August 3, 2017

Santa Maria Hike

Our first full day in California, we went on a hike near Santa Maria. 

Seeing signs like this made us a little leery. But somehow, mountain lions didn't approach our group of four adults and nine boisterous kids. Surprising! 

Levi was all ready with his walking stick and water bottle.

Heading up

California Poppies!! Isn't the color unbelievable? I want a something or other in that color. Maybe a wall? It is a little too intense for an entire room. 


Going to check out forts. Their New York cousins were convinced they were going to be bitten by rattlesnakes, but no puncture wounds happened here. 

My hiking companion

Flowers that I have not yet identified. 


I really planned on digging out my wildflower guide and diving into flower identification, but... I didn't. This is a sad commentary on the state of my summer. 

Aren't these wild?! 

Peeling eucalyptus

Andy running around the top.

All the kiddos

Breanna read most of the hike, but never fell over or tripped. It was a modern day miracle. 

Hiking down the other side. 

I may have been moseying around at the back taking pictures of flowers.

Bright red!

Some dried flowers

This is apparently poison sumac. Don't touch it! 

Lisa, Darra, and Levi

Thistle fluff! 

lichen of sorts

Hummingbird Sage

Gnarly old tree! I love this thing.

There was a lot of moss hanging around

Teensy little flowers 


This was a cool flower that seemed to have purple blossoms with white flowers and yellow centers.

Levi was going to take this horn on the hike to scare away mountain lions, but we decided it would be better left in the vehicle. The kids love it though! 

July 27, 2017

On the road: Wyoming to California

This is how an adult road trip works. I worked on my edTPA (a NY teacher's certification exam) for the first week of the trip. It was not much fun. But I did learn how to make my cellphone a hotspot to provide my computer with wi-fi (thank you, Fiona!) so that was exciting. (I know I should have known how to do this before, but I never needed to.) 

Anyway, working on a stressful assignment while trying to enjoy a road trip is not much fun. However, I don't think working in the edTPA would be fun any which where, so it wasn't the road trip's fault! 

As the co-captain, this is also what a road trip looks like. A lap full of things. Mostly to have on hand to pass back to kids to prevent a stop. I dream of one day taking a road trip with nothing at my feet or on my lap. 

However, Justin drove the whole way. All 7,500 miles. (Or almost all. I did pitch in twice I think so he could have a nap on the way back home.) So I don't really have any room to complain. 

Really, I didn't have any room for anything with that lapful. 

Leaving Jackson

An arch made of antlers with some Elk fighting. In Afton, WY

All that yellow and green! 

This farm was on the border of Wyoming and Idaho. It was a gorgeous farm. All those round bales and red roof against the hills.

 The road we were driving went in and out of Idaho and Wyoming about three times. 

While we drove, we were listening to the Ramona Quimby Audio Collection. Mostly for the kids enjoyment, but... to be honest, Justin and I thoroughly enjoyed it to. 

Beverly Cleary was a genius. 

Cloud shadows!

Plains of the valley. This was just inside Utah. (I think.)

So green and blue!

This is the Utah I know and love! Weird red rocks.

Coming in to Heber City.

My cousin Wayne met us and escorted us up to his cabin

A giant pine cone and Orianna.

The Wayne-ster. Unfortunately, Wayne's wife and kids were away. His wife and kids are definitely the more interesting part of Wayne (Har har har!) but we had a great time having late night chit chats about everything and anything. Wayne and I were born three weeks apart and went to school together and hung out together until we were tragically separated when we were 13. We never bother to keep in touch, but still have a marvelous time talking and making fun of each other when we get together. You never have to explain your viewpoints to someone who was with  you when you formed those viewpoints.

So good to see him! Next time we will hopefully see the whole family! 

Heading out of Heber City the next morning. 

At fifteen hours of driving, from Heber City, UT to Santa Monica, CA this day was one of our longest stretches of road tripping. 

Wildfire in Utah

A cave!

Round about afternoon, Elsie and Gilbert started tearing apart our styrofoam cooler. We were sitting directly in front of them and the cooler, but somehow didn't notice this was happening until we heard them saying "It's snowing!" and Orianna saying "Mom! The kids are throwing white stuff around!" At this point, it seems a little pointless to freak out, so I gave them a talking to and moved the cooler away from them. To my lap. Seriously. My poor lap. 


Crossing the Mojave Desert. All I can think is that the pioneers crossed this in the dead of winter. Otherwise it would have had them  scuttling back to the tolerable Rocky Mountains. 

SO HOT. We got out at a gas station where the temperature was 115 with a 20 MPH wind. If felt like a brick oven. Everything in my head was telling me to get back in the Suburban and drive away as fast as possible. This human being is pretty sure it is uninhabitable. 

It was also the most expensive place we bought gas. But then, I would probably charge people a lot for having to stay in the desert keeping a gas station open. 

Our GPS played a good joke on us--dragging us through Los Angeles rush hour traffic for no good reason at all. The day before, I had meticulously compared our two gps to make sure we were going the best route, but since both were identical, I realized I was being a little OCD and stopped obsessively checking it. Ha. Just shows how valid my OCD is. 

Free license to obsess!!

An In and Out Burger. We weren't that impressed. The fries were lame-o. However, they were obviously old, so maybe they are better when fresh.

The upside of this situation was that we drove up the California coast on Route 101. So I forgave the GPS.

Leaving the coast and climbing up to Santa Monica.

The bur oak

Fog rolling in

Seriously, after being traumatized in real life oven that is the Mojave Desert, fog was such a welcome sight. We were actually cold in Santa Monica. Imagine! The delight!!


Our enthusiastic welcoming crew shooting us with nerf guns!

We were so glad to get out of the car and see these shining faces!