Archive for the 'Fun Things to Do Outdoors' Category

Landscaping Workshop for the Sierra Foothills

said on August 6th, 2012 filed under: Auburn, Fun Things to Do Outdoors, Lake of the Pines, Localism

We will be presenting a FREE landscaping workshop at 7:00 PM on WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 8, 2012 at the Generations Health Club just outside the gate of Lake of the Pines, California.  The address is 22824 Industrial Place, Auburn (unincorporated) near the corner of Combie Road and West Hacienda.


Immerse yourself in a fast-moving one-hour class about landscaping in the Sierra Foothills

Select a foundation landscape of permanent deer-resistant shrubs

Admire Lake of the Pines gardener Sue Baker’s list of Top Ten Annual Flowers

Steal Bob’s list of Top Twelve Perennal Shrubs for “deer country”

Spruce up your home’s curb appeal to create the Best First Impression for less than $1,000

Learn a bunch of Weird Stuff About Plants that we bet you don’t know

Bring a neighbor and your own gardening tips.  See you on Wednesday night at Generations Health Club!


Bob and CJ Jenkins



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Running Embudito Canyon

said on July 21st, 2012 filed under: Fun Things to Do Outdoors, Running and Hiking trails

One of my favorite places to run is the Embudito Canyon below the Sandia Mountains near Albuquerque, New Mexico.



If you thought that first photo was pretty, check out this one.


Each time I run Embudito, I look for rattlesnakes.  I don’t look OUT for them, I look FOR them, on the trails, in the cactus shade, under rocks, in holes and crevices.  I’ve only seen one, but I keep looking.  Rattlers are so old, so very old, ancient and primeval.  I feel blessed whenever I come across one in the wild.



No Old Man Rattler today, but I did spend a few moments with this handsome fellow, about 5 feet long and in no hurry.


Anybody know what species this is?

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Fourth of July at Lake of the Pines, California

said on July 7th, 2012 filed under: Cultural Events, Fun Things to Do Outdoors, Lake of the Pines, Localism

Fourth of July is the BIG DAY at lake of the Pines, California.  In the morning there’s a golf cart parade (cash prizes!) a fly-over by stunt planes, and a bunch of other stuff you don’t want to miss.

I missed it.  (A real estate “fire” ignited that I had to “stamp out.”)

But the 4th of July events last all day, so about noon Scott, Sara and I motored over to the festivities in my boat.

The celebration was a bit odd this year because the Club House is being re-built so the main events had to be moved up to the Sports Lounge parking lotb, but there was still plenty of action at the main beach.

One of the coolest things about living at Lake of the Pines is the small town atmopsphere.  You can’t go anywhere whithout knowing just about everybody.  That’s Kristine White waving.  We just represented Kristine and hubby Matt in the purchase of their first home over on Shadow Drive.

CJ and Malina had arrived earlier in the golf cart (Lake of the Pines’ most ubiquitous form of transportation).  I persuaded the family to gather for a quick photo op.

Our own band, Lopsided, was in the middle of a Beatles set.

People were starting to dance in the parking lot.

Our Century 21 booth was in full swing, stumping passersby with patriotic questions.  “Answer a question and win a prize!”

Really expensize prizes.

“Step right up.  Everyone’s a winner!”

There were dunkers.

There were whangers (or whatever they’re called).


Snow coners.


Laughers (That’s a flag hat on her head).

Burger flippers  (That’s Jim and Sheilagh Goetsch, clients and friends.  Jim is also the treasurer for the LOP board of directors)

After dark, of course, the Pinesmen sponsor a fireworks display.


Go out in the boat and enjoy the show right on the water.   One thing better than owning a patio boat?  Having friends who own a patio boat.  Thanks Bill and Gail Tudor!

Best way to wind up the day?  Sitting on the beach under a full moon roasting marshmellows around a fire.

Happy 4th of July from Lake of the Pines!

