Friday, December 22, 2006

Impressionistic Waterfall Hike

Before we left for our winter vacation, Cam, Sam and I snuck in a hike up the far side of Mt. Tam in search of waterfalls.

The drive to the trail head was beautiful but curvy.

We brought along some little cans of Coke in an attempt to keep Sam's motion sickness in check. It seemed to help some. My mom is suggesting we try Dramamine next time. Sounds like a worthwhile plan.

Our Marin Hiking book said to park just after crossing Alpine Dam. The Alpine lake it forms is lovely.

We enjoyed exploring the area by the lake before we started walking.

We could hear the rushing water of the falls in the distance.

Our camera has a hard time focusing in low light without a flash.

The blurry pictures still capture memories though.

That's why I decided to name this post Impressionistic Waterfall Hike.

We had a nice time hiking together.

"Guys, check this one out."

Do you see Cam & Sam on the bridge off in the distance? It was a cool bridge.

"I'm coming."

I really wanted this picture to come out.

It isn't clear but his happiness is evident.

Cam & Sam had fun tossing sticks into the current and watching them ride down the falls.

Sam took another nice shot of us.

We left the falls and hiked back to the lake.

And enjoyed resting and playing by it for awhile.

Cam drove the car across while Sam and I checked out the other side of the dam.

I have always liked bridges. Something about being able to walk across a body of water intrigues me.

Crossing dams is interesting too. I enjoy comparing the difference of the two sides.

We saw a few young bucks on the drive home.

Cam let me drive home which helps my stomach.

He took some nice shots of the scenery.

And this one of Sam and me taking a breather on the side of the road.

Cam's story.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Continued Adventures

It has been wonderful having Ariel with us these past two weeks.

While it was crowded a couple of times, the opportunity to interact and spend time together as a family was incredibly worthwhile. We've had an adventure nearly every day including:

Listening to Sam practice the oral presentation part of his book report on My Teacher is an Alien. "Imagine Ms. Bouton was secretly plotting to capture us and take us away in her space ship."

Putting off homework and traversing Ring Mountain with Ariel and Sam. We parked our car on one side then climbed up and over the mountain and back to our home. Then, we drove back around the mountain in her car to pick our car up. It was a clear, refreshing day.

(I am starting to see merit in playing after school during the waning daylight hours and saving Sam's homework until later.)

Driving to the top of Mt. Tam to admire the view from the highest peak in the area.

We watched the sunset and talked about exploring Mt. Diablo another day.

Hiking a mile and a half to Tennessee Beach. Being impressed by the dramatic waves crashing. Having fun playing with the sand. Hiking a mile and a half back.

Hearing Cam talk enthusiastically about his new job. Celebrating Ariel landing a theater job. Considering a new job of my own.

Practicing being a substitute teacher. Enjoying teaching history and literature to a group of fourth graders one day. Filling in as the Physical Education instructor another day. Teaching basketball to them. Making a basket during demonstrations. Enjoying being in charge. Discussing resigning from my part-time position as an Instructional Aide to work full-time as a sub for the district after the first of the year. I could make enough money to stay home with Sam this summer and gain new experiences while still investigating grad school.

Jogging in the rain with Sam and Ariel while my adrenaline was still pumping from substitute teaching basketball. Ending up at the Richardson Bay Audubon Center. Happily finding it open. Exploring the muddy nature trails along the foggy bay. Meeting a friendly staff member who showed Ariel and me the worm farms Sam had seen on a recent field trip.

Spending two hours attempting to make an Indian pumpkin soup recipe my friend Lockshme recently discovered and loves. Realizing we didn't have some essential ingredients. Having lukewarm results. Sharing it with my friend Jennifer from work. Having her discuss careers in market research with Cam. Hearing about the job interview she had that is taking her to Maryland.

Sharing Thai food and conversation with our upstairs neighbors and friends. Enjoying Ariel's curry. Eating fresh berries with homemade whipped cream. Playing cards. Sharing stories. Swapping favorite books. Reading about magical creatures.

This morning, we will head out on separate adventures. Ariel is driving 12+ hours across Nevada into Utah to spend the holidays with our Aunt Maria and the rest of our family who live there. Her girl, Ash is meeting her there after Christmas to share the drive back to the Bay area. They are going to stay with some of Ash's friends for awhile upon their return while they decide what they want to do next.

This afternoon, Cam, Sam and I are headed towards Louisiana. We are looking forward to spending the holidays with Cam's dad, Jim and his step-mom, Liz. We will be there for his dear friends, Anthony & Jeanette's, son Lucas' christening and spend some time getting to know their family.

We plan to have dinner with Cam's Uncle Ruud from his mom's side and meet at least one of Cam's step-brothers. My parents are planning to drive south to spend some time with us too.

Sam and I haven't seen where Cam grew up yet. There are many places he wants to share with us. We are happy to be along for the ride.

Enjoy your time this holiday season.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Personal Account of the recent situation in Seattle

Our friends Craig & Phyllis just survived the power outage in Seattle.

Read below for a personal account of their experiences.

Hi, All. Most of you know that Seattle got hit with a strong wind storm on Thursday. Most of the city's power was knocked out, including the San Juan Islands -- with more than 1 million people without power.

