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

Thursday, July 23, 2015

California Dreamin'

We have been in Claremont for a week and a half now and are really enjoying Southern California. This past Saturday Liz and Alex came for a visit. They happened to visit us during the rainiest July in LA in recorded history. We had two solid days of rain and that made for some unusual weather!
Liz and Mary in RAINCOATS
On Saturday we braved the rain in raincoats to explore the shops in downtown Claremont and enjoy lunch and dinner in Claremont Village.

On Sunday we drove up to Mt. Baldy Recreation Area for some hiking and exploring. At one point along our walk I dropped my water bottle cap and it fell down a steep hill into a ravine where there was a small creek. I was ready to call it a loss, but Liz came to the rescue and ventured down to retrieve it.
Liz rescuing my water bottle cap
 After hiking for a while we decided to head back to Claremont. At this point it started to sprinkle a little. This sprinkle turned into a full on torrential downpour and by the time we made it back to the car we were all entirely soaked!
Dan, Alex and Liz taking a (pre-rain) break from hiking Mt. Baldy
 Later that night we ventured out to the neighborhood of Koreatown in downtown Los Angeles where we ate a delicious Mexican meal at a Oaxacan restaurant called Guelaguetza. After dinner we went to sing our hearts out at a fun karaoke spot.
Dan and Liz singing Karaoke in Koreatown
 We also drove down to Laguna Beach for some ocean time.
Laguna Beach
After the beach we had our friend Suzi and her son Austin over for dinner. For dessert Liz made lemon bars with the lemons from our very own lemon tree! Suzi also brought over lemon bars so it was fun to have a lemon bar tasting for dessert.
Liz and Mary lemon picking

Yay for fruit trees!
 Liz also discovered a lime tree at our house - we're not yet sure if it's a regular lime tree or a key lime tree - either way we'll be sure to not get scurvy out here!
Lemons from our tree in a beautiful new wooden bowl from Michigan

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Pagosa Springs

Durango Dan arranged a weekend at a fancy vacation home on the San Juan River for us to meet up with the McGrundallnesses for a visit. We enjoyed a hike to Chimney Rock formation, an exploration of Treasure Falls and a trip to the Pagosa Springs Hot Springs in addition to lots of playing with the kiddos, fancy homemade potions courtesy of Ethan and terrific meals cooked by all involved!

Dan, Ethan, Dan, Chris and Julian enjoying the view

Scenic Overlook

Erin, Dan, Elliot and Ethan at Treasure Falls
 On our tour of Chimney Rock Ethan volunteered to grind corn using the tools that the Native Americans who lived in this area would have used.

Ethan grinding corn with the Mano and Metate

Flowering Cactus

Mary, Chris, Ellen and Ethan in front of Chimney Rock and Companion Rock

Treasure Falls

Chris and Julian ready for a hike

Dan and Audrey by some wildflowers

Mesa Verde

Last week on Monday packers came to our house in Springfield and packed up all our stuff, on Tuesday movers came and loaded all our stuff on a truck, on Wednesday we sold our house and got on the road and drove for over 15 hours until we arrived on Thursday in the wee hours to Dan and Erin's house in Durango for a visit - what a whirlwind! Thursday was Dan's birthday and we celebrated with a trip to Mesa Verde.

Spruce House
 We enjoyed going down into an ancient Kiva at Spruce House.

Dan climbing down into a Kiva
On our way to look at the amazing Cliff Palace ruins we found 8 dollars on the ground - our lucky day :-).

Cliff Palace
We explored the balcony house and had to do some pretty gnarly climbs up ladders and cliff faces to get in and out of the ruins. Luckily we had only adventures, no misadventures!

Balcony House

The Birthday Boy coming through a tunnel
After our guided tour we did an overlook trail hike where we ate our picnic lunch in the howling winds.

Scenic overlook at Soda Canyon
 We wrapped up the day back at the house and celebrated Dan's day with a Baskin Robbins ice cream cake.