Monday, March 27, 2017

Out and About in Southern California

March 22-25, 2017
Santa Clarita, California

Ezra saw his doctor and got the necessary antibiotics for his sinus infection, Tessa spent an afternoon getting her teeth super-cleaned, and Bill and I both went in for our dental appointments. Everybody's all good now :-)

With near perfect weather, and the area draped in intense Spring green, we got out a few times to enjoy the beautiful hillsides.

The road to Lake Piru

One of dozens of colorful hillsides - such a beautiful Spring!

We're surprised to see Lake Piru still fairly low.

Entrances to one of the many ranches

in full bloom.
This area is surrounded by canyons on every side. The fires, followed by months of heavy rains, wreaked havoc in many places. Placerita Canyon is still closed about half way up, and while we were there at least two dozen trucks came through - hauling out rock and mud.

We explored for a bit, looking for treasures washed down from the mountains. Nada.....

Some water continues to flow, but nothing compared to what was clearly a deep, fast and destructive flood here.

The day use area is closed for now. 

We couldn't figure out what this bright white "thing" on the top of the hill was until I uploaded the pic. The remains of a burned palm tree.

The huge oak trees took a battering from the flood, and were close to the fire line, but most look hardy and healthy today.
We got to spend a couple hours at Maximus' house with his mom and dad. He's such a happy baby, content to play with toys on the floor, or sit on one of our laps. And he's so cute!!

Mommy really makes him smile.
Those cheeks!

You know how you don't "go see" everything in your own area, and then when you come back to visit you notice cool stuff you never saw?? Us too :-))  

Although we learn in history class that gold was discovered in 1848 near Sutter's Creek in the northern part of California, it was actually first found right here in Santa Clarita. Specifically, by Francisco Lopez in 1842. His story goes that he was dreaming of being wealthy while sleeping beneath an oak tree in Placerita Canyon. He woke to dig up onions beneath the tree and found gold stuck among the roots. Over 200 gold hunters came to the area in search of riches. 

This was a Mexican territory at the time and not big news for Americans. Several years later, the first oil in California was also found in the area - a rare white oil that burned much cleaner, but that soon ran out. It's fun to learn the rich history of our old hometown!

The Placerita Canyon Nature Center was spared major damage, but the grounds are being cleared of debris and trails are being reinforced. Francisco's oak tree is protected here, and a small interpretive center educates local schools on the flora and fauna of the area.

The Botany Trail meanders around the center.

Artifacts of the Tatavian Tribe date back to 450 A.D. They lived in multi-layered huts like this one. So many orbs in this little shelter!

The Walker family lived here from 1900 to 1950 when the property was sold to the state for a park. The family maintained the land in its natural state, protecting birds and mammals from local hunters. The small two-room cabin is only open for field trips.

The trail to the Oak of the Golden Dream passes under the highway. Thick mud and water about a foot deep fills the trail.

Got the chance to test the water-proofness of my Keene's. They passed :-)))

The original murals sustained some damage in the flood, but most of the rich colors and lovely detail remain in tact. 

The location of California's first gold find.

It's hard to find the beginning of this one.
Ezra is feeling better Friday so that evening we meet for dinner at California Pizza Kitchen. Been a long time since we've eaten at one, and the pizza isn't quite as good as we remember. Still, we have a fun evening with the little man and his folks.

Every straw is a Jedi sword. Raising him right!

Oh this little boy.

Saturday morning I join Jillian and her mom, Denise, for a Beauty and the Beast matinee. Jillian made us darling shirts to wear, making it all the more special. While the next showing was sold out with a huge line, we enjoyed the movie in a half full theater. Yay!

And yes, the movie is wonderful. I want to go see it again!

Jillian and Jodee in our cool shirts.
Although sad that he got so sick, we're still grateful for the few extra days with Ezra. Saturday afternoon we meet them at nearby Vasquez Rocks. I've done a couple other posts on this beautiful place where multiple movies and TV shows have been filmed. Most notably an original Star Trek episode and a more recent Big Bang Theory. Today it's all about the little hiker. 

Daddy hides with him behind a bush and they jump out to "scare" mommy and grandma. Hearing him giggling in anticipation is priceless. He signs "more" then signs "scary" and "tickle" to indicate it's scaring that is fun. Soooo smart, already figuring out how words work together. 

In the little town of Agua Dulce, off Highway 14

Lots of people up on the high points of the many out-croppings

leaving the trails fairly empty - nice.

Ezra loves getting up on top - in his sweet hiking boots.

His "real" light saber and Jedi hood.

Brian, Ezra and Shalise

Ezra hiking solo.

Yes, he knows stuff we don't......
The sunny skies 

 turn to gray with cold winds.
They need to get on the road, and the weather is turning colder, so we sadly part ways again. 

Back home we start getting ready for Sunday's BBQ with the rest of the family. 


  1. Love the hiking pictures of Ezra! And what a beautiful place to spend time outdoors with him!
    I agree...Maximus has those cheeks any grandma would love to pinch! What a sweet smile.

    1. We are definitely blessed with our grandbabies.

  2. Often it the places in our own back yard we visit last. Nice to get out with your wonderful family, especially the adorable Ezra. Looks like there might be competition with Maximus though. I want to see Beauty and the Beast but don't usually do movie theaters. Those southern CA flowers are spectacular.

    1. I think it might be worth a week day matinee to see it on the big screen - it's a beautiful movie.

  3. We're getting a little anxious to get on the road and out of Arizona. California here we come .... well, eventually.

    1. It will still be here when you can make it - and it's really pretty :-)

  4. Ezra and Maximus are just too cute. I'm sure it is very difficult to leave them. Love that Ezra went hiking!! You and Bill need to set a good example for future hikes, so let's get the boots on the trail!!

    That green and yellow hillside is gorgeous!! Yes, the area needed rain, just not quite as much as they got.

    1. Yes, we need to send him lots of pics of us on the trails!!

      Too bad they don't keep much of the massive rainfall that comes through here between all the droughts - even the reservoir near here isn't half full :(

  5. You do have two adorable grandsons! That was one heck of a flood to cause all that destruction but the green hills and flowers are stunning.

    1. I can't imagine what it must have looked like, and sounded like with water that deep and moving that fast!! I'm glad most of the old trees survived :)

  6. Well those boys are definitely darling. How old is Maximus now? What a smile. Ezra signing already is amazing. Clearly that was one devastating flood from your pictures. If those hillsides are covered in orange poppies, be still my heart. Beautiful!

    1. Maximus is 7 months old now, a year younger than his cousin. Ezra's verbal and signing vocabulary is amazing. I love that they've taught him to communicate pre-verbal! Yes, the last of the poppies - soooo beautiful.

  7. Ezra is smiling ear to ear on the trail! He's getting to go to cool places like Grandma and Grandpa!

    1. Right!? We can't wait to get him in the motorhome heading down the road with us.

  8. Oh, those beautiful velvety green hills covered in wildflowers! Loved the wonderful photos of your family hike. Ezra is quite the character—he's a little Jedi, for sure. You do have the cutest grandsons. :-))

    1. The green here this year is just wonderful - it has been so long! They are indeed the cutest :-)))