Tuesday, July 20, 2010
We thought about sleeping in .... and decided to head to Andrew Molera State Park (down Hwy 1, just before Big Sur). We visited the Ventura Center and realized that condors (the elusive to the Lodes and endangered to the rest birds) had been spotted earlier in the day. BACK in the car to the protests of our kiddos and off to "around milemarker #40, if you pass the winebarrel place you've gone too far." We stopped and used the binoculars, climbed some rises, stood on the precipice of death (okay, you know who was NOT in this position) and.... saw one resting on the side. Lots of patience (and luck) let us actually see them take off and soar for a short bit (the thermals weren't cooperating so they kept landing again). It was AWESOME (five years we've tried to see these huge birds with 9 feet wingspans). Five years we've seen turkey vulture after turkey vulture. But now in 2010 we have seen them!
We did sleep in and thus ended up at noon mass. We had to bring a cooler and hit Trader Joe's before because at 1pm started WimbleBARI (or WiMBARI) the doubles tennis tourney for the interns (organized and run by Izzy). Andy and had a bye to both semi-final rounds because we were going to be late. Costumes were had by many (one was a bit x-rated and thus the girls and Andy went for a looooong walk during that match). Andy and I won the semis and final match (thanks in part to Chris taking pity on me when he was serving... actually during that match Sandeep and I had plenty of time to chat at the net while Chris and Andy battled it out--I did hit a few balls). Then was the celebratory bbq with burgers, dogs and veggie options. A great ending to a great weekend (and did I mention that the sun was out almost the entire weekend?).
Great week of learning about real-time ocean science in Hillsboro, OR.
Highlights: the fellow participants and presenters, Powells Books, Voodoo Donuts, Farm Cafe (and the expedition to get there), Eye in the Sea , prop jet commuter flights where they move you around for weight distribution, not knowing all the flight rules (how many times can a suitcase be packed, unpacked and repacked in one airport) coming home to my family!
Sunday, July 18, 2010
We thought we would reexplore Yosemite while Katie toiled away in Oregon. The girls and I set out at 7:45 in the morning. We wanted to see Tuolumne meadows (on the way we caught the finale of the World Cup) and set up camp in Tuolumne meadows. No reservations-thank goodness for first come first serve. Learnt a lot about bear safety but we never saw a bear! We climbed Lembert's dome (five miles) and the girls did really well. The view was worth the effort. We saw lots of stars, enjoyed s'mores, fires and the scenery. We did not enjoy cowboy coffee or some of my cooking. We did manage to get some fishing in and the girls proved to be pretty good anglers! We hiked at Hetch Hetchy to Wapama falls and back (five miles in 100 degree heat). Later that night we hiked a couple of miles to see the Tuolomne Sequoias. The last two days we camped at Crane flats. We spent one marathon day in the valley hiked to Mirror lake, rode the bus system and ended with a performance by Lee Stetson as John Muir. He was the highlight of the day because he made Muir's thoughts real. The last day we packed up and drove to glacier point and breakfasted (poptarts) at 11:30. The view was awesome. Then we made the long trip back to the apartment.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
We made it until 6:30pm.
That's when we all went stir crazy and decided to head to the library, beach to fly a kite and get a bite to eat. It was a great day of doing nothing (watching Phineas and Ferb, semis in soccer, and balancing the checkbook). Go Fly A Kite means a lot more now!
First, I have to be honest.... it was all my idea. I remember vacationing with my family and floating in the Great Salt Lake. It was awesome. You felt you couldn't sink (I'm sure they'd find a way in some mafia movie, but the buoyancy was incredible). Thus I convinced my family that it would be the stop of a lifetime.... to camp on an island in the Great Salt Lake (about 7 miles from shore). Perhaps I should have done some research or at least paid attention to the signs that warned of insects, however, as we drove our car down the causeway we had no idea as to the "bug hell" we were entering. I have never been attacked as we were during our less than 12 hour stay on the island. There were other humans there (we think), but we never saw them come out of their RV's (we did see two tents). We tried to bike (beautiful) to see the land and the pronghorn and jack rabbits, but poor Margie was not protected by eye glasses. There were two different kinds of mosquitoes and some other insect (I'll look it up later) that really are found in Dante's Inner Circle. The girls and I tried to make it out to deep water to float, but it was not worth the pain (and you really had to yell to be heard over the buzzing. We also tried to go for a drive (safety in the van), but it sounded like a hail storm with the bugs hitting our windshield. We were up and off the island by 7am (and hadn't arrived until after 7pm). Perhaps there is a time when the island is hospitable... please let us know when it it is... but for now, it is NOT on our list of places to visit (the car ride to Lake Tahoe from Salt Lake was more enjoyable)!
A couple of things to keep in mind...
1. Even if you are not feeling queasy and the ocean is calm, it doesn't mean that you won't be in the midst of a puking festival (ask Soph and Margie about it, there was no where to go that someone wasn't vomiting in a bag, cup or over the side of the boat).
2. When they say "strenous hike' maybe they mean it. The hike from Prisoner's Cove to Pelican's Cove was incredible. We didn't see any of the edemic foxes but we did see a ton of lizards (to be id'd later), the edemic scrub jay, a bald eagle and a junvenile eagle, tadpoles (plus all sorts of tidepool creatures). The trail was up and back..."just five miles" , but we weren't sure we were going to make it back in time to meet up with the boat that would take us back. Laurie guided us on the way out (Nature Conservancy rule, very knowledgeable), but we were solo on the return. The views were stunning, the climbs up and down a bit nutty. We even saw a feeding frenzy of pelicans and dolphins (from a cliff top). Water's heavy to tote and, as usual, we brought more clothes than we needed (but you never know what the weather will bring:))
3. Pay attention. The boat ride back brought us into a pod of common dolphins that followed us for a looong time and we saw a Mola mola sunning itself.
4. Throw your trash away. The boat stopped on the return trip to pick up a deflated balloon. And on the trash note, we had to pack our trash out (no trash cans or toilets on the trail).
5. On the fifth we went back out. The boat was smaller but the ride was smoother. We toured around Anacapa Island. Not sure how we lucked out on great ocean weather, but we'll take it!
6. Even on gray days when it is drizzling, you can get burned. Wear that sunscreen!
7. Gray day was more than the color. We did get to see a blue shark briefly at the surface, but besides it and a few sealions and two dolphins, we struck out on the 3 hour cruise. On the geology front, the island is magnificent (great arches and caves). The landing stairs were rusted, so no landings this summer.
8. Camping on 4th of July weekend in California is like camping in a big city.... LOTS of people and REALLY close together (we'll try it again when it's less crowded).
9. Our kiddos are troopers. Only one sitdown strike by Margie and Soph lead the way for a lot of hike back.
10. And on July 6, we rested. We have vowed to do nothing this whole day (even had a contest to see who could sleep the longest (Margie won). Okay, we might go down to the beach to fly a kite (but we did make it to after 5pm doing NOTHING!