Big Sur Magic

One of my favorite places on earth, and yes, the water really is that beautiful turquoise color.

Photo by Enchanted Seashells

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.

#WordlessWednesday

21 Months: Toddler Time

Lucky lucky me got to spend another week with Angel Boy 2.0.

AB 1.0 asked me to bring some of his favorite childhood Christmas tree ornaments that his grandma and I had collected over the years so they could continue the tradition.

We brought home a seven-foot Noble fir and spent my first night decorating the tree with Theo. It took a while, but he finally understood the concept of leaving the ornaments ON the tree and not pulling them off and throwing them like a major league pitcher.

Although it had been raining for a few days, while I was there, the weather was beautiful but FREEZING, at least for this SoCal girl. I was wearing about a dozen layers, perfectly suited for Pacific Northwest arctic temps.

The next morning Mr. T and I went on a walk to the marina. He was all bundled up and you can see the snow on the Olympic mountains in the background.

B039A72B-F9FE-4029-8A17-8C5F774D3CC462F33226-5031-43D3-B254-9A39B15D69A1CC4686B1-CE4F-40E8-B342-55BDDDD473DB

On the way to Ballard Locks.64F334D4-FE48-441F-9658-D72E7951B705

After a power nap, Theo and I made a pizza, helping me roll out the dough and scattering sliced zucchini, green peppers, and broccoli over tomato sauce.  With lentil soup, it was a perfect winter lunch.

For some reason, I became his sole choice for ALL diaper changes…AmmahAmmah had to do them all, and there were NO complaints from mom or dad. Besotted as I am with this little human, even THAT melted my heart and I gladly complied with his request.

These moments are so fleeting – one minute you’re changing a diaper and the next you’re sending them off to college. I learned a long time ago with the original Angel Boy to appreciate each and every detail along the journey. Even diaper changes. Yes, even that.

When he was here for Thanksgiving and we walked to the park and he was kinda balky, I created the game of “Puppy” with each of us holding something (or a pretend something) as a leash to encourage him to keep moving, and he remembered (!) which meant there was lots of puppy play and kitty play. And tea parties.

Yes, I am the ULTIMATE playmate. Laser focused attention. HEAVEN. BLISSFUL. JOY.

EF00EA0F-55A4-43BB-9777-2D1BEB561D83As the sun set in the evening, he’d choose a few books and we’d snuggle on the sofa and wind down with Peppa the Pig or Postman Pat or his new Hannukah book or my favorite ones about animals.

He’s memorized so many stories that have already been read to him a billion times.

It’s an important interactive pre-reading experience.

To engage a bright young mind with a lifelong love of learning and reading is a goal we all share.

One of those priceless moments I’ll forever savor and never forget is the heavy weight of a perfectly relaxed little boy nestled in the curve of my protective arm, feeling his excitement as he points to the picture of a wolf when prompted and howls when asked, “what does a wolf say?”

The next day we went to his Gymboree class, which was so cool for me because I had taken his dad there when they first started franchising in the 1980s.

It was amazing to observe Theo’s interaction with the instructor and other children. He is so much like his daddy was at that age, it’s a great response to the debate of nature versus nurture. When my son was very little, a brilliant woman told me “he sees the world in his own way” and I saw those very same characteristics in Theo. He’s not shy, he’s exceptionally self confident, but like his dad, he’s reserved; a thinker and an observer, absorbing everything and filing it away in his mind to process in his own way, but he’s not much of an active participant, although he very much enjoyed himself and helped pick up and put away the musical instruments when it was over. This week was the culmination of Beatle’s music, so when we went back home, I played the same songs that we heard in class, Yellow Submarine, All You Need is Love, and Hello/Goodbye. Theo sung along and shook the maracas exactly the same way he had paid such close attention to. With all children, it’s a great idea to take their lead in situations like this and let them guide their level of participation.

His verbal skills are on fire now, parroting dozens of new words and learning sentence structure. I call it the Helen Keller moment. Two-word directives like “Theo down” …Choo choo loud” “Daddy home” is being expanded upon. DIL and I both heard him clearly say “I want Abby’s cake” when we had a little birthday party for a friend. OF COURSE he was rewarded with the cake that he wanted. OF COURSE. It’s all about positive reinforcement, right?

My brother came to visit from Portland for a couple of days and one of our excursions was the zoo. As you might imagine, I hate zoos. I hate caged and captive wild animals. I hate that their very existence is used to make money as entertainment. I HATE seeing them in their unnatural habitats. But I figured that if I went to the zoo, later on at the appropriate age, I could begin a discussion about all of that, so I did. Theo especially loves gorillas and flamingos, so that’s what we saw. I can’t tell you how sad it was to watch those magnificent gorillas who should have been SOMEWHERE ELSE and I actually thought they seemed depressed. I felt like I shouldn’t be looking at him. Tragic.

gorillazoo

DSCN1143

The very best part of the day was on the way out.

