February 2015
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New Year

The New Year is here and I have not blogged very much. Been busy on projects around the house and spending time with Elizabeth. She is really blossoming into a two and a half year old. We have more words as well as some dialogue. She obeys very well most of the time. Sometimes she is taken away into a little bit of a temper or suborn streak. Nothing I have not seen before. I just need to be careful I do not get melted into submission by her sweet smile. Catching that smile is getting more difficult the older she gets.

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Christmas 2014

It is feeling a lot like Christmastime. The air is cooler as I drove around town today with my windows rolled down listening to Christmas music. It amazes me that as I have gotten older, the real reason for Christmas seems to get lost more and more. Of course, a lot of things seem to have gotten lost over the years. Things like, respect for others, kindness, an understanding that Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to someday return to live with him. That concept has a unique connection to the birth of our Savior, the one that was sent to prepare the way that we may return. However, there are a lot of other things going on in the world that seem to preclude the thought that we should act like we want to someday return to Father. There is no need to point them out as I am sure that you can think of a few. As for this years Christmas events there are a couple that stand out.

The first is how do you get a two year old to sit on the lap of an old person dressed in bright red. To you and I, we understand. However, to a two year old that has no idea who this old bearded person is that keeps sounding out ho-ho-ho because she has never seen Santa before in her life, it is a little traumatic. Elizabeth would not venture close to Santa for over a half hour. She wanted nothing to do with him. She had seen other children sit on his lap, but that was not enough. Finally, I took the Mini Mouse doll and put it on Santa’s lap. I asked Elizabeth if she wanted to join Mini Mouse and she said yes. I would conjecture that if it is safe for Mini, it is safe for Elizabeth.

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The next Christmas event was out Christmas breakfast. We get up early and cook breakfast and the children show up to eat. This year it was about three pounds of bacon, biscuits and a modified version of dutch oven mountain man breakfast using twice as much sausage in the “hot” variety. Add in milk and orange juice and it is a morning feast. After breakfast we open gifts. Of course Emily wanted to get a “selfie” with her brothers. I found that it was an opportunity to take a picture of the four of them.

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Christmas has been great this year. We had the children over an got a chance to travel and visit friends and relatives. I am just looking forward to a few days off to relax and possibly go for a hike. But for now, there is something from the kitchen calling. I will eat something sweet and contemplate the real mining of Christmas.

Cold Springs or Frozen Flakes

We traveled to Cold Springs in the western sierras north of Yosemite to spend the night with relatives in their cabin. When I got up and put my things in the truck, it was 39 degrees and drizzly with cloudy a sky. By the time my sweetheart got up and had her thing packed for my to put in the truck it was 34 and snowing. By the time we left, it had put another inch or two on the ground.

We made it about halfway out before coming to a point of not being able to go forward. The grade up and out of Cold Springs was a little steep for a vehicle on wet snow. The only remedy was to go back to the cabin and get a little assistance from a 4 wheel drive truck and a tow cable.

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Once we were on the main highway, it was plowed and clear sailing at “about” 25 miles per hour, the posted speed with the “chains required” sign below the speed limit sign. I think California is one of the only places that the state wants you to put chains on while driving on a nicely plowed road. Then again, there are those drivers in California that have never driven or seldom drive in the snow. Better to keep them safe and annoy the others.

Sourdough Sam and the Brick Oven

When you go to a Christmas Craft and Music Festival you never know what you will find. There were plenty of crafts at the 40th Sonora Christmas Craft and Music Festival at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds in Sonora, CA.

As for the things that I thought was the most unique, the thing that topped my list was the portable brick oven for pizza. I wondered why we did not have one of those when I was a Scoutmaster.

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As for the most curious person, it was the lady wearing the cooked turkey hat where the legs would wiggle. The most enjoyable was Sourdough Sam who sang several whimsical numbers.

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Those in attendance were from a wide range of backgrounds as one would guess of any festival of crafts and music held in the mountains east of the Bay Area. It was great fun.

Happy Thanksgiving

Elizabeth and I had a little fun making hand turkeys. Perhaps next year she will really understand Thanksgiving better and know what a turkey looks like.

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Hiking Again

It seems like all I post about is hiking. Then again, it is what I do most Saturday mornings. Today’s hike was much faster as I did not have Elizabeth on my back. I averaged a mile in 22 minutes rather that the 27 minutes per mile this past Tuesday. I also took several pictures. Grasses are coming up and some plants that have lost their leaves are showing spring growth.

