Friday, July 08, 2011
Wed night I surprised my husband with Date Night, something we haven't done in quite awhile, sad to say - I didn't tell him what we were going to do, just told him to dress casually and what time to be ready. He's a totally serious guy so surprises and/or doing 'fun stuff' like this is completely up to me - he was curious about what I had in mind but I kept it a 'secret' - fortunately, he was a good sport and followed along. We agreed to 'split the costs' so I said he could pay for dinner and I'd pay for the entertainment, heehee!
We went to our favorite restaurant Rutabegorz in Tustin and got their healthy chicken quesadilla and salad to go, then we walked up to Peppertree Park a couple of blocks away bringing the folding chairs I had hidden in the back of the car. That's when he found out we were going to a Concert In The Park! Of course, there was no cost for the concert, which I knew in advance, so DH got a good laugh out of our 'split the cost' bargain. It's silly anyway since we have been married for 20 yrs and the money is all 'ours' so it's just an ongoing joke we have about whose turn it is to pay for this or that.
It was a typical summer Concert in the Park event - warm evening, small park, mediocre band playing 'classic rock' and a smattering of other types of music, loads of people, kids running around, dogs everywhere - in other words, a great time!!
We found a spot somewhat near the playground area, which was very popular and it was fun to watch the kids playing.
There always seems to be someone making giant bubbles at these events
Some of the huge bubbles floated quite a ways before bursting and the poor innocent bystanders who happened to be underneath when that happened would get wet - sometimes it was a total surprise because they didn't realize the bubble had floated above, but everyone seemed to be in a great mood so it didn't seem to bother anyone from what I could see.
It was really nice to see so many different types of people come together to have a good time without spending a lot of money - there was a lot of diversity! Families with little kids and/or babies, teenagers on dates, older couples, groups of friends, some large groups and some were just 2 or 3 people together, many different ethnicities were represented - a real cross-section of Southern California society!
Everybody seemed to be enjoying the music together - and most of the songs were pretty good - some Chicago, some Louis Armstrong, some latin music, some bongo surf music, a couple of attempts at jazz, classical and country but most was 70s or 80s era rock. There was a small crowd of people dancing in front of the bandstand and others just danced around the area where they were seated. It was especially cute to see some of the little kids dancing!
I wanted to get a picture of what had to be the biggest dog on earth - truly, this guy was enormous, must have been close to 300 lbs [no kidding] but the only picture I could get does not do him justice because he just looks 'big' rather than incredibly huge! When he was sitting up [just before I took the picture, of course], his head was taller than the lady with him and he absolutely dwarfed the kids standing in the area.
There were also some booths doing fundraising for the local schools and some other local nonprofits - some were selling drinks like coffee or lemonade, others had cookies, BBQ, pizza, sandwiches or other goodies so that was a popular feature of the Concert in the Park.
Overall, we had a really good time and enjoyed every minute of our Date Night!!
Thursday, July 07, 2011
This morning at 7am, Her Royal Highness went to The Spaw for a makeover. As you can see from this 'before' picture, Princess was waaaay overdue for a beauty treatment and looked more like a PEASANT than ROYALTY - shameful!
But after a couple of hours at The Spaw, the Princess was looking like her royal self again.
While Princess was getting the beauty treatment, Moani and I went for a hike on the west side of Back Bay in Newport Beach - And, of course, I took a lot of pictures to share with you but first I wanted to mention some news - I've recently become Co-Leader of the Virtual Walk/Run/Cycle thru US @ exercise.lbl.gov SparkTeam - I know, that's a mouthful for sure - but it's a really fun way to keep track of your exercise so I want to include a little info and maybe 'recruit' some of my SparkFriends to become members of this SparkTeam.
The way this works is that you can create a login at exercise.lbl.gov and decide whether you want to track walking/running or cycling [or both], then when your profile is setup, you can enter your mileage each day - or as often as you go out walking, running and/or cycling! The site is so cool - as you enter mileage, it will show you a picture of where you are on the 'virtual trail' between Virginia on the East Coast and Oregon on the West Coast. When I entered my data for yesterday, it showed me that I was here on the trail:
I added today's mileage and the site showed me that I'm just outside of Charles City, VA - virtually, of course. Anyway, it adds a little extra fun to my daily walking and I can't wait to see where I am tomorrow. Some of my SparkFriends are already on this team and logging their mileage but I'd love to see ALL of my SparkFriends joining in on the fun - it's free and it's fun so why not?? Here's where I am today on my Virtual Walk Thru America:
The best part of this is that I got to see some other beautiful country on my REAL hike while making progress on my VIRTUAL walk at the same time. Here is the trail we took this morning as it leaves the parking lot.
