Tag Archives: Idyllwild Park

Summer’s over and I’m back!

Yesterday was one of those bittersweet moments. I was excited for my boys to start first and third grade, but it also meant that our two months of summer vacation had ended. Sure, my kids can drive me nuts but they’re also a great source of entertainment, fun and never-ending questions.  I took a much-needed break from blogging and some other things to concentrate on my kids, as well as doing some soul searching when it comes to my career path opportunities. I’m stuck in more ways than one where I am, so it’s been a challenge trying to figure out what to do with the given circumstances. I drafted a plan and now that the kids are back in school, I hope to have more time to refine the individual steps. Time will tell. Hopefully I can share some progress and good news as I go along.

I thought I’d share some of our summer adventures in pictures. We finished June by celebrating my birthday and taking off for a week’s vacation once again in the Southern California wooded mountains, in the small town of Idyllwild. There we smelled the pines as we hiked in the forest.

Walking in the woods in Idyllwild

Walking in the woods in Idyllwild

We enjoyed beautiful sceneries and stayed reasonably cool while San Diego experienced a major heat wave while we were gone. We had plenty of picnics in the middle of nature, including by this adorable pond.

Pond and trees by Idyllwild California

Pond and trees by Idyllwild California

We enjoyed the 4th of July parade, which has an entertaining hodgepodge of participants, including musicians, old cars, rescue dogs, firetrucks, and even a special visit by Santa Claus.

Fourth of July parade in Idyllwild

Fourth of July parade in Idyllwild

The skies turned darker as the parade reached its end, until it… rained!!! We were so happy to feel the raindrops, we went out and danced in them for a while. We had more rain and even thunder for the rest of the day and overnight. The smell of wet earth the next day was one of my best memories of this trip.

Raindrops on car windshield

Raindrops on car windshield

Somehow the rain followed us back to San Diego because within the next week, we had a HUGE thunderstorm over our house. Tons of lightning directly followed by thunder, and rain. A lot of rain in very little time. Flash floods, anyone? It lasted maybe 30 minutes but we opened all the house windows to take it all in.

Back home, we enjoyed a lot of free time, and celebrated my oldest’s eighth birthday. The boys also took part in a few more structured activities, like swim lessons, and basketball camp. We celebrated the end of camp with this basketball food art.

Food art - basketball

Food art – basketball

My oldest seems to have inherited my talent for food art. He loves playing with his food as much as I do.

Food art - carrot face in dressing

Food art – carrot face in dressing

Talking about art, the boys had a great time at art camp. This year’s theme was “under the sea”. Lots of bubbly and spooky water creatures came back to our house at the end of camp. The last day features an art show, where you can see every kid’s creation that week.

Art camp show

Art camp show

I had planned to spend some time sharpening my drawing skills this summer. While I forced my kids to do homework, they forced me to draw for them, mostly characters from their favorite video games, including Clash of Clans. Man, that stuff is hard to draw!

Clash of clans character drawing

Clash of clans character drawing

Fortunately I also found a little time, although not as much as I wanted to, to draw other things, like this paper kite butterfly from a photo I had taken a while ago.

Paper kite butterfly in watercolor pencils and black liner

Paper kite butterfly in watercolor pencils and black liner

I wasn’t the only one with the urge to create. Inspired by a comic strip by Calvin and Hobbes, my eight-year old decided to write his first self-help book. This is the cover. Move over, Dr. Phil, you’ve got some serious competition!

When children write self-help books

When children write self-help books

His book contains three steps (illustrations included), the first one being “nobody cares so stop whining”. I just wish the kid would follow his own advice sometimes.

We tried to stay cool on hot days. One way to do that was with water balloon fights. The boys have fun and they (not me!) get to pick up all the balloon pieces after that. :-)

Water balloon fight

Water balloon fight

Of course our summer wouldn’t be complete with the yearly visit from our snake, the infamous red coachwhip! Yep, that’s three years in a row… You can read about the snake’s first visit, and the second one.

Red coachwhip snake in our backyard

Red coachwhip snake in our backyard

But guess what? Unless this snake laid eggs that hatch babies that want to come back next year, there won’t be a snake visit next year. That’s because this guy/girl managed to wrap itself really badly into the netting and died. So I untangled it and threw it in the bushes over our fence. That night, I heard a lot of rustling in those bushes. I thought, wow, the snake wasn’t dead after all! I went outside with a flashlight to see what was going on, only to find a … raccoon! He must have smelled the dead snake and was trying to get it out of the bushes to eat it. I guess they don’t call it the Wild Wild West for nothing.

