Tag Archives: California

Mondays are for Memories – January 2010

Since so many of our family and friends are posting snow pictures, I checked back in the archive to January 2010 when we were working at Cherry Valley School in Beaumont, California. We might not have had a ton of snow at our location, but it wasn’t far away!

January 31, 2010 – The Round About Way

Since this was our last weekend in the “Pass” (as this area is known), we figured we’d better take the advantage of a beautiful day on Saturday to take a drive to some of the nearby spots we’d been wanting to check out. Big Bear Lake and ski areas were only about 45 miles away according to our GPS, but of course we wanted to stay away from major interstates and congested areas. “Let’s go up the back way, through Oak Glen (a quaint town of orchards and all things apple only 15 miles or so up the road), maybe check out a couple of geocaches, and then make our way over to Big Bear Lake.” Sounded like a plan, so I grabbed the camera, a couple of bottles of water and some snacks, and off we went!
First Stop – Oak Glen.
OK, so we didn’t actually stop (it’s not exactly prime apple harvest time), but the views were impressive as we were heading out of town –
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And we really enjoyed the signage!
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Trust me, they really know how to do “curvy” here in California!
Oh – and I wish I knew exactly what mountain that is in the distance. It was in my viewfinder for most of the day, but the best I can do is “San Bernardino Mountain”. And it’s a guess, folks. Just a guess.
But I digress with my lack of geography knowledge…..
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See, there it is again!
Since we were headed to Big Bear we knew we would be coming into some snow. Remember last week when we had 2-4 inches of the stuff? Well, the mountains near here got 2-4 feet. Or so it seemed by the look of this car coming toward us on the highway –
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Uh, sweetie – the snow was LAST WEEK, and maybe you could have cleaned a little more off the driver’s side??????
But for us, the roads were clear.
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And even though the plowed piles got higher and higher, the drive was lovely!
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We did take a little detour to do a geocache, and while Gary was walking around with his trusty GPS
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I was busy clicking away at the beautiful snow covered landscape.
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(I think this cactus was a little concerned about the blanket of snow….)
Finding the cache with all the snow presented a little bit of a challenge (and we hadn’t done much geocaching lately, so we were a little out of practice), but I finally noticed a straight edged thing under a root.
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I made Gary do the groping (I’m not really fond of sticking my hand into dark “what just might be there” spaces, and we were rewarded with our first “find” in several months.
There were several other mountain roads that Gary had hoped to explore, but they were all closed. Such a disappointment for a guy who was really hoping for some dirt road adventures.
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Anyway….on to Big Bear Lake.
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All along the way we saw cars pulled over and folks getting ready to find a sledding hill or strapping on their cross-country skis or just plain having a snowball fight. Those are some renegade snowballs on the lake ice!
And there certainly was snow enough for everyone.
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Maybe they are waiting for spring?
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We literally crawled through the town Big Bear Lake – not only was last week’s snow the first BIG snow in a couple of years, but this was the first weekend day that the roads were open. It took us 2 ½ hours to drive the 10 miles along the south side of the lake. (We stopped for lunch thinking that maybe we could “wait out” the traffic. Not only was the lunch the slowest meal we’ve had in a loooonnnng time (2 hrs. for a burger and a bowl of chili), but the traffic was still waiting for us when we were (finally) done.) I have to tell you, 4 ½ hours of Big Bear Lake is just a little bit too much!
Not wanting to go back the same way we came, Gary chose to head north, pick up a cut-off road that went over to Yucca Valley, and return from the East. It was a great plan, except we never found the short cut road. Apparently the plows had never found it either. The road we thought was “it” turned out to be a little connector road that took us back to Baldwin Lake and was only about a ½ mile long.
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But it did (almost) give him his dirt (mud) road fix.
Almost.
Enough chatter – here, in the order of their appearance, is the rest of drive home.
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Baldwin Lake
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Down the other side of the mountain until we ended up in the “high desert”.
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We were losing daylight fast –
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Caught the sunset going through Yucca Valley
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(sorry for the blurry sunset. It’s very tricky taking sunset shots from a moving truck!)
That trip home was definitely the “long way home”!
Here’s our day’s journey on the map –
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(You can see our missing”shortcut” home – it goes east above Big Bear and heads over to Pioneertown and Yucca Valley. It would have been sweet if it had been open!)
Zoomed out a bit –
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And here’s a zoom in –
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Yeah, there were a lot of those curves!
You know, not everyone can take what should be a 100 round trip drive and turn it into a good 200 miles. And even with the crawl through Bear Lake and the incredibly slow lunch service, it was indeed a Very Good 200 miles!

