Thursday, July 31, 2014

Camping at Dinkey Creek

Sean knows that I love camping.  He also knows that I love where I grew up camping, Dinkey Creek.  When we talked about going camping I complained to him that I want certain requirements:  it needed to be very wooded and feel like the mountains (So Cal is mainly chaparral and definitely doesn't have that fresh mountain smell) and it needs to have recreational water nearby.  Let's be honest, living in Southern California, its kinda hard to meet these requirements.  Plus a lot of campsites are first come first serve which just causes undue stress on figuring out if you're actually gonna get ANY campsite.  After one particular lament about not having access to good camping (cause Im spoiled) Sean finally said, why don't we just go to Dinkey Creek?  I quickly said yes before he changed his mind.

Dinkey is about 4 hours away from our house so I knew it would be a commitment.  Sean and I also talked about how we want to do vacations with friends so I invited my high school friend Kristin and her family to go camping with us.  I was a little weary because I knew it would be a four hour drive for her too since she lives up north.  I was pleasantly surprised when she said yes!  Yeah!  We were going to Dinkey!

You have to go through the foothills to get to the mountains and Sean kept teasing me that he hadn't seen any trees yet (one of my requirements for good camping).  I told him just wait.  I forgot how fast the terrain changes and soon we were right in the middle of the mountains. As we drove past Shaver and turned on Dinkey Creek Road, Sean admitted it was pretty amazing and beautiful.  And there were trees.  Lots of them.
See lots of trees!

My other requirement for good camping was water access.  I love how there is an accessible creek that is alongside the campground.  We found a small watering hole for ourselves and luckily Kristin's family brought inner tubes which were perfect for relaxing in the water.  I could have spent all day there and was a little sad to leave.

The creek just flows over the rocks which make it so fun to go rock hopping!
This was the little watering hole we found for ourselves.

The water levels were significantly lower than they used to be.  There were more natural rock slides than this.

This is the watering hole we always went to growing up.  The water levels were so low!
You can find any place along the creek to claim as your own.
The tubes were so relaxing.

We also drove to a small grove of Sequoia trees.  It is amazing to see these trees just smack dab in the middle of the Ponderosa Pines.  There arent any other Sequoias in the area.  We learned that Sequoia's are very unique to the Sierra Nevadas.  It made me a little proud to be a Californian and it also made me recommit to the desire of exploring more of the state.

Look at tiny Sean!
Sean was trying to throw acorns through the hole.
This tree was COVERED in carvings.  I also took a family picture here 7 years ago.
I was so happy that my friend Kristin joined us!

Our campsite was perfect for our needs.  Our company was great, our food was great and it felt wonderful to be tucked away in the mountains with no connection to the outside world.  I didn't even think twice about what's happening on Facebook or for that matter, what was happening at home.  

It took us a few tries to get the height just right on our hammock.
Didn't think we would find the Honor System some place other than BYU!
Our campsite.
I grew up playing in these rocks.  This was the view from our tent.
This was how close the neighboring campsite was.  Lucky for us it wasn't occupied.

After we were done camping Sean confessed that Dinkey was pretty amazing.  He now understood why I always talked about it.  He is already planning our next vacation there.

Dodger Stadium Tour

Dodger Stadium has a tour and since Sean is a huge baseball fan, I'm surprised it has taken us this long to go on the tour!

I've only been to a couple of stadiums before (really only Fenway, Angels and Dodgers).  Dodger's Stadium is in a pretty cool location.  It sits on the top of hill near downtown which results in an awesome view.  It's also built into the hill so the stadium actually sits below the parking level.  It looks like its in a sunken hole.

The tour was pretty good and I would recommend it to anyone interested in baseball.  Because of the uniqueness of the location, there are only 2 elevators in the entire stadium (which everyone uses, from off the street fans to the actual baseball players to the top CEOs).  You can also park anywhere at the sight and walk right in to your seat.  Our tour started at the very top parking lot where we were literally at the top of the park.

Surprisingly decent leg room for the top seats.

