These Boots are Made for Walking

The great blog Where’s My Backpack came up with a fun and unusual Travel Theme of Feet!  One could go all over the place with this theme…my feet, animal feet, statute feet, furniture feet, feats of strength…this gives me an excuse to display some of the random photos I have taken while trekking around…

One thing is for sure.  Apparently, I have nothing better to do than to take photos of my feet while wandering through the world! I suppose these photos tell a story of their own separate from those that were taken directly of the attraction I was visiting.  🙂

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Relaxing in Mendocino

Spring Flower Hiking in the California Sierras

Resting at the top of one of the temples of Tikal

Cooling off in Phoenix

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Boonie Crashing at the Arch of Labna in the Yucatan

Searching for Water in California

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Hot Chili and Cool Cars in Rocklin, California

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Mendocino Mushroom Festival

Hiking in El Dorado National Forest

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Standard Beach apparel – Doran Beach

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Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

Botanic gardens – Golden Gate Park San Francisco

I rarely visit San Francisco without visiting Golden Gate Park. My favorite place to visit within the park is the Botanic Gardens. Now charging a small fee for entry I often think I don’t need to visit having been there multiple times before. However, every time I go I am left recharged and looking forward to my next visit back.

The park is broken down by continent and type of tree or bush or plant. One can even experience a garden for the blind which boasts hundreds of odorific plants.

The park is an oasis in the hustle and bustle that is the City by the Bay and is hands down my favorite location in the city.

I would be honored if you would view another of my fun posts on the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park by clicking here!

My Lake Tahoe is Your Lake Tahoe

I am so fortunate to live near Lake Tahoe.  Growing up in Sacramento I have long appreciated the fact that I live approximately an hour from some of the most epic destinations in the world.  I live close to San Francisco, the wild California coast, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, the Sierra Mountains, big trees, Napa, etc, etc, etc.

Growing up I spent a lot of time in Lake Tahoe.  I have never lived there but I have always felt like it was my go to place to escape the heat and lay on the beach even when the water is generally too cold to swim in for very long!  (Remember it is filled up primarily of snow pack run off. Brrr.)

So, people ask me all the time, “What would you recommend to do in Lake Tahoe?”  Well, how much time do you have?  The answer depends on what you are in to because Lake Tahoe has it all and then some.  Gambling, hiking, watersports, world class skiing, great food, bicycling, tubing on the Truckee river, shopping, antiquing, and more.

So, by popular demand below are some of my favorite things to do in Tahoe starting with the 72 mile drive around the lake allowing visitors the luxury of stopping wherever strikes their fancy.

1. Whether you take highway 50 or highway 80 from Sacramento to Truckee and then highway 89 to Tahoe City one must embark upon the 72 mile drive around the Lake. If you do nothing else other than drive around the lake you will be rewarded with some of the most epic views anywhere this side of Switzerland.  If driving around the windy roads isn’t your bag hop on the Tahoe Trolley and help Keep Tahoe Blue with multiple stops around the lake.

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2.  From highway 89 Stop by Squaw Valley, home to the 1960 Winter Olympics, and hopeful home of upcoming Olympics. Ski, mountain bike, take the tram to the top and ice skate, shop at the lovely boutiques, or simply sit and eat in any of the wonderful cafes.  My favorite thing to do in Squaw Valley is to walk the trail in the valley and take in the gorgeous views.  You will quickly forget you are in California and immediately start singing like you are in the Sound of Music.

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3.  Take in some sun at Kiva Beach. I have been going to this beach since I was a girl.  It is quiet and easy to park.  And there is a wonderful walking path towards the beach that takes you through original pioneer buildings at Talloc Historic Site.  The buildings have been updated since I was a tot but they are wonderful in the summer and in the winter if you want to snow shoe in.  You will be rewarded with a lovely beach, great mountain views, pine tree shade canopy, and the sound of the lapping lake.  Just try and not relax in this place!  I dare you.

053014 -44.  Visit Taylor Creek and take in the Rainbow trail. Gorgeous views of the lake can be had at this park.  But most importantly visitors can see the wetlands systems that help keep Tahoe so blue.  They also keep local beavers, salmon, and other fish thriving in their local habitats.  Children can take a small trail teaching them about Smoky Bear and hiking/camping wildfire safety.  Visitors can also enjoy an underground glass fish viewing area particularly interesting when salmon are spawning.

