Possum! (Opossum?)

On a quiet Saturday night in mid-August, I thought I saw something scurry through the living room. In fact, I did see something scurry. It turned out to be a juvenile possum that found its way into our house and managed to go undiscovered by our [useless] cats. I surmise that the possum had been in the house all day because first thing in the morning I’d discovered one of the cats sitting in the backyard when one of our screen doors was accidentally left open.

Anyway, regardless of how it happened, we now had this scared possum in the house and needed to get it out.

Bruce devised a plan to prepare a route for it that led to the backyard. We stacked up couch cushions and camping mats to block its path into the rest of the house and got ready with brooms and hockey sticks to gently help it along the path.

I wish I could have videoed the production but my poke-checking abilities were in use to get the possum out of the house. It almost escaped through the camping mat (much too flexible to properly do the job) but I managed to scoot it out with Finn’s goalie stick.

It was a lot of excitement, and I endured hours of teasing afterwards for what was erroneously claimed to be a “slap shot” to get the possum out. But, all worth it as calm and normalcy were restored.

First Week of School 2018

Believe it or not, both boys are in middle school this year. It’s nice to have them in one place, although they bike to school separately with their friends. After the camping trip, we spent a little time getting the bikes washed and ready for the first day of school.

And before I knew it, they were ready to go. I managed to stop them long enough for some morning photos before they left.

As a newbie, Finn had Panther Camp for the last two days of the week, which served as an orientation for the sixth graders. A friend of mine volunteered and sent me a cute photo of Finn and some friends.

And with that, the school year is off and running.

Addendum: I have a photo of Ezra from the second week of school which I’ll include here. He went to a sleepover on the 25th and the birthday boy’s mom sent out a couple of photos of all the boys. Big 8th graders!

Summer’s Last Hurrah

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.

Finn Gets Braces

On August 7th, just before school started (and on Picture Day!), Finn got braces. Of course, we need a shot of his new mouth:

As I write this on December 26th, I am amazed at how much straighter his teeth are already. They moved pretty quickly, but his jaw is all catawampus and he has these huge apparatuses in his mouth that are helping to realign things.

He’s making progress though. I think it’s expected he’ll have them on for two years. At his most recent checkup, they said he’d probably get the big things off in May and then they’d put on the bottom braces.

Micro Full Moon Ride

On July 27th my friend Liz organized a group ride to enjoy the full moon. We started at her house in Palo Alto for snacks and chitchat and then rode out to the Bay. There weren’t very many of us, but it was a great group and the scenery was lovely. Here are a few photos of our bikes, the sunset, and that full moon we were searching for.

Second Fosters

In late July we got our second set of foster kittens, Bosun and Skipper. We had these guys for two weeks, and then we had to call it quits on the fostering for now. It’s a ton of work (especially with these two who came to us with a stomach but and needed medicine which was unpleasant for everyone), and poor Emmy and Sophie never warmed to the idea of having extra cats in the house.

These two were opposite personalities of the first three kittens we had. The first time we let them out of the cage, Boson and Skipper hid under the couch and wouldn’t come out. They were very nervous kitties, whereas the first three thought they owned the place from the first minute. They did warm up after a few days, and they were even somewhat cuddly off and on.

Here are some photos of this eventually-playful duo.

Goalie Camp

Finn did his first week-long goalie camp the week after we got back from Laguna. Busy summer for him! I don’t have a lot of pictures since it was a drop off situation, but here’s one of him and two of his goalie friends heading in for the day.

Here he is after the first day on the ride home.

It was a very exhausting camp full of drills, both on and off the ice. On the last day they had a scrimmage with the players from the regular hockey camp that was also going on. There were so many goalies that they had to take shifts, and the extra goalies waited in the penalty boxes.

I think he had a pretty good time. Here’s a photo of the whole bunch. (Finn barely made it into the shot in the far right corner.)

Laguna 2018

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.

First Foster Kittens

The main reason our proposed trip never happened was that later in the afternoon on July 4th we got our first set of foster kittens: Spotnik, Boy-o, and Tuxi.

These three were so friendly and completely nuts! They chewed up all sorts of stuff in the office, but none of us cared since they were also great cuddlers.

We only ended up having them about a week though because we had our annual vacation with the Bannings in Laguna planned for mid-July. We have a fairly torn up couch to help us remember them though!

July 4th Long Ride

Bruce and I had grand plans of taking a little trip while the boys were at sleep-away camp, but those plans failed to come to fruition. We did, however, get to take a long bike ride on July 4th.

It was beautiful and mostly on trails so very bike-friendly.

Sleep-Away Camp!

The boys did their first week-long sleep-away camp during the first week of July. On our way to the camp, we stopped at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, which turned out to be a fun little detour. We always say we want to make more stops when we travel, but we rarely follow through. Glad we did this time!

After Railtown, we went on to the camp in Pinecrest. I only have a few photos that I took during drop off.

They had a great time at camp, which was really a traditional sleep-away camp: swimming in the lake, horseback riding, campfires, the whole bit. They managed all of the little inconveniences that came up (scrapes, forgotten items) and each said they wanted to do it again next year.

Miscellaneous June 2018

Here are a few extra photos from June. Ezra and some of his friends:

Finn got a cool new bike (he was way overdue):

Someone posted this comment in response to an article in the local paper about the new bicycle infrastructure in town.

When I posted it on Facebook, one of my friends said I needed a Do-Gooder Bicycle Fanatic badge. So, even though I own no spandex, I made one. (Thanks to the All Powerful Bicycle Lobby for the awesome logo.)

And, of course, no miscellaneous post is complete without some pictures of Emmy and Sophie.

Cari’s Visit

I’m out of order here because my pictures weren’t well organized, but on June 5th Cari came to visit for a few days! We had so much fun riding all over town that I didn’t manage to take many pictures. I did get a couple when we visited Bruce for a tour of X. He had a little fun with the visitor badge.

I have to admit to dragging her all over for some boring stuff — to the hockey rink for Finn’s jersey fitting and the next day to the City Schools Traffic Safety Committee meeting (doesn’t that sound like a barn burner?!). But we also managed to get in a nice long ride (14.4 miles) along Stevens Creek trail, and before she left we rented electric Lime Bikes for a little jaunt around Palo Alto.

It was super fun having her here under much better circumstances than her visit last September to help when Bruce was in the hospital.

Erin and Rikki’s Wedding

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!

Langley Visit

We had a visit from one of my oldest friends, Lori, and her family in June. Our day started with a visit to X.

Bruce gave us a tour, which is limited but improving as they’ve put in a little museum of sorts that highlights the public X projects past and present.

After the tour we went out to lunch and then back to our house, where the boys enlisted Lori’s three kids in a couple of rounds of Anki Drive racing.

After that I took them over to the Google store which is on the main Googleplex campus. They’ve set up the statues representing the different Android versions outside the store and many visitors, including us, were having a good time looking around.

It’s pretty fun to see all the Silicon Valley craziness through the fresh eyes of visitors. We get so used to seeing Google bikes and Waymo driverless cars that we forget the wow factor. Trevor, the one Android fan in the bunch, seemed particularly excited.