Monday, October 17, 2011

Heat to Freeze

In the past two weekends, I engaged in a mini backpacking spree. The first weekend we traveled to Carey's Castle in Joshua Tree National Park - temps hit nearly 100 degrees.

The following weekend we sought to visit fall leaves in the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Bishop, CA.

Instead we found ourselves camping in snow in early October. This photo is from our furtherest point - Piute Pass - up the North Lake trail.

May the fall fun continue, rain, snow, sun, sleet or hail.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Wine Camp

For a change of pace, we organized a car-camping weekend in the Santa Barbara wine country. We organized the weekend to maximize our wine country experience mixed with seeing the famous sight-seeing spots from the movie Sideways.

Friday we arrived in Buellton, California after driving only about 2 1/2 hours. We camped in the field of an RV park (award-winning!) which conveniently abutt the parking lot of days in where the Sideways characters stayed in the movie.

Saturday we kicked off a full day of wine tasting.
First stop: Mosby Winery - known for their Italian wines. Beautiful grounds and keep your tasting glass!

Second stop: Alma Rosa. Mr. Sanford started this winery but now his name belongs to a larger winery down the street. However, he jumped ship when that winery exploded into a large operation and now his books and wines hail from Alma Rosa. We partook in an all Pinot Noir tasting followed by a potluck picnic behind the picturesque old farmhouse tasting room. Luckily we had arrived here before noon because by the time we left limos and hummer limos crammed into the parking lot.

Third Stop: Ken Brown Winery. We drove downtown Buellton to an indoor private tasting with Ken Brown's wife. Ken is a legend in the region, having assisted in opening several other wineries. Here we tasted one of the most expensive bottles of wine of the day - and it tasted gooooood.

Fourth Stop: Firestone. Here we joined a tour of the largest winery we visited over the day. Yes, this is the same family as Firestone tires. And now an even bigger company, Foley, has purchased the winery. Impressive operation. Look for this name in the store - I will have to as well because we did not do a tasting.

Fifth Stop: Several small tasting rooms in Los Olivos. We stopped at Sarloos and Sons but they had no room for tasters so we purchased 6 mini-cupcakes and enjoyed them at a picnic table outside. Across the street, Carhart Winery offered what they promised, a beautiful backyard which is a perfect end - of - the - day relaxation zone. Decent wines. And yes, this is the same family as the Carhart clothes.

On Sunday, we drove the two miles from Buellton to the Danish town of Solvang. On the way we passed an Ostrich farm ($35 for an ostrich egg). Breakfast in Solvang included the thin Danish pancakes and a Danish sausage, as recommended by Mrs. Ken Brown. I couldn't resist buying a cross stitch at the stitching store across the street.

Passed by this restaurant from Sideways on the way to Solvang.

Finally, on the way out of town, no trip to the countryside is complete without fresh berries. Blueberries Galore! To boot, we passed the cutest pygmy goats and pigs on the walk to the field.

It was a dreamy weekend indeed. We shall return before the next annual wine camp.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Nature Knowledge

Last weekend some friends and I attended a Nature Knowledge workshop in the San Bernardino Mountains outside Los Angeles. Below is just a sample of the nature knowledge we acquired: the name of every flower family; plants in forests, chaparral, and riparian (river) ecosystems; a scientific hypothesis of when the "big one" (earthquake) will shake California; mountain bird songs of birds in the San Bernardino Mountains; how to identify butterflies and river larva (stoneflies, mayflies); and how much hot chocolate a human tummy can digest. Enjoy some pictures!

The Gravel Road, like the one we drove on to reach camp


Bugs resting on our hats

River bugs gathered by participants

Silverlake Stairs

Tonight I led my first in a series of three hikes through the public staircases in my neighborhood of Silverlake. We based the hikes on a book entitled "Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles," by Charles Fleming. Even a local blogger who writes about hikes from the book joined in the hike. She promised a blog post about tonight's hike. Check out her site.

