3 Mountains in 3 Days!

 

Sally_Penny_JNS_hike

Sally Strawberry, Penny Pineapple, and me (Jules Strawberry).  Hook ‘Em Horns!

Mountain_View_Woodson.jpg

“Mom’s stripping, it’s fine,” Sally said to Penny.

I had stopped to unzip the lower half of my hiking pants, to convert them to shorts.  Penny had asked why we were stopping.

“That’s my daughter!” I said of Sally to Penny, showing her what I was doing, and that I was not, in fact, removing all of my clothes.

***

“Hike!” Sally responded when I asked what she wanted to do while she was here.

And so we did.

Sally Strawberry and Penny Pineapple came to visit last weekend, the second time since I’ve moved to California.  We hiked last time, too, but Blacks Mountain wasn’t very memorable.  And since we’re not beach people, our December trip to La Jolla was enough to keep Sally satisfied for a year or so.

We hiked Cowles to get a view of San Diego, and Sally said, “I’d rather see mountains than city.”

So I answered, “We’re going to Iron Mountain tomorrow.  It’s about the same level of difficulty and has great views.”

The next day, as we were huffing and puffing up Iron Mountain, Sally informed me, “This is harder than Cowles.”

“Oh, I guess if I can hike it, I figure it’s about the same,” I responded.

The view from Iron pleased my little girl, and Penny didn’t scowl too much (she’s not as into hiking as we are), so I figured it was a good hike.  At the bottom of the mountain, I had extra energy, so sprinted a few feet and back again, passing a road runner.  Meemeep!

Penny was looking like she was at the end of her energy reserves.  You know, kinda like a zombie, who keeps forcing one foot in front of another, determined to go on.  She didn’t argue when I offered to get the car and pull it around, saving her from walking 40 feet.

In the car on the way home, Sally asked me, “Should we serve enchiladas at your funeral?”

The question wasn’t totally out of left field.  That is, we’ve discussed my funeral before, when I told her that I wanted her to play, “One less problem without you,” by Ariana Grande.  I’ve always wanted more of an Irish wake then a tear jerker.

“That’s more of Mom’s thing,” I replied, referring to my mother, who passed in 2008.  She ate enchiladas almost every day.  She’d cook a large casserole dish of them and then eat one for lunch with a pile of chips and queso.  “Maybe gluten free pizza?”

“I’ll have to practice,” Sally said, referring to the family recipe that Mom perfected when she wasn’t cooking TexMex.  Of course, Mom’s version was full of gluten, so the recipe needs to be modified.

I laughed.  While we had been discussing my funeral arrangements, AC/DC’s Highway to Hell came on the radio.  “Is this a sign?” I asked.

Sally laughed.  “A warning!” she said.

On the third day, I took them to Mount Woodson so that we could get pictures on the famous Potato Chip Rock.  By “we” I mean “them,” of course.  I’m an engineer; I know that cantilevered beams will break after cyclic loads are placed on them.  The only question is, “when.”  And after seeing families of 4 and 5 people pose on the rock, and others jump on it, I avoided stepping onto it myself.  As in, hell to the no, I’m not getting on that thing!

The climb up Woodson was a lot longer than I remembered.  Like I said, if I can climb it, I figure it’s a good hike, but moderate.  The number of hours to hike or miles don’t register with me as much.

Two and a half hours later, when we reached Potato Chip Rock, I wondered if Penny would ever go hiking with me again.  She was breathing hard, sweating, and moving rather slowly.

Thankfully, standing in line to take a picture on Potato Chip Rock gave us time to catch our breaths.  We waited while an 8-year-old boy and his 13-year-old sister climbed up and posed for their parents.  Then we waited while their mother joined them and more pictures were taken.  And we waited some more while the father showed a nice stranger how to work the drone that he had brought (a quad copter), so that he could jump in the picture.  And they posed in several different poses.  FINALLY they declared themselves done and scrambled off the rock.

Then we waited while the next family did the same.  Damn.  Thing.  Except, everyone in that family wanted a picture of themselves alone on the rock, jumping, before they gathered as a family.  All the while, their little dog yipped and yapped, not liking all the strangers standing around him.  I may have told it to be quiet or shut up once or twice.

