Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Winter Wonderland

We took a spontaneous trip to Yosemite Valley on Christmas Eve and the park was a Winter Wonderland as you can see...

We went to the Curry Village Ice Rink, where Ediza took a break to say that all she wants for Christmas is her two front teeth:)

Merry Christmas and here's to an incredible 2013!!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Birthday Parade

My birthday was the day after Thanksgiving and that night we walked two llamas (wearing lights around their necks) in the 29th annual Historic Downtown Sonora Christmas Parade. These photos were taken in the staging area before the parade started. The parade is a fun way to kick off the holiday season, and after a couple year hiatus we were glad to be back!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Kitty Princess

Here's some pics of Ediza — who turned 6 this month — dressed up as a Kitty Princess for some early trick-or-treating this weekend on Jamestown's Main Street. She got very dramatic posing with her props, including a tiny pumpkin and piece of lavender. 

Amber has been busy helping put together the kindergarten yard for the Sierra Waldorf School's upcoming Halloween Festival. She also has her final roller derby bout of the season coming up Nov. 3.

And here's a link to an article I wrote about our recent trip to Santa Cruz (in today's L.A. Times Travel section) — Weekend Escape: Surfin' Santa Cruz like a local. It's so cool to watch Ediza grow up in the photos of these travel stories — from walking on the Great Wall of China as a baby to leading llamas on high Sierra hikes and now eating breakfast inside a van in Santa Cruz!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Santa Cruz

We spent last weekend on a family getaway to the coast, where we stayed at a beach bungalow in Santa Cruz. Above are some surfers just down the street from where we stayed. 

Below is Amber, Ediza and Sheridan (the Australian exchange student we're hosting) walking to breakfast. We ate inside of a yellow van at a place called Paula's (I know, only in Santa Cruz).

 The reason we were in town was to cheer on Amber, who played roller derby against the Santa Cruz Harbor Hellcats. It was her team — the High Country Hellcats — who won the cat fight. They take their derby seriously in Santa Cruz (their players are even on trading cards).

While Amber warmed up, we hung out in downtown Santa Cruz.

                 Thanks again to Sarabek Images for the pics!

Friday, August 3, 2012

City by the Bay

So we traded in the big mountains for the big city and spent last weekend in San Francisco. I ran a marathon around the entire city and as a family we explored different parts in between. 

We were lucky enough to stay at our friends place next to Golden Gate Park. After some sightseeing on Saturday, I had to be at the starting line at 5:30 a.m. Sunday (this required getting up at 3:30 in order to catch two public buses).

With Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" blaring on the speakers, thousands of us took off into the dark city streets. The marathon route showed off classic San Francisco — running past the bakers making sourdough bread on Fisherman's Wharf, then across a foggy Golden Gate Bridge and onto other famous sites, including funky Haight Street.

Eventually the course looped its way back to the Embarcadero. At the finish line, there was a Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. beer garden and I was given two medals — one for the SF Marathon and another for completing the LA and SF marathons in the same year. 

We met up with longtime friend Sarabek Images for lunch, shopping and a trip to Dolores Park, where Ediza got an awesome view of the city perched above the playground's slide (in the photo above). Here she is on her way down...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bishop Pass

We survived our craziest llama/child adventure ever this week as we hiked over Bishop Pass down to LeConte Canyon and back the next day. The 24-mile trek is steep, rocky and difficult — and that's without three llamas and a 5-year-old.

On the top of the 12,000-foot mountain pass, the sky was dark, thunder roared and hail pelted us. Here's Ediza covered in a tarp after we weathered the storm. She's quite the trooper!

We ended up arriving in the canyon at dusk to resupply our friends who are hiking the John Muir Trail. The three girls hiking the JMT go to (or recently graduated from) Ediza's school. We then hiked up to our campsite in the dark. 

Here's Amber and Ediza dancing on a bridge on our way back up to the pass. Once we were up and over the celebration stopped as one of the llamas, Tenario, decided he was officially done walking. Instead of returning as we had planned, we had to camp an extra night in the cold, howling wind. 

Ediza took this picture of the view from our sleeping bags (of course we had no tent and are getting very low on food at this point). The next day we went into survival mode as we were physically and emotionally exhausted. Tenario would only walk a couple of steps before sitting down again. It took us most of the day to hike less than four miles and get him out of there.

There was a party in the parking lot as Tenario approached with an entourage of people feeding him produce and singing to him. At one point, someone even performed Reiki on him as he sat on the trail. Tenario is now at home and officially retired!

