Weekend Coffee Share

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I don’t know where to begin this week. It’s been a great week. We’re starting to settle in at our new place. I really like it so far. Things are coming together. I have both my horses here, and they are getting along great. Do you have time for a cup of coffee? I’ll tell you all about it. I just need to get myself a refill first. Just a second.. How is your coffee ? Ooo, good 🙂 

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I’ve told myself more than once, that I’m not having a another rental (with land,) ever again. It’s emotionally draining to set up someone else’s property, put your soul into it, and then leave it. All those hot summer days fixing fences, digging gardens, pruning trees, all that becomes part of you. At least that’s how I feel. This time it’s slightly different. The property isn’t huge, less than 1.5 acres. The pasture is already fenced (I did enforce some parts of it that needs reinforcements, but mostly is was good.) The house is beautiful, underneath a few layers of dirt. Working on getting it cleaned, room by room. I accidentally started the fire alarm when I used the stove top for the first time. Before I even had any food on, just old grease starting to smoke. I did the same thing the first time I started the oven last night..old grease.Yuck! The house was designed by an artist, and have some gorgeous mosaic on the living room floor, and in the master bathroom. I know that I’m going to spend at least a year here. (Most likely. Unless something completely unexpected happens.) Therefor, I am making it my home. I am putting a piece of my soul into it, but not my whole soul. I am going to be able to leave when its time. (I’m sure we could stay longer than a year, if we want.) Until then, I’m planning on enjoying every day here. Naturally I am taking great care of the place, but if I owned it, I would dig out old flower beds (that aren’t that beautiful any longer,) plant fruit trees, and make more permanent beautifying changes. Now it’s more about upkeep, and enjoying. 

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I did put in a new garden area. It’s for an annual vegetable garden. I am going to enjoy that area every day, so that is worth it to me, even if I only would have a garden there one year. I finished fencing the area, and planted some of my seedlings this week. I’m hoping for a prolific harvest. It is peaceful here. The sounds you hear are mostly birds singing, and an occasional dog barking (usually not mine.) I met two of my neighbors, an older couple, they seem to be good people. I love having my horses outside the door. I give them love several times a day. If I want to take a break from working in the garden, it takes me 30 seconds to walk over to my horses. I feel grateful, and happy about where I am right now.  

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I planted cherry tomato seedlings, earlier this week, that my daughter and I grown from seeds, under a heat lamp.

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These rows are all going to be cherry tomatoes. It’s my daughter’s favorite vegetable. We eat lots of them every day. The seedlings are tiny now, you can barely see them in this photo. LOL. Just wait and see, they’ll be HUGE very soon.

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I have a little trick I do, after planting the seedlings, I water a circle around them, with a diluted 3/4 water + 1/4 vinegar solution. It serves two purposes, as a fertilizer, and it keeps ants away. We have lots of ants.

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This is a newly planted (it survived two nights outside when writing this,) squash seedling. Also grown from seed inside, under a grow light.

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I planted my squash seedling along one of the fence lines to the garden. That way they have support from the fence, as they grow bigger. I planted them in compost from last year, so they should be very happy.

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Next to my squash, I planted spinach. I planted them from seed, directly into my garden outside. I planted them yesterday, so it’s going to take some time before I see the spinach.

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Next to the spinach, is the garlic I planted from cloves inside, a couple weeks ago. I just transplanted them to my outdoor garden yesterday.

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The view of my three most loyal friends, seen from my garden. They love hanging out in the shade, close to where I happen to be.

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I’ve been spending a lot of time bonding with my new horse Fancy this week. I groom her a couple times a day, and she seem to enjoy the attention. I started to work on her hooves yesterday. They have been badly neglected. I’m going to work a little bit on them every day. (I took a class in barefoot trimming years ago. So that I can work on my own horses, at least in between trimmings. Or if I take in a rescue with trust issues. If they are going to be worked a lot, I hire a professional.)

BTW, did you happen to see the photos my 5 year old daughter took of Ghost and me, earlier this week?