Off to the east just a little bit is the beautiful Newport Back Bay and wetlands [along with a view of expensive homes on the bluff across the bay from our trail]
The trail was very well-graded but there were some sections with decent uphill hiking
And the entire trail had really nice views - here is some pretty white jimsem weed flowers along the side of the path
It was warmer than either Moani or I would have liked but still a lot cooler than it was by our home and we got to alternate looking at the beautiful bay and wetlands
or looking at the views along the trail.
Bay and wetlands
Moani got pretty hot and her tongue was hanging out but she refuses to drink much while on a hike, something that we've tried to encourage her to do....but as they say, you can take the dog to water [or vice versa] but if she won't drink, there isn't much you can do about it.
One of the challenges of this hike was the many distractions along the way - we must have seen 82,396,594 bunnies, squirrels, lizards, birds and other moving critters, each of which presented Moani an opportunity to dart in their direction - she would have loved to be off-leash to chase all of them but had to settle for being tethered to me the whole time.
It wasn't too bad when we were on flat ground or going uphill but coming down some of the steeper areas was a little nerve-wracking because I could just imagine her suddenly darting after a bunny or lizard and causing me to lose my footing in the process!
In some areas, the trail was steep enough to require reinforcement with railroad ties as stairs
Along the trail, there were several stations with information boards, benches and in some cases, a little shade
In a few places, the trail was pretty overgrown - I was afraid we might pick up some ticks here but it seems we were lucky this time and didn't bring any home with us!
Fortunately, the trail was pretty wide in most of the areas
At one point, we took a branch of the trail that went along a stream leading to the bay
A little further along the trail, there was a 'jungle' of trees and bushes
Complete with a 'party spot'
A little further down the trail, I spotted a bridge, which seemed a little strange since the rest of the trail at that spot was obviously not used much - made me wonder why!
Got this great shot of the water going under the bridge and a little waterfall - very peaceful spot!
It was a really nice area so I couldn't understand why it seemed that the trail wasn't used much - at least not in comparison to the wider, well-groomed trail I had been on a little earlier
It didn't take long to figure out the answer, though - major washout on the trail, probably from the rains earlier this year. I could see a way I could make it across but it was a little too dicey for me to try with Moani, who is a professional darter.
We stayed long enough to enjoy looking at the wetlands a little bit before turning back
When we got back up to the road, Moani's tongue was REALLY hanging out so I knew it was time to head back to the car - it was probably in the 80s by then, even though it was still only about 8:30am.
More bunnies - we saw a bazillion of them but not very many sat still long enough to have their picture taken - not to mention the difficulty of taking pictures when a dog is jerking your arms around, haha!
One unique thing about hiking in this area is reconciling the peace of the bay
And the wetlands
Plus streams, water birds and other animals
All of which is located directly under the flight path of planes taking off from John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California!
Maybe it's because I've been around this area for so many years [and at one time lived just a couple of blocks from this trail] - but for whatever reason, I'm usually able to just filter out stuff like airplanes, automobiles and other 'city stuff' and just focus on enjoying an hour or two of 'nature' in a wilderness park, even though it's completely surrounded by 'city'
Finally, we came to the end of our trail - good thing because by then Moani and I were both in desperate need of some air conditioning!!
Wednesday, July 06, 2011
You know how a dead bug looks? Lying on its back, legs all curled up - well, Princess does a darned good imitation of a dead bug when she sleeps, don't you think?
I feel so sorry for people who don't have pets to keep them entertained!
Monday, July 04, 2011
As part of our regular July 4 celebration, we walked over to Orange Park Acres, which is a small area about 1-1/2 miles from where we live - it's a very rural village surrounded by 'city' life. Well, ok, maybe 'suburban' life would be a better description because we are not at all 'city' as most people think of it [New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, etc]
To describe the area where I live, the City of Orange, which is in Orange County, California, is very diverse with both super-rich and super-poor residents, big houses and little shacks, blue collar workers and professionals, brand new homes and 100-yr-old homes, tract housing and custom-built neighborhoods, condos, apartments, big yards, little tiny patio-yards and everything else. While Orange Park Acres is an unincorporated area, it is 'governed' by the City of Orange and in conjunction with the incorporated area I live in, it's all called East Orange. And, just in case I haven't gotten you totally confused yet, there is another CITY in the middle of our city - that's right, Villa Park is a separate city completely surrounded by the City of Orange, like an island.
