So it’s 2013…

Turns out (shocking, I know) I took a lot of photos during 2012…perhaps too many.  Some made it up here, but at least 80% did not.  I found a neat little app (memovy) that will time-lapse photos from your phone and add a little music to it as well.

(also, I mistakenly titled it 2013…when it should really say 2012…but I can’t change it now…so deal)

Here’s a quick recap of 2012…

We traveled to…

  • Monterey, CA
  • Colorado
  • Utah
  • Portland
  • South Africa
  • San Francisco
  • Mammoth
  • Jackson, WY
  • Yellowstone
  • Arizona
  • Idaho
  • Sonoma
  • DC
  • Santa Barbara
  • Princeton, NJ
  • Georgia
  • Lander, WY
  • and probably a few other places I’ve forgotten.

We…

  • Attended two college graduations
  • Threw a joint 60th birthday party
  • Celebrated from afar another 60th birthday
  • Went wine tasting (three times)
  • Went on at least 2 fishing trips
  • Quit a job
  • Then got a job with NOLS (bucket list)
  • Cooked a lot of good food
  • Completed a Triathlon
  • Lost 10 pounds
  • Had papers published
  • Breathed new life into our 12-year-old Subaru (According to our checkbook, it should last another 12 years now)
  • Reconnected with a friend from high school
  • Reconnected with at least 5 friends from college
  • Watched our nieces and nephew grow up (way too fast)
  • Visited family
  • Had family visit us
  • Drove MANY miles
  • Worked hard
  • Threw a Christmas party
  • Had friends visit us
  • and I’m sure there is more…

Here’s to an even better 2013 filled with more adventures, road trips, friends and family!

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If only time would slow down…

I’d have enough of it to update this little blog more often.  Sometimes, I get hung up on trying to recap everything that I’ve been doing…and when there is not enough time to do that…I just ignore it altogether.  So…here’s what’s been going on around here…

We did some fishing in and around Mammoth Lakes…

and when someone else is doing the majority of the ‘catching’…a cold one tastes mighty fine…

Cleo joined us on the trip and got in on the action with some swimming for birds!

Can’t get enough of the Sierras!

More on that trip in a future post…

Next up…Monterey, CA!

Thanks to Woody’s intellectual prowess…we get the bonus of a trip to Monterey in September for the next four years thanks to a Packard Fellowship for the annual meeting.  He has business to attend to during this meeting…but I just enjoyed the trip…especially the part about before-hours access to the Monterey Bay Aquarium!

Not a bad view from the hotel…

Woody gave his talk on the first morning, which worked out well and he could relax a bit after that.

Plenty of otters in the bay…I spent hours watching and photographing.  It was actually hard to look out at the ocean and not see at least one!

The weekend is busy with talks given by the fellows but there was also plenty of time to socialize and get to know the attendees.  We were lucky to have a good friend/colleague of ours from another University to hang out with at the lunches and dinners!

Seals, sea lions, cormorants, herons, kayakers…

We were treated to a fog free weekend – just beautiful!

Look closely…that is an entire raft of otters…pretty much a party out there in the kelp beds!

Sunrise over the bay

Just to top it off…we shared a flight back to LAX with a certain famous person.  Many would know him as McDreamy…and although Woody now thinks I’m a stalker for knowing who he is and being a bit starstruck…it was a quick reminder that celebrities are real people (at least some of them) who fly commercial airlines.  Even better than the sighting, was the very tipsy woman across the aisle on the plane who drunk-whispered (as in I’m sure the whole plane heard her) “Is that guy up there famous or something…?”  He looks so familiar…what’s his name…I could be seeing things…I’ve had a little too much sun today and a…lot…of…wine…”  Priceless!

Alright this post has gotten a bit longer than intended…so…here’s part one.  Part two including a recap of our Teton trip and some other recent adventures/mishaps coming soon!

Let’s talk SUMMER!

