Snapshots and a bit more…

So far 2013 has been pretty great!

I started a new job (teaching wilderness medicine courses) which is working out great!  My first course was in Berkeley and I had the privilege of teaching with a friend from college!

My students were an interesting mix and even wrote a limerick about me on the last day of class!

After Berkeley, it was on to Utah to (hopefully) get in a few days of skiing, see my family and meet up with Woody who gave a talk at the U!

The weather did its best to keep us from skiing…freezing rain storm, weird inversion, crazy fog, horrible air quality…so while woody was busy, I did my best to keep busy!

Liam and Rory and their partner Andrew are deep in the midst of recipe testing, construction, beer brewing, contractor and architect meetings in preparation of opening their gastropub in the Aves – they’re hoping to open in April!  Check them out on facebook, there has been quite a bit of buzz about them already, as evidenced here.

Work got crazy for Woody and he had to head back to Pasadena a couple of days early, but my last day in town, Wynne, Liam and I headed up to Alta for my first day of skiing in a couple of years.  (which, by the way, is a totally depressing fact!)

I’ve got to admit…I surprised myself.  I pretty much thought my legs would crumble to pieces after a couple runs…but they held up well.  Although it was INCREDIBLY windy, it was snowing and it just kept snowing more and more…so much that it was hard to finally decide to call it a day.  Great snow…great skiing…and I only really crashed hard once.  We expected a bit of a slog down canyon (Sunday evening, the OR show ended, Sundance Film Festival ended, Alt Summit ended, roads were bad, everyone stayed later since the skiing was soooo good).  However…none of us expected this…

We left the parking lot at 3:45 pm.

We arrived home at 7:35 pm.

The drive is just about 20 miles.

We averaged 5 miles an hour.

It was AWFUL!

For me the next morning meant a 5:00 am wake up so I could get to the airport for a 7:30 am flight back to Pasadena.  It continued snowing all night long, and while I made the (silly) assumption that the roads might be vaguely plowed…and by roads I mean Interstate 80…by 5:30 in the morning…I was proved wrong.

Between snowy slick roads, dragging luggage through piles of slush, overheated airports and the general unpleasantness of travelers before the crack of dawn…my morning was less than stellar!  Let’s just say I was pleased to be returning to mid-70 degree weather!

Back in Pasadena, Cleo and I got into a fairly regular schedule.

We’ve spotted some unusual things…

This is about a 10 inch long lizard tale artfully placed on our front stoop.  I have yet to see the tail-less lizard lurking around.

A few of our mornings have been quite cold!  (I can hear the laughter of those in places like Minnesota, Utah and the east coast!)  Yes, that is ice on the top of the car.

And frost on the grass!

But…it’s still California!

Woody took off on a field trip to Death Valley with students for the weekend and I had a whirlwind Saturday that involved about 140 miles of driving.  Carrie happened to be in town for a conference the whole week and had a bit of time Saturday morning before she flew out of Orange County.  I drove down to Irvine and met up with her for some breakfast and exploring at this place…which we stumbled upon.  It was very non-orange county and was a bit of a gem!

I think it is where hipsters go to recharge their flannel-clothed-beard-wearing-yoga-loving-craft-inspired-woodgrain-addicted-batteries.  The photos on yelp explain it all.  Old Vine Cafe provided a delicious (if not huge) breakfast!  And as usual, Carrie and I never remember to get a photo of the two of us.  After dropping her at the airport, I headed towards San Pedro to explore this place and partake in a blogger crafting event in the spirit of Valentine’s Day.

Fun to make some new crafts, meet some bloggers in person whom I know through their online photos and writing.  After I finished my crafting…it was time to drive to the Hollywood/Beverly Hills area to pick up two bottles of wine Woody and I bought for some friends at a wine event the week before.

LA has so much to explore…it’s nice to get out and see some new places!

And of course, get stuck in some traffic as well.

