Tag Archives: Idyllwild

WordPress weekly photo challenge: Movement

I spent the last few days of June and the first few days of July on vacation with my boys in the beautiful mountains of Idyllwild, California, a couple of hours northeast of San Diego. We used to have beautiful wooded mountains only 30 minutes away from our house, but they all burned down in the San Diego wildfires of 2003, and again in the wildfires of 2008.

Don’t let people fool you when you hear nature grows back from fires. It does, but it takes a ridiculously long time. It takes about five years for bushes to grow back, such as the California Sage Brush, and 20 to 30 years for most trees to recover. I can be the patient kind but 20 years to see some real trees is way too long for me. To be honest, the lack of abundant green is what I miss the most by  living in San Diego.

The closest large wooded area full of fragrant pines is around the small town of Idyllwild. There is a lot of nature to enjoy and some cute small shops to browse. I’m working on sorting through the hundreds of photos I took there and I’ll highlight our vacation in an upcoming post. In the meantime, I wanted to use one of the photos I took there for this week’s wordpress photo challenge about movement.

Movement is actually something I dislike when taking pictures. I try to take pictures of creatures that move (e.g. wild animals, my kids) but their constant, abrupt movements make taking photographs quite challenging, and usually blurry or out of focus. I took the picture below on the morning of the Fourth of July with my cell phone camera and it somehow turned out OK. Idyllwild  organizes a parade to celebrate the holiday, something my kids have never attended before. The parade happened to take place on the street right in front of our cottage, so we had a great view.

The boys were a little uneasy about watching the parade (they thought it’d be boring) until they realized people were throwing candy! After that, I couldn’t get them off the street and they had a great time. Here they are, arm locking each other while running, to see who will reach the candy first.

Safety note: although it looks like they were running right into the street, they didn’t get in the parade’s path. That would have ruined the candy fun.

Wordpress weekly photo challenge: movement - Idyllwild Fourth of July parade

WordPress weekly photo challenge: movement – Idyllwild Fourth of July parade

WordPress weekly photo challenge: Sun

Since I live in San Diego, CA, I get to see a lot of sun. More sun than many people in other parts of the world. And even more sun than the people who live by the beach in San Diego and experience the thick marine layer that won’t lift off many days of the year.

Even though it can get pretty hot in the summer (90 degrees and up in the middle of the day is common, 35 degrees and up for those of you outside of the U.S.) and we go through a lot of sunscreen, hats and sunglasses, I can’t complain. It doesn’t as hot as the rest of the Southwest (boiling Arizona, anyone?) and I never experience “lack-of-sunlight” caused depression, i.e. seasonal affective disorder, in the winter.

The weather is the main reason I moved to San Diego 14 years ago and I don’t regret my choice. It’s also a great place to raise little kids, with so many attractions to visit and a wide variety of landscapes. Am I making you want to move here yet? Wait, gas is at least $4.25 a gallon now, always one of the highest prices in the country. How does that sound?

There’s something about the San Diego sunlight that makes for great photos. Maybe it’s the latitude we’re at and the way the sun rays hit us, but our sky is often a gorgeous blue. However, if you want to take great pictures of landscapes, you need to do it early in the morning or from the right angle, or in the winter, when the sun rays aren’t so bright. Otherwise, you get something like this:

Wordpress weekly photo challenge: Sun

Wordpress weekly photo challenge: Sun

That day I was trying to take a photo of the different types of steam clouds caused by several airplanes in the sky, but no matter how low or high I aimed the camera, I kept getting the sun rays in the lens. The sun was just in the wrong place for me. 

Last year when we went on vacation to Iddylwild, a lovely tiny town in the mountains of Southern California, we got to enjoy several walks in the woods. It was refreshing to see so many large trees, mostly fragrant pine trees, especially since 95% of the trees in the mountains of San Diego County burned down in the wildfires of 2003, and then again in 2008. I took a lot of pictures during our trip, but I like this one especially, showing the imposing height of this pine tree as it hides the sun behind.

Wordpress weekly photo challenge: Sun behind a pine tree in Idyllwild

Wordpress weekly photo challenge: Sun behind a pine tree in Idyllwild

Look at this wonderful tree. Nature stands tall in front of me, and I can only bow in admiration.

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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