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Buddha, Won’t You please Come Home?

said on June 23rd, 2012 filed under: Fun Things to Do Outdoors, Localism, Running and Hiking trails, Whimsy

Part 1.  The Secret Trail

There’s a secret trail near my home at Lake of the Pines, California.  Dharma and I run there often because it’s shady, not too difficult, and not too long, out and back, to a secret location about which, if you are an attentive and patient reader, I shall tell you in a moment.  I stumbled upon this “secret” trail a few years ago, by accident.  Well, to tell the truth, it wasn’t exactly continue reading…

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Sutter Buttes Day Trip

said on June 18th, 2012 filed under: Fun Things to Do Outdoors, Localism

The Sutter Buttes are an isolated cluster of small mountains that seem to have floated up throught the valley floor near Yuba City, California.  This peculiar mini-mountain range is all that remains  of an extinct volcano that erupted about a million and a half years ago.  The formation is circular, about 10 miles in diameter.


Sutter Buttes as seen in the early morning from Highway 20


The Buttes, called Esto Yamani (The Middle Mountain) by the Maidu people, are 50 miles from Lake of the Pines and make for a spectacular day trip.   It is private land, but there are many hikes of different kinds, lengths, and levels of difficulty that you can arrange through the Middle Mountain Foundation.  Get on their email list.

Bob, CJ, and Luke at the Buttes


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Green Authors at Grass Valley Farmers Market

said on June 5th, 2012 filed under: Fun Things to Do Outdoors, Grass Valley, Localism


Several Local authors will gather at The Book Seller (my favorite book store) during the weekly farmers market in downtown Grass Valley on Thursday, June 14, 2012 from 6-8 pm.

Two of the books are unfamiliar to me.  Molly’s Organic Farm is  a children’s book by Carol Malnor and Trina Hunner and Living Wild by Alicia Funk and Karin Kaufman is about cooking and healing with native plants of our Sierra Foothills.

But the one I’m going to add to my collection is The Art of Real Food by Joanne Neft and Laura Kenny.  This is a follow up to their popular first book, Placer County Real Food from Farmers Markets published in 2010.  The Art promises 52 weeks of recipes tuned to the seasonal harvests from this area.  I’ve seen the display copy, and it is handsome.

If you’ve never been, the Thursday night farmers market in Grass Valley is a hoot.  Live music, lot’s of stuff to buy, and you can eat supper from the local vendors as you walk around, shopping and gawking.  The organizers close about 8 blocks of downtown for the big weekly party.

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6 Nevada County Farmers Markets

said on June 3rd, 2012 filed under: Fun Things to Do Outdoors, Localism


Beans from my garden

Here’s the schedule of Nevada County Farmers markets for 2012:


Nevada County Certified Growers’ Market

3-6 pm, Highway 49 at Linnet Lane, 2 miles south of Combie Road, near the Bear River


Nevada County Certified Growers’ Market

3-6 pm, Sierra Presbyterian Church, Nevada City


Nevada County Certified Growers’ Market

2-5:30 pm, Seventh Day Adventist Church, Penn Valley


Mill Street Certified Growers’ Market

6-9 pm, downtown Grass Valley


Nevada City Farmers Markey

8:30am-12:30 pm, downtown Nevada City


Nevada County Certified Growers’ Market

8am-1pm North Star House, Grass valley



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The Best Running and Hiking Trails in Placer and Nevada Counties

said on May 16th, 2012 filed under: Fun Things to Do Outdoors, Running and Hiking trails

Click on  the Trail Names below to visit my photo essay and description of the trails

Stevens Trail in Colfax The Magnificent Stevens Trail

Stevens Trail in Colfax The North Fork in Winter Voice

Stevens Trail in Colfax Three Best Ways to Fall on Your Face

Quarry Trail in Auburn Don’t Fret, I’ve Scouted Quarry Trail

Hirschman Trail in Nevada City Hirschman Trail, Nevada City, California

Clementine Connector in Auburn Easy Running on the Clementine Connector

Clementine Trail in Auburn Best Sights Along the Clementine Trail

Clementine Connector in Auburn Placer and Nevada County Trails:  The Clementine Connector

