A week of films and Lake Chabot

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Last week was Ski Week a week off school just for fun – for everyone in the Bay Area, this is your chance to go skiing with everyone else in the Bay Area, whoo hoo! Unfortunately, it was not so exciting for us last week as I had to study for a literacy and a math exam and both the kiddos were sick, boo! So towards the end of the week, the kids had gifted me their germs, and I was down, and so were my study plans!!

Most of the week it was raining so we started the week off with the Lego Batman movie which was a lot of fun, though not as good as the Lego movie. Tuesday we saw A Dog’s Purpose which was beautiful and made me cry throughout the whole film even though I knew what was going to happen! Any film with animals being harmed or dying is difficult for me, and I knew it was going to be a hard film to watch as the trailer made me cry. And as I was feeling pretty crappy by the end of the week I went to see La La Land instead of going to yoga class Saturday morning. I really enjoyed it as it resonates with you afterwards. I enjoyed the spectacular cinematography, music and dance routines, so much of it to love and the costume design of Emma Stone’s wardrobe was stunning and so yellow – my favourite colour.

 

So with such a lazy week of attempted study and sickness and movies, we really wanted to go outside in the sunshine on Sunday. I had a long-standing date with our friends from Oakland, and we had planned a rainy day activity to the Exploratorium, but we were not too keen to spend $100 plus for a day out. Lucky for us it was a sunny Sunday, and we were busily texting and calling Sunday morning to reschedule our plans to an outside activity. As some of the roads had been closed off due to the storms our first choice, Sunol was not accessible, and in the end, we stuck with some East Bay Parks to find a central location for both of us to drive to. We really enjoyed the hike around Lake Chabot Regional Park as it was an easy drive for us and there are many rolling green hills to wander around chatting and catching up on what has been going on in our lives.

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The kids even gained some energy being outside in the sunshine and enjoying the time with their long time friend from the East Bay, they were powered by jelly beans.

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Lots of Turkey Vultures were to be found flying around the lake and look at those green hills.

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We ended up doing a 3-mile hike – not a big hike for us, but we really enjoyed being outside in the sun and soaking up some Vitamin D.

We wandered through lots of oak woodland as we hopped off the main trail to go up into the hills above the main trail. The guys led us on some random trail for a bit of excitement, but hey it actually did lead us back to the main trail! I loved the shape of the big old oak trees up on the hills with lots of amazing green grass with thanks to the rain. The rain also filled up the lake above some of the banks to see the jetty and the seats nearby underwater. Lots of fishing opportunities to be had here with some quiet little fishing piers to check out along the way.

Thank goodness for blue skies and sunny Sundays, I loved the day out and felt so much better. As you can see the kids still enjoyed a workout after our little hike at the exercise area by the lake. This is a super special place to hang out for the day, and I am so happy that we were out and about with our friends enjoying the sunshine!

The views from up high!

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Finally, I had a free weekend to relax with friends and the family as I have finished my essay writing at the moment, so it’s time to catch up on my To Do list! The weekend was absolutely stunning with its sunshine and warmth – not enough to take off your cardigan yet, though! I spent time hanging out down at the park knitting with my friend and the kids created a tree sculpture in the sandpit dedicated to the environment entitled ‘Protect the Trees’. They kept on finding pieces of foliage and rocks and twigs around the park to add to their group installation.

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Sunday being our family day we went out for a hike up to Sierra Azul Preserve in Los Gatos. Another hike we haven’t visited in our 10 years of living here. Little did we know what to expect once we started hiking…

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Look for the hangar in the centre of the pic, and we find our house

 

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A perfect place for a picnic or to camp – though you would have to haul it up here!
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A dragon cloud
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Walking in the woods

 

 

We ended up hiking 4.5 miles up the hill as you can see from the pictures we were looking over the whole valley from where we were from Palo Alto to San Jose. The urban sprawl at its finest on this beautiful and bright day. It was a great hike for exercise walking for miles uphill though the kids constantly wanted to stop!

 

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“No!! We can’t walk another step!!”
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“This is boring, my legs are tired,” say the kids!

 

It was too hard for them to walk up and up and up. In the end, we decided to walk to the oak tree on the trail which was 2.25 miles, and from there the kids were a bit annoyed as it really was not that exciting for them to see the oak tree.

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The good thing was that once the hike was done and we saw the tree we went back downhill – it is hard on your legs and knees. I would totally recommend this hike for a family who wants a bit more of a workout on a hike as it is all uphill to the top the views are perfect on a bright day, and it is so good to see the valley from up high!!

Oh, and the bonus was that I watched two really wonderful films – Hello my name is Doris and Girl Asleep. Both quirky and a lot of fun. A favourite character was Doris as she was an older lady with such a crazy fashion sense who is cracking onto her co-worker. This leads to some funny scenes and the best being when she joined him for a gig out to see an electro-pop band, that outfit is the best!

Girl Asleep is an Australian film set in the 1970s so I loved the film from the beginning seeing the clothes and the 1970s cars in Australia. My favourite sequence of the film is when Greta had her 15th birthday party and everyone who came danced their way into the room and then it was all on – a scene of dancers at the party, I gave this film 5 stars just for this scene of 1970s dancing!

Relaxation for the end of the year at Morro Bay and a very Happy 2014!

