Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Our Favorite Bay Area Hikes

In the last 5 weeks we've been on two fantastic hikes, one in the East Bay and one in the North Bay. This lead us to start thinking about our favorite hikes since moving to the Bay Area. By limiting the list to the Bay Area, we're leaving out fantastic hikes that we've done further abroad (Yosemite, Mendocino, Napa, Santa Cruz, etc), but perhaps we'll save those for another post, another day.

Our Five Favorite Bay Area Hikes…

1. Abbot's Lagoon
January 14, 2012 with Sascha


Our most recent hike and our favorite. From marshland to lagoon to seaside, this was a beautiful hike even in winter. Lots of birds to see, including this brown pelican:

After reaching the dunes, we walked for about 1/2 mile along the
oceanfront with Pearl practicing cartwheels along the way.

On the day we went, there were hardly any people on the trail so we practically had the beach to ourselves.

We even heard elephant seals at the South end of the shore getting ready for their mating season. Towards the end of the hike, with skittish quail dodging about in the underbrush, a herd of deer moved down from the hills to graze at the trailside. Beautiful.

2. Tennessee Valley
May 17, 2009 with Pia and Dustin; July 3, 2009 with Jackie


Another hike through the marsh and past a lagoon that ends up at the ocean.

The weather in May was perfect (in July it was cold and windy). We saw quails and wild turkeys as we walked the trail, and were dive-bombed by an angry hummingbird. The cove at the end of this hike made for a lovely picnic spot.

3. Coyote Hills Regional Park (Fremont)
December 17, 2011 with Krista, Sascha, Tim, Travis


Coyote Hills Regional Park is located on the East side of the San Francisco Bay. We didn't see any coyote here, but we saw plenty of muskrats by the edge of the marsh. And there are lots of birds here, from ducks to hawks to egrets, we saw perhaps two dozen different bird species. There are some fantastic photos of the kinds of birds you can expect to see at the park on the Bay Area Hike website:

We definitely plan to return with binoculars and a high-def camera.

4. Coit Tower and the Filbert Steps
March 28, 2009, just the two of us; August 20, 2011 with Krista, Mags, Mark, Sascha, Stu.


We hiked Coit tower in 2009 shortly after seeing the documentary The Parrots of Telegraph Hill, about the colony of parrots that inhabit the trees on the Filbert Street side of the hill that leads up to the Tower.

The tower itself is worth seeing as a city landmark, though it's been very crowded both times we visited. Our favorite part about this hike is the 436-steps up Filbert to get up to Coit Tower. We have yet to see any parrots on our walks here (though we did get to see some from our deck in Noe Valley), but you can't miss their incessant squawking in the trees overhead. The gardens along the steps are not to be missed, and neither is the wonderful view of the city skyline from atop the hill.

5. Secret Sausalito Stairways
August 14, 2010 with Stephen


It was the Car-Free Outdoors website that introduced us to the Secret Sausalito Stairways, for which we are very grateful. The next time you're in Sausalito, try touring the seaside village by way of Jen's instructions in the link above. Climbing the stairs is quite an adventure but the views make it all worthwhile. Turns out, this trip was training for Pearl and Stephen's trip to Machu Picchu later this year.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Playing With Our Food

As we continue with food experimentation, we've added a new tool to our kitchen arsenal: a vita-mix! Check out this fabulous home-made nutella (chocolate/hazelnut spread) which tastes much better than the store-bought kind.

Chocolate/Hazelnut Spread

Our kombucha flavor list keeps growing, and we've recently been experimenting with a variety of different spices. Some of our more successful flavors include: cardamom apple, apple cinnamon, star anise and fennel, and espresso beans and vanilla pods. We are trying to prepare flavors that are in alignment with the current season, and we can't wait for the spring and summer as the berries and fruits of the new season will bring exciting flavors to our palate!

Red Date Kombucha, Rosemary Salt, Cardamom Kombucha, Sauerkraut, Fennel Anise Kombucha

We've also been in a pickling mood as of late, preserving daikon in sweet and spicy vinegar, and carrots in a spicy brine.

Lastly, our cabbage experiments are going very well: we made a successful cabbage, dill, garlic, and ginger sauerkraut and are currently fermenting our very own kim chee. The only problem with these is that the smell really takes over the house so we have to keep the door to the rear mudroom shut at all times.

Playing with our food is as much fun now as it was when we were kids!

Monday, January 02, 2012

The end of 2011; the beginning of 2012

The end of each year often brings about a flurry of activity as we endeavor to visit family and friends, participate in holiday activities, check off the remaining items on our annual To Do lists, and generally tie up loose ends. In the two months since our last entry we visited family on the East Coast 3 times, saw a beautiful ballet choreographed by Alonzo King (Alonza King Lines Ballet), made our annual trip down to the Shoreline Amphitheatre for the Bridge School Benefit Concert (this year's line-up included Neil Young, Arcade Fire, Eddie Vedder, Beck, Mumford & Sons and Norah Jones), did a number of hikes along the East Bay Trails (including the Claremont Canyon Hike and the Coyote Hills Trails, both of which we plan to do again soon), attended the opera (San Francisco Opera's performance of Carmen), and most recently hosted a New Year's gathering that concluded with a morning hike in Marin to welcome the year in nature.

As we did last year, we wanted to share a few of our goals for 2012 with you and invite you all along to participate...

Visit two new states
Attend two new festivals
Visit the Petaluma Seed Bank
Visit Orr & Wilbur Hot Springs
Hike Macchu Picchu
Camp in the Pacific Northwest
Take a preserves class
Experiment with making flavored salts
Experiment more with fermentation
Make five recipes from “Make the Bread”
Ride a tandem bike
Run Bay-to-Breakers or a 5K Fun Run
Complete 20 miles of EBParks hiking
Learn two songs on guitar

Happy new year to all of you. As the year changes, so does the season. It's been a little milder and a little wetter of late which means it's time to head out to tend the garden...