So - back to Orange Park Acres, aka OPA, it's a collection of rural homes - some of the places have 5-10+ acres, others are on 1 acre and a few 'poor souls' have only a half acre or quarter acre for their home - OPA is a 'horse community' so as long as the yard is big enough for a stable, you'll probably see a horse there. 4H is really big in OPA and a lot of dog breeders, animal lovers and 'farmers' live there, too. It's not unusual to see people's front yards 'landscaped' with produce - for instance, this yard has various types of squash, along with more 'typical' bushes and flowers.
And this section of town does not have sidewalks or curbs but there is an elaborate system of horse trails, including this one that runs along a school where it's not unusual to see children 'dropped off' with a horse-and-buggy or riding to school on horseback rather than arriving in an automobile.
As for the July 4 parade.....well, it's not the fanciest parade we've ever seen, nor is it the biggest or longest - heck, it only took 29 minutes this morning, although last year it was closer to 40 minutes before it was over. But what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for with enthusiasm. It begins with a fire truck leading the way.
We were happy to see that the parade was led by 'our' fire truck from Station 23, our next-door neighbors located on the other side of our back fence [and by the way, they are terrific neighbors - people often ask us how we can handle 'all the noise' and we laugh because they are super-quiet 99% of the time - we do hear sirens now and then but they are usually from OTHER sources such as police cars or ambulances rushing to a car accident. Of course, the fire fighters do have their annual Pancake Breakfast....but that's another story for another day!]
The fire truck was followed by the boy scouts
and, of course, they were followed by the Grand Marshal of the parade, traveling in style in a vintage Rolls Royce
Being a 'small town,' there were very few restrictions about who could enter the parade
Soooo, we saw all sorts of modes of transportation, some fancier than others but each with it's own personality. Here's a local realtor on a Segway followed by a vintage bus used for tours in Old Town Orange [which is 'famous' for antique stores, 100-yr-old homes and a decidedly vintage ambiance]
We saw old vehicles
and new ones [yep, that's someone in their pickup truck which they decorated for the occasion - I told you there really aren't any restrictions for entries!!]
Some vehicles were small
or really small
or really, really small.
Some vehicles are very practical
[hey, it's a rural, 'farm' area so whaddaya expect??]
And some vehicles are, well, maybe not so practical - but still interesting!
Of course, being a 'horse community,' there were plenty of horses
There were big horses
And little horses
A few burros
Even an entry with a goat, chickens and a baby pig!
One of the 'big traditions' of this parade is that the entrants throw candy to the bystanders as they pass by.
As you might imagine, this is a very popular tradition, eagerly awaited by kids of all ages
And it's very common to see the entire parade come to a halt while bystanders retrieve their goodies
There are always quite a few vintage vehicles
But others are a lot more modern
And, did I mention the bar is very low as to who can enter this parade??
Really, really low - as in 'there aren't any qualifications at all'
It wouldn't be a parade without a band
And a little craziness
But mostly, it was just an opportunity for everyone to have a good time celebrating America's Birthday!!
I hope all my SparkFriends had a great July 4, including those who live in other countries where this is 'just another summer day'
Sunday, July 03, 2011
I am super happy that DH and I got out to hike in Bolsa Chica Wetlands Ecological Preserve two days in a row. I have a little bit of a personal connection to this area because I supported the task force that got this preserve protected in the first place and worked on behalf of those efforts waaaay back in the early years before most people even heard of Bolsa Chica. I participated in a protest during the 1960s to 'Save The Bolsa Chica' and later worked with a group called Amigos de Bolsa Chica in the 1970s [yeah, I'm 'that old'] and then later worked with the Sierra Club task force to help get it officially designated.
A funny little side-story - when the Amigos was formed, I was a typographer and graphic artist. One of my clients was Signal Landmark, a company that owned the land and wanted to turn it into a major real estate development. I accepted work from them and funneled 100% of that income directly into the Amigos group. I also donated my services to the Amigos for awhile. So without Signal realizing it, they actually did a portion of the funding for their opposition - ah, the divine justice of it all, haha.
The name Bolsa Chica means 'little purse' in Spanish - not sure exactly why this area got that name but it was done a long time ago during the Spanish Land Grant era - I think Rancho La Bolsa Chica became separate in the 1840s - at any rate, it has a very long history prior to that and there are relics of the early Native Americans from the area at a local museum [Bowers Museum]. I'm not sure of the size of the preserve but I think it must be at least 1,000 acres - some of it is wetlands [aka 'marsh' or 'mud'] but there are nice trails on the dry land above it. The water is a very shallow inlet from the ocean and there are all sorts of birds, squirrels, bunnies, foxes and other animals there - not to mention all the humans who enjoy it on a daily basis!! It's a great place to go when the weather is hot inland because being right next to the beach, it gets the coastal coolness [at least relative coolness], esp in the early mornings.
