I’ve had this post sitting in my drafts for months now and yet I still haven’t found the motivation to write what I think needs to be said about this lovely trip we took to Santa Cruz. So for the sake of posting it, I’ll be brief.
I was nervous about this adventure because Santa Cruz island requires not only taking a small boat (I am prone to sea sickness) but also that you carry all your water for your trip. On the other hand, Santa Cruz Island boasted a chance for a secluded backpacking trip and a opportunity to see the native island fox.
We headed out for an overnight stay with friends in the early summer. The hike to the campground was relatively easy, even with the extra water. We spent most of the trip hanging around our campsite relaxing and doing some shorter hikes in the area. There were beautiful views of the sunset from our spot on top of the island.
Before we left camp in the morning we were lucky enough to see some of the petite island foxes. They clearly knew to come and scavenge the campground when people were packing up their stuff. Of course we didn’t feed them but they were not particularly scared of humans at all.
It is amazing how much this island has been able to come back since it was nearly devestated by human meddling. The island foxes are doing well and they’ve even reintroduced the Bald Eagles after successfully relocating the Golden Eagles that took over their territory.
On the boat ride back to the mainland we were treated to seeing a large pod of dolphins that swam along with the boat. It was a magical way to end a little island getaway.
Another year of mediocre blogging has come to an end. I will probably be shutting down the blog soon since I have neglected it so much. If anything, I may start something new but I find that unlikely as well. I’ve loved having this place of my own over the years but it has really run it’s course.
I’ve been struggling with the internet and social media and such in not being able to show a balanced picture of who I am. I want to share personal things but realize this can be damaging professionally. I’ve also become wary of sharing parts of my personal life on the internet. Conversely, more often than not, I don’t even think I even represent myself in the way that I want to be perceived, as a writer and filmmaker.
Besides a few friends, the majority of visits I get here are for old recipes. I still love making vegan food but I’m not interested in developing recipes nor do I honestly have the time to blog about it even if I did (so much time is needed for taking good photos of food!). There are many other talented bloggers covering this territory.
I certainly don’t identify as a blogger any more. There was a time when this was important to me and it was a great way for me to connect with people but that time has passed. I never cared much about having a high ranking blog, just a good one.
This isn’t goodbye exactly. I’ll probably put together a little e-book of the recipes here if anyone is interested in them. I may move some parts of this somewhere else. I have lots to decide. I guess, so long for now and thanks for reading.
A few months ago, while visiting Oakland, we made an impromptu trip to Point Reyes National Seashore. The Point Reyes Peninsula is a curious geological area in that the landmass has moved north along the San Andreas fault over 300 miles. The peninsula is made up of the same granite found in the Tehachapi Mountains, a southern section of the Sierra Nevadas. The rugged coast offers stunning views and the chance to see unique wildlife such as elephant seals and the rare Tule elk. When we discovered there were places to camp on the seashore, we knew we would be back.
Now, there are many places to go hiking and camping in California, it’s a huge state, with several national parks and large swaths of wilderness areas. Yet, there are a few spots that require reservations or permits that are nearly impossible to get. Usually these are sites with reasonable hikes at a particularly coveted location. One of those campsites is Wildcat camp in Point Reyes. There are several campsites in Point Reyes that all require hiking, biking, horseback riding or boating to the sites but for some reason this spot is booked every weekend for months in advance, especially if you’re looking to stay at sites 5, 6 or 7 which are closest to the beach. Luckily I have a very persistent husband who discovered the site was open on Christmas night so we reserved a space and headed out for the holiday.
We hiked in from the Bear Valley visitor center where we had to pick up our permit. The hike is almost a mile longer if you start here (6.3 miles), rather than at the Palomarin trailhead, but it seemed to make more sense to hike the extra distance rather than spend another 40 minutes in the car driving to the other trailhead. It’s a fairly easy hike, with the first half being wide and flat. Once you get off the bike trail, the hike gets a little harder and a little more interesting as you climb through wooded areas. There were tons of mushrooms everywhere.
We made it to camp just before sunset and as soon as we stopped hiking the cold really set in. We made our favorite backpacking dinner, vegan stroganoff, before snuggling up in the tent. The thing about winter camping, even in places where it doesn’t get deathly cold or snowy, is that the sun sets so early you spend a lot of time in the dark. Obviously you can hang out by the campfire in certain places, but in others the hours seem long and you may find yourself thinking it is very late at night when it is still only 9 pm. In any case, since it was just the two of us, we got in our sleeping bags, played cards and ate chocolates for awhile before going to sleep. It was a very cold night, with temperatures down in the low 30’s, but I cinched my sleeping bag up tight and was still cozy.
We woke up early and hiked down to Alamere Falls, a waterfall that flows directly onto the beach. There are several smaller streams emptying into the sea on the way and all the birds seemed to congregate at these areas. There were lots of raccoon tracks here as well. We saw quite a bit of wildlife on this early walk, several turkey vultures, some black tailed deer high on a cliff and even a seal bobbing along in the ocean alongside us.
After having a breakfast of oatmeal, tofu scramble and vegan maple sausages, we packed up and headed back. The hike out was a bit more strenuous, with a fair amount of climbing, but nothing terribly difficult. We ambled back and stopped for a long while to take photos of birds like the Townsend’s Warbler and the Ruby Crowned Kinglet you see above (thanks to the Merlin Bird ID app for helping me with those or I’d really have no idea).
