Monday, February 17, 2014

Stebbins Cold Creek Canyon

Ah those stairs! Love them. The trail starts off Highway 128 where the parking is pretty limited. It's a pretty gentle hike for the first mile or so and then... the stairs. But, once up the stairs, it's a more gradual ascent. There's a nice place to stop for a rest where three trails intersect. We went right, up the spine. It's a pretty steep climb but the trail is well maintained. Any time you want to stop for a rest, there's a beautiful view any way you look. Lake Berryessa is the most obvious scenery that you'll see. Once you make your way over the spine, it's down down down via several switchbacks. It's also where you'll run into more people coming up the opposite direction.

Once you get down, the traffic will probably be worse so be careful walking along the road to your car. Then head down for a bite and/or drink in Winters. Lots of cute places to check out.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Cross Country Skiing & Snowshoeing - Big Sky, Montana

I went snowshoeing yesterday and cross-country skiing at about 7000 feet today. I got to Big Sky, Montana yesterday and haven't had any issues with headaches or any other altitude issues. I've been drinking water like crazy so I'm sure that is helping. I'm also not drinking coffee after my usual one. In the past when I've been here. I've had coffee all day. Uhh… why?

Anyway, the snow has been great. I could definitely feel the lack of oxygen but I haven't really feel limited at all. I was pleasantly surprised!

Snowshoeing takes off from Big Sky Resort and crosses over the ski hill into the woods where the Zip Line then flies overhead. The trail is easy to follow as it goes in and out of the woods, sometimes paralleling a ski run. At the top of the trail, you can go right or left. I went left, which took me to a Yurt where they apparently host dinners for people who are carted up there in some kind of motor drawn sleigh. The trail is back the same way but with more familiarity, it was more comfortable to go off trail a bit.

Skiing was at the Long Mountain Ranch where the trails were very well groomed. About 10 of us took the shuttle from the resort. We climbed pretty consistently for about 3 miles and then realized that we wouldn't be able to make the entire loop we were trying to complete and we needed to catch the shuttle. The downhill was pretty interesting after not cross-country skiing for two years. I snowplowed a lot of the way down and then tried the groomed tracks. My body didn't remember what to do on a corner and my mind wasn't quick enough to adjust. So the skis went out of the track and I slid across the skate ski track and fell into the powder. POOF! Didn't get hurt at all but I couldn't get out. lol Gary, one of the two men I was skiing with, was waiting for me to come around the corner to get a photo of me. He said he didn't take a picture of me when I fell but then teased that maybe it would show up randomly somewhere. I hope he did!! He also had to pull me out of the powder. About 2 minutes later, Marshall came around a different corner and he fell too. We continued down toward the ranch and ran into the 7 other people in our party who had been taking a lesson. So we all got to finish together.

A great few hours out in the cold fresh air of Montana getting some exercise. Awesome!

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Cold New Year in the Redwoods

We spent New Year's Eve at Samuel P. Taylor State Park hidden from the sun. There weren't many people there on December 30th but it seemed pretty populated for December 31st. Most people seem to have celebrated New Year from a different time zone, us included. But there was a bit of noise at midnight for a few seconds… and then silence.

We had a couple visits from raccoons while we were still finishing dinner. We learned from last time to put food away right immediately but they didn't even have the manners to wait until we were done eating. One of them actually got away with a box of crackers! Bugger! I don't know if it was the same one or not, but we had another visit later after all the food was put away. It walked up on the table and seemed to look at us like we were not following protocol by having put our food away. We made noise and, of course, it took off. But with our headlamps, we could see its beady little eyes looking at us from a tree with his bandit mask on.

We also used our Dutch Oven for the first time and I followed a very easy recipe for Monkey Bread…. basically cinnamon buns. I burned the bottom in the fire a little but the rest was baked perfectly and tasted awesome. I just need to learn some of the finer points of Dutch Oven cooking. Good first effort though!

For future reference, camping in the redwoods in the winter is just a tad cold. The sun doesn't penetrate the cover so the ground never warms up and the air is always chilled and humid. Even Jambo was cold! Can't complain too much with what the midwest is going through with their constant below 0 temps. But I can comment anyway.

Finally, we were in Site 14, which we did not reserve. It was right next to Site 16, which we had last time. Site 14 was a good site with just enough space for our tent with garage attached. The car was able to block us from people driving by and there was good tree cover between sites so it was pretty private. I would stay in that site again at SPT SP.

Endnote: Just an FYI that we spent Christmas in Las Vegas. So we had the full spectrum of celebrations this season!

