Saturday, December 30, 2006

Finally! Walking again...

It's been two weeks since I had a good walk but I finally had the opportunity to get outside today for a town walk. Thank goodness the weather improved...I was going stir crazy. Tomorrow should be a beautiful day and I look forward to getting on the trails again. I miss you Mother Nature!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Breaking News...

Russell made the decision it's time to shave his head. He can no longer hide the fact that he is balding and decided to just go with it. Personally I think it's a great idea and Russell knows I think some bald men are hot. So the deed is done and I now have a bald husband. It's about time I say. :)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Outside Within

Susurration of Wind finely Speak
Alight On dewed Skin
In Trek ever Onward
Journy don't End

Sweet Redolence ethereal of Mystery
Felt Shared intercepted Within
We find our peace
Ancient primal Begin

For this We hold Closely
A power Little known
Together hold The secret
Primitive we've Grown

I was thinking about hiking and how it sometimes makes me feel and ended up writing a little poem about it. I haven't written much poetry so don't laugh if you think it sucks. :)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Deftones

I can't seem to get enough of their music right now. They have kind of an industrial/alternative rock sound, but some of their songs are total thrasher. I listen to it constantly...whether I'm in the car or messin around the house. I'm sure my family is about sick to death of it by now.

I was fortunate to see the Deftones a few weeks ago and knew nothing much of their music beforehand, but after seeing their show, I was hooked. I love seeing bands live and can't wait for this one to come to town again. Should one want to go check them out, I recommend listening to samples of the following songs:

MEIN(As close to punk as the Deftones come)
Cherry Waves

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Roughs Revisited

My hiking partner and I went to McKinney Roughs yesterday for a little walking adventure. I have been to the Roughs before, but couldn't remember the trail system until almost the end where we had to climb out of the valley. I guess it's not terribly surprising that the hardest part of the hike is what triggered my memory. I sucked some wind climbing out, but my recovery time after getting to the top was only seconds. Of course as usual Thomas was at the top waiting for me. He runs up steep switchbacks like they are nothing! We only walked a total of five miles yesterday, but this trail system does offer more.

The Roughs is a pretty place. It has a few look out points to catch a good view, and follows a river for a little while. Since the water was low, we were able to walk out on some rocks and test our balancing skills. I did great until I hit flat ground again...that's when I went down in the mud. This seems to be a regular occurrence for me...falling on flat ground. I get through the difficult terrain with sure skill, but as soon as my foot hits level ground again, I lose my balance or trip and down I go. Figures.

Not much to report on the wildlife in the area. We heard some deer crashing through the trees, but little else showed up on the scene except a bird or insect every now and then. Oh wait, I forgot about the big spider that Thomas took for a little dance. It was a large fat orb weaver of some kind, which I thought was pretty. It ended up on Thomas for a few short seconds after he walked through it's web. That's when the dancing started...

The last time I hiked in this park I was much less hardened to trail walking and didn't take photos. This time around was an easy stroll so I had plenty of photo taking opportunity. Here they are!

River Low
River View From Trail
River Flats
Hind Racoon Print on River Rock
Looking Down to the Left from Trail
Pine and Sky
Big Valley View

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Chalk Ridge Falls II

Went on a short little hike today with Russell, who usually won't step foot out in nature, but he's such a nice husband he let me drag him along. I wanted to go back to Chalk Ridge Falls to pick up some of the parts I've not hiked previously, but it turned out there wasn't much else to see. We were only able to squeeze three miles out of these trails. It's supposed to be a longer hike according to people's online hike write ups. The last time we were there I thought we got at least four miles out of it, but I went on every trail available and no way was it near the four or five miles people are reporting online. Am I missing something?

We did have a very cool deer encounter though. On a small off shoot trail, we walked right up on some grazing deer. They were so close I could have almost reached out and touched them. They were every bit as surprised to see us so up close and personal as we were them! Of course they moved away from us quickly after we almost collided into them. Something else I enjoyed seeing were two king fishers chasing each other along the river. They were gorgeous but flying too fast to photograph unfortunately.
Suspension Bridge...Nice and Wobbly
Small Falls
Looking Up River
Different Upriver Perspective

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Gingerbread Extravaganza 2006

Each year my friend Jen has a gingerbread house party where all her guests come and decorate their very own house to take home. This year would mark the fifth party and the second one I have had the priviledge of attending. It was a great time and even the guys got into making and decorating their own creations. Elliott designed and built his own train and Jen made a gingerbread dome.

The day before the party Jen and I made dough and baked over a hundred cookies! We pre-baked and assembled the houses too...14 in all. Hours and hours of work went into this year's extravaganza, but it was all fun and time well spent. These houses do look good enough to eat and they are!

The Candy!
My House
Jessica's House
Elliott's Train
Lotsa Cookies!
The Dome (pre-decorated. I don't have a shot of it finished unfortunately)
Hanson and Will's House. The other side of the house says "Please Recycle"
Very Fine Gingerbread Cookies. These didn't last long in my house.

