Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wagon Wheel Loop

Welcome to the Wagon Wheel Loop trail, just outside Coto De Caza. This park had a very sweet butterfly garden and interactive activities for youngsters to enjoy. The trails are open to bikes and horses along with hikers, but were not overly worn out. There are supposedly quite a few deer in the area, one buck with 7 tips according to one biker, but we didn't see any. And where there are deer there are mt. lions, but we didn't see any of them either. The big excitement of this hike was to once again have Melinda with us!
It was on this hike that Melinda showed her expertise in scatology, earning her the important post of the Trail Tickler's official "Scatologist". We are very proud of her.
She educated us along the trail with interjections, such as: "This is from an animal that eats grass". Martine and I were truly enlightened.

So here we are, at the top, for our official Tickler Christmas photo.
This is our tenth hike, and to celebrate, Martine avoided illegal activity, Melinda made a new friend, and I read the book carefully so we didn't get lost. Not even once.
In short, it was a perfect hike.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Merry Christmas to you, my dear family and friends. May the Spirit of Christ be a special visitor in your homes this year as we celebrate His birth.

I hope you enjoy this short video...
With much love, Kelli

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

This hike was Beautiful! (and spooky)

Today the Trail Ticklers braved Casper Wildlife Park, and we saw, and gratefully did not see certain, wildlife all around us. This park is to the east of San Juan Capistrano off the Ortega Highway. Driving to the trail head alone was worth the 45 minute trip from our home. Ground squirrels were everywhere, and along the roadway were 2 families of mule deer. Hawks were everywhere and the only other people we saw were 2 men on horseback. The beginning of the trail was quite steep, but most of it was under beautiful oak trees with their colored leaves scattered everywhere along the ground. The book recommends taking this hike in the cooler months as it can be "enervating" in hot weather, and I heartily agree. Today, in contrast to all of our other hikes, was beautifully cool. A small storm passed by during the proceeding night and left the trail clean and dust free (yippee!). At the top of the hill, along the crest, the view was spectacular of hills and mountains without a single bit of development to be seen. We were at the top of sandstone cliffs, which in their own rights, were impressive. It was a lovely time of year for this hike, with the changing colors of some trees and the freshness of green in the others, with the occasional glimpse of the intricate branches of deciduous trees allowing the peeking out of the undergrowth. Some parts in the valley under Bell Canyon were surprisingly pretty with huge oaks forming an immense canopy for us to walk under.
The day was extra fun owing to 3 new Ticklers joining us. Mike, Lindsey and Evan came along to add a bit of interest and to learn a few new things. The boys quickly found out that prickly pears are aptly named. Someone in the group, who shall remain un-named, was only stopped from legal misdeeds by carefully placed razor wire. They were also awed by Martine and my impressive tracking skills, aided by my new compass (thanks Martine!).
The spooky part came when Martine first noticed fresh mountain lion tracks in the soft mud where we were walking. After that we saw many more tracks. It appeared that the mountain lions like to use the trails, too. While keeping a watch for things in the brush, I was glad that Mike has a voice that travels well and that there were 5 of us instead of our usual two. When I got home and told Dave where we had been I remembered that Casper Park is where the terrible incident with the bikers being attacked by the mountain lion had occurred a few years back. Thankfully, we made it out in one piece, and loved every minute of our adventure. This park is definitely a thumbs up. And I would go back anytime...with a large group of Ticklers!

Christmas House Party Time!

One of our favorite family traditions is that of making "gingerbread" houses out of graham crackers and candy. This year we had some of our special friends join in the fun. Jan, Kyle and Electa, Trent and A.J., Kean, and Miles were all quick studies in the intricate skills of cracker craftsmanship. I hope you enjoy looking at the photos as much as we enjoyed building and being together. Merry Christmas!
Kean's impressive creation. We are hoping it made it to his home in one piece so his mom could see it!
Lovin' the hair-do

Smiling with the bottom teeth.
This is Chelsie's rendition of her dog, Rusty!
Mike's interpretation of Huntington pier
The lowly manger
The gang:-)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Foothills!

Some men storm imaginary Alps all their lives, and die in the foothills cursing difficulties which do not exist.

Fortunately we did not die in the foothills of Orange County, but as you can see by the sign, the Trail Ticklers do face danger at every turn. I am going to invest in a bear bell, just to hedge my chances for survival, because, Mr. Howe, there can be difficulties in the foothills, too.

