A True Taste Sensation

Some days you just want to go for a picnic and yesterday happened to be a day just as such. We had planned for the picnic all day. My visions of sitting on a beautiful hill looking out as the sun dove beneath the waves were wonderfully planned. Taking care to remember this was the Marin County coast and would be chilly, my menu was made just with that in mind. For all the anticipation, things never go as planned. 

The fog came out to play, so thick we couldn’t even see that there even had been a sunset or an end to the waves meeting the skies. Not much to look at after my visions, eh? How about a handsome Duck in your picture instead? Because at the time I didn’t think taking a picture of what I had described above was necessary, being just a disappointment. 

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None the less, the evening picnic was saved by just such company kept and the delicious meal I had planned and cooked all afternoon…well except for the two hours I left to go see Guardians of the Galaxy with Duck. 

IMG_0800 We pulled out the sweatshirt and sat on the car hood to partake in our meal. Perhaps you ask how this amazing presentation for a quaint picnic was done. Simply I had reheated what I thought was enough for two portions, along with the casserole dish in a 350 oven until we were just about ready to leave. Our meal also came with freshly-made, corn-filled, 100% vegan cornbread and proper Early Grey tea with a touch of honey and milk.

IMG_0776Who created such a masterpiece, you ask? Well me of course, the Fox. Just as this picnic has an end, it also had a grand beginning of planning down to the minute.  From that very morning all the way up to leaving for the movie at 3pm, I was cooking to my heart’s content in a kitchen all by my lonesome. Don’t despair as I like it just that way; giving direction in the kitchen is not my forte. My loved ones don’t deserve that kind of treatment, nor do I need the stress it brings me. (Fox goes RAWR with people in her kitchen space, even if they want to help.) 

Anyhow, on to the good stuffs! Once the planning was finished, Fox was just about jumping to get in the kitchen and make some simple beans and a few vegetables into something delicious. Starting off with hot pans is just about the best way to start, unless you need to quick-soak your beans because you forgot to start the soaking process the night before after a long day of badminton, but that is another story…

IMG_0782Fill a giant stock pot with enough water to cover the beans two inches high and bring to a boil before simmering for probably 10 minutes, then switch off the gas and let them rest for an hour! That is all there is to quick soaking. Right before took this picture, all the sediment and beany stuff was on the bottom of the pan and you could see the beans really nicely, but then I stirred it and took the shot. Oops. 

 

While those beans be a’resting in their hot water, you can stIMG_0779art to chop up one large yellow onion. Put another pan on high heat and add oil before dropping your onion and tossing to coat in the hot oil. Let those onions sweat until translucent, tossing now and again while you dice up two large carrots and four large celery stalks. If onions get translucent while you are still chopping up celery after carrots, just throw in what you have already chopped and saute away. I was chopping and sauteing a good half hour while my beans soaked so my timing would be perfect for the movie leave-of-absence. 

Once all the things are nicely sauteed my beans were still not down soaking. Quick fix is just to leave them on the stove and cool down a bit. My next step was once the beans were drained I heated more oil in the stock pot and added my poblano pepper, sauteing just for a minute while it turned a brighter green. Then I added in 1 tablespoon worth of tomato paste and the other sauteed vegetables, letting a fond grow along the bottom of the pan. Fond is a french term for yummy crud that is browned and developed admirable flavor. 

 

I scraped thIMG_0790is crud off the bottom of the pan, added some of the stock from my 32 oz vegetable stock jug and scraped again to deliver flavor to all edges of the vegetables. Adding all my beans back to its soaking pot then the rest of the vegetable stock and giving another stir. Oh yes, did I forget to mention this entire time since the poblano pepper that I have been adding dashes of dried oregano worth about a tablespoon in total to the dish. That is the stuff you see floating in the stock.

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From there it gets easier as all you need do is bring your soup to a boil then turn down to a simmer as low as possible and lid the pot, leaving just a crack for some steam to escape. This will reduce your liquid loss and save energy as the soup will properly bubble like a higher heat simmer.

