We took a quick trip to Pasadena over the last weekend in March. We stayed in a super cute Airbnb in South Pas — a “mid-century modern retreat” as described by the owner. It was a very comfortable (but not fussy) place and a great location right on the border of Pasadena and South Pasadena. We enjoyed their cool bookshelf complete with a copy of Eat: Los Angeles from our friends at Prospect Park Books.
On Saturday we rode our bikes around town to check things out. Ezra commented on how pretty the streets are with all the trees. We rode by our old apartment on Bank Street and Bruce pined for a Hi Life burger and told the funny story about his haircut at Zen 2000.
We used up all the bike parking wherever we went.
We were pleased to see some actual bike lanes (and that Pasadena drivers were courteous passers).
And tried out the new (tiny) stretch of a dedicated bike path in South Pasadena. Hopefully it will be expanded because it was nicely done.
We met the Finley-Knockels for ice skating and chatted away the afternoon. We all agreed that the scenery at the Pasadena rink is much better than Redwood City.
We had a great Zankou Chicken dinner at the Bannings. Great, as always, to spend time with them.
The next morning I sneaked out for a short walk and enjoyed the gorgeous blue sky and the wildflowers at Arlington Garden. Fun to see Cottage Coop again too.
It was great to pop into town; we only wish we had time to see more friends.
We decided to squeeze in one more trip before school started, so in between Jump Start Day on August 7th and the first day of school on August 14th, we drove north to explore the real Northern California. We had a campsite reserved at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, but since it’s quite a ways north, we decided to drive only part of the way and do a little sightseeing. First though, we had to get through the incredibly smokey area near Ukiah due to the Mendocino Complex Fire. It was a huge fire:
We stopped in Ukiah for lunch and saw a massive tent city set up for the firefighters who had come from all over the state to fight the fire.
After lunch we hopped back on the road and eventually got out of the smoke. We decided to take the scenic route at one point, veering off the main highway onto Avenue of the Giants near Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Absolutely gorgeous. We also decided to stop for one of those “drive your car through a redwood” attractions. I’ll let you see for yourself how well that went:
We finally did get through the tree with one broken mirror, and we spent some time hanging out in the play area. The boys (all three of them) enjoyed trying to balance on a log.
After that adventure, we drove another hour or so to a mostly uninhabited day campground near the South Fork Eel River. We walked from the parking area to the river, and spent some time skipping rocks and enjoying the scenery.
We finally reached our first day destination, the Best Western in Eureka, and had a good night’s sleep. In the morning, it was chilly and foggy but we set out on foot to find breakfast. It was a little tough because Finn had just had his braces put on two days earlier and he was really suffering and mostly unable to chew. I can’t remember exactly, but I think he had a smoothie of sorts. Poor kid.
We walked around Eureka for a while taking in the early California architecture … and a chocolate shop!
After breakfast and the short tour, we loaded up the car again and headed north. We made one more stop along the way at Patricks Point State Park, where it was foggy and cold, but everyone had a good time playing on the beach.
After Patricks Point, it was just about an hour and a half drive to our campsite at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. When we drove in we were stunned to see a bunch of elk casually lounging around. (At the time, we didn’t know if this was a daily occurrence or really out of the ordinary. Over the next few days, we never saw them in the campground again, so we felt pretty lucky to have caught them when we did.)
One of the first things on the to-do list (after trying out the chocolate we’d bought in Eureka) was fixing the broken mirror. Bruce had bought some supplies at a Eureka hardware store and promptly got the mirror glued and clamped.
The rest of the day was mostly spent getting the campsite ready, having dinner, and a little light exploring. Here’s Bruce at Prairie Creek:
The next morning we had breakfast and then set off on our big bicycling adventure. (Little did we know just how big an adventure it was going to be.) There was a trail that went in a big loop around the area, so we first headed south from our campsite. Quickly, the wide trail narrowed and was a little dicey for our commuter bikes, but we carried on.
After a while, the narrow trail led to a wider road.
And then finally, we could see the ocean.
After a while on this road, we stopped at a campground for a snack/water break, and then we locked up the bikes and explored the beach for a while.
There were these huge sand dunes that the boys had a great time jumping around on for quite some time.
