Sunday, December 13, 2009

Our family Christmas party

Two of my brothers and I wanted to have a little family Christmas party before Andy went to California for the holiday. It was the standard event you'd expect considering the 3 of us planned it. I don't think there was anything Christmasy about it except for the green sprinkles on the cake, but there was smoked meat, lots of cheese, and laughing at eachother.
I brought the cheese... (only 1 out of 9 was totally disgusting)
Nate smoked a tri-tip...
and Andy brought the kids for entertainment...
Check out this video of Jacob for a good laugh
(Simon's guitar was also a big hit. Him and Samantha were playing it all night.)
video

Monday, November 30, 2009

Point Lobos end to end

My last day in California I wanted to go to one of my most favorite places ever. Point Lobos State Park. I started going here when I was about 18 and can hardly stand to visit my parents without going there at least once. It's not extremely big but there are really nice easy hiking trails through the whole thing along the coast. I've been on almost all of them but I wanted to go hike the whole thing from end to end. My mom came along and dropped me off at the beginning, she hiked the first two mile loop with me, ate a lunch of bread and cheese with me at whalers cove, and picked me up at the end.
The weather was perfect, the waves weren't too high or too boring and it wasn't windy at all. It was pretty much a perfect day... if only I hadn't gotten poison oak.
This is the northern most end of the park looking south. In my opinion it has some of the best views, it's totally flat, and it's always the least crowded.
Here's the 360 degree video standing on Granite Point.
It starts out looking South at Big Dome in the distance with Cannery Point in front of it, then you see Whaler's Cove (it's big), Coal Chute Point comes along looking all picturesque with it's cypress trees, The Pit is between it and me. After a kind of boring view of some small mountains you see Moss Cove, The end of Granite Point, my mom, Monterey Bay, and then Big Dome again.
video
This is at the end of the little trail to "The Pit" a little stony beach with big waves and a little arch you can walk under at low tide.
This is at the northern most point of the park, Moss Cove, the beach isn't part of the park. In that field behind my mom was saw a bobcat!
After lunch it was time for some of the steeper trails... Going up from Whaler's Cove to Cannery Point.
Looking out over Bluefish Cove along the Northshore Trail. One time I had a picnic on that little grassy meadow at the bottom of the picture but you're not supposed to go down there anymore.
This is one of my favorite views in the park, looking out across Cypress Cove. It's especially nice when the surf is rough.
This view isn't so bad either...also on the Cypress Loop Trail. I saw a framed print of this view in a gallery in Park City once.
Along the Southshore Trail is Sandhill Cove and Weston Beach where there's lot of good tidepools. That's my mom out there.
What I would have given for a good pair of hip waders right here.
After one slippery close call I decided to settle for sea anemones, chitons, limpets, and tidepool johnnys. It sure would have been nice to see a few nudibranchs though.
I was pretty disappointed and I took it out on these anemones. Sometimes I'm a jerk.
video
On Hidden Beach. I left with a pocket of these pretty rocks for one of my jars.
My mom rejoined me on the Bird Island Loop and we were silly with our shadows.
Four arches in one shot, plus I'm standing on one. Are they called arches or bridges when they're by the ocean? I think they're bridges and I've been in Utah too long.
For years the stairs down to China Cove have been washed out but they were finally fixed this time.
My mom didn't want to go down them and I ended up having the whole beach to myself. I took off my shoes and enjoyed myself.
macrocystis pyrifera (funner than popping bubble wrap)
The ocean, the sea, the coast, the bay, the beach, the Pacific...home, happiness, peace...
Ahhhh....
I went over too see the sun setting over Gibson Beach at the most southern end of the park before hiking out to the entrance gate where my mom picked me back up and took me home.
It was worth getting poison oak

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Quick stops in San Francisco and Monterey

