Friday, December 30, 2011

Cheers to 2012!

As 2011 comes to a close, we want to wish everyone a happy upcoming 2012!

Since I last posted, Amber has wrapped up another successful season of roller derby. She's now gearing up for the Hellcat's new season (first home bout is Feb. 25).

Ediza's lost two of her front teeth. Here she is on Christmas morning wearing some new clothes out in the yard.

As for me, I turned 30 and wrapped up my fundraising campaign. I raised thousands of dollars to help protect Antarctica and its penguins, but unfortunately I won't be going there to run a marathon.

I've learned a lot these past several months and I have some exciting ideas for the future. Here's some pics from last month's "Fire & Ice" benefit that helped raise money for research in Antarctica.

Friday, October 21, 2011

SoCal & NorCal

So far this month, our weekends have been spent at a wedding along the Merced River in El Portal, at crowded Disneyland in Anaheim and up north in Chico for Amber's roller derby bout.

We're more kind of camping people rather than Disneyland people, but we still (mostly) enjoyed this crazy experience. We took Ediza (who turned 5 this past weekend) and Shannon (one of the Circle Home gals who is obsessed with Disneyland).

Amber bid on these tickets last year during a fundraiser for Ediza's then-preschool, and she assured me that we wouldn't win them. Well, guess what? We won the tickets and ended up going a year later!

Here's Shannon and I outside of "It's a Small World"...

And Amber and Ediza during lunch (notice the birthday badge).

Ediza got this Princess hat as an early birthday present.

She spent her actual birthday in Chico the following weekend for Amber's roller derby bout. Her team lost, but apparently made up for it during the after parties (Amber rode a mechanical bull at one bar). The next day I went on an awesome tour of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and we all went out to eat at the brewery's restaurant.

Here's Ediza with her birthday sundae. She sure looked stylish in her dress made from an old Sierra Nevada Bigfoot T-shirt.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fire & Ice benefit

Sorry for the lack of posts, but this event (along with working, writing and family time) has been occupying all of my time. If you're able to attend, please contact me about tickets. If you're not, please consider making a tax-deductible donation here (just choose "Oceanites donation on behalf of marathoner Mike Morris" under the "Select a program to donate to" section). Also, check out Fundraising for Antarctica (help me save penguins & glaciers). Many thanks!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Cooling off

Wanted to share these fun pics of Ediza cooling off during a concert this summer at Mountain Sage in Groveland. The photos were taken by Emily Yates, who is the media director for an organization called Veteran Artists ( She's also married to one of the members of Hot Buttered Rum (the band that was playing that evening).

Ediza has been staying wet this summer swimming at the pool in addition to doing gymnastics class, riding horses, painting pottery and playing with her new kitten (which we picked up a month ago at a moving sale in Twain Harte). She's getting ready to start kindergarten at the Sierra Waldorf School ( this coming week!

Also, wanted to post a link to my latest L.A. Times travel story, "Monterey's a family-friendly destination." We took a family trip to Monterey back in April (see earlier post below), but the story just ran a week ago. For those on Facebook, another link to check out is (it now has enough "likes" to have its own site).

We're gearing up for the fall Strawberry Music Festival this coming week. Hot Buttered Rum is also playing there, but there won't be any misters for Ediza to play in:)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Lake Ediza (Part V)

We recently returned from our 5th annual family hiking trip to Ediza's namesake — Lake Ediza. It was a much shorter trek than last summer, when we walked from Agnew Meadows near Mammoth Lakes to Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park. This time around we just hiked into Lake Ediza and then back out two days later.

What seemed like a simple trip was still quite involved. A week ago, we drove to Mammoth late at night and camped in the forest so that we were there early the next morning. We had to get a walk-in permit because all the reserved permits were booked when we wanted to go. I arrived at the permit station at 7 a.m. to wait in line until they opened an hour later only to get a number (I was second in line) to return back at 11 a.m. and get our permit for the next day. So we went back home, packed, got the llamas ready and drove back to Mammoth the following day.

Because of all this we started pretty late so we camped a little bit before Lake Ediza on our first night. Unfortunately, we were swarmed by mosquitoes there. Amber took this close-up of my face, and if you look carefully you'll see a mosquito sucking my blood next to my right eyebrow.

The next morning we finished the hike to Lake Ediza. The lake had by far the most snow we've seen in the past five years. As we approached the lake, Ediza rode Golden (which she did most of the hike) over a snowy patch.

Once we arrived, Ediza was all smiles...

...and felt very peaceful.

We still had more streams to cross until we got to our regular camping spot up above the lake.

But it was well worth the effort after we arrived...

...and ate lunch.

But the best part was probably how the weather was sunny, breezy and mosquito free! A highlight for me is always watching the twinkling stars in the crystal-clear sky.

Amber and Ediza enjoyed sledding on our sleeping mats.

That night was so chilly that Ediza was able to eat some ice from a frozen stream the following morning.

It's difficult to imagine that back in 2007, on our first family trip to Lake Ediza, she was just a little baby splashing in the water on the lake's sandy shore. Now, she's an adventurer climbing granite like a pro. Here she is at a spot near our campsite which she refers to as "Dream Mountain."

I can see why she named it that. The whole area around Lake Ediza is quite magical and dreamlike!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fundraising for Antarctica

So this post is about the latest project I'm tackling. Those who know me know that I love a good challenge and my latest one involves fundraising for a nonprofit that does vital research in Antarctica.

