Camping at Cold Springs (Sequoia National Park)

California is a beautiful state. Back in June I hiked Alta Peak in Sequoia National Park. This past weekend I returned to Sequoia National Park with Pam and two friends; we camped at Cold Springs in the Mineral King area. The air was brisk. The water at the campground had been turned off for the season. We were excited to try out our new tent and camping gear.

Pam building a fire.

A respectable campsite needs a fire.

On Saturday we hiked in the Mineral King Valley. The yellow fall foliage was a beautiful sight. I miss the glorious fall foliage of Pennsylvania, and this was a glimpse of something similar (even if it was all yellow).

Mineral King 1



Mineral King 4

Sawtooth Peak and Sawtooth Pass were very cool to see from the valley.

Sawtooth Peak in the middle of Sawtooth Pass.

Sawtooth Peak in the middle of Sawtooth Pass.

The valley had lots of interesting peaks and passes.

Mineral King 10

Mineral King 9

The last time I was at high elevation in the Sequoia Mountains I marveled at the healthy and vigorous Arctostaphylos. This time I did the same thing.

camping 3

We hiked partially up one ridge to explore the springs and stream. A series of waterfalls beckoned.

Mineral King 11

Mineral King 12

I posed with a small redwood. It looked so tiny compared to the big ones we had seen on the drive to the campground (and the ones we would see the next day).

camping 2

The spring water was icy cold and decorated with leaves.

Mineral King 2


On Sunday Pam and I stopped at Atwell Mill to see some redwoods up close. We took some pictures with the impressive trees.

Atwell Mill 2

Atwell Mill 3

It was good to spend some time with friends, laugh, talk, hike, eat and drink, and enjoy life for the weekend. I suspect I’ll visit Sequoia National Park again.

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Hiking Islay Hill After Work

On Wednesday I met a few work deadlines, which was a relief. After work Pam and I went on a quick hike up Islay Hill. A beautiful sunset began as we neared the top of the hill. The views of San Luis Obispo were stunning.

A sunset picture of San Luis Obispo, with Cero San Luis Obispo and Bishop's Peak prominent in the background.

A panorama at sunset of the city of San Luis Obispo

The Central Coast can be incredibly beautiful. At times I forget we are in such an oppressive drought. Life doesn’t always give us good sunsets, but when they come it is good to celebrate them.

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The Arroyo Grande Harvest Festival: 2014

A few weeks ago I saw a notice for the Arroyo Grande Harvest Festival. One of the events being promoted happened to be a dachshund race. I put the event in my calendar.

And so today I took a break from house projects to go wander around the festival. It was a beautiful, sunny Saturday. After seeing booths for artists, authors, organizations, and various vendors I crossed the Arroyo Grande pedestrian suspension bridge to find the racing dogs.

Panorama of a crowd at the festival.

On my way I stopped to watch derby car races. It was the 2014 Big Ditch Derby (it was held in Arroyo Grande . . .). I camped out at the finish line and got some fun pictures of the competitors.

A derby car racetrack.

Big Ditch Derby 2014 b

Big Ditch Derby 2014 c

Big Ditch Derby 2014 d

Big Ditch Derby 2014 f

Big Ditch Derby 2014 e

Big Ditch Derby 2014 g

After derby cars I moved on to dachshunds. Actually, there were three classes: 1). Dachshunds 1 to 7 years old, 2). Dachshunds older than 7 years old, 3). Wanna be dogs (small dogs other than dachshunds).

Racing dachshunds.

It was high entertainment. The dogs were having a great time being the center of attention. Some of them abandoned the race to play. Despite many distractions, most of the dogs channeled their energy into running good races.

Paws of Thunder 1

Paws of Thunder 2

Paws of Thunder 4

I enjoyed the dachshund races more than the Wanna Be class. The champion of that class, however, was fun to watch. She had very floppy ears that looked like wings when she ran.

The Wanna Be final race.

The Wanna Be final race.

The Wanna Be class champion.

The Wanna Be class champion, with ears flying en route to victory.

The dachshund champion of one of the classes was Indy Indiana. I enjoyed watching him, since he was a bundle of energy on the track and then dialed it back to a happy, chill puppy afterwards.

A champion dachshund poses for the adoring public.

Indy Indiana the champion dachshund poses with his winnings for the adoring public.

When the races ended I walked back to the vendors and purchased a tri-tip sandwich and some kettle corn. It was a delightful afternoon interlude. I’m planning to be at the festival again next year.

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Growing Tomatoes

Pam and I have been growing several tomato plants we picked up at Tomato Mania 2014 at Cal Poly. We have been eating the bounty of our tomato harvests for the past month.

Freshly harvested tomatoes on the counter.

Freshly harvested tomatoes on the counter.

We have a Tiny Tim right by our front door. it was the first plant to produce good fruit, and it is still going strong. It’s a mightly little cherry tomato plant.

Tiny Tim.

Tiny Tim.

Our oddball tomato is called Green Sausage. It produces green, oblong fruit. We have been using it as a fried tomato, often paired with onions. I like it, but it is not great raw.

Green Sausage.

Green Sausage.

In late August the star of the garden was Sugar Lump, an indeterminate cherry tomato. It has small and sweet fruit. Right now this plant is almost gone, the cool nights in Arroyo Grande do not agree with it. Despite its current decline, it produced more than its fair share of fruit for us.

Sugar Lump.

Sugar Lump.

The September star in the garden is Artisan Purple Bumblebee. This large cherry tomato produces a massive amount of fruit with interesting striping patterns. We have been eating them raw and sauteed. The plant is still alive, and I expect it to be producing for a few more weeks.

Artisan Purple Bumblebee.

Artisan Purple Bumblebee.

The only full-sized tomato we are growing is Murray Smith. This Cal Poly special is a great plant for the Central Coast. We’re starting to get some fruit in mid-September. I expect another month at least for this plant.

Murray Smith.

Murray Smith.

It’s fun to grow your own food. Being near the coast can make growing tomatoes tough, but we had a respectable crop this year.

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Smelling the Roses

It is a good season of life. It has been fun adjusting to the new normal.

rose bottle


Pam and I have been savoring the last bits of summer. Today marks the start of Fall Conference and the fall quarter for me. My schedule will now become fuller and less flexible.

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