May 2013

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The first real hike that we ever did together was about 4 years ago, in May 2009. Based on Katharine’s research on Modern Hiker, we did the 7 mile loop to Sandstone Peak in the Santa Monica Mountains during a hot May day.  Like many beginner hikers, we didn’t bring quite enough water for the hot day and found ourselves exhausted at the end, but that didn’t stop us from falling in love with hiking.


Photos from our 2009 hike

Video from our 2009 Hike

Now, 4 years later, we consider ourselves avid hikers and backpackers and have bagged many of the highest peaks in southern California.

Since we are planning to move to the East Coast at the end of the summer, we thought we should hike Sandstone Peak one last time.  This time we were in better hiking condition and the weather was much cooler.  4 years ago it was a challenging hike to reach the top and return, but this time it was just a stroll in the park.

2009 (I sense a little more enthusiasm)


While eating a snack at the top we were entertained by a small mouse gathering grass, so of course now we have 84 photos of a mouse thanks to Nathan!


A couple weeks after our hike, the Springs Fire swept through just northwest of the trail, charing all the chaparral. Luckily this section of trail was apparently not affected, but we expect the views of the surrounding hills may be quite altered.


It was fun to return to where all our hiking began and see how far we’ve come!

Most family events involve large hectic dinners so it’s nice to get some one on one time and do something we both enjoy.  During a weekend visit in March to San Diego, Katharine, my mom, and I booked an afternoon watercolor class, which I knew my mom would love.  


My parents are both artists and when given the chance to shine they blow people away!  This class was an intro to watercolors and the idea was to learn new techniques while painting greeting cards.  The teacher started by going on and on about her credentials and galleries then the teacher asked about people previous experience in which my mom humbly said “some a long time ago.”  Ha, I thought to my self be prepared to be surprised.  It’s like the excitement in a movie when the unassuming character takes on the loud mouth braggart and you already know the ending.

My mom picked this complicated magazine photo that included an ornate china coffee cup and rose.  The teacher hesitate and almost talked my mom out of it.  Then the teacher with some more doubt suggested she spend sometime sketching it out after a minute of sketching my mom said “eh lets just give it a try.”  After 5 minutes she painted the ornate design and everyone in the class noticed how good it was looking already.


After many oohs and awes from the other students, teacher, and another artist working on oil paintings nearby, the greeting card developed into a nice piece of afternoon art.


The card itself went to good use a couple months later when she presented to her mom for Mother’s Day this weekend.


I know every parent wants their kids to exceed and be better than themselves, but as a child it’s fun to be impressed by your parents.  Even though my mom is formally trained in the arts, she rarely paints these days, but you can tell she has raw talent when she does.

Happy Mother’s Day!


Another card she painted that afternoon


Potato Chip Rock has been on our hiking list for over a year (since seeing it on California Through my Lens) and we finally had the chance to tackle the 8 mile round trip hike to the unique sliver of a rock.  The rock is located on Mt. Woodson near Lake Poway in San Diego, which made it a perfect hike to do with Nathan’s parents.


The trail is completely exposed with only boulders scattered through out the chaparral, but luckily the day started out foggy which kept us out of the sun during the strenuous climb to the top.


During the hike to the top Nathan’s Dad Victor, who is a guide for Cabrillo National Monument, gave us a informative walk pointing out various flowers, plants and their uses by earlier civilizations.


We reached the top and found the rock to be overrun with people, which apparently is actually unusual.  It was over a 30 minute wait before we had our turn on the ‘diving board’.


Crossing the small gap onto the rock and scrambing down between the boulders can be interesting and chaotic as you can see in below.


The rock is 5 to 6 feet wide, but becomes less than a inch thick at the end of the chip.  When you’re standing on the rock and someone else jumps you can feel the rock vibrate!




Although our jumping photo gives some people anxiety, others were even more bold when we were there. We watched a couple groups hang off the edge and one person even attempt a handstand, which got a mixed reaction from the crowd.

This was a fun hike with a well deserved noteworthy summit, but it can be crowded and you definitely have to be prepared for the lack of shade. A couple weeks later Nathan happened to be at Lake Poway Park and saw the fire department airlift a girl off the mountain and land in a nearby baseball field, luckily it looked like she was ok, likely sprained her ankle or something.

Our friend and coworker, Jim celebrated his 60th birthday with a day full of outdoor sports.  Since he’s Irish, it was only fitting the celebration was on St. Patrick’s Day.  The day was perfectly planned and scheduled chock full of various outdoor activities, one right after another. Jim outdid everyone, completing each event with energy to spare while the rest of us played tag team trying to keep up with him.

The morning started with open ocean swimming, surfing, and paddle boarding in Malibu.

Followed by kayaking with friends.

Although some gave it their best shot, no one capsized

Slightly more dramatic than in real life

It’s good to have friends that enjoy the same hobbies you do

We then drove ahead of the group and hiked a little ways down a nice trail and played on a rope swing waiting for the rest to bike by.

It’s amazing how just a simple rope swing can keep you entertained for hours…it’s fun to be a kid again




The final activity was a 4 mile hike in Temescal Canyon ending at Jim’s house for drinks, food, and storytelling.

Coming down the final switchbacks of Temescal Canyon

We thought it was a great way to celebrate a birthday, we only hope we will be as fit and energetic when we turn 60! Happy Birthday to Jim!