You have already seen the finished product, but man was it amazing. Sincerely did I think that the picnic portion was perfect for two, but I underestimated how good the food would taste out in that foggy cold. Usually my dishes don’t taste so spectacular, but if the fog had to keep away a beautiful sunset I guess my food had to make up for it, so said the universe that night. 

As I am a food writer I love giving out my long explanation, but I also have the recipe in short version on another website. I would give it out here, but I don’t seem to have that nice recipe writer that most food blogs seem to have, so you all get links. But don’t forget I served cornbread with this dish and boy did that complete the meal. The recipe calls for 1/4 cup of maple syrup, but I used about 1/2 cup of honey for more sweetness. If you don’t like it that sweet keep the 1/4 cup amount. And I know some vegans don’t count honey as vegan, but whatever. I’m not vegan and had honey on hand… OH and also, I used a 9 inch pie pan and it cooked up in 30 minutes beautifully. 

Savory for Breakfast

Hello again, so I would have a lovely photo of my dish for you today, but before eating I thought my camera snapped the one and only shot. Apparently it did not and now I am sitting here full of tasty foods without a proper picture. However, I do have a description and a sort of recipe. Although this was not a planned morning meal it came out okay. Originally I had marinated some tofu and soaked some brown rice for dinner the other night, but it just happens that life turns around on me for dinner some nights.

So this morning I felt the need to fry my tofu and make the rice with some kombu and minced ginger, then decided my baby bok choy deserved a place in my bowl. The tofu marinade does not matter as it was too salty and you can create whatever you want with your tofu. The recipe inspiration I want to share is a copy-cat of the Trader Joe’s miso ginger broth which came out a bit more spicy and fairly flavorful. I did somewhat cheat as I had a box already and wanted to check the ingredients they used and also I used one of their mushroom pastes to impart most of the flavor and spiciness.

Grab your fresh ginger, green onion, the TJ’s mushroom paste or some mushroom stock, a hint of red chili pepper for a desired heat level, apple cider vinegar or the more preferred rice wine vinegar and finally miso paste. Add as much or little of all these ingredients as you like, more broth and less reducing will equal a less flavorful but more soupy recipe. My way was first heating the pan with a little ginger then adding the vinegar before adding water and the mushroom paste as I didn’t have stock. Green onion came in at some point and it reduced a fair, fair bit before I even started cooking my bok choy stems into the broth. The secret to well cooked vegetables that still retain their nutrients is making sure you don’t lose crunch. The stems need longer cooking than the leaves, which come into the broth at the last second.

Once I deemed my stems along the way enough, I added my overly-salty tofu to reheat it and had to add more liquid because it had reduced too much. After this I added my bok choy stems and simmered just a minute or less. Then I turned the heat off completely; but you ask wait…you didn’t add the miso to your miso ginger broth. This is because you do not want to boil your miso if you want to keep the nutrients and benefits of miso in your food as over heating destroys the nutrients. I stirred a spoonful into the broth and smushed and the like to get it incorporated.

Serving the broth in a bowl with my ginger brown rice and tofu was a nourishing, savory breakfast that will last me a good part of the day. Not to mention how easy vegetarian food can be made and made with yummy-ness. But again, learning process as I will from now on make sure my photos get taken properly before consuming the final product. Oh yeah, and drinking some jasmine green tea only heightens the experience and effect of the meal.

Smoothies and Fox’s Challenge

Ahh yes, the infamous, versatile smoothie to include anything and everything you need, want, could dream of. Fox has been having lots of stuff in her breakfast the past few days thanks to the power of smoothie making. It started with just a quick meal and became a whole challenge for herself; vegetarian cooking and eating for the month of May, starting a little before May. But before we begin onward with smoothies, Fox’s challenge came up with the eating of a corn empanada for a breakfast.

That weekend after the empanada Rupert brought together his Fox and Duck for a day of empanada making with two savory, vegetarian fillings and a lemon curd sweet empanada. Literally, from the time we got home from market at 2pm till 8 pm we were making fillings, rolling dough for 40 empanadas, filling/crimping/ egg washing and finally baking three batches. Rupert sort of laughed at us while we slaved away, slave master over there. In the end, Duck got a lot of home made meals during his week days while Fox wasn’t able to be there to create him meals. The lemon empanada was delicious and the potato/cheese empanada was yummy, but my three sisters needed sauce and more flavor. A day of work needed more tweeking and work apparently.

