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Hot Rod Hen

If you could choose one car to be the first you ever fire up, a vintage Boss Mustang 302 would be a pretty great one! Happily that was Henry’s privilege on Sunday night as we visited our friends Philip & Rachel in San Francisco. Watch him rev up the delight:

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Photos Videos

Giant trees, then & now

Way back in 2011 (good grief), we took our tiny guys & big car through the famous Chandelier Tree up in Leggett, CA. Check out the week men (gallery) back then…

…and witness what a very tight squeeze it was:

I mention it because today Margot & her greatly scaled-up copilot Hen are tooling around the same region, and he just sent me a re-creation of that transit. Makes for a fun comparison!

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Videos

Fly Me To The Goon

Somehow we hadn’t been to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in what feels like ages, so last week we welcomed the occasion our friends’ B’nei Mitzvah celebration provided to get back in the literal swing of things. Here Henry & I take a quick sunset flight over & around the joint:

And just for tangential fun, here’s a video I set to the same music thirteen years ago, showing Finn’s very first train ride. 😌

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Death Valley Photos Videos

DV22: Tehachapi, Trainspotting, and Trona

[Gallery.]

I joke with Henry that our adventures often consist of four days of doing stuff, followed by four weeks of editing the photographic results. That’s not much of an exaggeration, as we love to capture so many moments that it’s a bit daunting to figure out what to share!

Most recently, he & I headed to Death Valley (hence “DV22” in the title of this & the related posts) for some picture-taking fun with a couple of my Adobe colleagues, plus a fire breather & acrobat (!).

First up was our stop in Tehachapi, site of the famous railroad loop that we’ve visited the last two summers. As we were watching trains back in June (gallery), we ran into a couple who said they were staying at an AirBnB with its own caboose (!) just down the hill. Here’s Hen just outside the fence last year:

Naturally it’s been on our to-see list ever since, so we were delighted to book a spot.

For some people the location would be a nightmare, with freight trains rumbling past at all hours, reminding me of the Blues Brothers yelling over the El noise, “How often does the train go by?” “So often you won’t notice!” For Hen this was of course a feature, not a bug! At 3am I awoke to find him pressed to the glass, watching the action, and the next morning we spent hours getting a tour from the friendly & local proprietor.

Check out the detailed narrative Hen made for his YouTube channel:

After we finally tore ourselves away, we made our way to Tehachapi proper, where we toured the local train depot/museum as well as a funky antique store Henry dubbed “the man-cave-iest man cave that ever man caved!”

With many miles to go before we could sleep, we then headed north towards Death Valley. First we stopped off at Trona, home of the famous fish rocks…

…as well as some great derelict train cars to explore.

Check out our whole day’s journey in this gallery.

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Birthdays Photos Videos

F-14: TOP SON

(…among those born in 2008, anyway!)

We are equal parts delighted & amazed to wish a very happy 14th (!!) birthday to our tall drink of water, aspiring DJ, and doodle-wrangler par excellence Mr. Finn Nack!

Ahead of his birthday, Finn let it be known that he’d like to expand upon his recent piano-learning forays by getting a little MIDI mixing device. He was chomping at the bit to order it himself, not knowing that Margot had pulled the trigger some days earlier—so it was all we could do to delay him until it arrived, as shown below. 😛

We planned to celebrate the birthday itself in pretty low-key fashion—but before we headed out to dinner, Seamus made things unexpectedly exciting by helping himself to a big chunk of the cake!

Thankfully the chocolate didn’t do him any lasting harm, and we enjoyed a lovely meal out at Palermo, followed by the opening of presents. Finn’s now in receipt of some great books and a puzzle from Grandma & Grandpa Nack, plus a root-beer-making kit from Auntie Laura & Uncle James. Check out some pics from the occasion.

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Photos Videos

A Pirate’s Life for G! 🏴‍☠️

I’m thrilled to say that our theatrical young Henry recently made his triumphant stage debut, revolutionizing the character of Yellowbeard in Hoover Elementary’s rousing rendition of “Pirates! The Musical.” 😛 His drama class took their bow right before the four of us saw Hamilton on stage in downtown San Jose, making for quite a night.

Check out a few photos I snapped from the crowd, along with a video of the production recorded by his teacher. As you may hear, Hen is one of the few (if not the only) kids to go the extra mile in affecting a piratical accent. Arrr son is alright. 😌

As it happens, Finn is preparing for tomorrow’s debut of his class production (for which he’s handling props), and hopefully these will be just the first of many exciting shows to come!

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Photos Thanksgiving Videos Westy

Stalking “The Wild Maria”

Thanks to a chatty Ace Hardware employee who talked me up after seeing my ND jacket, we learned about Russian Gulch and its striking waterfall just outside of Mendocino. As we began our trip south, we did a quick detour to take in the beautiful redwoods.

Here’s a video of the waterfall up close:

Check out our photo gallery for the full set of visuals.

