Thursday, March 29, 2012

Our California Adventure / Mt. Rubidoux

Last year when I visited my mother in California with baby Maddox, she and I climbed the first half-mile of Mt. Rubidoux (pronounced "roo-bi-doh").  I was really looking forward to having the chance to climb it with her on this visit.  And I was sure the girls would love it, too.  We decided Monday morning would be our best chance.  The rain had stopped, and while it was still chilly when we left the apartment (around 45 degrees), it was going to be a nice, sunny day.  Perfect for a climb.

Once we got to the park, we had the girls pose with the sign to commemorate our hike.

See how happy and excited Olivia looks?  (Yeah... it didn't last longer than the first mile.)

At be beginning of the hike, the girls spent a lot of time climbing the boulders and hills off the path.

 They learned pretty quickly that going up was a lot easier than coming down, but that didn't stop them.

I spent most of that time being a tourist and taking lots of photos of the view as we climbed.

 At one point when the path started winding around the hill, we finally got our first good view of the snow-capped mountains in the distance.  It was amazing!

 And a few more pictures the sights we had hiking up the hill:

This "castle" on top of Mt. Rubidoux really enticed me the last time I was here.  I couldn't wait to see it up close when we got to the top.

Olivia was amazed at this crazy-looking giant plant.  It looked a lot like an aloe vera plant, only the leaves weren't as... juicy.

Kelsey wasn't as awed by the plants as she was the weight of the chain hanging on the bridge.  She could barely lift it.  And as a side note, do you see the guy jogging in the background?  Apparently Mt. Rubidoux is the hot exercise spot in town.  One guy even passed us 3 times - twice while he was going up, and when he was coming down.

On the way up we passed Huntington Rock.  The coolest thing about this rock is the guy it's named after.  When I lived in upstate New York, there was a dairy barn in town.  It was owned by the Huntington family, who (I think) bought my grandpa's farmland when he sold it.  Yes, my Grandpa Mathewson was a dairy farmer.  This Mr. Huntington that the rock is named after is from the same Huntington family.  I never would have guessed that upstate NY had so many connections with Southern California!

And this crevice we passed through had a surprise for us partway through.

Cool, isn't it?

I followed the girls up to get this awesome photo opportunity.

Grandma Crews, on the other hand, stayed firmly on the ground.

It was around this time that the girls began to realize how tired they were.  They sat down every time they got a chance.

Sometimes they even laid down.

Olivia seemed the most tired, but Kelsey was the loudest with her complaints.

At one point during the climb, we let the girls do a little off-road hiking between the path we were on, and the path were going to be BE on.  That's when the girls had their big find.

After all that looking at the beach, they found their shells on the mountain.  On a mountain 90 minutes from the coast, no less.

And not just snail shells, either.

We got to the final stretch...

...and eventually to the top.

Even Miss Tired got a second wind and didn't feel the need to lay on the rocks this time.

The girls climbed up on the boulders to eat their long-awaited snack.  By then we had worked up enough of a sweat to take off our sweaters and jackets.

On top of Mt. Rubidoux there is a huge cross.  The girls decided to climb the giant stairs to get to the base of the cross.

So they climbed...

...and climbed some more...

...till they got there.  Unfortunately, I didn't want to take a picture of them WITH the cross because these two guys were sitting at the base of it and wouldn't move.  I didn't really want them in the picture.  By the way, have I told you lately how much I love my zoom feature on my camera?  Despite what it looks like from the picture, I wasn't up there with them or anywhere close.  It's like having binoculars in my camera!

On the way back down we passed the castle.

There wasn't much to it, but it was pretty cool regardless.

I noticed this tribute to other countries on it, and wondered why it was there.

On the other side of the castle there was a plaque that stated: "This bridge was built by neighbors and friends of Frank Augustus Miller in recognition of his constant labor in the promotion of civic beauty, community righteousness, and world peace."  I guess that means it isn't really a castle?  Anyhow, it was built 10 years before he died and  it appears his greatest accomplishment was building the Mission Inn in Riverside, according to Wikipedia.  Kind of takes the magic out of it for you, doesn't it?

Kelsey said this smaller structure past the bridge was the dungeon.

Such a beautiful view!

Even at the bridge, Olivia found a place to rest.

And another on the way down.  She has a knack for it, I think.

Despite the complaints from the girls (remember Kelsey being "positive (her) feet hurt"?) and the soreness in our legs the next day, it was a great experience!  I assured the girls that even though they may not have loved the hike, they will eventually loved having done it.  I know I sure do!

