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All aboard the WGRR!

Oh man, I cannot believe our luck!

A few weeks ago, a new pedestrian bridge opened up on the trail that occupies the old path of the railroad that once ran through our neighborhood. I noticed that off to one side, a little garden railway was visible. I took a few long-distance pics for Henry, figuring that that’s about as close as we’d get.

This Tuesday, however, both boys joined me on a walk with Seamus, and Henry—visiting this spot for the first time—decided to get a closer look. As luck would have it, a nice lady named Cathy was out walking her dog—and it turned out to be her house!

Minutes later we found ourselves in the back yard, checking out & even riding the train with Severn, a retired machinist who’s been building up the railroad. Even more amazingly, they have a full-sized caboose in the back yard! 🤯

The dogs played happily while we soaked it all in, swapping all kinds of nerdy railroad facts & planning our return visit this Sunday—when we hope to help with the construction of a miniature water tower! It’s like we’ve all died & gone to Henry Heaven. 🥰

Check out our photo gallery plus this quick video:

To be continued! 🚂

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Photos

Valley of the Legos

Last week’s journey out to Death Valley marks the first time I’ve headed that way without the family or friends. The endless desert drives were made less lonely, however, as I’d reach into my pocket to feel the reassuring jangle of the “Nanonaxx”—little Lego copies of the four of us + Seamy.

As you can see in this gallery, I had fun posing them everywhere from sand dunes to a salty seabed to the top of a little peak. Check it out!

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Photos

Robin Hood & His Merry Hen

Having come into a little Christmas cash, Henry was delighted to find & acquire some Lego “Forestmen” (a Robin Hood-style theme he’d never had). Neighbor kid Nathan shares his interest in Lego photography, so last weekend we trucked over to the Santa Cruz mountains for some hiking & shooting—and Lego versions of Finn, Hen, and Seamy came along for the ride! Here’s our gallery from the day.

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Photos

Swashbuckling into 2021!

When some people watch scary movies, they cover their eyes & peer through their fingers. I’m a little like that with Notre Dame playoff games, so when Henry asked to head to the beach while the Irish battled Alabama, I didn’t push back.

Thus we spent New Year’s Day on the sand in Aptos, south of Santa Cruz. I was delighted that Hen wanted to keep advancing his Lego photography skills & brought along a handful of swarthy buccaneers to pose in the surf. Check out a little gallery of the getaway.

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Christmas Videos

Zipping the Lights Fantastic

Continuing our efforts to bring the party to the people, we keep driving the blinged-out Westy around San Jose & points beyond. Last night was no exception as we headed over to Los Gatos to take in their Fantasy of Lights—one of our favorite Christmas traditions. Like last week & last year, my co-pilot Hen hung himself out the window to get the best look, but this time he was content to put down his camera & just enjoy the moments.

Check out our rather trippy video from the event:

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Christmas Photos Videos

Little Saint Nick

2020 is, of course, all about adaptation & flexibility, so San Jose has converted its traditional Christmas in the Park into a driving tour for this year. The five of us (Seamus included!) piled into the car on Friday evening, and after a long wait in line we were rewarded with a gorgeous & festive spectacle. Braving the (relative cold), Henry hung out the window & captured a nice gallery of images while I made this fun little time-lapse video. Check it out!

We hope to take our traditional lights tour in Los Gatos again soon as well. Just for fun, here’s last year’s gallery from that excursion plus my New Year’s Train ride with Hen.

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Photos Westy

Gold Rush + Goldendoodle

On the Friday following Thanksgiving, we shook off our food coma & drove north to the Sierras, setting up camp in the funky Sierra Circles Sculpture Garden.

As you can see in our photo gallery, highlights include:

  • Chatting with the local artists about their work, including their clay-making business (involving a giant press we got to see)
  • Exploring numerous old cars rusting, printing presses, steam shovels, and more around the site
  • Seeing a giant custom pirate-truck that’s frequented Burning Man
  • Trekking to the nearby lake where we surveyed old logging equipment & dodged projectiles from Frisbee golfers
  • Doing dueling Schwarzenegger impressions in the down of Arnold
  • Hen staging numerous medieval Lego battles & practicing his photography skills wherever we went
  • Visiting the Jamestown railroad (see previous)

Check out the pics.

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Photos

Gold Country Roundhouse

Thanks to the friendly & talkative artists at the campground where we stayed following Thanksgiving, we learned about Railtown 1897 in Jamestown, CA. It’s home of various historic steam engines that have been featured in Back To The Future, Petticoat Junction, and numerous other productions, as well as one of the country’s last working roundhouses.

Needless to say this was 100% up Henry’s alley, and even Finn was a good sport about visiting—as was Seamus, of course. The friendly staff were more than happy to take us on a short cruise via their old “speeder” (of the sort we explored in Leadville when the boys were just 2 & 3; see previous).

Here’s a little gallery of the outing.


And just for fun, here’s a peek at the boys on those motorcars back in 2011:

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Birthdays Milestones Photos

Seamy’s Second

Our big, bounding, curly boy has turned two!

“The days are long but the years are short,” and that applies to four-legged kids just as much as the two-legged kind. We can’t believe this lovable man has been on this planet for two years, and in our home for nearly that long. We couldn’t ask for a better quarantine buddy.

To celebrate we got him a smart-looking kerchief & party hat, plus a new chew toy he immediately put into play. Check out a little gallery of the good times.


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Halloween Photos

Halloween 2020

Finn’s a huge fan of late-year holidays, so while all of us were bummed that trick-or-treating had to be called off due to the pandemic, he was especially sad. Happily, though, we found ways to rally and keep things “festive,” as he likes to say: Mom-O & the guys carved pumpkins, and then all five of us (including Seamus!) donned costumes before heading to a socially distant party at our friends Matthias & Samantha’s little farm.

Check out our not-so-spooky gallery. 🎃


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Photos

Treasures on the Beach

From fires to droughts to quakes, the California environment can be a handful—but boy is it beautiful. On a couple of recent weekends we’ve been able to get away to the beach—first in Santa Cruz, and then in Half Moon Bay.

In SC Hen & I trekked around the old railroad tracks and bridge, and up north Hen buried Finn in sand while Seamy met some “big giant dogs” (horses). One of my old Lego knights made an appearance on the dunes so that Hen could get artsy serving his Instagram feed. 😌 Later we swung by one of Half Moon Bay’s famous pumpkin patches for some gourds n’ tacos while Seamus amused himself making friends with a piglet at the petting zoo.

Check out this gallery from our days in the sun.



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Miscellaneous

Wanted: Old West Mayhem

Henry’s been upgrading his special effects skills lately, as you can see in this clip featuring his Gold City Junction set (a prize from putting in a solid summer’s worth of reading & exercise). Turn on your speakers & keep an eye out for cotton-ball explosions. 😌

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Videos

Knock knock… Brick Shark!

Our neighborhood auteurs Henry & Nathan have been back at it, creating some delightful Lego hijinks. Check out how they’ve used my childhood red boat to show how oil tankers & shark-infested waters just don’t mix. 😌🦈

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Photos

Airstream of Consciousness

“Life is as big as you make it,” and expanding the bounds often doesn’t require traveling far. With a long weekend at our disposal, we headed down to nearby Morgan Hill to stay in a 1964 “Airstream Among The Vines.” Antique-loving Hen was of course in vintage heaven, and the boys joined me for an impromptu round of horseshoes (probably the first I’d played in 30-some years!). The boys took turns in the hammock, and Finn even slept out in it overnight.

With temperatures due to hit 108º, the idea of baking in a large tin can all day (especially with Seamus) sounded pretty bad, so we cruised down to seaside Monterey for Saturday afternoon. There Mom-O & Hen got up close with otters & seals (!) via a kayak rental while Finn & I toured around with Seamus (master maker of friends & general Doodle Goodwill Ambassador).

