Weekly Photo Challenge; Liquid

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This is Lake Siskiyou, a reservoir, formed by Box Canyon Dam on the Sacramento River, in northern California. It’s a popular hangout place for locals, and feature a well maintained campground for tourists, there’s a beautiful hiking trail around the lake. The hiking trail is my favorite. I love spending time here, and do it as often as I can. The photo is from last weekend. I thought it was the perfect entry to the weekly photo challenge. 

For this week’s challenge, share a photo of liquid in whatever state, shape, or color you happen to capture it in. You can go as big as the ocean or as small as a teardrop, as clear as vodka or as opaque as milk. Let’s raise a glass to your photos — I can’t wait to dive in.



Ms Zen




Weekend Coffee Share

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Come and have some coffee with me! How do you like your coffee? I’m sitting here contemplating what kind of nature adventure to go on this weekend. We always (with very few exceptions) go for one day trip in the weekend. We do some research, usually over the internet, and set our sails towards an amazing destination in northern California. We drive there, and enjoy the nature for a day. Usually by going for a hike, and having a picnic lunch. If it’s a longer hike we might try some local restaurant for dinner. I’d say that we try a couple new spots every month, and return to a couple favorite spots every month.

Those who contemplate the beauty of the Earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. — Rachel Carson

There’s an endless supply of hikes that are totally doable with a young child. I’m usually the one with the ideas about where to go, but not always. Sometimes we bring friends, but often it’s just quality time for our family. The thing with favorite spots that we return to, is that besides the obvious pleasure of getting to know a place better, and enjoy it more than once, I turn it into a homeschooling project for my daughter. The first time we visit it’s usually like today, a spontaneous decision, to a destination we decide around breakfast time. I believe in learning by doing. Lessons that you experience with all your senses; smell, feel, taste, sight, and hearing really stays with you for a life time. Before we return a second time to a place, my daughter and I read everything that we can find about the place, and the places we will pass on the way there; history, legends, traditions, and local flora & fauna. Since the places we visit are at the most 3-4 hours from our home, usually 1-2 hours from home, we get to know our area well. Both my daughter and I like to know our surroundings. It feels good to be familiar with, and experience a sense of belonging to the place where you live, even (or maybe especially?) if you weren’t born there. My mom taught me this approach to life. I’ve explored every place I’ve lived in like this, and I’m so grateful for the memories, and life lessons this have given me.

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. – John Muir

I have a couple ideas for today’s adventure. One is about an hour drive away, and includes a waterfall. My second adventure idea that I’m going to suggest is 3 hours away, and a bigger adventure. We’ll see what my family votes for. I’ll be sure to tell you next weekend. Last weekend we ended up going to one of our favorite places; Lassen Volcanic National Park. You can read about that adventure here. So this weekend both my ideas are places we haven’t experienced before. Do you have any fun plans for the weekend? Need a refill on that coffee?

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Homemade tomato cage, made out of old field fencing.

It’s been a little windy here this week around 15 mph, and temperatures in the mid 80’s. Pretty pleasant weather. The days are beautiful this time of the year. (Before the heat arrives.) My garden is doing good. Noting spectacular have happened since last week, but everything is growing as it should. I added some more herbs to my container garden; sage, parsley, and dill. The herbs that I already planted (from seed) earlier; cilantro, lavender, basil, and oregano are starting to come up. Especially the cilantro is thriving. Cilantro seem to like it here, I usually have lots of it in the summer. I also planted a mix of organic greens in a big container this week. I’m already eating my baby spinach, so I’m going to need more greens soon. Some of the fig cuttings, the ones that I planted directly in soil, are starting to show some new growth. That’s exciting.

I have started to make tomato cages out of old field fencing, that I got for free off Craigslist. I love repurposing materials. It feels good to do that. I still need to make more cages. My tomatoes are growing, and it is going to be a priority this coming week. I have around 20 tomato plants, in a couple different varieties. I choose two smaller types of tomatoes this year. For two reasons, my daughter loves cherry tomatoes, and our heat often crack the bigger varieties before they have a chance to get any where near being ripe. Last year I grew lots of heirloom rainbow tomatoes. They were big, juicy, sweet, and absolutely delicious, but a bigger number than I would of liked got cracked by the sun. The year prior to that, I only grew cherry tomatoes, and did not encounter that problem. I have some more tomato seedling on the way. I’m going to plant those in containers. The 20 plants I Have now are planted in the ground. 

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Fancy helping me keep the grass down around my garden.

My horses, Ghost and Fancy, had an interesting week. I’ve been continuing going out to their pasture for around an hour a day (besides the regular care/training,) to read a book, just hanging out with them, to get Ghost to come on more friendly terms. He’d been acting very jealous of my time with Fancy. It started with him throwing a fit whenever I worked with her, later he started to distance himself from me, and now it actually escalated a bit further with him biting and chasing Fancy. It has been a tough week for her. A few days ago Ghost took a big bite out of Fancy’s shoulder. He took a lot of skin off, and it was bleeding, but was not very deep. I’m taking care of it myself, since it wasn’t deep. It’s healing good. This unexpected thing with Ghost is heavy on my mind. Luckily it’s the only cloud on my horizon, so I can deal with it. 

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Ghost’s summer coat is gorgeous. Those dapples are more defined in his summer coat. I’ve always been amazed with how much a horse can change in appearance from winter, to summer. The first mustang I adopted had a bay (brown) winter coat, and black mane/tail. In the summer he turned silver, still with black mane/tail! That’s the most extreme color change I’ve seen. 

My daughter and I had a fantastic week, with many interesting conversation, and spontaneous singing! She’s been starting to make up songs about people she loves, and things we do, and been entertaining me with them while we’ve been working with different projects. I love it! 

We went to an educational show with wild animals on Thursday; A Walk On The Wild Side. It’s a show featuring local wildlife, that been orphaned (or lost their captivity for other reasons,) explaining why we need them in our eco system, while showing us the animals up-close. It’s going to be a daily show, at Turtle Bay Exploration Park, over the summer. It just started this week. We enjoyed it very much. 

I hope your week was marvelous! If you are a mother, be sure to enjoy your weekend a little extra! Happy Mother’s Day!


Ms Zen

Shasta Dam – Upper Sacramento Ditch Trail


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.


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!



Ms Zen