After having had the date circled on the calendar for the better part of a year, last week Finn & I finally got to trek to San Francisco to see his favorite band—Gorillaz—perform live on stage at the Chase Center.
The band (comprised of a lead singer, a rotating cast of guest musicians, and four cartoon avatars who perform on the big screen) has been around for 20 or so years, giving Old Man (and Woman) Nack a chance to have enjoyed them before the Finnster was even on this planet. It was fun to move across time & space, connecting with (and over) them now.
Given that the show took place mainly in the dark, we don’t have many photos, but here’s a little gallery of clips in case you want a taste of the copious energy & showmanship.
Being in Moab with several hours free before the Rocky Mountaineer was scheduled to depart, we signed up for a tour of the spectacular Arches National Park. Our expert guide David did a great job of driving us around the park, providing color commentary (literal & figurative) on the ancient formations and their history.
Having driven all the way out to Promontory Summit to visit the Golden Spike site, we figured what the heck, let’s press on to see the Great Salt Lake’s massive & iconic Spiral Jetty sculpture. Here we are taking in the sight of the enormous earthwork, in both our human & Lego forms. 😌
The gang was kind enough to indulge me in a little drone flying, the results of which you can see in this video…
…and this draggable 360º panoramic shot from above:
…we headed up to Promontory Summit, site of the Spike interpretive center. Unlike last time, when tens of thousands of fellow spectators crowded the grounds, we had the place more or less to ourselves, enabling us to walk right up to the working steam engines.
Henry was of course in heaven, impressing the train crews with his detailed knowledge of their gear, and finally charming his way aboard the engines & ultimately into a private tour of the maintenance shed!
Here he helps back up the wood-fired “Jupiter” engine into her maintenance bay:
Our summer adventure started off with a bang—literally—as we celebrated the Fourth of July with my childhood best friend Ben Dodds. Ben & his sons live in Salt Lake City, where Hen & I met up with my folks following our flights that morning.
Seeing Ben & catching up on old friends was a real treat, as was having him show us (in our weird little rental van!) around the area, including ascending to the beautiful Wasatch National Forest…
…then knocking back a few Polygamy Porters (“Why Have Just One?” 😅) at dinner.
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:
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. 😌
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!).
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:
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.
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 severalyearsnow, 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.
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!
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?”
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…
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: