Zion’s Weeping Rock

Zion’s Weeping Rock

We’ve enjoyed a few days of frost-free mornings of late. So, it is high time that I commence planning this year’s summer campaign. In truth, I’ve been planning our expedition since Christmas. You have to plan that far ahead to get a good campsite in a national park, come high season. That part is done. We’ve got spots dotted across America picked out that are waiting for us to unroll our sleeping bags under the stars.

Speaking of which, I have a new sleeping bag to try out this year. My forty plus years old one is still serviceable, but it is a summer weight bag and doesn’t keep me warm on colder nights. We also have a new tent. This one is a three-person tent, which should be much roomier than the two-person one that we last bought and because it’s not thirty years old, it hopefully won’t leak like the four-person tent that we also own. Ole Yeller, as I like to call the four-person tent was big enough to sleep the whole family, at least when the boys were still young. It also provided yeoman service on the multiple week-long bicycling excursion with the League of Michigan Bicyclists that we’ve enjoyed. It was big enough to sleep two and also hold all of our gear at night. This summer, we will be car camping and won’t need the extra room inside the tent. Anyway, as they say, camping is where you spend a small fortune to live like a homeless person. 😉

The photo is from last summer’s adventures. Weeping Rock is spring fed, with water drops falling from above, after seeping through the rock face. Weeping Rock is an easy, paved walk-up from the bus stop. The same stop also serves Hidden Canyon, which we also hiked. This trail is across the valley from the more famous Angels Landing and was not anywhere as near crowded. It also has chains, bolted in the rock walls, so you can hangout on a ledge here too.

City of Stars

City of Stars

After we left the Getty, we continued up the 405 to Northridge and Anne’s Uncle Lou. Lou is Harry’s older brother and coincidently they share the same birthday, just six years apart. Currently he is 96, but now prefers to countdown from a hundred, rather than up the very long road that he has traveled. We were saddened to learn that Pearl, Lou’s second wife, had passed since last we visited him, a couple of years ago. Lou has moved to the memory care section of the nursing home that we visited him at before. Even so, he remembered us on sight and welcomed us graciously. Anne had loaded our laptop with family photos, which we all reviewed together. Lou seemed in fine health making his century goal appear quite realistic. He was still full of war stories from his service in Patton’s 3rd Army, but he didn’t tell this time, the one where he kissed a Russian soldier, a woman, when the two armies met at the end of WW II. I always felt that he had told that story to tease Pearl a little.

All too soon, we had to say goodbye to Lou, because we had a plane to catch, but first we had to navigate the 405, this time during rush-hour. Whenever I drive the 405, I am reminded of the Bruce Branit and Jeremy Hunt Y2K era short by the same name and I always remind myself that it could be worse. This time it wasn’t too bad. Even so, it took us an hour to go less than 30 miles. There was supposedly an accident that was slowing things, but interestingly its symbol on Anne’s phone kept pacing just ahead of us, all the way to LAX.

We dropped-off the rent-a-car, shuttled to the terminal and breezed through TSA only to learn that our flight was delayed. What was scheduled to be a late-night flight turned into a real redeye. We crept home at 4 AM, but we had made it. It had stopped raining, but there were no stars out. We were back in the Lou.

Santa Monica

Santa Monica Pier Ferris Wheel

We left Monterey, but vowed to return again soon. It was an enjoyable drive south. We took the 101 through the inland central coast valley. from Salinas to Paso Robles. Heading east, we crosses a small mountain range and entered the San Fernando Valley. All the hills looked much greener than they had been, on our way up north. We made it unscathed, once again, through the intersection that had claimed James Dean. In Lost Hills we stopped for lunch at Gabby’s. I wonder about the name of this town, because there are no hills there to lose. Then it was down the 5, over the mountains and down into the maelstrom that is LA. We navigated all of these obstacles and ended up at our motel for the night.

We ended up in Santa Monica, in walking distance of the beach. This was a good thing, because I was done with driving by then. After check-in, we hit the beach, which is miles long and at least a couple of football fields wide. We took off our shoes, rolled up our pant legs and waded out into the surf, all the way up to our ankles. The water was cold, but there were plenty of swimmers in it. When we passed one of the lifeguard towers, I was reminded of the TV series “Baywatch”. Especially, when one of the guards posed for a picture, with his red rescue float. Then the guard exchanged his float for the camera and the tourist got to pose. I think that we walked a mile, before we turned around. By then, the wind had begun to freshen and started blowing sand in our face.

We had first started walking away from the Santa Monica pier. When we got back, we climbed up onto the pier. Pacific Park, the amusement park there was doing a grand business. We walked the length of the pier, before heading back inland. We toured Tongva Park, a nice little sculpture park and the 3rd Street Promenade, an upscale pedestrian shopping district. We dined at a French café. Then it was back down to the pier, to catch the sunset and a bit of night life.