Archive for October, 2006


Easy Trick or Treat

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

With the loss of community and a greater awareness of “stranger danger”, we have opted to go trick or treating at the local outdoor shopping mall. There are advantages. Consider the ease of walking up to shops right next to each other. Consider the less tired feet and less cranky children. Consider the speed of aquiring a sufficient amount of treats. Consider not having to hobble around in the dark looking for a house that is open. Consider the smiles of one girl who had a blast.


Thank you to the mall and the stores of the Stanford Shopping Center for providing this nice service.


Climbing the Dome

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

On our list of things to do was to climb the dome at Yosemite. Since Half Dome is closed right now, we chose a smaller dome, Lembert Dome. But with the extra mileage Jackie and I sustained (see next post) we scaled down to the even smaller Pothole Dome.

Jennifer enjoyed scrambling up the dome.


From up top we had wonderful views of Tuolumne Meadows like this one:



The Adventures of Lyell Canyon

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

October 24, 2006

The most adventurous portion of our vacation involved two incidents in Lyell Canyon near the Tuolumne Meadows Lodge.

As per the map we had in hand, we hiked across the Dana Fork and then the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River. After crossing the Lyell Fork, we headed on the path along the river with the river on our left side. Beautiful views of the river, fall foliage and the granite boulders in the area greeted us at every turn.


It was too much for the girls so we stopped in one of these areas along the river and let them climb, skip and hop. Here, among the boulders and calm, cold icy stream the first incident happened. We called the girls to continue on the hike, but as Jennifer was less than a few feet from the shoreline, she slipped on a log. She fell, caught herself, but landed in the water. Breaking the thin sheet of ice, she ended up waist deep in the stream. Dressed in jeans for this warm October day, she was cold, shocked and unhappy. Mike volunteered to hike her back to the van. Thankfully, we had clean, fresh clothes in the van. Mike reported that her attitude did a 180 degree change when she feel in the ice…from not wanting to leave to hating the place…then when she got dried back 180 degrees to loving the place.

Meanwhile Jackie and I continued the hike to the next stream, Rafferty Creek. The creek was dry so we immediately turned around and went back. But as we hiked back, we noticed things were not the same. The Lyell Fork was farther back and the sights didn’t seem completely familiar. We came to a sign we hadn’t seen previously. There were three directions. We choose the direction along the river and continued onward. When we met another sign we hadn’t seen beforehand we knew we were on the wrong path. It confused us though because the river was supposed to be on our right as we were heading back. It was on our right, but things didn’t look the same. We backtracked to the first unfamiliar sign then tried the other path toward the river. Thankfully, this got us “unlost.” We found one of the bridges we had crossed earlier over the Lyell Fork and continued back to the van. We were 1/2 hour late and starving. Fortunately, my wise husband had gone to the van and brought lunch back to a great picnic spot.

How did we get temporarily lost? A look at the map made me realize what had gone wrong. When we turned after crossing the Lyell Fork, we headed along the river BUT we weren’t really on the path. We were on a man-made path that was so well used we thought it was the real path. So, when Jackie and I turned around, we didn’t find the man-made path, we found the real path. So that’s why things didn’t look the same at first and that’s why we came to an unfamiliar sign and that’s why we went a little farther than we should have gone. On the bright side, we now know about a great little loop trail there!

I greatly appreciated how Jackie controlled herself and her emotions while we were temporarily lost. It is scary to be “lost” but it really helps if you can just think things through. I would say we were never really lost because we could have always backtracked our steps and we had firm plans for what to do if we got to spot X or a sign that said Y. We were on an unexpected, extended adventure.


Pinecones Are Boats Too

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

Take two girls + carefree hours + nature = imagination at work

One of my greatest joys is watching my daughters use their imagination. With all the books, electronic devices and scheduled life left behind, these girls can have a blast using their imaginations.

At Yosemite we hiked the Lyell Canyon near Tuolomne Meadows Lodge. Only a few minutes on the trail the girls worked on making boats out of pinecones. The pinecone boats would have pinecone people on them (made out of pinecone needles.)


Jackie in particular loved to set them sailing on the stream. She even developed a “method” setting the people in her boat and setting the boat sailing.


I absolutely love carefree, relaxed times like this one.