It was a beautiful day, and cooler than it had been lately, but still warm enough for us. The Peters Canyon Lake Loop is in the foothills just before reaching Irvine Park on the Orange side. The paths have been changed a bit, so the friendly Park Ranger gave me a map and very nice directions on how to locate the trail head. (Which was 3 feet in front of where I parked the car, but I didn't tell him that.) A very nice feature of this hike were the signs with blue dots at 1/2 mile intervals along the trail. (I think this is the first time we have not gotten a little lost. Thank you blue dots!)

As we started out a very large group of hikers were coming along the opposite way we were traveling, making things a bit congested in a friendly way. But they were soon past us and we only met up with a few more hikers and a couple of bikers. The second photo is the view from the highest part of the trail, which was actually a pretty steep hike, but nothing like the death march that one blogger described it as, thank goodness! Descending that hill, we came into view of the lake (third photo), which must be part of the O.C. reservoir system, as it was as dry as a bone, with huge cracks in the lake bottom. The path then went down along the dam side. This part was the most fun, with a few scrub bushes and rocks that had to be navigated around. After we came to the bottom, a bike rider zoomed by, stating"that was not me that was just squealing like a girl" as he rode his bike down the trail! I think it was him, but didn't say anything, because I would have been screaming if I were the one on the bike.

As we neared the end of the trail, there was a special detour that is only open a few short months a year since it cuts through the nesting grounds of an endangered species of migratory bird, who's name eludes me at this time. The habitat was full of willow trees and poison oak, but no birds. Still it was shady and very pretty, so we were glad to have found it.

Along the entire trail we came across many prickly pear plants which were ready to have their fruit harvested. Martine knew this because she watches California's Gold. Perhaps some day Huell will come along with us on one of our hikes. I bet he would think the Trail Ticklers are truly a part of California's gold! I do.

It was a successful hike, even if it was not one of the prettiest we have been on. The important part is that we saw an interesting part of our county, enjoyed the things we did see and can check off our first foothills hike!

p.s. for Jerri- What are we going to do about Martine? Was she like this as a child???

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I was grateful that I took a moment to click on the passing note that Elijah Lovejoy was murdered on this day in 1837. I had never heard of him, but after reading his biography, I have added him to my list of heroes.

I have been troubled by a small thing that happened at school on Friday during the U.S. History class I help out in at the high school. The students were watching a video covering some of the achievements of the Progressive Era. While many great things were occurring, the advancements of civil rights were not. Perhaps because of President Wilson's action of not signing a civil rights bill, lynchings in the nation jumped to 3000 in the following year. As several photos of the men, hanging in trees with the jeering crowd below them, were shown, I was about to start crying, and yet, there was no emotion shown on the part of the students. Most were not even paying attention. Mrs. Sheets, the teacher, wisely stopped the video and asked the students what they had just seen. No answer. She replayed and explained the lynching scenes and still, no signs of concern or worry or disgust appeared. Is it because I am old that those photos troubled me? Is death and injustice not a concern to youth? Is violence and make-believe such a huge part of their lives, be it through movies, TV, or video games, or real life experiences, that the sight of it creates no emotion? I do not know the answer, perhaps some sociologist somewhere does. But in the mean time, we need to make sure that we teach the children around us the difference between right and wrong and the sacrifice of millions, including Elijah Lovejoy, that allow us to have free speech, a free press and a nation free from lynchings. I hope that I could have the courage of Mr. Lovejoy if I were called upon to defend those rights in the future.

Here is the link, since I could not get all of the story to show up properly.

Elijah Parish Lovejoy -was born in Albion, Maine, November 9, 1802. He graduated from Waterville College (now Colby College) in 1826 and came to St. Louis as a school teacher.

In 1831 he joined the First Presbyterian Church, decided to become a minister, and returned to the East to study at Princeton Theological Seminary. He was licensed to preach in April, 1833, by the Second Presbytery of Philadelphia. He was ordained by the Presbytery of St. Louis in 1834 and was elected its Moderator in 1835. In St. Louis he was pastor of the Des Peres Presbyterian Church (the "Old Meeting House"). He published a religious newspaper, The St. Louis Observer, and began to advocate the abolition of slavery. Despite the bitter feeling against him., Lovejoy persisted in arguing the fights of freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and freedom from slavery. After seeing a slave, Francis J. McIntosh, burned at the stake, his editorials became so strident against slavery that he became an object of hatred by both Southerners and slave-holders. His press was wrecked by a mob in July, 1836, and he moved to Alton in the free State of Illinois.