After a long time at the beach, we grabbed the bikes and sauntered off, thinking we would just pick up the road and keep going. Not so much. The road had ended, and the trail was nowhere to be found. Here are some shots of us exploring the area, trying to figure out which way to go.
Finally we decided on a plan and we headed into the bog.
It was impassable on bike sometimes, and a little muddy. (Bruce got us through some parts by carrying the bikes.)
We finally made it out of the mud and it was spectacular.
Although still rough going …
We didn’t heed that warning though.
But Bruce got all of us and our bikes through that obstacle, and we trudged on. I hadn’t really grasped the enormity of the elevation gain we were heading into (I’m a bit map-challenged), but at this point, it was either keep going (and we were pretty sure there’d be a big payoff at the end with a scenic downhill), or turn back and go through the mud again. We kept going forward.
Finally, we made it to the other side. This is the last photo I took — the entrance to the trail we’d just completed. At that point, we had a glorious downhill ride down the paved Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway. We didn’t stop, just enjoyed coasting down among the giant redwoods.
Our final tally according to Strava was 19.6 miles, 1868 ft elevation gain, and 3 hours 10 minutes. Here’s a shot of the map.
After that adventure, we had a well-deserved relaxing afternoon/evening at the campsite, enjoying the last of our chocolate and a hotdog camp dinner.
The next day we’d booked a joint mountain biking and kayaking trip at the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, about 30 miles north of our campsite. I’m so glad that Bruce pre-booked this trip, because we were all pretty worn out from the previous day’s biking and we might have canceled otherwise. It turned out to be a spectacular day. We woke up to a gorgeous morning at the campsite to get us going.
And the Smith River and surrounding park were breathtaking. Once we met our guide and got our bikes, we were off. The biking was actually mostly on roads and not very strenuous (which was fine with all of us on this day!) and we stopped a couple of times to walk through the woods and explore the area around the Smith River.
The end of the biking part left us at the Smith River, where we puttered around for a bit, picked blackberries, had lunch, and then kayaked down the river to where we’d parked our car.
It was the most beautiful day with the bluest sky I can ever remember seeing.
Finally, the kayaks arrived and we got ready for the last leg of our journey. I don’t have any photos from the kayaking itself since my phone was in the watertight bin. It was super fun but a lot of work as these inflatable kayaks performed differently than other kayaks I’d used. But we all survived and enjoyed some mild rapids and more beautiful scenery.
I’m thankful to our guide who thought to take photos of all of us. Such a rare treat to have the whole family in the photo!
After we dried off and packed up, we decided that since we were only about a half-hour south of Oregon we had to go since none of us had ever been there. Our guide suggested visiting Brookings, just across the border, and so we did. We managed to stumble upon some crazy pirate festival thing, so we picked up some ice cream cones and roamed around for a bit.
I don’t remember much about the evening after the Smith adventure, probably because of exhaustion. What a day!
The next day we packed up and headed home. I can’t even remember if we made any stops on the way back, other than the Bluebird Cafe in Hopland where we had lunch. (It was good despite the Trump banner in the window, which I didn’t see until we were on our way out.)
We had a day to recover before school started. Really, I think this may have been the best camping trip we’ve been on, both relaxing and adventurous. I’m so glad we were able to fit it in before the chaos of the school year started.
This year we wedged our Laguna trip in between the boys’ sleep-away camp and Finn’s goalie camp, and had a great week-long vacation with the Bannings. Super fun that Bruce and Rob were both able to take the whole time off. Cari and I planned ahead for a couple of new adventures — the King Tut exhibit at the Science Center and a day trip to Catalina Island. And, we got in several bike rides, a couple of hikes, and of course, plenty of beach time. Here are a few photos.
All the kids at the Science Center. Not easy to get them all cooperating but this is a close as it got!
The Catalina was a great day. The boat trips were smooth and fun, and we rented kayaks on the island and did some snorkeling. Everyone was worn out at the end of the day but agreed it was an excursion we should revisit.
One day, all the boys (and I) went on a little hike to check out a local park. It was a little warm and dry, but fun nonetheless. A couple of days later, the boys all went back for a bike ride which was mostly successful with a few glitches (one broken derailleur and some complaining about the up-hills).
