Tuesday, July 24, 2012

So Cal Wilderness

I realize a lot of photographers are not too hip on the global use of cell phone cameras but if you know anything about me you already know I'm all about taking pictures no matter what type of camera you use. Besides it the photographer, not the camera that takes the picture right? 

Anyway, My husband, baby girl and I went on a hike a couple of weekends ago and I took nothing with me but a cell phone in the pocket of my shorts. 

As we were hiking I decided to take some pictures of the landscape to share what it looks like were I live. One would be more likely to see pictures of the ocean or even vineyards when thinking about California terrain. As a girl who grew up in Southern California there is just something about the wilderness that brings my childhood back to me. I played in this area as a child. I played in places that are now shopping centers or covered with houses. I am happy to say that we still have a lot of wilderness where I live. I love the colors and the smells from the plants and dirt. They're so distinct they flood my mind and heart with childhood memories every time I go out into the wilderness. Nothing changes there. The dry sage smell today is the same as it was in 1975 when I was out exploring and the cactus looks the same as it did when I was using it to protect my forts from intruders. 

The start of this trail head starts about a block from our house. We can park on the street and literally walk off the sidewalk onto the trail head. My husband is a big fan of mountain biking in this area. Honestly, this is where I get a little freaked out. I'm afraid of mountain lions. Yes, they live here, and yes we've had attacks from runners to bikers to people's pets. It doesn't help that you can smell the cat urine in the hills and that Steve has seen big kitties on his bike rides. I guess this is the point where you have to decide that you'd rather hike than live in fear of something. I'm not a fan of fear so I suck it up and go anyway. Steve is very patient with my squirminess until I adjust. 

PS I call my husband Plan B because he always has a plan B for every situation. 
At times it seems a little weird but most of the time it makes me feel very safe just being around him. Notice I said I had nothing but a phone and from this picture you can see he has a bit more than that.

What it looks like up here in the foothills.

 Cactus is very popular up here.

 I love LOVE in nature!

 Wild gourds are everywhere! 

 Great trails everywhere!
They can be as easy or as difficult as
you'd like.

 The area is surrounded by private properties
which I love because it seems the wilderness
wont be lost.

I love all the old fencing and wooden posts.

 Wild Artichokes

 Wild something else... I loved this darling
thing but have no idea what it is. 

Now, these next two pictures make me think about standing there looking out over the valley. When I see this area I can't help but imagine this is what it must have looked like when the pioneers entered California. I can almost see covered wagons coming over the rolling foothills. They must have loved the mildness of California weather and terrain, at least after they got passed the Sierras. 

We were still getting a little coastal fogginess in the mornings that hadn't really burned off yet here. Seemed a bit hazy still.

Here Steve is showing Emma where our
house is. This would be the opposite side
of the ridge from the valley picture.

This is where we live, down there.
 Just over the hills in the distance is the

There are so many different types of flowers and shrubs in this area. In the spring the hills are covered in yellow and purple flowers. I love living here and am so thankful I get to play in the same hills I did when I was a child, it's pretty cool.

 Besides Mountain lions and coyotes we have  some rattlesnakes and a couple of poisonous spiders. But other than that we don't really have many bad things we need to worry about out here. Even our tarantulas are harmless. It's such a great area for families to explore. One of our favorite activities to do out here is Geocaching. This is a GPS activity in which you can enter your location and be lead to planted treasure boxes in your area. While we were out on this day we found one and only signed the log. When we looked for our second cache we found this tree. We never found the cache but felt like I found this treasure instead.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Colorado River!

A couple of weeks ago my hubby and I took two of our daughters to the Colorado River. We went as a group with my Uncle Paul, his wife Sue, their son, Matt and his wife Mallory, and Paul and Sue's daughter Sara. We met my other uncle Leo, his son Ryan and their friends, Cheryl, Lana, and Kathy. We also had, Paul and Sue's furry dog children, Kramer and Sushi.

I learned that a large group of people can go on a river boat trip, have a boat break down, get in trouble with the coppers, forget an ice chest full of beer, forget to BBQ, drag an outboard on the ground, and find themselves in the middle of shallow waters. We can Loose a pair of really cool Oakley sunglasses and a favorite hat and still not one person was in a bad mood. No one fought and no one yelled at anyone else! It was an amazing time.

My uncles Leo and Paul have been my friends since I was born. My mom was older when they were born so we were all like cousins rather than uncles and nieces. My sister and I couldn't wait to get to my Grandma's house when we were kids because we always had them to play with and get in trouble together. We were all teenagers together and have stayed close over the years. Both of them married young and had children. So that means my cousins are like my niece and nephews but they aren't...