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5.  Rent a bike. The lake has a great trail system and there is no better way to see, smell, and enjoy the lake than on a bike.  It allows you easy access and no parking fees along with the quick ability to stop anywhere.  Keep in mind the elevation changes quickly on the lake so monitor this depending on your skill level and desire to sweat.

6. Visit the Camp Richardson Valhalla Renaissance Fair. Don’t forget to dress up and bring a mug for beer.  This event is wonderful for children with multiple activities to keep their interest occupied from meeting the Queen to learning how to shoot a bow and arrow to learning Renaissance games.  You can even see a real life Parrot show.

7.  Eat at the newly remodeled Burger Lounge if not for the food but for the enormous and amusing sign. Stop by Camp Richardson for an ice cream cone if your calorie count isn’t high enough after your burger and fries.

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8.  Rent a kayak, paddleboard, or canoe. Take them out early in the morning before the waves and current get too strong.  (Trust me, I learned the hard way.)  Carnelian Bay, Pope Beach, Crystal Bay, and Kings Beach all are wonderful places to get out on the water.  But, the important part is that you get out on the water anywhere you can.

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9.  Take in an outdoor concert at Harveys outdoor venue. While there is sadly no lake view it is a wonderful place to take in top musical acts outdoors in the cool summer weather.  Afterwards take in a club or some gambling at any one of the great Casinos.

10.  Spend your gambling winnings by eating at the fantastic and comfortable little organic café Sprouts in South Shore.

11.  Take in the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare festival. While there is no lake view at Harvey’s the Shakespeare festival encourages theatre goers to bring a chair and a blanket and some wine and enjoy the show on the beach.  I doubt Shakespeare ever had this venue in mind when he was writing his plays but it makes perfect sense to me!  Et tu Brute?

12.  Stroll along Truckee’s trendy main street. If you would have asked me years ago if I thought Truckee would be a go too destination I would have laughed.  But, consider staying in Truckee or spending a nice afternoon walking along and enjoying the shops of Truckee.  Multiple interesting and trendy restaurants have popped up as well at breweries to enjoy a pint.  Pay special attention to parking restrictions or the meter maid will give you a ticket!  (I also learned this the hard way.)

13.  Learn about California history at Donner Lake and Donner summit visiting the Donner Party memorial. You can better understand what it really meant for pioneers to travel cross country for the thought of a better life.  And most importantly, you will have a glorious lake view surrounded by more glorious mountain views.  Sit back, close your eyes, smell the pine, hear the birds, and feel the sand in between your toes.

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14.  Visit Cal Neva Tahoe Biltmore & Casino for an Old Tahoe Casino charm and nearby Crystal Bay to admire beautiful architecture and pricey wooden boats.

15.  Visit the Concours d’Elegance where tons of vintage wooden boats are on display.  Visitor’s are even allowed to step on board many of the boats to admire the craftsmanship.

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16.  Take the Heavenly gondola up to the top of the Sierras to get a 360 degree view of the lake and the Carson valley on the other side. You will feel like you are in Switzerland.  When you descend back down to earth visit any one of the fun and youthful outdoor sport clothing shops to buy a new bathing suit or pair of sunglasses.

17.  Lastly, No stop to Lake Tahoe is complete without visiting Emerald Bay. The Bay gets its color from the lake soil and the reflection from the sky.  This spot on Tahoe is one of the most spectacular sites on the lake and arguably in anywhere in California.  Hike down to Vikingsholm to see a wealthy pioneer home built in the style of the Vikings.  See the tea room built on a small island dotting the middle of the Bay.  If you still have energy go the other direction and walk up to Eagle Falls to cool off in the brisk mountain water.

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There is something in Tahoe for everyone.  I have been going here all my life and Tahoe always seems like the place I want to go to relax, to think, to have fun, to go swimming, to hike, to enjoy by myself, with the bulldog, or with a group of friends.  Everyone loves something different about Lake Tahoe, but I dare you to find someone who doesn’t fall in love with it in their own way over and over again every time they visit.

Have you ever visited Lake Tahoe?  Did you visit in the summer or the winter?  Tell me your favorite part of Lake Tahoe!

