Happy Vernal Equinox! Monday, 3/20/17

Jimmy at eastbound Donner Pass Rest Area -- 7,227 ft.

Although we hadn't planned on hitting the high country on the First Day of Spring, we saw a window of opportunity (think:  clear roads, no snow, slush, sleet or rain) on this day.  With a rainy/snowy/stormy week predicted beginning this afternoon, we said, "go now!"  Hey, lunch at Squeeze In in Truckee was good incentive, too!  

We didn't get our rears in gear till mid-morning, and the drive to Truckee is about an hour, maybe more.  Highway 20 weaves through Tahoe Nat'l Forest and we were caught twice by the flagger person holding up the stop sign, as trees were being culled near the two-laned road.  Not sure if it was forest service, or CalTrans people, but they had an impressive traffic back-up.  No problem, we got to Truckee before our stomachs caved in.  Snow patches under the tall trees began showing about 5,000 ft.  By the time Hwy 20 joined I-80, snow piles were high.

NorCal has been slammed with wet wintry weather since November, with few breaks in between storms, till recently.  Snow in the Sierras has reached levels not seen in many, many years, approaching records that trapped the Donner "breakfast" party in 1846.  On our drive today, we had to remember that no snow had fallen in two wks, meaning what we were seeing was "old snow" and lots of it had already melted.  OK ... but what we saw was not like anything we'd ever seen.  From I-80, (above) are the old snow sheds that Jimmy and I have hiked up to and in, and they're buried!  Don't think we could get there today!

From the I-80 scenic vista stop, here's a shot of old Hwy 40's Rainbow Bridge (center).

The east end of Donner Lake is covered in ice and/or snow.

After lunch (mmm, big burgers!), we drove Hwy 89 to Squaw Valley, where we could join the skiers, though we don't ski, but we could walk around the complex. (We know better than to try skiing at our age!)  By this time, the sun had disappeared, and it looked like a pan of dirty dishwater had been thrown skyward.  We're all enjoying it while we can, 'cause it's fixin' to drop on top of our heads!

Though we've taken a photo or two at this spot before,
this is the first one with, ahem, snow in the picture!

Squaw Valley has a large parking lot -- and all that snow has to be cleared for vehicles to park.  After all, providing for snow lovers is their business.  This is just one monstrous snow pile cleaned off the parking lot. 

One of the neatest campers we've seen Out and About.  Beautiful wood.

A paved 2.5 mile footpath runs from the Olympic complex to Hwy 89 and it had been scraped clean, how cool is that!  We wanted to walk and keep an eye peeled for anything unusual or unexpected. As you can see, though the old snow was unsightly, we were enclosed in a veritable snow fort -- those were ten-foot poles.  The temp here was about 50 degrees, and snow was melting and creating puddles, streams, cascades, and waterfalls everywhere.

We didn't see any horses, but the snow was up to the roof line.

 A wall of two-week-old snow, many-layered, grimy and grungy,
but look at the height of this pile next to the footpath!

A passel of Robins didn't seem to mind the snow, and in the boggy meadow (below), they were plucking up worms or grubs as fast as they could.  Making nests, too! 😏

It was a mistake to lean against this pile ... my jeans (butt) got wet!  


Oops, as we turned around to make our way back to our Prius, yonder sky to the west over the mountains had a growling, menacing look, so we stepped up our pace on the path.  We figured we had till 3pm before we had to leave the area and beat the weather home.  We almost made it, too, but were stopped at the same tree-felling area on Hwy 20 going home.  Lost some minutes there, but we did make it home before major rains began.

Woohoo, white caps on the Truckee River!  It is grand seeing so much rushing water in this river, knowing how low it had been in summers past.  Low enough to walk across and not get a soaker.  Not anymore!

All righty, then, we enjoyed our outing between doctor visits and the new baby.  Jimmy and I really like hiking up in the high country ... this year I think it's gonna take that snow a long, long time to melt, and summer will be high before we'll hoof it on any favorite trails.

πŸ’• 🌸🌷🌱 Happy Spring! ☔ πŸ€πŸŒ»πŸŒΊ


Almost spring ... Sunday, 3/19/17

Now!  I'm finally getting used to typing/writing the correct year:  2017.  It's become an automatic for a retiree who doesn't know what day it is half the time, and doesn't give a hoot!  Flowers in our yard are beginning to show signs of awakening, tho much delayed from previous (drought) years.  Also, two weeks ago our landscape was covered in a half-foot of snow!  Not sure if I'll get any blossoms from the azalea in the front, since those pesky deer ate the buds.  BTW, azalea is on the "deer don't eat" list -- haha.  A couple of daffy-dills are up and blooming, so it looks like yellow will be the first color of spring. 

Yellow-flowering Forsythia is healthy and colorful,
thanks to deer-protecting netting around the plants.
This is for you, Nannie.

Oh my goodness, lucky me, blessed to hold this precious four-day-old granddaughter so soon!  Matt and Jen and Everly Rose came home from the hospital Friday afternoon, after six long days.  Trying to rest in a noisy hospital isn't possible, and they were grateful to be released.  Now they can rest and heal naturally at home ... Jen is only four days post-op.  I made dinner for the kids Sunday morning, and Jimmy and I packed everything in the car and bustled on down to Sacramento for an afternoon/evening get-together.  Sacramento registered a warm 77 degrees!

Everly Rose has a touch of jaundice, but she's pretty, regardless.  She's very active, too, and stayed awake for quite a spell in the afternoon.  Likes to move her arms, waving and suchlike.  Looks like Matt needs a tonsorial visit soon, but as a new dad, he has to find the time!

Little Everly seems very content in Jimmy's lap.

Sweet little toes!  What a lovely day we had.

Back in Nevada City ... (Above and below)  I have two large shrubs, one in (fenced) back and one in the front that the deer don't bother, but I don't know it's name.  The flowers are perfume!  While it's blooming, you can smell the fragrance long before you see the shrub, and the flowering begins in late winter.  I keep a vase in the dining room with several flowering stalks in it, and love it's delightful sweetness.

Tiny wildflowers that popped up in the yard this week, but I'm clueless here, too.

One part of a monstrous Oregon Grape plant below our deck.  Looks like I'll have a good crop of grapes.  Wonder if I'd have enough to make jam?  I guess I'll Google it. 

Tomorrow -- Monday -- is the Spring Equinox.  Jimmy and I have decided to drive up to the Sierras and eat lunch in Truckee, and see how high the snow pack is.  If we don't go in the morning, we'll have to wait a long time, 'cause another series of storms is set to commence tomorrow afternoon, with heavy rain and a mixture of snow/rain in the mountains.  Later in the week, more snow will dump on the Sierras. How wonderful for the skiers and snow parks, businesses that cater to the skiers, and especially terrific to fill our reservoirs and aquifer.  But, we'll just get a bucketful of rain in Nevada City this go'round, adding to our already overwhelming seasonal total.


And, now, finally ... March 15, 2017

... introducing our newest family member, born Wednesday, March 15th, 2017.  

Everly Rose Jones

Matt and Jen's first child.  These two, married on April 1st, 2014, made a very pretty baby!

And here I am, over the moon in love with my first grandchild.
Everly just yawned.

Jen had a long travail; she and Matt spent three days in the hospital prior to Everly's birth. Inducing labor didn't work, the baby wasn't in the correct birthing position.  A cesarean section was finally performed Wednesday and Everly was born at 8:47am ... to the relief of all.  As you can see by the photos, our precious little bundle is healthy, for which everyone is grateful.  Jen is tired, as you can imagine, and recovering from surgery, but she's as excited and happy as can be.

We all took turns cradling the newborn.

Funny, without any planning, Alice and Tom (Jen's parents, above and below) and Jimmy and I arrived at the hospital elevator doors at the same time.  We four took a "grandparents" class six weeks ago, as a reminder that while babies are born every minute, times change and people with it.  It's a new day from when we had our children 35+ years ago.  Though we poo-pooed the class beforehand, we learned a lot and were grateful that we attended. 

Matt is a very happy young man.

I love this picture of Mom and daughter bonding.  Technically, the baby was due March 2nd, but she wasn't ready to see the world.  Everly Rose weighed 7 lbs, 11 oz and measured 20.5".  Opinions on who she looked like varied and were kind of comical, in my opinion, 'cause she looked like a newborn baby to me.  Nice that she has hair; Matt had none when he came into the world (via C-section) 37 years ago.  As handsome as her parents are, it won't matter who she favors in the gene department, she's beautiful now and I'm sure will grow into a beautiful woman, like her Mama.


A Snowy Day in Nevada City, Mon 3/6/17

You might think I'm recycling these snow pictures (haha), but rest assured, I'm not.  When I got up at 6:30 this morning and looked outside, I was shocked to see so much snow.  Guess I didn't pay attention to the weather forecast, or maybe I didn't want to know.  Snowflakes were still falling when I went to get the newspaper (which didn't come).  I took my camera with me because what I saw was a snowy vision worthy of a Currier and Ives painting.  And I returned to a warm house with something -- photos, no paper.  I'll share a few with you.

First thing this morning ... very gray, breathless.  Quiet as a cemetery. 

Maybe the new Iris leaves won't care about being snowed on.

Tergel might be pining for Florida!

Ah, of course, the road must be cleared.  In the process, the plow piles a snow berm at the top of our driveway.  That's okay, we're young and can whisk the snow away.  (did I say young?)  Nevertheless, we do a good job.

