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!

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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!”?

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!)

I know why it’s cold in Pasadena…

…and it’s all my fault.  It all started a few weeks ago, when it was hot.

Reason 1:  When we moved in to the house, not a single window had a screen on it, and that was fine for two years.  But our interior bug population grew in diversity on a nightly basis as we cooled the house the California way…by opening up every single window and door and letting the cool air flow into the house.  It was time for some screens.  Behind our garage, I discovered what seemed to be a stockpile of old metal mesh screens, many of which looked to be the right sizes.  I grabbed the one that measured about right for the bedroom window, hosed off the cob webs, and climbed through the rose bushes to see if it would work.  Nope!  I cannot figure out for the life of me why it would be ½ inch on all sides for the window…very strange.  I wedged it in there to make it mildly effective and then convinced Woody we needed screens.  Turns out it is simple and completely reasonable in price.  I researched, called a guy, scheduled them, and then in one afternoon, we were set…brand new screens in 15 out of 20 windows!

And now…it is freezing.  No reason to open the windows to cool the house off when it’s only a high of 63 degrees.

Reason 2:  When I scheduled the screen guys to come out…Woody was disappointed I hadn’t yet dealt with our sprinkler issues.  (Sprinkler issues meaning multiple geysers in the front and back yard and most likely additional unknown problems).  So, why not deal with everything all at the same time.  Sprinkler guys arrive Monday morning for an estimate…and then I was hit with a doozy.  Some serious sprinkler issues, like pressure issues, some kind of commercial backflow, many broken heads, poor zoning and at least one broken sprinkler line. So, I scheduled the work as the lawn has been teetering on the edge of dead-ness…in the tunnel, looking at the beautiful light and thinking it looks pretty good, and the weather is bound to turn ungodly hot very soon.  So I scheduled sprinkler guys, and the weather turns cold, chilly, dreary and rainy!

Now we have screened windows and working sprinklers…any time the sun would like to show up would be fine with me!

So you can blame me.  It’s all my fault.  (Disclaimer: This is only for the southern California region…I am not to blame for all the May snowstorms and below 60 degree weather in the rest of the country.)

Hope you’re getting a taste of spring!

Also, today was bike to work day.  I did, and for this I received free breakfast, a bag of goodies including some patch kits, clif bars and bike maps of the LA area.  Also, free lunch and a raffle ticket…which I won.  $10 gift card to Subway!

And now, Cleo is snuggled next to me and has had at least 3 different dreams in the last hour and a half…there was some sleep-barking, some sleep-running and a lot of good twitching.  I’m guessing there were squirrels and maybe some rabbits involved.

I would have rather…

been snuggled in bed with a stack of cookbooks, a cozy scarf, some hot peppermint tea and Cleo doing her best imitation of a peanut, doing my best to let my body knock the crap out of the germs that are making me feel this way.

But instead I was at work, with the heat turned on high, entering data onto the same spreadsheet more 90% of the day.  Outside it is entirely miserable.  Pouring, then drizzling, then dumping and pouring again (roof…you hold on…you hear…we’ll be fixing you soon…you can do it, I know it!) and cold…so cold that the Hollywood sign is expected to get a dusting of snow this weekend.  As far as I go…well, not feeling so hot…a touch of a scratchy throat…sleep that somehow just doesn’t cut it…waking up feeling like you could use another—I don’t know…6½ hours more of deep sleep.  A little bit of a cough and just a bit of haze in my head.  If it was any other week…I would have stayed home.  Now the goal is simply to recover for next week which promises to be the nail in the coffin of this season of work.  If it weren’t for coworkers who I truly like, and well-timed outbursts (every so often), tempered with many comments that someone must secretly be taping our office for inspiration for future episodes of The Office…I’m not sure what I’d do.  The end is in sight…or…this too shall pass…or…it can’t last forever…repeat after me…

Happy weekend!  I’m gonna enjoy this one, damn it!

{as soon as I feel a little better…sniffle}

Even the Trees are Confused…

I bet your December doesn’t look like this.  No, this picture is not a couple of months old…it is from just the other morning when I took Cleo for a walk.  The weather this fall has been strange.  Strange enough that trees who thought they had it good by putting down roots and growing tall in Southern California have now had to act like deciduous trees in the rest of the non-almost-tropical-world and drop their leaves.  That’s right, it is has been cold enough for long enough…that all of a sudden it’s looking like an early  New England fall.

I’ve gone from flip-flops to clogs to wellies to flip-flops – don’t even get me started on the comforter situation in the bedroom.  One weekend, the highs are near 80 (not helpful when trying to have a Christmas party and turn the fireplace on for some ambiance), and then the next it’s pouring and the highs are in the mid-60’s.  Also…living here…you’d think that there was nothing else going on in the world…since the only thing the local news covers is the torrential rain storm and the mudslides that are happening…nevermind about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the healthcare bill and the tax laws…didn’t you hear…IT’S RAINING!!!!!