Of course this wouldn’t be summer in San Diego without wildfires. We had a few near and far from our home. This one was only a few miles away but the wind was blowing smoke and ash in our direction. Never a good thing. Fortunately there was little wind and the wildfire was extinguished the same afternoon. We really have the best firefighters around.

Wildfire in San Diego's Mission Trails summer 2014

Wildfire in San Diego’s Mission Trails summer 2014

Finally, I’ll spare you the photo and I’ll just tell you I got… shingles! My lower back had been bothering me for a while, but since I often have nerve pain there, I didn’t really pay attention. That’s until I saw a red patch the size of a silver dollar on my lower back. At first I thought I had been bitten by a nasty spider, because it hurt just the same. Fortunately it didn’t get any bigger. After some online research I loaded up on vitamin B complex, lysine, and this amazing immune system boosting herbal supplement called Virattack. After a week of treatment, the pain was completely gone (the red spots are fading little by little). If you ever get shingles, give this a try before you go for the heavy-duty prescriptions.

So this is a glimpse of our busy summer in pictures. A lot of fun and adventures, and never a dull moment. How was your summer?

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Enjoying the mountain fresh air – Idyllwild, California

Idyllwild Park, California

Idyllwild Park, California

Our family spent most of last week on vacation in the mountains of Southern California. I have no shame admitting camping is not on my list of enjoyable vacation activities. Sorry but if I go away from home, I require at the minimum: a shower with hot running water, a comfortable bed and a fridge. Add a microwave, a stove, a tea kettle and internet connection (scroll below), and I’m really happy. So we rented a wood cabin a mile away from the lovely small town of Idyllwild, CA for six days, 5000 feet up and away from most civilization larger cities. The best part? Idyllwild is just a little over two hours away from San Diego, where we live.

It’s the first time my kids have spent a significant amount of time up in the mountains and I think the fresh air did them some good. Well, that’s if you take away the billions of particles of yellow tree pollen that fell around the house, on my car and everywhere else every day. Not sure what it was, but it made me sneeze the whole time! The kids seemed to adapt so well to the altitude and the fresh air, they skipped their naps on most days. “We’re too excited to sleep”, they would say. Hmm, thanks, I could have used a few naps myself…

Spending our vacation in the mountains was my choice. Mountains are the only places in Southern California displaying greenery all year round. Don’t misunderstand me, you’ll never see me up these mountains in the dead of winter. I can’t stand the white stuff, the ice and the cold that go with it. But for June, it was the perfect place to be.

We took the kids hiking along trails through beautiful pine-smelling forests (gosh, I LOVE the smell):

Hiking in Idyllwild Park, California

Hiking in Idyllwild Park, California

I had plenty of opportunities to take beautiful pictures of our surroundings, including of the Strawberry Creek that runs through the town:

Strawberry Creek in Idyllwild, CA

Strawberry Creek in Idyllwild, CA

The kids even had the opportunity to dress up as coyotes at the Idyllwild Nature Center. Yes, it’s a real coyote pelt…

Coyote pelt at Idyllwild Nature Center

Coyote pelt at Idyllwild Nature Center

We got to try new restaurants, some of them featuring delicious food, others we’ll never go back to. We endured paying $4.50 a gallon for milk, and $6.00 for 1.5 quart of ice cream. At that price, it all tasted wonderful! Since our cabin came with a fully-equipped kitchen, we catered to our frugality by cooking many of our meals at home. Both kids and parents even caught up on some movies, available for free at the rental office. Can you believe we all saw Pixar’s Cars for the first time? Yes, I’m talking about Cars 1…

The only drawback to our trip (besides the overwhelming tree pollen)? Technology, or rather the lack of. My Virgin Mobile phone displayed no service most of the time. That meant no phone calls, no texting and no data available. Argh!!! And the cabin didn’t even offer WiFi, even though the website told us it did. Fortunately my husband managed to use his full-bar-displaying Verizon phone (not fair!) as a WiFi hotspot so I could still check email and blog while away from home. I told you I don’t do camping. For this, I’ll be forever grateful to Verizon my husband.

Overall we had a great time there and got to try new things. Sometimes you don’t have to go far away from home to enjoy a well-deserved break.

Are you planning to go away on vacation this summer? Or are you planning a staycation instead?

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