Sunday, June 19, 2011



When we got on the ferry the cool ocean air wrapped us in comfort and pulled us home. It was an amazing trip -- so amazing that we're all quite overwhelmed, when we try to tell people about it. We visited volcanoes, deserts, ocean, rainforests, cold and warm climates, friends, family, historic and natural sites of huge interest and value; we saw different cultures and places and ways of existing. We existed with and for each other, and became different, in ourselves. We traveled so far in our good and trusty vehicle that the days were noticeably shorter and the world seemed like a different place. But that same trusty vehicle brought us home again, and when we got here, we fell right back into the manic existence we'd left behind.

But we're changed. We have a memory that time cannot remove. We have experiences shared just with the four of us, and for us that's very unique. This trip is like a large crystal, scratched and hauled from the dirt, peered into and appreciated for all its cracks, surprises, and inclusions. It looks different every time we try to remember. But the constant is togetherness, and joy in that togetherness. And joy in coming home, together.

When we got home, the kids hurried, without a word, to gather and create gifts for Fathers' Day. Within an hour, we'd begun to reclaim our house from emptiness (and from the smell of the long-dead rat in the office), and the kids had prepared this for Markus:

Pretending to Fly

The last day of our trip was a quick drive from Fife, Washington, home to our island. And it was Fathers' Day! So we stopped at the Museum of Flight.

Airplane wings apparently have great acoustics for drumming.


Even more wow.

(build build build)

Shoulder check!

Finally!! A plane trip!! Pappa wishes planes really had this much room for feet...

Never mind that. Tal blasts off undercover.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Another day of driving -- 12 hours, in fact. But we started early with the intention of hiking around somewhere near Mt. Shasta, and what a good thing we did!!

Pit Bridge over Lake Shasta

We'd been driving for many hours the day before, watching Mt. Shasta in the distance. Finally we got close enough to see the ridges.

And Castle Crags.

And Black Butte! We'd seen it on Google Satellite, and this was one of our goals.

So we pulled into a garbage dump at the foot of it to have a look around.

Not quite pumice, but Tal was so excited about the tossable rocks that he collected a rather large one.

We grownups collected some enormous and rather lethal-seeming (should they fall on one's head) cones from a sugar pine.

Then we came to Weed. If you judged them by their most prominent tourist shop, Weed is all about pot-humour. But we found the real gem, a little further along: The Community Centre.

It's an open-plan building, with various shops and community facilities, with an assortment of people hanging out, doing what they do. This is Josh Kaufman. He asked about our car, and whether we'd like to see his art: it's a digital-kinetic fractal sculpture. Then he interviewed me for his project about personal religion, and we stood around talking for quite a while.

We wanted to collect some nice pumice, so Josh and a couple of others at the Community Centre directed us to a spot along the road, just a few miles out of town. Upon exiting the car, we were greeted by this enormous double sundog, shining over Mt. Shasta.

... and also by this tiny lizard, who seemed rather curious about us.

Heading out, we passed Table Rock, though this photo doesn't do it any justice.

Friday, June 17, 2011


Today we had an 11-hour drive, but stopped for gas an a popsicle somewhere under a lone palm.

Goodbye land of palm-trees!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Animals in Cages

That's all I'm going to say about it. Rhiannon was home sick with a fever; I was busy interviewing and spending much-needed time with my family, and so Tal and Markus went alone to the San Diego Zoo. It was very educational, in many ways, and they enjoyed themselves, too.

San Diego!

We spent two days with Aunt Mimi, Uncle John, and my cousins Starry and Pan. It was wonderful just to get to know them a tiny bit (and really with only 1.5 days together, it was a TINY bit). We weren't with them nearly long enough, but it was a start. Hopefully we planted seeds for more visits in future. They live on a mesa in San Diego overlooking a steep gorge, and a highway. We camped in their backyard, and Aunt Mimi made us wonderful meals, including a taco feast. In the end, just to be nice and modern, we all friended each other on Facebook. (My Craziness that is a weird thing to type!)

Pan introduced us to the cat, known to her as Rufus, and to Mimi as Mr. Scruff Puff. He likes belly-rubs a LOT.

Rhiannon spent most of the time there with a reasonably high fever, wrapped in one of great Grandma's afghans, and listening to Aunt Mimi's collection of children's records.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

La Brea Pits

On Suki's excellent advice we went to see the tar pits, and happened right into a tour of the various locations of the actual tar, where it seeps up from underground. Apparently people from the surrounding area call the museum once in a while, asking them to "get your tar out of my yard", etc. It's an oil-deposit -- a site where thick black oil has been naturally bubbling up for many many millenia. It's not going to stop any time soon, I expect. And we got to see the results of about a hundred years of digs: fossils, bones, history. Very very interesting.

It just looks like a soft spot on the soil; maybe an old campfire. But when you step on it it squishes under your shoe. It's oil. It's the beginning of a new oil seed.

Eventually it may look something like this one, a little further into the park, and fenced off quite thoroughly.

Some floating statues illustrate the miserable deaths of the many many animals who perished, here.
And now their bodies are exhumed, bit by bit,
...and cleaned, studied, classified, preserved,
...and sorted.
For our learning pleasure.

The displays are really amazing.

This is the skeleton of a ground sloth.

And they put on a great bit of sabre-tooth drama for us, as well.

We got right in the belly of the thing, as it were...
We all agreed that, for the money spent (less than half the cost of the San Diego Zoo or the Monterey Bay Aquarium), the La Brea Tar Pits was definitely the best paid-for attraction we saw on this trip.