Sunday, February 22, 2015

Happy Trails again. . .

Jimbo, Jessica and the boys drove out to my place today and we went to Briones Regional Park for a hike there and then came back to my apartment for dinner.

Charlie was very energetic.  He wanted to hold one of my hiking poles, so just like I did a few weeks ago at George Miller Trail I shortened one of them up and gave it to him to hold.

He got tired of walking after a very short time, tho, and got carried along with Teddy in a Bijorn.

We were just hiking along when we noticed "Ferdinand' grazing alongside the trail:

His lady-friends were relaxing nearby in the shade. . . .  We nearly tripped over them - it was so shady there and they were so quiet - before we noticed all of them.

J&J pointed out a ball of Mistletoe on a tree.  It was a bit far above them, but they took advantage of the opportunity nonetheless:

Jimbo took this shot of me, looking like a grizzled old California gold-rush prospector. . .

We continued onward, uphill, till we reached a road and some private property - a beautiful Hacienda type of homestead out there in the middle of nowhere.  I now realize that I should have taken a photo of it; it was very nicely situated on a hillside.  But we continued on another, narrower trail inside the park still going uphill.

I told Jamie that there seemed to be a lot of "bear-scat" along these trails.  But, obviously it wasn't any animal that wild. . . .  Ferdie and Elsie and Bossie and Flossie et al apparently had climbed to this elevation at sometime recently.

The view - as on many trails - was spectacular - with Mt. Diablo off in the distance again.

No matter what direction you looked, it was all great.  If it weren't for the high-tension power lines (and the fact that the mountains are a bit shorter and that the family's a bit smaller) I told Jess I felt like I was leading the VonTrapps over the mountains to Switzerland.  :-)

Climb every mountain,
Search high and low,
Follow every byway,
Every path you know.

So after all this we found out that our little narrow trail was not really on the trail map.  At the end of it we had to climb down a very steep embankment (I made very good use of the trekking-poles at that point) and we did "ford a stream" - tho it was a dry arroyo stream-bed - to get back to the main trail.

Have to go back to this park soon.  It is a huge park and there are plenty more trails there.

After all this, we drove back to my place and had dinner - Thai chicken with peanuts that Jess had prepared and that I had thrown into the Crock-Pot earlier.  I had added some lime juice to it - and maybe a few too many peanuts - and maybe too much cilantro.  But it was good. . .  The basic ingredients that Jess had put into it made it pretty hard for me to mess up.

Next up on this blog will likely be my latest project.  I am putting together a "Murphy Bed" in a convenient space between my dining room and living room.  It'll take a bit of doing.  I ordered it online at Costco's website and it arrived here last week, in three huge packages.  It will be an IKEA-like assembly experience, but much more complicated than any IKEA stuff I've yet put together.  Should be interesting, but not as easy as Do-Re-Mi. . .

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Half-Mile From My Home and a FULL Mile Uphill, I Found THIS. . . .

Took a stroll today, over at John Muir National Historic Site, up Mt. Wanda (not exactly a mountain, at 640 feet, but probably the tallest hill I've ever climbed).  The climb isn't really very steep, but covers about one mile each way.  It was slippery and slightly muddy since we've had a lot of rain over this past weekend, but with the hiking poles that my daughter-in-law Jessica has loaned me I had an easier time than I would have otherwise had.

Here's the photos of the climb.  It was heavily wooded at the base of the hill, but as I climbed the number of trees became less and less. . .

The view all around me as I climbed got more unobstructed. . .

About halfway to the summit there was a picnic table, and beyond that only another two places to sit and rest or sit and enjoy the vista. . . .  at a juncture in the trails a bit farther along and at the summit.  I didn't take photos of the picnic table nor that first bench, since other hikers were there at the time.  Nearly all the hikers were solo, except for a Dad and his two kids and dog.

Near the top, hardly any trees. . . .  So the view across the horizon was spectacular.

And finally, nearing the very top, treeless - with views of Martinez city to the northeast, the Carquinez Strait and bridges off in that direction too, the Route 4 parkway winding thru the green hills to the northwest, Mt. Diablo to the southeast, and - far off in the distance directly to the east I was able to make out the shape of some very high snow-capped mountains (not able to see them in these pictures. . . Next time I go on this hike I will take my camera instead of cell phone - I think that'll make better photos of the stuff off in the distance) as well as - far off to the northeast of Suisun Bay - some of the hundreds of windmill-turbines of the electric-generating "farm" in Solano county.

Dunno if you can make-it-out, but the red brick building in the center of this next photo - at the point where the shrubs are parted in the middle - is the VA Hospital that's across the street from my apartment house:

I actually walked past the summit, just to see what was on the other side of it.  I had a good view of Mt. Diablo from below the summit, and of the mound that is the top of the summit.

If you look very closely, you'll see a structure at the top of this mound.  It is the bench that is at this, the summit:

I saw some nice purple sage off in the opposite direction from the summit:

Doubling-back to the trail that led to the summit, I arrived, but didn't sit down.  Just couldn't believe the spectacular scenery, so I attempted to take a panoramic photo of the entire 360 degrees around me by snapping about a dozen photos in a line-up.  It didn't come out too well.  Then I put the camera on "video" and slowly panned around the 360 degrees. . . .  but so far I haven't been able to figure out how to transfer it to this blog!  Next time, with a real camera maybe it'll work.  I'll bring some binoculars, too.

All-in-all, it was fun.  I listened to Buckwheat Zydeco on my Pandora on the way up and Frank Sinatra on my way down. . .  'cept for the last quarter-mile or so, when sis-in-law Liz phoned me and I chit-chatted with her about the goings-on back east.

Thank you, Mr. Muir, for your love of nature and thank you, National Park Service, for preserving his "backyard."  Next, I have to go see his house, at the base of the hill on the other side of the parkway and the railroad trestle, sometime soon.