John Muir had this House

Birds gotta fly.
Fish gotta swim.

People gotta live places and do stuff, ya know?

This past weekend I visited one of the few historical homes in California. I mean, let me qualify that statement. There are a few historical homes/places to visit here in Cali. But compare the density/number of historical sites we’ve got to say, England and California is practically nonexistent. Let’s face it. The US is a baby nation. So our history is in it’s infancy as well.

But. We do have a few gems. Like John Muir’s house.

John WHO?


He was a naturalist. A Scottish-born American Naturalist.

This guy is rather fascinating, actually. He emigrated to the states when he was Eleven. He went to the University of Wisconsin, where he took his first botany lesson. He went to Canada with his brother to avoid the draft, working in a Saw Mill to earn money. After moving back to the US, Indianapolis to be exact, he was struck in the eye with a tool he was using while working in a mill and confined to a dark room for six weeks to heal. He regained his sight and determined to live out his dream of studying plants.

At the age of 29 he walked from Indiana to Florida, at least 1,000 miles. His route was not pre-planned, his only goal was to go by the “wildest, leafiest, and least trodden way I could find.”

In Florida he booked passage on a ship to South America, but after contracting Malaria he sailed instead to NYC and from NYC to California, where he immediately set out for Yosemite.

Muir became one of Yosemite’s most avid and outspoken protectors. He wrote “No temple made with hands can compare with Yosemite… The grandest of all special temples of Nature.”

He lived in Yosemite for three years, mostly jobless, broke and with no prospects.

You might call him the original “hippie”

He wrote several books on nature. He co-founded the Sierra club.

At the age of forty he met and married his wife, Luisa Strentzel, whose family owned a 2600 fruit orchard in Martinez, California. They had two daughters and lived first in the “old adobe” – a piece of native Californian history that had been refaced with a quasi-victorian facade. After Luisa’s parent’s died they passed the big house on the estate to she and John.

The house is a large, wonderful artifact with lots of windows, light and life. It’s lands, though nowhere near the original 2600 acres are still substantial (by today’s standards), standing around 9 acres. The property contains the original two houses, small fruit orchards, carriage house and a windmill today and can be toured for $3. So head on down to Martinez and visit a piece of California’s heritage.

Photo Tour!!

The “Old Adobe”

Yay for May!

Well, I’ve planned a week-long trip for May.

I thank travel-hacking for this one. I’ve booked a $5 flight on JetBlue. (Thank you for the Thank You points, Jet Blue Airlines Credit Card special!)

I’ll be flying to DC and then renting a car (in this case, more cost-effective than flying direct) and driving down to Virginia (about 3.5 hours) to my Grandmother’s farm.
AKA: One of my favorite relaxation havens.

And, all-in-all, an extremely cost-effective holiday! And super relaxing. I’m very excited to be starting and ending in DC too, so I can revisit the Capitol and maybe do some sightseeing before heading home.

You see, once I hit the backwood roads leading to Gram’s farm,

I tend to turn into a country bumpkin, not wanting to do anything but kick off my shoes, roll up my pant legs and go tromping through the dirt, enjoying the sunshine and my family.

So flying in and out of DC will force me to do a tiny bit more on this trip. No doubt I’ll let you know if this turns out to really be a good idea or not.

Here’s to home-cooked Southern farm food, good clean dirt and a sweet, humid spring on the farm.

Where’s your relaxation haven?

On the Homefront

Well. Still no Earthquake (yay!) in the Bay Area.

But there has been some earth shaking on the homefront, or rather, in the lives of some family members I love very dearly.

If I look at the situation in terms of God having a plan for my life, I can now see very clearly why I’m not moving to San Francisco this Saturday.  And I’m grateful it all worked out the way it did (the not moving).

Please keep my family in your prayers. I know I haven’t told you why. But please do.

And PLEASE tell me all about the exciting things, moves, travels, happinesses happening in your lives! Let’s hear it!

