Category Archives: Play

Volcanic Activities

Mt. Lassen with Lake Helen

Mt. Lassen with Lake Helen

Our day started in Arcata, CA. The temperature was 49o F. By the time we arrived in Lassen Volcanic National Park the temperature was 95o F. Wow! What a difference a couple of hundred miles inland will do.

The drive through Six Rivers National Forest and the Trinity Alps Wilderness was beautiful and at the same time difficult; lots of twisting and turning roads through this wild land. We followed the Trinity River for many miles. This is a popular river for white water rafting and kayaking especially in the late spring and summer.

Our destination for the day, though, was Lassen Volcanic National Park. Less than a quarter of the annual number of visitors to Yosemite visits this park, but that doesn’t distract from its natural beauty and unusual landscape. I like the fact that it is less crowded.

Most of our day in Lassen was spent touring by car and previewing potential areas for hikes in the future. Of course, numerous photographs were taken also.

Steam Vents - Mt. Lassen Park

Steam Vents - Mt. Lassen Park

Lassen is an active volcanic area which means that you can find steam vents and hot acid springs in certain areas of the park. Mt. Lassen is a plug volcano, so it doesn’t spew lava but instead explodes when it erupts. The last time it exploded was in 1915. We felt no tremors today. The volcano gods were resting peacefully.

This area of California is ever changing which is one of the attractions for me. I’ve been here several times and will be here again in the future. It makes me appreciate even more the stunning diversity on this planet that is our home. I’ve only scratched the surface but feel like I’ve seen a tremendous amount.

Have a great day!

Michael

P.S. Our adventure continues south. More about we saw and experienced on my upcoming Wednesday post in 2 days.

Experiencing Northern California

Note: please use my photo link to see the photos mentioned in the my post below: Northern California photos.

I had a fantastic day. We traveled north from Arcata, CA to visit the Redwood National Park, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, Patrick’s Point State Park and Trinidad, CA. We walked many miles and saw some amazing sights.

The morning started with heavy fog. So, we decided to go hike the redwoods first and then come back down to see the coast in all it’s glory. Our first stop was a surprise as we saw a herd of wild Roosevelt elk feeding in a large meadow. We were within 50 – 100 feet of the herd. It was fantastic. I had never seen wild elk before. (Photo #1)

Two short hikes were next on the agenda. Both of them turned out to be beautiful. (Photos #2 and #6) The second trail meandered through some very tall and large redwoods. We all enjoyed this almost spiritual walk. The silence penetrated to our very core. I can’t wait to go back and explore here again.

We then drove to Fern Canyon where part of Jurassic Park #2 was filmed. (Photo #3) The hike wound through cliffs of ferns. You could easily see why the movie was filmed here. It has a primeval feel to it.

We drove back down towards Trinidad, CA to stop at lovely Patrick’s Point State Park. It is an incredible place to see. Towering cliffs of rock cascading into the ocean with massive waves pounding continually. You can see whales from time to time. (Photo #4)

Our final stop for the day was Trinidad, CA. This is a lovely town on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. We walked the beach for a bit and viewed the harbor from very high vantage point. (Photo #5)

Travel and exploring the world we live on are some of the happiest times I have. I don’t see an end to my desire to see and experience more of this planet. I go to sleep tonight with a huge smile on my face.

Michael

Redwood Therapy

Giant Tree in Humboldt State Park

Giant Tree in Humboldt State Park

If you tell a joke in the forest, but nobody laughs, was it a joke? – Stephen Wright

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness. – John Muir

I’m currently traveling with my daughter and her boyfriend on Hwy. 101 in California or more aptly named “The Redwood Highway.” We came here to walk amongst some of the tallest trees in the world based in a habitat that goes back millions of years.

The day was sunny and quite warm. The humidity level was also high. We were expecting cooler temperatures. So, the air was thick walking under the canopy.

There is something that happens to you when you walk among trees that are hundreds if not a thousand or so years old. A connection takes place and you become part of something greater, something beautiful, something pure.

The tree shown in the photo is called “Giant Tree.” It rises to a height of 363 feet which is taller than a football (American) field is long. The first branches don’t start until 200 feet up. Wow!

