Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Every now and then I just like to take off for a day on my own and explore new places. I sometimes scout a little with Google maps ahead of time, but I always end up making decisions along the way that add unexpected surprises.

On this particular day I headed east on Highway 138 from the 5 North and found a delightful backroad drive that started in pines and ended in prairie.

Overlooking the western Antelope Valley

The new ride

A pond along the way

View beyond the pond and into the valley below

Ghost tree forest - fire went through here one year

I only saw two cars in 20 miles

A prairie-like view to the west; mountains of Los Padres National Forest in background

Friday, June 3, 2011


Spent Memorial Day weekend in Forest Falls, a small mountain community between Mentone and Big Bear, CA, elevation about 6,400'. It's a lovely, peaceful place where my partner and I hope to retire to in a few years.

We stayed at a cabin and took my partner's niece (11) and her mentee (13) and let me tell you, taking kids somewhere is an adventure. These are two very well-behaved and fun kids, but I forgot how much energy they have! It was a challenge keeping them exercised--they are like EverReady batteries.

The cabin is OLD--built in the early 1900s and though equipped with 'modern' conveniences like plumbing, stove, and fridge, it's beginning to get a little scruffy around the edges. But we made do and really enjoyed the big river rock fireplace each night; the girls found it perfect for roasting marshmallows! I had initially said 'NO TV!' But I caved and let them watch one movie per night.

The weather was on the cool side by Saturday, and by Sunday it was downright COLD. On our day trip to Big Bear there were actually snow flurries in the afternoon. Unbelievable. This was the end of May, and usually it is blazing hot in Southern California by now.

I took the girls to the day-use area at the end of the road (it dead-ends there and is also the trailhead for those hiking up to Mt. San Gorgonio. They loved throwing rocks in the stream and watching the lizards that were scurrying everywhere. On the drive back at dusk, we saw a coyote trotting down the side of the road. The girls got a big thrill out of that, alright!

Saturday night I took them out after dark to the vacant lot across the street that had a clear view of the sky to show them how many stars could be seen when they are out away from city light pollution. They were suitably impressed!

View up the canyon along Mill Creek

The girls contemplating the creek

Nice little waterfall

Aspen grove along the creek

Lilacs in bloom everywhere

Shooting Star

Clouds rolling in Saturday afternoon...

...getting windy and cold!

Stay tuned for part 2--the day trip to the Santa Ana River!