Posts from the ‘the great outdoors’ Category

11th Hour

I took this photo on the last day of 2011. Nash and I were down at Crissy Field before Rose’s huge 30th birthday surprise party, killing time before more down and dirty kitchen work. It was a perfect day, and when this shot lined up, the cargo ship coming through the gate, Nash’s tail at attention, it all just seemed to click. Out with the old, in with the new, and onward to the next. A few things that ended the year on a sweet note:

Illegal (shhhh) Brie de Meaux for Christmas. These wheels must have gotten mixed up with the pasteurized for export Fromage de Meaux and snuck themselves in to the US unrecognized. Hooray! This piece of raw milk Brie pretty much made Jesus’s birthday the best party ever.

Briarcombe House, Horseshoe Hill, Bolinas.

A true step back in time to the 1960s, when it was built as a residency for artists and general gathering place of architects, poets, musicians, gurus, writers and their entourages. Home for the weekend for a great group of friends. There was cracked crab, there was the Bolinas Christmas Fair, there were two dogs, one baby and many old fashioneds. And it was proven that you cannot take the West Marin out of the girls…

You thought you were going to get away with only one picture of cheese in this post? Fat chance. My Christmas spread was simply too epic to be relegated to the back seat. Sarah gave me a challenge: bring cheeses that she had never tasted. I love challenges! From left to right: Hillis Peak (goat) from Pholia Farms, St James (sheep) from Holker Farm via Neal’s Yard Dairy, Rupert (cow) from Consider Bardwell Farms, the aformentioned Brie de Meaux, and in the way back, nestled between the pomegranate and the honeycomb, a chunk of Stichelton, my vote for best blue cheese in the world. Baby Cheesus in the house!

Just a ferry ride away…

Moab, UT: Day 3

Good morning White Rim! Still can’t believe all I had to do was unzip the tent, stick my head out and take this shot. Hot damn. While it started out sweetly demure, Day 3 was INTENSE. First, I got psyched out at breakfast. Maggie ensured us a hearty meal before we took off for the day, since we weren’t eating again until a grueling 27 miles later.  Then she served us up some spiced quinoa (which had Boyd grumbling about those weird grains and was that hemp milk?), while on the side she was prepping more food (which I later learned was lunch). So of course I thought the quinoa was a pre-game and the bacon and eggs were coming. Not so! I took a lady-like portion and regretted it all day long…

It was admittedly hotter and heavier than the previous two days, with gorgeous rain clouds in the distance. Thus the thick air. Luckily our first stop was only 2 miles away! The awe-inspiring Maggie took us down into a slot canyon she had discovered out there. We all scrambled down into it, learning new techniques like “stemming”, “sliding on butts” and “trust jumping”. It was glorious.

Then began what would clearly be the most challenging day of the trip. The trail gently rolled along for awhile until we hit a series of climbs known as “Hardscrabble”. It truly lived up to it’s name, though I was proud of my progress and got up some pitches I didn’t think I would make. At the top an exhausted Samara and I were thrilled to hear that the ensuing trail would be “easy river riding” as we had reached the point were the White Rim layer dives into the Colorado. We raced along, eager to cool off and enjoy the trail before the killer climb out, when we hit, SAND! TONS OF SAND! I will not bother to describe this dark period.

They did let us take a quick break and refill our water. I found shade.

About 20 miles in Samara and I thought perhaps we were now the sole inhabitants of this sandy and hot land. There was no sign of the rest of the group and all we knew was there was a looming pass to ascend somewhere ahead of us. Our spirits were low and energy sagging. All of a sudden it came to me: we had to sing! We sang all that we could remember of the best songs we knew, mostly the choruses over and over again and perhaps the first verse. Suddenly I felt good! Strong! Hopeful! Not sure where the lung capacity came from for all of that hollering but the body really comes through in a pinch. Just then, we spotted some bikes on the side of the trail; Tim, John and Roger were down by the river, just having finished up a swim. Oh sweet heaven!! Samara and I dropped our rides and ran in, clothes and all. That was one of the happiest moments of my life.

Revived, our clothing damp and our hair wet, we were off to conquer the world, aka climb Horsethief. I believe this pass is so named because if you were not in possession of a horse upon approaching, by god you would steal the first pony you laid eyes on to get you up and over it. It was the most physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually taxing feat I have ever tackled. Yet. We cranked into the granniest of the granny gears, put our heads down and just kept going. Cause lord knows if I stopped there was no way I was going to start again!

