Friday, August 28, 2009

Kings Canyon according to Ricky, a guest blogger

 I know my Mom and my brother have already written about this trip, but I don't care because this is my version. We went to Kings earlier this month. There were no camp sites left for us, so we reserved one in Sequoia. We hiked around in our campground which had a couple of mapped out hikes leading off from the main road. We choose a hike that lead to a giant grove of Sequoias and the next day we went to another giant sequoia grove. This one was more famous, its called Grants Grove. Then we drove into the canyon of Kings Canyon, it was really cool!

Ricky V.

Drivin' on up to the East Side

Well I woke to a misty gray morning . I sat in the muted light & sipped my freshly brewed coffee, enjoying the silence. I had already surrendered to the inevitable. I was okay, it's a happy day in Charityland when I've seen clouds, and that was the view out my window. The neatly gathered pile sitting on the kitchen counter was not going to be used, well not today anyway, or that's what I thought.

However as Jeff came down the stairs he said, "why not? What's a little rain gonna do?" So it was go-time, off we went on our great adventurous return to the Eastern Sierras. We went through Yosemite, Over Tioga Pass. We stopped to check out the beautiful Tenaya Lake for a bit of inspiration. At Olmsted Point we took the short hike to check out the amazing view of the backside of Yosemite's Valley and the canyon below, promising a certain death (in the rain), it's just so beautiful, we risked it none-the-less.

We then exited onto 395, we exhaled with a nice view of Mono Lake as we made our way a little further down to the June Lake Loop in June CA. We like to enter through the north side of this incredible area. You are entertained by viewing high desert, an aspen forest and then a pine forest, returning to high desert as you leave this secret jewel. Yet not before passing four pristine lakes and a quaint little village. We had our lunch at the beach of June Lake in our 4runner, because it was raining pretty good.

As we sat there looking into the clear/ turquoise water and beautiful pebbles below,  Ricky began his campaign in getting us to let him swim out to a boulder in this alpine ICE COLD glacier gem. Remembering, of course the rain & cold, COLD wind. As I circled my head around the Switzerland looking snow capped, heavily misted high mountain peaks. As I looked at the steam rising from the lake, I found myself saying...fine...go ahead. The rest of us readied towels, underneath our clothing to keep the rain off, while Ricky swam out to a boulder he set his eyes on. He Climbed out, stood up & shouted his victory! He then  swam back to shore, where we wrapped him and stuffed him the car.

After a quick stop at the visitor center for some literature  for a newspaper article we drove on to Mammoth. On this route we spotted snow along the highway. We had never been to this area before, but knew there was quit a bit to it, so we just picked one destination.We hiked the amazing Devils Postpile Monument trail. (both in front and overlook). On the way back we stopped at the South Fork of the San Joaquin River. Very clear. Very cold. Very beautiful. I was humbled to realize how far up we were & that this very river cuts all the way across Fresno, out by 99. Wow. oh, and yes, it stopped raining so we could take our hike. Absolutely incredible.

We had to ride with the bus service from the town of Mammoth all the way down the Red Meadow Canyon because only certain privileged  few were allowed to use the road. Summer road trips usually bring roads we crawl on carefully passing over hairpin turns on steep mountain roads, but this was two way traffic on a one way road, on the side of a buses!!!. I was clinging to an arm hold the whole time. The good news is we lived! Hee-hee. Actually, the good news is we had two drivers that really wanted to share their knowledge of the know me, I took plenty of notes! Let us not forget the most excellent news of all...there was August! Thank you Lord Jesus for the respite.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Goodbye Summer

