Archive for the 'The Bay Area' Category

Lodge log books

When you’re on an overnight trip with 30 fourth and fifth graders (see Peabody’s earlier post), it’s a pleasure to find a safe place for a bit of peace and quiet. At the Clair Tappaan Lodge in the Sierras, that place is the Library, a medium sized reading room with a cozy wood stove and eclectic collection of donated fiction, travel and natural history books. On one of the lower shelves, are large Tupperware containers filled with visitor log books dating back to the 1930s. The oldest books simply list names and dates. But many are packed with the personal accounts of the Boy Scout troops, nature clubs, families, couples and individuals who have used the lodge as a base for exploring the area. My favorites were illustrated with maps and pictures or random doodles. Check out a few pictures here.

Donner Pass Overnight

My class went to the Sierras for the last week of school. We went there because we were studying the transcontinental railroad which went through this area. On the first day we went on a hike to the snowsheds, which are structures that were used to keep snow off the tracks. The tracks aren’t there, but I found a big hunk of metal which might be a piece of the Transcontinental railway. We hiked through the tunnel which was very cold, wet and dark. There was even some snow. Nearby there are Native America petroglyphs that you can walk right up to. People aren’t positive what they actually mean. We stayed at Clair Tappan Lodge, which was built by Sierra Club volunteers in the 1930s. The first thing we did when we got to the lodge was to drop all our clothes and sleeping bag in our rooms. There was one bunk bed and two triple bunk beds in my room. Then we went down to the basement to play ping pong. All guests who stay at the lodge have to sign up for a chore. Some of the chores are cleaning dishes, taking out the trash, setting the table – just like home, but instead of setting the table for four you’re doing it for 30. On the next day we woke up and made our lunches for that day’s long hike. It had rained the night before so there were billions of mosquitoes out. Halfway through the hike, we did a solo where you went for part of the way by yourself. After that we went to the top of the mountain and found a large patch of snow. In seconds there was a huge snowball fight. After that we had lunch, went back to the lodge, packed-up and drove back to school. Sometime I would like to go back in the winter when there is more snow.

End of Summer

We wrapped our summer up with a visit to the Mar Vista cabins near Point Arena. As usual, we spent time at the beach, reading, playing games and visiting the goats, chickens and bunnies living near the cabins. There was also a nest of baby swallows living on our porch. Their mom fed them from morning until dusk. We watched them as they took their first few steps out of their nest only to scooch back in at night. On the day we headed back home, the little birds had vacated…off for new adventures in the fall. And here we go too!


With a picnic basket of lemonade, sandwiches and Nettie’s homemade cupcakes we headed out on a Mothers’ Day excursion. We stopped at Muir Woods for a short hike along the hillside trail. The drizzle seemed to keep the crowds from going to deep into the park and we were able to hike in relative peace. Outside the park they have a long poster where visitors can measure their wingspan against those of various birds. Peabody is about the same as an Osprey and Nettie was just shy of a Pelican. After the woods, we drove into San Francisco and picnicked by one of the small lakes in Golden Gate Park. We were lucky enough to catch a couple men captaining their remote control sailboats across the water.

Visiting Mar Vista

Earlier this month we drove a couple hours north from Berkeley to stay at the Mar Vista Cottages at Anchor Bay. Mar Vista and Asilomar are our go-to bases for extended weekend beach breaks. The cabins here have cozy beds, nice bathrooms, a full kitchen and no TV or phone. Nettie and Peabody love visiting the goats, gathering eggs from the chickens, hiking around the frog pond and playing on the rope swing. Usually we spend our days at nearby beaches. We were kept indoors, though, on much of this trip due to heavy rain. But we couldn’t have been happier reading, knitting, cooking and playing games near our fireplace. We can’t wait to go back!

We dine on shawarma

Before heading to Asilomar, Anabel jotted down the date and location of Monterey’s farmers’ markets. Most of these were evening markets and we had dinner at each one. In Pacific Grove we had great chicken shawarma (above) from Mr. Falafel. In Monterey we shared curry wrapped in naan baked fresh at the market. After dinner we would gather snacks (kettle corn, roasted almonds and strawberries) for the next day. We’ll be building market dinners into all of our future trips.

We play table tennis at the lodge

For spring break we stayed at Asilomar, our refuge on the Monterey Peninsula. Designed by Julia Morgan in 1913 as a YWCA conference site, the grounds and beach are now a 107 acre state park. The buildings are a mix of Arts and Crafts beauties and some more recent additions. The rooms are simple with no TV, telephone or wireless Internet connection. Some have fireplaces and ocean views. There is so much to do in the area. We went tidepooling, played ping pong, shot pool, watched Sea Otters, climbed an old locomotive, and went paddle boating. But playing games at the lodge and reading on the beach were the most relaxing parts of the week.