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On the way back down I stopped to talk to a older gentleman that I have seen the past few times hiking. We talked about the trails that I take as he has not gone around the park as extensively as I have. He wears denim shorts and a cotton shirt which are not really something you would find at a sporting goods store for hiking or backpacking. I hike with hiking sticks and he has a single wooden staff. Today he asked me my age and I replied 53. He proceed to tell me he was 72. He also told me how far he made it last Saturday and his knees and ankles swelled up on him for two days. Then he responded, “Couch potatoes do not live as long.”

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The reason I hike is to stay in shape and try to keep healthy. Whether I have Elizabeth on my back or not, being in the outdoors is always a good thing. Additionally, couch potatoes do not live as long.

Wakeup for Wildlife

Last night I went to bed at the usual time for the work week even though I had the day off. The plan was to take Elizabeth on a hike with me. When she got to the house this morning it was obvious that she was tired. She did not want to go to bed last night. As it was still cool, we laid her down and she slept for half hour more. She was then up and wanted to watch Mickey Mouse Club House. After the mouse, we hit the road to go to the trailhead.

We arrived and I put her in the backpack. We made it part way up the trail and I could tell she was nodding off. I could tell when she was out because she relaxes and it seems she gets a few pounds heavier. As we reached the top of the Two Trees trail, I looked out toward the picnic spot and there were two wild burrows there. Elizabeth was out cold. There were some girls there and I asked them to take our picture. If you are asleep, you miss the wildlife.

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I explained that there were complaints that the baby burros seem to be disappearing. The two explanations were first, mountain lions and second people taking them because they thought there were cute. The three girls looked at each other as I had listened to their conversation several minutes ago. Obviously they thought the wild burros were cute. My response was, “Like where are you going to keep a wild burro in your apartment?” They looked at me as if I had spoiled there thought or cute wild burros with a little reality.

I continued my hike and after about an hour of sleeping, Elizabeth woke up. We talked a little and did ABC’s and 123’s. Once we got to one of the high points we stopped to get something to drink and give my back a rest. She wanted water and I got her water bottle out. Next she was digging for the Cliff bar. I am beginning to think one of her favorite things to do with grandpa is find a rock to sit on and eat a cliff bar.

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We then began to continue our hike. We stopped for a picture looking over Riverside. The clouds sure spoiled the view that was available a couple of days ago. However, it is much cooler than a couple of days ago.

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As we traveled down the trail we looked a few different flowers. I have learned that taking a picture of flowers on a cell phone guarantees one thing, the flowers will not be in focus and the ground below them will be. However, the camera will focus on my hand and then the flowers will be in focus.

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As we passed the five mile mark and I knew that we had at least a mile and a half left, we saw the burrows. We hiked toward them adding a half mile or more to our travels. Getting to them was easy as it was downhill. Of course Elizabeth thought they were cute as well.

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Well then we hiked back uphill to get to the trail to go back down to the truck. The hike was good. It was 7.25 miles. We missed out on seeing any lizards today. However, I bet the lizards also missed out on seeing any sun today as well. Of course that was part of our endothermic and exothermic discussion. Elizabeth has not quite got those words down yet much less their meaning. It was a fun hike and it is fun hearing her try to pronounce new words. I am just glad I did not hear, can we take the cute burro home.

Tracks in the Sand

This morning I hiked up in the Box Springs Mountain Park. I tried to get an early start as it was going to make it to 90 degrees in Riverside today. It was cool on the way up, but as the sun beat down on me it became warm.

As for the wildlife, I did see some deer track on the upper road. It is west of where I saw a deer a couple of months ago. At least there are deer in the park as the mountain lions prefer them over the two legged creatures that frequent the park.

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As for the view in the westerly direction, there was not a lot of coastal fog making its way our direction so visibility was better. Mt. San Antonio is the tallest peak west of Riverside. As it is warm today, it definitely would be cooler up there.

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Día de los Muertos

For some reason we find ourselves attending Día de los Muertos the past few years. For a description of the holiday go here. Perhaps it is because it is in walking distance from home. As Jacob, Elizabeth and I walked through the crowds, we stopped to see the dancers. Elizabeth really enjoyed watching them. Her next favorite thing was standing on the reflectors along the double yellow line and jumping off of them. As we walked down the middle of the street, we did not move very fast. But we got to see several things. We headed home once we made it to the far end. We did not need to stay for the next several hours jumping off of reflectors.