Perhaps it’s too Early Yet…

So there was no life-changing, earth shattering San Francisco-style earthquake this weekend. You may have noticed. Maybe I’m speaking too soon? Maybe it’ll happen today or tomorrow? Dunno.

But it’s all good. Because I’m as prepared as prepared can be. Minus having a backup generator or currently dating a Marine/Emergency Wilderness Survival expert. (They’re extremely needy/high-maintenance, those guys. I know. Odd oxymoron, right?)

So earth, quake, don’t quake. I wish you wouldn’t. But if you do, please tread gently and I’ll do my best to return the favor.

And as far as outings over the weekend go… I promised two weekends ago that I’d jump in my jeep this past Saturday and do some exploring after having worked entirely too much. Well. It just didn’t happen. Because. My boss slapped a weekend project on my desk on Friday and I had to work because there was no one else to do it and it’s time-sensitive. Yuck.

Maybe next weekend? Hopefully? Because after this week of work (which I can’t miss because there is an important training I’ve got to do all week…) I’ll have worked 21 days in a row. YES, 21!!! That’s CRAZY.

I need a vacation. I think I’ll take one. Where should I go?

I’m thinking here:

Emergency Prep Friday last year has certainly been a doozy for the world. I mean think about it. That crazy Volcano nonsense in Iceland – and it’s impact on Europe. The earthquakes in Haiti, New Zealand and Chile. Tsunamis. Fires. Floods. Fish, birds and wildlife dying off en mass. The most recent activity in Japan – Earthquake, Tsunami, possible Nuclear meltdown.

I think it’s safe to say that people in California expect earthquakes.
Especially where I live – near San Francisco.
In 1906 we had a big quake that leveled the city. You may have heard of it?

In 1988 I remember standing in the kitchen of my family’s home while my mother cooked dinner. Our house began to shake violently and my mother gathered me, my sister and brother up and we huddled under a doorway in our house. I was eight years old at the time. For the next two nights the whole family slept in the living room, camped out together watching CNN news, expecting aftershocks.

Well, with all that’s happening in the world, the people of California pretty much expect that a LARGE earthquake will come our way soon.

Today I read an article wherein a man with an 80% accuracy rate predicted a large earthquake for the US Western coast on or around March 19, 2011 (+/- 3days). That’s tomorrow folks.

As a Mormon, I’ve had drilled into my head the importance of emergency preparation for my entire life. 72-hour emergency kits. 1 year food storage.

But today I got to thinking – I’m doing pretty well on my food storage, and have most of the items required for a “72-hour kit” but they’re scattered all over the place. Between my closet, backpacks and car. I should really get it together, package a kit up neatly as a true kit and possibly get a couple of others ready for my car and my office. Because there’s really no telling if you’re going to be at home when an emergency hits.

If you’d like a comprehensive list of things that should be in your 72-hour kit, check out this link:

Food and Water
(A three day supply of food and water, per person, when no refrigeration or cooking is available)
  • Protein/Granola Bars
  • Trail Mix/Dried Fruit
  • Crackers/Cereals (for munching)
  • Canned Tuna, Beans, Turkey, Beef, Vienna Sausages, etc (“pop-top” cans that open without a can-opener might not be a good idea, read this warning from one site visitor.)
  • Canned Juice
  • Candy/Gum (warning: Jolly Ranchers can melt and using mint gum might make everything taste like mint. See the comments from the blog post, 72 Hour Kit Warning, comment #11)
  • Water (1 Gallon/4 Liters Per Person)

Bedding and Clothing

  • Change of Clothing (short and long sleeved shirts, pants, jackets, socks, etc.)
  • Undergarments
  • Rain Coat/Poncho
  • Blankets and Emergency Heat Blanks (that keep in warmth)
  • Cloth Sheet
  • Plastic Sheet

Fuel and Light

  • Battery Lighting (Flashlights, Lamps, etc.) Don’t forget batteries!
  • Extra Batteries
  • Flares
  • Candles
  • Lighter
  • Water-Proof Matches


