1.01.2009

Snow Day Wrap Up

Until we started to see the snow on the side of the road, some four plus hours after leaving home, I wasn't convinced we were going to actually get to the snow before we reached the closed off mountain pass at Sonora. But it started with chunks of dirty piled up snow on the side of the road and progressed until the entire hillsides were covered in the beautiful white stuff.

With some trepidation, we decided that the outing would be an all-family outing. That means including Nande, who's not known for being an especially calm or pleasant traveling dog. She has a tendency to breathe heavily, whuffle and whine and occasionally bark for no apparent reason. She can be quite trying on the nerves.

But she'd never been to the snow, nor had Sullivan. And we decided to give it a try. We also decided not to try and subject the cat to the journey and let her have a day at home alone. We hadn't counted on Nande's rather obnoxious flatulence but we dealt with it as best we could. She was surprisingly pretty good in the car aside from when we were on surface streets and she could find things to bark at.

We chose to head up to Sonora because it would give us a chance to stop by my wife's parents to say goodbye to the boys' cousins who were heading back to Colorado shortly.

From Pleasanton we headed east on 580 for several hours making one quick and awesomely delicious stop at an In 'n' Out Burger along the way. Why there is no In 'n' Out in Santa Cruz is a complete mystery to me. They have the best fast food burgers anywhere.

Once we got to the hills, I changed my GPS over to altitude to keep track of our climb. We started out just a few hundred feet above sea level and quickly climbed to about 2000 feet and then kept going up and up and up. We saw snow along the side of the road at around 4500 feet and then the hills were good and covered by about 5000.

Once we'd gotten into the snow country, the next step was finding a good spot to get off the road and into the snow. The first good candidate was a huge open sledding hill but it was also pretty full of people and, we later learned, bottomed out into a creek that got a bunch of sledders soaked. We kept going until we came upon a small turnout with a monster snow removal machine and a couple of cars. It turned out to be the perfect spot for us.

There were some paths already stomped into the snow which made life alot easier for Nande as she got used to this new world. She didn't much care for going off trail for a little while when her first foray ended up with her chest deep in the snow. After she got used to it, she had no problems with going anywhere and really had a ball.

Sully needed a little acclimatization as well to get his snow legs under him but he got used to it as well and had lots of fun sliding face first down small hills, climbing up slippery slopes and, as Grady loved to do too, eating the snow.

Grady was very small when we were last in the snow but he had zero problems getting down with his wintery self. I think we were there for less than five minutes before he started chucking snowballs at me.

My wife only wished she'd had some boots but otherwise had a ball riding down the hill on our shiny new hippy sled (it looked like a plastic tie-dye) and playing with Sully.

I enjoyed the heck out of myself doing some sledding, tossing snowballs at Nande and the boys and taking lots of pictures.

We had prepared for some hard core winter action with extra layers, changes of clothes, waterproofed gear and the like but we really didn't need much of it at all. The spot where we'd stopped was sunny and, maybe not quite warm, but it wasn't cold at all. I found myself peeled down to just my long sleeved shirt in no time.

We literally could not have chosen a better spot with better weather. The snow had a crust on it which made it fun to walk on, sometimes you sank in, other times you didn't. Both Grady and Sully got stuck a couple of times but they took it in stride and really just had a ball. Nande must have run miles and miles in the snow, she had as much fun as anyone else even when she'd step off the trail and find herself deep in the snow. She figured out how to jump like a jack rabbit to get herself free and to continue her off-trail forays.

Major kudos to my wife for suggesting the trip and putting together much of the gear, food and clothes we would need. Kudos to me for driving up and back, thinking to fill up our big thermos with delicious coffee that was so, so, so awesome when we were packing back up to leave. Kudos to the boys for being patient on the drive there and back and major kudos to Nande for going many miles to dispel the myth that she's not a good traveling dog.

Here's a taste of what we saw at the top of the hill. The full sized version is freakin' huge and awesome!
Sonora Mountains Pano
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