In Alton, Lovejoy became the Stated Clerk of the Presbytery in 1837 and the first pastor of the present College Avenue Presbyterian Church. He actively supported the organization of the Ant-slavery Society of Illinois which enraged the Alton citizens. He continued writing and publishing the Alton Observer even after three presses had been destroyed and thrown into the Mississippi River.

On the historic night of November 7, 1837, a group of 20 Lovejoy supporters joined him at the Godfrey & Gilman warehouse to guard a new press until it could be installed at the Observer. As the crowd grew outside, excitement and tension mounted. Soon the pro-slavery mob began hurling rocks at the warehouse windows. The defenders retaliated by bombarding the crowd with a supply of earthenware pots found in the warehouse. Then came an exchange of gunfire. Alton's mayor tried in vain to persuade the defenders inside to abandon the press. They stood fast. One of the mob climbed a ladder to try to set fire to the roof of the building. Lovejoy and one of his supporters darted into the darkness to over-turn the ladder, for they knew they would be doomed if a fire was set. But again a volunteer mounted the ladder to try to ignite the roof with a smoking pot of pitch. As Lovejoy assisted Royal Weller in putting out the fire on the roof of the building, Lovejoy received a blast from a double-barreled shotgun. Five of the bullets fatally struck Lovejoy. He died in the arms of his friend Thaddeus Hurlbut. The mob cheered and said all in the building should die. Amos Roff tried to calm the mob and was shot in the ankle. Defenders of the press then laid down their weapons and were allowed to leave. The mob rushed the building, found the press, and threw it out a window to the riverbank, broke it into pieces and dumped the broken parts into the river, The body of Lovejoy was left undisturbed, remaining there until morning, guarded by friends who finally carried him home. He was buried on his 35th birthday, November 9, 1837, in an unmarked grave in the Alton City Cemetery, the location known by a black man, William "Scotch" Johnston, who assisted in the burial.
(Account of the evening as reported by the Alton Observer)

Years later, through the generosity of Thomas Dimmock, Lovejoy's body was exhumed and reinterred at the present site. Dimmock purchased the small but appropriate marble scroll which marks the grave on which is inscribed the Latin words which translates:
"Here lies Lovejoy - Spare him now the grave." He also purchased the New England granite block beneath the scroll and the wall which encloses the grave site.

The story of Lovejoy and the Abolitionists is the story of the enduring vigil for freedom of thought, speech, and the press. For a moment in 1837, Alton, Illinois, was the scene of a battle for freedom that was felt across the nation. The mob action at Godfrey & Gilman warehouse was the first, but unrecorded, battle of the Civil War.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

scrambled for me, please

The day we have been waiting 6 months for has come at last! One of our chickens layed her first egg. It is green, so we are thinking it was from the huge Araucana chick, affectionately called el Heffe. The festivities started this morning when we heard an outburst of clucking,(more like death clucking), along with the happy barking of Mike and Chelsie's dog Rusty. (They all got in late last night and Rusty is a mini pincer, about the size of very small cat.) Somehow, as Rusty charged towards the chicken's enclosed yard, 2 of the birds escaped, perhaps through a loose spot of chicken wire (which is now firmly tacked down) by the hen house. Rusty was in heaven as he chased a Barred Rock around the yard. Dave and I were after the three of them, Dave catching the one chicken while I followed Rusty and the second chicken down the side of the house to the gate where, in a huge flurry of fur and feathers, I grabbed Rusty, Rusty grabbed the chicken, and the chicken dove between my legs towards freedom, leaving behind a very nice mouthful of feathers. Dave had to scoop the chicken out of the pool, which is where she landed after her evasive moves behind me, and got her back into the coop. It was then he spotted the lovely little green egg outside the chicken's door to their yard. The question is; was the egg there before the dog incident or was it scared out by Rusty??? A bedeviling question for your Halloween enjoyment! Omelets anyone?!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom!

This is my mom, and yesterday was her birthday! While she thinks she is getting old, she is still the youngest and prettiest mom I know. What a blessing to have her as a mother. Not only has she directed my life towards the good, she always made me feel like I was the best thing since sliced bread. For example: I had always thought that I was a really good student and must have been pretty close to always having an A+ average by the way I remembered her acting about my report cards. Then, a little while back, I found some of those old report cards and lo and behold, I was pretty much a B student with a few A's thrown in. How did she do that? Since that revelation in my life, I have been trying to be better with my own children and their accomplishments. And while I'm not at my mom's level yet, she still inspires me to do better in all aspects of my life. So thank you, Mom! And happy birthday.

