Saturday, November 13, 2010

Better late than never!

Here's some pics from our Halloween party we hosted a few weeks ago. The photos were taken by my friend Sarah (who is pictured below). We first met in Australia, worked together at a summer camp in Missouri and now live near each other in California. She's a professional photographer based in the Bay Area. Check out her Web site at

At the party, Amber went as a sorceress and I was a sorcerer. I wore a fancy kurta that was given to me earlier this year in India along with some fake star tattoos on my face. Amber — who made my staff from last year's manzanita Christmas tree — wore a $3 thrift store dress combined with lots of costume jewelry, a labor-intensive tulle and a hair piece.

As midnight approached, I led groups on a haunted llama farm tour...

It had rained earlier in the day so everything was damp and cool. Detailed decorations — including a spooky graveyard, dozens of lit pumpkins and even dried flowers spray painted black — provided the perfect atmosphere. There was a bonfire next to the keg and live music played in the background. And, of course, plenty of interesting characters were roaming about...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Happy Birthday Ediza!

Our little pumpkin turns 4 years old today. These are just some of the pumpkins Amber grew in her garden:

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Weekend getaways

We spent last weekend up at Lake Tahoe because Amber played against the roller derby team there. It was a good bout, but the slippery outdoor track and altitude gave the home team the advantage to win. We stayed at a nice time share, got to explore the lake's shore a bit and had some amazing food (including toasted coconut french toast for breakfast)!

This weekend we plan to head back to the Eastern Sierra and camp at some hot springs. Speaking of the East Side, please check out "Hiking the Sierra with three llamas and a baby" online at and in this Sunday's L.A. Times Travel section. Thanks:)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Horses & Strawberry

Since meeting King (the horse in Yosemite), Ediza and Amber have had a joint horseback riding lesson at a therapeutic riding center just down the road from us. Ediza rode a horse named India.

A few days after that we took two llamas up to the mountains for a horse trail riding event. We were one of the obstacles and the horses were judged at how well they handled themselves around the llamas (which can sometimes spook them, especially if they've never met before).

Earlier this week we returned from the fall Strawberry Music Festival. This festival I arrived early to help set up the stage, which saw the likes of Arlo Guthrie and Keb' Mo. After Keb' was finished Sunday night I helped take down the stage and wrapped up the job Monday morning (nothing like some labor on Labor Day).

Here are some shots of Ediza at Strawberry:

An aspiring photographer, Ediza turned the camera on us:

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sierra hike

At the beginning of the month, we took a weeklong hike from the Mammoth Lakes area (where we went on our fourth annual trip to Lake Ediza) all the way north to Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park. Naturally, I've written about this, but for now we'll just let the pictures tell the story...

Fresh at the start...

Ediza falling asleep while riding Golden hours later....

Back awake and in the carrier as we arrive at Lake Ediza...

Checking out her namesake the following day with mom...

Protecting herself from swarms of mosquitos...

Arriving at Thousand Island Lake the next day...

Taking a break for yoga by the lake...

Helping me set up the tent...

Back on the trail the next day, we stop under this tree for lunch...

And I filter water with this view...

Later, I soak up some sun at our new campsite...

The next morning, Ediza hops on Golden to go over Donohue Pass...

We cross snow going up...

And water on the way down...

After camping a night in Yosemite, we hike out the following day to this bridge in Tuolumne Meadows...

Just as we finish, we come across this nice ranger who introduces Ediza to her horse, King.

More than 30 miles with three llamas and a spirited 3-year-old and we survived!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hellcats & Guinea Pigs

After four months of training, Amber has officially become a High Country Hellcat. She had a roller derby scrimmage a week ago, where she proved her skills and was able to join the team. Congratulations Amber for setting a goal and accomplishing it!

I have been busy working and hiking (both new outings and classic ones like Half Dome). Meanwhile, Ediza has been spending her summer playing "glitter and glue" and taking care of her friend's guinea pig named Ethel. Here she is dressing up the very patient guinea pig.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Summer is off to an adventuresome start with lots of hiking, swimming and exploring. On Father's Day, we went with our friends to the top of Columns of the Giants, where a mini family photo shoot was taken with this Juniper tree.

Just as we did last year, we took llamas to Camp Tuolumne Trails (twice in the past two weeks). The camp, near Groveland and Yosemite, is geared towards people with special medical needs. I've actually started helping take care of a special needs guy here in Sonora.

Amber continues to be busy with llama shearing and roller derby. She has to come up with a roller derby name — one that hasn't already been taken. Maybe llama mama?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Strawberry snow & sun

This Strawberry Music Festival, held at the end of May near Yosemite, we experienced some extreme weather. The first night it snowed on us, causing our shade canopy and friends tent to collapse (they spent the night in the llama van with us). By the time the weekend rolled around we were getting sunburned due to the intense sunshine!

As usual, we had a lot fun. The musical highlight for me was the MarchFourth Marching Band, which entertained us with instruments, stiltwalkers and dancers.

Something that made this Strawberry extra special was that our friend, Penny, came to the festival with us. We met her two years ago when we were visiting New Zealand, and we stayed at her house near Auckland.

After Strawberry, we took Penny to Yosemite Valley on Memorial Day to see the waterfalls (here she is at the base of Lower Yosemite Falls). Ediza, who also wore tie-dye, decided to take a stroll through Yosemite Creek.

Penny spent the last day of her month-long tour of North America with us in Sonora. She visited Colorado, Canada, and naturally saved the best for last — California.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Tahoe to Yosemite to Frogtown

Here's the group from India at Lake Tahoe, where we attended a conference last weekend. They gave a presentation about India and themselves, while we gave one about our experiences in India. We were even talked into getting up in front of everyone and performing a Bollywood-style dance. They were bummed about not getting to leave the hotel so I snuck them out Sunday morning to go see the lake (where this photo was taken).

I also made it to Yosemite twice this week — once for work, the other to hike Yosemite Falls (up and down in less than three hours!) and then met up with the Indians for lunch at The Ahwahnee. Every season in the park is beautiful, but the rushing waterfalls in springtime make it even more special.

Later in the week, Ediza did some gold panning on a preschool field trip followed by an early Mother's Day lunch at a nearby tea house. The next day we marched with her preschool in the Mother Lode Round-Up Parade, where we all got dressed up in crazy hats.

This coming weekend is the Jumping Frog Jubilee in Angels Camp. It's my latest Travel article for the L.A. Times. Check out "Calaveras County: Still hopping to it" at You never know what you'll find in Angels Camp (here's a frog decorated like a disco ball, for example).