Sunday, April 9, 2017

Hiking Potato Mountain

This weekend we had more visitors. Dan's brother David was in town for business in LA then he drove out to Claremont and spent Friday night and Saturday with us. On Saturday we did a hike up in the Angeles National Forest to the top of Potato Mountain. At the top we found a cool potato family.

Potato Family

On Sunday my college buddy and her husband drove to visit us for brunch and a tour of town and the campuses. They were visiting the area from DC to visit family for passover. Sadly I didn't get any photos of them. We look forward to showing Claremont to the McGRundallnesses later this month!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Durango Dan and his crew visit SoCal!

This past week Dan, Erin, Ethan,Elliot and Erin's mom Sue and Stepdad Slim were in Anaheim for a little spring break resting and relaxing. On their way from Phoenix to Anaheim last week Dan, Erin, Ethan, and Elliot stopped in Claremont for some time at the park playing frisbee, campus tours, and dinner. We had a great visit!

Elliot exploring the Claremont Playground
The next day Dan and I drove down to Anaheim to have dinner at their place and visit for the evening. On Friday, Cesar Chavez Day, Dan and I had the day off so we met up with the gang in Newport Beach for a whale-watching boat cruise. It was a very windy day so the water was pretty choppy, but luckily nobody in our crew got seasick.

Fellow passenger's hair was completely windblown!
We saw two separate pods of gray whales. One pod had three adult gray whales and the other pod had two adults and a calf. They were popping up out of the water frequently and the one group even displayed a bit of courtship behavior which was fun. It was hard to get photos of them but you can see them below shooting water out of their blowholes:

Gray Whales
On the way back to the boat dock through the harbor our boat was tailed by a playful sealion who was swimming along right off the back in our wake:

Playful Sealion
After our fun boat cruise we had a picnic at the park along the beach before heading down for some fun in the sand.

Elliot and Ethan enjoying a picnic lunch

Ethan playing in the surf

Dan, Erin, Mary, Sue, and Slim lounging on the beach

Elliot was very busy building sand castles in the sand
We had a wonderful visit with everyone and look forward to seeing them again soon in July in Michigan!

Back in Claremont Annie has been enjoying the California wildflowers popping up all over the place.

Annie poses next to the California poppies

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Visit to Santa Monica

Last weekend Dan and I drove to Santa Monica where we met up with our friends Katie, Scott, Maria, Chelsea, and of course little Leah Jude. We were treated to an excellent brunch at Katie's house featuring crockpot french toast - yum!

Leah modeling a new dress
After filling, I mean fueling up we walked 16 blocks down to the beach and then strolled up the beach to the famous Santa Monica Pier where we watched dancers, saw fishermen, and rode the giant ferris wheel.

Mary and Dan on the Santa Monica Pier

View from the Ferris Wheel

Maria and Mary on the Ferris Wheel

Mary, Chelsea, Katie, and Maria hanging out on the pier

It was an excellent visit and we are looking forward to having everyone here at our house next month for my birthday!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Our Second and Third Mission visits

Since visiting our first California mission in February we visited two more last weekend. First we visited the beautiful Mission Santa Barbara.

Mary in front of the Mission Santa Barbara
Where we again ran into Junipero Serra. The light in the photo I caught of him and really makes him look quite holy.

Junipero Serra
Dan posed with a headless Friar Thumper. We're not really sure why his head was missing . . .

Dan and Friar Thumper
We toured the beautiful grounds, the museum, and the chapel.

On our way back to Claremont we stopped in Ventura to visit the Mission San Buenaventura. It was close to closing time so we just popped in for a quick visit.

Mary in front of Mission San Buenaventura
Again we saw Junipo Serra.

Junipo Serra

Beautiful Fountain in the Garden
Three missions down and 18 to go!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Oh, hi Ojai and Santa Barbara!

Last weekend to kick off spring break we spent two nights at the beautiful Ojai Valley Inn and Spa as part of CMC's trustee retreat. We were able to enjoy some nice pool time.

The water was great!