Ferns in Founders Grove

Ferns in Founder's Grove

Walking in a old growth redwood forest is a humbling experience in many ways. The trees make everything seem small. They have been standing in one place for hundreds of years. There are very few if any birds because of the lack of insects. This makes these forests very quiet to walk through. It can be quite surreal.

We had several other adventures along the way to Arcata, California. It was quite a therapeutic day both emotionally and spiritually.

Plus, I’m getting to spend some time with my daughter, which makes the trip even more special.

I can’t wait to see what we discover tomorrow.

Have a great day!

Michael

Thursdays on Thames

Lead Guitar Player

Lead Guitar Player

Since I’ve been off from work since the August 15th, I needed a relaxing evening to unwind. 🙂

So, I drove down to Newport, RI this afternoon to meet Erica for the “Thursday on Thames” evening. This is a fun packed evening with a variety of free music, food and discounts in many retail stores. The Lower Thames Business Association puts on this event for several Thursdays in a row during the summer.

I particularly liked the band called The Buddy Roach Trio. The guitar player was very good and I liked their generally fast paced jazz music. There were three other bands down the street all playing different types of music. It was a lot of fun to check out each venue. Plus we got to taste some good food as we moved along the street.

The Rest of the Band

The Rest of the Band

The streets were filled with a decent number of people. I always enjoying going to these kinds of events. They help take the mind off the normal day to day activities and help to get to a happier place.

I especially like the local events of cities and towns. There usually is a much more intimate feel to them and the people seem to be a bit closer.

A real bonus was that the weather was almost perfect. Partly cloudy, cool air, low humidity and a lovely sunset. You can’t go wrong there.

Michael

Take Advantage of the Rain

The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Clouds and steady rain greeted us this morning. The air was close to being chilly. All of our plans for the day were going to need changing.

Were we disappointed? Not really. A slight change of attitude was all that was required. It’s easy to get angry or frustrated with the weather, but I’ve found just adapting to the situation is not near as emotionally draining.

We ate a lot, played card games, watched movies, read, took naps, played with Tony the beagle, watched the clouds constantly rolling by, talked, visited some friends and ate homemade ice cream.

The day seemed to go by really fast and it was a lot of fun. It was relaxing and apparently just what everyone needed.

Sometimes if you can let go of the plans you have, life will jump in and give you exactly what you need.

Michael

Play Day

If you aren’t playing well, the game isn’t as much fun. When that happens I tell myself just to go out and play as I did when I was a kid. – Thomas J. Watson, Sr.

Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play. – Heraclitus

There is work that is work and there is play that is play; there is play that is work and work that is play. And in only one of these lies happiness. – Gelett Burgess

Today was a play day. No work unless it was working at playing. No playing unless it had nothing to do with work. Erica and I just went through the day and did what we felt like when we felt like it. No agenda really; just following our impulses. The only thing we really had planned was to go to a movie. Everything else was impromptu.

It’s important to have days like this. Your mind begins to unwind and your body relaxes. Most of us see ourselves as what we do; work, relationship, a particular role and etc. When you stop and play every now and then, you begin to see yourself as something more. You start to connect more with you really are.

It’s important to give yourself these moments in time. When you pay yourself with days of play, the return on investment is priceless. It’s a great strategy for happiness.

Erica and I found it funny that time seemed to fly by today. It’s because we were focusing on the present moment. I think we’ll do more of that on Sunday.

Have a great day!

Michael

900

I play a game called Geocaching. I’ve been playing since February 2004. Last year I didn’t really play the game that much. Supercomputers in the Rockies are working on figuring out the reasons why.

It combines several things that I love to do; explore, travel, technology, figuring out puzzles, hike, walk, photography and just getting out in nature. I’ve been working on getting back into shape so I’ve been doing a lot of walking and hiking over the past two weeks.

Geocaching is helping me to fuel that goal. I’ve redirected by mind so that it focuses on finding the geocaches and it doesn’t notice that I walk many miles in the search. This plan works for me.

For over a year I’ve been really close to finding a career total of 900 geocaches. I made a goal just a few weeks ago to reach 900 by the end of May. Today I finally made it.

Some might say it’s a small goal, a silly goal. I disagree. No goal is really silly. If it is something you want, then it’s important. Plus I’ve lost 3 pounds since I started the intense walking/hiking again. Not bad for a silly goal.