On the non-adventure days, we had lots of hanging out on the beach time. The kids are still enjoying digging big holes and getting pummeled by waves at “the pool.”
And, of course, we had many delicious meals on the deck — one of my favorite places in the whole world.
We’re so appreciative of this annual invite to spend time with great friends in such a gorgeous place.
On the last weekend in June, we traveled to Pasadena for Erin and Rikki’s wedding. We got in late on Friday night, found our AirBnB in Altadena, and pretty much crashed. I got up at a not-too-early hour to have an in-person walk with Cari. It was a very Pasadena walk — two different film crews and the beautiful yards and architecture that I miss so much.
Our house on Atchison was looking pretty good! Unfortunately, they’re losing another one of the old oaks, probably due to whatever killed the first one before we bought the house. The new owners have put in a pretty awful cactus garden on the side of the house, but the front yard looks beautiful.
After our walk, Cari came back to our place for a cup of tea. That led to a decision that we should all have breakfast together, and luckily the rest of her family was able to come up and join us, too. We had a good meal at the newly renovated Fox’s and so much good conversation that I never took out my phone for photos. I did catch a quick one of the kids on the walk back. It was a great way to spend the morning!
Once we said our goodbyes to the Bannings, it was time to kick it into high gear for last minute wedding prep. The two big tasks were to get some shoes that fit Ezra and to drop off our wedding present at the Bates’ house. Our present was a little unconventional — a giant paper maché Peggy Hill head. Peggy Hill is Erin and Rikki’s dog, to whom they are both completely dedicated. It was a whole-family project, but of course, Bruce dreamt it up and did the lion’s share of the work. Here are some photos of the process.
The humble beginnings of the wire shape, made possible by many sketches and printed photos of Peggy Hill herself. (Thank goodness Erin and Rikki post pictures of her so often!)
The first layers of paper maché, left to hang dry outside.
Finished and primered.
Spray-painted with four colors to get her likeness just right.
And, of course, it’s not really a Bruce Moision original if there aren’t lights.
Anyway, we managed to wrap it in rainbow party tablecloths, which seemed appropriate, and Bruce dropped it off. We heard later from Erin and both of her parents that it was the hit of the brunch the day after the wedding. And Erin sent us a couple of photos.
Now, back to the wedding! The boys all cleaned up quite nicely and I took this photo on our way to the shuttle that would take us to the home up in the Altadena hills that was the location for the wedding.
Bruce and I took a selfie a little later. I guess we all cleaned up pretty well!
The ceremony was lovely. Finn said it was the best wedding ever.
After the ceremony and before dinner, the boys enjoyed a bag of candy each from the giant candy table.
There was also a wicked cornhole game.
Dinner was delicious, there was a little dancing (for us, lots for others!), and then it was time to head out. We’re so happy for Erin and Rikki and their life ahead!
A couple of weeks into summer vacation, we joined some local families for their annual trip to Big Basin. I’d gone with them a few years ago, but Bruce missed that trip because of work. I warned him that we were unlikely to see much of our boys and he should bring a book. I was right.
I managed to get a couple of photos of Finn and Bruce making the first fire, but that was it.
Luckily one of the other moms is great at getting photos and sent them out to all of us. The eighth graders played a game of tag for hours, while the sixth graders had a top chef like s’mores competition.
Our boys never even came to our site for dinner. At the end, they were filthy and exhausted — two hallmarks of a successful camping trip.
Some time toward the end of 2017, Bruce heard from his friend Andrei that Caples Lake was frozen and because of the unusually dry weather, the ice was smooth and perfect for skating. Needless to say, he wanted to go, so we spent New Year’s Eve getting supplies (like ice skates for me) and packing up. We set out early in the morning on New Year’s Day — no coffee and Rose Parade viewing for me this year — and it took about two seconds of seeing the lake to know we made the right choice.
We started out at the south (?) end of the lake, which was smooth-ish but still felt rough for me as a beginning skater. The boys were fine since they are very good on their skates. Bruce was pretty comfortable too.
I switched to snowshoes which felt much more secure, and I took a nice walk. Bruce snapped a picture. Turns out, even though he’d encouraged me to go, he was a little worried at how far out I got.