Summer is about to officially end…and I’ve got a lot to catch you up on.  It’s been a busy summer with lots of travel and adventures.  Let’s start in mid-May…

We visited Colorado to see Sarah graduate from CC!

typical Colorado spring weather – chilly and rainy

bbq and beer to celebrate while watching the sun be eclipsed

Then, back to California…

for Wynne’s graduation from Redlands…

she’s the one in the middle looking very scholarly

with a bonus visit of Ciaran, Kate, Avery and Eloise for day or so…

Avery really likes writing out her letters…and rolling around in chalk!

any rectangles drawn must be completely filled in!

and this one…she kills me!

and we can’t forget about Cleo…she celebrated her 5th birthday in May…

I celebrated a friend’s birthday with some beach time with bonfires!

Most of June was consumed by secret planning for this…

the dual celebration of both my parents turning 60 this year…

lots of good times…with dogs in the pool…

and planning this…

what is formally known as one of the better Connelly Family Birthday traditions…a pie fight!

complete with chocolate pudding and whip cream!

There were many walks with Cleo…the best ones involve squirrel-stalking!

Mid-July found both Woody and I traveling for work.  He first went to Stanford for some instrument time…and I embarked on a road trip with the final destination of Denver to work a course for Big City Mountaineers.

I left Pasadena and headed through Las Vegas to Springfield, Utah…just outside of Zion.

The heat was outrageous in Vegas…and massive desert thunderstorms broke out just as I left the interstate!  I truly miss summer storms.  

(Oddly, as I sit here right this moment, Pasadena is experiencing a rare bout of thunder and rain…and I could not be more pleased!)

It had been at least 10 years…and maybe even closer to 15 years since I had been through Zion…you can truly forget how beautiful and stunning the landscape can be.

The next day had me driving to Salt Lake/Park CIty.  I stayed with some of my favorite peeps…Carrie and Andre.  I seemed to bring the weather along with me wherever I traveled as well.  Hot and stuffy when I arrived and by 9 pm, it was blustery, chilly and the power was out!

From Park City, I drove towards Glenwood Springs to catch up with a friend from high school whom I haven’t seen since her wedding!

a little swimming in the hot springs and lots of catching up over beers and dinner and hanging out with her cute little family!

One last day of driving towards Denver, with only 2 cd’s left to go on my book on tape, 30 minutes into the drive…

this happened…

Apparently the little Subie just could not go any further…called AAA and waited…and poured water in the radiator every so often as it became clear very quickly that things were HOT!

Pop quiz:  Anyone know how far AAA will tow for free…?  I do!  1oo miles – above and beyond is an additional charge.  Question #2 – how far from Denver did my car break down?  132 miles!

Okay, I can’t resist…question #3 – how long did it take to drive (the tow truck driver…not me) those 132 miles…?  More than 6 hours!  That is an average speed of 22 miles per hour…and 3.5 more hours than I intended to spend in the company of my tow truck driver.  Can’t say I didn’t learn a thing or two…mainly about cougar hunting, the history of the Vail area and of course…how the ‘illegals are stealing all the jobs’ and that this president we have is ‘doing nothing more than ruining our country.’

Character building…that’s how I made myself feel better about the whole situation.

I made it to Denver, dropped the car at a shop and was generously picked up by a friend for some dinner and carting all my shtuff to the house where I was staying.  Monday brought with it prepping for the trip I was leading and making very expensive decisions about what to do with the car.  Turns out the engine was ‘done’ and needed to be completely rebuilt…and since we’re in there…why not replace the clutch too.

Tuesday…course begins.  Backpacking with 4 girls and 2 adult volunteers for 7 days in the Medicine Bow Wilderness in Wyoming.

The trip was great…girls were amazing and a lot of fun.  Three were Nepali and one from Rwanda – lots of cultural differences to discuss and learn about and the scenery could not have been better.  I have definitely bookmarked the area in my brain for a future personal trip.

And then…because I needed yet another thing to pop up and get in my way…

I found myself in a doctor’s office hoping for an explanation as to why a good portion of my feet were numb and tingly (and had been since the day 2 of the course).  This was particularly important as I was scheduled to lead a second trip for BCM 5 days later.  The answer was not what I hoped to hear – 1) they don’t know exactly why my feet were numb and tingly; 2) strongly recommended against leading another backpacking trip; and 3) gave me the diagnosis of ‘digital nerve damage with cause unknown’.  Great.  Just garreat.