Michael

Dogs and Happiness

There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face. – Ben Williams

The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too. – Samuel Butler, Notebooks, 1912

We long for an affection altogether ignorant of our faults. Heaven has accorded this to us in the uncritical canine attachment. – George Eliot

I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive. – Gilda Radner

Flo talked about her basset hounds in Basset Babies and Homer Update. It made me think of our (my daughter) beagle Allie. She had surgery last week for something turned out to be benign. But, you think about them during these times just like they are friends. And really, they are. Simply as that.

One of the many reasons I love dogs is that they are the perfect examples of how to live with unconditional love. They know no other way. Dogs possess the amazing ability to make almost anyone smile and feel better about themselves. Some people resist but most succumb and feel better.

I can think of many times when Duncan, our golden retriever, or Allie have lifted my spirits just by being themselves. They seem to have an uncanny ability to know when people are feeling low. At that point, the dog will insert themselves into the situation and make sure you are feeling better in short order.

Thank God for dogs. And if you’re not a dog lover, no worries. There are many other pets that can give you similar feelings.

If we could learn to have just a fraction of their unconditional love, the world would immediately be a better place to be. Why wait? No time like the present to make a positive change like that.

Have a great day!

Michael

Cat Play

Cats regard people as warmblooded furniture. – Jacquelyn Mitchard

I took care of Erica’s three cats this weekend which means feeding them twice day, cleaning out their litter box and playing with them. Each one is quite unique and has a definite personality. I really enjoy playing with them. My favorite game is to use a laser pointer. They, especially the young one Lily, go absolutely bonkers trying to chase the red light all over the room. It gives me loads of fun and I laugh almost constantly.

It’s a wonderful way to keep your mind in a positive place. In fact, pets are great in this regard. Their interaction can give a boost to someone who is down or needs some unconditional love. Just petting cats and dogs can cause relaxation and happy feelings. I’ve heard of dogs helping out in hospitals to boost the spirit of people dealing with serious illnesses.

Pets and children can really help to bring us back to a state of curiosity, wonder and fun. If you want to break out of your “adult” rut, then find a dog, cat, or child you can play with for a little while. You’ll feel much better afterwards.

Have a great day!

Michael

Last Gasp of Vacation

The end of vacation is bittersweet, of course. It is always hard to reconcile the feeling of being completely relaxed with the imagined pressure of returning full bore into one’s responsibilities. One of the things I’m challenging myself to do this year, though, is to enjoy each nice moment without looking past it toward the next likely challenge.

So here I am, with my wife and stepdaughter safely deposited at the airport, waiting for my later flight in a great independent cafe in Palm Springs. The music and coffee are good. I have a private table with an electrical outlet and a high-speed internet connection. I’ve been able to download some movies and TV shows for my flight later today, and I’m catching up on email.

Palm Springs is one of those places where you can imagine that a large number of residents feel grateful every day for the palm trees, sunshine and mountain views that abound here. We will return next winter, as we did this year, and if we’re lucky, my stepdaughter’s field hockey team will earn an entry into the tournament they hold every Thanksgiving week right up the street from our favorite hotel. It is great fun to think that we would come back here before the end of the year.

In short, I love having a happy experience that I’m likely to repeat in the near future. My wife likes to say that we are creatures of habit, and I guess I would say that she is a creature of habit, but I’m happy to go along when the habits are so entertaining. Palm Desert is great for tennis this time of year, sunny and dry, and I took a lesson yesterday to try to revive my singles game. My instructor, Katie, had a great, easy way of thinking about the game.

Don’t think so much, she told me. It’s a simple game. Get the ball back over the net. She teaches a method that has the following slogan, “Form is not a fundamental.” What it means in the context of tennis is that you are just as likely to be responding to “an emergency situation” as to hit a shot with a perfect setup from a location you expected. Wow, what a life parallel.

In these cases, she says, do your best to get your racket on the ball and try to hang in there for a situation that’s more to your liking. Like all great instruction, and I find this especially from great athletic coaches for some reason, the most useful principles sound like a life philosophy.

So here I am in paradise for a few more hours, seeing my improved forehand approach shot in my mind, loving the bright sunshine on the sides of the Santa Rosa mountains, and thinking that it will be summer soon enough at home.