastrophe.
I love to make lists:
-Traders for tofu, coffee, ginger tea…
-Go to the nursery
-Pick up prescription
Nowhere on any list does anyone ever pencil in, “be involved in a freak accident on a mountain road”. Or is that just me? Maybe a fatalist WOULD include that in a daily schedule. I dunno…maybe now I will.
I wasn’t the driver so I was literally paying zero attention to the road.
I was looking at all the photos I took and remembering how I got altitude sickness on the way up the twisty windy road and vomited everywhere (ick), but now we were relaxed and dusty and exhausted but happy to be heading back home after a few days of camping and hiking where we saw lots of deer and other animals.
I was startled to hear, “Oh, shit!” and the car swerved a bit and then we felt two large bumps that tossed us about and a large crash.
We pulled over to the narrow shoulder on the two-lane highway. Doing a quick triage, I determined that everyone was unharmed.
I turned around and saw a large piece of a car that we had apparently smashed into, but didn’t see a car. At that moment, a highway patrol car pulled up about fifty feet behind us. I ran out of the car and flagged down the patrolman. Fortuitously, he had been driving that way as part of his routine.
That’s when I saw it.
The poor dear deer.
The poor dear dead deer.
When I wasn’t paying attention, this was how the scenario unfolded.
A deer ran across the road, the big truck in front of us hit the deer which caused his front bumper to fall off. That horrible man kept going; he never even stopped. The impact must have killed the deer instantly. We were unable to avoid hitting it as there was traffic all around and nowhere to go. So the two bumps we felt was us running over the already dead three hundred pound deer.
The patrolman said that was the third one that day. (There are lots of deer and not enough natural predators.)
Our vehicle was pretty messed up but it still ran and was OK to drive the rest of the way home but it was in the shop for three weeks.
After the poor dear deer was moved to the side of the road, I kneeled down and petted his head and told him how very sorry I was that he died.
I guess the moral of the story is that you never know when something bad is going to happen. As much as I like to predict all outcomes, sometimes it’s not possible to gaze in a crystal ball and see the future.
Honestly though, what kind of a horrible person hits an animal and doesn’t stop???
Out of respect for the deceased, I won’t post a pic of him, but here are other deer enjoying life.
“I will keep YOU safe, Grandma!” as he runs across the lawn and jumps in my outstretched arms.
“I will keep YOU safe, Theo-saurus!” “We’ll be safe together, how does that sound?”
And we laugh at our little joke, over and over again pretending to be afraid of the remote control dinosaur, a gift from Grandpa for his third birthday.
“I like it when T-Rex dances, but I SORTA don’t like it when he roars!”
“Are you afraid of him, Theo?”
“Not really, Grandma. He’s not scary to me. Well, at first, I was a little bit afraid, but not anymore.”
“Me neither, T.” I said, to affirm his bravery and courage in overcoming his fear of a twenty-four-inch tall walking, roaring, dancing Tyrannosaurus Rex.
I’ve delayed for almost a week writing my observations of the arraignment last week of the suspects arrested in the murder of a local woman.
In my dreams, I can still see the faces of those two monsters charged with stabbing her more than fifty times in the face and head.
As a diversion, I’d rather focus on something beautiful and positive, just a brief respite from the reality of dark and disturbed people who made a decision that seems so senseless; so cruel.
Back to Planet Theo…
The world really does revolve around him, and like most toddlers, this is an important developmental milestone.
The normal human brain is designed by evolution to generate the egocentric illusion: the illusion that the owner of a particular brain is the center of the universe.
Egocentrism refers to the child’s inability to see a situation from another person’s point of view.
Reading about this reminds me of the time I spent post-BA when I was in the teacher training program at university and we studied this fascinating subject.
According to Jean Piaget, the Swiss biologist and psychologist, the egocentric child assumes that other people see, hear, and feel exactly the same as the child does
The infant builds an understanding of himself or herself and reality (and how things work) through interactions with the environment. It is able to differentiate between itself and other objects. Learning takes place via assimilation (the organization of information and absorbing it into existing schema) and accommodation (when an object cannot be assimilated and the schemata have to be modified to include the object.
The child is not yet able to conceptualize abstractly and needs concrete physical situations. Objects are classified in simple ways, especially by important features.
As physical experience accumulates, accommodation is increased. The child begins to think abstractly and conceptualize, creating logical structures that explain his or her physical experiences.
Cognition reaches its final form. By this stage, the person no longer requires concrete objects to make rational judgements. He or she is capable of deductive and hypothetical reasoning. His or her ability for abstract thinking is very similar to an adult. (https://www.learning-theories.com/piagets-stage-theory-of-cognitive-development.html)
As we grow from children to adults, we first separate and then individuate from our family of origin. Separation entails moving away, starting a career, and setting up a home. Individuation is the process by which we grow into our own authentic self. Individuation is detached observation of the behaviors and beliefs we learned as children.(https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-24867/the-single-most-destructive-factor-in-your-search-for-real-love.html
Most of us move through these stages as we get older; our brains grow, we individuate, we see ourselves as part of the whole, each piece synergistically interacting with others; we learn empathy. Some do not. Those with personality and/or character disorders become stuck somewhere in the early stages of development and never truly individuate.
