1

A couple of weekends ago, my neighbor Lori and I decided to go to the coast for the day. We chose Big Sur as our destination. We drove (a lot), hiked to see McWay Falls in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, sat on a bench and philosophized about life as we looked at the striking scenery, and took a lot of photographs of the gorgeous, gorgeous ocean.

2

Last year, I realized that I was seeing more of Norway than I had of even the state I lived in--and I vowed to explore California when I returned. So far, I've stayed true to that goal.

Just a few weeks after I returned, I traveled to San Francisco with my friend Lixian. Okay, that doesn't really count in some ways because I go to San Francisco several times a year. Still, Lixian and I went to neighborhoods I hadn't visited for quite awhile. We really loved exploring the Haight area; my favorite thing there was shopping at a thrift store, buying a pair of $7 jeans that I put on immediately because I was sooooo cold (when in the Fresno heat, I have a hard time believing I'll be cold anywhere else, so I packed inappropriately). We also spent a few hours in the Beat Museum near City Lights. I'd never been to that museum before, and I really loved seeing the pictures, artifacts, and explanations of the Beat era.

Kathee and Lixian at Ideale Restaurant
Kathee and Lixian at Ideale Restaurant

On another weekend, I went hiking in Sequoia National Park with my friends John and Alex. John promised an easy hike; instead, we hiked to the top of Moro Rock.

Moro Rock, Sequoia National Park
Moro Rock, Sequoia National Park

The view was spectacular from the top--we could see the impressive Great Western Divide where John hiked the following week. I was glad I'd overcome my fear of heights to go to the top, and John kindly helped me hike down in the places where there was too much view and not enough space on the path.

The Great Western Divide, Sequoia National Park
The Great Western Divide, Sequoia National Park

Another weekend, my neighbor Lori and I traveled to California's central coast. We drove through Morro Bay and walked on the foggy beach at Cayucas.

Beach, Cayucas
Beach, Cayucas

After a yummy lunch in Cambria, we drove to the sun-drenched, windy Elephant Seal Beach, named after the enormous seals that hang out there.

Elephant Seal Beach
Elephant Seal Beach

I've loved California beaches since before I lived in Huntington Beach way back when, so I'm always happy to be back by the ocean. And this drive was such an easy one. Lori and I plan to return soon.

Today, my friend Lin and her son Jason were visiting. My house isn't well equipped for kids, so we decided to go to Chaffee Zoo today. I'm embarrassed to admit that in the 10 years I've been in Fresno, I've never visited the zoo. We really enjoyed the day there--although I always feel sorry for the animals trapped in zoos, Chaffee tries to create inviting natural environments for its animals.

Elephant, Chaffee Zoo

But my favorite part of the zoo was going to the Winged Wonders Bird Show. This show was choreographed carefully instead of relying on clipped wings to control the birds (rather, the zoo attendants gave treats to the birds when they flew to the correct spots). Birds swooped just over our heads as they moved from an enclosure and a tall tree to spots scattered throughout the amphitheater. The narrators of the event, Rhonda and Chris, were funny and ad-libbed when necessary--e.g., when the macaw wanted to do his own thing instead of flying to Chris and showing off his vocal prowess. I loved seeing the horned owl, watching the emu strut its stuff, and hearing the parrots talk and sing. It was such an enjoyable show.

Emu, Chaffee Zoo

Horned Owl

I've enjoyed seeing new parts of California--and there's more of the state I want to see. I still haven't ever been north of San Francisco, so I have the whole upper half of the state to explore. And I hope to have different experiences in each place I visit. More hiking, yes, but I'd also love to eat at some of California's great restaurants, do some kind of a retreat in a more rural area, or ???. I need more ideas.

This year, I plan to try many new things. I want to make sure that my year isn't anti-climatic after the excitement of Norway.