Our California Adventure / San Diego & The Pacific Ocean

Yes, I am changing the format of my blog post titles for this trip.  It's because "Day 1" and "Day 2" tell you nothing about what we were doing.  I want to look at this blog title and KNOW that this is the day I first touched the Pacific Ocean.  And since I am more than a little OCD about things matching, I can't change the title format of our trip blog posts and not comment on it.  Okay.  I feel better now.

So.  On to our Adventure for the day.  My mother really wanted to take us to San Diego, so we loaded up in the car Saturday morning and drove down, despite the forecast for rain.  Despite the fact that it was sprinkling when we left, and raining while we were in the car on our way there.  It didn't matter.  We were going to San Diego.

Our first stop was the San Diego Temple.  Not to go in, but just to SEE it.  Beautiful, isn't it?

By the time we left the temple, the rain had subsided to little more than a mist - if even that.  So we decided to make a visit to La Jolla Cove (pronounced "La Hoya Cove") while the weather was cooperating.  We got back in the car and headed to the ocean on the other side of the country.

And this is where I'm going to have to apologize a little for all the pictures I'm going to show.  It was so beautiful - despite the cloudy gray sky - and I just can't help myself!

La Jolla Cove is an ecological preserve.  That means that no one can mess with the animals or plants there.  Which means there is a lot to see, despite being a relatively small piece of coast.  If you are ever in San Diego, I highly recommend a visit.  See all those little black dots?  They are birds.  Hundreds of birds.

The wider view of the coastline off to my right.

The girls took the stairway down to the beach while I waited at the top for Grandma Crews to catch up. (Can I just say here that I love the zoom on my camera?)  Fortunately for us, the tide was on it's way out.  I didn't realize it at first, so I had a few minutes of nerves thinking the girls were going to get trapped on the other side of the stairs and have to wade through water to get out.

 Olivia and Kelsey came armed with plastic bags, hoping to find some shells.

Little did they know, it was a wasted effort.  There aren't any shells for gathering at La Jolla Cove.

I was trying to take this picture of Kelsey, and my camera focused on the pine needles instead.  It's one of my favorites.

It was so beautiful with the waves crashing against the shore.

After a few minutes, I heard the unexpected sound of seals barking.  I craned my neck, looked way to the left, and saw them.  Amazing!

Eventually the girls made their way to the left side of the cove where the "caves" were.

By this time Grandma Crews had rejoined us, and she and I went down the other stairway to join them by the rocks.

The girls and I walked through this tunnel in the rock to get to the other side near the seals.  I think the rocks we were walking on to get there are under water during high tide, because we saw some great barnacles growing on the rocks.  At least, I think that's what they were!

Once through, I was able to get some better shots of the seals.

While I was busy taking pictures of the barnacles and seals, Kelsey had started off on an adventure of her own.  She had decided to try to make her way to this big rock "island" so she could get closer to the seals.  You can just barely see the rock she was heading for on the left side of the picture.

Fortunately, she got stranded on a smaller rock before making it very far.  That girl has no concept of how close she was to landing in the ocean.  It makes my heart stop every time I think about it.

Fortunately, Olivia was close by and on her way to save her.

Kelsey was a little freaked out.

And there it is... the rock island she was after, surrounded by water and waves.

After we came back through the tunnel and rejoined Grandma Crews, it was time for some posed pictures.  This one is me and mom near a crevice.

And this is me and the girls posing by the tunnel we climbed through.

While we were there, this guy came to go swimming.  In the mist.  When it was 50 degrees outside.  I'm questioning his sanity.

Olivia noticed some yellow flowers with big, thick leaves growing in the cove.

I noticed the daisies.

We left the cove as the rain was picking up.  We drove down to the Mormon Battalion Historic Site, and the girls changed clothes since they had both soaked their shoes and pants in the ocean.  Before our tour, we decided to walk down into Old San Diego and get some lunch.  It was Mexican, of course.  As the rain picked up yet again, we headed back for our tour.

The Mormon Battalion Historic Site was amazing.  I knew a little about their history, but had no idea about the roles that the Mormon Battalion members had on the settling of California, and the gold rush in particular.  As we went through the tour, the missionary sisters that were our tour guides asked for a volunteer from among the kids that wanted to be dressed up like one of the Battalion members.  Kelsey volunteered, of course!

Here she is with her hat, bedroll, backpack, and canteen.  I didn't get a picture of her gun/bayonet.

After the tour, we went back outside (where the rain had petered off again) so the girls could do a little panning for "gold". 

Kelsey refused to believe it wasn't real.

While the kids were panning for gold, I snuck this picture of my mom taking pictures of them.

Afterwards, we climbed up into the tower to get a good look at Old San Diego.

And the parking lot.

We got home from San Diego wet and exhausted, but we loved every minute of it!