Categories
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.

Categories
Christmas Photos

Christmas Lights On The Move

Finn is very sentimental about the holidays. He loves our annual rituals, which we add to each year. The pandemic has certainly done its part to hamper our normal activities like going to the Nutcracker, Christmas tree lightings and parties, and the like, and to prevent us from traveling to see our families.

To that end, we are trying to create some safe, local joy that will keep our Christmas spirits up. I saw a photo recently of an old VW microbus that was decorated with Christmas lights, and I thought it would be fun to do the same with the Westy, and drive around spreading some Christmas cheer. I asked Mr. Christmas, Finn, what he thought, and he loved the idea. Last weekend, we headed out to Ace Hardware and picked up some colorful lights, and some small suction cups with hooks that we could safely stick to the van. We already have a big rechargeable battery in the Westy that we can plug the lights into.

Needless to say, we got the lights strung, plugged in, and did our first Christmas Lights Cruise around the neighborhood on Sunday night. A few observant passersby noticed our moving light show and seemed charmed. Most of all, though, Finn and Henry both love it, and they’re all smiles when we light up Westy and hit the streets, playing Christmas music on the radio. Seamus seems to enjoy it as well, cuddled up on his boy’s lap, watching the world go by. We plan to cruise around in our portable light show as often as possible over the next few weeks. Maybe we’ll even hand out candy canes!

Here’s a little photo gallery of the proceedings.


Categories
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:

Categories
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.


Categories
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. 🎃


Categories
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.

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

Categories
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.

Categories
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:

Categories
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:

Categories
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.

Categories
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.


Categories
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:



Categories
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.

Categories
Colorado 2020 Photos

Road Trip Day 9: Buena Vista Fireworks

If you think that no summer trip to Leadville would be complete without a charming small-town Fourth of July parade (see installments from 2011, 2012, and 2018)… well, sadly you’d be correct. Social distancing this year meant no downtown fire trucks, burros, and hailstorms of hard candy—but that didn’t mean we couldn’t have fun.

With fireworks also being cancelled, we trundled down the mountain to nearby Buena Vista, where we met up with the Wiggii and set up shop in the Westy alongside a neighboring pop-top VDub. Its owner was a nice lady whose career as a Southwest pilot was on hold, so she & her son had come up to enjoy BV. The dudes whipped glow sticks through the air with Charlie while the grownups knocked back a few beverages.

Here’s a little gallery showing the proceedings.

Categories
Colorado 2020 Videos

Road Trip Day 2 Revisited: Tehachapi Loop

As noted in a previous post, our second day on the road provided Henry with one of his best “railfanning” experiences ever as we encountered an enormous train chugging its way up and over the Tehachapi Loop. Here’s the video he shot that day, showing the train as first we trailed it, then watched it from a scenic overlook, trailed it again from the highway, and finally saw it up close coming through the town of Tehachapi. Enjoy!

Categories
Colorado 2020 Photos

Road Trip Day 5: Arch Amigos

After wrapping up at Mesa Verde on Monday afternoon, we made our way to the funky hideaway Kelly Place. It’s an incredibly archaeologically rich B&B/campsite tucked away in the red rock canyons near Cortez, CO, and the boys shared our fascination as we hiked around the dry arroyo & restored kivas (underground storage/community structures created by the native inhabitants).

You can check out a few images plus this 360º panorama I captured via early-morning drone flight (drag down to spot the tiny red Westy 😌):

After a nice hot breakfast, we headed north towards the spectacular Arches National Park, home to soaring spires & seemingly impossibly balanced rocks and flying arches. Much like clouds, the miles of rock formations offer a million interpretive possibilities, and we had a ball calling out the things we saw—from “Seamus Rock” to Santa’s “Chimnaysium” where we think he practices column-descending in the off season.

Sadly Hen’s legs were pretty thrashed from run-ins with stinging plants earlier in the day, so his explorations with Mom-O were cut somewhat short. They did make it out towards Delicate Arch, and meanwhile Finn & I got to scramble all around the Window Arches.

Check out some rather amazing (if I may say so!) photos we captured, as well as this crazy little video:

 
 
 
 
 
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Chillin’ like an arch villain

A post shared by John Nack (@jnack) on

After taking in our fill of the sights, we set out to find medicine, cold compresses, and ice cream (hey, why not?) to mend Hen’s throbbing legs, after which we headed to our campsite for the evening. Fortunately he mended quickly enough that we were able to explore the unattended freight train he was delighted to see sitting just across the way.