Oh how I adore quiet mornings and lovely lazy days. How I wish it would stay this way a bit longer.
I hate the heat, as everyone knows, but even I can admit that the clear blue mountain sky, golden (burnt) hillsides and a good portion of Valley Oaks make for a striking display-like a child's picture book.
Yes, summer has its charm. I will miss summer, but not the heat. I will miss the free time to read for hours on end. I will miss feeling the sweet, gentle mountain breeze as I sit out late at night star gazing. I will miss actually watching movies all the way through on a regular basis. I will miss listening to waves hit the beach and soaking in sunshine after a bracing swim in an alpine lake or river. I will even miss facebook as it has become a fun time waster.
Alas, Jeff & I finished making our schooling decisions under a canopy of trees at a picnic table along the shores of Bass lake. We have attended two of the four fall homeschool meetings. Billy began his Physics class last week and is preparing to take the PSAT. Ricky will start choir, guitar and piano soon. Yes, the school year is creeping up on us. Though we have no choice but to submit, I anxiously await my dear Autumn, which brings a different kind of exhale in a most busy schedule.

Exploring the Kings Canyon (said to be the deepest in the US)

Unfortunately when we went to reserve a campsite, there were NONE available in Kings Canyon, so we opted to stay next door in Sequoia. We landed in Dorst Creek, which was a nice spot. We played around in Dorst Creek for awhile and then took to the majestic Muir Grove Trail . Billy and I had a wonderful long, sweet, funny talk. Something I will always treasure. On our way back we soaked our weary feet in Cabin Creek. These are the only two creeks we visited here. However we hear that there are many more that run through the area. As we were leaving Sequoia we stopped at the Lost Grove and were able to witness a bear at play.
Of course we did get to visit the Kings Canyon as was planned. After stopping at the Kings Canyon visitor center museum, we walked through Grants Grove. Then it was down the STEEP canyon all the way to the Cedar Grove area. Here we braved the South Fork of the Kings River. Of course Ricky was the bravest of us all, he swam all the way across and climbed out to sun on the opposite bank. It was a little scary watching the river under tow carry him off to the side a ways, but he is a very strong swimmer and did just fine!
Jeff felt the need to drive all the way to the end of the road. The area called "Roads End" has such a name because of the impassable gargantuan mountains in this u-shaped spot.
We also hiked the breath taking Zumwalt Meadow Loop. The boys were walking a bit faster than J & I. When we looked up we saw Ricky hanging from the suspension wires on the pedestrian bridge that lays across the river. We, of course made him get down, but secretly wish we got a picture first.
We stopped at the Roaring River, an off shoot of the Kings to take in the Roaring River Falls. Here Ricky swam in the pools below the falls. Jeff waded in a bit.
After a quick stop at Knapp's Cabin we were on our way back up the canyon and onto home.

My boys have a blog

So if you want to read what they have to say about our adventures and other such happenings in the lives of two teenage guys head on over to

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Adventures in Moro and Pismo

Moro Strand State Beach Campground is a great place if what you want to do is use it as a jumping off point, as its right off highway 1. It is most especially convenient because this is one of the stops for the local trolley system. However if you are looking for a great outdoorsy experience, you may want to look elsewhere. The parking lot feel is inescapable. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the few steps it took to get to the beach, not to mention seeing the ocean from our campsite. Sinking into the sand, vs hard earth was wonderful, as it contoured to the shape of your body. The sound of the tide as we sat by our fire, fell asleep and especially in the early morning as we woke made it all worth it, but I don't think we'll stay here again.
After setting up camp, we made our way over a bit to Moro Bays Natural History Museum & Observation "Hill". We had a good time and got a few great shots of the saltwater marsh.
We visited Spooner's Cove in Montana de Oro State Park. This place has the coolest rock formations and a huge diversity of colored pebbles on the beach. It has exceptionally nice tidepools as well. We have passed by this park many times. So before we left home I asked some fellow stupendous goal setting creatures, you know people starving for some time among nature, what ONE destination we shouldn't miss, this is where they sent us. After realizing this park is of such colossal proportions we've decided we simply must camp here for some more in depth exploration.
After swinging back by Moro Bay to take in Moro Rock Preserve (here we saw a family of otters playing in Moro's Estero Bay) and bird watching at the Moro Estuary Channels. We ended the evening with the usual rituals and then took in the sunset on the beach, just lovely.
Sunday, as I already stated we arose to the sound of the waves hitting the beach. We were up early, and so we had an early start. We enjoyed an air of quiet activity in the Blue Heron Rookery, El Moro Elfin Forest and the Los Oso Oaks Preserve (where I collected some poison oak on the back of my knees).
Before noon we found a parking spot and spent the rest of the day at Pismo Beach where we soaked in the sun. Jeff and I took a long walk collecting shells, sand dollars and sea stones. Billy & Jeff went scim boarding. Ricky and Jeff went boogie boarding.
Our last stop was to our favorite funky little fish & chip spot in shell beach. We got our dinner to go and had a picnic over looking the ocean and tide pools below craggy cliff sides. We all came home with sun burns.

