SoCal Spring

The recent rains have begun to turn the surrounding foothills a beautiful emerald green, ushering in the best season in Southern California: spring.

Not that California isn’t beautiful pretty much all the time, but it tends to get a little…brown. But not right now.

We’ve been taking advantage of the nice weather in our free time. Last weekend (not the one that just happened), I decided to take the dogs on a new hiking trail. I was sick of being cooped up and needed to get out to try something new. So, I found a trail we hadn’t been on before, hooked up the dogs, and headed out.

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I wasn’t sure what to expect, and boy was I surprised. The trail was AMAZING.

After going through some lower-growth riparian habitat, we entered into an oak woodland.

Much of the area (95%) had burned in the 2003 Cedar Fire, but the oak trees in the area are fire-adapted. Walking into the shady canopy, I was struck by how beautiful the contrast was between the black, scorched bark of the trees and the vibrant green grass and moss. It was absolutely stunning.

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And the new growth of grass was almost obnoxious in its green. It’s a normal green for most places, but here in SoCal, it is not very common. It clashes with the dusty green of most other plants. But it was a nice sight to see — I miss that kind of greenery.

After the oak woodland, we climbed into a drier chaparral-covered area.

And the views opened up to overlook the nearby San Vicente Reservoir. Amazing.

I took the dogs off the main trail to the scenic viewpoint, and it was worth the extra distance. Immediately, I decided that I was going to take Andy to this spot on a surprise picnic.

We finished up the hike in high spirits and head back home. I refused to show Andy any of the photos or tell him anything about the trail because I wanted it to be a surprise for him.

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Andy worked less this week, so he got a few much-needed things done around the motorhome. He said goodbye to his longer hair:

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And cut it quite a bit shorter:

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Snuggling with Teddy on a rainy day. Look at that short hair!

He also cleaned up our yard and got rid of a bunch of things that we aren’t going to take on the road with us — extra chairs, a grill, etc. He cleaned the car out and got it ready to sell, as well.

But probably the biggest project he took on was fixing the exhaust manifold on the motorhome.

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Just finishing the project!

It was quite the surprise for me; for months, we had talked about having a guy that he used to work with do the job for us because Andy did not want to take on such a potentially difficult job. But he did, saving us at least $400! Now, all that’s left for the motorhome is replacing plugs and wires (hopefully).

Andy continues to impress me with his capabilities. He is such a smart, handy guy, and I feel assured that whatever mess we could get ourselves into, he could get us out. He’s one of the main reasons why I was so willing to head out on the road — I knew everything would be ok.

With the workweek stressing me out a bit, we made sure to take a mid-week hike.

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We went around sunset, and though the wind was blowing fiercely, it was a great hike to help me destress. We also got to hear multiple different family groups of coyotes talking to one another as the sun went down. So cool!

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We also tackled some much-needed grooming for Mr. Theodore. He was less than thrilled.

This past weekend we spent having some fun. On Saturday, we went to the zoo. We thought that it would be less crowded because it had been raining all morning, but it was packed by the time we got there. And the sun was shining brightly.

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We kept it a short trip due to the crowds, determined to go back on a weekday. Our zoo memberships are good for a couple more months, and we want to take advantage of the free entertainment while we can. Plus, it makes for a very entertaining way to get some exercise!

Since it was St. Patrick’s Day, we decided to check out a few breweries in the area that we hadn’t tried before.

Our first stop was Societe Brewing Company. We tried six beers total (tasters) and liked all of them.

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Next, we went to Quantum Brewing, and we wondered why it wasn’t very busy compared to the first one. We soon found out a possible reason: the beer was…subpar. At least for our palates. It was watery, and some of the beers tasted kind of like how I would imagine old dishwater to taste like. Yuck. We were glad we split the flight.

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We’d only planned on going to two different breweries, but we couldn’t end on that note. We picked out a different one on the way home, but we wanted to check out a new fish store in the area first. Funnily enough, there was a brewery right next door: Kilowatt Brewing. And it saved the day! Tasty, interesting beers that refreshed our palates.

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Afterwards, we picked up a new plant and snail for our fish tank, some tasty treats from Trader Joe’s, and headed home.

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It’s coming together nicely!

Sunday was a little more low-key. We decided to have a quick breakfast and pack a picnic for a morning hike. I took Andy to the hiking trail I’d done the Sunday before, and he loved it.

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We stumbled across an interesting looking critter in the woods.

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Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

It’s a Western skink. Andy saw a flash of the bright-blue tail, and we got a quick glimpse of it scurrying into a log. We moved the log carefully so that we could see what it was. I wasn’t fast enough with my camera to get a good picture, and we initially thought it was some kind of snake because of the way it moved. I was pretty pumped that we got to see this little guy.

We had a nice picnic overlooking the reservoir, and he really enjoyed going through the oak woodland. We talked a lot about our future home — what we want it to be like and where we should build. SoCal is beautiful, and I am in love with it, but it is expensive, crowded, and dry. We may find ourselves ending up back here someday, but we still believe we will find our place in the Northwest. And both of us are excited to start exploring.

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We have a busy week ahead of us, but more fun is on the horizon!

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