However, we had decided on two savory and vegetarian fillings A) beause potato cheese is delicious, but also both Duck and Fox have been tiring of meat. Fox especially was looking for a change and boy did she find it in her challenge.

smoothieAlready starting, Fox has been working on some protein filled, low added sugar smoothies that satisfy her tummy for hours. Always frozen fruit and some homemade almond butter, it also usually includes almond milk, non-fat yogurt for added sweetness, protein powder, vegetables when available, ground flax and wheat germ. Today’s special smoothie is something new however, for a chocolate lover’s early morning fix with this hot weather coming in Cali. Nutrition_Facts_Label 

Two handfuls of frozen strawberries, about 3 heaping tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, ground flax and wheat germ, 1/2 cup of almond milk,  1 tablespoon homemade almond butter made with virgin coconut oil, 1 cup non-fat vanilla yogurt, handful spinach and two 1 foot long chard leaves. Anything I’m forgetting? It ends in a delicious, chocolately and thick drink for your morning treat. It is a sweet treat that doesn’t make you feel guilty. Delish!

Not to mention the beautiful white bean and caramelized onion kaumt/quinoa pasta full of complete protein and vegetables of chard, carrot and pesto.  A recipe Fox found online for flatbread of which she transformed into pasta.

Beach Day Gone Awry?

2014-04-19 15.09.40In this very long unannounced hiatus, Rupert has been sleeping away the winter as all self-respecting lions who live outside of their naturally hot habitat will do. Yet, over this past month the birds have once again started to twitter, plants have been awakening with the help of some much needed rain and spring air has jumped into being here in northern California. Rupert’s writer is outside just now, basking in the warm, spring breezes after a day of relaxed cookery and eating. Indeed, Rupert’s owners had to enjoy this spring day of Easter Sunday with some festivities after their long walk along the Stinson Beach just the day past.

But first take a look at this beautiful view we all came across, driving up towards the top of Mount Tam. It took several shots to get this panorama right, but Rupert was a determined camera lion…as is why he is left out of the shot. It’s not quite perfect towards the right, but you get the jist of this gorgeous, breath taking openness surrounding you.

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Of course, being excellently splendid weather Ducky suggested we discover what was out at Stinson beach just yesterday and what we found Rupert could not explain. Oh yes, that is correct. Rupert’s owners are a Duck and a Fox. How very clever you say? Why thank you.

 

 

 

Now, enough pictures…on to story time. When we arrived in Stinson beach it was the typical amount of cars in the vast amount of parking lots, or so we thought. The first few lots of paved concrete were as usual, full of people. Yet then we drove farther and farther onto the gravel road of parking, a length beyond where we had ever needed to go before. Twas the only clue to what lie ahead. Again, as one can expect some of the first lovely days of spring most people would be tempted to go outside and catch some rays. It was expected for the beach to have lots of foot steps in it.

The parking lots are right next to a tall mound of sand which kept us from seeing the cause for all the cars until we made our way up, with winter legs not used to walking slops. Beyond the sand dune lay the entire stretch of Stinson beach covered in families perched under their beach umbrellas, watching their children play….beach soccer?

At first we all thought it was volleyball, until we acclimated to the rays reflecting off the sand. The entire beach! Wikipedia tells me it is only 1.44 square miles, but it felt quite a bit longer. Every square foot was covered in people or lines declaring a half soccer field for this ‘league’ of soccer players to play against each other. Varying demographics of Latinos, white Mill Billies as Ducky refers to them and plenty of tourists hogging every bit of flat sand lands. But wait…

Looking beyond the soccer league to the left end of the beach was clusters of rocks, some climbable, others were giant boulders. All of it was for us to explore and have a chance to get our feet wet, slip on, climb, discover and be careful not to twist my ankles on.