We borrowed bikes from the Inn and bike into adorable downtown Ojai where we strolled along the Main street and explored the shops before making our way back to the Inn.

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Downtown Ojai
Then on Saturday after lunch at the Inn we drove up the coast to Santa Barbara where we had rented a cozy studio through Airbnb. We walked through downtown and enjoyed a snack at c'est cheese before strolling along State street to reach the pier.

We watched the fisherman and a few sea lions while the sun set over the mountains. Then we strolled back towards town where we ate a delightful meal of truffle mushroom pizza at Olio Pizzeria - a restaurant that was recommended to us by a couple who lives in Santa Barbara.

The next morning we ate a delicious and hearty breakfast before strolling back to the beach where we attended the Santa Barbara Art Fair. It is an Art Fair that is every Sunday of the year and has been happening since 1965. We bought a couple pieces for the house and a pair of earrings for me :).

Santa Barbara Art Fair in the distance
Then we strolled back down State Street where we ran into our neighbors from Claremont who were also visiting Santa Barbara! They recommended we check out the County Courthouse, so we did.

Santa Barbara County Courthouse
 We climbed to the top of the clock tower where we had terrific views of the city.

Santa Barbara with the Mountains in the distance
 Our friends also recommended that we check out Goleta Beach Park where we walked along the coast enjoying the fresh salty air and the fog covering the beach.

Dan dipping his toes in

Dan found a tiny cave
We also visited two more Missions on our trip. They deserve their own blog post, so stay tuned for that :).

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Our First California Mission

For our February surprise date, I took Mary to Mission San Gabriel Arcangel, just down the road from us in Claremont.  San Gabriel was the fourth mission (out of 21) established in Alta California (the present state of California, as compared to Baja California in Mexico) in 1771.  I thought it would be interesting because, well, history is interesting! and because we were going to a talk a few days later on how the mission system had a devastating impact on the native populations in the region.

Facade of the Mission

The complex was impressive, with a large church, graveyard, winery, museum, and relics from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  In fact, Mission San Gabriel is the oldest brick and mortar building in Southern California.  The whole mission system was part of an effort by the Spanish to take over the land, and to convert the indigenous populations to Catholicism.  Diseases brought by the Spanish, unhealthy conditions maintained within the missions, and military adventures to subdue tribes resulted in the demographic and cultural collapse of native Californians.  The lead friar in that effort was Junipero Serra, an incredibly controversial figure whose canonization in 2015 set off a lot of protests, especially here in Los Angeles.  But, he is highly celebrated in the mission itself.

Junipero Serra

The stewards of the mission, though, are certainly aware of the ramifications of its history.  They note that the Spanish buried over 6,000 Tongva people in the mission over the course of its sixty-year history.  The grounds also contain a traditional Tongva hut, which would have housed many of the converts even on the mission grounds.

The mission also contains a number of fruit trees, as well as a grapevine that was planted in the eighteenth century.

After we left the mission, we walked around the area, and found a cool art supply store with an impressive mural depicting the colonial-era mission:

Finally, we wrapped up our Spanish-colonial explorations with a pretty cliche lunch: we ate Vietnamese bahn mi sandwiches at a nearby strip mall.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

A visit to California!

Last weekend Brian flew out from Denver for a quick weekend visit. After picking him up at the airport Dan and Brian headed out to Joshua Tree National Park where they camped out for the night and did a lot of hiking.
Dan enjoying Joshua Tree 
Brian trying to find his Spirit Joshua Tree

 The next day after more hiking they headed into Palm Springs for lunch and Dan tried a date shake - I'll have to go back so I can try one - Palm Springs is famous for their date shakes. We had a low key night in with dinner and a movie.

On Sunday after a trip to the Farmer's Market with our friends we headed to the coast. We ate lunch at a restaurant with an ocean view then explored the Laguna Beach tidepools where we saw marine life.
Brian and Dan exploring the Laguna Beach tidepools

Look, Dad, we finally spotted a whale!

Beautiful Laguna coastline
We had a great time visiting with Brian over the weekend and look forward to welcoming more visitors later this spring!