Genetics and environment both seem to play a part in preventing certain children from growing or developing properly, hindering and sometimes even completely inhibiting the ability to maintain healthy adult relationship connections.
That’s why it’s vitally important to educate ourselves about how the brain works, how emotions develop, how play and make believe are critical building blocks to lay a sturdy foundation of trust, love, and safe boundaries.
OK, off my soapbox for now. Happy 3rd birthday to the one and only Theo-saurus and happy birthday to Daddy too, Here’s the post about his birth, thirty-eight years ago. I am so proud of the man he’s become. And soon to be daddy to #2, the princess of all princesses. I’m already drooling over frilly pink dresses and pink blankets.
We went camping in the Anza Borrego desert to see the full moon. That’s the Sawtooth Mountains.
I don’t have many pics ‘cos I was too busy trying to keep up with Planet Theo. We saw California Quail, bunnies, and heard coyotes. Life is GOOD.
The Laguna Mountains are only about an hour away east from the ocean in San Diego.
Most people go there when we have snow — at 6000 feet, it’s the highest point in the county.
It’s possible to surf in the morning, cross-country ski (or hike) in the afternoon, and drop down into the shimmering desert to experience the best of everything SoCal has to offer.
Late May to mid-June is the time of year when color explodes in the mountains and it’s not too hot to enjoy a strenuous hike while the air cools down comfortably at night.
It’s easy to get here: east on Highway 8 to Sunrise Highway.
We went mid-week before schools were out for summer vacation and we had the mountain pretty much entirely to ourselves.
Fragrant pines, Engelmenn oaks, wildflowers; deep blue sky with a few white puffy clouds.
There aren’t enough adjectives to describe the spectacular views.
We hiked Desert View Trail and Big Laguna Trail, about ten miles or so.
It was truly heaven on earth, one of those experiences where whispering was the only way to communicate-we didn’t want to mar the ultimate reverence for nature.
These are only a sampling of the hundred-plus pics I snapped and none of them do justice to this paradise.
California is beautiful.
Everyone should go on a road trip vacay and drive down (or up) the coast through the central coast along Highway One.
The scenery is amazing and the views are breathtaking, BUT driving around Big Sur, the twistywindytwolanehighway is SCARY, more so if you’ve previously experienced a near death event.
One one side, there’s the vertigo-inducing views of the Pacific Ocean beneath a precipitous embankment, and on the other side, close enough so that if you open a window and reach out, you could almost touch the mountain.
“Mom, why is your lip bleeding?”
“Because I’m biting it to keep from screaming.”
“SLOW DOWN. SLOWDOWNSLOWDOWN!”
“See the red lights on the car in front of us? That is your very obvious CLUE that you need to react and SLOW DOWN.”
“Sssllllooowwwwdddooowwwnnnn…” says the crazy backseat driver.
“Heeheehee.” That’s Angel Boy chuckling at my terror.
“How about leaving a little more distance between you and the car in front of us?”
“Would that be too much to ask?”
My right thigh was becoming numb as I constantly phantom-braked during that entire death defying journey.
I clutched the dash so tightly, I thought they’d have to pry my fingers off of it.
In the back seat, DIL was listening to music and texting, observing this exchange between mother and son.
(I think she was laughing, too.)
My son lives his entire life by multi-tasking every single moment of every single day.
Even while driving, he’s eating, talking to his GPS, and carrying on two conversations.
His new name is Dr. Distracto, because the ONE thing he needed to concentrate on — DRIVING — what should have been his primary focus — was third or fourth on the list of what garnered his attention.
“Geez, pay attention to the traffic, would you?”
I was hyperventilating, fanning my face, telling him, “Do you want to give me a heart attack?”
Remember that film I liked, Guilt Trip, with Barbara Streisand and Seth Rogan?
(Read my review HERE of the best Jew-mom film EVER.)
This was OUR version of a road trip.
It was actually pretty funny. In reality, my son is a good driver in spite of being an absent minded professor.
When it was all over and we were once again on wide, straight roads, I apologized for my bout of insanity and praised his patience and even tempered disposition.
I highly recommend camping with one’s adult child and spouse.
I haven’t heard about too many other people who’ve done this. Let me know if you have and maybe we could start a club.
Popping a squat side-by-side on the trail with one’s DIL makes for a great bonding moment.
They had thoughtfully packed two tents, a huge family-sized Hobitat, and a smaller one in case I wanted to sleep in my own tent, and not with them.
I chose the “mother-in-law” unit because I didn’t want to disturb anyone or crawl over them if I had to get up and to to the bathroom at 3 a.m.
I’ve always wanted to explore Jade Cove but I had no idea that it was going to become the challenge of a lifetime.
I had no idea that the only way to get down to where the jade could be found was by rope. THIS was where the EMPOWERMENT really kicked in.
NO WAY was I gonna do that.
Nope. Never. Not in a million years.
It should have been an absolute dealbreaker, but my desire for jade and serptentine treasures made me think I MIGHT be able to take the risk.