While this link is not a happy birthday link, it does help to express my feelings for my angel mother! Hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Seminary or Campout?

What a great and unusual seminary we had today! As the first drizzles of our rainy day began, Evan and I arrived at the church building to set up and go through the usual routine. Just as the youth were beginning to arrive...zap...all the lights went out. We had a quick return of electricity and then everything went black for the rest of the morning. What a nice thing to have emergency lighting in the building! In the foyer and the hall there are very dim lights that allow you to at least see enough not to step on something, or in our case somebody. What to do?! Everyone gathered in the foyer talking about the lightening they had seen on their way and the stop lights that were not working. The best part was that nobody was sleeping! So Linda and I had a quick conference and thought that we could go over scripture mastery and try to keep them occupied. Seth Olson led the opening song "Shall the Youth of Zion Falter" and everybody sang. It was a bit emotional for me hearing them sing "while the enemy assaileth, shall we shrink or shun the fight?" in the dark, realizing that they live in a world with so much darkness, yet they each are truly such beautiful lights. Erika gave a very nice prayer and Luke did an exceptional job with his devotional, which he volunteered to give. I was so proud of him having a verse from the 4th section of the Doctrine and Covenants memorized. His act of memorization was a great service to all of us, as he brought the spirit of the Savior into our midst. Scripture mastery was put away as we were impressed to highlight the lesson material. Together, Linda and I began to tell about the incredible things that are found in 2 Nephi chapter 2. Lehi, in his final words to his children, recounts the creation, the fall and the atonement; the three pillars of the plan of happiness. As we discussed each thing and shared how they had affected our lives, the students asked wonderful questions and shared their own insights in such a personal and caring way. The question was asked, "What does the Savior offer that is most appealing or important to you?" Happiness, salvation, mercy, forgiveness, eternal life, peace- were a few of the answers. It is a question I need to ask myself more often, because answering it helped me to put things in my life back into perspective. All too soon the time was gone, and Ellis closed our "campfire" with prayer. As the kids left, all were abuzz about how fun that was and that we should do it all the time. Even though I don't think Edison or Zeus will be so obliging again, it was an exceptional experience being with forty of the greatest teens on the earth, in the dark, at 5:50am, building testimonies and faith.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Good bye beaches...Hello foothills!

This photo was taken at the top of the trail, overlooking the ocean and Laguna. As you can see the sun is about to set, not just on our day, but also on the beach hikes. (violins are playing in the background) The West Ridge, Lynx, and Cholla trails have now been successfully tickled, and it is a good thing too, as these trails lived up to their rating of "hardest". Let me start at the beginning...

The drive to the Alta Laguna Park was super. I felt like I was back in Magnolia, zooming up the twisting and turning streets. The trail was very wide and well marked, and well used by hikers and bikers. Martine and I noted that the bikers were much friendlier here than at the Morrow Ridge Loop, probably because they didn't have to pay $15 to park. As we traveled the very steep and long trail down the backside of the coastal mountain, we were not too impressed with the area. It was quite barren and overlooked vast housing developments and freeways. The day was another scorcher so the thought of traveling on this wide open path for 5 miles was not very appealing. I will admit that I put out the option of just stepping on the Lynx and Cholla trails (which made the loop part of the hike) and call it good, thus shortening our hike by 2 miles. As we were thinking seriously about this option, we came to a huge water storage tank. (As you can see from the above photo, Martine is continuing her crime streak, this time loitering on government property.) At the end of the West Ridge trail we joined the very rocky, steep, and narrow path of the Cholla trail. Since it hadn't taken us too long to walk to this point, and the hike wasn't all that hard, the decision was made to do the whole trail as planned.
Half way down the trail a woman met us who was very obviously struggling in her ascent. Hmmm...I hoped desperately that she was much more out of shape than I was! Once at the bottom of the hill, our surroundings beautifully transformed.
(Please note the photo, with Martine sitting on the fence, not loitering.) We were no longer out in the open, but on a very nice trail which curved under live oaks and shrubbery. Not far away was a little stream, perhaps from Lake Barbara, that gurgled by and huge rocky cliffs jutting out above us. It was shady and quiet and beautiful.The Cholla trail was very rejuvenating, and that is a lucky thing because the Lynx trail was not (rejuvenating or lucky). I will only mention quickly that we missed the marker for the Lynx trail, but only because it was about 3 feet above the trail on a ledge among the shrubs, and I'm sure we were being passed by a wild bike rider as we were walking past it:-).
The good news is that since we are becoming experienced easy trail hikers, we turned around before we had traveled too far down the path. The Lynx trail was up, up, then straight up! Over crags and rocks and not much shade. As the trail curved, you were sure you were at the top, only to be looking a another quarter mile until the next turn. Once we made it back to the West Ridge trail, the climb was, sadly, not over. It was 2 more miles of uphill trekking.
Every bit of water was drunk by the time we made it to the top. I felt like Colin in San Salvador, I had sweat through everything! I cannot tell you how much I love air conditioned cars! But we did it!!! and it felt, in the words of BYU football fans, majestic. I'm very grateful that we traveled the whole trail. It just goes to show that the best things in life are the things that take that extra effort and determination. Now, on to the foothills. I can't wait!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Last Beach Hike