So, now the car is fixed, but my feet are broken.  Thanks to another instructor coming through at the very last-minute, I was off the hook and the trip headed out into the field right on schedule.

I now found myself with some time on my hands in Denver…so my Mom hopped a plane and joined me for a surprise girls weekend full of Olympic watching, relaxation, dinners out, afternoon tea, a little shopping and a seeing my first live musical – Jersey Boys.

The afternoon thunderstorms continued and I could not get enough of them!

Since I was not working the course…it was now time to drive back towards Pasadena.  I left Golden and headed for the open road!

I drove some roads I never had before, starting with US-285 from Denver to Fairplay to Buena Vista…

 Through Salida and then west towards Gunnison…

And finally to Montrose where I stopped for the night…

In the a.m., I headed due south towards Durango driving through Ouray.

Can we discuss how great road trips are?  I mean, really.  The scenery continually shifting, with tunes of your choice (or a good book or two on tape)…what is not to like!

I just kept reaching for the camera…I couldn’t help myself!

I passed through Mancos and Cortez and headed southwest through the Navajo Nation towards Flagstaff.

Passing right through the Four Corners.

This is pretty much how I roll…

Leaving the red dirt of the desert behind and heading up to 7000 feet and the Ponderosa forests of Flagstaff.

It was too early to stop when I hit Flagstaff…so I drove on to explore a new town…Prescott.  I found an amazing little place to stay…grabbed a bite to eat and watched some more olympics.

The next morning marked my last day on the road.  It was hardly more than a 6 hour drive back to Pasadena…and Woody was returning from his field work in South Africa that same morning.

Yet another road I had not yet driven…and incredibly beautiful.  Note that there is only one lane on the road…the east-bound traffic was 700 feet below.

It was my first time driving through Palm Springs…and perhaps not the best time of year/day for a positive impression – it was scorchingly hot, and apparently it’s a time of year when many businesses shut down for two or three weeks…like the shoulder seasons in a ski town.  Not much else to say.

And then, rather anti-climactically…I arrived home to Pasadena!  It was REALLY nice to be home and to see Woody and Cleo…and unpack…and cook in our own kitchen.

We belated celebrated our 6 year anniversary with a night out at The Bazaar by José Andrés…and this is definitely the prettiest gin and tonic I’ve ever had!

The experience was amazing and we hardly grazed the surface of the expansive menu which includes both traditional and modern (read: molecular gastronomic) tapas.

Green olives…real on the bottom and liquid olive spheres on top!

Tortilla Espagnola…re-thunk!

And the most interesting philly cheesesteak I’ve ever eaten…hollow inside with a cheese creamy foam piped inside with wagyu beef and chives.  The meal included many more dishes…too many to share and the iPhone photos don’t do the tapas justice.  A memorable anniversary for sure!

Then…we landed on Mars!

Well, not actually “we” as in Woody and myself…but “we” as in humanity…or at least a roving remote-controlled science lab landed on Mars.  This was an opportunity for tailgating at Caltech…where the very idea of such is foreign.  There were of course more official and formal celebrations being held on campus…none of which we were invited to (read: allowed into).  So, some creative ambitious grad students got to setting up a projector with a laptop and a set of speakers on the side of one of the buildings…lawn chairs were set-up, and beer and twizzlers were passed around while watching the live feed from the NASA website of mission control at JPL.

Colleagues of Woody’s have been instrumental in the MSL project and we spotted a few familiar faces on the screen throughout the broadcast.

That’s John Grotzinger on the right – Project Scientist for Mars Science Lab – and a good friend of ours!

Mark had some work in Anaheim…so he squeezed in a visit.

Always fun to have him in town, if even for a short time.

The next weekend we headed for a morning hike in Griffith Park as part of our attempt to be tourists in our own city…so many things still to do!

