It's time to get caught up. It's amazing how quickly the days seem to pass -- I mean, it's already June 1. Insane.
Anyway, we've got plenty of ground to cover so let's get going. Not that this is a chore for me. Or you. Because it's not. This is fun, dammit!
First some photos:
This is from Monday, or if you prefer, Memorial Day. You don't see Leigh, my 4-year-old, because she's the one snapping the photo. Funny girl, that Leigh. And Claire's expression there is classic Claire. She's such a live wire and was an absolute trooper that day. So, back to Memorial Day. Here in Redding we live pretty close to some amazing outdoor attractions, one of them being the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. It's got a good-sized lake, a few "beaches" and some camping. It's also got a number of waterfalls and hiking trails. But for all of the park's natural beauty, it feels like a low-rent version of a real national park. Like if Wal-Mart got into the national park business, Whiskeytown is what you'd have.
On Monday, we decided to hike up to Brandycreek Falls but, because of the middle school art class-quality of the maps and handouts, we were never really sure where the trail -- which at times dumped you out onto one of the park's dirt roads for a quarter of a mile or so before winding back into the woods -- started or how long it stretched. According to the park, it was supposed to be three miles round trip. But after hiking a little over two miles with no end in sight, the girls exhausted and nearly two hours into the trip, we decided to call it a day. With Elsa on my back -- turns out she's an extremely cooperative hiking companion -- I decided to walk the road back down to the car and drive back to get everyone else. After going just under a mile a guy who had been prospecting for gold and fishing driving a red Jeep stopped and offered me a ride the rest of the way down. He just laughed at my tale.
As it turns out we started at the trailhead (I know, silly us) but the park's literature gives the distance to the falls from the end of the access road. Which is about three miles above the trailhead. Clearly, we forgot the cardinal rule of hiking local attractions: Talk to the locals first and ignore the park's information. Consider us schooled. On a side note, we were going to follow Thom G's excellent advice in this year's Rec Guide and hike to Boulder Creek Falls but decided at the last minute it would have been too long for the girls. Next time.
So here's another:
This is Leigh, who, once again, accompanied me on the annual fathers/sons campout. And once again, she was the only girl. Which surprises me. I'm not the only one in the stake with just daughters and no sons. Apparently, there was one dad who was foolish enough to ask the stake president if would be appropriate for him to take his daughter on the campout. He was told, "no." Silly, silly man. Leigh and I had a blast.
And we'll do a couple more:
This is Claire and Leigh on their first ever horseback ride. This is at the scout camp outside Willits, Calif. Becky's uncle is a professional scouter and his son, her cousin, is the caretaker for this camp. So in the off-season it's open to visitors. Becky's parents, who will soon be mission president and mission mom for the Orlando Florida Mission this summer (and for the next three years) came to town and we journeyed with them to the camp so Becky's dad could meet up with his sister and his mom. Becky's grandma is getting pretty old and this may be the last chance for her dad to see her.
Anyway, the camp has horses and after arriving the girls really wanted to do nothing more than hang out with the horses. Leigh would actually talk to them in coversational tones, standing on a fence trying to get them to come eat a handful of grass she had just pulled. Seriously, she'd talk to them like they were her equals and like they could understand every word. It was hilarious. Anyway, these horses are old. Like, at death's door old. They were bony and droopy and just looked tired. But the girls didn't notice and loved every minute of seeing them and being able to ride.
And one last photo:
This is Elsa all rearing to go hiking on Monday. She was the perfect baby. She would goo and gurgle as she was bounced around in the pack. But never once did she cry. That is, until I tried to take her out of the pack at the end of the hike and I was pulling and pulling on her unaware I had forgotten to unsnap one of her straps. Poor kid, if she survives me it'll be a miracle.
Now, one last thing before I leave you to your weekend. Not to be too self-serving -- although I suppose just maintaining a blog is self-serving by definition -- here's a few links to some more entertaining stuff I've written for my day job over the past month.
The first is an official review for Wilco's new album "Sky Blue Sky." It's not the best music critique I've ever written, but it's serviceable. It's a somewhat more polished up version of what I posted here in March.
The second is a little piece I wrote to laud "Veronica Mars" since it was canceled last month and critique the current state of television veiwership in this fin country of ours.
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