Time: 2:00 pm
Date: September 26
Place: West Ridge, Lynx and Cholla Trails

Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to meet at Alta Laguna Park with water and sturdy shoes. Directions follow:
Take Laguna Canyon Road southwest to Forest Avenue/Third Street. Take Third Street up the short, very steep hill. At the stop sign, turn left onto Park Avenue. Follow Park Avenue uphill to its end at Alta Laguna Boulevard. Turn left (north) onto Alta Laguna Boulevard and go 0.2 mile to the parking area at Alta Laguna Park The trail begins at the northwest corner of the parking area. There will be a 3$ fee for parking. Dave is coming so this is an invite your family trek. See you there!

You do not have to eat this message.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hummus for Margaret

This is not an exact recipe for hummus, but it is easy and works for our family. Feel free to add any ingredient that you like or leave something out. ( I would keep the beans, though)

Place in the bowl of a food processor:
2 cans of garbanzo beans, rinsed
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 T lemon juice
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
Process until smooth, add olive oil in a stream (about 1/4 cup) until desired consistency is reached.

Add ins: chopped sun dried tomatoes
marinated artichoke hearts (I use the marinating liquid in place of the olive oil)
roasted red pepper
any herbs
Keep refrigerated. It's great on pitas, crackers, veggies, sandwiches, or if you're John Patrick, a spoon. Good luck!

Friday, September 11, 2009

My Heart is Heavy

-At Ground Zero

Today, as I was reading reports and remembrances of 9/11/2001 on the National Public Radio web site, my heart was so full that the expression "a heavy heart" became very real to me. I was filled with sadness as I remembered the tremendous loss of so many lives, the suffering of their families, and the continued struggles, both physical and emotional, of the people who helped. It was, in a way, a day when a generation lost it's sense of innocence. I shudder that my family was on a vacation in New York City just a few short months before the airplanes were flown into the Twin Towers. This summer while I was in Washington D.C. I realized, while standing at the top of Arlington National Cemetery, how very close the Pentagon is to the Capitol and where I was standing. And now our daughter lives in Pennsylvania, not far from Shankesville, where the fourth plane crashed, in an heroic act to save our nations Capitol.

And yet, along with the sorrow, there is hope and faith in my heart. A hope that people will learn to live together in peace, despite their different beliefs, and treat others with civility and compassion. I also have faith, that this country will continue to be the land of the free and the home of the brave. A place where we care about the welfare of people, whether near or far, and do what we can to help them. Declaring this day as a day of service is a wonderful way to honor those who lost their lives eight years ago. More important to me though, is that we hold this day sacred to the memories of those who died, those that survived, and those who continue to serve and fight and die to keep another attack like this from happening again.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Little Sycamore Canyon

Today's hike was a bit of a surprise. The parking lot of the original hike starting point was closed today for repairs and the lady at the park information center informed me that I could park at a lot up the road a bit and walk down. The little bit turned out to be 1 mile, and as it was already hot (96), I did not want to add 2 more miles to the hike walking next to the highway! (call me lazy) As I drove up a little more looking for a place to turn around, there was the entrance for the Nix Center at Little Sycamore Canyon. I called Martine and she was just about to come upon the park and was able to make a quick turn into the entrance.

This is a very pretty spot and a part of the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. I'm sure that the trail we hiked for #3 was just along the crest of the hill in front of us. There is a very nice visitors center and several real restrooms. Our favorite part is pictured above... adirondack chairs in the shade, looking out over the very nicely restored wilderness area.