Out there havin' fun in the warm California sun!!

This was another spontaneous trip, seems to be the trend these days. We had a lovely deep sleep the night before and had a relaxing easy morning.
A late breakfast conversation found us suddenly suggesting, hey lets go to Dinkey Creek! So it was that after a quick gathering of food, drinks, towels, river shoes, sun block and books we hit the road.
None of the guys had ever been in the summer before. We took a short unremarkable trip in the winter one year. My sketchy memory was of a camping trip that I went on when I was maybe 9ish. It was fun for me to reminisce the happenings and landmarks of that trip and try to retrace some of the treasured memories.
Even though it was kin to the blind leading the blind we found our way to a gorgeous pool with high granite domes on each side, the guys had fun cliff jumping . The other visitors informed us that this place is called "the bathtub".
Again, due to help of the regulars, we were lead to a spot called "The Slicks" which is a series of very smooth rocks making for a natural water park. Jeff and I sat in the crystal clear shallow water and leisurely took it all in for quite a while.
After that we decided to join Billy & Ricky in their exploration. We found ourselves at another swim hole, this one had the charm of a waterfall flowing into it ( never did discover its name). Jeff & I borrowed Ricky's inner tube for a relaxing float. Ricky insisted on hiking with it around his neck and then didn't want to use it when we arrived here.
The last stop before we went home was, as we soon found out, "Honeymoon Pool". Here B&R floated, floated and floated some more. Jeff & I sat on a giant Granite "hillside" completely sheltered in a tent of pine trees, absolutely breathtaking!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

In light of national friendship day, this post and the next few will honor my girl friends


1. Regina hosted a girls night out party....and got her ears pierced. She is the first Mom I've known to do that.

2. Regina has an RV in her drive way filled with games, videos and snacks.

3. Regina introduced me to Lewis Creek.

4. Regina & her girls are our board game buddies.

5. Regina was the first person I informed when I moved up to Coarsegold.

6. Regina is the toughest softy I've ever met.

7. Regina is true to her beliefs, what richness in her spirit.

8. Regina delights in her faithfulness to do her best mothering, consistent in her homeschooling efforts, what zeal she brings to the table!

9. Throughout the years our like mindedness has continued to bring us together in sometimes unexpected ways.

10. Regina remembered our love of fruit popsicles and brought "the right ones" to us, just cuz.

11. Regina took my Ricky aside and helped him with his baseball woes. She painted a smile on a difficult day.

12. Regina, myself & our families enjoy hiking together....we talk, talk, talk the whole time!!


1. Dorie & I along with our husbands solve the worlds problems via conversation. The four of us sit and talk for hours and seem to never run out of solutions.

2. Dorie challenges me to eat better, she is a wonderful nutritionist.

3. Dorie & her family shared a cabin with us at Huntington lake. We enjoyed time down at the lake as well as a brisk hike & lovely picnic sitting on boulders amongst a trickling creek.

4. Dorie, and her family introduced us to rock climbing.

5. Dorie is secretly silly, as is Jet. I like her spunky side. Her smile is infectious.

6. Dorie is an awesome hostess. We always enjoy time at her house.

7. Dorie 1st words when she walked into this new house were "Oh Charity, this is you". She just understands what I had to speak to others.

