Sunday, July 8, 2012

Bear Valley

In a fit of "I cannot hike around here any more, it's too hot and dry, and there's dust and foxtails and poison oak everywhere" I booked us a cabin in Bear Valley for the weekend. After last fall's Stormageddon canceled most of our High Sierra hiking plans, I was still itching to to walk in "Beautiful Sierra Scenery (TM)".

We arrived Friday afternoon, unpacked, and went for a short fishing trip to Lake Alpine. Fishing was had. Catching was not had. Pizza for dinner.

On Saturday, we set out for a hike to Kinney Lakes near Ebbetts Pass. Book said 5 miles and not much climbing. We ended up doing just under 4 (only went to the first lake) and the climbing really was minimal, by Sierra standards. I was pretty excited about this hike, since the route follows the Pacific Crest Trail.

Map and profile:

Some selected photos from the hike.

Kostadis hauled Nick the whole way there and back

Wheee! OMG hiking! Wheee!

After about and hour, Nick got tired of sitting in
the backpack and decided to hike by himself.
He requested a hiking pole and used it quite

Lower Kinney Lake. Polly is doing what she does any time a body of water
is present: fetching sticks.

Yes, Nick is, in fact, doing what you think
he is doing. He thought peeing in the lake
was the best game ever.

Kostadis and Tony enjoying the break.

Beautiful Sierra Scenery (TM) on the way back

On the way back from the lakes, we met some Pacific Crest Trail through hikers. We shared our strawberries with them which they were very grateful for. PCT hikers pretty much eat power bars for six months, so any fresh food is a treat. Polly and Tony tried to beg them for some treats, and were very disappointed that they didn't get any. As I said "Dogs, these people are more hungry than you are, give it a rest."

Kostadis fished some more in the evening. We had spaghetti and meatballs for dinner.

Next day we went for a short walk around Lake Alpine and some more fishing (for Kostadis), playing in the water (for Nick and Polly) and peeing on things (for Tony).
Trains got to come play at the lake too.

Nick is fishing.

Kostadis is also fishing. They both caught the same number of fish.

Hiking is exhausting.

All in all, a nice weekend trip. And it didn't rain. Or snow. Or hail. Maybe Nick's curse of causing "weather events" any time he goes into the mountains is over. One can hope!

Full set of photos from the weekend is here.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Strawberry...erm olallieberry...Fields Forever!

Let's just start at the end: this is what 23 lbs of olallieberries looks like:
Greed is not a good thing.

An olalliberry is a heavily modified blackberry-raspberry cross, which is deep purple and extremely sweet when ripe:

A friend joined me on a You-Pick trip to Gizditch Ranch in Watsonville to obtain some of the tasty fruit.

You get assigned a row of bushes:

And get to work:
This is fun, honest!

After about two hours, we ended up with 35 lbs between the two of us. And we only stopped because we ran out of containers, the berries were plentiful.
Looking a little dazed with our haul. Or maybe it was the two
hours in the sun.

Being the sane person, Cat took home 12 lbs, leaving me with 23 lbs of berries which were so ripe, their shelf life is measured in minutes. Being lazy and all, I just threw them into plastic bags portioned for pie filling and put them in the freezer.


Soon, each of these bags will become a tasty olallieberry pie!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Huddart Park Hike

Huddart Park is a nice shady park about a third of the way up Kings Mountain Road. No dogs are allowed, so we don't go there often, but our usual haunts right now are too hot, too poison-oaky, and too fox-taily.

The route:

The trails are all wide enough for the jogging stroller, and there is very little poison oak. Nick walked some, but mostly rode in the stroller and narrated the scenery. Tree! Tree! Oh no tree! (fallen tree, very distressing).

Full set of pictures is here, some selections below.

Someone is very proud of himself.


Local wildlife. This dude was about 5 inches long and quite disgusting.
Nick was fascinated.

The only slightly troublesome point on the trail where it was blocked by
a small fallen redwood. Nick was able to climb over and then waited as
I had to carry the stroller over.


We crossed a creek towards the end of the hike. Once a long time ago
I showed Nick that you can throw leaves from bridges into the water and
watch them float. Apparently he remembered.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Pigeonhole Principle for toddlers

The pigeonhole principle states that if you have N pigeonholes, and N+1 pigeons, at least one of the pigeonholes will have to have two pigeons in it. It's used to prove various stuff in freshman-level discrete math classes, and tends to melt many a poor freshman brain.