Along the trail were new areas of extensive native plantings. I am starting to take a liking to the native plants and their drought tolerant attributes. I shocked myself a little when, after enjoying the scenery of the wild flowers and bushes, we came to a vista of huge green lawn areas and they looked so out of place and thirsty.
While this was not a hike with the most splendid view (at the top of the hill we were standing under Edison electricity towers) we did have a very nice view of Irvine and the surrounding area.
There were a few hazards to watch for...places were not marked very well, several of the trails we thought we wanted to travel for our loop were closed, and as you can see, I had to stop Martine from committing misdemeanors along the way.

This hike was also educational. We were able to see Lake Barbara. According to the sign, Lake Barbara is the only natural lake in Orange County. Who knew!!! It is very pretty and quiet. For those who wish to see it, you will be happy to know it is at the beginning of the hike, before any hills are reached. It would be a very nice place for anyone to visit and enjoy.

Finding Lake Barbara is a reminder of why these hikes are becoming addictive. There are beautiful places tucked away among all of the hustle and growth of Orange County. What a blessing that people decided to protect and preserve these spots for us to enjoy, and be able to see a small slice of what California once was.

There is just one more beach hike left in the book, it is also the hardest beach hike and 5.3 miles long. So stretch out those muscles Trail Ticklers and come join us!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hike #5

If you can make it to the Laurel Canyon hike you are a true tickler!!!! It is located on the 133, south of the intersection with El Toro Road. The entrance is on the west side of the street and is called the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. There is a $3 parking fee. Let me know if you can come!!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

An Unexpected Lesson

I can not believe that I drove across the United States. That has never been something I thought I would ever do, (I prefer flying as a mode of transportation) but Lindsey needed a car and supplies at her new home in Carlisle,Pennsylvania, so off we went. I was surprised at how green the terrain became once we left Texas, that Oklahoma is a very pretty place, and that they make incredibly delicious ice cream in Ohio. Did you know that "driving friendly" is the Texas way? I did not; but now I do. Once you are out of California people do not tend to speed on the freeways. It was eerily wonderful! ( This might have something to do with the highway patrol watching you at about 25 to 50 mile increments.)

After our arrival in Carlisle, where Lindsey is attending Penn State Law School, we had a bit of time to explore her new borough. One of the many things that impressed me was just 2 blocks down the street from Lu's house: The Old Cemetery. This cemetery was like nothing I had seen before, with it's sunken, crooked, and worn headstones ranging in styles from simple to extravagant. It was a very thought provoking place. Beautiful bronze medallions on sticks with flags atop, signified people who had fought in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Civil War. It was a place that filled my heart with gratitude for people that lived so long ago, and from so many different countries, that fought for an amazing new ideal: Liberty. And not just liberty and freedom for themselves, but for millions they would never know and who would never know them or their sacrifices.

Among the stones was a huge monument, the burial place of Molly Pitcher. As you can see from the photo it was quite impressive. Molly was quite impressive! The two plaques next to the cannon described her heroics on and off the battle field. Not only was she busy bringing water to the soldiers and acting as a nurse, when her husband was shot by enemy fire as he was preparing to fire the cannon as ordered, Molly took his place, loading and firing the cannon as the war raged around her. She was a woman who did something.

On this trip I was also fortunate to have been able to visit Washington D.C.. I love that the people of D.C. are speaking out by putting "Taxation Without Representation" on their license plates. While there Lindsey and I were able to see a new exhibit at the Smithsonian-Julia Child's kitchen. I realize that anything "Julia" is popular today due to the movie, which I want to see, but I have loved her since I was young. Like many of you, I watched her show on PBS with my mom. I liked her funny way of speaking and the enthusiasm she put into her cooking. As I grew up and learned more about her, I admired her spirit, determination and her seeming lack of the fear of failure. Her kitchen is remarkable, for several reasons. One that is most impressive is that it is not what cooks of today would deem acceptable. There are no marble counter tops. No fancy gigantic ovens or burners. The cupboards are painted turquoise. Pegboard of the local hardware store variety, painted white, hangs on most of the walls. And from this pegboard hang dozens of useful tools and gadgets. Knives and bowls and pans are everywhere in this normal, unassuming room, where the ideas of cooking for the normal people of the world were changed forever. I loved it! Seeing that kitchen brought a sense of reality to my life. In a metaphorical way, I don't need a gas stove or the latest designer counter tops to be able to make a difference in my world.

I have realized that Julia Childs and Molly Pitcher are similar in that they both went and did. They took the opportunities and supplies that were given them and did something great. They did not need pampering, or cajoling or finery. They did not look to others to do the job that was given to them, or the easy way out. They went out into the world and did something that was not just for themselves, but also for the enriching of the lives of others. I have to think that in doing this, they found a depth of joy and contentment that is a rarity in today's world.