And for the piece de resistance, our budding naturalist Hen, aka Dr. Alias Fakename (“Elias Fah-ke-nah-may”) filmed “The Wild Maria” traipsing around her natural habitat, Sasquatch-style. Check out his report (sound on!). 😝

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Photos Thanksgiving Videos Westy

Mendocino: From Sea Glass to Sunrise

Following our railbike outing, Hen & I met back up with the crew for Giant Burgers at Jenny’s (“next to Denny’s,” the locals helpfully noted—as apparently all directions are relative to Denny’s).

Margot & Finn were looking for a little downtime, so they peaced out to the campsite with Seamus. Maria had dropped by the local Sea Glass Museum, so armed with new knowledge & a little guide book, she took Hen & me out to Sea Glass Beach to hunt for treasure:

If you squint, you can just see the two of them hunting amongst the crags in this interactive drone panorama:

I swear, I almost had to crowbar the two of them off the beach as the sun set. 😌 It was worth it, though, as they collected quite the haul:

Some locals had recommend a funky local seafood joint called The Sea Pal Cove, where fishing boats pull right up to the pier to drop off their hauls. While Hen & Maria got us a table, I drove back to reclaim the rest of the crew & bring them to the fishy scene.

After a good night’s sleep, we again hit the beach. Talk about live & learn: Seamus grinding his face into a log full of barnacles left him smelling deeply gross for our four-hour ride home. 🙄

And Maria learned just how quickly the sea can turn on you & soak your feet 😅, necessitating some fireside steaming:

Check out our gallery for the full set of pics & vids.

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Photos Thanksgiving Videos Westy

Mendocino: Skunk Train Rail Bikes! 🦨🚂

Back at the tail end of 2014, we had a ball riding the famous Skunk Train out of Fort Bragg (see photos and video):

For Christmas break last year we were all set to visit again, even booking tickets—but then <sad trombone> the ‘rona had other plans.

Happily we were able to reschedule for this year, and Hen and I took full advantage by renting a pedal-powered railbike!

Check out the high-speed silliness in this video:

We even got the Lego family (complete with Lego Maria & her dog Tippy) in on the action. See more in the full gallery.

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Photos Thanksgiving Videos Westy

Mendocino a-Go-Go!

After having a terrific Thanksgiving at home with our visiting pal Maria, we packed up the Westy—complete with the spacious new “techno-yurt” Margot bought for my birthday & which finally arrived at the last possible minute.

First we zipped across the Golden Gate Bridge under picture-perfect skies:

Afterwards we made our way north to Hopland & Ukiah, where we visited an antique store & then an army surplus store, both recommended by our friend Marcos who grew up in the area. From glass insulators to fake teeth to all manner of MAGA madness, the selection & clientele were eclectic & memorable, to say the least.

From there we made the long and very winding path out to the coast, arriving in Fort Bragg to set up camp just outside of town, then score some pizza and supplies. The new tent went up like a champ & kept Finn and Maria cozy all night, with an assist from space heater Seamus.

The campsite was located just a short walk from the beach—which proved delightful to visit the next morning.

Check out our gallery from the first day’s adventure, and stay tuned for lots more from the weekend.

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Colorado 2021 Photos Rafting Videos

Week 4: Rafting Adventures

Believe it or not, there’s still a handful of stories, galleries, and videos from our summer adventure that we have yet to share here—so let’s use Throwback Thursday as an excuse to start finishing the tale.

As we’ve done for several years now, we headed out on the Arkansas River for a day of whitewater rafting.

This year we went all-in for an extended trip, meaning we could stop midway through, grab lunch, and enjoy sights like a giant banana-man leaping into the rapids. (Not to be outdone, Finn leapt, too!)

Here’s hoping that one day soon I’ll finish paring down the hours of footage captured via the dorky-looking cameras I insisted on affixing to Henry’s & my helmets. In the meantime, check out a gallery from our wet hot American summer.

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Colorado 2021 Photos Videos

Week 4: Llamarama!

For many, many years we’ve heard about Leadville’s burro races (part of their annual Boom Days celebration), but the timing has never worked out for us to attend. Fortunately this year our trip overlapped with a similar quadruped-fest in nearby South Park. Not only does it feature burros, it has a whole day called Llamarama!

We joke that Seamy identifies as a llama, and he was more than a little intrigued by these big, curly guys.

It turns out that llamas & alpacas are both members of the camelid family, so it was cool to bookend our trip with camels. Check out Shepherd Finn escorting a llama through the grueling obstacle course. 🙃

As you can see in our gallery, we all had fun meeting the creatures, as well as exploring the town—especially its Wild West-era buildings and trains. Here’s hoping we can meet these guys again someday!

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Colorado 2021 Photos Videos

Week 4: Gulch Groovin’

Literally every time we’ve visited Leadville, we’ve driven past a gorgeous mountain lake surrounded by mountains, and probably half of those times we’ve asked ourselves, “Hey, why don’t we ever stop off here for a hike?”

This year we finally did it, taking Seamy for a spin around the Clinton Gulch Dam Reservoir:

As you can see it was a glorious evening, and we’ve gathered some of the best moments into this gallery.

And just for fun, here’s a little time-lapse video of the hike.

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Colorado 2021 Photos Videos

Week 3: Empty nest, kinda the best!

