Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wilder Ride

One of my all time favorite places to ride. It has such diversity, beaches, views, steep terrain, plateaues, woods, open grassland and wildlife to boot. This loop is about 12 miles. The trails are : Wilder loop -> Enchanted -> Eucalyptus -> Old Cabin -> Englesman, back to the ranch.

Some how we manage to pick the warmest days to go riding, but since it fairly close to the coast it doesn't get too bad.

No Mountain Lion or Bobcats seen today, though the grass is so brown we might have been right next them and not known.

After my mountain bike was stolen at Christmas I've been riding my old fixed frame bike, quite a difference! Certainly can't go charging off into the rough terrain like I have  absent mindedly. 

Cooling off at the beach after, and then off to Santa Cruz Mountain brewery to sample their latest and greatest.

Monterey Kayak

I had a long list of things to tour Heidi around when we got back from Minnesota. Seeing Sea Otters while kayaking was at the top of the list. Monterey seemed like a fun destination to do this. We put in from the Municipal beach. 
The coast guard pier is home to plenty of Sea Lions, Pelicans, sea gulls and Cormorants. The oder is quite distinct.

Down in the Kelp forest below the Monterey Bay Aquarium we found our sea otters. Those cute fury little creatures. We spotted some large Jellies to floating along in the water.
We Paddled over to Lovers cove for a break and a walk about. There were some fun swells to negotiate on the way there.
Of course the way back is always a little more tricky on the swells. We had a fun evening out in Monterey, Sly McFly is one of my favorites.

Oot and aboot in Grand Rapids.

Mini-golf is a game I've always enjoyed, I don't remember being so bad at it though... I didn't even have a list of excuses pre-prepared ;) Heidi's brothers are very good at these kind of things, She and her Mom are ringers too! All good fun.

Grand Rapids seemed to be having a festival the whole time we were there. Hot Rods, classic cars, parades, lumber jack demonstrations, tree carving, cheese...
There is a nice bike trail in northern Minnesota called the Mesabi Trail. At 130 odd miles its pretty impressive. Old roads and railways make up the paved trail, that runs through the old open pit iron-ore mines. Which have recently started to reopen due to newer spoil reprocessing technologies. Many are full of very inviting water. The rich red color is beautiful against the lush green trees.
After riding around in the heat it's refreshing to jump in a lake. One should be careful which lake though. Some lakes could have a parasite carried by birds and snails that cause Lake Itch. Trout Lake is a deep one though and thought to be safe.
Trout Lake is also home to many Bald Eagles, one might think hey that's a golden, but it is indeed a juvenile Bald.
I like how accessible things are around there, the people are much more friendly too. 
Now that's a catch !
And look at that Big mouth Bass too!
One of the biggest lakes around Grand Rapids is Pokegamma. One of Heidi's old classmates we met up at her class reunion had a house boat! What a great way to hang on a lake. I've seen and heard about them, but never actually been on one.
A great way to spend a day in Minnesota, with great friends.
Grand Rapids had the biggest parade I've ever seen. It lastest an hour and a half! it had float planes, fire trucks, gynasium floats, vets, umpteen tractors, politians, horses and local busineses and they all gave out candy, piles of it. The dentists will be busy!

Our last night in Grand Rapids they had the July 4th fireworks. Its was August, but hey, who doesn't like fireworks ?

It was a great show, and what better way to watch it than from the water. Thanks to Nate and Sarah for being such fabulous hosts on their boat.

Twin Citys.

Ever wonder where that is ? Wonder no more, in Minnesota, Minneapolis is across the Mississippi river from St Paul. Minnesota is known as the land of 10,000 lakes.We explored a few :)
Amy had some discount tickets for Kayaking around Lake Calhoon, I cannot recommend the concession stand! But the kayaking was way fun. We paddled from Calhoon across Lake of the Isles and into Cedar Lake. 

The Lakes were plenty warm enough to swim, and the water was mostly clean enough.Being on or in the water is a great way to get over travel lag.

In the previous 48 hours we had driven 20 hours, missed a plane (standy-by), gotten turned away from a rental car counter. Rode a train that broke down, rode the back up city bus full of drunks at 1am, and caught a taxi that needed some direction, we did however finally get there. It was great to meet Heidi's friends.
Next up a family fishing trip to Ballclub Lake. Fishing is not among my skill set, but I do enjoy being on the water. 
The fish to catch are Walleye, though Northern pike and perch were all we were catching.

We had several storms roll through, each of them quite spectacular.

Maybe not quite so conducive for fishing though...

California North Coast

We headed southwest from Grants towards Crescent City, a part of the north California coast I've not explored before.
We followed Smith River for some time and came across this Darlingtonia or Pitcher plant reserve. Its a flytrap plant, at 2 -3 feet tall quite unusual. 
A little further down the road is Jedediah Smith Redwoods state park. I've been to a few redwood groves before but this is an entire forest of huge trees.
Pretty soon we were in Crescent City for a wander on the beach and a bite to eat. We were treated to a beautiful sunset.
We camped at Mill creek state park camp ground. Which was very popular, alas we were out of time to explore and needed to head south to San Jose to catch a plane the very next day. Along the 101 coastal drive we did stop in Eureka at the Lost Coast Brewery my favorite beer :) Around town there are many murals, by various artists. The town has an interesting vibe, I think I know why ;)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mt St Helens

Just a little south of Seattle, Mt St Helens lurks in the clouds. Its pretty deep in the Cascade mountain range.
I remember when MT St Helens blew in 1980, ash collected on the windshield of our car in England !
The visitors center is pretty neat to visit with a movie theater about the goelogical history of the mountain, and the ecological recovery since the eruption. When the movie finishes the curtain goes up and reveales the view behind. A neat wow effect :)
Heidi and I went for a hike down to Spirit Lake, the lake with thousands of trees still floating around from the blast that knocked them in there. 32 years and it's still quite barren and other worldly.
This chipmunk likes his home though.
Again we lucked into a tremendous wildflower bloom. There's always a spring bloom to be found at some elevation.
Its is visually stunning still.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Chihuly in Seattle

 Here we are in Seattle at the Chihuly Glass exhibit.
 Heidi was eager to visit. I'm glad since I thoroughly enjoyed it. Especially with her perspective.
The glass-work is impressive, not just in creativity but actually physical size, this one is about the size of a school bus.
Out side there is a sculpture garden that the creations sit in. Thinking about about why what was placed were in terms of architecture fascinates me.
And pondering where art meets engineering, and the team negotiations that created the exhibit. 
Having the vision is a gift.
We had dinner at Pikes Place Brewery, after a short tour of the city. Seattle is a fun town to visit.