Saturday, February 27, 2016

Snowshoeing To The Grub Hut

The weather was blissfully sunny, the temperature mild, and the snow deep. Even with our group of 7, snowshoeing to the Grub Hut in the Sierra Nevada's was a peaceful escape into wilderness.

The Grub Hut is a back country hut located near Lake Tahoe and managed by the Sierra Club. Built in honor of Peter Grub, a young man deeply connected to nature, it is a fabulous destination for people who want to spend a little time in the woods and sleep in the comfort of a shelter.

Grub Hut covered with snow
The entrance to the second floor. We descended to the first floor entrance on path chiseled through the snow. 

The boys will say they are not fans of backpacking. They like the time off of school. They do not like walking miles with heavy packs on their backs.

Devin, in spite of himself, is a natural backpacker. He has a logical brain that tells him in order to get 'from here to there,' he just has to put one foot in front of the other. He also has a lot of strength and endurance. His energy stays at a consistent hum, and he is often at the head of the pack., In fact, I think he could truck along indefinitely --  contented and peaceful -- as long as there were enough snacks to munch on along the way.

Timothy, at his core, is a soul who longs to be free. He prefers to walk without shoes, mosey on a zig-zag trail defined by his curiosity, and experience life through total tactile immersion. When the spirit moves him, he will move along at a somewhat faster pace. Still in a zig-zag path only with an incorporated bounce, bobble, shimmy, bop, hop, or jump..

Through trial and error, I have discovered hiking with energetic family friends provides just the right motivation to help them find their way.

The three mile hike in was easy and fun even with snowshoes. We were pleasantly removed from the beeps and buzzes of personal technology -- and still not so very far away at all.

Snow bunny along the way to Grub Hut
A clear sign we were not the only ones playing in the snow.

After a quick rest, we took off exploring.

Basking in a warm sun on a snowy mountain is perfect.
The boys found several snow caves. This one was the most extravagant with three beds, an ice box, and a hole on top for ventilation. The boys quickly got to work digging and carving to make it even more better.

This snow cave had three 'beds' and an ice box.

Popping out of the snow cave's ventilation hole...
The big kids set off on for just a smidge more hiking. Among much magnificence, we found this pretty magnificent Jeffrey Pine.

We found a place where coyotes hang out; a great overlook and perfect spot (if I was a coyote) to howl into the night sky.

Lots and lots of coyote poop.
Amanda pretending to be a coyote.

The guys imagining another day on the mountain when they remembered skis.

The Hut is a wonderful shelter. Pretty plush when you compare to tent camping. It is solid, has a hot wood stove, plenty of stacked wood, a camp stove, solar panels for 4 hours of light downstairs, and a 'drop' toilet. It does not have propane, TP, or running water. We'd brought two small stoves of our own, remembered TP, and were blessed with plenty of snow.

When we got back at the Hut, Amanda began the process of collecting water to hydrate our meals and ourselves. We set up a relay of people to filter water and rotated pots of boiling water from the little stove to a big holding pot on the wood stove.

When we were certain we had enough, we ventured back outside for more snow cave carving and meditating in the sunset.

This time I was careful to get our socks and boots close enough to the fire to dry, but not so close that they were singed. I am happy to report all socks and boots came home with no more holes than what they started with.

We watched the sky go dark while kids slid down slopes, pretended to slip on banana peels, and backlit the snow. And closed our eyes after a little table top guitar and a read aloud courtesy of Amanda.

We went to sleep with a nearly full moon and awoke to a beautiful sunrise over the meadow.

We are planning to go back again a little soon --  and stay out longer on our next trip. 

We also relearned the kindergarten"Just because everyone else is doing it doesn't mean it is a good idea" lesson upon our return. They really do mean it when they say No Parking by the trail head. ;-)

Monday, February 15, 2016

How We Built A Trampoline

(This section by Timothy.)

When we first realized that we got a trampoline for Christmas, we were like, “Whoa, NO WAY!”

Then we just kinda forgot about it for a while.

A couple days ago, when we finally remembered about it, we said “We gotta put that bad boy together.” 

So we did. (SPOILER ALERT: there was an element of confusion involved)

I heaved the boxes outside onto our grassless, muddy, sinkhole of a yard. We began  to take out all the ingredients: the poles the padding, the safety net (that will get a lot of use), and the mat. We took the metal poles and made a circle. 

“Great, now we have a metal circle.”

We took apart our great metal circle and then made it into a great metal circle with legs.  Next we hooked the the springs on the metal circle and on the mat.  When we had hooked all the springs, tied all the one million and two ties to the spring cover, and tied the safety net to the pole that holds up the safety net, we noticed that we put it on all wrong.

