Tag Archives: California

Scuba Refresher

Darlene relented to dipping into cold water again and joined me for a dive at Breakwater Cove in Monterey to refresh our scuba skills ahead of our upcoming trip.  54 degrees at the bottom of the dive – warm for Monterey!

 

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Tahoe Summer Days

Darlene and I spent a couple weeks in late June and early July at the Tahoe house taking care of a bunch of house maintenance, including roof repair, clearing newly fallen branches and pine needles, moving the bear box to accommodate a widening of the driveway, etc.  We took some time off from all that to go climb to the top of a very windy Mt. Rose (elev. 10,785 ft.), do some mountain biking and hike up the Five Lakes trail near Palisades/Alpine Meadows.

 

We also had another bear visitor while up working on the roof:

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Among the Giant Sequoias

Darlene and I loaded up the van and the cats and headed out this past week for a short adventure.  First stop was to overnight under some dark skies in the San Benito mountains for a potential meteor storm from Tau Herculids.  (There was a decent meteor shower, but no full-on storm.)  We then spent the next five days in and around Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park, hiking among the magnificent giant sequoia trees, checking out Kings Canyon and exploring the Sequoia National Forest between the two national parks.  We also attempted an extended mountain bike ride from Buck Rock to Lookout Peak but had to abort due to a failure / total destruction of my rear hub – resulting in a long bike walk back.

We came across some black bears while hiking in Sequoia National Park.

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Ski Weekends at Homewood

These are pictures and videos from several more ski weekends at Homewood in Tahoe with Troy, Resi, Aiden and Darlene over February and March.

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Tahoe Ski Week

Darlene and I joined Bill, Stan and Jon for our yearly ski vacation week, this time in Tahoe in early March.  We hit up Northstar and Palisades Tahoe during the week, with lots of board gaming in between of course.  On Saturday, Stan and Jon joined us at Homewood with Troy and Aiden to enjoy a bit of new snow.

(3.3 minute video montage of our ski week)

And a little VR demo-ing:

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A High Speed Tour of the Tahoe Ski Areas

I took off in an F/A-18E jet from Truckee airport and visited most of the Tahoe area ski resorts in 12 minutes or less:

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Gamers Gone Skiing

A four-minute video montage of our skiing days.

We got our gaming group together in Tahoe in early February for a few days of skiing and board gaming. Geof and Nacho joined me on the slopes at Tahoe Palisades while Jennifer, Adriana, Laurie and Richard checked out the lake and old town Truckee – and Laurie got in an afternoon at Northstar.

We had exploding potions in Quacks of Quedlinburg, color confusion in Hues and Cues, pushed our luck in Diamant, placed our bets in Wits & Wagers, rolled for the top in Mountain Goats, intercepted secret codes in Decrypto, managed our tricks in both The Crew and Instinct, swam with sharks in Survive: Escape from Atlantis!, built up a map of cities and roads in Carcassonne, dodged avalanches in Slide 5, and laid out our “stained glass” dice windows in Sagrada.

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Paddling Elkhorn Slough

 

While Darlene was out here visiting for a few days from Wisconsin, ;-)  we took the kayak out for a late morning paddle in Elkhorn Slough.  And of course we saw the usual array of sea lions, sea otters, pelicans, etc:

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Skiing With Friends Again

We got piles of snow at the end of December, setting new records for the month (17 feet).  The storm kept all the highways closed for many days, but Troy, Resi, Aiden and I were eventually able to get up to Tahoe – and ski together for the first time since before the Covid-19 pandemic.

A little four-minute video montage of our ski adventures.

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Lake Tahoe to Desert Playa

We loaded up the van and headed out last week, stopping first for a couple of days to visit with Troy in Tahoe.

 

Our intention was to travel on to the Great Basin National Park in eastern Nevada and maybe into Utah but we had to cut the trip short and head home early so that Darlene could help a friend.  So we spent the couple of days we had checking out Pyramid Lake north of Reno (which is where Lake Tahoe and the Truckee River drain to) and then visiting the Black Rock Desert playa before heading home.

All of this area (and in fact all of northwest Nevada) used to be submerged in a huge prehistoric lake (Lake Lahontan) and the ancient water lines are still obvious along the mountain sides.  There are also lots of cool tufa rock formations in the area, though unfortunately much of the area around Pyramid Lake is off limits to the public and open to tribal members only.  (The lake and surroundings are part of a Paiute Reservation.)