I noticed a woman crouched on one knee pointing a camera into a tree. I looked up and saw a magnificent OWL, also one of Theo’s fave animals. When he followed my gaze and saw the owl, he was transfixed. We stayed there for a bit and he called it Daddy Owl because it was so large. The sun was going down, so this isn’t the best pic, but it was a spectacular sighting.

owlzoo

Although he gifted me with a nasty sore throat and the beginnings of the flu or some type of upper respiratory infection, it was once again a magical time; although flying home to vicious Santa Ana winds and out of control fires, loss of homes, dozens of horses perishing, and emergency notifications from the city to prepare for possible evacuation brought me right back to reality. The winds have died down for now but are forecasted to be gust at 50+ mph on Sunday.

Corgi Heaven in San Francisco

Son, daughter-in-law, and Theo are in San Fran for the summer, so I flew up to spend a week basking in the joy of a three-month-old baby boy.

Today we took Theo on his first beach outing at Ocean Beach to attend the Nor Cal Corgi Con 2016 Summer Event. DIL is from the UK and her love for corgis is to be expected since Queen Elizabeth is a Corgi mum.

Personally,  I’m more of a Border Collie girl, but all dogs are wonderful, so I knew it would be fun.

It was untypically hot and sunny; the sand was a BIT too hot for the poor dogs’ paws I thought, but all in all, it was a fun outing!

IMG_1007

IMG_1014IMG_1015IMG_1016IMG_1017

IMG_1019

Disabled Corgi with a dedicated mom!

IMG_1001

IMG_1002

GoPro Corgi!

IMG_1024

I can’t really believe they bred a Border Collie with a Corgi but here’s the proof…a Borgi??

IMG_1025

IMG_1003

IMG_1004

Rescue Corgi

 

Heaven on Earth: Camping and Hiking in the Laguna Mountains

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.

Amazing…gorgeous…magnificent…breathtaking…

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


The Final Installment of Princess Rosebud’s Empowering Road Trip

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.

It’s spectacular.

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?”

“STOOPPPPP!”

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.

Two highlights of our road trip were day hikes  to Jade Cove and Julia Pfeiffer State Park.

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.)

jadecoveme1

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.

Jadecove1 Jadecove2
jadecove4
jadecove9 Animal print kelp?jadecovekelpTreasures from Jade Cove!
JadeCovetreasures2

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.

juliap7McWay 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.Juliap8McWay Creek
JuliaP1 JuliaP2 juliap3 Majestic redwoodsjuliap4Squint 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.

Read the rest of my Empowerment Series here:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three

Princess Rosebud’s Empowered Solo Vacation: Part Three

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.

Not too difficult, right?
montanadeorohike1

Ah-may-ZINGmontanadeorohike2 Kind of a hazy day, but perfect hiking weather.montanadeorohike3My little goat boy.
montanadeorohike4A narrow passage.montanadeorohike5View from the Visitor’s Center.
montanadeorohike6Part Four: Jade Cove, Julia Pfeiffer, Cambria, and Costanoa.

Princess Rosebud’s Empowered Solo Vacation: Part Two

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.

Driving up the coast to Morro Bay.
campingmaysantabarbara2

I’m not much of a seagull lover, but this guy was too photogenic to ignore.campingmay22seagullmorrobayAfter 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.

campingmaymontana3

Crossing a small creek.campingmaymontanawater

Lichen.

campingmaymontanalichen2Pretty yellow flowers.
campingmaymontanaflowersAh-MAY-zing view.campingMay23oroA mole peeking out of his hole.
campingmaymontanamole

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.

Just awful.

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.

Amazing.

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.

campingMay23fox1 campingmay25fox2

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

Princess Rosebud’s EMPOWERING Solo Adventure

(Blogging from the train, which is OK except for spotty wifi and my paragraph edits aren’t working, so this post won’t look exactly right.)


“It’s never too late to become empowered” she said.