I am grateful that I have had women in my life who went out and did. My Mother, Grandma Ruth and Grandma Hope are my greatest examples of women who know and knew how to live life well. I am pleased to see Lindsey following in their footsteps. They and all the other women of this world who do something with their lives that benefit not just themselves, but those around them, and actually generations, are the real heroes that should be admired and emulated by the rest of us who are learning to become women of action.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hike #4 Is the New #1

This hike was a joy!!! The book was right, Valido trail is steep and a little tricky, but you can see from this photo that it was worth the climb. Martine and I spent quite a bit of time sitting on the provided bench at the top of the cliff, enjoying watching the ocean waves crashing on the rocks, the cool breezes and the unobstructed view of the coastline. Catalina was visible and the flora of the canyon was unusually green, considering it is August and we have had no rain. There was a sweet little stream in the canyon bottom, which we had to ford...well, step over, but it all made for a great morning. I would definitely climb this trail again, despite the obvious dangers that surrounded us. (Please note the sign below.)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Info on hike #3 which is actually hike #4

This is called the Valido Trail Hike and is not too far from the last hike, only south of the 133. The book promises that "Valido Trail makes a significant climb, but the trail is short enough that even small children can be coaxed along." That is encouraging :-) I'm bringing a lunch for after hike enjoyment.

From the 405 take Laguna Canyon Road (133) to the Pacific Coast Highway. Head left (south) on PCH for about 3.5 miles to West Street in South Laguna. Turn left onto West Street, go less that 0.2 mile and make a left hand turn onto Valido Drive. As you round the curve, the trail head is on your left. Park on the street. Let me know if you are coming and we can carpool or meet up at the trail head.

This is just one mile up and one mile back down, with the promise of a "stunning ocean vista". I can't wait!

Hike #4 or "The I Think I Can Trail?!"

I will admit it, this was a memorable hike for several reasons, not the least being the beautiful vista of Crystal Cove and the Pacific Ocean. The view made the troubles melt away. But yes, we did have a few things pop up, I'll explain...

I was grateful that on short notice Martine was up for the adventure, but I needed to get out, and hike #4 to the Morro Ridge Loop shouldn't be too hard as there were 3 more difficult beach hikes to follow in my little book. So after paying my $15 parking fee (my contribution to balancing the state budget, rrr, but that's another blog) we headed out along a very wide, well traveled path. All too soon we came to a trail map, showing the different trail names and realized that included in hike #4 was the trail named "I Think I Can Trail". Hmmm. But being brave souls and undeterred by a tiny sign, we pushed forward and upward, and upward and upward. When we were about half way up the hill we asked a biker coming down if we were almost there and he just laughed as he whizzed by. As we were beginning to hit that wall thing runners talk about another trail sign appeared, which unfortunately, we did not understand, and my book was not too much help (perhaps from my brain suffering from a lack of oxygen). All this added up to our continuing up the mountain (yes, it was now a mountain) for maybe 3/4 of a mile. Using our finely honed trail blazing skills, and Martine realizing that we were at the upper camping ground which was not part of hike#4, and that the trail was continuing up for a distance further than we were willing to go, the executive decision was made to turn around. (Contrary to what Melinda might be thinking, we were not lost and no chipwhich donation is required.) As we approached the spot where we had earlier misinterpreted the sign, unbelief filled our minds...first though, you must get a mental picture of how we looked and felt. We were hot and sweaty, tired and must have had a dust cloud around us a'la Pigpen from the Peanuts comics. And what should appear in front of us ...two very young female hikers, in very tiny shorts and shirts, clean white tennis shoes and flowing bouncy hair, all smiles and fun. All I want to know is- who gave them a ride up that mountain!!!

Now that we were back on the correct trail, it was time to break out the Hanukkah Jelly Belly's, and what a welcome treat they were. Our blood sugar was up and the trail was headed down and life was great, and then we turned the bend to see the ocean, and all the suffering of the past was forgotten. (At least until the bottom of the trail.) It truly was a spectacular sight.