Here’s a small set of images from our sunset sojourn.

Categories
Colorado 2020 Photos Videos

Road Trip Day 4: Cliffside Metropolis

One of my favorite childhood memories is that of taking the Amtrak out to Santa Fe, NM, with my parents & cousin Andy Stegman, and a particular highlight was visiting the cliffside dwellings of the indigenous people who’d dwelled in the area. Heading through the Southwest this year, we knew we’d like to introduce the boys to this culture if we could. Happily, Margot knew about Mesa Verde in Colorado.

In this year of Covid & quarantine, it’s not possible to enter the buildings, but we still loved taking in the park’s beauty as we drove among various overlooks from which we could view cliffside dwellings & poke into various excavated pits.

Check out a gallery from our visit.

And, because I can’t resist such things, here’s a crazy little fly-around I did showing Hen & me overlooking the dwellings:

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A quick spin around Mesa Verde

A post shared by John Nack (@jnack) on

Categories
Colorado 2020 Photos

Road Trip Day 3: Neon Morning, Beach Sunset

After awaking amongst the Vegas tree chickens & introducing Seamus to our host’s turkey and peacock, we headed over—at Henry’s suggestion—to the Museum of Neon. It’s the resting (rusting?) place of all manner of ephemera from the city’s glittering history, and we were delighted to get a private tour from the extremely knowledgeable (and admirably bearded!) docent Bob. Check out some photos from our exploration.

After wrapping up at the museum, we drove (and drove!) until we finally arrived upon the shores of Lake Powell, where we alighted at the Wahweap campground and set up shop for the night. The sunset was spectacular, as you can see in our photos.

The next morning I used my drone to capture an interactive 360º panorama on which you can tap/click and drag to see more. (Hello down there, Westy!)

Categories
Birthdays Colorado 2020 Milestones Photos

Henry goes to 11!

How can it be a decade plus one since our crazy young amigo charged into the world (photos), trailing clouds of silliness & strong opinions? 😛 What a ride it’s been.

At the moment he’s off on a surprise mission with Auntie Laura, Finn, and Charlie to ride the glass gondola in Vail, and soon he’ll be back in Leadville to enjoy some cake & presents with the rest of us. Yesterday he & I spent hours exploring some abandoned railroad tracks just outside of town, picking up treasures (? 🙃) much as I did as a kid. Here are a few photos showing that outing, plus some late-night stargazing with our friends the Wiggii.

[Update: Check out some pics of Hen unwrapping gifts (including the super cool vintage train photo Mom-O found in nearby Buena Vista, showing a 19th-century train traversing tunnels there) & enjoying cake.]

Categories
Colorado 2020 Photos

Road Trip Day 2: From Warbirds to Tree Chickens

[Note: I think it’s the sign of a great, action-packed vacation that a week and a half into it, I’m only now getting around to sharing a second post! Stay tuned for many more.]

After making our way from the field of light to a neat campground full of teepees & Airstream trailers, we had a good night’s sleep & woke up next to some friendly Sikh Harley guys & their redheaded buddy.

From there Hen & I hit the Estrella Warbirds Museum, packed with vintage aircraft, vehicles and ephemera. Highlights included touring a “Gooney Bird” transport that had flown over Normandy; seeing a real battle-damaged German pickelhaube helmet; and meeting an old fighter pilot who’d shared beers with a young John McCain. Here’s our gallery from the visit.


The other guys picked us up after a quality romp in the local dog park, and we headed east towards Las Vegas. In the midst of all the desert driving, we came across Tehachapi, an old railroad town where we’d stayed en route to Death Valley a few years back. I made a split-second decision to head up into the hills to see the famous Tehachapi Loop (“One of the seven wonders of the railroading world,” Hen interjects 😌)—and boy did it pay off: We found ourselves overtaking a mile-long freight train as it ascended & crossed the famous spiral. The beaming G-Man was johnny-on-the-spot capturing video, so stay tuned for what we hope is some epic video. Meanwhile here are a few photos.

Update: Here’s Hen’s vid:

Having fueled up on some burgers & milkshakes afterwards, we struck out across the scorching desert—113º in the shade!—and finally made it to Las Vegas. The boys were suitably horrified/fascinated by the, um, risqué signage, and highly disrespectful to Trump Tower.

At last we made our way to our lodgings, a funky urban farm/dog rescue full of dogs, goats, peacocks, turkeys, human children, and chickens in the trees! (“You might want to move your car,” our friendly hostess advised.) Here are a few photos showing Seamus making friends, as he always does.