Here is a pretty cool pic of us from the seventies.
It seemed like we all had a lot more hair 
and none of it was gray!

Anyway, we've stayed close but it's really been about seeing each other at Christmas, weddings/showers and funerals. I get to see my cousins, Sara and Mallory more because we all like the photo shoots but beyond that we all haven't spent any quality time together. After this weekend I learned it is possible to fall in love with your family after some thirty years. Of course we loved each other but I was able to see them all on a deeper level and they are so loving and supportive I couldn't help but fall in love.

During the trip I had little conversations with several members of my family. I had this little moment with my cousin Sara that was amazing. She shared her heart with me about what kind of mother I am and how I've raised my daughters. She gave specific examples and was so terribly encouraging it brought tears to my eyes. It was really special to see that she has been watching me, and my daughters grow, as a young woman herself that meant more than I can say. I don't even need to tell you what she said, but it was kind, fair, and non judging. Everyone needs that kind of feedback in life. Thank you Sara.

I spoke with Paul about family and how we need to slow down and live in the moment and share love between each other more. Then, later as the sun was setting down we stopped the boat and dangled from the back of it. Paul, Sue, Steve and I just talked about raising our kids, who they would be, who they were and all of our dreams. It was just such a wonderful moment for me I can't explain it. It was quiet, peaceful and I felt so happy to be at that place at that moment. When I think back on the weekend, that's the moment I keep going back to. 

Without further blabbing, here are the pictures of our trip! Enjoy!

Sitting in the boat ready to take off for the day!

On the water...
First thing on the books, tubbing... This is Steve!

 Matt and Mallory did the pulling.

 Boat full of happy people

 Sara's turn

 And Amanda's turn...


 Horseshoes with Ryan and Paul

Some floating was in order

Uncle Leo!

We did a lot of hanging around and talking and eating snacks.

Right about now, the pOleees showed up to tell us we were parked on a private beach and that we needed to pay for a permit or skiddadle. So... We split.

Kramer was the point man

Emma was the dog whisperer, as usual.

Next stop, Pirates Cove. It's the kind of place you imagine when you think of "The River". Lots of people watching, bare bottoms and tools. What? It's true, I'm just telling the truth...

On the way, I lost my hat which was retrieved by Lana, thank you! And my new blue Oakley sunglasses. I'm clearly a river noob or just really accident prone. 

During the ride over which was long and fast and fabulous, My uncle Paul convinced Emma to drive the boat. While she was driving I was a nervous wreck. I worried how she would beat herself up if she did something wrong. I thought we might all die. Maybe I was on edge from teaching my 16 year old to drive over the last few months. Whatever it was I was stressed. 

As I watched her drive the boat she began to grow up... Of course not really but she sat up straight. Her hands on the wheel were sure and strong, she looked to the right and the left, planning and reacting to the waves and other boats. Was it perfect, no, but she was. She was sure and strong and I got to see a glimpse of who she may become. She'll always remember when her great uncle let her drive his boat and she did a great job. My children need to feel this more often. 

After we watched Sara fly from a giant swing we all thought it would be fun to water taxi over to the other side of the river and check out the Naked Pirate Bar. This was a blast, mostly just the company, but let me tell you there were even more people watching opportunities over there. 

Good drinks, yummy calamari!

 Ryan was very happy with all
the straws. "A sunny drink 
for a sunny guy."

 I just think this picture is hilarious! 
It's awesome.

The day ended with everybody happy and laughing and relaxed. It was hard to head back. The best thing was the way the light changed and started softening down with the mood of the day.

 My Fabulous Aunt Sue



Sweet Sara

Heading home with Sue behind the wheel.

These pictures of Paul just seemed to some up the feeling of the end of the day... I could see he was happy, and at peace. He loves his life with his wife and his children. 

Why would you ever want to be anywhere else?

 Little Sushi...oxoxo

It was a long ride back and we had music playing. I watched Emma move to the front of the boat to be closer to her cousin. The dogs started falling asleep and I just sat back and watched my family. It could not have been more serene. Steve and I had talked about how much this trip magnified the fact that all we've done is worked. We've missed out on so much time with the people we love. We've missed out on all the little life lessons our children could have been learning, like trusting themselves to drive a boat or to hop into a river tube. I felt regret, but was thankful to still have today and tomorrow to make changes. 

Have a fantastic summer, don't waste it away working!