Now after 2 days, our house and dad's still has no power. We still have hot water, which is good. But the house is very cold. With the outside temps now in the lower 30s, our house inside temperature is now in the upper 40s - almost cold enough to see your breath.

The days are okay, because you at least have light. But nights are spent in total darkness and cold. Of course our refrigerator and freezers aren't working - so our food is slowly spoiling. We put as much as we could in two coolers, and set them outside on the back step. Hopefully with the cold weather, everything will keep.

Traffic throughout the city is terrible, because all the street lights are out as well. It's okay during the day, but at night you're in total darkness, and you can't see as you come to the intersections - so many people are getting into accidents. People are also scrambling to get supplies like batteries, generators, etc. Folks are waiting more than an hour in line to get gas, and many stations are completely out of gas now.

Communication has also been hampered, since the cell phone companies - including Cingular - are having network problems. So we haven't been able to use our cell phones much. Also the house cordless phones don't work either, but luckily we have an old wire line phone which works.

But since our house is so cold - we don't spend time at home. Like everyone else, we've spent the last two days at shopping malls, restaurants, and coffee shops trying to stay warm. Right now, we're at Barnes and Nobles using the wireless internet connection - and charging our cell phones in their wall outlet. Everyone else has the same idea, so getting a free outlet is a challenge.

Dad stayed with me the past two nights, while Craig (who recently became a police officer) works late trying to control the chaos in the streets. Last night, Dad brought over a little gas heater and lantern over, so we could heat one room at least. I also have lots of candles, so at least we can see a little bit. Dad and I played backgammon using flashlights - which was funny.

Craig worked until 6AM yesterday morning - with so much going on -- electric transformers on fire, people breaking into businesses (since alarms don't work). At least last night, he got off at 1AM, which was good because he was exhausted.

Also it's spooky to be home in total darkness - especially since burglers are taking advantage of the situation. Around 12:30 AM, I heard gunshots near our street. So I called 911 to give them the info - and I could see the police cars searching near our street with their spotlights. But they never did find the culprits. Since I told the dispatch Craig was a cop, the Bothell sergeant had dispatch call me back to check on me. Dad was with me, along with his loaded gun. So we were okay, but still it's a little spooky. It was better once Craig came home.

For tonight, we thought about going to a hotel for the next two days. But we called hotels for an hour solid - all thru the east side, downtown, in northern towns toward the Canadian border. Everyone is totally booked up. So looks like we'll spend another cold night at home.

Luckily, the power is coming on slowly in the business areas -- then they will get to the residential areas. We hope to have power back by tomorrow, but my bet is Monday or Tuesday.

In the meantime, Petsmart got power back today. So we checked Sammie into their pet hotel until Monday. She's been sitting in total darkness and cold at home, while we stay out during the days. So at least now, she has a warm bed and gets two playtimes during the day. That's better than we'll have tonight.

That's about all for now. We're okay, dad is okay -- and we're really looking forward to spending New Year's week with Susan in WARM SUNNY ARIZONA!!!

Good news - finally. We checked into a hotel yesterday afternoon -- and 30 minutes later we got our power back. That figures. Anyway, we're back home now -- with the fireplace going, candles burning, and the cherry pie I just made is out of the oven now and smelling really good (we'll be eating a piece very soon!). So life is back to normal.

But experiences like this are a very good reminder not to take things for granted - because things can change in one second. Now as I look around my home, I realize more than ever how lucky we are to have a warm roof over our heads. Many people on the streets will never be this lucky.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Sam's Return to Muir Beach

Just over a month ago, we decided to take a trip to Muir Beach. Cam wrote about it and shared some pictures on his blog at the time. I have been putting off writing about it from my perspective because I knew I wanted to do a Then & Now posting and it would take some time to put together. Here it is. I hope you enjoy the flashbacks as much as I do.

So, you probably know the story about how in April of 2001, I quit my job in St. Louis and Sam and I drove around 2,222 miles to San Francisco in search of a jellyfish beach, a new job for me and all of our dreams to come true.

I didn't end up finding a job that would allow us to stay and there were no jellyfish at Muir Beach but Sam and I still found the first beach we made it to spell-binding.

Thanks to Cam, five years later, those dreams are our reality.

I love this picture of Sam perched on the giant ocean rocks at Muir Beach.



I think I sat him on top of the rock when he was little. This time, he gave a rock climbing demonstration.

Getting down was a bit different this time too.

Cam had wanted to take one of his notorious long, solo hikes that morning. I wasn't into vegging out at home this time. So, we agreed to go to Muir Beach together where Sam and I could get out of the house, breathe the fresh air and chill out on the beach. At the same time, Cam could do a long, solo hike in the area. He's off.




We had agreed to meet back at the beach a couple of hours later. Sam and I were going to drive to the Muir Beach Overlook and see if we could see any Gray Whales migrating while Cam hiked.

But less than an hour later, we were pleasantly surprised when Cam rejoined us on the beach. Part of the trail he had been planning to take was closed and he said he just decided he wanted to be with us so he came back. He had been able to see us playing on the beach from the trail high above.

We enjoyed playing on the beach together for awhile.

Cam couldn't resist wading in the waves.

He spied some starfish clinging to this rock.

They were completely covered when the water was in and exposed when it was out.

We decided to save the Muir Beach Overlook for another day.

I'm glad to have been able to go back there with Sam and share the experience with Cam.