28 June 2016

Poor Boys

Yesterday afternoon Lijah & Courtland asked if they could swim at their friend's house up the street, and I told them they needed to come get their swimsuits and then they could swim. I didn't find out until today that they had gone with just their swim shorts, but hadn't taken their swim shirts. (Of course it had to be my two fair-skinned boys). There have been times when the boys have gotten a little pink before, but these are the first real sunburns I think these two have had. So this morning they were both mourning the fact that they had to lay on my bed until all the aloe vera dried. Poor guys!

"Summer Adventure" # 2

We had our second "summer adventure" last night. This one was a little different than most of the outdoor activities we have planned. After Camden & Isaac came home from their Cub Scout day camp, we got our picnic dinner ready and headed to Balboa Park. Michael came after work and met us there.

I guess they have free organ concerts on Monday nights in the summer at the outdoor Spreckles Organ Pavillion, and last night the San Diego Marine Band was playing with the organist. 

We went early. After saving some seats at the organ pavillion, we went and found a shady area in the grass to sit and eat our dinner.  Then I showed Michael the area nearby where these huge ficus trees grow on a hill, and their roots grow above ground, winding all the way down the hill. The boys played tag on the huge tree roots before we headed back for the concert. 

Michael loved the music, and the boys seemed to enjoy the concert. Harley was so good with the crowds of people and all the other dogs there at the park. I loved the architecture and lighting of the organ pavillion, and taking different photos of it as it got dark. It was interesting to hear the kind of (mostly) fast-paced music that the organist played (since I'm used to only hearing church hymns played on an organ). My favorite was the Marine Band. They played some patriotic songs, and mostly played lots of different march songs by John Philip Sousa.  My favorites were the couple of jazz songs that they played. All of our boys were asleep by 9:30pm when the concert ended, but they were pretty good sports about being woken up to walk back to the cars afterward. 

Elijah's Toe

The other day the boys were helping bring the groceries in from the car and one of the plastic bags split and a big can fell on Elijah's big toe. His toenail got a black spot right away and it hurt a lot, but after a while he seemed ok and went out to play with his friends.

Later that evening Michael & I went to the temple, and right before we went inside, the boys called us and said Camden had accidentally stepped on Elijah's hurt toe and he was crying. I talked to him a bit and got him calmed down, and figured he'd be fine after a few minutes. So later on when we finished at the temple I called my mom to ask her about some plans for the next day, and I was really surprised when Lijah answered the phone. I guess he had been in a lot of pain from his toe, and my mom had taken him to her house while we were gone, and was watching over him for us. 

When we got home, he was in a lot of pain -- a lot more than when he broke his foot last fall -- and he wasn't calming down. My mom wondered if we would need to take him to a doctor to somehow release the pressure on his toe. We knew there wasn't much that a doctor would do even if he had broken his toe, so we gave him ibuprofen, Michael had him soak his foot in water and vinegar to reduce the swelling, and eventually he settled into a fitful sleep around midnight.

I read online that sometimes when there is bleeding under the toenail the pressure is very painful and it does need to be released either by cotterizing it, or by sticking in a large needle. But he was sleeping, so we decided to wait and see if he was better in the morning. 

At 2am he woke up in pain again, so I took him to the ER at Children's Hospital. I had to carry him from the parking lot because his foot hurt too much to walk. After a long wait, we were taken to a room, they took some X-rays, and eventually the doctor came and she used a cotterizing tool to make two small holes through the top of his nail and then push the blood out from under his nail. That was a painful process for him. But once it was over, it had released the pressure and he felt just fine again. 

(Afterward, my parents told my brother, Matthew who is studying to be a physical therapist, about it, and he said what they do for that is heat up a paper clip and stick it through the nail. I guess next time we'll know that, and maybe Uncle Matthew can take care of it and save us the $300 ER bill).   :)

"Summer Adventure" # 1

A couple weeks ago we had our first "summer adventure" that the boys and I had planned. My mom went with us, we took our lunches and plenty of water, we picked up an Adventure Pass so we could park in the Cleveland National Forest, and we headed out, following the GPS to some coordinates we had found on the internet.

We were searching for Black Canyon Falls outside of Ramona. This was supposed to be a relatively easy hike to a swimming hole, although there wasn't very much information about this hike online, other than that the road to get there was narrow and curvy, and the hike started out from an old campground that was abandoned in the 80s because of flooding. I knew it might be too hot if we waited until late summer, so we planned this one as our first adventure of the summer. 