Are you enjoying spring yet? Or do you still have snow lingering? We’ve had temperatures in the 60’s in the beginning of this week, and then it slowly been going up. I’ve been waiting for warmer weather, to give the horses well needed baths. Going to take care of that this afternoon. This weekend we’re having mid 80’s. It’s rodeo weekend here. It’s a big event, the third weekend of April every year. The Red Bluff Round-Up is actually the largest three day rodeo in the country. The opening show is tonight, but I don’t think I will be going tonight. I will enjoy the rodeo Saturday, and Sunday though. Both my daughter, and I are excited. It’s very festive; a parade through town Saturday, music, clowns, beautiful horses, action, and happy people. I’m not much of going to big events, but I do enjoy going to a few rodeos every year. Country lifestyle & horses, what is there not to like? Sunday is wear pink day (to honor breast cancer survivors.) I bought my daughter a new pink outfit yesterday. I couldn’t find anything for me. I look horrible in pink. I did try a few outfits yesterday.. I’ll see if I can find something today. 

Do you have any fun plans for the weekend? I hope you’re having a fantastic week so far, and that it continues in the same awesome way. Thanks for having coffee with me, I enjoyed the conversation, and lovely company very much! 

Love,

Ms Zen

Shasta Dam – Upper Sacramento Ditch Trail

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Amazing nature feeds my soul, keeps the smile on my face, and helps me stay grounded. In the weekends, either Saturday, or Sunday, we usually make a day trip to a beautiful location in northern California. When we get there we hike for at least a couple hours, often 4-5 hours. We have some places we come back to time after time, that we know we like a lot. Some weekends we try new spots. This routine gives us something to look forward to, and the exercise encourage us to be active the rest of the week as well.

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Last Sunday we went to Shasta Dam. We’ve been there many times, and it is a favorite. First we walk out on the dam. Just strolling around, enjoying the scenery. It’s a concrete arch-gravity dam, across the Sacramento River.

The first photo in this post is of the reservoir. Standing on the bridge looking to the right. It’s actually California’s largest reservoir. Shasta Dam played an important role in World War II, providing massive amounts of electricity. It is still an important provider of hydro electric power. The second, and third photo, is looking down on the spillway, on left side.

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When we get our fill of scenery from the dam, we get our backpacks from the car, and head out on the Upper Sacramento Ditch Trail. Along the trail you can view the dam, and Mt.Shasta, from a distance.

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I love this trail. We had our picnic lunch next to where my daughter stands, in the photo above. The trail has several creeks along the sides, and you cross a few bridges. The forest is dense on both sides. Lots of manzanitas, pine trees, scotch broom, and various other brush (including poison oak. I actually made up a little game, to encourage my daughter to avoid poison oak. Every time she saw poison oak, she pointed it out, and got a point. Ten points gave her a small price.) This time of the year there’s lots of color, yellow, purple, blue, and green. The air is so fresh, scented by pine and flowers.

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My faithful hiking buddy loves this trail as well. We usually stop at every creek we pass to play. Both my daughter, and my dog loves water. I kind of have to stop..at least for a few minutes. The thing with this trail is that you can hike as long as you want, and then turn back to the parking lot, the same way you came. You’re guaranteed to have an amazing experience no matter the distance you hike. If you want to hike the whole thing, it’s 16.8 miles. I haven’t done that yet, since my daughter have been with me every time I hiked this trail. Originally this ditch brought water to the gold miners in the area.

The difficulty of the trail is moderate. Some hills, but not steep ones. It’s a very well maintained trail, with great footing. You will probably see some mountain bikers on the trail (they like to ride the whole trail,) and maybe even some equestrians (usually on the southern parts.)

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View of Shasta Dam, and Mt.Shasta from the north section of the trail.

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I very much enjoy seeing the dam from this point of view. I used a telephoto zoom lens to take this photo, and the next.

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The dam itself is extremely popular for boating in the summer. I haven’t tried that yet. When I drive by during summer it always looks so crowded, and that’s not really my thing. (I’m sure you can find less crowded times, and that it is wonderful to go boating at those times. It just looks crowded every time I pass by.) The trail however is wonderful to do all year round. Be sure to bring plenty of water, every season, but especially during the hot months (April-Oct.) I highly recommend hiking in the morning during those months.