Some highlights of the tour included going into the visitor's clubhouse.  Technically it is the "old" visitors clubhouse because they just recently put in a new one (I think last year) but all the current players have been to this one so it was cool walking where the Greats have walked.  It's also the only place in the entire stadium that is from the original constriction (aka NO updates since the 60s). Another highlight was going to the dugout.  We were able to walk out to the field but were told we couldn't walk on the grass.  We could touch it though.  Sitting in the dugout was pretty cool.  You realized how big the stadium was.
Visitor's clubhouse (the old one) which hasnt been updated at all since the park opened.

I can't imagine what it would be like to stand here with a sold out stadium.

We also got to go inside the press box.  In newer stadiums the press boxes are located in undesirable locations because they want to give the best locations to high paying patrons.  Not at Dodger Stadium.  Their press box is in prime real estate.  They also had some cool artifacts out on display which was fun for me to see.

The press box has the best seat in the stadium!

Apparently the organist just knits till she gets her cue to play.

They think some of these storage cases date back to the NY Dodgers.

Hall of the Golden Gloves
Famous Jackie Robinson play.

Home base from Ebbets Field (the original Dodger stadium in NY)

Fourth of July

Celebrating the Fourth of July in Southern California is sort of anti-climatic.  Because of our dry environment fireworks are illegal.  There are a few community firework shows but they either are pretty expensive or you're really far away that the fireworks aren't impressive.  I decided I wanted a different experience.  I called up my parents and said, we're heading to Hanford for the Fourth!

I have a confession.  Growing up in Hanford I thought my town was a pretty boring, nothing special kind of place.  Now that I live somewhere else I realize just how really cool Hanford is.  Of course our first stop was Superior Dairy where we ordered a trip-tip sandwich and milkshakes.  I've bragged about Superior Dairy to my coworkers so when I told them I was going home for the fourth, they asked if I was going there.  One of them said she was tempted to drive up here to have the infamous ice cream.  I told her she wouldn't be disappointed.

You know how sometimes you think back on childhood memories of an event, movie or food and it is just the most amazing thing ever but then when you experience it as an adult its not like what you remember?  I was nervous this would be the case for the firework show.  I was wrong.  It was amazing.  Even Sean was impressed.  He liked it a lot and told me he could see us bringing our kids up here for a fun fourth experience.   We finished the night off with our own firework show.

Hollywood Bowl Tour

Side Story:  When I first moved to LA I applied for a job at the Hollywood Bowl Museum.  I went into the interview and the lady in charge told me that I was over qualified for the job.  I didn't get it.  They didn't even bother calling me .....

The Hollywood Bowl is an interesting place to attend.  I've technically only gone twice.  It is a place that has its own culture.  Everyone picnics around the park before a performance.  It's a funny sight to see people with blankets laid out on the cement sipping their wine.  I had heard they had a walking tour around the park so on a whim we stopped by when visiting downtown.

You can start the tour at the museum, which unless you are into music, has little interesting value.  The thing I enjoyed the most was the upstairs gallery which showcased various rooms affected by music (in its technological form).   It started with a 1800s woman's dressing room (exhibiting a phonograph) and ended with mannequins decked out in iPod gear.  In between, representing the 60s and 70s, were a bachelor pad with some awesome turntables and a wood paneled bedroom room with a small TV.  Oh how technology has changed.

After picking up a little map from the front desk at the museum we headed up to the entrance of the theater.  We entered one of the side entrances of the lower section and realized that the symphony was actually practicing.  We didn't realize that that night was opening night.
The largest attendance was in 1936 when 24,000 people came to hear an opera singer (more than even the Beatles!).

The walking tour is a little misleading and a little anti-climatic.  The (inaccurate) map leads you to a dozen large panels, each with their own theme.  There are a few pictures and very little text.  The themes ranged from Floral and Fauna to Folklore and Picnicking.  The panels are multipurpose too--they point the direction of the restrooms and restaurants.  My favorite was the one on picnicking.  I learned that it has always been part of the culture of the bowl.  They had pictures from decades ago when people brought their own food.
These were the panels throughout the park.

If you've never been to the bowl, this would be a good tour.  If you've been there, its nothing special because it's not like you have access to anything you don't have access to during a show.  I did learn that during the summer months on Tuesdays and Thursday from about 10 to noon, the symphony practices and you can come in and listen and sit where ever you like.  And it's free.  That's kinda cool.