We had to: undo the safety net ties, undo the one million and two spring padding ties, unhook all of the springs, shift the mat 2 feet to the right, rehook all the springs back on (by the time we finished, we were professional hookers), retie  the one million and two spring padding ties, and retie the safety net back on to the safety net holding poles.


We got right back to where we were a hour and a half ago. We shoved the safety net holding poles into the safety net holding pole holes, and we got jumping.

The Setback
(This section by Devin.)

At the beginning, we had to decide where to put the entrance. It had to be in a spot without one of the poles sticking up in the middle of it. The poles extending upwards were on every other set of trampoline ‘legs.’

You had to put the entrance in the middle of the poles extending upward -- which I knew had to be done.

I told mom and Timothy that the entrance should be exactly in the middle of the poles, not off to one side, otherwise you might ram into the pole entering or exiting the trampoline.

They said, “Okay, we’ll do that.”

Then when we got to that stage, we put it on wrong because they said it was the right way -- even though I knew it was the wrong way. I told them again that it was wrong way, and again they said, “Yeah, we’ll do that.”

We put it on wrong. Then we piled on top of our mistake. 

We put the springs on. We tied the padding to it. We put foam on the poles. We screwed the poles together. 


We were on pretty much the last step when Timothy noticed the net wasn’t aligning right. 

I got really mad at them because they hadn’t listened to me even though they’d said, “Yeah, we’ll do it that way.”  Multiple times.

We had to take off the poles out, untie the padding, take the padding off, unhitch the springs, rotate the trampoline 1 ½ feet to the right, and then put it all back together.

The setback took about 45 minutes to fix.

It was dark when we were done, but we were relieve and happy!

Trampoline Games

One of the games we play on the trampoline is Limp Dodge Ball.  The rules of Limp Dodge Ball are that um…. The rules are basically the rules of Dodgeball except that if you get hit in a limb then that limb goes completely limp.  If you get hit in the chest or head you whole body goes limp, and you are out.

Another game we play is Basketball Dodgeball.  The trampoline that mom got came with a basketball hoop that you connect to the net.  We made a game where there is one ball and you have to put the ball through the hoop 3 times before you can throw the ball at someone.  If you get the ball through the hoop 3 times then you only get 1 throw before you have to get another 3 hoops.  If you have 3 hoops then the rules are like Limp Dodgeball.

Those are the games we play most on the trampoline.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Backpacking in Sierra Nevada Mountains

We started backpacking toward Penner Lake mid-Monday morning.  After all, homeschooling is best when it is not done at home.

The weather was sunny with patches of recent snow on the ground.   Temps were due to span from 20 to 60 degrees over the next few days with a chance of snow and wind squalls up to 30 mph.  Weather in the Sierra Nevada's, even with an early warm spring, was still variable and needed due care.

For our family's first trip, we had the good fortune to hook up with our friends and seasoned backpackers, Jeff and Amanda, and their little band of merry men.

Their guidance with direction, cooking, feeding, setting the bar, and boosting morale was priceless.

Without it ....  Well, I'm pretty sure we'd be back there still.

Fighting and hiking.  In search of our way out.

Timothy, in search of more comfortable mode of travel,
removed his shoes.
It was a fairly easy four mile hike in.  Toting packs one-quarter to one-third their weight meant more of the same for half the band. For the other half, it meant rest stops.

With legs a fraction the length ours, even without a pack,
Little Bit took her breaks seriously.  

When we arrived at Penner Lake, the wind was beginning to whip and the cold was setting in.

We scorched the toes out of more of than a couple of socks ... and melted rubber on more than one shoe over the few days we were there--  as the boys cycled in and out of wet socks and shoes.  At least, there were no feet in them at the time.

We woke in the morning to the sound of stillness.

Penner Lake

After a night of howling wind and snow, we welcomed the quiet.

We visited the Ice Garden.

The Ice Garden where icicles erupted upward during the night.

Feasted on cedar icicles.

Meandered a mile-and-a-half through the woods.

We took in the sun 

and the view of Rock Lake,

before we settled by the fire to roast a few more socks, feast on bean meals of all kinds, and enjoy a feisty game of Uno.

Timothy, Fire Master.
On our way out the next day, we took a mini-detour to Grouse Ridge Lookout

and then headed home for a shower and a yummy meal.

By all accounts, our backpacking trip was a happy success.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Yosemite National Park, Finally

Visiting Yosemite National Park has been at the top of our list of National Parks we must see for

Monday, July 14, 2014

Rough and Ready - The Farm Life

Not long ago, I noticed an old email that I'd written to a dude ranch in Wyoming or Wisconsin ...

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Bodie Ghost Town

We (Devin, my friend Bodi, mom, and I) went to Bodie Ghost Town in California (ironic, I know, Bodi in Bodie Ghost Town).  We had to drive over a three mile windy dirt road going at ten mph.  And before that we had to