It would have been such a shame to come all this way and give in to my fears.
My son patiently coaxed me and DIL all the way and made sure we safely descended the nearly vertical bluffs, while he scrambled down like a mountain goat.
I AM EMPOWERED.
(My hair looks HORRIBLE, but I’m grinning from ear to ear.)
The Jade Cove Trail is a simple flat path that loops out to the coast with a steep but short path down to the water where you can hunt for jade (please follow local regulations about collecting rocks.)
From the top.
After that, we drove to Julia Pfieffer State Park for a day hike. This state park is named after Julia Pfeiffer Burns, a well respected pioneer woman in the Big Sur country. The park stretches from the Big Sur coastline into nearby 3,000-foot ridges. It features redwood, tan oak, madrone, chaparral, and an 80-foot waterfall that drops from granite cliffs into the ocean from the Overlook Trail. A panoramic view of the ocean and miles of rugged coastline is available from the higher elevations along the trails east of Highway 1.
Overlook Trail and the cove with famous turquoise water.
McWay Falls, one of only two coastal waterfalls in California, where McWay Creek falls 80 feet over a granite cliff onto a sandy beach, or at high tide directly into the Pacific Ocean.McWay Creek
Majestic redwoodsSquint your eyes and you can see Angel Boy and DIL at the base of the gigantic redwoods.
Bottom line: Empowerment is empowering. At any age.
Hiking at Montana de Oro.
After a horrible night of not much sleep thanks to a bunch of obnoxious college students who must have been too drunk to understand that, to most people, camping means peace and quiet, not a beer binged free-for-all, we embarked on a day hike.
Our goal was Valencia Peak, but we first made a loop up Oats Peak Trail.
Valencia Peak is a coastal mountain located within Montana De Oro State Park. This trail offers gorgeous views of the Central Coast, great views of Morro Bay, Cayucos, and on clear days, you can see Cambria and beyond — with amazing views of Spooner’s Cove to the south.
It’s an easy trail with gentle elevation gain; I didn’t even need the alpine walking sticks I packed.
The spectacular views begin right away as you ascend up onto a saddle, and the rest of the hike is before your eyes.
The trail gets a little harder the closer you get to the top.
DIL and I stopped shy of the peak; my son wanted to run to the top and back, so we took a break, ate lunch, and admired the view of the ocean.
There was cell service, so I called tugboat man to say hi and to let him know we are DEFINITELY going to spend a few days here when he returns.
The views are beyond breathtaking. It feels like you’re on top of the world.
The hike down is much easier, but watch out for rattlesnakes. We saw a baby, whose venom is more potent than the adult rattlesnake.
After the mostly tranquil train ride (except for one poorly parented relentlessly screamingfordonuts toddler who seemed not to be bothered by her screeching while staring at their smartphones), I was met at the train station in sunny Santa Barbara by Professor Angel Boy and we stopped for lunch at an organic foods cafe.
We made an unscheduled detour because he wanted to check out the surf at Morro Bay, and because it’s always really all about him, that’s what we did.
I’m not much of a seagull lover, but this guy was too photogenic to ignore.After a brief surf session, we continued to Montana de Oro State Park, six miles southwest of Morro Bay and seven miles south of Los Osos on Pecho Road.
It’s fairly rural and rustic, but SO beautiful. We set up camp and were able to manage a late afternoon hike.
With the sun low in the sky; clouds and fog actively moving over the tops of the mountains, it was serene and enervating at the same time.
Quail are everywhere and for a while, their melodic conversations were the only sounds we heard. These guys were walking around directly outside my tent.
Later that evening, after a relaxing fire and glass of wine, we heard the unmistakable scream/growl of a bobcat across the canyon.
At that moment, life was perfection. The only way it could have been better was if tugboat man wasn’t oceans away and not able to enjoy our holiday.
Little did we know that in a few short hours, in sharp contrast to this beauty and tranquility, we would endure the WORST EVER camping experience of our lives.
As we settled down to a good night’s sleep under a star-filled sky, a group of approximately twenty college students set up their camp nearby and proceeded to drink and yell and party LOUDLY until 4:30 a.m. in spite of the 10pm-7am quiet time rules.
Apparently, nobody, including us, got up to inform the camp host or the rangers of this HELL we had to endure, but we all complained to him the next day.
However, at approximately 3:30 a.m. just as we were dozing, or trying to, during the bacchanal, three fat raccoons furiously attempted to tear apart the locked food cabinet next to our picnic table. My son had to get up and shoo them away, and as he put the food in the car, one of them tried to sneak in.
It was an eventful night.
Right after THAT little adventure, a bobcat screamed so close we thought it was within feet of where we were sleeping, and figured that he had an altercation with those raccoons.
No one slept much after that, because we wanted to stay awake in case we could see him walk by.
No luck with the bobcat sighting, but as I unzipped my tent in the morning, see who was looking at me? An beautiful gray fox. These aren’t the best pics because I was in such a hurry to snap them before he ran off.
What an astonishing gift to sort of make up for the rude frat boys.
So far, quite an adventure, don’t you agree?
Part Three: A Ten-Mile Hike