Sunday brought another storm, and since I hauled all of my ski stuff back to SoCal from Utah, it was time to attempt skiing in Southern California.  I had high hopes…

You can spot the snowy peaks after about 35 minutes heading west on the freeway.

About 14 miles from the exit up a very windy road…you reach Mt. Baldy Ski Lifts.  This is about as far as I got…actually, I parked, had time to put on all of my gear and as I was reaching for my skis from the top of the car, one of the parking attendants drove by in a truck mentioning that the winds were blowing so hard up top…they were closing for the day.

Plans thwarted!

All was not lost…as I was just about out of the foothills, I kid you not…a BOBCAT ran across the road in front of my car about 30 feet away!  My jaw dropped and I actually said it out loud in the car…”I just saw a bobcat run across the road!”  It looked just like this…except running!

Thanks to Mr. Bobcat – all was not lost!

Since I have chunks of time in between the courses I teach, I have been trying to get out as much as possible and explore new areas of LA county.  Jennie and I both had a Wednesday afternoon free…so we took Cleo for a hike in Eaton Canyon.  It’s a beautiful area…very popular…and on the weekends very crowded.  It’s a quick 3 mile round trip hike up to the waterfalls and much of it is shaded.  The afternoon was made even better when we topped it off with a stop for some frozen yogurt!

Valentine’s Day came and went.  Woody and I made Gruyere Fondue and started watching season 1 of The Wire…again.

Cleo has been enjoying the sun…Her tongue sticking out is too much in this pic!

With our chilly nights, she has also made it a habit (Woody has been a bad influence) to snuggle under the covers early in the morning until we can’t hit snooze on our alarm clocks anymore.

Fast forward to yesterday, it was time for Mt. Baldy: Round Two!

There are a couple of things to note about the image above.

1.  There is not a lot of snow on the ground – therefore, you have to take Chair #1 up to “The Notch” in order to even get to any terrain that would be mildly ski-able.

2.  I count approximately 15 cars visible – another area is out of view…so on the high-end, let’s estimate that there are 70 cars in the parking lot.  Total!  And not all of those are cars of skiers and snowboarders.  Mt. Baldy is very popular for scenic rides to the Notch, and there is a tubing area as well.

3.  It was cold – about 25 degrees.

4.  Those are some rickety chairs…also chair #1 takes approximately 25 minutes.

At this point I still wasn’t quite sure what I had gotten myself into.

At the top of the lift, it was more than a little unclear as to where the other lifts were.  Not a whole lot of signage and no obvious flow of skiers.  Only two lifts with actual ski-able runs were running, and 1 is really a short connector chair to get you back up to the notch from the gully where chair #3 is.

This little place is a lot like Alta, in that, everything is open…runs are not defined by trees…only defined by the amount of snow.  If they had a 3 foot base, you could ski anywhere and it would be amazing.  I headed off to skier’s left to catch what was left of the 10 inches of new snow from the storm that is now plowing towards the east coast.  I’m glad I did, although I skied over my fair share of willows trying to poke through the snow and at least a few rocks…and there were definitely some icy patches.

Apparently, the ski patrol (most of which is volunteer) all have crampons and ice axes in their lockers as there is a good chance that somebody gets themselves into a place that they can’t get out of…and just skiing out to them to assist is not really an option.

It was a lot like skiing at Alta is like in early November.  Thin is a bit of an understatement.  The views are incredible, the two groomed runs were really pleasant, and the complete lack of yahoos is unheard of for Southern California!  The view above is looking back towards the LA basin and the view below is looking out towards Victorville…basically you can see a good third of the way to Vegas.

I skied more than I thought I would…answered a lot of questions about “why I was cross-country skiing down the mountain?”…and decided to call it a day, knowing that it would be about an hour and a half before I got home with the 30 minute lift ride and traffic back to Pasadena.