Here Nick demonstrates the pigeon hole principle using his train set. Professor Franco Preparata would be so proud of him.

There is only one spot left in the Tidmouth Sheds and I
have both Toby and Thomas that need to be parked! What
do I do??? (note: this is what an average CS freshman looks
like too when asked to prove something using the pigeonhole

Answer: one of the parking spots has to have two trains.
(P.S. No he didn't figure it out himself, same as most
college freshmen he went and whined to a TA for help).

Here's the video of the process as well. Math is SO FRUSTRATING!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Junior agility handlers 2016

Nick and his friend Shelby went on a playdate. At an agility field. While they shared goldfish crackers, dismantled equipment and ran around, their moms completely ignored them and played with their dogs.

Here's to future junior handlers. Expect their debut at an agility show near you sometimes in 2016!

Hmmm, they said "Table" and then "Stay". Do they think
we are dogs or something?

Sunday, May 6, 2012


Concerto in D minor for two vuvuzelas and a labrador. Composed and performed by Max, Nick, and Tony.

(P.S. Dear neighbors. We are sorry. Here's some earplugs.)

Friday, April 20, 2012


The weather suddenly turned from winter to summer, plus Kostadis had a day off, so we went to the beach. Nick finds the beach very acceptable.

Contemplating the water



More running

A boy and his dog

Very. Large. Sandbox.

Meanwhile, Kostadis and Tony were doing what they
do. One was surfing the web, and the other was

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Nick and Polly play Ball

The two crazies came up with a new game: throw ball in the hammock. Notice that Tony is trying to stay faaaar away from the mayhem.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


The weather was nice so Nick, Polly and I went to the Ponds. Tony and Kostadis went to work. Tony prefers work to Ponds, since there's cookies and head scritchies at work.

I was very clever to dress Nick in a red jacket which stood out nicely against the green grass. Actually, Kostadis dressed him, and that was the only clean jacket he had, but I'll take the credit anyway.

Here are some selections, the full set of pictures is here.


Plotting something


First encounter with a California Poppy. There was
much spitting after this picture was taken.


Nick's latest obsession is to line all his trains into a giant line and get it all around the track. This is one of the more successful attempts, but they all pretty much end the same way: the trains crash and there's yelling.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Polly's personal ball thrower

Finally they actually play together without me having to help.Although after five minutes this game turned into a much more fun activity of "let's run Polly over with a tricycle"...

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Some day, I hope he'll be turning over the garden beds for me. For now, I am happy he self-entertained while I built this planter.

Super awesome sandbox!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hidden Villa

After biking by Hidden Villa for many years, we finally decided to go in. They promised farm animals and hiking trails, and that's pretty much what we got.

I think these chickens are after my snacks!

Hmmm... looks kind of like Polly

Hiking, very acceptable.

A creek. Even more acceptable.

About half an hour was spent doing this. Surprisingly, he didn't actually fall is, but he did get his feet wet.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


It finally rained. Nick found that very acceptable.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

And that's how we roll!

Well walk, actually.

The child is heavy. The child + minimal amount of hiking stuff + pack to carry it all is very heavy. Enough to make the whole experience rather unpleasant. Recently it occurred to me that I have a very capable pack mule right here in the house (no, not Kostadis, at least not on weekdays).

Oh hai! I iz a labramule! 

So Miss P now pulls her own weight around here. Well, actually, it's Nick's and my weight, but whatever. If we go for a reasonable two hour hike, Polly can actually carry all our gear, snacks, and water, which means all I have to do is carry the kid in the small backpack.

Today we tried out this arrangement at Fremont Older. Worked really well. Pictures and vital statistics below.
The route

The mule is packed and ready to go

Always wear your Road ID. So if you get hit on the head by
a brick, they'll know whom to call. And yes, I also carry a phone.
And don't go far. And all that other safety stuff.

The passenger. 

The trail.

The staff

We hiked around this canyon

Milk/snack break! Why do I feel that one day this
will be poured down the back of my shirt?

I can haz a snack too?

Watering the mule. Nick insisted on drinking from the water
bottle too. Note, Polly is not actually tired, she just likes drinking
lying down.

Hey, little dude, I carried these crackers for you,
can I at least have a couple?