Sunday, July 8, 2012

California, There We Went!

A five hundred year old tree deserves a good hug! ;)

Alright, the time has finally come to reflect upon (and show pictures of) our relaxing family vacation in California during this past June. Although our trip was common knowledge among my local friends, many internet contacts may have been unaware that I was blogging and networking and even posting pictures over the past month from a location 3000 miles from our home.

Whoa! This is not the Blue Ridge mountains!

So why the "secret"? Well, even though we have a good neighborhood watch where we live (not to mention people looking in regularly on the house), we didn't think it would be a good idea to broadcast over the internet that our house was empty for 28 days. I doubt that I have many crooks among my readership here (I don't even have many...readers, hahaha!). Nevertheless, the great Google circulates all kinds of material on the internet, so we decided to play it safe. After all, we would have felt really bad if some poor thief went through all the trouble to break in to our house, only to discover that we have absolutely nothing worth stealing! (Unless, of course, the thief is a bibliophile with a liberal arts education and a bunch of kids....)

Books and used crayons? We got those! Big screen TV and nice furniture? Heh, heh, nope.
Our favorite place to shop is  La Maison de Bonne Volont√©.

We spent the days from June 3 to July 1 in California, in the Bay Area and in the Sierra mountains near Yosemite national park, having a lovely visit with various members of Eileen's family. We used to go frequently to California back in the days when the kids could be toted as carry-on bags, but it had been six years since our last visit. We are tremendously grateful that this trip was made possible at very little expense to us.

This part of the country is like a second home for me. Back in the old days, I used to explore a lot of it on my own, very early in the morning while Eileen and the (then) babies were still sleeping. We also made some unforgettable trips all together.

On this trip, however, we had the great fun of bringing intelligent, observant, and even camera-wielding kids with us. I'm no longer up to doing the kind of hikes I used to love to take in those mountains, but there are many beautiful natural wonders that can be reached along the family trails. We stuck to the paths that could be navigated by little Josefina legs (or a stroller--yes, she still fits into one of those "umbrella" strollers).

We saw many beautiful things. John Paul or Agnese took some of these pictures:

Bridal Veil Falls, at Yosemite (photo by Agnese)

At the famous "Mirror Lake"--Amazing! (by Agnese)

Walls of Rock: The Great Monoliths (photo by John Paul)

Towering Pines and Redwoods (by John Paul)

The famous "Tunnel View Overlook" with Bridal Veil, Half Dome, and El Capitan
rising up from the pines of Yosemite Valley (photo by Agnese)

The Merced River, in the Sierras (by Me)

The kids at the river, looking for GOLD!

Everybody ready for a road trip?

Mission San Juan Bautista (south of San Jose)

We also did plenty of relaxing. We got to go swimming almost every day, and enjoyed cooling off on the hot (but dry) afternoons.

I already posted about the pool. Here's the little fishie again

I love the dry air out there, and the cool mornings when I could walk a short distance to some beautiful, out-of-the-way places.

Early morning sun in the woods
I could live there. I would love it. But our work and our personal roots are so deeply planted in the soggy jungles of miserably humid Virginia. I would miss Virginia very much.

Now we have returned to the storms and the choking humidity "back East." But that's okay. Even though, for the time being, I am largely an air-conditioned prisoner in the house, it's good to be back.