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Honeymoon - Newport, OR - Day 5

Last day of our honeymoon. We both woke up very early and noticed that it was raining. Apparently Bozo had been up for a little while and couldn't get back to sleep. Then we opened the sliding glass door to hear the rain and the waves and she was out! lol How are we ever going to sleep at home again??

Up around 9am for breakfast, which wasn't too bad for a larger hotel. They had square egg patties that Bozo made into a little sandwich. The rest was the usual bread, cereal, yogurt, and oatmeal fare with a waffle maker to boot.

During our breakfast we also saw the news about the LAX shooting. We had seen bits and pieces here and there but chose not to listen further until today. We just didn't want to disturb our minds with the information. Our flight today was not impacted and it seems like only flights from home that may connect with LA are impacted. So, we were on schedule. Until there was a mechanical issue and we needed to change planes. But it was only about half an hour delay so that was okay.

Our drive from Newport to the Portland Airport was beautiful. It alternated from sunny to foggy to rainy and back again. We were going through forest much of the time and took a bit longer route through Salem to avoid getting on I-5 quite as quickly. We stopped at a Country Pride restaurant at a truck stop and had a good fried lunch. The server was awesome! Apparently we looked like we were in a hurry so she rushed us along. We weren't in as much of a hurry as we apparently looked. But it was good to have fast service! When we got off at the last exit before the airport for gas, it was raining and started to hail just slightly. I yelled, "NOOOO! We have to get under the gas station cover!" We hadn't gotten any extra insurance for the rental car. lol The last thing we needed was hail in our last 10 minutes with the car! No worries. The hail ended quickly.

No trouble returning the car and the shuttle from Alamo Car Rentals to the Portland International Airport departures was about half the time as it was to get to the car rental. That was a nice surprise! We had planned for at least 20 minutes since that's what it took to get there.

Nothing much different at the airport except TSA had black bands on their badges. There may have been more security but it wasn't overwhelming and getting through was just as fast. Though I have to acknowledge that we are both middle aged white women and have the privilege of not generally being the ones profiled. So others' experiences may have been different during this time particularly.

The flight was mostly uneventful. Just a bit of turbulence that made the flight attendants sit. I kept saying that as long as he was handling coffee, we were okay. Then he sat. Arrgh! Didn't last long though. Because of the plane switch, we missed our city bus and had to wait an extra 45 minutes. No big deal in general but the waiting time was beginning to add up and we were ready to just be home.

Finally home, all was intact… with the pungent smell of burlap still in the air! lol We made a quick trip to the post office and picked up a package…. a gift… from REI! Yes!

The Honeymoon was exactly as a Honeymoon should be! And now we settle back in to our lives!

Remember to move the clocks back an hour tonight!!

View from our room at the Elizabeth Street Inn

Friday, November 01, 2013

Honeymoon - Depoe Bay, OR - Day 4

Started the day in our usual fashion… breakfast with an ocean view. Then back up to our room to relax a little and make plans for the rest of our time in Oregon. Bozo found a great walk-in price for a hotel in Newport, OR, which is slightly closer to Portland International Airport, so we decided to head that direction. On our way out of town we stopped to take a few more photos of places we had been in Depoe Bay.

There is construction between Depoe Bay and Newport so it took us awhile to get here. It also made us change our plans because a couple of beaches we were considering were right where the construction and the long waits were happening.

We checked into the Elizabeth Street Inn with an awesome view of the ocean and then headed out to explore. We ended up at Nye Beach area and walked around looking at the little shops. We met a book seller at Books on Beach who recommended we check out the Sylvia Beach Hotel, which has all its rooms named after different authors with the appropriate decor to boot. It was great! No Karouac for me but there was Steinbeck. The best room was Agatha Christie with a wrap-a-round porch overlooking the ocean and a huge room.

We then followed the advice of the innkeeper at Channel House and headed to the Bay Blvd where we got a great view of the Yaquina Bay Bridge while enjoying seared tuna and grilled calamari at Local Ocean. Great atmosphere right across the street from the marina where they get much of their food and with garage doors that were open for some fresh, albeit fishy, air. We both realized that we'd not had grilled calamari before, only fried, and it was so so so good! It was served with poblano peppers so we also each got a little surprise burn in our first bite.

After dinner, a walk along the boulevard, and then a quick crossing of Yaquina Bay Bridge I finally got my Tillamook Ice Cream at Nye Beach Sweets. Not that I needed it or even that I really wanted it at that time. But if I was going to get Tillamook near Tillamook it had to be today. Creamy coconut with mudslide… yummy! Bozo got a children's sized mudslide. Wuss!

