Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Beware the Olompali Devil Weed

The day after our hike to the top of Slacker Hill, we decided to check out a nearby historical site. Olompali State Historical Park has a bit of a bizarre past.

Around 1200 AD, it was a major center of the Coast Miwok.

Miwok women would gather around this stone and use as a mortar to grind acorns.

We explored replicas of Miwok structures.

Around 1850, the property was sold to James Black and became the private home of his family.

Orchards of many different kinds of fruit were planted.

Varieties included apple, pear, quince, fig, pomegranate, persimmon, apricot, peach and plum. Fifty acres were planted in 30 varieties of grapes.

Apparently, the banana trees didn't do well but his oranges did.

Later, a 26 room mansion complete with a Victorian formal garden...

Dairy Barn...

As well as a blacksmith shop and quarters were built.

At one time the property was sold to the University of San Francisco as a Jesuit retreat. (photo credit)

In the 60s, it was a hippie commune. (photo credit)

And for a short period of time, it was owned by the band, The Grateful Dead. (photo credit)

During this time, it was a gathering place for San Francisco area musicians, including Janis Joplin.

We decided to hike the 3.1 mile nature loop.

We admired flowers.

We listened to and observed birds.

Sam forged a creek.

Then used a fallen tree to climb back across.

We were entranced by all the lizards sunning themselves along the way.

There must have been almost 50 of them.

We saw a snake or two.

But we didn't see the poison oak that must have been lurking there as well.

I blame this day's adventures for the awful rash that would plague me for the next two weeks.

I'd have stayed home if I would have known what I was getting into. Thankfully, the painful, disgusting, aggravating rash is gone. Only the scars and memories remain.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Go, Heidi. Go.

Recently, I learned that my cousin, Heidi had applied to 8 of the top-tier universities in the country and been admitted to every one.

I am extremely proud of her.

One of them said, "Go ahead and spend that year studying in Germany. Your scholarship will be here waiting for you when you return." She visited MIT earlier this month and in the coming days, she has a trip planned to Stanford.

Her mom, my Aunt Maria said, "We have had staggering news of another acceptance nearly every day for two weeks now. I can't afford to keep taking her out to dinner to celebrate!"

Heidi (shown with loving, supportive boyfriend Andrew) is am amazing person in many ways.

She has big plans involving Biomedical Engineering (I think). Her dreams are so complex; I don't even understand them just yet. When I am better able to articulate them, I will share them with you.

I do know she will make a positive impact on our world wherever she goes and whatever she decides to do.

Congratulations, Heidi. We're all so proud of you.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Slacker Hill Wildflower Hike

The morning after Sam got his stitches taken out, while I tried to find the owner of the backpack we'd found, Sam took a nice, long bath. He hadn't been supposed to get the stitches wet so he was due.

The night before, I'd been sulking a bit. Thinking his injury looked pretty grim after they had taken the stitches out.

But there he was, my trooper, not 50 yards up the path, already holding a stick.

Still beautiful and sporting a smile.

Kids are so resilient, aren't they?

Cam picked this hike because our handy dandy Marin Hiking book said it was a good one for wildflowers.

This book knows its stuff.

Thanks for researching our hikes so well, Cam.

There is our lovely state flower, the California poppy.

We saw many different varieties of wild flowers on the hike.

We weren't able to identify many.

Some seemed prettier than others but we tried to capture them all.

I love recording the new life growing.

(Speaking of new life growing...)

Surrounded by all this beauty and wonder, it is hard to stay grim.

I was feeling much better.

Then, this brave, capable man came jogging around the bend with one arm missing.

I was reminded how lucky we are that Sam's injury was "merely a flesh wound."

We passed more wildflowers.

These were unusual.

Different little yellow ones.

And this one I should know. What is it, mom? A hollyhock?

I remember when you told me not to pull the vine of one, that was growing in our backyard in Chicago, when I was planting blubs.

We saw several birds of prey at eye level.

We watched this one for awhile.

Dainty, little purple ones.

The sign said that these wildflowers are an essential part of the Mission Blue Butterfly's food chain.

We saw butterflies but didn't get pictures of them.

Here is a nice one someone else took. (photo credit)

These interesting flowers remind me a bit of bleeding hearts.

Sam asked to take a break.

Pretty nice place for a rest.

We snacked on the fresh berries Cam packed.

They were delicious.

A bit later, this turkey vulture seemed to pose for us.

It was shaping up to be a really enjoyable hike.

Then, we passed a parking lot and arrived at the base of the trail to Slacker Hill...

I hadn't minded walking to it before.

Cam had told us there was nowhere to park close to the trail head.

But as I struggled to deal with the drastic increase in incline, I started to get just a bit grouchy.

These pink flowers gave me an excuse to stop for a photo and a breather.

Suddenly, we turned a corner and there was the bridge and the city laid out before us, below us.

And there was Angel Island too.

We were above it all.

Look at the sailboats.

We made it.

Cam explained that he hadn't misled me about the parking situation. He just hadn't realized the parking was there.

I was so happy to have arrived at the height of our journey and happy to have had the exercise and experience. My grouchiness was gone.

This patch of tiny daffodils at my feet was a cheerful welcoming committee.

We relaxed, rested, enjoyed the 360 degree view and yummy lunch Cam had packed and carried.

He is so thoughtful and wonderful.

It was a nice place to take pictures.

And play.

You can see Mt. Diablo off in the distance, behind Sam.

Then the fog arrived.

We watched it float in.

After the picnic, we started to hike, back the way we came, to our car.

The walking would be mostly downhill.

Sam had fun crouching down in these enormous cracks in the earth.

Since we were parked close to Rodeo Beach, we decided to swing by and tell the ocean hi.

I was happy to commune with the beach blanket.

Sam had fun throwing rocks into this stretch of water.

And building dams and making other changes to this area.

He found that piece of wood and planted it there.

Another fun filled day in Marin.