Here’s a link to the original post – The Round About Way

Getting there

If you’ve visited here before, you know I take an inordinate amount of “Road Ahead” pictures. I take them when we’re driving in the truck, and I especially take them when we’re in Lizzie (our RV). And heaven forbid we are on NEW (to us) road – man, is that shutter clicking!
Our drive from central California to northern Arizona was no exception. Oh, my – how those “Windshield Shots” added up!
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Sometimes just pointing the camera out the window worked pretty well, too!
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But my favorites are usually just the Road Ahead.
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You know I could go on and on (and on and on), but for now, I think it’s time to move on to just what we were aiming for as we drove from California to Arizona. (But if you’d LIKE to see more “Road ahead” pictures, you can check them out HERE! 🙂
So next up will be the Grand Canyon – North Rim!
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See ya tomorrow! (I hope!)

Kings Canyon and Giant Trees

One of our other goals (along with getting to Yosemite) while we were at Sugar Pine Camp was to get back to the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park which was only about 100 miles away (which in the overall scheme of our life is pretty darn close!). We had visited the “Sequoia” part of the park back in February of 2009, but since it was, after all February, the Kings Canyon part was closed. Too. Much. Snow. Here’s the Sequoia Visitor Center on the day we visited in 2009-
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so you can see why snow might have been an issue. So this time, while there was a bit of overlap, we were focused on Kings Canyon (northern and higher altitude) section of the park.
Once we started east from Fresno, the drive started to climb.
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and the views became expansive.
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Our first stop in the park was the Grant Grove area – home to the General Grant Tree and a beautiful walk through some giant sequoias.
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The General Grant Tree is also known as America’s Christmas Tree (designated by President Calvin Coolidge in 1926).
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(It looked a little more “Christmas-y where we were here last time -)
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Those giant sequoias are amazing
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but we really wanted to make our way to Kings Canyon. So on we went!
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We did check out a couple of stops along the way – one was a short hike into Grizzly Falls, which unlike Yosemite Falls, actually had some water falling.
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And such beautiful clear water it was!
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Once we made it to the bottom of the canyon, we followed the path of the Kings River.
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We also took a hike through Zumwalt Meadow, which was part meadow
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and part not-so-much-meadow.
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It was a beautiful hike and after we continued on to the end of the road, we turned around and just un-wound the trip down. I confess that somehow, the trip back seemed much more dramatic. Might have been because now we were in the outside lane!

From the steep canyon walls
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to the realization of just how far down DOWN was once we started to climb out of the canyon.
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(Still not sure you can get the real feel for how steep it was – but it was pretty impressive, believe me!)
One last stop on the way home was to drive by Hume Lake –
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Sure would’ve liked to set a spell in those chairs!

Soon we were headed back to Sugar Pines –
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and a nap!

Thanks for coming along on our Kings Canyon excursion. If you’d like to see some additional photos (you knew that was coming, right?), you can check them out (in reasonable order of the day) HERE!

[Since this is also a Monday (as in Mondays are for Memories), if you’d like to check out the photos from our 2009 trip to the Sequoias, just click HERE!]

Yosemite

There are lots of things we look at when we ask to serve at different ministries. We usually try to go to a project where we’ve never worked before. We sometimes look for specific needs (though we’ve also learned that the needs that are published are often different by the time we get there). We try to choose a ‘less-served’ ministry – one that doesn’t get many SOWERS. But I must confess that the reason we chose Sugar Pine Christian Camp had a little less to do with a specific need, but more to do with this little notation in our listing. “6 miles from the S entrance to Yosemite Park”. It did meet all of the other criteria, but that Yosemite thing was really what tipped the scale. This is only our second swing out to the West Coast (the first one before and after we did our Alaska Adventure), and since we never know what tomorrow will bring, I really wanted to make sure we made it to Yosemite.
So it was pretty much a win-win all around! We were blessed to serve at Sugar Pine Camp – and we were certainly WOWED at Yosemite.
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We spent two beautiful days exploring Yosemite, and although we barely scratched the surface of hiking and back country activities, I do think we covered most anything you could get to by car – plus a couple spots that required our feet!
Here are some highlights –
Glacier Point
This is pretty much everyone’s first recommendation. They even recommended seeing it at sunrise. That did not happen. But we did get there early-ish, so we missed some of the crowds while we enjoyed the magnificent views.
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Sentinel Dome
Since we knew that Half Dome was way beyond our hiking capabilities, we decided to give Sentinel Dome a shot. The Yosemite experts back at the camp felt it would be a good hike for us – a little challenging, but certainly do-able. For us out of shape oldsters.
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We were a bit intimidated by the fact that we were headed to the top of that dome
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but still, we pressed on!
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OK – if young couple wearing a toddler can do it,

so can we.
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Just a little bit slower. And with a slightly faster heart rate!
But Oh.The.Views.
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As we were headed back down, Gary’s sharp eyes spotted a bit of wildlife.
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Can you see it? Up in the tree….
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Happy hunting, big guy!
This was a great hike – good cardio workout on the way up, and a bit hard on the joints on the way back, but we did it!