This trip in Point Reyes was actually the longest distance that I’ve gone backpacking, 14.6 miles including the hike to the waterfalls, but I felt much better afterwards than I have on previous trips. Partially this is because there wasn’t a ton of elevation but I think mostly because I’ve pared down my pack since I first started. At some point I’ll do a post on all my gear but I have to say that the thing that has made backpacking more enjoyable is having a lighter weight backpack. There will always be an element of pushing yourself through pain and fatigue but it is much easier to appreciate your surroundings when you’re not struggling with how much your joints hurt or how exhausted you are. Carrying less weight makes the biggest difference here. I read this hundreds of times before I started backpacking and it really didn’t sink in until I tried it.
Post hike we headed to Souley Vegan for lunch, then made a stop at Timeless Coffee Roasters for treats. I can’t deny that part of the fun of a backpacking trip, even a short one, is how much more I appreciate a good meal afterwards. I love the solitude of getting away and rush of exerting myself, but it also makes the simple pleasures of regular life shine a little brighter.
We had big ideas about going on a longer trip over the 4th of July weekend but delayed planning until the last minute. Amazingly, we found an opening at housekeeping camp in Yosemite. Though we’ve visited the park several times this year, we have yet to stay in the valley together. After our recent Ojai bike ride we really wanted to bring our bikes to Yosemite. There are about 12 miles of bike trails around the valley which means you get to explore more without getting in a car. This was amazing on a crowded weekend like the one we visited where the notorious traffic jams clogged up the loop around the valley floor. While visitors in cars sat waiting, we were able to fly by.
On previous visits we sought to avoid crowded spaces in search of more secluded trails. Summer is different though. There is a distinctly camp vibe around the whole place: families gathered around campfires, everyone playing in the rivers. It didn’t feel as touristy, I’m sure in part because we were edging around particular view points on our bikes, but also because people were really enjoying the nature around them. Visitors seemed settled, rather than just stopping in. In housekeeping camp, large groups set up compounds at their rental sites, stringing lights together and setting up rings of chairs around fire pits. I imagine it must be great to spend a whole week with friends, biking around, grilling and swimming.
The following day we drove over Tioga Pass, the road to the Eastern Sierras. This road is closed for a good portion of the year due to snow, so it was exciting to finally get to drive across. We passed through Tuolumne Meadows and enjoyed the beautiful mountain scenery.
Once on the other side, we made a stop at Mono Lake. I had wanted to go swimming because it had been so warm out and Mono Lake seemed like an ideal spot with its high salinity. I dreamed of floating in the lake until we arrived. Unfortunately I forgot to bring sandals and the floor of the lake was too rough to walk on without them. I’ll know for next time. It’s a beautiful and surreal place. The tufa towers you see were only exposed in the 80’s when the water level dropped due to tributary water being redirected to Los Angeles. The lake only became protected in 1992 and it has been rising since, though not to previous levels entirely.
We also made a stop at Devil’s Postpile near Mammoth Lakes. I wish we had more time to explore, but it was still cool to see. I personally enjoyed the bus ride to the site, where I got to listen to various backpackers talk about their travels.
As the sun set and we made our way back home, I asked Shawn to pull over so I could try to take a photo of Mt. Whitney. Though my photo was questionable, we decided that there was no time like the present to make some dinner. We dug out our stoves and made some ramen on the side of the road. It was perfect, particularly since there wasn’t anywhere else for us to stop to get food. Some cows came to see what we were up to, then just went about their business.
most photos by Shawn Bannon, except the oddly shaped ones
Apparently I’m in organizational mode here on the blog. First it was the PROJECTS page and now a roundup of favorite recipes. Truth be told, with the exception of the few regular visitors, most readers are here for a handful recipes that I posted years ago. I thought it would be nice to have everything in one place, particularly because I used some of these recipes on a regular basis and it would make finding them easier. Anyway, without further ado, here are some of the best recipes from Cute and Delicious history.
Then there are all the cookies. So many cookies
CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT COOKIES
MOLASSES SANDWICH COOKIES
MEXICAN HOT CHOCOLATE COOKIES
LEMON ICEBOX COOKIES
ESPRESSO BEAN SHORTBREAD
Looking back there are another handful of recipes I’d like to go back and retry, like the creme brulee and the white russian cupcakes. Things have come a long way though and where I used to have to make up vegan recipes, now many others have already succeeded in perfecting them. It means a little less adventure, but also more reliability.
Hello November! I’ve been away from the blog for a bit longer than I like. We had a whirlwind trip this past weekend to visit Shawn’s family and attend his sister, Amy’s, baby shower. The exciting thing, besides getting to spend some time with family and catch some of the beauty of fall in the East, I finally get to share this quilt. Since it was a gift for the baby, it’s been a secret project while I’ve worked on it for the past few months.
Shawn and I labored over choosing the fabrics and settled on some contrasting colors to go with a cute raccoon print. Since it’s a crib sized quilt, it didn’t take terribly long to sew together once all the triangles were cut. I hand bound the edges and actually enjoyed doing it for the first time.
I was really excited to give Amy & Jason the quilt knowing it is something that their baby will have for years to come. I still have a quilt my great grandmother gave to me for my first birthday and it means a lot to me. I like to think that I’m carrying on some small tradition of quilt making.