During my walk I saw that the other side of the lake looked smooth as glass, so I went back and convinced everyone to move. I mean, look at this! Even I can skate on this.
Ezra didn’t skate as much as the rest of us because he spent most of the time using his hockey stick to smash some piles of ice. He was having a blast. To each his own. It’s hard to see, but he’s over there somewhere.
At some point we stopped for lunch (Cup Noodles and hot chocolate — perfect).
And then Finn, Bruce and I did a little more snowshoeing on the other side of the lake.
The temperature was in the 50s most of the day, but after the sun went behind the mountain it started to get pretty chilly. We finally packed up and headed home. It was a perfect way to ring in the new year!
Way back in August, before all hell broke loose in September, we decided to jump on some reasonably-priced tickets to Belize for Thanksgiving week after initially nixing the idea because the fares were through the roof. Needless to say, after September’s drama, we didn’t really think we’d make it to Belize, but we decided to play it by ear. Lo and behold, Bruce was feeling pretty good, and whether it was wise or not, we decided to go. It was a beautiful, relaxing week and we are so glad we decided to do it.
We tried to keep the days low-key but usually had some kind of outing. One favorite was the “secret beach” where the boys paddle-boarded and we all swam and had snacks. It’s hard to see, but that’s Bruce way out there on the paddle-board.
The water was shallow and warm so we all took a dip. We’d come with the idea of having lunch but in true Belizean fashion, the restaurant had run out of gas so they couldn’t cook anything. Chips and salsa came to the rescue. And Orange Fanta, of course.
The next day we drove Jamma’s golf cart up to X’Tan Ha resort for lunch and swimming/snorkeling off their dock.
In the afternoon we relaxed on our dock …
… and had a visit from a ray.
In the evening we went to Rojo for a great dinner, a game of pool (for the boys), and a snuggle with the local cat.
We had a fabulous, unconventional Thanksgiving day which included a snorkeling trip, a stop for lunch on Caye Caulker, and a delicious dinner at Elvi’s Kitchen. First, the snorkeling trip. The time we spent around the reef was just okay, unfortunately. We have experienced a visible change and degradation in the reef since our first trip in 2010. There were such stunning, vibrant colors then, and now everything just looks brown and gray. Luckily, we had a couple of other stops which really perked up the trip. First was a chance to see a manatee. We’d heard they’d been hanging out in certain spots and we were able to see one at the second place we looked. It was amazing! No photos, of course, but it made quite an impact on all of us.
We also stopped at Shark Ray Alley where Bruce and Ezra swam with the nurse sharks and rays.
On Caye Caulker, we had lunch and then walked a bit of the island to meet up with our boat. The boys played a little horseshoes while we waited.
Then, back on the boat and headed home.
After a nice rest back at the house, we got “dressed up” for dinner.
Dinner was really good — food, wine, and atmosphere. It was also surprisingly pleasant to not be the ones cooking!
The next day, we flew over to the mainland to spend our last night in Belize at the Zoo Lodge. We’ve been to the zoo lots of times, but we’d not stayed overnight. We booked an adorable little cabin perched above the pond.
The room was comfortable and we had a visitor.
Can you see him?
In the evening we had dinner at the lodge and then went to the zoo for a night tour. First, the boys held the snake at the visitor center.
I don’t have good pictures from the tour, unfortunately, but we saw big cats and small cats, owls, a tapir, and more. The tapir got really excited and peed … on Finn! Luckily, Finn wasn’t bothered by it because it was right at the start of our tour.
The next morning after breakfast Bruce and I took a little hike around the grounds. It was really beautiful and quiet — a perfect end to our trip.
We had a long travel day awaiting us, and a very late arrival back home, but as always, it was worth it.
As has become tradition, in July we headed down to SoCal to spend some time with the Bannings in Laguna. We added a little time in Pasadena on the way to stomp around our old haunts a bit and attend Bren Heffernan’s 50th birthday party. We drove down late Friday night (July 21st) and spent Saturday morning wandering around Pasadena. We walked from our hotel (the newly renovated Hotel Constance which we loved) to the Norton Simon, admiring the new Metro bikes along the way.
And the bridge!
The boys are not huge fans of museums but we visited a few rooms. They liked the audio tour and the sculptures outside.