You can see the parking area, lifeguard station and parts of Bolsa Chica State Beach in the picture above and the one below
By the way, the reason the parking lot and beach are so 'uncrowded' is because these pictures were taken around 8am - can you imagine how crowded they get later in the day when people who live further inland have a chance to get there? I usually try to avoid the area other than early in the morning for that reason!
But back to talking about our hikes, we started at a slightly different place each day - yesterday, we parked by the sales office of one of the big housing tracts that were eventually allowed to be developed as part of the agreement to create the protected areas.
The thing I don't like about this route is that we end up walking along the side of the road for a little bit - a very busy road!!
Part of the trail is set back from the road a little bit but parts of it are on the edge of the road and for a short distance, we have to walk in the bike path at the edge of the traffic. Not so much of a problem for me but Princess always tugs to get over so she can walk IN the traffic lane so I have to carry her for about 1/4 mile - oh, well, guess that means burning a few bonus calories!
Eventually, the trail turns away from the road and heads into the center of the wilderness area.
And we get to enjoy looking at the birds and other animals in the area
The 'muddy' areas are very important for the survival of many of these birds, although I think a lot of us tend to think of water birds as needing 'clear' water - these birds seem to prefer the swampy sections - even though the mud appears solid, it has such high water content that the birds can literally 'swim' through the muddy parts just like they swim through the water.
The animals are not the only signs of 'life' in the preserve - there are tons of flowers and plants, as well - this is wild buckwheat in bloom.
Eventually the flowers will turn a rust-color and can be gathered to use as food - you can make 'buckwheat pancakes' with this or add it into many other types of meals. I haven't tried it myself but know people who gather it [in areas where it's legal, of course] and put it into all sorts of dishes.
Of course, there's lots of white sage growing there - here's a patch that is flowering. The early natives considered it 'sacred' and even today people burn white sage leaves as a 'smudge' to purify the spirits of an area. It seems to convey a spiritual essence - maybe something about the way it smells - and I enjoy smudging white sage before meditation or to 'purify' my thoughts and mind, even though I know there is nothing 'magical' about the substance - it's still a good spiritual and mental ritual to signify new beginnings.
There are lots of other flowers growing here as well, although I didn't take pictures of 'all of them' - I have forgotten the name of this one:
And not sure I ever knew the name of this one
A lot of the trails are lined with chest-high bushes of various varieties - this picture shows rosemary, sage, buckwheat and several other plants common in this area
And it just wouldn't seem like Southern California without a few palm trees thrown in for good measure
You can see a little of the early morning coastal fog lingering over the ocean in this picture - believe me, it did not last long this hot July day!!
The next picture shows one of the 'land bridges' connecting the higher ground of the preserve with Pacific Coast Highway and the beach areas.
There are a few rest areas with benches along the trails - this one has information boards as well.
I ran across a small patch of succulents in bloom, similar to the one I posted in my blog yesterday about our walk in Balboa - these don't look all that impressive in the photo but the stalks are about 25 ft tall, possibly more, and they look pretty striking in person.
And, of course, my little 'tow dog' Princess pulled me along the entire trail - not sure if you can see her 'determined attitude' in this picture but Her Royal Highness sets a pretty brisk pace and doesn't allow any 'slacking off' during our hikes!
More views of the 'wetlands' - you can see remnants of vehicle travel dating back to when this area was an oil field.
It's easy to imagine for a few seconds that you are a million miles from civilization - until you notice outlines of buildings and automobiles just outside the protected area.
Or, um, maybe look over to see the oil wells still in operation!!
Well, I guess it would be hypocritical to complain about those since I DROVE MY CAR from home to the trails - yeah, the car that requires the oil those drills are pulling out of the ground. Sigh!
But soon enough, I can return to enjoying the nature around me - here's a little caterpillar we passed - thanks to modern pesticides, we don't see as many of these as we did when I was a kid so it always makes me happy to run across one - I hope this little guy lives long enough to turn into a butterfly!!
And even though we are close to a busy highway, busy oil fields and many houses, it's still nice to know we have such lovely urban trails to hike in this area!
But all too soon, we reach the end of the trail, which is about 4-5 miles long, depending on how you route it and which side-trails you include - immediately after we reach the top of this little hill, we will be surrounded by the housing tracts - so I'm going to close this blog with our 'last look' at nature before re-entering the world of city life!
I feel incredibly lucky to have this little piece of paradise just a little more than 20 miles from my home - and will be enjoying it many more times before the summer heat is over, I'm sure!
Get An Email Alert Each Time LYNDALOVES2HIKE Posts