Happy New Year and it has been a while since posts! I think the idea of holiday was not doing anything except finishing up knitting UFO’s (unfinished objects). We went on a great holiday vacation to the Central Coast of California for some relaxation and chilling out from the regular schedule. 
Heading out on our hike up the beach to the pier

The hike to the Cayucos Pier was long and apparently only 2 miles long, it ended up being twice as long and some! Lucky for us there was food at Cayucos and my hubby had his wallet so we could get some tasty fish tacos at Duckies and some ice cream from the Cayucos Candy Counter.

Christmas Day at Moonstone Beach, Cambria

We had a relaxing Christmas Day and up early with the kiddos to open their gifts from Santa and later in the afternoon we went driving up to Cambria to check out the beaches up there. We found a reserve that we could check out some tide pools with hermit crabs and plenty of kelp. As the sun was going down we headed over to Moonstone Beach to see if we could find some moon stones, instead of moon stones we found some lovely rocks for the garden.

Sassy the cute cat living on the pier

We had checked out what the embarcadero had to offer and went to the visitors center to see what fun stuff Morro Bay had to offer. We wanted to see the sea life so we opted for a cruise as Missy Moo cannot be trusted on a canoe!! The guys who took us on our cruise were the Lost Isle Bay Cruisers with a Tiki theme boat – that I loved! We saw sea otters and their babies and seals and plenty of birds – our captain took us to a a secret beach across the estuary to hang in the sand dunes for some solitude.

Ready for our cruise in the estuary

We knew we were back in Morro Bay when we saw Morro Rock on the horizon – it is huge but it used to be a third bigger until the military blew it up to use the rocks to connect the land to the rock as a tourist attraction many moons ago. Still it is a illegal to climb it and you will be jailed and fined if you do – which is fair enough as it is a burial site for the indigenous people and a nesting ground for a peregrine falcons.

Morro Bay’s icon Morro rock – a volcanic plug

The seals that we encountered on our boat cruise were sequestered to a dock that was built specially for them to hang out on. We found out from our cruise captain that sea lions have ears and that is how you can tell the difference between seals and sea lions.

Sea Lions hanging out in the winter sunshine

We had a couple of friends visit after Christmas so we decided to take a trip down to Pismo Beach to see the Monarch Butterflies over wintering in the eucalyptus trees. What a special thing to see as we saw plenty of butterflies fluttering about in the warm sunshine as we were checking out the butterflies in close up through the huge scopes the visitor center had set up.

Clusters of monarch butterflies at Pismo Beach

I had seen many a monarch flying around but I had only seen the caterpillars in pictures and never in real life and here is one of the superbly designed caterpillars grazing on a leaf of the milkweed.

A Monarch caterpillar – so tiny in real life!

Some wonderful photo opportunities were to be had on Pismo Beach with it’s collection of wind blown eucalyptus trees. Being familiar with eucalyptus trees I did not know that they could grow on the beach and be shaped into tree sculptures that are just perfect for climbing or just hanging out in!

Eucalyptus in the sunshine

There were plenty of sea otter photo opportunities – if only I had a telephoto lens with me!! This is one of the better pictures of the sea otters, I love them as they are so cute and a wonder to watch. They eat 25% of their body weight daily and are constantly grooming their fur to distribute natural oils to repel water. The cuteness of them somersaulting while grooming was such a pleasure to watch 🙂

My favorite animal – the sea otter – doing it’s thing 

Another wonderful bird to watch is the Great Blue Heron – these guys have a stunning coat of feathers and their shape is so distinct.

A great blue heron checking out it’s prey
When our friends visited the older kids and the guys were keen for a kayak the girls did another cruise on the bay to visit the rock and the otters. Here we are on the sand dunes playing around. 

On the sand dunes by the rock

At our vacation rental we had the pleasure of using this vintage gas stove. I loved cooking with gas!!

The gorgeous vintage stove at our vacation rental

The day we left it was sad to leave the beach so we filled our lungs with lots of fresh beach air before we left the central coast to head back to the bay…

Our farewell to Morro Bay

25 days of posts #10 a fine day for gardening

Being Monday & the start of another week of the usual – I thought oh yeah another week blah blah… Today was somewhat special because of the sunshine & warmth so warm in fact that I just wanted to stay in the sunshine! And what better excuse than to do some gardening 🙂 I awoke this morning thinking my plants will die without love – actually there’s been a lot of rain & sun so my plants have been very happy though covered in leaf debris – the garden looks lovely now all swept up & snipped! Here is one of the Meyer lemons from my tree – love!!!

Slowly becoming yellow – I can’t wait to make Meyer Lemon Sables

San Mateo gum trees

Gum trees by the bay

Gum trees and Monterey Pines living by the bay

Last Sunday was a random trip down to Coyote Point in San Mateo for the day. Usually we go there and it is so windy, this time we went and the weather was just perfect! I cannot believe this winter weather with a morning temperature of 5 degrees only to increase to to 17 degrees during the day and in the sunshine that is just beautiful. We hung out at Magic Mountain playground with it’s super size slide – the kids loved it and afterwards we went for a walk along the waterfront watching the planes come in to SFO airport. Perfect for a Sunday morning and wanderings in the sunshine. 

Homage to autumn

One of the many trees featured in my video

There is an awesome show of amazing colours around at the moment and as today is a beautiful autumn day complete with gusts of wind I had to go out and take some pictures to capture the trees before they are naked. I was just playing with my continuous shooting mode to see what would come to light – see the shots here.