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!”?

Vienna Highlights…Day 4!

Started out the morning with some coffee and then it was off to watch morning practice at the Spanish Riding School.  Unfortunately, our flights home were before the next scheduled performance…otherwise, I would have loved to see the full performance.

It is classical dressage and the horses are all Lipizzaners, a breed from the 16th century of horses from the Iberian Peninsula.  All the horses that are trained and perform in Vienna are stallions and there are only 18 riders of varying levels who work with the horses.  The riding school is the oldest riding school in the world and the baroque building was built during the mid 1700’s.

During the two-hour morning practice, 5 or six riders and horses would practice for 30 minutes, and then would dismount, assistants came in to halter the horses, lead them back to the stables and the riders would leave to mount the next groups of “student” horses.  So over the course of the two hours, about 25 horses practiced various skills and moves.

Although none of the jumps and leaps were practiced during the session I watched – the stallions are known for amazing leaps and jumps…such as the one shown below.  (photo courtesy of The Horsey Lady)

Although a little like watching swimming practice or football practice, as you’re not always entirely sure what is going on – the arena was beautiful, the horses strong and talented and the riders were precise.  Very cool!

After the practice, I met up with Woody near Karlsplatz…after a little confusion…as there are 18 different ways to pop out of the metro station…we found each other and headed for some lunch, walking past the Secession.  A building and artist collective started by Gustav Klimt in response to the conservatism in the late 1800’s.  It is known for the golden cabbage that sits above the entryway.

photo courtesy of this site

We headed toward Naschmarkt – a large open air food market with about a mile of fresh produce stalls, specialty shops, kebab and falafel vendors and rows of small cafes and restaurants.  We stopped at OrientOccident or EastWest and grabbed lunch.

Woody had Orient Toast – apparently a toasty sandwich with a curry dipping sauce.  I went with the Käsespatzle again.  I know…shocking!

We walked around the market…and I wanted to buy and eat everything!

After exploring we began walking back toward our hotel…and made sure to walk past the Joh. Springer Erben store.  he store was beautiful and incredibly classy.  You begin to understand that hunting used to be the realm of royalty and prestige.  There was a distinct lack of “camo”, which I appreciated.  For gazillions of years, hunters have been hunting without crazy-photographic-mossy-oak-cabela’s-nightstalker-brown-and-green-blotchy camoflage…and generally they’ve been successful.

I appreciated the tradition that you could feel oozing from the store.

Woody would like this car…complete with all the contents we could spy in the car.

Must have belonged to an employee of the store!

Palais Coburg was right around the corner…it’s been turned into a hotel…ahem, very nice hotel!  A quick look at the prices, and the most inexpensive (I couldn’t bring myself to use the word cheap) room is a cool €670 a night.  Whoa!  The palace was built on the former defense wall of the emperor’s city.

Woody headed back for some afternoon sessions at the conference and agreed to make it back to the hotel for a dinner reservation our hotel concierge helped us get at Meinl Am Graben…this would be our celebratory dinner for Woody’s accomplishment of European Geosciences Union Young Outstanding Scientist Award.

I’ll post more comprehensive photos on O & C, but we had an amazing meal with a fabulous maitre d’hotel/sommelier/waiter who chose our wines for us (all Austrian, of course) and made sure we enjoyed every moment of the evening!

Dogs welcome…and this one felt like the rolling buffet cart was a perfect little hideout since his people weren’t paying enough attention to him.

It was a wonderful meal, beautiful evening and definitely a moment in Vienna we will remember.

Vienna Highlights… Day Three!

Again…minimal words, mostly pic’s.  Just comment if you want/need more information.

The Michaelerplatz which houses the Spanish Riding School – details in the next post.

The Vienna subway system or the U-Bahn, is very efficient, runs on time(!), and is well laid out.

Finding coffee to go is a bit of a challenge…my favorite chain was called Ströck.  Kind of the Viennese equivalent to a Dunkin’ Donuts.  Order a melange or a kaffe mit milsch…and it’s coffee mixed with frothed milk…perfect.

I visit zoos wherever I go.  It’s a thing about me.  With good weather, I went straight to the Tiergarten near the Schönbrunn Palace.

Fabulous white-faced gibbons who were very happy and did many monkey things, like swing in the branches, jump up and down and poke each other.

I don’t think I had ever seen a cassowary…at least not one of this size.  Apparently they can get to 130 lbs…and unlike the ostrich, their legs and feet look thick and bulky.  After a quick google search…they are commonly referred to as the most dangerous bird in the world.  They kick and charge.

I really enjoyed the zoo, and one thing that struck me the most was the general ‘happiness’ and wellbeing of the animals.  I realize I’m anthropomorphizing here, but all of the animals were active and engaged in typical [insert animal type here] behavior…and appeared happy.  The elephants and keepers were running through their morning routine, which involved a bath, some commands, a treat or two and a breakfast of hay.  I watched them for almost an hour!

The rhinos were having a bit of a tussle, quite exciting!

Then I came upon the goats.  Baby goats.  The ones below are about a week old.

And this mama goat had *literally* just given birth to these two tiny babies and was still in labor with at least one more still in the womb.  I tried to hang around long enough to see it, but she just continued to labor and look quite uncomfortable.

Just a week old, these guys already want to play king of the mountain!

Next up, Schönbrunn Palace which is just a 1400-room imperial summer residence of the Habsburg monarchs.  I toured the inside…but no photos allowed.

Just as I headed through the doors, there was a storm-a-brewin’.  Intense winds and light rains became heavy rain, and I was glad to be inside.

This is the view out the back of the palace looking out into the extensive gardens and up towards the Gloriette.

Some tired feet called for some computer time in the hotel bar with a glass of wine.

We headed out to dinner to Meinl Wine Bar.

Woody had the Grüner Veltliner and I went with the Reisling…both good, but I won!

Woody ordered Beef Tartar with quail egg.

I ordered butterschnitzel…wouldn’t you…?  It was better than expected.  Three medallions of veal perfectly browned and topped with shaved black truffle accompanied by perfectly bright veggies and amazingly smooth mashed potatoes brûléed with a bit of cream. C’est parfait! (I have no idea how you would say such a thing in German!)

There is music everywhere in Vienna.

And our hotel.  Woody found it through expedia…and I can’t say enough good things about the place…it was a perfect home base for a week in Vienna!


Please excuse my absence…

I’ve just returned from 10 days…of out of town…of summer vacation…of family reunions…of travel…of good food…of tennis…of golfing…of Sun Valley…of trap shooting…of swimming…of road tripping…of soccer watching…of wine drinking…and most importantly…10 days of having a great time with people I love.

So please, excuse my absence.  I will be posting probably way too many photos in the next few weeks.  I hope you are all enjoying your summer and taking advantage of the long days, bbq’s, and relaxed schedules.

But…I won’t lie…it’s good to be HOME!