Sunday, July 31, 2011

Geocaching! Upper Bidwell Park

So we decided to get out of the house today and do some geocaching! This was our first time to do so in Chico and we were PUMPED! We decided we'd hit one at the top of our canyon road and then head over to the upper and eastern most parts of Bidwell Park and grab some of the caches and have a nice hike. 

Of course it would have behooved us to look at a map of the park before doing this, but why the heck would we do that? We instead made our trusty rusty geocache map and took off!

Our first stop at the top of our road was a bust. Looking at the logs it seems like someone hid this cache on private property and the coordinates were tying to point us up someone's driveway. Even if we felt like trespassing we would have had to climb over their fence labeled with "PRIVATE DRIVE - NO TRESPASSING" so we opted not to go for this one. 

We jumped into the car and headed off to the parking lot just off 10 Mile House Road. The first cache of this series (of 8) was supposed to be right at the top of the trail. Well we looked and looked and tried to avoid barbed wire and sticker bushes but we couldn't find it, even with a hint. We decided not to waste too much time and would look for it on the way back. Then we set off for the rest.

It didn't take long for us to realize that we'd selected a trail that went steeply down hill. Uh oh. Going downhill means eventually coming back up. Yikes. We decided to keep going and stay mindful of how far we were going and how long it would take us to get back up and just play it by ear. 

Only 5 minutes into the hike we had our first encounter with wildlife. Ange says happily "LOOK! A snake!" and I almost fainted. Luckily it was a very small snake, not that I wanted to see a snake at all, but it wasn't like it was a big fat rattle snake blocking our path. Because then this blog post would end here. I was on edge for quite some time after that, but I managed to calm down after a while. 

We found the second cache easily and then started hopefully off on a nice flat trail. After a couple hundred feet and consultation with our GPS and geocache map we decided we were going on the wrong path and we did indeed need to continue going down the steep incline. Dag. So we turned around and hoofed it down the path. We passed two guys pushing bikes up the path and after they passed questioned their sanity. We were being very mindful with our feet and we both had sturdy hiking boots on. And we knew we were going to die walking back up the path...why the heck would you push a bike up to the top???

After a bit we got to the third cache and by this time we'd taken a pretty long & steep stroll. We debated turning back. We checked out the fourth cache and it was only 0.11 miles away so we decided we'd go for it and then stop. The 5th cache after that was a bit away so we knew we wouldn't get to that one today. We got to the fourth cache and signed in and then started the long, sweaty hike back up. 

If I had to venture a guess, it probably took us three times as long to get up the hill than it did coming down. We're terrible at looking at the time so I can't say for sure, but we would go about 50 feet at a time, stop for a minute or two to catch our breath and then go another 50 feet. When you are chubby and not in tip-top shape, it's the only way to go! We'd set little milestones for ourselves, like "See the edge of that next shady patch? Let's make it there before we stop." Serious hikers would have killed us, but luckily, Ange and I are at about the same level of fitness and body physique so it worked well for us!

At some point during the hike back up we were passed again by the insane bike men who looked like they were about .5 seconds away from careening down the hill to their deaths. As they passed they said "I think coming down is worse than going up!" Uh, no shit dude (on a bike anyway). We could have told you that when we saw you the first time.

After a million years, we reached the top. We gave the first cache another try and still didn't find it so we trooped back to the car to strip off our hiking boots and throw on some sandals. We were both sweating like maniacs but were happy we made the portion we did! We fantasized about the shape we'd be in (namely, not round) if we did that hike every day. Then we snapped back to reality and giggled about the thought that we would commit ourselves to something so insane and jumped in the car to finish our errands for the day. (Sorry for the smelly sweaty messes you had to encounter if you were doing your Sunday shopping at Winco Foods!)

When we got home we decided to, hey! look at the freaking maps of Bidwell and lo and behold, we found out that we picked one of the hardest sections of the park to hike! Go us!