Whew!  I think that most brings us up to date…at least through mid-August.  We returned on Tuesday from a long weekend in the eastern Sierras…so hopefully I can get some of those pictures up soon.  I am truly in disbelief that tomorrow is SEPTEMBER!

Can I get a “YIKES!”?

This past weekend, we…

…drank coffee

I watched some soccer…

…enjoyed late breakfast/early lunch with this girl at this place.  (delicious huevos!)

…made some progress cleaning up this disaster…

 {I can’t believe I just shared a pic of ‘the room’…although I’m comforted by the fact that I think everyone has one of these…the room/closet/corner/garage where stuff gets stashed away…hidden…never to be spoken of again…hoping that little elves will magically appear and clean/tidy/sort/rearrange it for you!}

Moving on…

I organized my fabrics using these (having seen the idea over here and here)…

We ate pasta carbonara for dinner…

 Dinner was followed by planning for Sunday and watching True Grit…which we enjoyed, but it was certainly not our favorite Cohen brothers movie…and ended a bit abruptly for my taste!

Now Sunday…Sunday – we had a real adventure.

This past Christmas, Woody and I gave each other one of these – a Watermaster Raft by Big Sky Inflatables.  The idea being that we would be able to access a lot more water for fly fishing on our own without hiring a (very $$$$) guide.  Woody has been dreaming of one of these for years…and they finally arrived in February and until yesterday…we hadn’t had the chance to get them out and take them for a spin.

Need I remind you that we live in LA county…and open water (not including the ocean) is a bit hard to come by.  We researched and found this tiny lake just outside of Wrightwood, on the eastern side of the San Gabriel Mountains.  They stock it with trout and there are no motorized vessels allowed.  However…I would classify it as a large pond…lake is stretching it a bit.

This was the first time to set up the rafts….

Just as advertised, very easy…unfold, get out the foot pump, attach it and in a few minutes, half the raft is inflated.

There are two bladders, so if one fails…the whole thing won’t sink.

There is a foot strap so you can pick you feet up.

Everything is very light weight and when the whole thing is packed up, it’s fits in its own dry bag and only weighs 38 lbs.

The raft itself only weighs about 23 lbs., so once it is inflated and ready to go, it is very easy to launch.

 Getting situated…the seat needed some adjustment.

It comes with flippers as well…and was very maneuverable both with the oars and the flippers.

Very easy to paddle…and on a flat pond with little wind and no current…almost a bit too maneuverable….which bodes well for moving water.

Despite what the pictures might portray, we were not the only ones at the lake…there were easily 15 people already fishing from the shore when we arrived and probably closer to 35 people by the time we left…including a lot of children and families.  Also…this lake was stuffed with goldfish…big goldfish, and goldfish that hung out in the shallows only to be taunted by boys and girls under the age of 7 who tried repeatedly to catch them using anything they could other than a rod and reel.

When we were done, we just hauled the boats out onto the grass, removed the accessories and deflated the bladders and let them dry a bit before folding them up and packing it all in.

We took the long and scenic route home on the 2 or the Angeles Crest Highway.  It was Woody’s first time driving through and the first time I had seen it since the Station Fire swept through the San Gabriel mountains  in late August of 2009.  Click here for an aerial infra-red shot.  Great photos and a map can be found here

(seen from the 10 and the 110 interchange.  The smoke actually created its own weather systems!)

It was amazing to be driving and looking in almost any direction and realizing that everything in view burned.  All of it.  And also amazing to see how it changed the landscape as well.  It is a very different forest now and will be for a long time!

We stopped for some groceries and then headed for an afternoon snack and beer at this place.  This is our favorite pizza…E-V-A-H!

 The Avocado Festival…sounds weird…but it is scrumptious!  The beer…also tasted very good!

Then we headed home and hung out with Cleo…since she felt a little ignored by not being invited on the adventure!

 How was your weekend?  What did you do?

Stumbling…

There is a dichotomy in my life…

So far I’d say I’m having a good year…

There’s a lot going on and the desire to post more and share more and write more is there…but somehow the time is not.  It seems possible and then it slips away.