It took us a while to drive there -- for some reason the GPS took us on a round-about road that looped around through the hills and became narrow as it curved through a beautiful canyon that seemed really far removed from civilization (although on the way home, the GPS took us a much more direct route through a different canyon and past Sutherland Resevoire, which shaved about half an hour off our previous drive in). But the drive in did make it feel a lot more like an adventure. :)

When we arrived at the old campground, we continued driving down the dirt road past the campground to see if there would be more places to park, but it turns out that was a very narrow, bumpy dirt road that we did eventually find a spot to do a 10-point turn in order to turn my minivan around and get back to the campground (so I would avoid driving on the dirt road past the campground in the future).

When we got out of the car, we headed out on a narrow trail from the campground that went north-east. Because I hadn't read too many details online about the hike itself, when the trail got more and more narrow and eventually became overgrown in spots, I was second guessing myself about if we had taken the right path or not, especially since there were no signs or trail markers. I didn't have any internet access there on the trail so I couldn't look up any of the websites with descriptions of the hike, but fortunately my Google maps app was still working, and I had written down that the trail headed roughly east from the campground. So since the stream bed by the trail ran north-east upstream or south-west downstream from the campground, I figured we were on the right path and we'd eventually find our destination if we kept going upstream. 

From there, we left the overgrown path and stuck to the dry stream bed the rest of the way. There was quite a bit of poison oak along the trail and in patches along the stream bed, so the rocky area along the stream bed was better to avoid the poison oak. As we continued upstream, I wondered if there would be any water at all. We could see marks on the rocks showing that there had been water there in the past, but it was totally dry. (Meaning there are probably lots more spots to wade and get wet if we ever go back in the springtime). And even if there wasn't any water, there were lots of cool rocks to scramble over. 

Eventually, we found a tiny puddle between some big rocks, and I pulled one of the rocks out of the way so the opening was big enough for Harley to stick his head in and get a drink. As we continued upstream, there was another bigger puddle, and then we came to an area that was wet, but it was so thick with moss that there were bees sitting on the moss that floated across the majority of the surface of the little pools. Up further, there was a small stream flowing down over smooth rocks. 

And eventually we got to the swimming hole. I was pleasantly surprised that there was actually plenty of water for the boys to swim. There was one young man there who was fishing, and Harley ran played with his black boxer the whole time we were there. The fisherman guy was a little quirky, but harmless. He had been camping there for a few days, and I think he was living off the fish he had caught. There were 3 fish on a line in the water that he had caught. And at one point he showed us his "pet" turtle -- he said it had kept getting caught on his fishing line, so eventually he caught the turtle and tied some paracord around it's shell kind of like a leash. 


The boys all had fun swimming. And Elijah caught a little garter snake that had been swimming in the water. They were playing on a little rock in the water near some tall reeds, and every time they bumped the reeds little clouds of yellow pollen billowed up from the reeds. We enjoyed our lunches there, and I took off my shoes and cooled off my feet in the water. I was rather tempted to jump in and swim too, but we were planning to go to Julian on our way home for some pie, and I didn't really feel like going into town all wet.


I eventually convinced most of the boys to climb up on the rocks above and jump down into the water. Camden was the first one to be brave enough to do it. They climbed up above on the rocks on the right side of the pool, then lowered themselves down a little rope someone had tied up there, to get down to the spot to jump in from. They did great!


When we left, the boys all went ahead and Mom and I picked our way back downstream, avoiding the poison oak. Eventually we got to a point where there wasn't a good way to get back from the stream bed to the trail without having to go through thick patches of poison oak, so we had to backtrack just a bit upstream to find a better spot to get back on the overgrown trail. We did a little bush wacking, but got back on track before too long. When we got to the car the boys were waiting there patiently, playing with some red ants. 

We all piled in the car, took the quicker route back toward town, and Nana treated everyone to the best pie in Julian (a town that's famous for it's apple pie): the caramel apple pecan pie with the cinnamon ice cream at Apple Alley Bakery. 

14 June 2016


I've never been so excited about a little cement before. Yesterday they poured the cement for the walkway in our backyard and for the steps to the little patio where there will be a firepit. I think it turned out looking really nice!  It's so fun to see something that we designed actually being built. I'm really excited for this yard to eventually be finished so we can use it. 

"Summer Adventures"

Elijah had a requirement to go find at least one geocache before he goes to Boy Scout camp next week because he signed up to do the geocaching merit badge at camp. So we got a geocaching app. And today Elijah invited his friend from next door and we all headed off to do some searching. We found 2 of the 3 caches that we looked for today. And the boys liked these cool rock stacks that we found near the trail. 

I came up with a new idea to plan "Adventures" this summer -- I found several ideas and I had the boys help research different destinations. To qualify as one of our Adventures, it had to be a place we haven't gone to before, mostly outdoor locations, something that looks cool and possibly a little challenging, and mostly places without an admission fee. 