They were much happier once we got to the pizza place for lunch. In the afternoon I deserted everyone to go get my hair done by Roseanne. Such a treat! In the evening we headed to the Heffernans’ for the party, which was super fun. So nice to see so many friends we haven’t caught up with in a while.
The next day we drove down to Laguna to begin our beach vacation. It’s immediately relaxing. Just ask Chester.
And kids with bowls of ice cream.
I have lost track of some of the narrative of our trip since I’m writing this so long afterwards, but we tried to do something active each day, only some of which I actually documented with pictures. Our first outing was paddle boarding on Monday which was super fun! I have no pictures though because taking an iPhone on a paddle board (especially when it’s your first time) seems like a terrible idea.
Our second outing was a bike ride in the canyon on Tuesday. Very hard to take pictures while riding, but I got a few during breaks.
The next day we took a hike in the morning with a “surprise” showing of a herd of goats doing some brush clearing. (We thought they’d be there but we didn’t tell the kids ahead of time.) Needless to say, they were a hit with kids big and small.
We wore everyone out with some good hills and a couple of steep staircases.
We did take them to the beach later. They got in a little boogie boarding.
Later, there was more relaxing on the deck with these two peas in a pod.
The next day was Bruce’s last day so we decided to go paddle boarding again. Unfortunately, Finn had gotten stung by a bee at the beach the afternoon before and his foot was pretty red and sore.
He really wanted to go but by the time we got there and walked from the parking lot to where the paddle board rentals were he was a mess. So, he and I sat out this session. He wrapped up on the beach and took a nap. Poor guy!
As it turned out, it was much windier this day and the paddle boarding was a bust. Everyone who went came back grumpy and mad. Well, maybe that was just the kids.
We got Bruce on a plane that evening, and I kept an eye on Finn’s foot, which eventually was fine after a day of rest. When we couldn’t take any more lounging around, we planned another active outing — a bike ride in San Juan Capistrano to breakfast at Ruby’s.
I’m sure we did more that day, too, but I have no idea what it was. On Sunday, the 30th, we went to a nature preserve in Newport. Actually, we went to two, the second of which had a museum store where stuffies were begged for and purchased much to my chagrin. Actually, I was on board with the one Ezra wanted which was a bobcat. He wanted to see how our cats would like it with the hopes that if they liked the stuffed animal perhaps they’d be OK if we foster kittens. (!) Finn on the other hand, originally picked out an opossum (yuck!) and then settled on a coyote when I balked. Of course, it’s nowhere to be found now as per usual.
Anyway, here’s one of the two pictures I took at the nature preserve.
I did take a bunch of shots at the beach later in the day.
Oh my gosh, I’d forgotten until looking at these photos that we’d had a rip current scare! The day that Finn wasn’t wanting to do anything because of his foot, Cari took the kids down to the beach. Ruby and Ezra got caught in a rip current, Cari had to rush in to get them — I think Ruby knew what to do but Ezra didn’t. Luckily (and thanks to Cari) everything was OK but both kids were terrified.
So this was the day that we were trying to coax them back in the water. It took a bit, but Ezra waded in.
He was still more interested in digging but at least he got his feet wet.
We had another photo-worthy sunset on the deck that evening.
The next day we went to the San Diego Zoo.
We were nearing the end of our visit and feeling panicked to get in all of the stuff we had on our list of must-dos. One thing that always shows up on that list is Balboa Island, specifically the arcade. I mean, there are clowns to be shot!
We spent a little time outside too.
But the currents and waves were dangerous again and we got shooed away by the lifeguard. We got a little rained on in a freak storm (you can see the angry clouds in the swing picture) but luckily it was just a sprinkle for us.
Another crazy-beautiful sunset.
On our last full day, Ezra and Ruby spent a little time on the deck before our bike ride.
We had several flat tires that Rob valiantly fixed before we headed out, only to have at least one of them not hold. Twice, I think. At least we made it to breakfast. That’ll teach everyone to do any off-road biking.
We packed up on Thursday, August 3rd to make our way back to NorCal. It was a wonderful, weird, adventurous trip.
For the Fourth of July we made a return visit to Mt. Tamalpais’s Steep Ravine campground. On the way up, we stopped in San Francisco for a hike and lunch break at a foggy, yet picturesque, spot.