See the rider on the bottom section? Up, up, up, 1,000 feet later and we made it! Greeted with cheers and potato chips, you better believe I cracked a Tecate and did a little jig.

The motley crew in all of it’s glory. So long White Rim, until the next time.

Moab, UT: Day 2

We woke up bright and early to the smell of coffee. I felt semi-refreshed, having forgotten that that first night of sleeping on a rock is never truly the best night of sleep you will ever have, no matter how tired you are. Ah well, a little coffee with cocoa mix stirred in did the trick. Maggie made us pancakes topped with yogurt and fruit, along with bacon for breakfast. Lil’ Blue got a good greasing as you can see from the photo above (don’t I have a beautiful bike?!). Mike debriefed us and let us know that today had some hard climbs, most notably “Hogback” which made me nervous after eating all that bacon… Hit the trail!

It was a long hot day of riding, challenging and super fun. Samara and I were generally behind the rest of the group, oscillating between laughing uncontrollably and cussing horribly. The trail was beautiful and rolling, which let me really get some speed going and get to know Little Bluebird even better. And of course we let our ponies rest a bit and pushed them up some real zingers like the aforementioned Hogback. They were thankful.

Roger finds many things joyful in life, one of them being persuading us to wiggle over the edge of 400 ft cliffs with him to watch a rock fall down to the bottom, floating like a feather. It was pretty mind blowing. Big kids!

You know it’s hot when in the midst of some of the most beautiful scenery in the world we are sitting in the shade of the latrine. After 8 hours in the sun it was the best spot out there!

This photo Roger took is pretty magical. The evening light really showed off the white rim layer of the canyon that we spent most of our time riding on. This is a 225 million year old layer of White Rim Sandstone that is firmer than the shale and sandstone deposited atop it, so as those eroded over time it revealed this wide flat bench of desert known as the White Rim Plateau that lies between the river gorges below and the mesa tops above. Aside from beauty and fascinating geology, it makes for a damn fine place to ride a bike.

Sleep tight, don’t let the mice nibble on your camelback!

Moab, UT: Day I

Ah, the return from the desert has been like waking up from a heavenly dream that you do not want to end. Take me back to that land of sun and dirt! Our motley crew of eight set out with Magpie Cycling guides Maggie and Mike last Saturday.  Three days, 100 miles and lots of rock ahead. I was the youngest (29), and Boyd the oldest (73). Guess who was the fastest! Yup, not me. The whole thing started with a major descent from the top of the canyon down to the white rim layer which we would be riding on.

Once we dropped down we took a great little detour on foot to the Green River overlook. The entire trip took place in Canyonlands National Park, in the Island in the Sky district. This region is comprised of  the area between the Green and the Colorado river and has some heart stopping scenery. Great shot of Roger and Debbie enjoying the view…

The first day my heart was pounding, trying to adjust to the heat and altitude. I hadn’t quite settled in yet, it had been go go go for 24 hours and it took a moment for the vacation to catch up with me. But it did! The shock factor of Musselman Arch did it:

This single strip of rock juts across a canyon with about a three hundred foot drop underneath. I had my first case of vertigo and had to be dragged out for the photo (thanks for this shot Dave)!

We stopped for a great sandwich bar lunch – sure beats a day full of cashews and Lara bars. The way Maggie runs the ride is that one of the guides is riding with us all day, taking us on various detours along the way, while the other guide drives their big ass Dodge with all of our gear and the chuck wagon. This marvelous trailer carries 100 gallons of water and flips open on all sides to allow for prep and serving space. Quite ingenious.

This could well be one of my favorite things about biking: eating! When you are burning 2,000+ calories a day, you are forced to really pack it on to keep going. And everything tastes ten times better than it normally does. That night they delighted us with carnitas tacos under the stars. My only question is, does it get any better than this?

Goodnight White Rim, see you tomorrow!

Out the Door

The weather is miraculously turning warm again and I get the itch to once again wax poetic about the final glory days of summer. Living in a small house(boat), I find that as long as it is nice outside I am finding things to do there.  So this is that.

The scene from a sunset sail for lovely Carolyn’s birthday. Looking at this building made me feel like I was in on the secret world of sailors, privy to the scene that awaits them every time they pull in to port. Never knowing if they will spend the night carousing or wind up getting Shanghaied.