That's when the gluttony started. It continued when we folded to trying out the salmon chowder provided by the hotel as an appetizer. For us it was an evening snack I suppose. Then a few hours later they provided chocolate chip cookies and some coffee… decaf for us! I think there is something to our Honeymoon ending that is making us splurge in many ways. We're trying to make it last longer and we want to squeeze out every pleasure possible from our remaining time here.

We have tomorrow to make our way slowly from here to Portland and catch our plane at 5:30pm. It's nice not to have to rush!

Marina directly across the street from Local Ocean

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Honeymoon - Depoe Bay, OR - Day 3


Everything is starting to sink in and dissipate at the same time. We are both relaxed and well-recovered. We started the day with the usual breakfast in the BandB… hard-boiled eggs, granola, fruit, yogurt Afterwards I went back to bed for a little while and Bozo went out and called her parents. Around 1:00pm we went out. It was a good thing but really we only went so they would clean our room. lol

We were going to do a drive but where we wanted to go was a little further than we'd wanted to travel and it was raining so we started in Depoe Bay. They have quite a few shops for such a small town but most of them are cheapie souvenir shops. There was one that sold local artists' work so that's where we spent the most money. We also made a stop at the Whale Watching Center where we found out that 0 whales have been spotted in the past 2 weeks. Phew! I was glad we hadn't missed seeing any during our stay so far.

Then we decided to have a seafood lunch. The original plan was to go out for a nice seafood dinner. But once we went back, it was unlikely we'd be willing to go out again! lol So this was a very good compromise. We went to Tidal Raves and had a great ocean view table. Bozo had Red Curry BBQd Shrimp and I had Pacific Snapper. Both were delicious!

From our view in the restaurant we could see a little beach cove and four people were down there. We went to explore and found a rope that you're supposed to follow and use to keep you from falling. I assumed there was probably a safer way but off Bozo went and, of course, I followed. The rope ended a little before we got to the bottom and with the drizzle, it was a little slippery. But we made it… and it was beautiful. A ton of slick black rocks and some shells along with some garbage, of course. I think I've been pretty clear in previous entries that I am not a huge fan of water and even less a fan of being in place where I could easily be trapped by water. So I explored in unease. The other four people down there were all over 70-years-old and were studying bugs. Apparently one of the men was a well-regarded entomologist who studies the chromosomes of bugs to learn more about evolution. One of the women had been his college student about 50 years ago. They teased us about coming down the rope, "I can't believe you came down that rope!" and Bozo laughed and asked if there is another way. The former student said, "No! But I can't believe WE came down that rope either!" and then showed us her dirty butt. lol We headed back up before they did.

Back in the room again. We puttered around, took another jacuzzi, looked at all the wedding photos we have so far, and then watched our annual scary Halloween movie. But Bozo was being a big baby about how scary the fog rolling in was and that we are basically alone in this Inn. I took pity and chose one I didn't think would be quite as scary. But then it just turned out to be cheesy. Darn! One time a year I get a chance to scare the bejeezus out of her and I blew it for the second time in a row. We saw "The Amityville Haunting." I do not recommend it!

Not a bad way to spend Halloween at all! Next year she's getting "Saw" though!

The fog, the swirling ocean below, and some rocks just to complete the Halloween effect!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Honeymoon - Depoe Bay, OR - Day 2

Today was all about relaxation and recovery. We were asleep by 9:00pm last night and up around 8:30am for breakfast. That felt great! The sound of the ocean outside our room and the total darkness from their window covers… the perfect combination for solid sleep.

We jacuzzied (I'm making it a word!) late in the morning then watched some tv and movies most of the day. We did have to make a little trip to Newport for a couple things I forgot and that apparently they don't have in tiny Depoe Bay.

We grabbed some coffee and did some more relaxing. Then, out of pure relaxation and laziness, Bozo went back to Bonepile BBQ again for chicken and pulled pork. Good… again. I like their cole slaw a lot! We also added potato salad this time, which was good too but not as good as the cole slaw. These were the kind of deep conversations we were having today!

We finished Amazing Race Season 16. Not represented well by "the mean lesbians." I'm also working on finding my scary Halloween movie… Bozo will only watch once each year so I gotta make it good!

Once it was dark we jacuzzied again with bath salts. It's so incredibly relaxing to be outside in the cold on the balcony in a jacuzzi with the ocean sounds all around.

I know this is a boring blog entry but it was definitely the down day that we both needed after the few months that we've had!

The breakfast spread with an up close and personal view of the ocean at the end of the room: