Wednesday, May 15, 2013
I hope to make it a tradition to have my picture taken with Clara (and any future children) each Mother's Day. We did this last year and again this year and I am blown away by how different Clara looks. She is SO, so BIG now. At the rate she has been growing, I won't even be able to hold her next year!
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
I have been wanting to go to Lake Tahoe for the longest time because I have always heard about how beautiful it is and I love camping. So when our beekeeping friends started talking about fitting in a camping trip before they headed to North Dakota for the summer, we decided Tahoe was the perfect spot since it was a reasonable distance for both our families. Paul and I took and pitched our tent but ended up sleeping in Jason and Ginny's trailer because there was plenty of room and it was like a big fun slumber party (and we didn't have to deal with an uncomfortable air mattress or the colder temperatures). So I guess it was more "glamping" (glamorous camping) than real roughing it. This picture is of our fun little group in front of our campsite and the Miller's trailer.
It is crazy that when we first met the Miller's that their oldest son Ollie was not even 18 months old and now their third child (a girl!) is on her way. We hate that they moved a few hours away but we love that we still get together like this.
Tahoe did not disappoint. It is a stunningly beautiful lake with crystal clear water that is so pure that apparently you can see objects with perfect clarity up to 67 feet deep. It was THE place to vacation for the Hollywood set in the 50's and 60's I guess. This was Emerald Bay.
On our first day there (we all drove in on Thursday night, so this was Friday), we had a big pancake breakfast with sausage and eggs and fruit, then hung out on a little beach by our campsite for a while. Around lunch time, we headed out on a drive to a place called Inspiration Point, which overlooks Emerald Bay. We had a picnic lunch there while Clara slept in the car since she had fallen asleep on the drive.
Then we went on to another spot to do a hike at Eagle Falls.
That is where Max (Jason & Ginny's youngest who is about 8 months older than Clara) fell asleep. Jason carried him for the entire hike because they forgot their baby carrier back at the trailer.
It wasn't a very long hike but it was pretty decent hiking up granite staircases and paths strewn with rocks, which is typical for the Sierras. And the weather was absolutely perfect even though we were a little early in the camping season and there was a lot of snow up in the mountains still.
The sun was really strong so you can't tell very well from this picture but this was a bridge over the waterfall and Paul and Clara were looking down at it with a little trepidation.
One of the many perks about traveling with friends is that you can trade off camera duty so we got a few pictures of all three of us together when Ginny took the camera from me. We know from experience that it is easy to get sunburns at these higher moutain elevations so we all kept our hats on. Thank goodness Clara likes wearing hats.
We even asked a stranger to take another group photo of all of us when we got to the top of a vista point that looked out over the lake with beautiful views.
What you can't quite tell from these pictures is that the rocks just dropped away in sheer cliffs a few feet from where we were standing, creating a gorgeous rushing water sound. It was pretty cool being at the top of the waterfall and looking out over Emerald Bay.
When we got back to camp we built a fire and cooked tinfoil dinners (they turned out SO delicious - the best ones I have ever had) and then roasted marshmallows for s'mores. Clara LOVED her marshmallow but she was really upset about the requisite bath in the trailer shower afterwards to get the sticky out of her hair.
Paul and the boys enjoying s'mores. Seriously, I ate way too many but I LOVE those things and it is only a couple times a year that we go camping so why not indulge, right?
Ginny and I were a little worried about how the kids would do going to bed at the same time in the trailer but they were all awesome all three nights were were there. Clara and Max were hanging out after bathtime looking at some app on Ginny's phone and it was so cute that I was so glad I had the camera right on me to capture it. Ginny and I have decided that arranged marriages might not be so bad after all and we may or may not have made some plans for these two.
On Saturday morning we went back to the beach by our camp. It wasn't cold but it wasn't super warm either and the lake water was certainly chilly. But the kids loved having their pants rolled up anyway so they could go wading.
Unfortunately, Clara did NOT want to listen to constant reminders not to go in too far. She would creep just a little bit farther then just a little more until one of us would go pull her back in when she would ignore our commands to not go in so far. This was her "don't tell me what to do face" that she made just before she went for a polar bear swim. We think she just lost her balance, but in just one second she fell face first and was completely soaked (in all of about 6 inches of water). Jason was only a few feet away though so he scooped her up really quickly and I was there one second later (since obviously we were all really close by as Clara hadn't been very good about not going in too far anyway and we had suspicions that this sort of thing just might happen eventually to her or one of the two boys).
This is after her little morning dip. I think she did it on purpose to prove that I should have put her in her swimming suit like she had asked repeatedly on our way down to the lake that morning.
We stripped her and wrapped her in a warm, dry sweatshirt and I carried her back to camp to change clothes. Honestly, I think she thought it was an adventure because the whole thing totally didn't phase her a bit other than that she had goosebumps by the time we got to the trailer and I was able to dry her off completely. I seriously need to get her signed up for swimming lessons because I am so paranoid about water accidents and this did nothing to help that paranoia, even though it wasn't a big deal and she was never in any danger since we were right there with her.
Once we got back to the beach she wasn't allowed to take her shoes off at all to go in the water. There have to be consequences, you know. Instead she sat on the sand with daddy.
Paul still made it fun by teaching the kids how to skip rocks. Paul is an awesome rock-skipper. I am always impressed by how good he is at it and the little boys and Clara especially thought it was cool.
After a lunch of roasted hot dogs, we drove to Tallac Historical Park to see some of the cabins built in the late 1800's and early 1900's by the wealthy to use as summer homes. It was beautiful and very interesting and it felt like we were stepping back in time to the 1920's through much of it aside from the fact that it was right on the lake and we could hear motorboats every now and then. Mostly we just wandered here and then found Pope Beach - a beautiful beach with incredibly soft sand for a mountain lake - where we hung out and skipped more rocks and had rock throwing competitions for distance and accuracy (trying to hit a buoy in the lake). Clara stayed well away from the water so we think she learned her lesson that morning.
After Tallac we came back to the campsite and had pizza and salad that we had picked up from Round Table. Clara showed off her mad swinging skills by hanging from this rod on the trailer.
Then we went on one last hike up to a water tower above our campground (the Zephyr Cove Resort, for future reference). Jason and Ginny were goofing off here but really it was a steep climb.
We found this great pile of rocks to climb on for some final pictures as the sun was setting out over the lake.
It was only too bad we hadn't thought to bring the tripod so I wasn't in the pictures. But it is such a fun group shot. We miss these guys and wished we could get together like this more often.
After the kids were in bed us adults hung out around the campfire playing Password and just chatting until we were all too tired to stay up any longer. It was a great way to kick off the summer season and we are really looking forward to going camping again soon!
Sunday, May 5, 2013
Paul and I are celebrating our 9th anniversary this Tuesday (the 7th) but since Paul has work and it is a weekday, we decided to splurge on a nice hotel in Carmel for the weekend rather than anniversary gifts for each other. Paul got off work a little early on Friday and we got to Carmel around 4:30. After checking into our hotel (the Normandy Inn right on Ocean Ave.) we wandered around a couple of shops (well, a toy store and the candy shop - those are our priorities) and just enjoyed the lovely weather before having a nice dinner at "The Grill" restaurant.
I posed Clara with her legs crossed for this picture and it freaks me out how grown up she looks in it. This was at our hotel.
This is the "Cottage of Sweets". Paul got a chocolate covered pretzel, I got a cherry cordial, and Clara got a red licorice stick.
After dinner, we headed down to probably the prettiest, most perfect beach in all of California. The sand is so unbelievably fine and soft and white. There were quite a few other people down there enjoying the sunset with us.
Is this not the cutest profile ever?
We found a jellyfish that had washed up on shore.
Clara was in heaven splashing in the small waves and letting them chase her up the beach.
I love this shot of us - kind of faded by the backlighting with waves coming in behind us. It is so summery and California-y and vintage-y.
And this is maybe my favorite picture of Clara from the trip. I just wanna squeeze her little face!
We finally dragged Clara away from the beach and went back to the hotel to swim in the pool. It was a heated pool but because it was late it was getting chilly. But Clara was delighted to be wearing her swimming suit (seriously, she kept telling us "swimming suit! swimming suit! HOORAY!!") and she loved "swimming" back and forth between us in the pool. We swam until she started shivering with cold and then told her we needed to go and she begged "no! no! no! more! stay! swimming!" so we stayed longer. It took three or four more tries and her lips turning blue and full body shivers on her part before I put my foot down and told her we were officially done swimming because it was too cold. I really need to get that girl enrolled in swim lessons because she loves being in the water.
On Saturday morning, we woke up and started out the day with a drive south down through Big Sur. We've done this drive before but not since Clara was born. It is one of the most rugged and majestic drives we have ever done. The scenery is just breathtaking and it was especially dramatic with the light fog coming in off the ocean and the morning sun coming down over the mountains.
This is Bixby Bridge built in 1932. We always stop here to take pictures.
I have always wanted to find a waterfall called McWay Falls and we finally looked up directions for how to get there this time. There is a super easy and short hike in and it was the perfect time of the year for this trip because the wildflowers were blooming like crazy so it was an especially lovely and fragrant hike. Clara picked little bouquets until Paul spotted poison oak, at which point we kept her really close to us and wouldn't let her touch most of the plants (which she was not too happy about).
The waterfall drops right out onto the sand. It is just lovely and serene and I'm so glad we finally found this spot. Too bad Clara was tired at that point and sick of being held to avoid poison oak and there were cliffs dropping away from the trail that made it treacherous so we didn't spend much more than a few minutes enjoying the view before heading back.
Clara loved this tunnel and ran up and down its length a bunch of times. We taught her to yell "echo!" in it and she thought that was pretty neat.
Paul helped Clara throw rocks in the stream on the way back to the car.
Another thing I have been wanting to do was go visit the mission at Carmel. It is the second oldest mission in California. There were a bunch of missions established in California by the spaniards when the area was being settled back in the 1700's and they were super important to the development of the state, so in 4th grade, all California public school students (I think) do a report on the mission of their choice. Both Paul and I have talked about our mission reports and what we remember from them. I am pretty sure my report was on the La Purisima Concepcion mission and I have fond memories of visiting it with my family after doing my report in 4th grade. The Carmel mission is very beautiful (only the chapel is original - the other buildings are all reconstructions). There were these cool pictures on the wall in the visitor's center that were taking in the early 1900's when the mission was largely forgotten (it had been abandoned by 1851 and only partially restored when the photos were taken).
There is construction currently going on to retrofit the building against earthquakes so there was some scaffolding around. This isn't a really old building compared to some of the churches Paul and I have seen on our travels through Europe, but for California this is one of the oldest standing structures in the state and it was pretty neat to see it.
The gardens were beautiful. I paid a little bit more attention to the flowers since I now have the teeniest bit of experience with gardening. I actually recognized the Jupiter's Beard plant, which I planted in front of our house and that was weirdly exciting for me.
We had to stop to smell all of the flowers with Clara but she was very good about not picking them (although there were a couple of close calls).
I love the red tile roofs and stucco look of old California architecture. It just makes me happy.
Paul had some coins in his wallet and he let Clara throw them into the fountain. I think he forgot to teach her about the "making a wish" part though.
This is Junipero Serra - the priest who started the Carmel mission.
It was a lovely little trip full of fun and new things that we haven't done before in this area.