This hike was a perfect reminder that sometimes you have to take the good with the bad. We learned and saw some very neat things. We learned that if someone wants you to go camping at the upper campground at Morro Ridge, you firmly say no. We saw the footprints of either bobcats or mountain lions, deer, raccoons (we think) and snakes (actually they were body prints, but you understand). We saw up close a greater roadrunner, which was very pretty, and for Suzanne's sake-no ticks. We enjoyed our sandwiches once we were back in the parking lot, and have a new appreciation for cloud cover. I would consider hike #4 a great success. And I am very proud to announce that I found a page in my book, previously undiscovered, that put the hikes in order of difficulty, and hike #4 is the second hardest beach hike! So in honor of our great achievement on Friday, Tuesday's hike will be the 2nd easiest beach hike in the book:-)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Time for a Hike

After traveling across the wonderful and very wide United States of America, (I'll write about that later) my feet are needing to go for a walk. So...I'm sneaking in Hike #4 on Friday, August 21 at 9:30 am. It is a long hike, according to the book 4.7 miles, so be sure to bring water and a snack and sunscreen. It will be the East cut-across to Moro Ridge Loop at Crystal Cove State Park. I will be at the church parking lot at 8:45 and leave at 8:55 if you would like a ride. Let me know if I should wait for you or if you will be at the park. These are the directions:

"Take the 405 South to the 133 South to its terminus at the PCH. Drive north on PCH for approximately 2.8 miles to El Moro Road, where you will find an elementary school and a traffic light. Turn right (east), and drive up the road to the entrance booth (a right hand turn). Either pay here or at the self-serve pay machine in the parking area a short distance ahead. The trail head is at the west end of the lot."

While driving across the states I was amazed at the beauty and variety of the landscapes surrounding me, but I still feel there are few places that can compare to the Pacific Ocean. In a way, seeing it on Friday will signify that I have made it home.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Day is Ours!!!

This was an inspirational day! I am so grateful that a few of my friends were able to join in on hike #2 and start my Quest off on the right foot (ha,ha). Martine, Melinda, Sue and Suzanne were brave enough to join me as we hit the loop at Newport Back Bay with only a small guide book to lead us. There was only momentary worry, when the instructions said to look for "an eroded trail heading uphill to the left" and we realized that the book was 10 years old. But honestly, how much erosion could happen on a So Cal bluff in 10 years? We found the trail, we climbed the trail, and we conquered the trail! Erosion and all. And I realized as I was climbing that, just as most things are in life, things aren't as scary as we think they are, once we jump in.

The weather was beautiful, the conversation was delightful, there were no ticks and the time passed much too quickly. I'm already excited for the next gathering of the Trail Ticklers. Which by the way will be the No Name Ridge by Crystal Cove State Park at the end of the month. There is always room for another Tickler! And what do you think about bringing a sack lunch?

My biggest lesson of the day? Things are much more fun, interesting and enjoyable when you are surrounded with kind people.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Hike #2 Update Info

Welcome friends! I am thrilled that you would like to join me in my quest. It makes me think that a quest name would be appropriate, so any and all submissions will be accepted:-)

Tuesday, August 4, at 11 am sharp I will be at the church parking lot on the east side of Valley View, just south of Chapman (across from the movie theater) in case anybody would like to carpool.

If it is easier to meet at the hike entrance the directions are:
405 South to
MacArthur Blvd. south to
Irvine/Campus, head west for about 2 miles to
Santiago Drive, turn left onto Santiago,
proceed one block south to
Constellation Ave., turn left (west)
Constelation Ave is a small dead-end street; park here. The trail begins at the end of the street. I figure the carpoolers will be there by about 11:40. Let me know if we should wait for you at the trail head.

In case you can't make it, I will post some photos of the adventure so you can enjoy the hike in a sunburn free environment!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

In the Beginning

I have come to a time in my life when I need to set another goal. In the spirit of wanting to try something new and something that might take a little time and a bit of ingenuity, I have decided to dust off my "Best Easy Day Hikes in Orange County" book and my hiking boots from last year's pioneer trek and hike each trail in said book.
I will be starting with the beach hikes. It is still summer and hot and if you know me, you know I do not like the heat. ( Hate it if you want the truth.) The first and easiest beach hike in the book was completed several years back with my Cub Scout den (it is also the only hike that has been completed), so I'm starting with hike #2, the Upper Newport Bay Trail. I have invited friends to join me, you, my blog friends, are also invited. I will let you know who joins in. I am anticipating going alone, which is fine, but I'm hoping to be surprised.
I am still trying to figure out what my reasoning is for choosing this adventure; local, inexpensive, do-able. But I am beginning to feel an excitement of being out among the flora and fauna, exploring beautiful areas in my own back yard that I have never seen, despite the fact that I have lived in Orange County for 23 years. I am also sensing my life taking a big leap into the "really busy" description with the start of the new school year. I will need some recharging and resorting time, these hikes may be just the ticket. Wish me luck!