2014-04-19 15.04.28Rupert sat snuggly in Ducky’s pocket while he led the way over rocks of gravel size to ‘medium-sized’ boulders as tall as a person. Mind you, there were boulders towering about three times our size to which we could not find a way onto. Climbing over these rocks as carefully as one could, with balance and a firm grip whenever possible between rocks Fox discovered a lovely little bit to take a video of the waves and listen to the serenity of the moment. Hopefully, Fox will get it uploaded to Youtube so that it can be laid into this post, because WordPress doesn’t allow video files as of right now.
Ducky on the other hand seemed to have no trouble with climbing, hoisting his knees above his hips to get onto boulders or jumping down onto both feet from heights. Apparently, Fox’s body is more fragile as today her thigh muscles yelp at her sometimes from the climbing. Thankfully, she did not have to be carried home due to a bad ankle although the entire climb she was worried about a bad slip.

And this is why today, on Easter Sunday Fox, Ducky and Rupert got to relax and bake some things in the mornings, have lunch with Ducky’s grandparents and now sit outside enjoying the smells spring brings.

Valhalla Renaissance Faire 2013

2013-06-02 14.56.41So while on this journey around Lake Tahoe, we had first made plans specifically to come for the Valhalla Renaissance Faire. Christopher (or Duck as I usually call him) and myself packed up our car and left a full hour earlier than my parents’ car so we could make the Ren faire in due time. A four hour drive was not so bad, as we got a fair bit of breath taking views and I got some shut eye. However, all of this is not sorted in virtual memory, but in the brain of myself and Christopher. Even Rupert didn’t come out of a four hour long nap.

Never the less, try to imagine yourself sitting in a car for 4 hours, dozing in and out until you find yourself in the forest of the Tahoe mountains, waiting to get your first glimpses of the lake. All the houses you pass by while in the forest have special metal roofs to help with the snowy months. You never notice the slight grade of the road, taking you upwards so that once past all the rocky mountain side and forest, coming out over the lake is a welcome surprise. The natural beauty of this place is so heavily ingrained in my memory, it is a shame you can’t see it. But you could always go to Tahoe yourself.

This trip had some many adventures to look forward to, four hours in a car was terribly worth all of it. But once we passed into town, the real start began. From here we took a turn back into the forest and found ourselves in the midst of the Renaissance world, as traffic was slowed and costumed ladies and gents on both sides of us were waving and bowing. We parked on the opposite side of the road where we had been led by many a guard to one of the last spots in the camp grounds turned parking lot.

First thing was to unload ourselves from the vehicle for a stretch, pee break and myself to change into my Ren faire costume of sorts. Comfortably in clothe of another time, Duck escorted me into the Renaissance encampment of jolly fellows, tricksters and swordsmen. Directly after the gate, we were greeted with a fellow holding cards for us to ponder. Choosing cards for ourselves, we found words to describe the different kinds of fools in our lives. Duck took out ‘cow-handed’ to mean awkward or clumsy. While I impishly grasped a card that didn’t quite fit anyone I knew and pulled another card from the lot. Sadly to say, I have misplaced the word in my memory. However, the words fit quite well with my brother and Mikey.

Do remember I had said this place was full of tricksters; as such, we were tricked into playing a game and giving the man two pence (that is two dollars for you modern folk). Duck came away with the prize of a freshly drilled nutmeg on a string to keep away the privy smells, while the rest of us children brought home a ‘dragon tear’. We had each been given a spinning top to release all at the same time, battling until one spun alone. Mine was first to die, as it collided with everyone else’s instantly. The trickster’s assistant gave me another to pull and almost out lasted Duck’s. We cheered for our colors until they all fell to the brilliance of Duck’s purple top. Coming away from the fight, Duck announced he had won at ‘bey blades’ and was rather interested in the history lesson behind his nutmeg. Supposedly, that trickster’s game and the history won is his favorite part in the whole day.