So as I stumble through trying to create new habits, battle busy schedules and find some time to enjoy myself…this little blog has suffered…but I have not forgotten and I can see a light at the end the next 4 crazy weeks.

I couldn’t resist sharing at least one or two things that are making me happy these days…

1. A little goofy, a little unbalanced – that’s me…

Find more of these amazing underwater dog photos here

2.  I wasn’t sure about this song the first time I heard it…but now I am entirely obsessed!

3.  This article captivated my attention…truly fascinating.  The history and craftsmanship and the potential loss of this art and era is stunning!

Source: LA Times

Here’s to a good weekend!

Wordless Wednesday…

I have no words.

Fun activity to complete at home…

How many toys are in the photo?

How many dog beds are in the photo?

How many living breathing dogs are in the photo?

(post your answers in the comments!)

Busy Weekend…aka how to not be lonely…

Woody is off gallivanting around Europe doing science-y things (I know I sound real smart), while I single parent our canine child, work a ton and run the household.  I’m used to lengthy periods of alone time…I use to be the one who was off parading around the wilderness…now I’m the one holding down the fort.  You might worry I’m a tad lonely…don’t fret…I have plenty of things to fill my time.

Shark Week! – Only the best week of the summer.  I know that most of the shows are recycled from year to year…but I still love me some shark shows.  I was a bit surprised by just how many shark attack shows there were or even worse…When Fish Attack…2.  But this didn’t keep me from gawking.

Spinning – I took my first ever spinning class at this place since I bought a Groupon for it.  Upside…I did not die…which I sort of expected.  I did think at the end that my legs might just crumple as I stepped off the bike…luckily they held.  And it was over before I thought it would be…big bonus there!

Yard and garden work – I planted some tomato plants and herbs in pots on our deck.

I just couldn’t go another summer buying tomatoes…even from the farmer’s market.  It just didn’t seem like summer without tomatoes fresh from the garden.  They were so little back then…

Now they are big honkers…

with real little ‘maters growing…

Socializing – since I no longer work with this lady…now I have to pencil her into my ever-so-busy-social-calendar…I kid.  But seriously, when you work everyday with someone for over 2 years…and then they are just not there anymore…you go through a little withdrawal…so to get my Jennie fix…we grabbed dinner here and laughed and caught up.

They had such delicious things as chicken and waffles with maple glazed squash and sage brown butter, beets with goat cheese ice cream and gnocchi with asparagus, crème fraîche and basil, and it was a hidden and unexpected outdoor patio in the middle of Hollywood!

All summer long, we enjoy the Ath al Fresco or the garden version of the Caltech Faculty Club.  It’s grown hugely in popularity, good for them…not so good for just grabbing a bite to eat on a weeknight without any crowds…but we still go and it’s great.

This past Saturday, I was quite the girl around town.  Early morning errands, mid-afternoon found me at The Huntley attending a Colorado College event to meet soon-to-be-freshmen headed to Colorado while enjoying an amazing view and some nibbles.

Then it was back to Pasadena…at the painfully slow pace of LA traffic on a Saturday afternoon to meet up with Jen, feed Cleo and pack up delicious picnic supplies for an evening with the California Philharmonic at the L.A. Arboretum.

photo courtesy of Jen Griffes

I can’t believe I wasn’t aware of these events until last week!  Who wouldn’t want to go set-up a picnic on a beautiful lawn on a summer evening and enjoy some wine and great classical music?  This particular evening was music of Rogers & Hammerstein in Europe.

photo courtesy of Jen Griffes

Peacocks abound at the arboretum and even sing-along to the music and applause.

photo courtesy of Jen Griffes

Cleo – She’s been keeping me company, snuggling in the morning under the covers, and sunning herself on the patio…she’s been ultra-serious about keeping an eye out for critters this summer…and each night she wants to inspect the hedges for any little bit of noise or movement.  We walk every morning and sometimes in the evening.  Then there was some early morning puking on Sunday and of course some sneaky attempts at lap-lounging while I’m on the couch.  We’re a good team.

More updates to come…trying to make sure not to waste these precious last few weeks of summer!