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Holiday

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Featured: Remembering Summer in Castle Crags State Park

I'm happy to report that I'm back in action over on the California State Parks Foundation blog today with a guest post about one of my favorite hikes from last summer. After weeks of frosty mornings here in the Sacramento Valley, pictures of bright blue skies and memories of the hot morning sun on our faces are really making my day.

Here's a little snippet:

Northern California winters tend to come on quickly and bring winds, rain and yes – snow – to the region. When the days are damp and dreary, I like to look back and remind myself of fun, warm weather hikes.

For example, this past summer my husband and I decided to hike the Crags Trail at Castle Crags State Park. We visit the area every summer and it had been a few years since we had tackled the challenging trail.

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Check out the full post here: Remembering Summer in Castle Crags State Park

Many thanks to the folks at the California State Parks Foundation for allowing me to share some of my favorite park memories!

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A Very NorCal Holiday

I hope you all had (or are still having) a wonderful holiday season surrounded loved ones. This is such a festive time of year and I can't help but feel grateful and full of love. For the holiday, we visited family in Crescent City, had a chance to see some old friends, ate and drank waaaaay too much (p.s. I'm totally making this soup to bring on the veggies) and enjoyed our time on the road. We're feeling pretty fulfilled at the moment and we still have a few family gatherings to attend!Here's a little photo snippet from our trip:

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{If you follow me on Instagram, you may have already seen a few of these. In case you're wondering after reading this post, I've decided to keep using the app for two reasons: 1.) the founders appear to have listened to their users (at least for now) and 2.) Instagram really does have the most user-friendly platform and the best filters (at least for now). :) }

The past week has been filled with good times and the peace and quiet I had been looking for. I hope to take a few more days off from this blog and return to bring you fun, helpful and engaging content in 2013.

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Happy Friday, all!

Looking for recommendations for a trip to Northern California? There's an app for that! I've collected all of my favorite places to explore the great outdoors in Northern California into one app, which you can download from iTunes right here.

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Looking on the Bright Side: A Hike in Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve

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As I sat down in front of my computer this morning, a loud rumble shook the house. The look on my pup's face said it all: thunder!The first real storm of the season has hit the Sacramento Valley and, while it's easier to stay put and just keep typing on days like this, I sometimes need a little reminder of the sunnier days of yore.

And by days of yore, I mean approximately 72 hours ago.

This past weekend was perfect. We had a lovely Thanksgiving with family {and hope you all did, as well} and finally broke out of our food-induced haze to head out for a hike on Sunday morning. All of the left-over turkey, stuffing and gravy {not to mention the remnants of that delicious cheese plate} in the world couldn't stop us from getting out and enjoying the beautiful weather.

We headed up to Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve near Lake Berryessa to finally tackle a hike we had heard so much about: the Homestead/Blue Ridge Loop Trail.

In a word? Awesome.

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The trails make a loop and a fellow hiker mentioned that it might be better to head up the stairs rather than down, so we headed for the Homestead Trail portion first. My knees give me a bit of trouble, so heading down all of these stairs could have been painful. They were also pretty mossy and slick in areas thanks to the lovely tree cover. We were glad we took her advice!

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Once we finished the climb, we could see the valley to our right:

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and Lake Berryessa to our left:

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I asked the hubs to take a picture...you know...for proof. To the right of yours truly, you can see the rest of the trail that tops the ridge:

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This is what that trail looks like up close:

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As we headed back down into the canyon, we were treated to beautiful displays of what was left of the fall colors:

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I assure you, those leaves are now gone. We're expecting the wind and rain to continue through Sunday, so I guess we can say goodbye to all of those autumn hues.

Once we finished the hike, we took the scenic drive up to the north end of Lake Berryessa. The lake was quiet and calm as a few kayakers headed in for the day.

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Obviously, I'm a big fan of looking back at shots of brighter days, but I want to know: what helps you get through the rainy, blustery season? I don't necessarily mind the rain, but it makes spending time outdoors a little less desirable. I suppose we all have to keep on moving forward, no matter the weather. Sometimes it's just nice to hear what keeps everyone else lookin' up even when skies are gray.

I hope all of my Northern California friends are staying warm and dry!

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Happy {rainy} Wednesday, all!

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The Pescadero Weekend: Part 3

At first glance, Pescadero seemed like the perfect place to spend a relaxing weekend. We were completely content with our lovely choice in accommodations, Mom's chicken cacciatore, a nice stash of wine and a good book. However, we had heard about a spot along the coast where we could potentially see elephant seal pups in March and April.

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