Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Christmas Vacation Retrospective

I hope you all are enjoying the new year so far.  I don't know about you, but for me, birthdays and new years seem to be traditional times for me to take stock about where my life is going and what I'd like to improve upon.  I don't make resolutions because they just make me feel bad for not keeping them.  Rather I do a quick spot check to make sure I'm headed in the right direction.  I tend to stay a pretty busy person and my day job is indoors, so I cherish the times when I'm out in the great outdoors and when I can have some time to have my thoughts to myself.  Thankfully, this vacation has allowed me many great times in the outdoors.  I'll provide a little photo reflective with commentary below.

I have to say, I wasn't looking forward to the Boy Scout campout at the start of the vacation.  We left the Friday after work and I was pretty exhausted going into the outing, but it was great.  We loaded up the bikes and headed up to Santa Margarita Lake.  Due to the time of year, we had the campground to ourselves.  Saturday, we biked down an old fire road on the east side of the lake, stopped at the general store for popsicles, and then had a quick dinner before heading out to meet up with the Central Coast Astronomical Society and their monthly stargazing night before returning for a night of roasting smores.  Perfect bike ride, lots of laughter, great guys and good times – you actually couldn't ask for a better trip.

So it would seem no one likes to camp when the weather is a balmy 32° F

Andrew with his bed head

Out on the fire road

What a nice trail


Rockin' the dock


Andrew and me

The crew minus me – someone has to take the photo

Finding an old cellar

...and an old cistern

Peaceful arm of the lake

Stay on the bridge!

The remains of another old structure

Wow! What a view.

Nice open rooms, solidly built, but a real fixer-upper

Swapping stories back at camp

Even though the campout was chilly, the days were really pleasant.  It was 75° on Christmas day.  Oh, and my younger brother came up to visit with their new little 8-month old boy, Keaton.

The boys decided they wanted to go surfing on Christmas.

"Dad, take it quick, the waves are calling..."

Tim riding one in

Jonathan showing off his longboard skills

Drew chilling with the volleyball crowd

"California dreaming on such a winter's day..."

So each year, the Madonna Family puts a Christmas Tree up on top of their mountain (elevation 1,292 feet or 394 meters).  Jonathan and I decided to hike up at sunset and see the lights up close before it was taken down this year.  Anyway, he had such a swell night, he caught the hiking bug and wanted to go every day after that.

A panchoed Jonathan ready to hike

Sun already setting

Chasing the shadows up the hill and looking back towards our home

Sunset over Laguna Lake

What a spectacular sunset

Looks like something out of a Technicolor Western to me

The Laguna side of town in pinks and purples

Jonathan with our goal in sight

Loving the view!

Looking up the tree from the base

Last glimmers of the fading sun over SLO

City lights starting to emerge

Another view of SLO with Highway 101 in the foreground

Self-portrait of Jonathan and me

A cactus shaped like a foot that Jonathan wanted to remember

The next morning Jonathan wanted back on the trail, so we hit the Johnson Ranch trail with my friend Peter, his son Sam, and their dog Pepper.  My middle son Andrew also joined us.  (By the way, Sam became an Eagle Scout last year (the youngest in the history of our Boy Scout Council - anyone care to guess how old he was?)

Sam, Johnny, and Drew

Headed out on the trail

I don't think there's a peak boys don't like to climb

Another halcyon day

How idyllic

Drew and Sam swapping stories

My friend Peter

Exploring the sycamores

A little surprised the stream was still running

Pepper sensed cows ahead

Nearby cattle roundup - the dog at the bottom left did most of the work

And back up another rock

And the next day, Jonathan decided to we needed to go hiking yet again.  When we had gone up Madonna Mountain, he looked across the way and asked which was bigger, the hill we were on or the next one over.  I think my answer cemented his desire to go up Bishop's Peak (elevation 1,559 feet or 475 meters).

Jonathan eager to begin the trail

First through the woods

And then up the hill

Quick stop for a rest break

Jonathan was excited to see how small the Christmas tree looked over on Madonna mountain

Here's a panorama shot of San Luis Obispo from the almost top of Bishop's Peak

Watching the fog roll in as the sun sets

A view of the morros headed north towards the coast

And looking back towards the south

Jonathan was very proud to have made it to the top

Another day in SLO Town coming to a close

"Dad take my picture here, it'll look like I'm really strong."

Well, that was pretty much my break.  Oh, I almost forgot, Tim also became a licensed driver!  Kristine and I are very proud.  I can't believe time goes by so fast!


recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

Some great photographs Nate. Looks like a awesome way to spend the holidays.

DADD said...

Well, that was a sunset to remember for all time.

Judi said...

I will guess 12 for Sam only because he looks the same age as our g-daughter.
The sunset pictures are just outstanding. You are lucky to be near all that public land. CA is #7 in amount of federal land - 45%. It even beats WY at 42%! NV is #1 with 84%.

Jules said...

That looks like a terrific Christmas break. much nicer hiking in that weather than in rain and freezing temps!

K Marie Peikert said...

Beautiful photos and it looks like you and the others had a good time.

DAG said...

What a great trip and great photos. I am definitely jealous.

My dad went trough California during WWII, fell in love with the country and wanted to move there. My mom wanted to stay close close to her family here in the Northeast. So here I am still in the N.E.

There was never a snowfall when my brothers and I didn't say " dam, we could have been California kids. Within earshot of my mom. All in jest, of course.

Zelda said...

What a great trip and such wonderfull pictures. I loved Jonathan's foot cactus. I really like the sunset on the road. Congratualations to Tim.

LindaBSend said...

Beautiful photographs, Nate! What a great Dad you are!!! Happy New Year~

Nate Maas said...

Thanks for the comments everyone.

Judi, you are correct, Sam was 12 when he became an Eagle Scout, but Federal land ownership can be a blessing or curse. Some of the best hikes out here are on private land - most owners are fine as long as you ask first and are respectful of the property (e.g., keeping cattle gates closed).

Jules, your Ducks did just fine in this weather.

DAG, ah, what could have been. I have to say, I certainly enjoyed growing up out here - plenty to do outside.

Zelda, he liked it too. He couldn't decide if it looked more like a dinosaur profile or a foot, but eventually decided on the foot.

Thanks again for all the swell comments everyone.

Virgil S. said...

Marvelous photos, thanks for posting. I am going to recommend to my daughter that she check out those photos; she is a hiking enthusiast and also a sunset enthusiast.

Best wishes to everyone for a wonderful New Year.

Unknown said...

Wow, if all your postings will be this long it will be fun year :-) How many of the Nine Sisters have you guys climbed? Being an ex-geophysicist I must say having these volcanic plugs nearby is very cool.

Nate Maas said...

Rob, we went up three over break, Islay, Cerro San Luis, and Bishop Peak. In previous hikes, I've been up to the top of eight of them. Although that's hard now as four of them are privately owned with restricted access. Although if you put some work into it, you could get permission to do at least seven of them.

Linda said...

Hi Nate Maas!
In searching for panoramic views of San Luis Obispo your image came up! Can we use that photo as part of our webbing for the San Luis Obispo CRESBI strap? (see www.cresbi.com for details). Would you be interested in receiving one of our CRESBI crate products with a strap that has your image on it as a trade for using the image? Please let me know asap since I can always use a stock photo from a stock photo website but we thought it would be cool to have an image from a local resident used on the strap! Thanks!
Owner/Creator CRESBI crates

Sarah Saad said...

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شركة نقل عفش بالطائف
شركة نقل عفش بالمدينة المنورة