Monday, November 27, 2006

San Francisco

This Thanksgiving we went to San Francisco to visit Russell's family. It was a good trip. I was able to go on a very nice hike the morning of Thanksgiving where I could see some spectacular views! On the last day of our trip, Russell, Ben, and I took a bay cruise and enjoyed more great views of the city. We didn't do many of the touristy things we did last year, but instead hung out with family. I was happy to keep it low key and I think Russell was too.
Wintery trees with bay in background
Some Kind of Succulent (this grows wild everywhere in SF)
Pickle Weed (this grows wild in the marsh lands and is another succulent)
Shore Birds
Pine Cones
Different View of Wintery Trees (with bay in background)

More SceneryOn Top of a Big Hill Overlooking Mountain Town

Redwood Hike
Muir Woods (Redwood Forest)
On the Way to the RedwoodsLooking up into the trees... My camera doesn't do this place justice.
Very Old Remnant of a Redwood
Mountain Creek in Muir Woods
Fern growing on trunk It's very dark under the canopy

A little perspective on the size of a Coastal Redwood. The ancient trees are massive in size and I felt dwarfed by them. In the park there is a trunk section cut and mounted to show the historical timeline of events going on while the tree was growing. The atmosphere was cold and damp. This particular forest is the last of the primordial forests and is precious.

909 A.D. A tree is born
1100 Building of cliff dwellings begins Mesa Verde
1325 Aztecs begin construction of Tenochitlan Mexico
1492 Columbus sails to America
1607 Jamestown Va founded by English colonists
1776 Declaration of Independance
1849 California Gold Rush
1908 Muir Woods Monument established
1930 Tree falls

The Bay Cruise
Ben and Russell play rock/paper/scissors on bay cruise.

Golden Gate From Boat: This is the North end of the bridge and is the route we took each time we left San Fran to go to Russell's grandmother's house. ...Off to granma's we go...In the distance to the right is a mountain with a tunnel cut through it. Everyone in the car liked to hold their breaths until reaching the other side. Ben even got into the act.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Lake Somerville Trailway

This weekend Thomas, Matthew, and myself headed out to Lake Somerville Trailway for a little backpacking fun. The trailway runs between two main camping/park areas called Birch Creek and Nails Creek. We walked close to 8 miles the first day, taking a couple of un-intended hikes off the main trail, and almost 7 out the next day. The Trailway is in the middle of Blackland Prarie and the scenery was simply gorgeous.

This was a noisy place. Several Boy Scout troops were in the area and there was the constant drone of some kind of machinery. There were hunters in the area too and we heard gunfire quite a few times, especially around dawn. After those first shots were fired, a few scared ducks went flying over our campsite to get away. Speaking of campsites...we had to stealth camp because the boyscouts dominated all the designated camping areas. So we camped in what we think was a day area at Newman Bottom somewhat close to a creek. It was a nice spot and no one was around. We were far enough away that we didn't hear any of the scouts anymore, and the mechanical sounds were quite faded.

Despite the man made noise, wildlife was abundant and we saw and heard plenty. Ferrel hogs showed up on the scene a couple of times, which was the first time I have ever seen wild hogs while walking about. I was quite thrilled by that! We also encountered deer which we normally do, but one in particular was a large buck right ahead of us on the trail. I got a shot of it, but it didn't turn out well...I'll post it anyway.

Birds of all kinds were in the area and we spotted a huge owl that appeared to be hunting...I think it was chasing a bird, or maybe the bird was chasing the owl...I can't be sure. Towards evening flocks of chatty ducks flew over our camp site to their roosting places. Then at night, many coyotes broke out in yips and howels and could be heard quite clearly in several different areas. I don't think they were too far away from us, and their racket set off the Great Horned Owls calling back and forth to each other in the night. It was quite the auditory treat and lent an air of excitement to the trip. But the best part of all, at least for me, was walking through cloud after cloud of butterflies. We saw thousands of them in the park and to be surrounded by so many at one time was something I've never experienced. It was almost surreal. Unfortunately none of my butterfly pics turned out.

After the sun had set, we turned our attention to the night sky and could see the Milky Way. We were also fortunate enough to see a few meteors streaking across the sky. Then after a while of the temp steadily falling, we grew weary of the cold and retired to our tents for the night. The next morning I woke up a little chilled and damp because of the condensation on the tent walls, but things warmed up quickly after the sun came up and all was well. This was a great trip and I look forward to the next!

Day One
Map Showing Trailway. Birch Camp is where we started(off to the far right of map)and made our way over to Newman Bottom shown on left side of map. Total trip miles almost 15.
Grass almost as tall as me. In this shot I'm looking uphill. The trees in the background are actually tall, but because of the sharp incline I can only see their tops.
A Pond Reflection
Moss Monster
Moss Monster Up Close
Can You See the Deer?
Darkness Falls

Day Two
Sparkling Water
Love Birds(actually these are vultures)
Ferrel Hogs. After these adults passed over the trail, several young followed. You have to click on this picture to see the hogs better.