Tuesday, March 17, 2015


It's definitely spring here -- about 85 degrees and sunny, sunny, sunny when Chad and I rode out to Pescadero over the weekend.  No pictures of that (too busy trying to squeeze the ride into the time window encompassed by Nim's computer class), but I do have photographic evidence of spring-like conditions seen while mountain biking at Coe earlier in the week.

I was impressed that the microscope app on my phone took decent pictures of teeny-tiny flowers.  This filaree blossom was less than 1/4 inch across,

as were the butter-and-eggs,

and of course, the ladybug.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Family hike

I dragged everyone out for a short hike at Rancho San Antonio a couple of weekends ago.  We saw many and varied interesting things:


View (trail, bay, and Mt. Diablo in the background)
View (NASA Ames)

View (San Jose and Mt. Hamilton)

View (rainbow over the expensive houses)

Many, many California newts

Followed by a very predictable result


Though some parts of the country are still in the throes of winter, that is not the case here...so I've been riding.  Guess where I rode (from home) last week:
That ride was followed up by a climb up Hamilton the following day.  Not bad for early-season riding!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Also forgot the chalkbag

Nimue thought her climbing chalk bag was ugly, so I made it into a monster.  Its LED eyes blink randomly, and lots of people have noticed it at the gym.  (the chalk bag hangs off the back of her harness and blinks down at everyone below; there is a hole in the top of its head for her to reach in to get chalk to dry off her hands)

Forgotten Valentines

I forgot to post these tasty Valentine's Day treats

Chad 3-D printed a miniature version of a cubesat.  I made a mold from it out of food-safe silicone, and then made peanut-butter-filled chocolate cubesats on sticks.

Yes, we are weird.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Not Ski Week

We headed up to the mountains for Nimue's February week of off school.  While this is traditionally "Ski Week", this year is about the most pathetic snow year I've seen around here.  Bad for skiing, and most especially bad for the drought.

Fortunately, there are other ways to amuse oneself up near Downieville.  We mountain biked, hiked, and spent a day exploring some of the old mining sites on back roads above town.

Can't you tell this was once the bustling mining community of Monte Cristo?

If you look around, there are remnants: shards of old bottles and dishes, saw blades, pieces of old stoves, and buckets like this one.

Nimue got bored, but the adults had a dandy time poking about.

Another old mining site up the road a bit.  I think this was the old Telegraph Mine.  Last year -- also a bad snow year -- when we rode up on mountain bikes, this was about the point where we were turned around by increasing giant slippery snow patches on the road.  None in sight here today.

When we got up to the top of the ridge, we took a small walk up a spur road to the Saddleback Mountain fire lookout.

It has about the most scenic potty hut ever.

At an elevation of 6690 feet in February, there was not much snow in evidence.  One fears a bad fire season this summer and fall.

Mt. Lassen in the distance.

We decided the weather station looked like an alien space probe.

And the old snags look like monsters:

There were strange messages carved by worms in the wood:

Our truck just looks like it belongs out here.

And it does.  This is the chunk of tree we had to drag up the road a bit with the truck to a spot where there would be space to pass it.  Notice the large furrow it dug.

Sadly, there wasn't much we could do about this tree without a chainsaw.  Alas, we didn't make it to the old mining town of Brandy City, which was the original goal for the day.  Not that it mattered much, since there was much fun to be had wandering around the maze of dirt roads up to that point.

Hmmm.   Snow.  What are Chad and Nimue doing?

Chad looks proud of himself.

Get out of the way, Nimue!

Here comes the truck.  Note the waning light...

Ah, traction!  As you see, we did find one shady part of the road that had several snow patches, and since they were melting fast, these snow patches were what my dad would call "slicker than snot".  Dumb me, I didn't put the chains in the truck for this trip (there was no snow after all...); Chad's clever notion of using sticks as traction aids got us out.  We had to move this set of sticks about four times onto different patches, after which we were done with the slippery melting snow and the sticks were just about pulverized.

There are clearly many more roads to explore close to town, even if they are "Not recommended for cars."  A most entertaining winter day for us.

The big kid

We were amused watching Nimue be the "big kid", emulated by the small kid, while we were up in the mountains.  I'm still accustomed to seeing her in the small kid role.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Merry Christmas

Over the holidays, we visited the East Coast branches of the family.  Here are some highlights. (Sorry so late)

First, as is my habit, I insisted on having Christmas day at home.
 Linda came down for these festivities, an we enjoyed a mellow hike up at Fremont Older.
 Nimue in her new cow hat.  What other 12-year-old wants a cow hat for Christmas?
 Bright and early the next morning, we flew out to Boston and drove up to Maine.  The rental car agency gave us an entertainingly cute Beetle to drive.
 There was a bit of snow still on the ground, but it was unseasonably warm when we first got there.
 Notice I could get away with just wearing a vest. (i.e. no coat!)
 As is usual, much walking in the woods,
smiling in the woods,
sitting on rocks in the woods,
and goofing off in the woods!
 Ninja Nim in her new orange stripey scarf.
New (ish) bridge in the woods.  Chad felt compelled to scrape the last remaining bits of snow off it the first time we were out.
 Leafs in the woods.
 Scary-large woodpecker holes in the woods.
 Wuuh in the woods.
Fungus in the woods.  Notice a theme here?
 Gran taking a picture of Nim in the woods (notice you can see the kiddo on the phone).

 On our last day in Maine, we visited high point most proximate to the Towle's place.  While we enjoyed the view (look over the woods!),
the small one amused herself carving pieces of the snow up with an ice chunk.  I guess ice is a novelty if you grow up in California.
After several enjoyable days, we headed down to Rockport to visit Chad's relatives there.

One must have lobster.  Mmmm...lobster.  It came right off the boat and home into the pot.

 Happy New Year!
Roaring fires are festive.
And there are woods in Massachusetts too...
Kids in the woods.

Ice in the woods.
 Old quarry in the woods.
Big cousins in the woods.
Ma climbs a stone ruin in the woods (then has to sheepishly point out to kids that they shouldn't be compelled to follow...)

 And post woods, we of course had to enjoy Uncle Bob's bookstore.
Thank you all!