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!