And here's what we needed to tackle.

Slogging silently in my boots through the new-fallen snow to the backyard, I peered at everything.  Wow, look at the snowcap on this feeder!  I know I won't see any hummingbirds today; hope they're hunkered down.

A birdbath sits on this little table.  It isn't Saturday, no baths required.

Kwan Yin, Goddess of Compassion who lives on this tree stump at our back deck,
is wrapped in a snow blanket.  Slick headdress!

Six inches -- half a foot -- is plenty! 

We waited till the temperature reached 33 before venturing out to shovel the driveway.  We have two shovels and we both worked till the driveway was clear and we could get the Prius out of the garage. While we shoveled, snow continued to fall, floating gently around us ... creating more work! We parked our car about where Jimmy is standing, so we could get out if/when we wanted. More white stuff and/or rain is predicted for tomorrow.

Our neighbor, Fran, using her Wovel to sweep clear their driveway.

Heavy.  When clumps fall, they explode on the ground.  Or a thud hits the roof.  It's nice to be toasty inside next to the dining room window, watching these great gobs of snow drop, or seeing flurries flutter by.  Glad we got in a nice hike on Friday, 'cause there's no way we'd try our luck walking in deep snow.  We did manage to get in a few steps on the ol' fitbit, plus some aerobic exercise!  We have books to read, good food on the stove, TV to watch, computers to play with, and boots, gloves and jackets if we want to go outdoors. Ah, Life is Good.


Hiking Osborn Hills, Friday March 3, 2017

Our options to go hiking this time of year are sort of limited, that is, if we don't want a long drive.  We get tired of traipsing the same places, too.  Many local trails are muddy now and, of course, higher elevations are buried in snow.  I remembered that Empire Mine State Historic Park in Grass Valley had some nice, easy trails, and it's close.  We needed to run a few errands in that area, so that cinched it.

We bypassed the Visitor Center, instead aiming straight for the trails.  From the parking lot, we veered off the Hardrock Trail onto Osborn Hills loop,and realized, Hey, this is a new one for us ... we've never been on this section.  With 14 miles of scenic trails in the park, I suppose it's easy to miss one or two!  Well, we like new adventures.  I'm pretty sure that's why we travel, our love of new places and adventure.

The first thing we did after setting out was to detour around a washed out road, rerouted onto a bridge over Little Wolf Creek (above, looking left and right from the bridge). We've used the washed out section before to get onto other trails and never saw a drop of water in the creek. Big changes this year! Little Wolf Creek was a major factor in the massive sinkhole in Grass Valley that was splashed all over the news media about six wks ago, caused by too much rain/run-off at one time.  That 70' deep by 80 ft-in-diameter sinkhole is still there, surrounded by huge piles of dirt on three sides, covered in heavy-duty plastic topped with tires.  Till the rainy season ends, I guess.

The sign in front of this cement, uh, structure reads "Prescott Hill Mine." I could wander all I wanted around these mining trappings, with abandoned mine shafts and stamp-mill foundations, etc., and still wouldn't be able to figure out the whys and wherefores of most stuff I see.

[A bit of history: The Empire Mine State Park area contained a complex of mines that were developed to get at gold-bearing rock veins below the surface. There were at least five mines in the Osborne Hill area, with varying levels of mining activity from the 1850’s into the 1930’s. Most easily visible are impressive remains of the Prescott Hill Mine which, combined with several neighboring mine properties in 1903, had a shaft down to 1,750′ and was active into the early 1930’s.]  I found this paragraph online.

We know what these piles are:  Mine tailings.

Enormous mounds of crushed rock left behind from the ore mining days.

The trees at the top of the photo are tall Ponderosa pines,
dwarfed by the size of this rock pile, turned a dull rusty-brown by pine needles.

Rated moderate, we hiked up and up on this loop trail, not really sure where it would lead, but it was fun to climb.  We couldn't calculate exact mileage since one trail merges into another, but we put between three-four miles on our feet.  Above, we passed next to this no-access road -- and no trespassing people or horses!  Stay out, Mr. Ed. πŸ˜‰

I wondered about this ... Jimmy says it's a very large valve.
I am no wiser.

With rain and snow in our immediate forecast, again, today we enjoyed a pleasant day of filtered sun and moderate temps, and a lovely walk through a mixed oak and conifer forest.

Buzzing bees alerted us to a few (early) blooming Manzanita bushes.

But these will never bloom again -- part of a "dead" forest.

It was a grand hike on a late winter's day, perfect for us who like to get Out and About, exploring. Making up the southern arm of Empire Mine SHP, Osborn Hills was not exactly wild, but it was intriguing.  Looks like there are more trails on this map that we need to check out.  We're always ready for new ventures!