  • Can Opener
  • Dishes/Utensils
  • Shovel
  • Radio (with batteries!)
  • Pen and Paper
  • Axe
  • Pocket Knife
  • Rope
  • Duct Tape

Personal Supplies and Medication

  • First Aid Kit and Supplies
  • Toiletries (roll of toilet paper- remove the center tube to easily flatten into a zip-lock bag, feminine hygiene, folding brush, etc.)
  • Cleaning Supplies (mini hand sanitizer, soap, shampoo, dish soap, etc. Warning: Scented soap might “flavor” food items.)
  • Immunizations Up-to Date
  • Medication (Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, children’s medication etc.)
  • Prescription Medication (for 3 days)

Personal Documents and Money
(Place these items in a water-proof container!)

  • Scriptures
  • Genealogy Records
  • Patriarchal Blessing
  • Legal Documents (Birth/Marriage Certificates, Wills, Passports, Contracts, etc)
  • Vaccination Papers
  • Insurance Policies
  • Cash
  • Credit Card
  • Pre-Paid Phone Cards


  • Bag(s) to put 72 Hour Kit items in (such as duffel bags or back packs, which work great) Make sure you can lift/carry it!
  • Infant Needs (if applicable)


  1. Update your 72 Hour Kit every six months (put a note in your calendar/planner) to make sure that: all food, water, and medication is fresh and has not expired; clothing fits; personal documents and credit cards are up to date; and batteries are charged.
  2. Small toys/games are important too as they will provide some comfort and entertainment during a stressful time.
  3. Older children can be responsible for their own pack of items/clothes too.
  4. You can include any other items in your 72 Hour Kit that you feel are necessary for your family’s survival.
  5. Some items and/or flavors might leak, melt, “flavor” other items, or break open. Dividing groups of items into individual Ziploc bags might help prevent this.


When we learn about emergency prep in church, we’re also told not to go into debt to prepare ourselves. Buy what you can each paycheck, even if it’s just one or two items. This paycheck I plan on picking up one of these puppies:

It’s an Eton FR-160 emergency thinger. It’s got a radio, flashlight and a USB port to charge your cell-phone. It’s solor powered or hand-crank-powered. Handy-dandy for sure.

How prepared are you?

Wassamatta Wednesday!

It’s Wednesday, David. And I have to tell you about Monday.

Although I have essentially decided that NOT getting that pistachio apartment is a good thing,

I woke up Monday morning slightly depressed at the thought of not being able to say I’d be moving to SF in two weeks.


That combined with the fact that I worked the ENTIRE weekend and would be headed into workday 8 of twelve in a row.

Combine that with the complete replay of everything stupid, every dumb comment I made that was taken the wrong way by anyone. Things I wish I hadn’t done. Things that embarrassed me. Things that were failures for me. Thats what Monday was like for me. One of those days when I rip myself to shreds just to find out who I am again after having a dream I’d come to rely on and plan on fall to pieces. Does that happen to you? I’m told it’s a very artistic process.

Ugh. It was a blue, moody Monday.

About halfway through I gave into an impulse, hopped on a BART train and treated myself to a pick-me-up lunch. Yummy greek salad with Tri-tip at Buckhorn at the Westfield Center in San Francisco.

Followed by this divine piece of chocolate amazingness:

Yes, that’s definitely a milk-chocolate dipped oreo cookie from Godiva.

And yes, I definitely feel better about myself now.


And yes, I will most definitely have a WEEKEND this weekend. Muir Woods perhaps? Half Moon Bay? I’ll letcha know.

And There are Sometimes Dissappointments…


I didn’t get the apartment I applied for. Apparently the other applicant I was up against must have just been stellar. So I didn’t get it.

You know.

This vision in Pistachio green with it’s splendorous view of the bay:

I’m both disappointed and relieved.