Challenges make us stronger and we are grateful that everyone — both people and llamas — made it out safely. For motivation and inspiration, I kept thinking of this famous Helen Keller quote: "Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing."

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Back to Lake Ediza

We just returned from our sixth annual trip to Ediza's namesake, Lake Ediza. The trip started by heading over to the eastern Sierra and staying at our favorite hot spring on the 4th of July. Magic always seems to happen there and this trip was no different. As we got in our sleeping bags, we watched a giant orange moon start to rise on the horizon of the pitch-black desert. Soon after, colorful fireworks started exploding in the distance (at Crowley Lake). We climbed up on a little plateau behind us — watching the moon rise to our left while a fireworks display dazzled to the right.

In the morning, I got up to take an early-morning dip in the hot tub and, just as I've seen there before, a rainbow-colored hot air balloon was taking off into the clear blue sky. Not a bad way to start the day!

Once we got packed up and got our permit in Mammoth Lakes, we hit the trail to Lake Ediza. This time we took llamas Golden (the pro) and Nash (the rookie). Ediza, who rode Golden most of the trip, hopped off him once we arrived at "her" lake.

The next day I went for a quick run up to Iceberg Lake, just up from where we camp near the Minarets. Later, we headed down to Lake Ediza to play in the water.

We then went back to camp, where Ediza took Golden up on some large boulders. 

This is what it looked like from their perspective....

Here's some pics that Ediza (who happens to be an aspiring photographer) took of the "fairy house" that she built near our camp.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Summer in Sonora

I've written travel articles about the East Coast, India and beyond, but I just had to travel down the road to write my latest one -- Weekend Escape: Sonora, Calif.'s antiques, eateries and train ride.  

This picture is of "The Red Church," at the northern end of Washington Street in downtown Sonora. We've been bad with not taking pics at recent events, including bringing llamas to Sierra Earth Fest in Groveland last week and Amber skating with the Hellcats at the Tuolumne Lumber Jubilee this morning. At that event, Ediza got to sit in a convertible and throw candy to parade spectators:)

Friday, June 1, 2012

May days

Wanted to share some pics from the past month's happenings. We started it off with the May Day festival at Ediza's school. Her class got to spread rose petals on the ground before the eighth graders performed their dance around the maypole.

That was followed by the Mother Lode Round-up Parade, where Amber skated with the Hellcats (and the following week her team crushed the Tahoe Derby Dames).

In other sport news, the Amgen Tour of California, a huge professional cycling race, came through town and I got to see the procession on one of my regular runs to the end of our road.

I replaced running with partying during another fabulous Strawberry Music Festival. Here's a photo of Ediza and her friends chasing after bubbles at the beginning of the festival. Musical highlights were Brown Bird and Trampled by Turtles on opening night, headliners Joan Osborne and Alison Krauss and newcomers the Wheeler Brothers. 

And just Wednesday we celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary with a walk among some giant sequoias in Yosemite. Here's Amber with two colossal trees (and some delicate dogwoods) in the Merced Grove of Giant Sequoias. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Pirate Derby

Amber kept up with her roller derby during our stay in Maryland. She hooked up with the Baltimore team, Charm City Roller Girls, for a practice. A few days later we discovered the Chesapeake Roller Derby league while at a local coffee shop. She practiced with them three nights in a row and was able to play in their bout on our last night in town.

What made this roller derby different than in California is that it's pirate themed as well as co-ed. Her team, the Rolling Plunder, was able to defeat the Land Hos by one point in sudden death overtime.

Amber will be playing with her regular team, the High Country Hellcats, this Saturday in Sonora (they won the season opener back in February) and at the end of the month in Fresno. Arrrghhh.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Peep Show

The local arts council where my parents live host a fundraiser each spring where different artists and community members make creative designs using Peeps — the brightly-colored marshmallow treats that show up around Easter.

Dubbed the "Peep Show," the exhibit features more than 200 entries with various themes. People purchase tickets to vote for their favorite display. There's even Peep-inspired short movies shown on a big screen and people can buy Peep-related merchandise, including temporary Peep tattoos and cards that say "Give Peeps a Chance" (a play off of "give peace a chance").

Here's some of the wacky entries:

Peepzilla (created by my third-grade teacher)...

Kung Fu Peep (instead of Panda, get it?)...

Several depicted the Lorax...

Would you like a slice of Peeporoni Peepza?

And lets not forget Little Bo Peep...

Oh, and there's one more — Ediza Peep!