Mom came back to California to visit us! Another fun Thanksgiving holiday with Mom, and as much as I thought I was leaving plenty of "chill time", we still ended up doing a lot of fun things and traveling around the area. Maybe next time we'll plan to just sit around and relax.
But how could we pass up the experience of ziplining in the redwoods? Kip went to Mount Hermon Adventures for the high obstacle course recently, and I suggested Mom might want to try the zipline version? She said she would!
Which is how we ended up here, standing on a platform attached to a tree at 150 feet in the air:
Amazingly, the gulch is deep and steep, so it's only a short walk away from the road out to the treetops (looking back at our point of entry):
Loving the tall trees, even on a drizzly day:
Our guides were fun and entertaining, helping us get set up and then "landing" on the other end. Mom had never done this before, but you wouldn't know it:
Go Mom go!
Whee! This was quite an experience, flying through the trees at a high rate of speed.
The guides gave us the chance to try a few different things ("cannonball!") including leaning backward off the platform. Mom took every opportunity to see what it was like. Way to go, Mom!
Mugging for the camera:
Even more excitement, this time the unplanned type. A girl got stuck part way along the zipline, apparently something very rare, but our guides were well-trained and ready for a rescue:
Now this is more like the Tyrolean Traverse that we're familiar with in adventure racing (phew, my arms are tired just thinking about it):
Reeling her back in, mission accomplished:
One final zipline, with another camera to capture our enthusiasm:
A quick video of Mom coming in for a landing:
Since we were close to Santa Cruz, we hopped over for some lunch, ice cream (The Penny Ice Creamery is amazing!), and a short walk along the ocean:
Checking out the surf action:
We had just enough daylight left for a walk around the Redwood Grove trail at Henry Cowell Redwoods:
It's always quite impossible to get a decent shot of these beauties and to capture their size and scale:
A selfie at the base of the trees instead:
Rootstock with gnarly fingers:
Checking out the Pathfinder tree where John C. Fremont supposedly spent the night once:
Glorious tall redwoods:
And a sign of appropriate size:
A couple days later we took a train to San Francisco for a walk across town.
Posing with farmer's market raspberries (yum!) and a sculpture that's almost the shape of Vermont:
A giant (and silver) modern version of Venus de Milo:
And nearby artwork cleverly showing small glimpses of the potential of the stone:
In the Painted Ladies neighborhood, quaint and colorful:
On the hill with a view of more Painted Ladies and downtown San Fran:
We had an excellent lunch at 1428 Haight Patio in Haight-Ashbury, a nice walk through Golden Gate Park (with a couple stops to watch Lindy dancing and roller disco), and an easy bus ride back across town.
Something new for us - the Coin-Op Arcade, with free play Sunday. Cool! Kip and I enjoyed playing a bunch of games, old and new, while sampling their drink menu. We should come back here again, very cool.
Oddly, we had just been talking about Chinese Checkers and then we found these on the wall of the arcade:
I have NO idea what the deal is with these action figures, but "yoga soldiers" sure made me laugh:
Mom's one request was to visit Lodi to see the sandhill cranes that migrate here for the winter. I'm always up for interesting birding experiences with Mom. We drove out, found a wonderful viewing spot on Woodbridge Road, and hung out for the afternoon. There were a bunch of birds to check out, also a coyote casually patrolling along the far banks of the pond.
At dusk there was a large "fly-in" of cranes coming from various directions to stay for the night. It was super cool watching them land in unison, large wings and long legs and a graceful hop at the end. We got better at listening for their specific calls and realized there had been several cranes across the pond from us all afternoon.
We returned at dawn to see if there would be a mass "fly-out" but a thick fog impeded visibility. We could still hear the cranes but that was about it.
So we drove up to the Cosumnes River Preserve for some excellent hiking on the trails.
As I didn't get any decent photos of the real cranes (my camera is too limited for a good shot of most birds), here's a sculpture at the visitor center to give you some idea:
The trail out into the marshlands to watch the geese:
An even better look at an actual sandhill crane:
Lovely trails led around the preserve with glimpses of the Cosumnes River:
One last day of excitement, starting with breakfast with Kip at Google - thank you Kip!
Kip's recent Post-it window art creation, very cool:
After breakfast John took us on a local birding excursion, and he happened to notice this young golden eagle on the side of the hill - nice find! As mentioned, my camera really isn't made for birding, but I gave it a try:
And finally, a little tour of San Jose, with crepes for lunch, a science talk about the TESS satellite on the San Jose State campus, and this:
What a fun week! Thank you, Mom, we all really enjoyed your visit!