Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Anyone local knows the jingle for the Boardwalk… and how to say that title up there… ;) While last year we had a Great American Summer, this year the kids enjoyed Boardwalk passes. The Boardwalk is a 1/2 mile walk from Cowell’s, where Little Guards was being held, so it’s a super option when everyone begins to feel burnt out from the beach. (It’s also a super way to sneak a few miles of walking under the kids’ feet without them realizing that’s why they’re exhausted.)

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Our family has enjoyed many days and evenings at the Boardwalk over the years. They have rides babies can sit on parents’ laps, hurl-inducing spinners, roller coasters, and everything in between, right on the beach.

Memory Lane…

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Thursday, July 18, 2013


Carter completed Little Lifeguards two days ago. He was very unenthusiastic about it going in, and it was a keen love of Star Wars Legos and the promise that he’d earn the Rancor Monster set as a reward given he completed without complaining or trying to miss days. The boy loves Legos, but I was happy to see he really enjoyed himself, too.







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I’m so happy to see him have progressed from being intimidated by the waves to running right out with confidence. Granted, a deal is a deal, and I did say I expected no complaints, but Carter outperformed my wildest hopes. Sure, he had a couple of days when he was tired after 3 hours of rigorous conditioning and activity (and one where sand got in his pudding), but he mostly had a big smile on his face, and he usually tried to win. I think the kid enjoys competing and the feeling of some success after bringing home a ribbon, which is placed so its the first thing he sees when he wakes. I am very gratified that he’s has this opportunity, and so proud of my Little Guard.

For a little information about the Little and Junior Lifeguard programs we’ve spent 5 seasons over 6 years supporting, please read HERE.

Monday, July 08, 2013


A couple of weeks ago Paul spent the afternoon with us at the beach, enjoying some classic Santa Cruz weather and waves. For some reason, all the birds on earth also came to the shoreline—I think it was a sardine school or something, as I saw gulls flipping shiny silver blades around in their bills a few times. It was loud. It was feathery. It was… different. But the waves were pretty good!

This gull is all, “I dunno, it’s kinda crowded.” Those are mostly seabirds in the water, not bathers.





Thankfully, this was only one day, a week and a half ago. I don’t think I’d like sharing the beach like this daily!

Friday, July 05, 2013




In 1997 Paul and I moved out here, 24 and 25 years old, expecting to spend 3-5 years broadening our horizons and experiencing life in a place very, very different than the southeast. Needless to say, we stayed a little longer than we intended, and here we are, nearly exactly 15 years later. For the past couple of years, we’ve talked between us about when it would be right to make the return, noting both career progress and the kids’ stages, and it always felt about as far off: “in a year, maybe 18 months.” Life bleeds by in such increments, and we have decided that, perhaps like starting a family, or any other similarly enormous choice, there is no perfect way to do this. We have a good opportunity now to act, so we will.

Next month our family is relocating cross country back to the southeast. My husband is in technology, and the RTP in North Carolina (a couple smaller towns near Raleigh are our specific targets) makes most sense to us.

It’s hard to leave, despite our excitement about what we are going to gain after so many years being separated from family, old friends, and the area that most says, “home” in our hearts. We’ve started to share our news with a few, but, I’m happy to say we’re blessed with so many we care about that I know reading this will bring on a wide range of emotions, both from those we won’t be able to see as often anymore, and those who we (finally!) will be seeing SO much more often than ever before. Paul and I realized it was important to use the summer to act on our desire to move to help the kids transition more easily to new schools, new friends, and time is going to fly by. I know that will mean we simply can’t celebrate as many friendships as we want before leaving, which makes me sad more than anything else.

Honestly, this timing, and our deciding over the past 2.5 weeks about some big changes means that it’s not going to be the cleanest move ever. There are logistics I’m not confident about from 3000 miles away, specifically, securing a home. We’ll rent while learning about a whole new area.  So, while I am definitely looking for homes in Cary or Apex now to get a good read on everything, I’m not sure whether we’ll really know where we’ll land until a week or two after we’ve already relocated--thank goodness for the packing, shipping, and storing options we have nowadays! If you just happen to have or know of a 3 BR home for lease, I’d appreciate the heads up, too, ya know… ;) Right now it’s logistics, logistics, logistics here… along with me still taking the kids to the beach everyday for Little Guards, because that makes everything easy: being out of the house for 6 hours a day. (eesh, 1.5 more weeks)

Anyway, that’s our story as it’s developing. Da doo run run run, da doo run run.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013


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Lassen has been inhabited by Native Americans, who knew that the peak was full of fire and water and thought that it would one day blow itself apart, since long before white settlers first arrived .
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Inconsistent newspaper accounts reported by witnesses from 1850 to 1851 described seeing "fire thrown to a terrible height" and "burning lava running down the sides" in the area of Cinder Cone. As late as 1859 a witness reported seeing fire in the sky from a distance, attributing it to an eruption. However, both early and modern studies suggest Cinder Cone last erupted between 1630 and 1670.
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Starting in May 1914 and lasting until 1921, a series of minor to major eruptions occurred on Lassen, creating  a new crater, and releasing lava and a great deal of ash. The devastation is clear, even now, when walking in certain areas of the park.
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The rocks at Sulphur Works have been chemically altered into bright-colored clays. We had hoped to walk the Bumpass Hell trail, but it was closed due to snow, so we made due with what turned out to be PLENTY of stinkiness by the sulfur pits. I admit that I was gagging and my stomach was DONE allowing my nose to smell that within a very few minutes. It was horrible.
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Usually we enjoy ourselves most when we don’t have a real itinerary and just walk the way our eyes and feet want to go.
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Last summer Lassen was on fire. A wildfire broke out and was allowed to burn, a vital part of the ecosystem here (and in many areas, really). After a few weeks it raged to 12,500 acres and had to be contained as it ultimately burned for months. We were unaware of how large the fire had been and commented on the areas that seemed ‘blighted’ as we drove through before we were close enough to see the charred bark. We were relieved it was only fire signs, and not a disease, filling the forest. Then we played on the stumps.
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Lily Pond
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Snow Plant, a parasite
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We like camping, but we are still working up to full-on tent camping as a family. We’ve been enjoying cabins in the meantime, and this time we stayed at the Lassen KOA in a ‘kabin.’ The campground is clearly loved by its staff and owners. We enjoyed the tree swing they built in their undeveloped acreage (this is a KOA with TREES, lots and lots of ‘em), as well as the pool when we returned hot, dusty, and sweaty from wandering Lassen.
The campground also offers community meals on weekend mornings and evenings (pancake breakfast, $6/$3 adults/kids, etc), which is great for those who really want to be close to the park, but are not into the cooking part of camping. We are a family of eaters, though, so we always cook for ourselves.
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“Campfire Chicken” is a traditional dinner every time we go camping. Paul’s specialty, it *must* be done with wood coals, and usually in the fire ring, with our own grill, or using one attached to the fire ring. KOA’s management were very nice when we requested a shovel to transfer the coals, sending over a cart with one within a few minutes (they also deliver wood and ice to save you some schlepping).
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Shingletown FD sends someone to spray down the gravel roads to keep down dust and prevent fire hazards. The firefighter offered to allow our kids to explore the truck, and, while they’re a bit jaded, what with a few firefighter dads in the neighborhood regularly thrilling everyone with visits to events, Carter is always ready to get a closer look at all the dials and controls.
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