Moose in Grand Tetons

What a beautiful boy! He was almost completely camouflaged, resting in the cool grass, enjoying a late afternoon snack. Those antlers are magnificent, aren’t they?

I could have stayed there for hours, watching him in silence, but I had to go. He didn’t seem too concerned and kept eating and eating.

Great Basin National Park

For #throwbackthursday, this is one of my most favorite places to camp and hike.

Great Basin National Park is in Nevada. At 10,000 ft., Wheeler Peak is one of the tallest peaks in the country. It’s full of bristlecone pines and turkeys and solitude and serenity.

Here’s a beautiful alpine lake:

In The Snow-Covered Hills

It has come to the attention of my brain that I seem to write a lot about weather.

Sun, heat, rain, hail, snow, clouds, fog…I wonder if that’s because there’s really so little weather here in SoCal. For a majority of the time, it’s sunny and warm. Or sunny and hot. Or sunny with drought-like conditions. This isn’t me being critical of our weather; I’ve simply reflected upon how much of a weather watcher I am.

From the monsoonal–like deluge

that transformed a dry river bed into a not-so-dry river bed

to a beautiful sunset.

I was driving on a favorite street — do you have a favorite street? Mine is one that offers a breath-taking view of San Gorgonio and San Jacinto, mountains to the north of me. They received several feet of new snow during the same winter storm.

This sight is so beyond magnificent, it literally took away my breath for several seconds.

Hand to heart, as I was snapping a few photos of the snow covered mountains, one of my most special songs came on the radio, Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide, with the iconic lyrics, “And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills –‘Til the landslide brought me down.”

A mindful moment of perfection.

I love Stevie Nick’s live performances.

Hiking Mount San Jacinto

There are amazing all-season hikes to the top of Mount San Jacinto near Palm Springs high above Coachella Valley.

San Jacinto Peak is 10,834 ft. and was known to Cahuilla Indians as I a kitch (or Aya Kaich), meaning “smooth cliffs”.

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway hike is the less strenuous option. My son and his friend climbed all the way up and it’s not easy, but taking the tram (which is SUPER SUPER scary) is a perfect way to enjoy what John Muir referred to as “The view from San Jacinto is the most sublime spectacle to be found anywhere on this earth!”

Spectacular view.

We see beauty all around.

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I especially love the contrast of these stark white branches against the blue sky.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Disabled Corgi with a dedicated mom!

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GoPro Corgi!

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

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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jadecove9 Animal print kelp?jadecovekelpTreasures from Jade Cove!
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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