Following Henry’s birthday, the lads headed off to Denver with Auntie Laura & Grandpa for a few days of fun with their cousins (go-karts & kayaks & trampolines, oh my!). This left Margot, Seamus, and me to hold down the fort—oddly & rather refreshingly alone! We took advantage of the time to bike around Leadville’s Mineral Belt Trail…

…take some gratuitous drone selfies…

…and hike with Seamus around Turquoise Lake. Here’s a little gallery from that outing.

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Birthdays Colorado 2021 Milestones Photos Videos

Birthday: Two + 10 for Hen!

As I noted a couple of weeks ago, the boys & I rang in Henry’s 12th birthday with some high-flying zipline adventures:

After we came home tired & happy, it was time to celebrate officially. Here’s a handful of shots, plus the total highlight of the day—Henry getting his great-great grandfather Liggett’s railroad watch! Check it out:

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Colorado 2021 Photos Videos

Week 2: Copper? Tops

Following the Fourth, it was time for the four cousins to go off for some adventures together. We all journeyed down to Copper Mountain, then turned the lads loose:

We have just a small gallery from the day, given that the guys were off on their own (running through an obstacle course, duking it out on water-spraying bumper boats, cruising skyward in a gondola, and more), but here’s a video showing the super fun alpine coaster we all rode:

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Colorado 2021 Photos Videos

Week 2: Sunset Railroad & Bridge Buddies

“Life is as big as you make it,” we always tell the boys, and Henry—in his idiosyncratic, insistent way—is often a great catalyst for getting off one’s duff and into the world.

Last year he wrangled me into poking around some abandoned train tracks, picking up “treasure” just as I did around Galena as a kid. This year he got me & Seamy to join him down there on what proved to be a spectacular evening. Check out a gallery of pics the two of us took. (Seamus contributed more as a model than as a photog. 😌)

A couple of days later, Hen persuaded me to drive down towards Buena Vista in hopes of exploring some old Rio Grande RR bridges. Amidst some trial and error involving little back roads, we were able to scramble down to the water, Legos in hand:

Here’s one trippy little video we concocted on & around the bridges…

…and another we made while zipping through the old train tunnels outside of Buena Vista:

And of course here’s a gallery from the day.

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Colorado 2021 July Fourth Photos Videos

Day 9: Leadville & the Fourth!

And just like that—a mere 168 hours after leaving home—we arrived in Leadville!

Things were just as we left them, and it was great to spread out and connect with the fam. Chilling on the porch never disappoints:

Over the weekend the boys headed down to Turquoise Lake for some paddleboarding with the cousins and Uncle James, and on Sunday the Fourth of July parade was just as cute and charming as ever. James cooked up some amazing BBQ, and we enjoyed meeting his sister and her husband.

Check out our gallery from our first days back in Pb.

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Colorado 2021 Photos Videos

Day 8: A’Butte & Beyond

After a solid week on the road, our destination was at last just around the bend (where “bend” equals giant mountain range—but still!). Take ‘er away, narrator Hen:

We woke up, packed up, and hit the road. When we got back to Crested Butte, we got some breakfast and walked around. Finn kept stealing my hat, and he almost threw it in a river!

Next, we went hiking around Peanut Lake, where there were the most beautiful wildflowers. When we were going back to the car we ran into the Wiggins again, who told us to meet them at a bridge and a river in an hour.

While we waited, we ate some killer burgers and picked one up for Hazel. While there we saw a guy blasting country music on a pink Vespa scooter with a unicorn head stuck on the front. (A human man was actually driving this!!) We then drove to the bridge with a burger for Hazel.

We had fun skipping rocks and chatting about various topics. Next, we left CB and started up Cottonwood Pass. It was really beautiful. The end of the pass leads straight through Buena Vista and on to LEADVILLE!!

Check out our gallery from the day. 🚐

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Colorado 2021 Photos Videos

Day 3: Hoover Dam & Tangled Tails

After we’d chilled out (literally) following our Meow Wolf & antique explorations, we packed up the van & headed out to Hoover Dam & beyond. Henry write,

After a while staying at the motel, we embarked to the Hoover Dam—”The Zeus”—which had a super low water level. Dam, that was a fun time! 😛

Here’s a quick clip of our journey across the top:

Henry writes,

Next, we went to the Nevada Southern RR for rail bikes, and on the way we stopped at A&W, where we got a family meal pack that included a gallon of root beer in its own special flagon/bladder!

We of course enjoyed touring the old trains, and all five of us hopped onto a rail bike for a sunset ride. Check out the pics.

Hen adds,

When we were riding, Seamy’s poor tail got stuck in the axle, and we had to back up and unwind it. The rest of the ride [minus Dad & Seamy, who walked back up to the station] was really beautiful, though a little ruined by the incident.

We got picked up by the Union Pacific GP-30-844 and some passenger cars + caboose. Seamy & Dad rode down in the caboose, and we all rode back in the caboose. I got to sit in the cupola.

Happily, Seamy’s proud plume wasn’t badly injured, and it was back to flying at full mast within a few days. ❤️