Really, people, if there’s a line, then take one or two pics and get off.  #Impatient #WTF #BeConsiderate

FINALLY it was our turn.  Sally and Penny climbed up as quickly as they could and sat on the edge of the rock.  They did not jump, and held only that pose while I snapped close up and wide angle shots.  One kiss, another pic, and down they came.  #ThatsHowItShouldBe #ShortAndSweet

Sally_Penny_PotatoChip_wideSally_Penny_PotatoChip_closeup

The climb down the mountain went more quickly than the climb up.  After all, the hardest part was behind us, we were refreshed, and there was the promise of air conditioning and a shower at the end.

“I’m starving,” Penny confided.  “Should have brought some cashews or something.”  The dried apple chips just weren’t enough for this 7.5 mile trail.

As we stumbled to the car, at the very end of this 4.5 hour hike, I thought, “They’re never coming hiking with me again.”

But then Sally said, “WE DID IT!” and I smiled.

We actually did more than *just* hike.  We shopped for Sally’s first professional business suit.  When we found out that Banana Republic was having a 50% sale, the clothes piled up, and we ended up buying Sally an entire wardrobe.  Then we found out that she could get an extra 20% off by signing up for a store credit card.  DONE!

One night, we met my friends Heather and Scott for dinner.  Sally loved them!

Scott’s first reaction to finding out that she’s an astrophysicist was to tease her, “Are you going to go after the really hard stuff, like Dark Matter?”

Her answer was, “YES THAT’S WHAT I DO!”

Then they were off on a nerd tangent that even I couldn’t follow.

Heather was equally charming and I think Sally was ready to move in with them.  “Can I invite them to my wedding on the beach next year?” she asked.

Wow.  After one meeting.

Of course, I shouldn’t be surprised, my friends are pretty darn amazing.

On Monday night, we had dinner with another friend, who was also named Heather.  When I first introduced Heather to Heather, I laughed and said, “I feel the need to watch the movie Heathers again!”

Since they are both a tad younger than me, and the movie with Winona Ryder and Christian Slader came out in 1988, I had to explain my comment.  “It’s a dark comedy about the popular girls and one other girl—Winona’s character—and how hard high school can be.”

“Oh!  It’s like Mean Girls!” Heather said.

“Ummmm…kinda?” I responded.  “But darker.  Christian Slader’s character is a bit like Johnny from the Breakfast Club, but darker.”  How does one explain Heathers without giving away the plot?

I scheduled a movie night at my house to watch it.  We laughed at the wacky plot and the 80’s fashion.

“Colored tights?!  I thought that was for children!” Heather exclaimed.

“The shoulder pads!” I said.

We’ve been fast friends ever since.  Nothing like bonding over old movies with retro fashion and homicidal plots.

Her last initial happens to be “S,” so I told Sally, “To keep them straight, remember that Heather S is Single.  Heather P is married.”

I felt a little bad assigning that label to Heather, since she is a beautiful, intelligent woman who may find a nice guy any day now.  But then I remembered that my last initial is also S, and I’m single too!  Doh.

We got on the subject of health, and Sally said, “My doctor told me that I need to take Vitamin D, since I’m not getting any.”  Her smile and reference to her lesbian lifestyle made it clear that this was an innuendo and the “D” stood for… “Dude.”  Yes, Dude.  We’re going with that.

Heather blushed and said, “I don’t take pills, I take my Vitamin D straight!”

WELL THEN!  I’m glad that my children are adults, so that we can have conversations like this.

Cheers!

P.S. My next post will be about Country dancing in California.  Yes, there are honky tonks in Cali, and I’ll compare one to Billy Bob’s.

P.S.S. As always, follow me on Instagram (jules_rules_strawberry) or Facebook for more pics!  And I tweet occasionally, too (@JulesSBerry)!