Here’s a gallery of photos from the weekend’s adventures.

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Photos Videos

To the castle!

I always used to joke that half the reason I wanted to have kids was so that I could go to the Lego store without feeling like quite such an old weirdo. 😌 Happily, the boys provided many years of Legonic enjoyment.

During the pandemic Hen has really applied himself to the task of “restoring your childhood,” as he puts it. In addition to reconstructing some of my old train & boat sets, he’s lately turned to one of my all-time favorite sets, the King’s Castle from circa 1984. I have such strong, fond memories of asking for it at Christmas, thinking (based on box size as the pile of presents was dwindling) that I hadn’t gotten it, and then GOING OUT OF MY MIND upon realizing that it was to be mine after all.

Check out this set of photos that Henry captured on his own, especially to show off to our cousin Tony (for whom he also narrated a private tour).

In recent days, Hen & our neighbor Nathan have also discovered a shared love of Legos & making stop-motion films. Check out how they put the new-old castle & knights to use this weekend:

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Photos

Road Trip Roundup

I find myself thinking back to Finn’s Yellowstone vacation haiku:

How long can it take
For my dad to take photos
OMG, he’s not done yet

🤣

He’s not wrong, and I shot up a storm on our epic road trip. For convenience & future reference, I’m pulling together the links here:

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Colorado 2020 Photos

Road Trip Day 17: Barstow Beckons

Whereas our previous trip through the old Route 66 waypoint of Barstow had seen Henry & me chilling—literally—in the high-desert January cold, this time was just the opposite: we delayed our evening foray to the train yard in the face of triple-digit heat that persisted past sundown, and we opted instead of drop by first thing Sunday morning.

Hen of course regaled me with insane amounts of railroading history as we scrambled around old engines and watched innumerable freight trains chug past us. This kid is such a piece of work—and we love him for it. 😌

Here’s a gallery showcasing our spin through history.

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Colorado 2020 Photos

Road Trip Day 13: Turquoise Stargazing

If you want to behold the wonders of the cosmos, it’s hard to beat sitting at 10,200 ft., far from the light & atmospheric pollution of any big city. Leadville—and specifically nearby areas like the beautiful Turquoise Lake—provide just such an environment.

In past years Margot & I have stopped by ourselves to stare up in awe, and this year we had the chance to bring along the lads & the Wiggin crew. With a phalanx of lawn chairs in tow, we set up shop alongside the dam and took in the view, using phones to help locate planets and constellations.

Check out our gallery from the evening.


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Colorado 2020 Photos Videos

Road Trip Day 12: Wigginrafting

Figuring we’d make it three-for-three on aquatic fun, the guys and I (minus Mom & Seamus) headed to Buena Vista with the Wiggii to take on our old favorite rafting spot, Brown’s Canyon (see semi-infamous 2016 outing 😛). While the moms biked on their own & the dogs held down their respective forts, the rest of us plowed right down the rapids, to everyone’s delight—and we even had a guide named Margo! (We’ll forgive the lack of “t.”)

Check out our gallery (featuring clips of Finn & Cyrus plunging off the raft into the not-so-icy waves) plus the video below:



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Colorado 2020 Photos

Road Trip Days 10 & 11: Sailing with Sea-Moose!

Arrrgh, the Dread Pirate Seamus stands astride the saltless sea!

On Sunday we headed to Twin Lakes to join the Wiggins for a tour of the water & historic Interlaken retreat. Unlike last time, we saw no naked old German dudes sunning themselves—probably for the best, though less funny this way. Seamus did great on his first boat ride, as did First Mate Xochi. Check out some pics in our gallery.


The next day the Nack & Lingle families headed down to Frisco with Grandpa Liggett for some leisurely pontooning, with the Sea-Moose ably assisted this time by the Briny Sadie. Here’s the crew braving the alpine seas.