Well, thank you very much for that unwanted opinion.
At 6:15 a.m., I was the first one in line when the Amtrak Station opened up.
I’m on my way to Santa Barbara to meet my son/DIL and have a little camping and hiking vacation. This is something that tugboat man and I had been looking forward to, but alas, he was called back to work immediately upon arriving home, so I decided to be a BRAVE princess and venture forth into the big scary world all by myself.
What was I thinking??
Confession: I’m not much of a traveler. Although I do travel alone from time to time, mostly tugboat man and I are together and he takes care of everything and all I do is stand here or sit there and do as I’m instructed, moving from point A to point B.  It works out better that way for both of us if he takes the lead. I mean, he’s so GOOD at it, and it reduces my stress level (and his) if he does all the thinking.
But this adventure is all my own.
My son’s dad picked me up a little before 5:45 a.m. to give me a ride to the train station, which is why I was there bright and early at 6:15.
I had many questions for the Amtrak employee:
1. Where do I go?
2. Where will the train be?
3. How will I know it’s the right one?
4. Where will I sit?
5. Where will my son pick me up?
6. Where will I find my suitcase?
7. Will you lose my luggage?
I explained to her that I never travel alone and I’ve only taken the train one time twenty years ago, and that’s when she proceeded to give me a life lesson that I didn’t expect, didn’t ask for, and didn’t really need.
“I never travel alone.”
“Well, you DO travel, don’t you?”
“Yes, but when my husband and I travel, he takes care of everything”
That’s when she said, “It’s never too late to become empowered”
I have to admit her tone was ever-so-slightly snarky, and this was corroborated by the nice young man from the United States Marine Corps (whom I have attached myself to for dear life).
He was standing next to me listening to all of my questions and I believe that he felt sorry for me (reminded him of his mom) and felt like he was performing in the intereste of our national security to guide me on the train when it arrived, and now we’re sitting next to each other.
He’s on leave for Memorial Day to his family ranch in Los Osos.
Of course, I thanked him for his service and I must say that I feel very safe and in good hands until my son collects me from Baggage lol.
Stress level is high, but if I could make my way SOLO to Goettingen, Germany to stalk visit my son while he was there for his junior year abroad, I can certainly sit on a train for four hours with my own personal USMC escort, dontcha think?
After all, like I keep telling my Angel Boy, that umbilical cord will stretch, but will never evereverever BREAK.
There isn’t a place on earth he can go that I won’t follow.
I know that sounds like a threat, but it’s really not. It’s just a mother’s LOVE.
I stand corrected…an EMPOWERED mother’s love.
Here’s a few pics from the train…
Train1 train2 train3 train4

A Secret Cathedral at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

We had one last detour before our final destination of the magnificent Zion National Park.

Our goal was to pack in as many sights as we could on our ten-day trip.

We were up early for a short hike to a lookout at Lake Powell.

Glen Canyon Dam.lakepowell

Lake Powell, with hardly any water in the middle of this drought.lakepowell3 Beautiful cliffs.lakepowell1

Back on the road, we turned off the main highway and set out on a dusty, bumpy, red-dirt path barely wide enough for one vehicle — more like a wagon train trail — several miles off the main road to a trailhead that would lead to an amazing slot canyon hike.

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, at 1.7 million acres, dominates southern Utah.

It’s unique in that it is the first monument to be administered by the Bureau of Land Management, rather than the National Park Service.

The Grand Staircase is a geological formation spanning eons of time and is a territory of multicolored cliffs, plateaus, mesas, buttes, pinnacles, slot canyons, and world-class paleontological sites..

After hiking for about and hour or so, clambering up and out of narrow and shady slot canyons that seemed to go on forever, passing a random cow or two, the “cathedral” emerged in a open space bathed in sunlight.

It was really, really, really, REALLY special. Words can’t describe it and my pics don’t do justice to its beauty.vermillioncliffscathedral

I don’t know why it’s “secret” except that a couple of experienced hikers we chatted with at the trailhead shared a few of the highlights of the area and cautioned us not to be TOO specific when we talked about where we were to avoid it becoming overcrowded. vermillioncliffs vermillioncliffs1 vermillioncliffs2 Spectacular. WOW.vermillioncliffs4 This is supposed to be one of the longest slot canyon hikes in the country, if not THE longest. We hiked for about three hours in, a six-mile round trip.vermillioncliffs5 vermillioncliffs6 ME! vermillioncliffsme Vermillioncliffs10 Vermillioncliffs11 vermillioncliffs12

Next stop, ZION!

P.S. And don’t ask, there’s no way I’m telling the exact coordinates. Only tugboat man knows exactly where we were 🙂

 

Angel’s Landing @ Zion National Park: Photos

A few of my favorite pics from our road trip last week:

Pretty pink flowers growing out of the mountain wall at Angel’s Landing

zionflower

Beautiful bright red bird!

zionredbird

Looking down from the top of Angel’s Landing. Don’t climb this if you have vertigo!!

angellandingSurrounded by beauty.

angellanding2

The view from the top while we ate a snack of nuts and apples.

angellanding3#ZionNationalPark #AngelsLanding #photography #travel #nature #hiking #camping #Utah