Do you feel like visiting Shasta Dam yourself? Maybe give the ditch trail a shot? The trail head (well marked, just before the parking lot,) is right next to Shasta Dam’s visitor center, and there’s plenty of parking space. You can take a tour of the dam, and visit the inside of it. I haven’t done that yet, but I would really like to do it in a near future.

This is the address to the visitor center: 16349 Shasta Dam Blvd, Shasta Lake, CA 96019.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Happy Trails!

 

Love,

Ms Zen

Story 2 – A Snow Saga

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A few months ago, I search for new hiking trails to explore. I found Castle Lake Trail, near Dunsmuir (CA.) It looked very interested. I hiked it, and a nearby adjoining trail up to another lake, Heart Lake. I found the nature to be extraordinary beautiful, and I’ve been returning at least once a month to this amazing trail. I’ve seen some snow on the trail before, but nothing like last weekend!

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It’s a couple miles uphill to get to Heart Lake, from the parking lot at Castle Lake. The hike is very rocky, when it’s not snow on the trail. This weekend however the snow reached my thighs most of the time. On some places the snow was hard, and I could walk on top of it, but on many places I had to walk through the snow. It was slightly exhausting, but well worth it! My daughter was light enough to not sink, and she had a blast. We still had to stop a few times on the way up. The hike is rated as moderate, and it is a little strenuous for a five year old to hike up. Totally doable though. We took the time we needed, and enjoyed ourselves, and the view.

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Just before reaching Heart Lake, there’s a big rock formation to your right. The local calls it Castle Rock. As we climbed up on it, this was the view that greeted us. The white snow-covered mountain in the background is our volcano, Mt Shasta. Isn’t it gorgeous? I LOVE all the untouched snow.

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This is the view from the top of Castle Rock, with a frozen Castle Lake down to the left, and Mt Shasta in the clouds to the right. Below is the exact same view, taken during a hike in November last year. (Both are available as prints in my gallery.)

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I can’t decide which scenery I find the most beautiful, with, or without the snow. I recently read a poll in an online outdoor magazine, that Siskiyou County, where this amazing hike is located, is rated top ten among the most desirable places to live for outdoor enthusiasts. Which is kind of interesting, since the county isn’t very populated. It has many remote places that rarely see people, and the towns are small towns. Maybe it’s  on peoples wish lists, but to actually live there isn’t doable for most people (jobs etc.) ? I don’t live there, but would definitely consider it, if I could make a living there year round. It doesn’t get too hot in the summers, and not too cold in the winters.

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My dog loves this hike. On the upper part of the trail the visibility is good, above the tree line, and I can usually let her off leash, which she loves. Near the trail head I always have her on leash.

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Another shot of her enjoying some off leash time. Heart Lake is on the left side in this photo, but unless you know it is a lake there, you couldn’t see it. The lake is completely frozen, and covered with a thick layer of snow. Heart Lake is located in a little “mini valley”. The snow builds up fast there, in between Castle Rock, and the ridge on the other side. The two previous times I did this hike, people were ice skating on Heart Lake. It would not of been possible to ice skate there now.

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I very much prefer snow in the winter, compared to the endless rain in the valley. It’s a great blessing to be able to enjoy the mountains around us in the weekends. The fresh mountain air, and the light does so much to revitalize my spirit. It also feels like I share a piece of my home with my daughter, even though “my home” was a mountain very far away from this one. Strangely enough, when you grew up in the mountains, all mountains sort of feels like home.

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I think this photo, and the one in black and white of my daughter, is my two favorites from last weekend. Ooo, I almost forgot! One of the most memorable thing was sliding our way down the mountain, on the way back. My daughter and I “belly-slide” (my daughter’s expression,) down. We didn’t have a sled with us, but our winter clothes did the trick. I hope you enjoyed my Winter-Saga-Story. I enjoyed sharing it with you!

 

Love,

Ms Zen