For years my wife and I have talked about spending a night or two in a local hostel, but until this weekend we didn’t find the time to do so. But a pre-New Year’s hike in the Marin Headlands just north of San Francisco, where we live, took Paula into the hostel to see what was available and voila, we were booked for two nights in early January. Continue reading »
It was the day after Thanksgiving and with stretched out bellies we threw our camping gear in our car, made sure we had hats, gloves, plenty of cocoa and we headed out of the city towards the Sonoma Coast. My husband had to work so I was initially reluctant to join our friends on the impromptu trip. I’m loath to admit it, but despite my claims of equality and the notion that I can do most anything I put my mind to, I usually wind up caring for the kids and organizing food when we go camping. Sometimes I over-think the food and this time I just raided the fridge and cabinets and grabbed what we had.
A friend of mine named John Higham wrote a book about a 365-day journey around the world he took with his family that will be coming out in 2009 called 360 Degrees Longitude. He had a wild set of adventures, mostly good, many challenging, none catastrophic, and he tells a great story.
One that stuck with me was his madcap crossing of Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat, with a guide who knew what he was doing, sort of. Salt water gets into everything, is hell on engines, and getting stranded in a jeep fully laden with food but no fuel to cook it looks like a dead certainty.
And then things get worse. Continue reading »
Studying Abroad is one of the most expansive experiences a young student can have, not only living and studying in a country, but being able to travel widely while away from home. I was lucky when I studied in France many moons ago because the dollar was strong and a semester abroad was actually less expensive than a semester on campus in Connecticut.
Nearly every weekend I took off for London, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Holland or Italy. I remember sewing a Canadian patch on my backpack before a foray through Europe because of the palpable dislike for Reaganomics and small acts of terrorism against Americans: small potatoes compared to travelers’ fears today. Continue reading »
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I woke up this morning to find out our six-year-old, Abyssinian Guinea Pig , Felix, was on his way out. At six, he was considered “frail elderly” and I knew he wasn’t long for this world. He died this morning in my eldest son’s arms and we wrapped him in a shroud and placed him in a doll cradle. We lit candles and incense and both boys bawled until giant tears and snot trails rolled down their faces.
It’s Veteran’s Day and I’d had all the good intentions of taking a walk through a military cemetery in San Francisco’s Presidio, a stone’s throw from our office. It is a wonderful and moving experience any time of year, with great views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands. Continue reading »
It is Indian summer in the San Francisco Bay Area, or as locals like to say: “Earthquake Weather.” It’s no secret: late October is one of the best times of year to visit San Francisco and environs. I had been hankering for some outdoor time, so we planned a hike with a friend and her son last Sunday. It had been sunny and sweltering for days, beautiful, crisp and clear, just painful to be indoors. Murphy’s Law, the day we headed out to Point Reyes it was foggy and cold. I actually prefer hiking when it’s a bit blustery, so we weren’t too upset, and when my friend suggested we meet at the Bovine Bakery in Point Reyes Station. I heartily agreed, looking forward to a warm cup of coffee and a treat. Continue reading »
You’ve seen it on postcards, in photo galleries, in museums, and in Hokusai’s famous woodblock art, 36 Views of Mt. Fuji. The elegant perfect cone of Mount Fuji, only 60 miles from Tokyo, is a national symbol, a near mythical place for the Japanese, and one of the world’s most popular mountains to climb. As the official climbing season winds down the numbers are in: a record 247,066 people scaled the peak in July and August. Think about it: over two months that’s 3,985 people per day! If you want to experience the Japanese culture in all of its variety, be there with all of your Tokyo neighbors, and no doubt have a spiritual experience, climb the mountain next summer.
Over lunch recently my good friend John Flinn and I were comparing notes about backpacking trails in California’s Sierra Nevada because we both wanted to get back to the mountains. I was planning my first mountain backpacking trip with my two daughters aged 10 and 8 and intended to take them up a trail my wife and I used to love—before the children arrived, of course. John knew the trail, starting at the Lyons Creek Trailhead off Highway 50 just past Kyburz.
“It’s flat all the way to Lake Sylvia,” he recalled.
“That’s what I remember, too,” I said, “but I found my old topo map last night and it shows a 1500-foot climb over five miles to Sylvia.”
I nodded. I couldn’t believe it either. My memory was that the trail to Lake Sylvia was essentially flat, but if you wanted to go up to Lyons Lake, which Paula and I always used to do, it was a torturous climb straight up for a half mile at the end. Continue reading »