Tufa / calcium carbonate rock formations (or perhaps alien artifacts)

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Road Trip to the Pacific Northwest


Humboldt Redwoods State Park (California)

With Darlene out in Wisconsin visiting her family, I loaded up the van with Pan and Hera and headed up to the Pacific Northwest for a couple of weeks, visiting with my brother and some friends in the Portland/Vancouver area as well as exploring a bit of countryside – while avoiding the smoke from the wildfires already flaring up.


Visiting with Corey and his family

And with Jon & Siobhan

 

Glenn and Michele then joined me in their new van for a little tour around Olympic National Park.

 
Hiking in Olympic National Park (Washington)

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Pescadero Whales

We drove out to the sea cliffs near Pescadero Beach this morning to see if we could spot some whales.  We lost the sun on the way over but we did get to see what I think were gray whales as they swam near us for a while:

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Onward to Lassen

After a couple of days layover in Tahoe to ski some new snow and repair the van (a badly installed anti-sway bar), we headed off again – north this time towards Lassen National Park.  Along the way, we spent an afternoon riding as far as we could (before being turned back by snow) up the Mills Peak Lookout trail near Greagle, checked out the Subway Cave near Old Station, wandered around some rough forest roads, visited Burney Falls – and in Burney I was finally able to snag a covid vaccination shot!

The highway through Lassen was still closed to vehicles as they continued to clear the snow but open to biking which made a lovely ride to the top from the southwest entrance.  We made two attempts at hiking the Chaos Crags trail on the other side of the park (after getting caught in a thunder and hail storm) and pushed past the still snow covered road to check out the Fantastic Lava Beds area.

 

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Early Spring in the Eastern Sierra

Darlene and I loaded up the cats and the camper van in late March and headed out for an extended, month-long trip.  After a few days of skiing at Alpine and Homewood from the Tahoe house, we headed down to Bishop and Mammoth for some more skiing, as well as mountain biking and other exploration in the surrounding area for a few weeks while camping out on public lands.

We biked around the Mono Craters area, found a nice wading pool just outside the now closed off Mammoth Hot Springs, hiked up to the still frozen South Lake and bailed out of a swim in the still-quite-cold Owens River near Bishop.

Despite all the time I’ve already spent in the Eastern Sierra (including attending high school in Bishop), we managed a few new adventures like biking up Coyote Valley Road, skiing at June Mountain, visiting the exposed “tuff” formation along Crowley Lake, winding through Chidago Canyon, visiting the petroglyphs along Fish Slough Road, and finding an eagle’s nest (with chicks!) in the Owens River Gorge.

In mid-April, it looked like a bit of snow was going to mostly hit the Tahoe area, so we headed back up to Tahoe for a few days to catch a bit of it before heading out again and north to Lassen.

Oh yeah, and we broke the van on a particularly rough road near Mono Craters – started hearing clunking noises from what turned out to be a very badly installed anti-sway bar.

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Bald Eagle Chicks

While wandering the Eastern Sierra around Bishop and Mammoth, Darlene and I came across a high vantage point along the Owens River Gorge overlooking a bald eagles nest – with chicks!  We came back the next morning and waited around a couple of hours – long enough to see the second parent eagle bring back a meal to feed the chicks:

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Joshua Tree and the Mojave Desert

After the long delay in building out the van due to Covid-19 shutdowns, keeping indoors from the widespread smoke and wildfires, dealing with several pet health issues (and emergency), then more Covid lockdowns across the state, we were finally able to take the Traveling Cat Adventure Van (II) out on a week-long maiden voyage.  We headed south to Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave National Preserve, away from the storms and snow in the mountains.

   

All the campgrounds across the state had been closed until recently and not surprisingly, all the campgrounds were already booked up in Joshua Tree and the first-come, first-serve sites filled by Thursday afternoon when we arrived.  Not a big deal though as there is dispersed camping allowed in the BLM land just north of the park in and around the Coyote Lake dry lake bed.  As the nearest national park to the greater Los Angeles area, Joshua Tree was already fairly busy on Friday but turned crazy busy on Saturday so we moved on to the much quieter and deserted Mojave National Preserve on Sunday.

The van proved to be super comfortable and worked well for the two of us and the cats, including having to hunker down multiple nights in the midst of heavy wind storms.  We can easily see spending any amount of time (weeks or months) traveling and living out of the van.  And with the smaller size, it’s so nice to be able to easily go and park anywhere, unlike the previous 25-foot Leisure Travel Vans RV.

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