2013-06-02 15.26.49It wasn’t long before another seller was calling to us, begging us to pay attention to his wares of flower garlands for the women’s hair. It wasn’t until much later in the day that we set foot in his outdoor shop to spot some magnificent hats a counterpart creates. Believing they would go very nicely on my head, I had tried on several. By misfortune, I had to take a liking to this certain hat. Being the end of the day, my purse was emptying rather fast and even then there was not enough to purchase such frivolous things.

Looking around at the different wares, everyone kept passing in costumed frocks or pirates attire. Many women had their blouses almost bursting, as is fashionable. Imagine all these big breasted folk just shoving their tits into view without a care. Feeling as though at any moment, I could walk right up to someone and just stare down or be shoved into their bosom. For most of the day, I tried to ignore the envy of their costumes and breasts, as many sellers had beautiful attire at a very high price. However, there was one fashion I could not ignore…

Before long we found ourselves pushing to the side, as we heard a call from a jail guard, hauling a man away with three young girls towing behind. The scandal was taken to the public humiliation or courts of sorts, where the guardsman kept yelling for anyone to bring forth their issues and be brought to fair justice for a fair price. In other words, anyone you quarreled with could be brought over if you had the money.

Following the guardsmen to the courts, we looked upon quite the scene, horrifying to Duck and rather amusing to the self. What took place may seem backwards but was the respectable thing these jailers could do, to teach the man’s step daughters a lesson. Charged of not paying for the daughter’s wares, the man was put behind bars until the judge had him at court. The girls were found to be liars and guilty, as such were punished. The step father had the honor of pouring buckets of water as they laid upon the chained wall. Mind you, these three girls screeched and hollered to stop, but were not bright enough to take punishment with dignity except for one. Two of the girls howled that they hated this man and as such all three were drenched even more so. If only they had respect for men and held their tongues, they might have been spared all that water. In truth, they were very bratty girls and the courts decided to publicly humiliate them.

2013-06-02 15.57.18While watching this slow scene unfold, I kept noticing the passing of women with tails behind them or to the side. This trend was not something to look past or ignore, and had to be answered with finding a seller of such tails. Coming upon what seemed to be the only seller of such things as rabbit pelts, raccoon tails, fox and kit tails, even fox faces. Instantly drawn to these things, Duck and myself picked out our tails without more than a second thought. It was not until the end of our day when we found ourselves at the front of the camp once more, that we came upon another seller who sold even more gorgeous tails. My reply was insistence to purchase another fox tail with more brilliant coloring and fuller fluff. One the left is the second, fully adult fox tail while the right one was actually a kit tail or young fox tail of black and white. Both are from actual animals who were found dead in some form, before their pelts were taken. As sad as that sounds to you modern folk, wearing these is a proud reminder to look beyond death and remember what this world gives to us in all life’s moments.

2013-06-02 14.50.38As such we walked around and around, looking at wares and tasting the foods that day. Coming upon a band of pirate bards, we stopped to investigate their songs for awhile. Before long, we noticed there was to be a joust, but kept along and let the crowd condense there and enjoy everything else. All around was little camps of feasts or tents, people of the era just going about life. The Roma were of course the ones we all stayed cleared from, if you can’t understand why you don’t interact with gypsies then you must surely look at your purse strings and find it has been stolen.

It was hard to decide what to do with these little camps, wanting to interact just got us into trouble. As one of the men just outside a camp held a chicken puppet he called his cock, talking of him in a bawdy language to myself as a lady. We soon passed this chicken man once again.

However our royal queen did pass us in the streets once before returning to her courts for the people to look on at the discussion. Even as a lady, I was scantily clad and welcomed the gods that I was not royal and wouldn’t need to wear such clothe.2013-06-02 14.49.13

2013-06-02 14.48.03Street games and even archery school were available for us to partake in, although we mostly avoided all that. Next year it won’t be a problem to partake in such festivities, as being a lady can’t hold me back in these higher times. Trying to save the coins within my purse this year might have held me back. However, also Duck seemed hesitant but I won’t let that happen again. Knowing what to expect for next visit will give me courage to go for trying all of this.

