Hiking the Little Falls Trail

Last year I looked up information on the Big Falls and Little Falls trails near Lake Lopez, but I did not hike them. Part of the reason for this was that I did not want to do stream crossings with my car. The crossings are required to reach both trailheads.

On Sunday afternoon Pam and I decided to go for a hike. Pam’s car is better suited for offroading than mine, so we decided to attempt to reach the Falls trailheads. It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon. We drove through Arroyo Grande village, then past orchards and vineyards, and finally reached Lopez Lake.

As we drove toward the trailheads the road deteriorated to an unpaved state. We crossed some concrete culverts in the road, and for a moment we thought they might be the stream crossings. “My Sonata could handle this” I said. And then we found the stream.

We crossed the stream four times (in a manner that my Sonata could not handle). The fifth intersection with the stream caused us to pause. It was wider and deeper than the previous ones, and we were in a remote place with no cell phone reception. After some discussion we decided against making the crossing by car.

You Shall Not Pass. The stream crossing that stopped us.

You Shall Not Pass: The stream crossing that stopped us.

We proceeded on foot. After four more stream crossings we arrived at the Little Falls trailhead. By this time we realized we did not have time to walk all the way to the Big Falls trailhead (it was a few miles farther), so we decided to hike to Little Falls.

The Little Falls trailhead.

The Little Falls trailhead.

The trail was littered with branches. Some were from the recent storm. Other were just a testament to the remoteness of the trail. Large oak and sycamore trees create a canopy over the trail.

The Little Falls trail, with large trees overhead.

The Little Falls trail.

Early in the hike we encountered a California newt. It was moving along sluggishly. Deliberately placing one foot in front of the other. The little thing looked tired, drunk, or disoriented. I guess that’s just how newts go through life. I read about them after we got home–they are poisonous, so they do not need to fear most predators. Pretty cool.

A California newt by the Little Falls trail.

A California newt by the Little Falls trail.

About halfway to the falls we passed a sign informing us we were entering the Santa Lucia Wilderness. So we continued into the wild.

A sign for the Santa Lucia Wilderness.

A sign for the Santa Lucia Wilderness.

We stopped for a picture by the sign.

Little Falls was so little we almost missed it. A small side trail leads to the base of the falls, but it was thoroughly blocked by fallen trees, so we had to settle for a view from the main trail.

Little Falls, which lived up to its name.

Little Falls, which lived up to its name.

After reaching the falls we backtracked to the car.

On the drive back we stopped several times to get pictures.

A panorama from the drive out, with distant hills and a very blue sky.

A panorama from the drive out.

The sky was very blue. Clouds were plentiful.

A panorama of the sky and horizon

The sky was big and blue.

Blue sky with clouds, with a silhouette horizon containing a tree.

My favorite picture from the afternoon.

It’s great to have these trails and Lopez Lake so close to home. I’m sure we’ll be back. I still need to see Big Falls.

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The Cambria Christmas Market

Pam and I went to the Cambria Chirstmas Market on Saturday. The event features a large number of lights and decorations, with arts, food, and drinks. We had glühwein, bread pudding, and buttered rum. We heard Loren Radis play Christmas songs (we heard him play in both 2013 and 2014).

A walkway at the Christmas Market.

A walkway at the Christmas Market.

Photos at the 2013 and 2014 Cambria Christmas Market.

Photos at the 2013 and 2014 Cambria Christmas Market.

A photo with the Grinch.

A photo with the Grinch.

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Glazed Bacon for Thanksgiving

On Saturday Pam and I joined some friends for a Thanksgiving feast, which was dubbed Franksgiving (Friends + Thanksgiving). The turkeys were smoked. It the first time I had smoked turkey, and I was impressed. Stuffing, candied sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts, cranberry relish, green bean casserole, a salad, and other good things made up the meal. We also had a pie line-up after the main meal and an appetizer line-up before. I made glazed bacon.

I saw the glazed bacon recipe recently in a New York Times article (Thanksgiving Recipes Across the United States). It was the Pennsylvania entry.

I’ve baked bacon and coated it with brown sugar and pepper before, but this recipe throws Dijon mustard and red wine into the mix.

Glazed bacon drying on a sheet of tin foil.

A picture of the glazed bacon before I cut the pieces into thirds.

 

It turned out well, though it was a bit stickier than I expected. I also doubled the recipe and had a substantial amount of the glaze left over.

It’s been a long time since I worked with bacon.

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A New Raised Vegetable Bed

My winter project around the house is to redo the backyard. With the quarter in session it is tough to find time for this task, but I have been fitting in bits of time here and there. Last week I developed a design for a raised bed for vegetable production. On Saturday I picked up the lumber. Sunday I built it. And finally this weekend I set it up.

A raised bed in the backyard.

It is 5 feet long and 3 feet wide, constructed from unfinished redwood. Each side has two 2 x 6 boards and one 2 x 4, with a 4 x 4 used in the corner. I set the screws and used hardwood screw caps, which I painted sage green. I’m curious to see how the wood ages. Most sources I consulted recommended leaving redwood unfinished–so that is what I did.

I filled the bed with soil and two different types of compost. I’ll be keeping an eye on the chemical properties of the substrate, but I think it should be an ideal growth medium. I’m more concerned about how much sunlight the site gets, but that is something I cannot control. Our first crop will be some lettuce and spinach; I planted them from transplants.

Another view of the raised bed, with some of the unfinished backyard in the background.

The next step for the backyard is to put in the brick walkway. I’ll be grading it and putting down a sand base, then figuring out which type of brick to use. I’m leaning toward a classic red brick right now. After that will come the small patio for our table and chairs, followed by the plants. I’m hoping the winter break provides time. . .

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A Quick Trip to Colorado

One of the joys of loving someone is the opportunity to meet the people that person treasures. In the meeting stories from the past take on new life. Suddenly the characters have a physical reality, albeit one altered by time. This past weekend I made a whirlwind trip to Colorado to meet some dear friends of Pam, Mimi and Cal.

A photo of Pam and me with Mimi and Cal.

A photo with our gracious hosts.

We toured the Celestial Seasonings factory in Boulder, CO on Saturday. It was the first time I have had to wear a beard net. It was an enjoyable tour. Outside the factory we saw many prairie dogs–which somehow I had missed in previous trips to Colorado.

A prairie dog, possibly smelling herbal teas.

A prairie dog, possibly smelling herbal teas.

Following the tea tour we drove through Boulder and to the mountains. We had lunch by Barker Meadow Reservoir. The sun was shining and the wind was blowing. The elevation at the reservoir is 8,183 ft above sea level, which seems quite high considering I live at 85 ft.

Barker Meadow Reservoir on a blustery November day.

Barker Meadow Reservoir on a blustery November day.

From there we went to Golden Gate Canyon State Park. We hiked some of the Horseshoe Trail. It was a relatively warm November day, yet parts of the trail were snowy.

The Horseshoe Trail in November.

The Horseshoe Trail in November.

I ran ahead to the Greenfield Meadow, but I did not manage to find a spot with dramatic panoramic views. The rocks, evergreens, white birches, and snow made for a beautiful setting.

A scene from the Horseshoe Trail.

A scene from the Horseshoe Trail.

We drove through Golden on the way home, seeing the stream that Coors made famous. On Sunday we attended Littleton Bible Chapel. After the service we had lunch at White Fence Farm in Lakewood. And then it was off to the airport to travel back to California.

Mimi and Cal were excellent hosts. They treated us to meaningful conversation, wonderful food, and new sights.

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