8. Dorie is lovely. She has been kind and honest-a refreshing spirit.

9. Dorie (& Jet) have an amazing slide show of their trip to the Mount Everest area. Dorie cracked me up, as she relayed her story. I'll never forget, she said she was disappointed at finally viewing Everest after all the hype. She had the feeling of "That's it?"

10. Dorie, our children & I had an Egyptian feast in celebration of the school years study in ancient civilizations.

11. Dorie is style. Dorie is grace. I want to be Dorie when I grow up.

12. Dorie is easy to talk to. Dorie is easy going. Streamlined and not fussy. We have had a picnic in Peoples church parking lot and at a local park & the only requirement was shade. I appreciate her accommodating nature. Dorie is a jewel.

Jenny Dawn

1. When I go to Jenny's house, I take my shoes off. I know I will be there for a while. She makes me that comfortable. I can be me.

2. Jenny & I drove to Aptos (& went by Mount Madonna hee-hee) to get Eddy-Bo. This is the dog she pushed for Ricky to get. Jenny's dog Mandy is our Leroy's Mama.

3. Jenny or I used to call each other-we'd talk virtually everyday. We'd share our dreams to come & the life we were currently living.

4. Jenny & I shouted obscene things into the night outside of our apartments. Our units were side by side. CJ & Billy had a system of morse code that they played each night as their beds touched the same wall. In this same complex we had a neighborhood party complete with ferrets (due to a Fresno Heat Black out)

5. Jenny..& her family served me a "special plate". If you receive your meal on this plate everyone present has to pay you a complement..I cried.

6. Jenny is Genuine. She is honest. She doesn't pretend to be something she's not. Jenny is tough, but she is fragile.

7. Jenny sneaks her special desserts past the kids & husbands to share with me every holiday.

8. Jenny & I decorated her house until we were delirious. We hung a picture upside down & eventually we couldn't even see the nails on the wall to hang other pictures. We fell to the floor laughing trying not to pee our pants.

9. Jenny made my boys custom quilts, throw pillows & pillow cases with her own two hands.

10. Jenny reminds me of the simple joys in life. To be still. To read my Bible. To rest.

11. Jenny & I have looked in tidepools, fed squirrels, watched elephant seals, gone to rivers and beaches. We have walked to neighborhood ponds. We share a love for Gods marvelous creation.

12. Jenny's family started calling me Charity Annie & now many many people do that too. Jenny's family also taught us how to properly sing the birthday song as well as to release our fear of flatulence.

My Jacki

(First off my step mom's name is Jackie, that's my Dads Jackie. That is why I call this lady My Jacki.)
1. Jacki & I sang "Froggie went a courtin'" and many other nursery rhymes. We got our groove on during a road trip in a car full of teenyboppers.(and at a gas station music blasting, windows rolled down)

2. Jacki & I love Lays BBQ chips, Pepsi & Snickers bars. They make us happy.

3. Jacki & I like long talks over Hot Tea or Coffee

4. I got to be one of the first people to meet Jacki's first Grand baby, little Miss Miley Elizabeth.

5. Jacki & I..& our kids dressed up in the goofiest outfits we could find in the goodwill and took pictures. We had our own little "fashion" show right then and there.

6. I got to celebrate Jacki's 1 year anniversary of her store with her. I helped her in the Dog gone Cute Costume Contest. "Puppy Love" who lives across the street from my in laws won 1st place.

7. Jacki has trusted me with her thoughts. She has cried. She has laughed. She has let me in her heart.

8. Jacki taught my boys about Top Roman Noodles, Kool Aid, Coffee Creamer in Milk and many other FUN things to consume.

9. Jacki taught my boys to make Tortillas as we celebrated Cinco de Mayo together. Jacki & I held an art co-op together.

10. Jacki & I shot boogers at each other, got in trouble for climbing on art structures, traveled hours and hours to get a pumpkin...cuz the ones at the market weren't good enough & scraped the top of her truck in a parking garage in Sacramento. We like field trips.

11. Jacki makes a side dish of her Broccoli Salad without bacon for me because she knows I don't like to eat pork.

12. Jacki & I watched as our kids made Lemonade for a stand by the road.