Whew, what a relief to report that we made it through the hottest day of our weeklong stay here on the West Coast. When I woke up this morning to a brisk 53* (and donned my San Francisco fleece--that's right, "new favorite article of clothing"), who could have predicted the mercury would climb all the way up to...75? Soooo glad we survived that scorcher! (Sorry, I'm done with the weather sarcasm...for now...) Seriously, as we have come to learn from those who make this area their home, the daily pattern repeats itself in an extremely reliable fashion: cloudy sky until 10 a.m. or so, before brilliant sunshine breaks through and sticks around the rest of the day. Cool in the morning, heating up a bit by noon, chilling rapidly again as the sun lowers in the evening. In a word: dee-light-ful.
Today we elected to explore some local green spaces. (You know, 'cuz we NEVER spend enough time outside, or get sufficient exercise...on vacation) First up: Howarth Memorial Park, with the promise of hiking trails, a scenic lake, and playground areas. Before we could enjoy this recreational opportunity, though, we had to complete a very important errand...the boys requested that we purchase a foam football for them to throw around in a grassy spot somewhere. So, once again acting like we live here, we located the nearest Target--aaannnd, mission accomplished. Thus we considered ourselves fully equipped...to romp in nature, which we certainly proceeded to do. I would have to say the undisputed highlight had to be the leisurely stroll around the lovely Lake Ralphine, punctuated by stops to pick (and munch) the abundant wild blackberries that encroach on the path at practically every turn.
After a couple hours of downtime at the condo, we aimed for our next goal of the day, Spring Lake Regional Park. This one offered a paved loop for traveling around the lake (on foot, on 2 wheels, or on horseback), and a lagoon for swimming. To soak up the last of the warm afternoon rays, we tackled the circle first, sharing the trail with numerous other walkers (many escorting their canine companions), as well as joggers, pedalers, and stroller-pushers. (No equestrians, though.) We had to take it easy, (after all, this was our second workout session of the day...) mostly because we kept stopping, turning our gazes upward, and exclaiming in wonder at the surrounding vistas--shimmering water, stately pines, rugged hills...spectacular. Also contributing to the overall satisfaction: with no humidity to speak of, the breeze blew crisp and refreshing against your skin. And since we weren't running, it wasn't nearly hot enough to break a sweat. But the most amazing thing we've noticed while passing significant amounts of time in the California Great Outdoors? No. Bugs. I mean it, none of the freakin' irritating flies that buzz your ears when you're in the woods at home, none of the obnoxious gnats that swarm around your head on sticky days...it's absolutely fantastic. When we returned to our starting point, those brave enough to test the waters went for a very short dip in the lake. (I really think Derek turned blue...)
All of this counted as a Training Day for the big mountain hike we have planned for tomorrow...so for now I'd better spend some crucial quality time...curled up in bed under a nice toasty blanket...um, visualizing the summit (yeah, that's it...zzzz)