Krysta, a long time employee of our Pt Reyes shop, got married on her parent’s property in Occidental. She did all of the decorating herself, stringing together bits of colored paper and stacking bales of hay for a perfect country scene.

Eating outdoors with Mayu in front of her mom’s newly constructed ceramic studio.

The two acre property in San Anselmo recently purchased by my folks!

Jesse the magical little step sister, chicken whisperer and fashion icon.

By the end of four days visiting my family in Boulder I can safely say that I did wrangle a chicken or two. Once you grab them they are pretty easy going. I will, however, never come close to the gall this little three year old has, snatching up the fastest and wildest of them all without flinching.  Farmer girl I am not…

Summer is…

..Sarah’s chilled tomato soup with buttermilk panna cotta.


…french doors flung open to sea air, calm water and seagulls.


…a trip to Stinson at least once a week, even in a deep fog it is still my favorite place to be. And Nash’s too.


…the joy of living in an area where I can still discover new places. First trip to Alpine Lake, a scene from the Sierras just a few miles outside of Fairfax. Who knew!

Living in the Bay Area where summer is such a ephemeral thing, one has to be very conscious of enjoying every increase in temperature, every blue sky and every free hour. Let’s get out there and eat it up!




urban country living

That’s the term I like to use in reference to our way of life in Petaluma. Yes this is a cow town, yes butter and eggs put this place on the map, and you are also darn tooting right that this place is experiencing a resurgence of sorts. So much so that it means that former city kids like Kyle and myself have found ourselves living in a LOFT on the riverfront in DOWNTOWN Petaluma. And it rocks. If you wonder what urban country living feels like, here are a few shots from a recent morning walk. The industrial and agricultural history of the town makes itself known around every corner, from the  smart pigeons (oxymoron?) lining up on the mill for some fresh grain to the old slogans flashed on brick from butter’s glory days gone by. There’s a raw edginess to the surroundings that ensures you don’t nod off into a suburban daydream and keep on rocking in the free world.







These photos were all taken on a rather overcast morning, but one of the things I appreciate most about this town is the weather. This little part of the valley warms up nicely in the sun, while being close enough to the coast to have the fog roll in at night and remind me that I am not far from home. And there’s Della Fattoria. Enough reason alone to move here.



Fall may unanimously be the most loved season. You can’t deny the heat of summer and the green burst of spring, but only fall means crisp afternoons when the sun hangs low in the sky, everything looks softer around the edges and the rain showers dampen the piles of fallen leaves to release that smell that could be nothing else. Autumn! Halloween! My Birthday! Here are a few shots that I particularly love from the start of this, the best of the seasons.


spaghetti western sticks up the whoopie cushion


a Fear the Beard chocolate skull for Dia de los Muertos


piglet makes a new friend nearby Quivira, on West Dry Creek Rd.

springing forward.

Finally we can all breath a sigh of relief and lift our faces to the sunshine. More than any other season, Spring is an ecstatic time.  While the other seasons fade slowly into the next, spring breaks out and ripples all over, sprouts up from under every stone and curls from every tree. Suddenly our days our longer and warmer, filled with a screeching excitement from the birds, people, and especially the puppies. Hooray, we can be outside! Whoopie to being barefoot and sun kissed! All I can think of is peas with fresh ricotta, and roasted asparagus topped with a poached egg. A splash of fresh green before the heavy red hand of the summer sets in showering us with watermelons and tomatoes. The future is bright before us…thank you Spring.

seeing spots.

It could be the rain or it could be the sunshine, but something has happened this year to make the fields of Sonoma absolutely burst with yellow clover. There is a massive field that I drive by everyday to work that has turned from all lush greeness to bright spots of yellow, like a pollen filled sea punctuated by oak trees. It is especially striking when the clover fills in between the rows of vines, so last week I dragged Kyle out to find the perfect country road where I could finally get a shot of it, instead of flying by at 50mph.

Today we once again visited the Jack London State Park with some great friends, hiked through the soggy ground and finished up at a tasting room we had been meaning to hit up for quite awhile, Audelssa in Glen Ellen. Un-believable. Every single wine that we tasted was wonderful, delicate, smooth and interesting. With the added benefit of a 33% industry discount, these puppies were to die for, and each couple left happy with a few bottles of vino and some estate grown olive oil. Sunday happy Sunday!