Once we got to the campground, we spent some time hauling our stuff in wheelbarrows from the car to the site. The boys were a big help this time, even though they did plenty of moaning and groaning about it. We were all happy to be back in this beautiful place.
It was chilly, so we had dinner and made a fire early. (It’s hard to tell it was cold by the boys’ clothing, but I was already in a parka and warm hat.)
We upped our s’mores game this trip thanks to Christina’s suggestion.
Here’s our campsite at dusk. The sites there are pretty separate and it really feels like you’re out in nature all by yourselves.
Our night was quite eventful with a persistent raccoon trying to help himself to our food supply. We anticipated him after he chowed down on a whole loaf of bread last year, and we made sure all the food was secure before we went to bed. However, he still managed to wake us by making a whole lot of noise trying to get into an empty food container. Bruce scared him away, but then a few hours later we woke up to his noises again! This time, he was tearing at our tent trying to get to a backpack that we had inside the tent. He must have smelled whatever remnants of food were in it, and he tore a hole in the tent trying to get to it. Needless to say, Bruce was not happy. He scared him away again and luckily that was the last we saw of him.
The next morning was cold and foggy — to be expected.
We spent the morning close to the campsite and looked for whales and dolphins. We found them! Sadly, my lens is not the right equipment for catching them, but I tried and I’ve cropped and zoomed a couple of photos.
I also got a video.
Even though it’s hard to capture on the camera, the experience of seeing the whales and dolphins roaming around is not to miss. We had some great vantage points too.
There were other animals also — birds, bunnies, some sort of small rodent that was actually really cute. And, a couple of monkeys in a tree.
After a while, we decided to go on a hike. We started out on a short trail that starts at the campground, but soon found that it led to where we could access the road (Highway 1) that had been closed due to a big landslide. We weren’t close enough to the slide to be in any danger, and it was really fun to have the road all to ourselves.
We stopped at one point and went out to a rocky area where we had a nice view. (I think Ezra was looking at ants in this photo.)
And then we headed back.
It was clearing up and we planned to head down to the beach. I took this shot of the entire campground.
We spent the rest of the afternoon down at the beach. It was chilly but beautiful.
We’d had a lovely time, but Bruce had been having intermittent chest pain and lightheadedness. After we got back from the beach and had dinner, we decided it would be best to skip the second night and head home. With the surprisingly long July days, we had plenty of light to get everything packed up. I was happy to sleep in our own bed that night since I was coming down with a cold. The rest of Bruce’s story is not blog material.
We hope someday we’ll be able to reserve one of the cabins at this campground. There are only about ten of them and they are very hard to get!
Shortly after returning from Big Basin, the boys and I went to Carmel for a couple of days with Christina, Henry, and Julia. It was fun to see their house there and discover how beautiful Carmel is. It was chilly, but that didn’t stop the kids from wanting to spend time at the beach (of course). There was the obligatory digging and building.
After that, we went on a nice walk through town. The reward was the candy store.
The next morning, Christina and I went on a moms-only walk and had breakfast at a little cafe. It was a great way to start the day.
After we got our acts together and dragged the kids off their devices, we went to the Aquarium. We didn’t stay very long but we had a good time.
We had another round of building on the beach before we headed home. Finn and Julia even braved the water … a little bit.
On May 20th, right after Finn’s piano recital, we headed down to SoCal for a sad purpose — the funeral of Bruce’s stepdad, Jay. Despite the circumstances, it was great to see all of Bruce’s siblings and get all the cousins together. I didn’t take enough pictures, but here’s one of some of the cousins. It was like a meeting of the minds at this table.
One of the tasks for the siblings was cleaning out the condo. Of course, treasures abounded. Here are a few.
The funeral was a lovely celebration of Jay’s life. We all enjoyed the eulogy his brother gave with stories we’d never heard. Next time we’re all together, though, we have to do a better job getting photos!
As I mentioned in my last post, Finn chose to go on a snowboarding trip for his birthday instead of having a party. He didn’t have to twist Bruce’s arm too much since he wanted to get back on the slopes again too. So, the weekend after Finn’s birthday they went to Bear Valley. They stayed at the Bear Valley Lodge. There was tons of snow.