We just finalized our schedule for the summer, and we've got several fun new places on our list to visit, including a hike to a little swimming hole surrounded by big rocks in Black Canyon near Ramona, doing a little exploring in Balboa Park followed by a picnic dinner while we watch a free Organ/Marine Band concert at the outdoor organ pavilion, exploring Sunset Cliffs beach for little caves at low tide, going to the museum inside the Presidio (never been inside before, but Nana got family passes to that museum) and then finding some Mexican food in Old Town, doing a really fun hike through a very thin canyon on San Diego's "Ho Chi Minh Trail" and then finding a local beach to play at {will probably need to drive to a different nearby beach, since Black's Beach is the closest one to that trail and it's a nude beach}, checking out the San Diego History Museum & the Model Railroad Museum at Balboa Park for the first time, going to find the "hidden sea cave" at Point Loma that is only accessible at low tide, hiking some of the scenic trails at Torrey Pines State Natural Preserve  and then hiking down to the beach to play, and checking out the rivers and small waterfalls in Mission Trails Regional Park. 

We also came up with a whole list of other really cool looking hiking destinations, but lots of them are way out in the desert and it just wouldn't be smart for me to drag all the boys out into the middle of the desert for long hikes in the middle of the summer. So we'll have to plan to do some of these in the Winter & Spring: Ladder Canyon Hike at Painted Canyon Road, Goat Canyon Trestle, Cedar Creek Falls, Anza Borrego Wind Caves, Anza Borrego Palm Canyon Oasis, Agua Caliente Hot Springs, Algodones Sand Dunes, & Bouldering in Joshua Tree National Park. And, of course, one of our favorites: The Mud Caves in Anza Borrego desert. 

03 June 2016

Three Sisters Falls hike

On Memorial Day our family hiked Three Sisters Falls outside of Ramona with our friends, Chris & Danielle  Thompson and their boys, Bode & Harlan. This was the first time any of us had done this hike. We had read varying reports about the hike online -- some saying that it was really hard, others saying it was a challenging hike but you should be fine if you take plenty of water and avoid going when it's too hot, and some saying it wasn't too bad and they had taken their kids without any problems. 
So we made sure we each carried plenty of water, plus we brought a big jug of water in the van in case we needed more after the hike.  We packed lunch, and Michael took his suture kit along with our first aid stuff. We figured we'd be ok. 

It was a pretty remote area, and we eventually found where a number of cars were parked alongside a curve in the dirt road. There was a sign there warning that this was not an official trail. And even though it was a sunny day, there were other people on the trail, but not anywhere near as many as you would have expected for a popular trail on a holiday. 

We walked down an easy path until we came to a sign and the trail turned downhill. From there, the trail got more narrow, and gradually got more steep -- it was a nice descent. At times we could see across the valley to the waterfalls in the distance:

After going downhil for a while, we came to a steep part where people had tied up a few different ropes to hold onto while walking down through the really fine dirt that filled your shoes with every step. I liked that part -- the ropes weren't entirely necessary, but they were helpful in a few spots that were especially slippery in the fine dirt. I went down this part with our 7 year old, Courtland, and his friend, Harlan, who's a tough little 5 year old, and they thought it was great fun. 

 After going down further, we hit another fun part of the descent: the next spot where people had tied up a couple of ropes was a rocky area. In this spot, hikers both hiking down into the canyon and those hiking up back out of the canyon paused to form a couple lines to wait to use the ropes. As we waited our turn, my friend, Danielle, noticed that one of the men hiking back up out of the canyon was only using one hand to climb up the rope, and she offered to give him a hand, but he quietly refused. That's when we saw that his other hand was terribly swollen -- and the woman hiking with him told us in passing that he had climbed up some rocks "that he shouldn't have been climbing" and had broken his hand. Ouch!  I'm glad no one had any really serious injuries while we were down there, because the only access would be by helicopter, plus the cell coverage down there was non existent for most of the hike, so it'd be hard to get help if you really needed it. 

While we waited our turn to climb down the ropes, Courtland climbed down ahead of us, and then while I was climbing down, he climbed right back up the rocks (he didn't need to wait in line, because he didn't use the ropes at all), so he could wait his turn to climb back down again because it was fun. {Thats's my kid}.  

After that, there wasn't anything really challenging on the rest of the hike towards the falls. Once we reached the creek someone told us it was better to stay on the left side of the creek, rather than crossing over o the right side, and go upstream from there. The creek was surrounded by wonderful large and medium boulders, which were great to climb on and jump from rock to rock. 

We walked upstream until we came to the first falls, which wasn't a lot of water this time of year. 

