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Garden Update: Mid-Summer Bounty Begins

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Rain and sun. Rain and sun. 90 degree days and massive afternoon thunderstorms. The garden is OK with all that.

First real harvest and a vegetarian dinner grown entirely on the property.

Watermellon? Watermellon.

First real harvest. Still waiting for tomatoes to get red.

Summer Solstice 2019: Bodacious Bonfire

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First a story of the lighting through the photography of Amy Barley.

Prepare to Burn

Burn

Light it Up

Fire Maiden

And that is how you turn the sun.

Things looked pretty much like this before we started

Then there were several undocumented hours in the river with the special beer float courtesy of Aubrey. We’re still not sure where he is.

The most popular guest of all was baby Cora. (Yes, that is the three McGraw brothers in kilts.)

Panorama by jackie

Idyllic

A video of the lighting.

 

This shot by my brother walt (at his first solstice) is one of my favorites.

From the bridge

Spectacular

When the fire burned down enough to get within 100 feet, we started the music.

Burning pile

Joel Winstead created some great sketches in real time.

Music by firelight

The fire

Gary and Gina

The the thunderstorm moved in around 11pm and we shifted the music to the barn. We played until 4am. What a joy.

Gary and Gina in the barn

Allen behind his hat

There are a few more pictures on the evite page. Thanks to all who came to the 2019 summer solstice fire!

Thanks for coming to the summer solstice!

Shenandoah Bluebells 2019

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The bluebells are peaking in mid-April this year (a bit early), so we are outta here, headed to Norway for more winter. Because we, um, actually we think we’re nuts.

Here are some pictures from the daily walk.

Willie likes Spring

Bluebells by the river (this is our home loop)

The dogs have lost the trail!

The greening of the Blue Ridge has begun

This field smells like honey

Pollen leg is a thing

Footbridge on Wheat Spring Branch

Really Big Trees Near Guernville (Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve)

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Whatever you do, make sure you visit the amphitheater (though this time of year it might have better been called the “amphibian-theater”). Also visit a winery and catch a buzz before you park the car.

The posse

Amy dwarfed by a giant redwood

The band at the crest

Crown

More crown

Hiking the David Joseph State Park (near Jenner, CA)

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On a beautiful Spring day (one of the first for months) we went to the edge of the continent with Uncle Jim and Chloe. Just south of the Russian river is Shell Beach and across Highway 1 from that is a nice set of trails traversing the coastal hills.

All told, we may have hiked 3.5 or 4 miles.

From the Pacific

 

Vernal mud on the trail

 

Spring mushrooms were everywhere (irises too)

 

To the fern forest

Then it was back down to the ocean.

Sorry, In Advance: New Year’s Eve 2018

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New Years Eve 2018 was a bummer.  A few of our best friends actually came even though we let the dogs out and turned off all of the lights.  Sorry.

Figuring out when “advance” is can be tricky near the international date line

 

 

This creepy guy showed up and flashed just about everyone

 

Fortunately the absinthe fairy saved the day

Well sorta.  There were some killings.  Accidental, of course.  And the killer was really sorry before he even showed up at the party.

 

 

The Seelbach (a drink that we are really sorry about)

 

We’re sorry if you caught any communicable diseases. Really.  The hooker said she was clean.

 

Look who’s pregnant now (and who has whose nuts in a very small jar)

 

Someone is looking crazed well after midnight when the absinthe was flowing.  

 

And someone else is looking wasted

Cheers!

 

Braxton Hicks is a bitch

 

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL.  WE’RE SORRY.  IN ADVANCE.

 

The Blue Mountains: Katoomba, Australia

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A two hour train ride outside of Sydney, you can find the tourist hamlet of Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. Tourists have been coming here since the turn of the century (1900). Katoomba itself reminds me of West Virginia in its old coal town turned bust turned tourist vibe. You can now find hipsters and artists in residence.

We took the train out in the morning and spent several hours walking from the train station to a trailhead, down the cliff face, and back up again.

Highlights on the mountain visit include the three sisters, the giant stairway (976 steps!), waterfalls, and the steepest railroad in Australia.

We started our morning at Sydney central

The two hour train ride is a little long. The tourist center by the train station is well worth a visit. That is where we finalized our plan.

8things cafe. Great food and super service

Cassiopia coffee (recommended)

We walked from the station to Echo point (2.3 km).

The Echo Point visitors center

This is where we first caught sight of the famed three sisters. Which we saw many times throughout the day.

Three sisters from Echo Point visitor center

Three sisters from the echo point trail

Three sisters from the trail

Three sisters from just above

Honeycomb cave (at the three sisters)

Three sisters from below on the Federal trail

Three sisters from Scenic World gondola

Here’s what happened in between. After honeycomb cave, we entered the giant stairway. Lots of stairs down (976 in fact). Amy did not do them all.

This is an alternative way to get down the stairs (not recommended by our attorney)

Not here

Here

Flowers and bromiliads

Amy

AMY

A tiny fiddlehead against the mountains

Down

Flowers on the mountain

Looking down 500 feet

The blue mountains

Amy contemplates

Cliff hangers

Amy takes the stairs with a monk

Cliff hangers and rare species

Eventually, we entered the rain forrest at the bottom of the cliff.

The giant stairway is well named. It has been there a while.

Rainforest ecology

Amy rounds the bend

Ferns and trail. The rainforest shift is striking

A very big tree indeed

Katoomba Creek falls

After the falls, we were back in what passes as civilization. Scenic world was first contemplated by coal miners. Just take the train thingy up.

And, why not? Try the cable car too.

We walked back from scenic world (another 2.5km). All told we may have hiked around 5 miles. We deserved a beer.

After a long day hiking, it was high time for a beer!

The 2 hour train ride back to Sydney was slightly too long.

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