Friday, June 24, 2011


We were very very lucky on this trip - Jean's mom's friend had Yosemite camping reservations and had to cancel out. So we got to spend a few days in Yosemite Valley with Jean's family which was great fun. Leo and Jean's kids, Mateo and Hugo, get along amazingly well and spent most of the time playing on their own, leaving the adults to nap, drink wine and chat.

We put Leo to work, holding up the rocks:

Here's the requisite Yosemite Valley picture of Half Dome and El Capitan. I included the yellow school bus - just in case you forgot the huge crowds and traffic jams of the valley during the summer.

At Mirror Lake (which used to be a loop trail that now ends where part of Half Dome fell across the trail), Leo decided to have a picnic on a rock in the lake:

We fought the crowds at the Mist Trail that goes up Vernal Falls. Snowpack is at record levels, making the waterfalls 2-3 times their normal flow at this time of year. The footbridge of Vernal Falls looks safe here but when you're on it, it feels pretty scary, and even in the 94F heat, it's cold at this spot:

And the requisite shots of family at Glacier Point, overlooking Half Dome. By the time we were done, Leo knew the name of this rock and knew that when he was old enough, we'd take him to climb up it and stick his eyeballs over the edge:

The Ku-Tsai's at Yosemite

Jean's mom's friend got Yosemite reservations and was unable to go so we got to go to Yosemite with Jean and Minh and the kids and Jean's mom. We had a great three days running around on the rocks and hiking in the hot sun and cooling ourselves in the frigid waters. The kids got along fabulously. Here's Mateo on the rock:

We hiked up the Vernal/Nevada Falls trail and the kids got to cool off a bit in the water:

The rocks were awesome, of course:

Mateo and Hugo had a great time bouldering:

Finding a hidden rock cave on the Mirror Lake trail:

Jean showing off the moss:

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fremont Peak State Park

Turns out its nearly impossible to get a campsite reservation on a summer weekend in California. So Root and Erik and their crews got together with us at Fremont Peak State Park, up the hill from Monterey. Here's Elaina showing us just what spectacular fun can be had:

We had a great time camping in the rain. So we went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium to get dry:

Mira at the touch pool:

On our hike, we found a great hole in a tree filled with water and mosquito larva:

Leo and Xander, tired or bored?

Leo and Xander would go tearing down the trail and I'd be running after them (there was a ton of poison oak everywhere), yelling, "Leo! Xander!". It sounded just like me at home yelling, "Leo Zander"!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bath, Beach and Boys

We went camping in New Brighton State Beach in Santa Cruz with Jean and her boys. Had an awesome time on the beach and eating gourmet camping food. Minh grilled some filet mignon for Leo which received his highest marks ever - all ten fingers, ten toes, all his teeth and all the hairs on his head - way more than a thumbs up!

Leo and Mateo found a teepee on the beach:

Jean was flattened by her boys:

Paul was attacked by the kids:

Jean showed off her frog-like tendencies:

Paul expresses his love of beaches:

The Tsai's enjoyed flying our swag kite:

But the best fun was the standoff with the waves:

That ended with a lot of wet, cold kids:

Kids getting clean:

Mateo singing in the bath:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

King's Canyon and Sequoia National Parks

We had a great camping trip up in King's Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. It's been 21 years since I've been in those parks and they are still absolutely stunning. A lot more bear boxes! I remember going up there for my first ever backpacking trip and being lucky to not have my food stolen by a bear. We didn't see any bears but talked to some folks who saw a mom and two cubs near the road.

It was pretty cold in the high (6000-7000 ft) reaches of the park and we spent one day in dense fog where it looked like the tops of the Sequoia trees were in the clouds. There was still a lot of snow up there:

Leo had one cold, wet butt after sliding down this slope.

The roots of a giant fallen sequoia:

King's Canyon is like a smaller, less crowded version of Yosemite - glacial cut granite with beautiful meadows:

and lots of great rock for climbing:

Zumwalt Meadow:
Lots of fire damage. The fire is actually beneficial to the sequoias reproduction as it clears out the undergrowth:

The largest living thing on earth is this tree - General Sherman tree:

The requisite drive-through-log:

Pine cone from maybe a sugar pine? The sequoia pine cones are really small.

The highlight for Leo was spelunking in Crystal Cave. Huge rooms, lots of cool formations.

Requisite family photo at random water fall. There were tons of water falls in the park. The water flow was spectacular. All that great Sierra snow melting. Rafting those rivers looked pretty deadly.