Road Trip to Virginia City, NV

We had errands to run so we made a fun day of it with Bob and Jenny (of course).

First stop was Carson City and its Bicentennial Tree. We told the folks about this amazing tree, but without people in the photo for a size reference, it's not as impressive as it truly is.

A long-standing belief, shared by many capital residents, is that Carson City’s oldest tree dates back more than 200 years. During the nation’s birthday celebration in 1976, the massive cottonwood on the northwest corner of Division and Washington streets was designated the “Nevada Bicentennial Tree.” It still is marked as such with a large wooden plaque. 
Letterboxing was on the agenda. This stop, in Gold Hill, was called "Fireman's Friend". It was here that I found the stamp I award 'The Funniest'.
On the clues for this one, the 'hider' wrote, "Please note: This one was carved on a dare, after a bottle of wine... and with the undeniable conviction that I can carve anything, even when it's with implements available in the hotel business center." Man, I want to meet this letterboxer. What a hoot.
Virginia City, Nevada is always fun for me. There is something about being in among its decadent, diverse and important history that I just love.
For those who do not know me well, if there is a cut-out for photo opportunities, my face is in it!
After lunch in town, we drove to the cemetery. The view from it is pretty impressive.
Our letterboxing clues took us to a whole new area of the Silver Terrace Cemeteries. These are a series of terraces dramatically located on a steep, windswept hillside. As this boomtown became a more permanent settlement, there was a need for a cemetery. Beginning in the 1860s, a wide variety of fraternal, civic and religious groups established burial yards on the hillside.

While looking for the hidden letterboxes, we also discovered hidden history within the grave sites and their tombstones. This is an amazing cemetery and demands multiple trips. Explorations can happen anywhere, and today's was pretty exciting.

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Waterfalls and Wine...

Just another fabulous day in Lake Tahoe!

Upon Bob and Jenny's suggestion, eight of us hiked to have lunch at the base of a waterfall. We were all totally game.
 At times, it was a rather precarious hike but so worth it.
Upper Truckee Falls (20 ft.) is located along the Upper Truckee River. We started off hiking on the historic Hawley Grade National Recreation Trail in Meyers. After a very short distance, the main trail turned uphill to the right but we took the spur trail on the left, which led to the Upper Truckee River and this amazing, powerful waterfall.

 This location is now on our list of "best picnic spots".

After cleaning up a bit, the eight of us met for the very last Sunday Sippers at Apr├Ęs Wine Company, Tahoe’s fantastic wine bar, bistro and fine wines/gift shop. We had been meaning to go here, since moving to Tahoe, and maybe if we had, this would not be the last of the Sippers.
 Pete's hat says it all (Wineaux).
Drinking good wine with good food in good company
is one of life’s most civilized pleasures.
-Michael Broadbent

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Bottles & Bingo...

Okay, so this was one of our more diverse days, as of late. The first stop was the Lake Tahoe Historical Society Museum to hear Mark S. Morris, the author of "Mark's Bottles: 50 Years of Collecting", speak about his interesting hobby.

While I found his collection amazing, I found his life story even more compelling. Mr. Morris recently retired from the US Forest Service, but his time there began when he was just a child, growing up as the son of a Forest Service employee, living in the Baldwin Estate Guard Station at Lake Tahoe.

“The National Forest was my playground and primary education facility during my formative years,” he said. And this playground was full of discarded bottles from history. Lucky Baldwin's Tallac Estate was his backyard. It must have felt like he was on a daily treasure hunt. What an incredible place in which to grow up.

Having found his first bottle at age 8, Mark gathered a huge collection and he shared his vast knowledge with us. I was truly mesmerized and quite surprised at how truly interesting it all was. AND I learned a great deal, too.
Our next stop was the Rec Center for The Kiwanis Club's Ham Bingo. Yes, that's right, the big prize of the night as a ham (actually 20 of them). 
While we didn't win, I had fun because I love Bingo and it was a fundraiser.
We left before the evening ended, but knowing how lucky Bob and Jenny normally are, I'm pretty certain an Easter Ham will be theirs.

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La Jolla with Jackie...

Our friend, Jackie, who has a cabin in Tahoe, made a date for the two of us to spend the day together. I arrived in La Jolla early and enjoyed some time at the beach.

I have loved swinging for as long as I can remember. What fun to be a kid again, even if briefly.
On a windy day, with a beautiful city view, we reconnected. Lunch, furniture shopping and future planning. It was a great day.

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Chick Flick...

Years ago, wanting to share my love of the cinema and having lunch out, I formed a movie going group called Chick Flick. Today, part of the gang got together (it has been as many as 25 attendees at various times).

 We shared stories and got caught up.
 And we even celebrated Terry and Sue's birthdays.

We then went to see The Monuments Men, a surprisingly enjoyable film. While the critics were not fans, we all walked away really liking this movie. I actually would recommend it.

Evading the heat, while gathered with old friends, what an awesome way to spend my time here in Southern California.

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108°...Must Escape to the Beach

Steve spent the morning repairing a roof in triple digit weather. When he got home, he needed to get to the seashore.

The Chart House, right on the beach in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, was the perfect place to escape the heat of Murrieta.

We let Brady know where we would be and she joined us. What a fun, spur-of- the-moment treasure.
 Steve gave us our "girl time". 
"A Little Sand Between Your Toes
Always Takes Away Your Woes!"

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A Day with Friends...

First stop was San Clemente. Cindy and I have been friends for ages, and even though I do not see her as much as I would like, we are always there for one another.

Today, we actually got to hang together. We dined on crepes in honor of her daughter in Paris.
And we then hit the beach so we could get our toes in the sea.
Next stop, Vista to get an avocado fix from Julie, my son's mother-in-law...
And to delight in all the foliage a Southern California spring has to offer.

"Truly great friends are hard to find,
difficult to leave, and impossible to forget."

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The Santa Rosa Plateau...

It is spring here in Southern California which means it's time to visit the vernal pools of this amazing place, before summer makes them disappear.

The Reserve consists of 9000 acres. The land has been set aside to protect unique ecosystems like Engelmann oak woodlands, riparian wetlands, coastal sage scrub, chaparral, bunchgrass prairie, vernal pools and more than 200 species of native birds and 49 endangered, threatened or rare animal and plant species, including mule deer, mountain lions, badgers, bobcats, western pond turtles, white-tailed kites and fairy shrimp. Two species of fairy shrimp live in the seasonal vernal pools on the Reserve, but only one is found here and nowhere else on Earth.

The native bunchgrass prairie on the Santa Rosa Plateau is considered the finest example of native grasslands remaining in California. The prairie reveals a host of native wildflowers — among them chocolate lilies, mariposa lilies, lupines, checkerblooms, shooting stars, and Johnny jump-ups. The grasslands are used by badger, mule deer, and many burrowing rodents.

The human history here goes back for thousands of years and encompasses all of California's diverse inhabitants:  Native Americans, Mexican land grants, American cattle ranchers and lastly, urbanization. Thankfully, this area has been saved by the Nature Conservancy.

We meandered over four miles of this Plateau. Standing on top of the basalt mesas was not only a chance to see rare vernal pools and bunchgrass prairie, it was also a look back in time and a spectacular day to explore. 

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