El Capitan
We caught a couple of glimpses of El Capitan as we headed up to Tioga Road (in the northern section of the park)
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but it pretty much dominated the horizon once we ventured into Yosemite Valley the next day!
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But first – Tioga Road, Omsted Point, and other views from that road! (There is lots more park to the north of Tioga Road, but it’s all ‘back country’.) Here are just a few of the our stops –
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Olmstead Point
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Olmstead Point (the other way!)
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Tenaya Lake
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We stopped at a little cafe near the north entrance (Tioga Pass) for a bite to eat and struck up a conversation with a couple of back-country hikers who were sharing our table. Now mind you, we were feeling pretty smug having hiked the Sentinel Dome (all 2.2 miles of it), so we asked one fellow how his hike was going. It turns out he was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and he shared his good news that he only had 1000 miles to go. A Thousand Miles. So much for the our Sentinel Dome experience! He was very interesting and since he was looking quite longingly at Gary’s fish and chips, we funded him for a couple of meals. (I wonder if he made it to Mexico yet?)

We finished that first day with a stop at the “Tunnel View Overlook” which offers spectacular views of the park.
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And just as we were getting ready to leave, we ran into some friends from Trinity, TX!!! How crazy was that????
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Now that was a ‘God Wink’ to be sure!!!!
We returned the next day and took one more shot of the “Tunnel View”.
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Love the morning light!

But we were headed to explore Yosemite Valley, which is a much busier area. Kinda like the ‘downtown’ of Yosemite.
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We took a little meadow hike
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and checked out the historic Ahwahnee hotel.
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Lunch was a bit pricey, but oh, so elegant and yummy. It was a fun treat!
The famous Yosemite Falls (Upper and Lower) were dry this late in the season
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but you can certainly see how magnificent they must be in the spring with the snow run-off!
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Once again we were very glad we started early in the day –
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because this is how it looked when we were ready to leave!
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Yikes!

From start to finish – Yosemite was magnificent!
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We are so thankful to be able to mark that off our ‘bucket list’
If you’d like to see more of the beauty of Yosemite, there are more pictures HERE! (I did my best to whittle down the number, but it’s still just shy of 100! Just wanted to give you a warning!)

Let’s get started!

OK — the kiddos have been hugged, I’ve caught up with my email and financials (well, mostly), and I don’t need to think about the SOWER newsletter for at least another week. AND – I have good internet and Verizon signal! And that seems like a perfect mix to finally get this blog back on track!
Way back, when I wasn’t so far behind in this blogging thing, I had every intention of doing a post about how different the drive from Idaho to California was from the Curvy, Curvier, Curviest drive we had from Montana to Idaho. I was going to post pictures about how Straight the roads were
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even though there were a couple of these signs to get my attention –
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and
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(Donner Pass on I80 in California)
But mostly our two day drive from southern Idaho to central California was beautiful and peaceful and without incident.
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Just the way we like them!
And then I was going to say that if you wanted to see more “Road Ahead” pictures of that beautiful drive, you can check them out HERE!
But it seemed so long ago that I wasn’t sure if anyone would be interested.

But I knew I didn’t want to skip over our time at Sugar Pine Camp! We were officially there by ourselves,
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but there was another SOWER couple who had been there all summer as “SOWERS on Assignment” – SOWERS who come for an extended time, usually with a specific job in mind. So while we weren’t necessarily working directly with them, it was great fun to hang out with them whenever we could!
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Our work at Sugar Pine was pretty varied. I did some housekeeping, some office type chores, and lots and lots of laundry.
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Gary did some electrical work, some A/C and refrigeration stuff, and then settled in (with lots of help from the other SOWER guy) with building a shed on the back of a staff house.
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And if you were wondering how they were going to get into the shed….
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Yeah, he’s smart like that!
Interestingly, except for the T-1-11 on the outside, all the lumber used in the shed was milled right on the property. That was pretty cool!
So it was a busy and beautiful month. There were retreats going on every weekend, and even during the week there were groups coming and going. (Hence, my housekeeping and on-going laundry duties!).
But for all the activities, it was a very peaceful spot.
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Once again, it was a great month. We were in a beautiful part of the country (more on that later), serving at a dynamic ministry “Impacting Lives for Christ”, enlarging our SOWER family, and enjoying a nice quiet month after such a ‘social’ month back in Idaho (which is always welcomed by my sweet introvert hubby!).
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