Weird, eh? Mostly I’m disappointed because I just loved that little apartment with the great fireplace and old stable door front door. It just seemed so right, everything seemed to fall into place. So I’m a bit stumped that it didn’t work out. But truly that little place did serve a purpose, if nothing more than to get me to WANT to move to the city!

I’m slightly relieved that I didn’t get it. Because now I think I’ll take the next three or six or nine months (ideally sometime after my NBT) to find the “perfect” place for me to park myself in the city. One that may be slightly larger with a walk-in closet or breakfast nook or even a Jr. 1 bedroom. Will it have a garden or a view or even a parking space?

To quote my friend Pickle “Ya never can tell.”

It’s kind of magical, the city with all of the little unique nooks it has to offer.

So I’ll take my time and find that hidden little gem to hang my hat in.

But the plan is now to move to SF. Exciting, eh? I think so.


Faraway Fantasy Friday: Moving On

In contemplating moving to “The City” (San Fran) I went through several emotions, dozens of times. I’m still going through that emotional cycle. This is a BIG change.

The process of getting me to consider this move has gone something like this:

Phase One:
-Oy vey, I’m bored.
-I need to change something.
-Maybe I’ll pack up and move to New York, Florida, Rome, Fiji, Australia…
-I’m going to need a job.
-There aren’t any jobs.
-What should I do.
-I’m bored.

Phase Two:
-If I move to San Francisco I can keep my job (which I love) and still be close to family (which is important to me for the first time in my life. Don’t judge.)
-But I’ve never liked San Francisco. When I leave I feel like dipping my entire body in disinfectant (and I’m not a germaphobe).
-I’ll ignore that inkling.
-It doesn’t ignore me.
-Find amazing deal on an adorable apartment at random (? or was it?)
-Love the apartment.
-Think about making an offer on it, which leads me to this:

Current phase:
-Abject horror
-Queasy excitement
-Nervous stomach
-Scared to leave my current situation behind (Because it’s good. It’s really good. Except I’m bored.)
-Went ahead and made an offer and spent last night interviewing with the owner (which went exceptionally well, I’m happy to report.)
-Now I’m waiting to hear if I got the apartment.
-I shift back and forth between making lists of all of the addresses I’ll have to change, the crap I’ll have to get rid of and thinking to myself “It’s not too late, you can just back out now and keep on keepin’ on in your current place.”

-And then I think: “I don’t really want to do that. And since when am I a little chicken who would rather sit at home than go out and explore????? Wanderlust trumps comfort zone every time. I’m ready. It’s time.”

It’s time to unpackage this neatly stifling little life I’ve created so carefully for myself over the last four years. It’s time to mix it up and step out of the comfort zone; Throw caution to the wind and jump on the proverbial cruise ship to see where the winds will take me.

I’m coming to terms with the fact that I’m really excited for this. And me, the suburban country travelaholic, is ready to shed those old portraits of self image and paint some new ones.

So maybe I’ll get this apartment. Maybe not. All in all, this process has been good and important and I’ll keep looking for the right situation to come along if this one doesn’t work out.

Bring it on.

Is There Anything Better…

…Than this look of sheer wonder on my Nephew’s face?

My sister, our Dad and I all took Master Q to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for his first birthday. At one year old, you can imagine his attention span was a bit short, but he just loved everything about that place and ran around gleefully flapping his arms like the resident albatross we were introduced to inside of the aquarium.

When’s the last time you looked at a place through the eyes of a child?

Positively Unexpected

I just may be moving to “the big city,” San Francisco.

And if you know me, you’ll know how bizarre that turn of events is.

I’m not a city girl.


But this might just work out. Maybe I’ll become a city girl. Or maybe I’ll just pretend to be one for a while.

But seriously how cute is this little place in all of it’s Pistachio green-ness (with my adorable sister in the pic)???:

Also, check out the view from the roof-top sun deck:

That’s Coit tower. Just a couple of blocks away.

And just in case you missed it, this is the view from the roof-top sundeck (click to enlarge):

Yah. That’s all I’ve got to say about that. (For now)