Sunday, October 23, 2011

Hiking and Camping in Yosemite

Last weekend we went on a hiking and camping trip to Yosemite with our friends Dustin, Sascha and Krista.

We did a ~4mi RT hike (1000+ ft of elevation) to the top of Vernal Falls.

Half Dome in the distance.

The hike on day 2 was less strenuous, but no less impressive.

The giant sequoias of Merced Grove.

Relaxing amidst the trees.

Thanks again to Dustin for the photos.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Hardly Strictly, 2011

Yesterday was the third and final day of the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival (, a free festival in Golden Gate Park. Though we were busy on Friday and Saturday, we had just enough free time on Sunday to head out to the park in time to catch Emmylou Harris perform a set which mixed some songs off her new album with covers (including Gillian Welch's Orphan Girl and Gram Parsons' Luxury Liner) she's been performing for years. It was a great way to end the weekend.

(Thank you to Dustin for the fantastic photos!)

Food and Plants, Indoors and Out

A few weeks ago, we took a raw fermentation class from Raw Bay Area chef Heather Haxo Phillips and got lots of great ideas on fermentation. We learned how to make raw coconut yogurt using vegan kefir grains, got tips on how to improve our sauerkraut and recipe ideas for kombucha second fermentations, and even learned how to make raw vegan cheese! Since the class, we've tried to make coconut yogurt twice. While we haven't gotten it right yet, we'll keep trying when we can afford the coconuts! Our first attempt at sauerkraut was pretty disastrous (too salty!!) but we remain undaunted and are ready to try again. We're also very excited to make the nut cheese the next time we make vegan sushi rolls.

After the class, we took Sascha's brother to dim sum in Chinatown. On the recommendation of a friend, we tried Great Eastern restaurant for the first time and were happy to discover that their to-miao (bean sprout leaves) was fabulous.

We walked off our very heavy lunch by going to the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate park, a magical place filled with beautiful pools of water, hanging water lilies, carnivorous plants, and tropical orchids. The currently exhibit at the CoF is the Wicked Plants exhibition, a collection of "deadly" and harmful plants that features over 30 species of plants with scandalous histories, some of which can be found growing in many of your homes and gardens.

And speaking of gardens, our own garden is doing very well. We've been working outside all summer and wanted to share some of our success with you! We've had a month of tomatoes (red, yellow, and orange) and it looks as if we'll have many more in the weeks to come. The other crops -- broccoli, mustard greens, kale, chard, collards, lettuce, fava beans -- should all be ready soon. We may even get some late-season melons soon (currently we have 10-12 small melons on the vine, each about the size of a half-dollar). Hope you all can come and see our home and garden in person one day.

(Thank you to Patrick for the photos of the exhibit and of our lunch together.)

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Floating, Flying and Broomstick Riding

After lovely visits to both families, we took a trip down south to Florida and dropped in on Stephen and Ally in their new Orlando home.

We spent much of our trip to Connecticut discussing vegetable gardens with our nephew Chayce...

...and being entertained by his brother, Kyler.

Our first adventure in Florida took us out to the Crystal River...

...where we boarded a boat...

...with Stephen...

...and Ally...

...then donned our snorkel gear... swim with MANATEES!!!

We saw 8 manatees in total...

...and swam with 5 of them.

Big ones...

...and little ones, too.

...and even watched the little ones suckle on their mommas.

That night we played minigolf at the coolest course we've seen.

Watch out for that water hazard: those gators are real, even if they are only 2 feet long.

The following day we drove out to iFly Orlando to do some indoor skydiving in a windtunnel of 100+ mph winds.

This way to Hogwarts!!!

Our last adventure on the trip was to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios.

There was so much to see while standing in line for the Forbidden Journey ride, including talking portraits, squealing plants, and the Sorting Hat. And lots more, but we don't want to ruin any surprises.

You may be able to guess from the hoards of sweating tourists that the snow atop the shops is fake.

The butterbeer and pumpkin fizz were delicious, the lines were short (we made sure to wait until after the muggle kids were back in school), the Forbidden Journey ride really was amazingly well done. A real treat for Harry Potter fans!

Friday, August 26, 2011

A happy hippie camping road-trip

We recently returned from our road trip up to The Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon, and we wanted to share some highlights with you...

Stop 1: The Goddess Temple in Chico, CA

On our way up to Ashland, we stayed at the Goddess Temple in Chico where we slept in a teepee, made of wooden poles and canvas. We were surrounded by the sounds of bull-frogs (they really do sound like cows), chirping crickets and howling coyotes that seemed very close by.

Surrounding the teepee were lotus flowers, a moving creek, a naturalized pool and 4 acres of hiking grounds.

Stop 2: Stewart Mineral Springs in Weed, CA

We experienced our first "sweat" at the sweat lodge in Stewart Mineral Springs. A sweat lodge is a ceremonial sauna, in a domed hut covered with many, many blankets. Stones are heated in an exterior fire and then placed in a central pit in the ground of the domed hut. Elders from the Karuk tribe of California led the ceremony, which is the Native American way of cleansing the body, mind and spirit, eliminating toxins from the physical body to allow space for listening and reflecting upon what our inner spirit may be saying to us. The ceremony begins by lighting a bonfire that heats the stones used in the lodge. We each took a pinch of tobacco, and with our prayers, contributed it to the fire. Then after taking our place in the lodge, we joined the others in "singing in" the rocks. With the glowing rocks and the darkened space, it was a deeply profound and intense experience.

Stop 3: The Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, OR

We had a great time in Oregon and the Shakespeare Festival and fell in love with Ashland. We saw two fantastic plays (Henry IV, Part Two and Jonathan Moscone's Ghost Light) this year, and are looking forward to returning next year for Henry V and Romeo and Juliet.

In the middle of Ashland is Lithia Park, the largest and most central park of the city, consisting of 93 acres of forested canyon land. The park has two large greens, a bandshell, two duck ponds, playgrounds, and miles of hiking trails. We especially loved the daisies and the monkey bars where Leah showed off some aerial moves and Pearl tried to swing from one end to the next, quite unsuccessfully.

Stop 4: Hyatt Reservoir in Ashland, CA

We met a local Ashlander at the Bloomsbury Cafe who told us to explore Hyatt Reservoir (between mile 17 & 18 on Rt. 66), and it was a great suggestion (thanks, Carl!), for we saw very few people as we picnicked and hiked the open lake, watching the birds and wildlife that abound the area. We came upon a tree that looked like it belonged in a Tim Burton set and a deer who seemed as interested in us as we were of him.

Stop 5: McCloud Falls in McCloud, CA

The falls of the McCloud River is in the Shasta National Forest and consist of three levels: lower, middle and upper, each with its own distinct flavor. We spent most of our time sunning and swimming in the Middle Falls, which weren't as crowded as the Lower Falls, but are much more accessible than the pool fed by the Upper Falls.

McCloud Falls is certainly one of the most spectacular river falls in Northern California and is a must-see for anyone venturing north of the Bay area.