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July 23, 2006

Point Reyes Beat the Heat Hike

We took Ania's mom to Point Reyes to do one of our favorite hikes; the Bear Valley Trail out to Arch Rock. Before we set off on our main hike, Dave showed us Kule Loklo, a recreated Coast Miwok village, then led us to check out the Earthquake Trail.

Our thinking was to get some excercise and escape the heat. Pt. Reyes is close to the coast in the first place, so the temperature was a bit more moderate than in Pleasant Hill. Plus, much of the trail is covered by trees, and it gets progressively cooler as you approach the ocean. It was a bit cooler in Pt. Reyes, but on our return it was starting to get pretty hot in the sun. That didn't spoil a very pleasant hike, though, and seeing the ocean from atop the cliffs at Arch Rock is always worth it.

Afterward, we rewarded ourselves with dinner at Shen Hua. It was Wanda's first time having Chinese food; she impressed us with her chopsticks skills (she'd never used them before, but did great!), and loved the food!

PHOTO SUMMARY: Point Reyes Hike

July 22, 2006

San Francisco with Wanda

We took Ania's mom to San Francisco, which was much cooler than Pleasant Hill today. In fact, it was a beautiful day! We based our route on the 49-Mile Scenic Drive, saw some sights, stopped at the Grove Cafe for a beer and snack (they have decent guacamole & chips, and a nice fruit plate), and finished with a partial walk of the Golden Gate Bridge.

PHOTO SUMMARY: S.F. with Wanda

July 13, 2006

Redwood Before & After

From our recent Redwoods Roadtrip:

Redwood before & after 

July 11, 2006

Crescent City Sunset

We watched this sunset before dinner in Crescent City, CA on our recent Redwoods Roadtrip.
Crescent City Sunset

July 10, 2006

Redwoods Roadtrip 2006 - Day 01/04 | Mendocino, Avenue of the Giants, Fortuna

Redwoods RoadWhen I was young, my parents took my sister and me to see the giant redwoods along the very northern coast of California. The size, age, and number of these trees made a lasting impression on me, and I've been wanting to share the experience with Ania. Her mom's visit was the perfect excuse, so we decided to go on a week-long roadtrip to see the Redwood National Park and surrounding area.



Mendocino was our first stop, and we were hungry by the time we arrived, so we went to the Mendocino Hotel, and had clam chowder and fish 'n' chips battered with Red Seal Ale, which we also had to drink & really liked!

After lunch, we browsed the shops, went for a walk to see the ocean, then got back in the car and headed north. Along the way, we stopped at a gorgeous beach just north of Ft. Bragg, then turned inland toward Leggett.

PHOTO SUMMARY: Redwoods Roadtrip - Day 1 - Home to Mendocino

A Different Kind of Drive Through

We stopped in the small town of Leggett for some "drive through":

Drive through tree, Leggett

Although 101 would have taken us to our "destination" (more of a base of operations, really) much more efficiently, the whole point of this road trip was to enjoy the experience of getting there, so we took the meandering and much more scenic Avenue of the Giants, a showcase of the Humboldt Redwoods State Park. It was getting late, so we didn't spend as much time there as we wanted to, but we knew we'd return the next day, so we just took in the scenery.

O Fortuna!

Eel River Brewing Company We got to Fortuna, where we were spending the night, around 8PM. After we checked in, Ania and I headed to the Eel River Brewing Company. We had a "six-shooter" -- a sample of the six kinds of beer they brew -- and decided on their tasty IPA to go with dinner.

Leg 1: Home - Mendocino - Fortuna

Redwoods Roadtrip Leg 1: Home - Mendocino - Fortuna

July 09, 2006

New header image: Lake Tahoe Pier, plus some thoughts about blogging with photos

I'm going to start using images in my blog's header, and changing them from time to time.  This isn't my original idea, but I've enjoyed it on other blogs, and I think it's a cool way to share what caught my eye or reflected my mood or thoughts at a particular time.   To keep a record of the header images I use, and to share with those of you using a feed reader -- and thus not visiting my blog directly -- I'm also going to do a quick intro post for each.

This one is from our recent trip to Lake Tahoe:


About a year ago, I started cropping photos and creating a series of what I call "horizontal slices".   For some reason, that perspective in photos appeals to me; perhaps it's something about narrowing the focus to what I see as the essence of the photo.  These just happen to lend themselves to being header images, so I'll probably use some of them, and continue creating and sharing new ones.

In any case, I plan to start posting more photo-centric entries here.  I'm really on the fence about photo sharing services right now, so that's part of why I'm not using one for this kind of thing.  I like
Flickr a lot, but Picasa Web Albums is really convenient, since I use Picasa to manage photos. 

The other reason is that I specifically want these photos to be part of my blog, since I'm using it as a journal of sorts, and photos add a lot of richness to memories, especially after a long time.  I'm also quite aware that no one is going to look at hundreds of photos.  I think highlighting just a few and putting them in context by writing about them -- even (perhaps especially) if it's just something brief -- makes them much more enjoyable.  That's the thinking behind the photo summaries I often post; you may notice that some of them don't include much text.  Even so, they do a good job of capturing an event or outing, and make a nice "visual calendar".  Being able to look back on that months or years later is part of what makes blogging so rewarding.

July 05, 2006

No place like home

Exactly one year ago today, (almost to the hour, as I'm writing this) we got the news that our offer was accepted on what's now our home.  It's shocking how fast the year went by!  Ania and I can still vividly remember being excited, tense, worried, and distracted on the 4th last year (we made our offer on the 3rd), not really paying attention to the fireworks or much else, just biting our nails, wondering if we'd get the house.

As soon as we walked in for the first time, we both had the immediate, distinct feeling that this place  felt like home; not a home, but home.  A year later, it's truly become just that.  We're slowly but surely making progress updating it (and enjoying the process much more than I expected!), but it was in good condition -- if not our style -- when we bought it.

Picture: Skyview House

We couldn't be happier with our decision!  The house is great, the yard is very pleasant, we have friendly neighbors, we're close to my parents, close to the places we like to hang out, and we're a comfortable distance from work.  We were looking for a place where we could really settle down, and not have to worry about room for growth, or wish we were somewhere else.  In Skyview, we've found that place, and we look forward to enjoying it for many more years to come.

July 04, 2006

4th of July with International Flavor

I don't think I've ever actually personally honored the tradition of BBQing on the 4th of July, so I wanted to grill some chicken. Wanda made perogies earlier in the day, and we thought it would be fun to give the day some international flavor & make a meal of both, so we had my parents over for a great dinner in our backyard.

Afterward, we joined many of our neighbors on the hill at the top of our street, and watched the fireworks against the backdrop of Mt. Diablo. We didn't bother to learn how to photograph fireworks (especially since I figured it would require a tripod, and we have one, but it's too small), but one of the pics we took resulted in an interesting effect!

PHOTO SUMMARY: 4th of July 2006