Enchanted Forest – King Fire

Last September our family had quite a scare.  A massive wildfire ripped through the El Dorado Nation Forest in a dead run towards our family cabin.  In what seemed like an entirely impossible feat Mother Nature once again showed us her might by making the King Fire move 50,000 acres over night.  For almost a month fire fighters did everything humanly possible to keep this fire contained.  For most of the month though Mother Nature mocked their efforts.  It seemed the drought conditions in California combined with unusual wind conditions made for an extremely dangerous go of it.  The Fire ended up contained after approximately 97,000 acres of destruction.  It stopped one mile from our family cabin.  We are very lucky to have our cabin and our health when others were not so lucky.  We are most grateful that no one lost their life fighting this fire.  (Thank you to all of you out there that helped fight this fire.)

Having said all of that, I went up to the cabin this weekend for the first time since the fire and since the snow has melted in the mountains.  For those of you familiar with the area I drove from Highway 80 in Auburn >Highway 49> through Georgetown and up Wentworth Springs Road towards Ice House.  I was extremely saddened to see Stumpy Meadows reservoir almost entirely burned.  And the beautiful tree lined road for tens of miles at a time burned and destroyed and clear cut.  It was easy for me to pretend that it was fall and the orange needles on the pine trees were just turning colors in October.  But, the reality is needles don’t turn orange and all of those trees are dead.  Logging has begun with hundreds of logging trucks making the drive on a daily basis.  I can only hope planting will begin soon.  But as my husband put it, “The forest will never look like it is supposed to again in our lifetime.”  That thought weighs heavily on my mind.

On the drive back we stopped along the road so I could take some photos.  I had always been taught in school and by the old timers that the forest does strange things after a fire.  I was hoping to catch some wild flower growth or something interesting that perhaps I have never had the opportunity to see before so closely.  What I found was something entirely different and amazing.  My forest has been enchanted!  It was barren and empty and injured in places.  But, in others it was touched by the fairies.  Please enjoy the photos that still mesmerize me today.  And bare with me they were taken with my iPhone…

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Rainbow colored moss growing near a stream and under a burned tree.  I have never seen moss this color in this forest before.

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More beautiful moss growing near burned out trees.

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Strange things growing on the forest floor.  This photo almost looks like it belongs in an aquarium not on the forest floor.

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Gorgeous colored moss growing near a stream.  It looks to me like it can be an abstract painting.

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Gorgeous colored grasses and moss growing near a burned out tree trunk.

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Beautiful sunset.

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More lovely colored moss.

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Logging site.

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Massive burn piles are being created by the loggers.  Had to put the Jeep in the photo so you could see how large these burn piles are in spots.  I understand that hundreds of logging trucks are going through here each day.  I can’t wait to see baby trees being planted.

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Stumpy Meadows is a pretty reservoir.  This was the scene of one of the more dramatic videos during the King Fire.  The majority of the reservoir was on fire.  If you look closely you can see the trees have been burned almost all the way around the photo. It is still beautiful in this light but it is mostly destroyed.  It makes me wonder what it will look like after it is logged and barren.

Hidden Falls State Park – Auburn California

It’s spring in California. Or, at least that’s what they tell me.  With the drought we have been having for the last few years here in California it feels like spring all the time. Sometimes it feels like the only way I can really tell it’s spring is paying attention to the time of year my allergies go crazy! Cough. Cough. Sneeze. Sneeze.  (I am only kidding.  Well, sort of.)

To celebrate spring and the energetic feeling it gives me I embarked on a nice little hike in Hidden Falls State Park in Auburn California. I work in Auburn and have been meaning to check this Placer County park out for years. I sure am glad I finally got around to it. The park is glorious. It boasts multiple waterfalls and lots of flora and fauna worthy of any other great state park. There many different trails of various skill levels.

My favorite trails were the poppy trail and the hidden falls trail. Combined I imagine they totaled about five miles plus.  Both of the trails skirt along creeks and boast rewards at the end. One reward is a wonderful waterfall and creek view. The other is several spring pools full of frogs and pollywogs. Wildflowers were everywhere. Just beware that the trails are all downhill which means UPHILL all the way back to where you began.

The park had a multitude of other trails that will have to be explored another day on a fresher pair of feet. We spent the better part of five hours hiking around and enjoying the scenery and the smiles on people’s faces. The park is very children and dog friendly. And it is FREE! Free parking and free entrance.