We walked over 1000 steps over the course of 5 miles in 2 hours. One of the stairs we traversed is the famous Laurel and Hardy stairs where Laurel and Hardy carried a piano up public stairs in a 30 minute short. The movie won the first Academy Award for Live Action Short Film (Comedy) in 1932. Today greenery covers the stairs. We also crossed Silverlake's smallest staircase with only 5 stairs. Among other famous places was a home once owned by Lily Tomlin whom you may remember from I Heart Huckabees or A Prairie Home Companion.

Stay tuned for details from the next two hikes. Here is a sideways picture to view. I can navigate through Silverlake but I cannot post a picture.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Rocks and Snow

This year has continued to be the Year of the Adventure, as declared. Last weekend I participated with my Wilderness Travel Course in the Joshua Tree National Park weekend. On Saturday we learned rock climbing techniques, up to class 3 rock climbing.

For those of you like me who are new to rock climbing, here is a short explanation of the "class" of rocks. Class 3 means we climbed on rocks with helmets where you could be hurt but if you fell, the fall would not cause death. There are several systems for classifying rocks. In the Yosemite System used by Sierra Club, you would use ropes on Class 4 or Class 5 rocks. We did not use ropes for Class 3.

This being my first time climbing Class 3 rocks with any type of technique, I learned a ton. After we practiced techniques around a few rocks/boulders, we took a hike. The total distance measured about 3 miles, which should take 1 hour to hike. However, the elevation gain and terrain caused the hike to take us 5 hours. Of course, the leaders were well aware of the time it took so the timing did not cause any alarm. The "trail" consisted of nearly constant bouldering over the rocks. There were at least 2 points that challenged my fear of heights. The leaders guided us through and somehow all 30 of us made it through the entire hike. Here is some photo evidence.

I really enjoy the photo looking down into the Indian Cove campground at Joshua Tree because it is the 3D version of a topographic map. We learn and practice orienteering (navigation with a compass and map) in the class; I have also done navigation with Sierra Club separate from class. Navigation is one of my new favorite hobbies. I LOVE using a compass and land recognition to wander around Joshua Tree sans trail.

Tonight I attended another session of the class where we learned about snow travel. There are many techniques to snow travel in order to prevent death. No joke. You could cause an avalanche and be buried (we learned ways to find a partner who was burried by snow and to carry a shovel to dig him/her out). You could slip off a trail down a cliff (the speaker's friend actually died this way). Or you could cause yourself something like a road rash by sliding down snow with improper clothing. Thus, snow travel involves a pair of crampons, an ice ax, snowshoes (not the ones that look like a tennis racket), a shovel, and my favorite, down booties to wear around camp at night. With this class we will spend 2 nights camping in snow. During this weekend we will dig a kitchen, a table, and make an igloo. Seriously. Wisconsin does not prepare anyone for this madness. My mountaineering skills will double after snow camp. This gal is pumped.

Side note to the adventures: after class a woman my age asked if I was from Wisconsin. The Packer bag slung over my shoulder could have given it away. But no, she said she heard me speak. Ok. Fair enough. She hails from Minnesota. We both agree that the Vikings should NOT leave Minnesota for Los Angeles. We exchanged info after a 5 minute back and forth about Swedes and Norweigans.

Finally, tonight I will end this post with a request for any suggested places to see in between Washington DC and Los Angeles. I am going to Washington DC to pick up someone very special; we will drive back to Los Angeles. First stop is Atlanta; second stop may be Dallas; then into New Mexico and Arizona. We're flexible along that path generally. Any suggestions for must-see stops?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saturday Lobsta

Today I hiked to Rocky Peak in Simi Valley, just into Ventura County from Los Angeles County. It's hard to believe the month is January with such beautiful sun and temperatures. The hike itself was 8 miles with 1800 feet of elevation gain in the Santa Susanna Mountains. The sandstone boulders, outcroppings, and green-ness make this hike stand out as a great urban hike. Also notable, the internet told me that Bob Hope once owned the land that is now the park where Rocky Peak sits.

Then I skyped with my nephew and niece. What an excellent technology.

Tonight we're headed to Eagle Rock Brewery for some the neighborhood's local brew and to try the Lobsta food truck. Yes, lobster from a truck. Los Angeles is gourmet all the way.