2013-06-02 15.57.22In truth, I really did need to save some of my money for finding a gift for someone dear to me. Already, I had brought Duck here and we had our tails. But this next part of the adventure was to be focused on our mothers. Walking around the entire day, I was having trouble finding something Mother would approve of and appreciate. Looking at hand made pottery did not seem quite enough, although surely Duck and myself both were interested. Looking at parasols and beautiful masks did not fit the requirements of a birthday gift.

Then we came upon an incense and oil shop after already passing it up once, yet this time more determined to spend the last of my coins on a gift fit for the queen Mother. Firstly we came upon the turquoise stones and star bottle that would hold the delicious, sweet and foresty oil gift. Then came the task of finding the perfect scent from within over 180 oils of pure and hand mixed scents. Very nervous about picking correct scent, Duck and I spent a good 20 minutes peering over this arrangement and sniffing to our heart’s content. Thinking I had found it did not deter me from cross checking and finding other scents. Finally, I decided on my original choice of a mixed oil: Freak of Nature with just a hint of mother’s favorite smell of patchouli, sweet and fragrant yet very earthy. Duck also got a green tea oil for his mother.

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Besides the jousts, several places held shows of one sort or another: puppet show for children in one corner, sword fights right next to it and at the end of the day there was a Death Dance travelling around the camp to stop at the gate and have others dance. All good things that should have been snapped in pictures, but sadly that will have to be part of next year’s visit. The Macabre Danse was captured however, mostly in my mind. One of the fiends even came by to take me by the arm and danced in circles with me while Duck looked across in confusion. All of them were clothed in black scraps and white masks.

With their dance marking us, the faire seemed like a good place to be exiting. Taking a stroll towards the gates, we first came upon the jousting area with the crowds and casually mulled over the scene of nothing happening while the announcer said things quite out of character for a Renaissance man.

Leaving that scene, we made our way closer back to the gates following behind the Death Dance. We stopped in some of the shops for some pictures with crazy leather hats. I also decided it was necessary to capture just a bit of the faire on camera and found some swords to snap of. There was just so much at this faire, looking back I wish I had a video camera on top of my head to film and take pictures of everything. That is why there are already plans for next year, however….on the second weekend when the theme is pirates and barbarian hordes.

 

 

 

 

 

Instead of Turning Around

As adventurers, our journey was not finished when we stopped at that pool to dip our toes in. We had many more stairs to climb and sights to see. Along with the beauty of nature, there were plenty of ‘human’ moments that pulls the edge of my lips into smiles. Before I spoke of Christopher somewhat as the leader of this pack. He held true for the entire trip and climbed his way in and out of everything.

2013-06-03 16.32.26Climbing 20 of the foot high stairs, it was expected we turn around. Stopping for water, we found a water bottle just sitting around. Mikey decided it was a good idea to throw it down the rocks a few feet from the path. Christopher wasn’t having any of this and retrieved it.

 

 

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Only for the bottle to be thrown by Craig much farther down into the brush. Thinking it was gone, I started walking up the stairs again to reach the landing with these roots.

On the tree is a metal map, once holding the location for wilderness hikers before the Falls had become a tourist destination hike.

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2013-06-03 16.41.09Once I had made it to a soft, forest landing and found this cave, Christopher had retrieved2013-06-03 16.51.58 the bottle and made it up to me. Kisses for my Man! Beyond the forest landing you make it onto the beginning of a ‘trailed path’ made by two lines of rocks on the hard mountain surface. Can you see it in that picture? It’s there.

 

 

 

 

 

Making it past the landing and a few large rocks, a tree or two (forest full) this wide expanse of rock and ‘survival trees’ clutching to dirt was unveiled, our second landing spot.The view out to the lake is fairly well…self explanatory.

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2013-06-03 17.01.57Spending a fair bit of time here, there was some mischief to be had along with great pictures. Christopher Kept trying to catch a lizard hid his small body under an immovable rock. 2013-06-03 17.02.19

Christopher had the idea for us to all group up and get these shots, with him and myself switching out places. Obviously while I was snapping pictures the camera was facing the sun, sadly. 2013-06-03 16.48.12 2013-06-03 16.49.13

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We also recreated a photo Christopher’s dad had once took of him basically on a rock with blue sky behind. Christopher was very happy.