We figured that we did about 1.3 miles (round-trip) and went over about 500 meters of elevation. No wonder we were tired! But that made us stand a little prouder that we accomplished that big of a hike. Next time however, we'll be sure to do a little more research on the front end.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

365: My first year as faculty

My glorious and divalicious friend Brandi is doing a 365 project documenting her daily life from age 29 to age 30. I commented on how cool that idea was and she suggested that I document our first year in Chico. As we had already been here for a week and I didn't want to start off on the wrong foot (e.g. starting late) I decided to take that idea on with a twist. I was going to document my first year as a faculty member at CSU-Chico by taking a picture a day starting August 16th (my official start date at school), that way I could mentally prepare for the task and give myself a little time trying out different iPhone apps so that I could take some jazzy photos using different effects in case a day's subject matter wasn't quite jazzy enough on its own. I decided in order to kill two birds with one stone I would publish my photos on the blog so that I would have fresh content every day! Some days it might be just the picture with only a small caption, but I'm guessing on many days there will be a full-fledged story to go with the picture. If I have other stories or musings I will post those too, but with this project I'll at least be giving you something new every day! It's a big undertaking to post every day but I feel like I take millions of photos every day anyway, so it's just an extra step to publish them here! Wish me luck on my endeavors and I hope to share the next year with you!

Here's a little taste to get you excited (or not):

Our local grocery store has an awesome bulk section. They even have LIVE bees producing honey! Ange and I thought this was the COOLEST.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mountain Lion House

We finally made it! We got settled into our little canyon home this past week. It was a little rough getting out here, but totally worth it. We love our new place! 

Well except for the mountain lions (and bears a little bit too). And really, it's only me who's scared about the wildlife. Ange and the dogs are being all bad ass about it. I'm pretty chill during the day, but once the sun starts to drop I turn into a big chicken. 

I can't help it. I can be told all sorts of reassuring things, but I can't get over my fear of mountain lions attacking me or Ange or the dogs. I'm working on it, I really am! Hopefully with time it will get better. 

In the meantime I've devised a system that helps me to feel safer. Ange thinks it is ridiculous, but she isn't the one who is scared so poop on her. 

How to feel empowered and safe from mountain lion and bear attacks, also known as "The System"

1. Windows and doors must be opened to mountain lion proof sizes. Approximately 12 inches. We leave the windows and doors open in the evening. There are screens in them. When we go to sleep we leave only windows open. They can't be open wide enough that a mountain lion could tear through the screen and come in. And duh, I know they aren't stopped by screens, hence the 12 inch window. They aren't going to tear through a screen, slide the window up and then come attack us. They don't have compound thoughts. If they can't bust through they get confused and leave.

2. All perimeter lights must be turned on at dusk.

3. All doors must be locked at night while sleeping. (This also keeps away bears).

4. When proceeding to bed, there must be a path of lights from wherever I am until I get into the bedroom. E.g. if I need to go to the back of the house, then I turn on lights from the bedroom to the destination, and then as I come back I turn each one off as I go.

5. No trash outdoors. Especially composting. Attracts wildlife.

6. When taking the dogs outside anytime from dusk to dawn you must make a lot of noise. Talking loudly usually suffices, though I like to throw in some mountain lion humor to take the edge off, e.g. "Oh mountain lions! Get the hell out of here, dogs are coming out to pee!" 

We try our best to take the dogs out right before the sun goes down for a nice long potty & play break. That way, we only have to let them out for a quick potty break right before bed, therefore reducing the amount of time spent in prime mountain lion hunting time. 

Careful! Mountain lion is watching you!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Call me Grace

It's no secret that I *may* be the clumsiest person on the planet. Srsly. I fall down more than anyone I know. 

Well, except maybe my mother. Apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Pun TOTALLY intended. 

Today I got home and, as usual, was going to let the maniac dogs out so they could pee and frolic and generally act like idiots. Being that it was the day time and I didn't actually need to turn on the hall light to see I mozied down the hallway towards the back door. 

The next thing I knew I was tragically falling down into a heap on the floor. 

What caused me to twist my right ankle so hard it took my breath away, nearly fold my left foot in half, bump and scrape my left knee on ceramic tile and smash my right shoulder into the wall?

The answer lay in the pee that I now laid in. 

Fucking asshole dogs. Thanks for peeing in the hallway. I was gone all of 20 minutes. 

And to add insult to (serious) injury, they were still jumping all over my head trying to get to the back door. As if I was letting them out now. I took my clothes off right there in the hallway and got in the shower. 
My loving partner cleaned up the mess and let them out when she got home 10 minutes later. Love her.

Hate those jerks sometimes.