Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thanksgiving in "The Bay Area"

We spent our Thanksgiving exploring all over San Fransisco and the surrounding area. The first half of our adventure was based out of our friends' place just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. While there, we explored Golden Gate NRA, walked across the Golden Gate Bridge, visited Fort Point NHS, explored downtown SF, and visited both John Muir NHS and SF Maritime NHP. The most exciting moments, however, came while exploring Point Reyes NS. We were there on a cold and sunny day with very few other people. The wildlife was tremendous. Countless black-tailed deer roamed the grass-filled hills. We watched a coyote slowly stalking its prey, ending the hunt by leaping high into the air and pouncing. Once along the stunning shoreline, we found deserted beaches full of elephant seals. Out in the ocean, we saw sea lions, harbor seals and even a mighty gray whale. It was an incredible day which ended with a glorious sunset over the vast Pacific Ocean.

The second half of our "Bay Area" adventure took us to San Jose, where we visited with our cousins, Jeff, Heidi and kids. We had a wonderful time catching up and relaxing a bit. We also found time to visit the Japanese Tea Gardens and Pinnacles National Monument.

Now, we are back along the north coast in McKinleyville. It's raining heavily outside and seems as if it's been dark for hours (even though it's not even 7 p.m.). We will work for the next couple of weeks, then set out once again, this time for our Christmas adventures!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Burney Falls

This past weekend, we did a short backpacking trip on the PCT in the Burney Falls area in NE California. Daytime temps peaked at around 70 and overnight lows dropped into the mid 30's. Nice fall weather! We ended our backpacking trip at Burney Falls, where we explored a stunning waterfall which fell into a hidden gorge. We hiked into the falls area in the early morning, and therefore had the place pretty much to ourselves. The waterfall, according to Theodore Roosevelt, is the 8th natural wonder of the world. I wouldn't put it quite on the same plane as the Grand Canyon or the Great Barrier Reef...but it was really awesome!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Rut

Fall is definitely in the air now. One of the biggest reminders of that has been the activity of nearby elk herds. We've spent several days recently watching and listening to the elk in Redwood NP. The sound of bugling has been ringing throughout the ancient redwood forests. There are several very large bulls that each have a harem to themselves. The slightly smaller bulls have been hanging around the harems and occasionally coming close enough to nearly start a fight. Usually, they seem to run quickly away when the huge bull comes at them. Then, the younger bulls clash with each other...perhaps out of frustration?

This huge bull had one thing on his mind. He was in charge of a rather large harem. One day, I rounded a corner of a trail in some thick forest and came face to face with the entire herd. The king of the herd looked at me briefly, but fortunately decided that I wasn't a threat.

It's good to remember that the elk are indeed wild!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Point Reyes and Highway 1

This past weekend, we ventured down south for a backpacking trip in Point Reyes National Seashore. We spent the night at Glen Camp, a backcountry campsite nestled along a meadow in the hills above the ocean. The weather held in the 60's and 70's with a bright blue sky.
Despite our proximity to San Francisco, we had fantastic stars at night. The meadows were golden with the approach of fall.
On our return north, we drove Highway 1, which twists and turns along the ocean for miles. Now, we are back home and it appears as if the storms of fall are coming in a bit early this year. It makes life exciting though!

Friday, August 27, 2010

The end of summer is drawing near...

It's now nearly the end of August. The month started and ended with fantastic backpacking trips and in the middle, we had a wonderful visit from Susanna's mom and dad. The weather has continued to be hot and sunny inland and cool with morning fog and afternoon sun along the coast. The meadows, that were so brilliant green in the late spring and early summer, are now golden. Leaves are starting to change in a few places and the breezes of the last day or two have had a touch of Fall in them.
The first two photos are from our most recent backpacking trip in the King Range NCA along the southern segment of the Lost Coast Trail. The sunset is from near the top of Manzania Mountain looking out over the Pacific Ocean. The following morning, the ocean was covered in a layer of fog, but we were in the blue sky and sun!
The following photos were taken from Patricks Point State Park and Redwood National Park along the Bald Hills.