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Number 4 on the Street

The time finally came for Jacob to get his driving permit. He has been 18 for several months and has been busy with school. He also wanted to make sure he had the rules down cold. We drove to the DMV and waited in line. He got a number and waited for it to be called.

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The paperwork started and the application fee was paid. The picture was taken and the test competed with a passing score. We left the building and found a church parking lot to begin behind the wheel drivers education. Jacob drove a large figure eight using his signals and stopping at imaginary intersections. He did a great job and got the start and stop and start again with a left or right hand turn down to an acceptable level of competence to get on the street. From the church he drove to our house without any problems.

Minnie Mouse and Mom

This evening we had a Halloween get together known as a Trunk or Treat at the church. It was a fun evening. It appeared that Elizabeth had a great time.

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There was also a chili cook-off that was going to be judged. Never entering anything in the event, I started with a basic recipe two weeks early and made a small batch of chili, batch one. Did a little research and tried batch two. With each one of these batches I had several people give me some feedback. Batch one was a little too much of a tomato taste and two sweet. Batch two was less sweet, but did not have enough fire. Batch three was a little closer to the mark. It had roasted chilies along with a few other things. It was a little thick and had a strange color.
As for batch four, it was my final batch and I tripled the recipe. I took into consideration a few more tweaks, a couple of them on the fly that I will need to record so that this chili recipe can be duplicated.

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As for the chili, to my surprise it won first place.

Hiking and Shopping

I went for a morning hike with Elizabeth. It was her first time to Box Springs Mountain Park. Then again, it was my first time carrying her up the Two Trees trail on my back. We stopped at the picnic tables and had something to eat and drink. We then continued up the Spring Trail where she felt like she was leaning out to look at where we were going.

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We continued up the SPring Trail where I took her picture. Rather than smile, she wanted to play peek-a-boo which made photography a little difficult.

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Once we got back to the road I asked if she wanted to go further or go home. She said home so that is where we headed. As we were on the trail it was now warm enough that the lizards were out sunning themselves on rocks. We say big lizards and even more little lizards.

We continued on to home and were there for least for an hour then it was off to Costco. She fell a sleep on the way there, slept the entire time there and on the way home. Nothing like checking out at the check out.

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Of course, once she woke up she was full of energy. Overall, we had a great day.

Fall Weather

It seems that things are getting cooler. It may still climb into the 90’s during the peak of the day. However, the evenings and mornings are much cooler. That makes for wonderful evening hiking weather.

This evening I left the house in the direction of Mt. Rubidoux. I dropped down by the river on the west side so I would have the greatest elevation gain going up the dirt trail. From there I caught the 9th Street trail before the Peace Tower towards the north side of the mountain I could see that the sun was setting soon.

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I passed the cross and found a place close to the top of Mt. Rubidoux to see the sun disappear into the horizon in the west.

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It was great to get out into the cool evening and go for a hike. It was a pleasant hike of about five miles.

Box Springs and the Wild Side

I was out for a morning hike today, I went up the Two Trees trail in fairly good time. I then headed towards the Spring Trail trail and soon enough I stopped in my tracks. I was not sure what to do. I did not see sharp teeth or claws. Just a pair of rather large mammals. I had thought of seeing video of some hunter getting stomped by an angry deer. Was I going to be safe?

As it turned out a pair of wild donkeys came up to me as I slowed to a standstill. Perhaps they were looking for a handout. You know, something for nothing. They did cause me to go home and do a little research. I have known that the wild donkeys have been in the hills east of Riverside for years. They probably got here in the 1950’s when someone brought 22 burros from Death Valley to the rocky hills east of Riverside. Pretty much the middle of nowhere in the 50’s.

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More on the donkeys at DonkeyLand Rescue. Also, in Redlands there is a place called Wild Donkey Brewing Co. I guess you can either rescue donkeys or go to the Wild Donkey Brewing Co. Either way, it is a little wilder than my typical Saturday.

Morning Hike

Fall seemed to be in the air as it was not blazing hot by eight. The sycamore trees have changed color. I am not sure if it is because of fall or that is has been so hot and dry. My hike in Box Springs Mountain Park was nice. There was a lot to do around the house so I forgo a longer hike in the mountains. I did take a picture of Mt. San Gorgonio off in the far distance at just after 10 this morning. At 10 last week I was on top of Mt San Gorgonio. Perhaps next week I will get to one to the other peaks over 10,000 feet on that mountain.

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