So when I came up, I had to put my skis on right before getting on the lift…and coming down, you have to take your skis off…then they load them on to the chair behind you and hope the chair doesn’t swing so much that your skis slide right off.    The liftee was flummoxed by my tele skis…they don’t lock together and the center bar of the chair makes it difficult to hold your own skis.  Finally a sunbeaten older patroller came to the rescue and taught the liftee how to do it.  Riding down a chairlift with no skis on was a new experience as well!

All in all, it was a good day.  I’m glad I went and I might even look into getting onto their volunteer patrol.  I’ll keep my eyes peeled for the next storm and see if I can get more than 2 days of skiing in this winter!

Okay…

Now you are up to date!

Phew…that was a long one!

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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!

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!”?

Mixed Feelings

photo credit: Paul Huttner 

January arrived – and, at this point, is almost past…and I’ve got mixed feelings about it.  On one hand, it’s a new beginning and a chance to start fresh…and on the other hand there is such possibility to feel as though you’re not living up to your new goals or taking advantage of this new fresh start.  (this feeling also comes from my job…as there is nothing new and fresh about January in the cycle of our work…rather like false peaks on a mountain where the true summit is miles off in the distance)

Don’t get me wrong.  My January has gone pretty well…I’ve tried to hold firm with boundaries at work and not stay (too) late…I’ve jumped back on the workout wagon and have even managed to get myself into a pool to do some laps…I managed to get christmas 2011 put away (it may have been halfway through January…but who’s counting?)…I found us a real dining room table deeply on sale (floor sample!!)…I skipped out for a night to get drinks with friends for a birthday…and I have even managed to eat a little better.

However, there are many things that I have not managed to accomplish.  The house is a bit of a disaster…there are piles (glomming into one massive pile) of paper collecting dust as it waits to be sorted and dealt with…does it count when you do laundry but then never get it out of the dryer to fold? (I didn’t think so)…approximately 17 posts are waiting in the wings for me to write up for onionsandchocolate…Cleo desperately needs a bath and a nail trim.  The car needs to get into the shop for some very-needed repairs and our range thinks we hate it since we have hardly cooked anything since the start of the new year.  Oh, and that thing I used to do…blog…that has flown out the window!

I recently read an article about ‘To’Do’ lists and ways to make them truly count!  One suggestion was limit the list to five things.  Five is manageable, five is enough to feel satisfied and productive, five is not enough to feel overwhelmed by, five is good.  So what are your five things to do today…?  This weekend…?

Here are my five…(for the weekend)

1.  Tidy house and get laundry under control!

2.  Sort through, deal with and file papers is previously mentioned giant pile

3.  Exercise – at least once to the gym and maybe get a swim in as well

4.  Cook a whole dinner

5. Write and publish at least 1 post for onionsandchocolate

And number 6 is perhaps the most important…enjoy the weekend!

 

Yoga Mat Bag

I have finally embarked on the journey of learning to use a pattern.  Sewing pattern that is.  I bought a fabulous book, with many fun projects to plan for…but the first one I jumped into was the Yoga Mat Bag.

Handy as I always find myself with too many things in my hands, no pockets to speak of (the one and only downfall of comfy yoga pants) and fumbling to carry my mat…when I’m supposed to be calm and serene and looking like one of the yoga fanatics from the Athleta catalog.

This first bag was made for a friend.  I used home decor weight fabric which is a little heftier and sturdier.  The pocket is great for keys and chapstick and the drawstring keeps everything secure.  The strap is long enough to use across your body if you are riding your bike to yoga.  It seems like such a simple project, and it is…but there are key pieces of information that lurked in the pattern…like pressing the seams open, or sewing on the pocket first before sewing up the side of the bag…and as it turns out those bits are what make all the difference!

I have since made a second and larger one for a friend who happens to have the cushiest and stickiest yoga mat around – so a little extra fabric was in order.  Putting your yoga mat back in the bag should be like putting on pantyhose that are a few sizes too small!  I still think that patterns are somewhat hard to read, and are open to interpretation…but perhaps that is the challenge…otherwise, everyone would make their own yoga bags!