Sally_Woodson

Sally Strawberry, Explorer, Conquerer of Mountains

 

Californication

 

Mountains_View.jpg

View from my balcony early one morning

San Diego, California, has been my home for three months now.  I can hardly believe it!  I’ve done more in that time than some people do in years, because I feel like every weekend is a vacation.  My hardest decision has been, do I go to the beach, or hike a mountain?!

Here are some of the places I’ve been:

  • Torrey Pines State Park is famous for its view of the ocean. I scrambled down a steep path (I would say, “hiked,” but I wasn’t that graceful) to the water.  Still, I wasn’t impressed.  Sorry, California, but it was just a walk, which I can do anywhere.
  • Black Mountain was better. Sally & Penny joined me for this one, back in December.
  • Iron Mountain was better still! I’m hitting it again today, because it kicked my ass last time.  In a good way.
  • Woodson Mountain was another good hike.
  • Little Italy, a neighborhood in downtown, was my home for two months. The food was superb and I love how walk-able the area is!  The farmer’s market on Cedar Street is open every Saturday; if you get a chance, go!  Buy some fresh fish or a tie-dyed shirt.  Or maybe some beef jerky.
  • Gas Lamp District is a famous neighborhood downtown. It’s full of clubs and bars; I visited during the day and said, “Reminds me of Austin’s 6th
  • La Jolla has some beautiful beaches. And sea lions.  And a Dr. Suess Museum!  It’s a magical place.
    • I took Gary Mathews there and he didn’t want to leave. I spent 20 minutes pushing him into his rental car.
  • Los Angeles is a two-hour drive, so I visited it, too. It’s crowded, dirty, and the beaches aren’t as nice.
    • Walking around the neighborhood checking out the area, a nice old man approached me. He was well dressed with a friendly smile, so I thought it was nice when hugged me and said that I was perfect.  “Oh, your boyfriend is so blessed to have you!  If you have one, that is,” he told me, then proceeded to kiss my neck.  Seriously, two seconds after I met him, he’s sexually assaulting me on the street, on a Sunday afternoon, in broad daylight.  THAT’S L.A.
    • Exception: my darling, talented, beautiful friend Amy Arrow lives there. She’s an artist actor and an amazing person.  If you ever get to see her in a movie or in person, do it!
  • Fashion Valley is a huge mall. One of my friends invited me to go shop there; I was so excited that a handsome man wanted my opinion on his pants, that I jumped at the chance.  After sitting in traffic, then circling the parking lot for 20 minutes, I realized that it was Christmas Eve.  DOH!
    • The mall is open air, which means that shoppers walk on the sidewalk outside to get to the stores. Why?  Because the weather here is so perfect so much of the time that you don’t need a roof over your head!
    • We saw “Rogue One” at the theater there. Although I hated the ending (he said that it fit), the movie was awesome!

As beautiful as it is here, it is definitely not Texas.  As I said in my last post, people don’t greet each other here like they do back home.  However, once I get a person talking, they are just as nice as anyone from the South.  It became a game to me, to see how many people I can get to smile and say, “Hi,” in the hall at work.  More and more are coming around.  My first week here, I made some new friends, and invited Heather and Heather over to watch the movie, “Heathers” (Winona Ryder and Christian Slader, 1998).

I visited Dallas a couple of weeks ago and saw as many friends as possible: Allie Apple, my sister & nieces, Elizabeth & Daniel & their darling children, Therese, Gabby Gumbo, and Andrew.  Each one is precious to me.  Visiting them was visiting home; spending time with them was like a shower to my soul.

Allie and I went to Billy Bob’s Texas, the World’s Largest Honky Tonk, in Fort Worth.  I’ve two-stepped there since I was 18 years old, and visiting it was like stepping back in time.  Yee haw!  (The cowboys are just as handsome as ever, only now they look so young !)

Next blog post: the guys I’ve met since I got here.  Peeps be cray cray!

Cheers!

PS For more pics, follow me on Instagram (jules_strawberry_rules) or Facebook (Jules Strawberry).  I also tweet, though not as often (JulesSberry).

Sunset_Driving_Into.jpg

CA doesn’t allow as many billboards by the highway, so the views are spectacular!