The Tufa at Mono Lake

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

For us the most interesting feature of Mono Lake was the Tufa in the lake. At water’s edge we saw the tufa sticking out of the water. Tufa, limestone formed by underwater springs mixing with the highly salty Mono Lake, grows into towers as the springs bubble.


The tufas are in danger. As we walked along, we passed tufa no longer seeped in water. These tufas are dead. These tufas are no longer in water due to water diversions of Mono Lake tributary streams to Los Angeles. An example of the impact of water diversions is that in one 20 year period the lake dropped 25 vertical feet. We walked in areas where 50 years ago the water would have been above our heads and the tufa would have been underwater. No longer. Water diversions also have greatly effected bird migratory patterns and nesting. Visit the Mono Lake website to learn more.


Rocks Rock

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

As we walked in Yosemite, I overheard Jackie exclaim, “Oh my gosh! I can’t believe I care what kind of rock it is!”

We’ve been to Yosemite numerous times, but the girls haven’t paid too much attention to the rocks. This time was different. The girls have been positively influenced by their school studies. In 2nd grade, Jennifer is studying rocks. In 6th grade, Jackie is studying geology. Both girls found it interesting to look at the rocks and minerals book I had brought along. They searched for all the igneous rocks they could find in the area including granite in Yosemite, pumice and basalt in Devil’s Postpile and obsidian at Mono Lake.

Mike and I were thankful for the interest in rocks as it saved us a few times from children on the brink of losing interest and whining to children who were interested in what they could find.

Q: What kind of rocks are the Gormish family members weightlighting below?



Bodie, CA

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

October 23, 2006

In the afternoon, we visited the once booming town of Bodie, CA. Bodie is now a ghost town with buildings and mills still standing from its boom years in the late 1800’s.


The town teamed with photographers, many using large format cameras. There was a buzz of excitement and Mike caught many photographers discussing lighting on their subjects. Most of the large format photographers were staying all day and waiting for the right lighting for their photograph. I used my digital SLR, but since I don’t have the patience for the right lighting to come along, I just got what I could get. Here is a photo taken from inside of the Dolan House. The second photograph was taken on the rocky road leading out of Bodie.




Devil's Postpile

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

October 23, 2006.

In the early morning we awoke and drove to Devil’s Postpile. We appeared to be the first to arrive at the national monument, but it never did see many visitors at all.

As it was off-season, we drove into the park. From the parking lot, we hiked the easy trail to the postpile. We could clearly see the columnar basalt. We had seen pictures of the straight columns but were surprised to see the bent columns.


A steeper climb enabled us to go to the top of the postpile. From here we could see the columns from their tops, stacked next to each other. Finally, we walked on to the 101-foot high Rainbow Falls. This extra few miles took a toll on the girls. I was very grateful when we reached the falls and enjoyed a snack as moods changed dramatically.


Fall Break

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

With a week off from school for “Fall Break” we drove to Yosemite intent on passing through Tioga Pass to reach the one California national park and/or monument we had not reached: Devil’s Postpile. The plan hinged greatly on the Tioga Pass being open as it does sometimes snow and closedown in late October. A few days before our trip the road did close for a day, but reopened. It turned out that we had absolutely gorgeous weather the entire trip!


The roads were still open and we witnessed some beautiful fall vistas of the high country of Yosemite. We stretched our legs at Tuolumne Meadows, taking the 1.5 mile roundtrip hike to Soda Springs.


Then we continued on to Mammoth Lakes, our outpost for the next day’s events at Devil’s Postpile.



Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

Mike spent a week in Amsterdam, leaving us to fend for ourselves here in the States.

“Amsterdam is a marvelous city to stroll through. Although the ever-present canals are no longer heavily used for transportation, they are wonderful to walk beside, look across, or ride a tour boat through. There are very few cars (the streets are narrow and often one way, canals get in the way, and there is no place to park.) Biking is the transportation method of choice for most residents. I saw two adults on a bike, an adult and a kid in front, an adult and kid in back, an adult with a kid in front and a kid in back, and bikes with “wheel barrows” in front to carry kids and stuff. The Dutch are “thrifty.” Amsterdam became a major port, because a dam was placed across the Amstel River, thus forcing the upstream boats to stop unload, and place their cargo in warehouse, until an ocean going merchant ship was available. If you pay by credit card, many establishments will charge a 3% fee, to recoup what they must pay to Visa. In my mind, there are no “must see” sights although there are several very good museums and the house where Anne Frank hid.”

Michael Gormish