On our way home from Thanksgiving in Sacramento, my parents and I stopped by San Francisco. I couldn't decide where I wanted to go and as we drove through china town my mom and I decided we wanted to stop and shop. So we did. I got some cool stuff and some silly stuff. I wanted more but either I couldn't afford it, I didn't have room to take it home, I didn't need it, or I couldn't decide on which one...usually all of the above all at once. They have the prettiest dishes and jewelry boxes. The only thing I knew I wanted in San Francisco was crab. There's a lot to be said for having seafood fresh. Even if it's flown in that day...it's not the same. I haven't had lobster since I visited Maine and I don't eat crab outside of California. They haul it up that day and boil it on the wharf in these big pots of seawater. The crabs don't mind. Doesn't it look like they're just in a big jacuzzi?
We ate two...in about two minutes. I wanted more but I had to settle for an ice cream sundae at Ghirardelli's. The highlight of the night was really mom getting scared by the bushman and then kissed by a stranger as we waited to cross the street.
The next day we headed over to Monterey to check out the new seahorse exhibit at the aquarium. We stopped by a few of the other exhibits on our way out.
Once upon a time I was on the cover of a magazine silhouetted against this tank of moon jellies...
...that was the year I was a T.A. for Dr. Braithwaite. Possibly two of the happiest summers in my life, once as a student and again as the T.A. I lived in Monterey, the days started with scriptures and Aesop's fables, some days were spent collecting critters and beasts in tide pools starting at 5am, others were spent dissecting things or studying plankton in microscopes. Occasionally Dr. B sent me out to glue numbers on Owl Limpets for his research. All the lectures were interesting and given to the sound of ocean waves out our lab window and the gurgling aquarium tanks. There wasn't any homework or tests and we spent the evenings exploring the beaches or the farmer's market in town. Everyone got an A.
Before I left the aquarium I had to walk around to the side and take a picture of my old lab. Our classroom was in the yellow building in the center. We had a bucket that hung out our window to the ground where the divers would come directly up from the beach and fill it with animals. They'd pull it to ring a bell in the classroom and we'd haul it in. Once or twice we slept out on that beach. Those were the days...
Click on the picture to enlarge it and get the full effect of how amazing this place is.
Before the sunset I wanted to try a new hike. We always tend to go to the same old places. I found a book in my parents house on day hikes around Monterey and I picked out this one. It was to the summit of Jack's Peak, the highest point in Monterey county. It's just over a 1000 ft and it was less than a mile long. We got some geocaches (and maybe some poison oak) and enjoyed this nice view from the top. I expected a little more view. I'd forgotten that in California a lot of the summits are covered in trees. Back in Utah they're mostly bald rock on top. The colors were even more golden in person. I could live here. I even found a piece of property for sale down the road. I was thinking some of my friends and I could start a commune. Like this one.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving dinner on the river

For my Thanksgiving weekend I decided to go home to California and visit my parents. No one else was going but sometimes it's kind of nice to visit when there's not a dozen or so grandkids running around. I really like hanging out with my nieces and nephews but when they're not there it's so much simpler and you get to do more interesting (read expensive) things. One of the more interesting things we did was eat Thanksgiving dinner on a river boat on the Sacramento river. It was actually really good and the three hour river trip was really pretty. There was still some fall colors along the banks and the sunset was especially nice.
We spent the night there and in the morning we did a little geocaching around Sacramento before leaving. There were flowers blooming in the parks and it was so pleasant. I miss having the camellias blooming in the front yard and tangelos ripening in the backyard in the winter.
These two pictures are places we looked for geocaches but didn't find them. Even if I spent most the time sticking my fingers in creepy cobwebby holes on this rusty bridge and into old rotting tree carcasses, it was still a nice morning to walk along the river. Besides I like taking pictures of wild mushrooms for some reason.
We found a geocache in the pioneer section of the old Sacramento cemetery. I really liked it there and wandered around a lot looking at everything. It was a lot more fun than wandering around old Utah cemeteries. Older, more interesting, and a lot prettier.
This archway was covered in climbing roses. I wish I could see it when it blooms. I thought it was funny how almost all the tombstones said the exact age the person was when they died and where they were native to. Mine would have said 30years, 6 months, 10 days Native of California.
Why doesn't anyone ever name their daughters Ottilia anymore? I wonder if it'll ever come back in fashion?
These two gravestones I found very depressing. This was all they said on them. I can understand the first one, maybe the family was poor or something, but the second one? That's just rude. Neither of them had a full name, date of birth or death. I checked the backs, nothing there either. Who were these people?
Here are a few of the more luxurious gravestones. I always think unvisited graves are depressing. For this reason if I don't have children when I die I think I'd like to be cremated rather than lay in the ground under some standard headstone waiting for no one to visit me...or buried in an unmarked grave on one of those new nature preserve type cemeteries. Actually I don't really care since I'll be dead, I just don't want to be embalmed. Gross.
That was a digression, I was just thinking that if you got buried in a place like this that maybe strangers would visit you just to see your cool headstone, or hide a geocache nearby. So I guess now the choices are cremation, nature preserve, or massive extravagant headstone...
(What a weird way to end a blog entry about Thanksgiving)

This is a much better way to end things...my parents are silly.

Footnote: "cobwebby" was in the spell check but Otillia was not. Poor Otillia.