Finally, you may be interested to learn that my dear boyfriend is moving to Los Angeles. Yes, job and all.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

So 2011

I have declared 2011 my year of the adventure.

First, and most obvious, blogger has forced me to update my template. Adventures in Technology. I hope you find the new pictures, colors and format pleasing. Thank you blogger for launching me into 2011!

Second, I discovered I love car washes. Adventures in modern day advances. After an unforgettable weekend in Yosemite (see #4 below), dirt and salt and fun absolutely morphed my blue car into a brown blob. This prompted me to try the new $6 car wash that opened down the street last week. Remember your first car wash? And the absolute adrenaline rush? I sat in my car, shift on neutral, as the wash moved the car through various contraptions. Suds blocked my view and I had to trust the car wash as I moved forward into more and more washing contraptions. At the end some huge hair dryer like devices dried my blue beast, a sign told me it was okay to drive, and off we went. But not too fast or you'll miss the free vacuums. A car wash is an urban mini roller coaster ride. I love 2011.

Third, the Los Angeles rain has subsided and my provisional hike is rescheduled for Sunday. Adventures in Hiking. Join us if you're interested in a moderate to easy afternoon stroll.

Fourth, here I'll discuss the earlier previewed Yosemite weekend. Adventures in Snowboarding. We traveled to Yosemite National Park, the second National Park dedicated in America, to enjoy the winters so loved by John Muir. Instead of camping or hotels, we opted for the middle ground of Camp Curry where we could stay in a heated canvas tent with wooden walls. Even the bathrooms were heated - anyone can do winter camping Camp Curry style! On Saturday, we hiked only about 3 miles total on ice and snow covered trail to Mirror Lake for a great view of Half Dome at dusk. At night we enjoyed a Ranger Program about the Merced River - its origins in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and its contribution to the California farmland. On Sunday, we took Snowboard lessons at Badger Pass and found ourselves having a blast. I highly recommend it! But be prepared for bruises and sore forearms from falling. Sunday night we checked out a fine dining establishment in Yosemite Valley that specializes in local and socially responsible food. Mac and cheese never tasted so good. Before parting for the unpredictable highway drive home on Monday, we hiked to lower Yosemite Falls (pictured) and partook in a photography walk from the Ahwanee Hotel with a docent from the Ansel Adams Gallery in the park. Yosemite in the winter gets four stars for meeting the adventure goal - snowboarding, hikes, photography, good food, and fun accommodations.

2011 is off to a great start. Here is a list of other adventures I'm hoping to embark on in 2011: surfing, rock climbing, more photography, lots of hiking and backpacking, and community volunteering. Do you have any ideas to add to the list?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mister Heavenly II

Tickets did not run as expensive as expected for the Passion Pit - Mister Heavenly - We Barbarian - Peter Rabbit 4-band line-up at the Palladium in Hollywood. How could I pass it up? My main draw had been Mister Heavenly, a project band made up of some good names: Nick Diamonds of Islands, drummer Joe Plummer of Modest Mouse, Honus Honus of Man Man, and on bass Michael Cera!! Cera is young but loveable, from his Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist movie to his u-tube sketch with the kids from Jersey Shores. The band can use some time to figure out which direction they're headed, but seeing all four made the night worthwhile.

Michael Cera
Mister Heavenly
Honus Honus
Hollywood Palladium

Back up to my entrance. I arrived one hour early because the Palladium has all general admission tickets. With the new addition of Michael Cera to Mister Heavenly, I expected quite a gathering one hour before the show. However, I erred, and hit the jackpot when I stood about 20 people from the beginning of the line. After a serious security check, including being pat down, I stood in the second row of music hungry fans. I differed from those around me in what appeared to me to be two obvious ways. I had about 10 years on those around me. I also knew about the opening bands and not the headliner. The college students loved the headliner Passion Pit. We swapped music knowledge and it worked out quite well. Some college lady asked me where I went to school. The suspicious side of me thought she was up to something. I dropped my guard and talked to them for some time, later to realize one of her gal pals had wiggled into my space. Her furry vest violated my space bubble. The furry vest plus jumping plus pushing led to my exit to the old people gallery where I enjoyed the headliner with my peers. All in all, I great adventure.