Oceanites, a nonprofit based in Maryland (my home state), aims to help conserve the world's oceans, islands and their wildlife by providing an "appreciation of the sensitive connections we humans have to our watery globe." I think it's easy to forget that we really are all connected and what is happening in one part of the globe truly does affect us all.

One-hundred percent of the money I'm raising supports the Antarctic Site Inventory's data collection and analysis — the only project monitoring penguin and seabird populations as well as environmental changes throughout the Antarctic Peninsula. Indeed, Oceanites is the only nonprofit, publicly-supported science project working in Antarctica. My goal is to raise $25,000 for this important cause by Dec. 1.

In exchange for my fundraising efforts, I will be given the opportunity to run a marathon in Antarctica next year. This will help me achieve my larger-scale goal of running a marathon on every continent. I have already completed North America (San Diego Rock n' Roll Marathon) and Asia (Great Wall of China Marathon).

A Boston-based marathon tour company chose myself (and another runner) out of applicants from around the world to participate in this incredible opportunity.

You are able to help me in supporting Oceanites by making a tax-deductible donation either online or by check (please make checks payable to Oceanites). If you can get me a check I will take care of sending it off or you can mail one directly to: Oceanites, P.O. Box 15259, Chevy Chase, MD 20825 (please put my name, Mike Morris, in the memo line of the check).

If donating online, please go to the website and click on "Donate Here" towards the bottom of the home page. That will take you to a page where you enter the donation amount, and then under the section "Select a program to donate to" please choose "Oceanites donation on behalf of marathoner Mike Morris." From there, you just follow the steps to complete the process. You can even use a credit card to donate!

If you're on Facebook, please like my brand new page "Fundraising for Antarctica (help me save penguins & glaciers)" and HELP ME SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT THIS FUNDRAISER (in anyway you can). Feel free to share any ideas or suggestions with me.

Please let me know if you made or plan to make a donation so I can keep track of them. If you are not able to help out financially, please just think good thoughts for me and this effort!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Spring update

Thought I'd post some pics from the most recent Strawberry Music Festival (held over Memorial Day weekend). Like the fall festival, I helped build the stage again, and like last spring's festival it was very chilly (even with frozen precipitation again)!

Just before arriving at Strawberry, Ediza graduated from preschool. She started gymnastics class this week to help keep her active during the summer (not that she really needs any help with that).

Memorial Day was mine and Amber's fifth wedding anniversary. Apparently you're supposed to give your spouse something wooden on a fifth anniversary so I stopped at Mountain Sage in Groveland on the way home from Strawberry and bought her a candle holder made out of manzanita. It's made by a talented local artist. Check out his blog at

Amber is still nonstop roller derby. Her team, the High Country Hellcats, continue their 3-0 winning streak. They have another home bout coming up Father's Day weekend.

On the home front, we continue working on projects (inside and out). We now have some llamas living full-time at the ranch!

I'll end with another Strawberry picture (because I think it's funny). Ediza was more traditional with her olive pizza, while Amber was experimental with some tasty pesto pineapple pizza!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Exploring the coast

We took a little trip to Monterey earlier this week so thought I'd post some photos. This time around we camped at this great city park with easy access to everything Monterey has to offer. Our friend who lives there, Maggy, set up her VW Vanagon named Brownie for us to camp in. Here's Amber and Ediza in the camper van and Ediza climbing a tree at our campsite.

Monterey is such a family-friendly place with so many fun activities for kids (which I'm in the process of writing about). While at the elaborate Dennis the Menace Playground we were approached by a couple we met in China (he ran the Great Wall Marathon with me). They had just moved to Monterey with their kids four days before. Once again, it's a small world.

Of all the things we did in a short amount of time, Ediza was probably most impressed with the beach. She ran around chasing seagulls and collecting sea shells. We also saw jellyfish, sea lions and lots of hermit crabs in tide pools.

We hope everyone has a great Earth Day today and a Happy Easter this weekend. We'll be having an egg hunt with all of our chicken eggs!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Goodbye winter, hello spring

After almost three months, we're getting more and more settled into our new home. We still don't have the Internet and we don't have any plans to get it installed (as usual, we don't have a television either). Surprisingly, we've been getting by just fine without having the Internet at home (after all, it's available just about everywhere else). Instead of being a distraction at home, we've found more time to read books, practice yoga, and just hang out.

Speaking of going online, please check out my new L.A. Times travel article, "Where to stay when visiting Yosemite."

Above is a family pic of us in Yosemite that was taken by my parents when they were visiting last month. In addition to ice skating in Yosemite Valley, we went wine tasting in Murphys (we highly recommend Presidents Wine Weekend) and worked on some projects around the house. Below is a picture of Amber in the backyard with our rooster (named "Mike" by Ediza).

Amber had her first roller derby bout of the 2011 season this past weekend, where she made her debut as a jammer. Her team, the High Country Hellcats, beat the Monterey Bay Derby Dames before singing karaoke with them later at the after party. Next month they travel up to Redding to take on the Angry Beavers!

Well, spring has finally arrived although it feels more like the dead of winter with cold temps, strong winds, rain and even snow. Hopefully March showers will bring April flowers.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New year, new home

I know I haven't posted much here lately, but I have a good excuse: we moved. Yup, after several years at the llama farm we've moved to a nearby house on a beautiful 110-acre ranch. This photo was taken at the base of a huge oak tree in our new backyard. We have plenty to keep us busy -- house projects, building a chicken pen, putting in a garden, preparing a llama pasture, etc. I will try to update our progress here. We hope 2011 is off to a great start for everyone!