Then we continued right up to the next falls, which Michael and the boys promptly got in and swam around in the few feet of water in the pool. We had lunch there, and got to relax a bit. 

We carefully went up to the third falls, because there were some more ropes leading up there and we wanted to be cautious with the kids, but it wasn't anything too difficult. The third falls was the prettiest, with water trickling down from above into a larger pool and then spilling over the edge to the falls below. This one had large, smooth rocks where we laid down and relaxed for a while, and Courtlabd even fell asleep. I took off my shoes and put my legs in the water, which was cold, but not too cold to enjoy on a warm day. Michael hiked up to the top of the third falls to look around, but I felt like just staying and laying on those rocks. 

We eventually headed back down the trail, going out over the rocks along the creek again. The boys tried to play a game where they weren't allowed to step on anything but rocks, which worked in most areas along the creek, but they eventually had to give up and step on dirt in a few spots. 

Then we headed back uphill. It was steep, and it was kind of challenging to trudge uphill through that really fine dirt that slides downhill when you step in it , (but it felt like the good kind of challenging). 

Luckily it wasn't too hot out. It was warm, but not one of those unbearably sticky blistering hot days that are just miserable to hike in. Nothing like that. I would have said it was about 75 degrees out, although Michael thinks it was at least 80. 

Michael and I had prepared ourselves to drag overtired, whiny kids out of that canyon, because we knew that it was a long descent down, followed by a long climb back out at the end of the day when everyone's already tired. But surprisingly, the kids did quite well overall and most of them didn't even complain as they hiked back out. 

Most of the kids had gotten ahead of us on the trail, so Michael had gone ahead of us to catch up with them. I kept thinking we would catch up to them, but we never did. The next time we saw all of them was at the cars. Harlan was a little trooper -- he was the youngest kid I saw on the trail that day (other than a toddler I saw with a group near the creek, which I assume was carried in). He just kept climbing up that hill and never had a hard time. 

I, on the other hand, had kind of a hard time. I wasn't feeling great, so kept drinking water more and more regularly throughout the hike to avoid dehydration.  I knew I needed to keep drinking, so I did, even though every time I took a sip of water my stomach felt a little worse. I stopped for quick breaks along the trail several times on the way up, but by the time I reached the sign at the top of the hill where the trail wasn't steep anymore, I stopped and sat down for quite a while because I seriously felt like I was going to throw up if I kept moving.  I had told Chris & Danielle to go ahead, but after a while Chris came back to make sure I was ok. After sitting for some time, I felt ok enough to keep walking to the car. But I didn't feel better until about half an hour after I got in the car and sat with the cold air blowing in my face. That's the first time I ever got sick while hiking -- and the funny thing is that it was warm, but I've hiked in much hotter weather before, and it was challenging, but I've done more challenging hikes before. All I can figure is that I was starting to get overheated. I'm glad it didn't get worse than that, and I'm crossing my fingers I never have to deal with that again. 

Because I was feeling so lousy, I'm afraid I wasn't very good company when we got back to the cars, and didn't even say anything to our friends after the hike was over. Fortunately, the kids had the idea to invite them over for swimming and pizza. So we picked up some pizzas and the swimsuits and towels, and we all met up at my parents' house. Michelle & her kids joined us for a swim, and we all sat a chatted in the hot tub for the rest of the evening. A great end to a fun day!  (And I think the hot tub was a really good way to prevent our muscles from becoming even more sore and stiff than they already became for the following week). 

Ever since then, I've really wanted to go back and hike Three Sisters again -- not so much to prove to myself that I can conquere that trail, as to enjoy the fun & challenges of that hike again while getting a great amount of exercise in all in one day. Plus, with how few people there were on the trail on a holiday, I imagine there wouldn't be too many other hikers there on the average weekday, and since it's not an official trail and it's pretty far removed from civilization, I think it's work to take Harley with me and let him go off leash. I probably would have made plans to go back and hike it again already (if the kids were still in school), except as the days get hotter the further we go into summer, I know the idea of hiking that trail just becomes more and more stupid (there are too many stories of people getting in trouble and having to be life-listed out of there after becoming dehydrated or getting heat stroke) -- I'm going to have to wait until winter when it's cooler. So, maybe I'll plan to go back and tackle it again as soon as it cools down -- I could take my brother to show him the trail and so I could have a hiking buddy, and go during the day sometime while the kids are in school. That's my plan. I'm looking forward to trying to get in a few different fun hikes this winter and spring to destinations that aren't wise in the heat of the summer, like Cedar Creek Falls and the ladder slot canyon trail I read about in Anza Borrego Desert. There are so many cool places to explore around here, I can't believe I grew up here in San Diego (and we always got out and did lots of fun things), and I've still got so many new places like this yet to explore.