He wanted a shot of us together too, happily. Climbing up that rock took a running stop while he held out his hands. So glad Mom had given me her hiking sandals. 2013-06-03 16.56.35

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Soon after we decided it was high time we get back to the house and snuggle in for the day. But not before finding this cute piece of nature. Because my knees were starting to hate me, I had to carefully descend the stairs while Christopher held out his hand to steady me. Perhaps I am bad at putting weight on other people, but just holding that hand lightly gave me confidence.

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When we crossed the bridge Christopher halted the party for us (me) to rest awhile. Craig and I chose to sit with legs dangling off the rock and get some shots of the waterfall, while Christopher and Mikey were a bit farther.

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Christopher sat up a ways with Mikey and looked down at us.

Butt, we all did notice one thing together.  2013-06-03 17.16.59

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When we had finished our journey, it was time to sit and wait by the lake for Christie’s father to arrive. Clouds were starting to form and create shadows across the land. Half an hour later, we were back on the home towards cuddles. 2013-06-03 17.43.56

Eagle Falls, South Lake Tahoe

2013-06-03 15.36.50While Rupert was excited to include all of us on his hike to Eagle Falls, he fell to the wiles of Lake Tahoe and its beauty. Enraptured by the lake that greeted us as we first stepped outside the car, Rupert appointed myself and others to take part in an adventure for him. To give an idea of what captured Rupert so whole-heartedly, a picture of Lake Tahoe and Vikingsholm Castle on the island.

Ready to conquer anything nature could throw at us, we intimidated the nearby rocks with our climbing skills.

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2013-06-03 16.00.36As promised we saw water falling; note the bridge up ahead, which took us far away into the mountains and beyond, but more on that later. Almost instantly Christopher was off the beaten path in adventure mode, climbing giant logs.

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Although it may not look like it, much of this ‘hike’ was actually stairs that had to be traveled up….and down. After taking these stairs, we found the same log Christopher had climbed.

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2013-06-03 16.03.55…along with a stump of our own to conquer; Craig did his best tree impression.

When asked to be a tree I complied for Christopher.

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It was only when he asked of me “Give me something saucy!” that I replied with this. To which he said he had expected me to take off all my clothes, but the pose would do. 

After more stairs, we arrived beside the bridge to look down at the magnificent falls. The roar of the water was not enough to drown out our voices, nor dampen us.

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Before crossing, the camera was whipped out for a (mostly) group shot. A light walk down the path and we arrived  where nature in all its beauty was seemingly everywhere; calling for me to capture its essence in those seconds, before stepping off the bridge.

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The duality of thriving life and life past is ever present in this place. The pattern called to me for snapshots at every possible moment. Luckily, this author is refraining from adding every single photo to this post.

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2013-06-03 16.09.34After jumping off the bridge, Christopher led us off to the side onto the little smidge of land you can see in the left picture. 2013-06-03 16.10.02

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2013-06-03 16.20.18For some time, we camped here and played in the water. Mikey’s swimmer friend Christie was never far out of the water. Mikey, I believe, found a toothbrush holder and Chris gave it to Christie for her to pour water on the two boys.

Water plus these mountains surrounding us were more than ever expected. Nature surely is my favorite place to find myself in.

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Along this ‘hike’ nature has been astounding me with beauty and awe. A pattern of ooh and aw started in my brain from two images.

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2013-06-03 16.57.35Continually, I was faced with trees existing in spaces that seemed impossible. Some of them had passed their time, while others were still thriving in this rocky wilderness. Most breath taking of all, was the duality of life and death being side by side.

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Out in this space everything fights for its roots and life. Being human and only so large, I should have felt small; instead this was a place of peace and whimsical nature for my spirit. At one point, I even had to voice my awe and insisted on everyone knowing my mind. Christopher kindly took a picture with this amazing expression of survival.

2013-06-03 16.50.10 What do I mean by this? Well, just look at those roots! They are embedded into the rock, in the only crevice they could find that held dirt and nutrients. 2013-06-03 16.52.57