Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Halloween and Dia de Los Muertos on Olvera Street

Last month we carved pumpkins the night before Halloween. We decided to do traditional jack 'o' lanterns this year.
Dan hollowing out his pumpkins
 Dan bought candy for the trick 'r' treaters and we lit our pumpkins and turned on the porch lights, but sadly we didn't get a single ghost or goblin ringing our bell. Dan's students benefited from our leftover candy stash!

Mary and our pumpkins
 On the day after Halloween we took the Metrolink to the Union Station in downtown LA where we walked over to Olvera Street - the oldest street in Los Angeles and an area of Mexican restaurants and Mexican street vendors.

A person dressed up for Dia de Los Muertos
 We had a great time listening to the Mexican music, watching the dancers, and walking around the area where we encountered lots of people in traditional Dia de Los Muertos attire, face paint, and even dogs dressed up!

A Dia de Los Muertos Vigil 
There were lots of vigils set up in the traditional fashion paying respects to the dead by displaying foods the deceased loved, photos of their loved ones, and candles illuminating the vigils.

Even the animals were celebrating!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Getaway to Palm Springs

Last month during Dan's fall break weekend we booked a weekend getaway in Palm Springs. We found a deal on Groupon for a hotel and off we went! In addition to exploring the Palm Springs downtown, our hotel pool and the impressive Palm Springs Art Museum we did a lot of hiking.

Palm Oasis in Indian Canyons
 We went to the Indian Canyons where we did some desert hiking through the Palm Oasis - basically just a giant palm tree forest.

Before we headed back to Claremont we took the Palm Springs aerial tramway up 8,500 feet to the top of Mt San Jacinto where we did a nice long hike in the wilderness before grabbing a hot cocoa to warm up!
 Palm Springs Aerial Tram
Mary and Dan hiking in the San Jacinto Wilderness

Saturday, October 24, 2015

McGuinnesses in Claremont

Earlier this month my parents came to California from Ann Arbor to visit our new digs. Their trip happened to coincide with Dan McGs's epic road trip so we were able to celebrate Mom's birthday and Dan's birthday.  

We enjoyed a tour of the campuses, a jazz concert on campus, walks through the farmers market a drive up to Mt. Baldy, and a trip to the botanical gardens.

What a fun visit!

The Gang in Claremont
Dan, Mom and Dan at the Botanical Gardens

Mom and a thatched Hut

Dad, Mom, Mary and Dan at the Mt. Baldy Lodge

Dan, Smoky the Bear, Mary, and Mom

Monday, October 19, 2015

Labor Day in Ann Arbor

I had a wonderful trip to Michigan over Labor Day before starting up my new job here in Claremont. I stayed for a week and a half and had lots of fun with my parents and friends while Annie and Dan enjoyed the California sunshine. Matt, Diana, and I drove out to Detroit to have a delicious dinner at Alex and Liz's house inspired by their CSA - just look at those tomatoes!
Matt and Diana with Caprese Salad
After dinner we enjoyed yummy treats and played several rounds of Jenga and Settlers of Katan.
Mary, Liz, and Diana after a fun night of dinner and games
I also was lucky enough to meet up with the fabulous Jenn at one of Ann Arbor's hip new bars . . .
Jenn and Mary out on the town
One of the highlights of my visit was, of course, going to the Michigan-Oregon State football game with Becky. We went to a fun tailgate party before hand then enjoyed the game on a breezy fall day.
Tailgating at PiHi for the first home game of the season
The Michigan Marching Band
The biggest highlight, though, was visiting Mom and Dad. We ate lots of delicious meals together and went on trips to the farmer's market and out to breakfast, lunch, happy hour, and a lovely dinner with our neighbor Doris.
Mom and Dad are all smiles after a big ND victory
Becky and her friends took me on an exciting adventure of kayaking the Huron River and I was able to experience the Argo Cascades. I was very relieved that I didn't tip - I did see two boats that did though!
Kayaking the Argo Cascades in the Huron River
James and his girlfriend were passing through town after visiting her family in the metro Detroit area so I had a good time going out with them for drinks and then out to breakfast the next day with my parents and them.
James and I - a cousin reunion in Ann Arbor
What a fantastic trip!

Monday, September 14, 2015

August Visitor

Last month Brian came to visit us for a quick trip - we picked him up at the airport and went straight to the ocean at Newport Beach where we played in the ocean, body-surfed and took a walk down the boardwalk while enjoying some frozen treats.

We showed him around Claremont going to the concert in the park, hikes in the mountains and also went in to LA for a visit to the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum.

Bones being excavated from the tar pits

Brian and Dan in front of a massive tar pit

Baby and Papa Elephant cry out to Mother Elephant stuck in tar pit 

Wooly Mammoth bones recovered from tar pits

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Botanic Gardens

Last week Dan and I rode bikes up to the Ranch Santa Ana Botanic Garden for a special butterfly exhibit featuring music, drinks and access to the garden past normal business hours.

 We had a wonderful stroll through part of the 86 acre park. These gardens feature California native plants. We were lucky enough to happen upon the beautiful "Majestic Oak" that is over 250 years old.

Grand old Oak tree

We didn't take Annie with us on our adventure and it's probably a good thing we didn't as she might have taken off after a desert hare and ended up in a Cactus bush!

Desert Hare

Friday, July 24, 2015

"Where the Streets Have no Name"

On Liz and Alex's last full day in Southern California we filled up water bottles with cold water, packed a picnic lunch and drove West on the I-10 to the desert. As we approached the entrance to Joshua Tree National Park we turned on U2's Joshua Tree album and admired the many funky trees that were beginning to crop up.

Rock piles at Joshua Tree National Park
 As we hiked through this awesome desert ecosystem we decided we needed to pick our favorite trees and pose beside them.

Mary chooses a funky favorite tree

Dan channels the energy of this tree
 Did you know that these trees can live to be thousands of years old and can grow as tall as 49 feet?!
Liz raising the roof

Alex and his spirit tree
There were lots of cool large rocks balanced precipitously on top of other boulders. We were sure not to get too close in case one got loose and tried to crush anyone.

Boulder Croppings

Liz at the Ryan Homestead