Granite Lake

In the first weekend of August we backpacked deep into the Trinity Alps Wilderness to Granite Lake. We set up camp along a small hill of smooth rock overlooking this gem of a lake nestled along a ring of stunning, jagged mountains. The weather was hot and sunny, so we quickly jumped into the cool water for a very refreshing swim. We are in the heart of summer in the mountains now. The wildflowers are abundant, the snow fields have diminished considerably and the sun feels hot. We are certainly living up the summer!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A walk on the PCT

This walk on the Pacific Crest Trail was a 157 mile walk! My brother John and I began a 10-day backpacking trip in Seiad Valley in Northern California almost at the Oregon border. We headed south on the PCT up into Marble Mountain Wilderness (which involved a nearly 5,000 foot climb). The Russian Wilderness was next, followed by Trinity Alps Wilderness and finally Castle Crags Wilderness and our ending point along I-5.

On day 3, we first saw a gigantic, snow drapped mountain to the east and south. This was our first view of Mount Shasta (14,162 feet). Over the next 7 days, we continued to get closer and closer to this giant. For much of the hike, the trail followed ridgelines to high mountain passes and beautiful, refreshing lakes with near continuous views of more mountains than we could count. We had many incredible campsites and so many awesome moments along the trail that it would be hard to account for all of it in a simple blog. These photos give a sampling of life on the PCT in Northern California!

Family Reunion

In mid-July, my family began arriving from all over the globe. Mom, Dad and Mark arrived on July 15th, after driving from Michigan. John, Tatiana and Calista arrived on July 17th after an even longer drive from Washington D.C. Then, on July 19th, Dan, Margaret, Caleb and Anneke arrived from Fort Collins, Colorado. The reason for the gathering was to celebrate our parents 40th wedding anniversary.
Our house turned in to a mini-hotel/campground for a few days before we all went to a beautiful lodge in the coastal town of Trinidad.
We spent our days exploring the local town, hiking trails in Trinidad and Redwood National Park, walking along the nearby quiet beaches and relaxing at the lodge. In the evenings we lounged in the hot tub on the deck of the lodge or sat around a roaring campfire in the midst of the coastal redwoods. It was a wonderful time! My brother John and I extended the reunion by backpacking on the Pacific Crest Trail for 10 days...

High in the Alps

In early July, we climbed high into the Trinity Alps for a night along Stoddard Lake. The reflections were perfect when we arrived. After dinner, a thunderstorm developed with booming thunder and bolts of lightning, but only a few sprinkles. It was enough to have a beautiful rainbow though. On our hike out the following day, we spotted a large black bear.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Home Decor

We're nearly finished decorating our home, and it feels good. It's filled with memories from our travels around the world, combined with furniture that we've picked up in California.

Hope you can come and visit at some point. We've enjoyed all of our visitors so far!

As the Garden Grows...

We're really loving home-ownership. We love the fact that the walls of our home are no longer just plain white. We love that everything we own fits inside our home, so we no longer need a storage unit. And we LOVE the fact that we can do a little bit of gardening in our own backyard. We're just beginners, but it's pretty exciting to watch our little lettuce plants sprout, and the sugar snap peas climb up the chicken wire and form little white flowers. What's even more exciting is walking over to our blueberry bushes and popping a few berries in our mouths each day! We're experimenting with flowers, too...the forest service was handing out packets of native poppy seeds, but they haven't been in the ground long enough to sprout yet. More updates to come.

We have four different varieties of blueberries, each one producing fruit at a slightly different time of year, and with varied flavors.

Some people wonder why our blueberry garden looks like Fort Knox...well, we have issues with groundhogs getting the roots, slugs getting the leaves and berries, and neighborhood cats using it as their litter box. So now our blueberries are very well-protected. And delicious. :)

I can't wait to taste the snap peas once they've had a few more weeks to grow. :)