San Bruno Park Trail in San Bruno, California Running the Summit on San Bruno Mountain

Embudito Canyon in Albuquerque, New Mexico Fitness Goals.  Hop Til You drop

Sterling Trail south of Auburn The La Di Dah Trail

Stagecoach Trail in Auburn Stagecoach/Mossy Rock trail

Cascade Trail, between Grass Valley and Nevada City Cascade Canal Trail, Nevada City, California

Empire Mine in Grass Valley Rain Gear

Essay on Running Technique and Philosophy Easy Running (with the Tarahumara)

Independence Trail in Nevada City Are You Independent Enough for the Independence Trail

Spenceville Wildlife Area Spenceville Dogs

South Yuba Edwards Crossing Trail, Nevada City, California

Weimar Institute in Colfax Weimar Institute Trails

Weimar Institute in ColfaxPrayer Cove at Weimar Institute

Hidden Falls Recreation Area in Auburn Hidden Falls, Auburn, California

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Showing Weimar Institute to the Woodland Wanderers

said on May 12th, 2012 filed under: Fun Things to Do Outdoors, Running and Hiking trails

The Woodland Outdoor Wanderers is a hiking group that rambles away from their home base at the Woodland Presbyterian Church in Woodland, California, and pokes around on trails as far away as Weimar Institute up in my neck of the woods here in the Sierra Foothills.

One of the trip leaders, Judy, emailed me a few weeks ago and asked if I would introduce the Wanderers to Weimar.  These Institute trails are very special to me, and I don’t show them to just anybody, but Judy seemed awfully nice, so I agreed to meet her and her comrades up there this morning.

I’ve written several blogs about the Institute trails, so I won’t take up a lot of space with a deluge of photographs . . . or words.

Here are a couple of links:

Weimar Institute Trails

Prayer Cove at Weimar Institute

The group arrived right on time at the designated spot.  I gave them a brief introduction, went over the map with the trip leaders, and took off.  Took off?  No, I did not hike with them.  You know me.  If I can’t run, I go a bit crazy.

Today I was wearing my new running shirt, a gift from my son, Luke,  who is attending Oregon State University.  I knew the shirt would make me run fast, like a gazelle, like a cheetah.

I told you there would be no more Weimar photos, but I couldn’t resist this wild iris.

And this pretty manzanita also caught my eye.

Weimar Institute

About half way through the run, I looped back around to check on the group.  They were still on the right path, still walking the straight and narrow.  Can somebody give me an “Amen?”  AMEN!  Dr. Bob, spiritual guide to the Weimar Institute trails.  AMEN!

(Did I mention the Wanderers were a church group?)

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Don’t Fret, I’ve Scouted Auburn’s Quarry Trail, and You Won’t Get Lost

said on May 3rd, 2012 filed under: Auburn, Fun Things to Do Outdoors, Localism, Running and Hiking trails

The 7 mile long Quarry Trail is just below Auburn, California, at the Confluence of the Middle and North Forks of the American River.  A true “loop trail,” it begins and ends at the same place along Highway 49 between Auburn and Cool.  What a name for a California  foothill town!  Cool.  Cool, California.  Quarry is a fun trail to run and quite scenic, especially toward the end, but you can get lost, or take several grueling detours, unless someone scouts it for you.  That’s why I’m going to expend some effort in giving you directions, including that all-important first direction:  how to find the trail head so you can get started.

Driving down 49 from Auburn,  you reach the bottom of the American River Canyon, turn right across a bridge, and begin the climb up toward Cool.  In less than a mile you will see a sign on your left at the entrance to car park.

Quarry Trail, Auburn, California

I don’t park here.  It costs ten bucks.  Forget that.  Pull in and turn around (very carefully) and go back down hill a hundred yards or so, and you will see very wide shoulders along the highway.  That’s where I park. Free.

Quarry Trail, Auburn, California

Take a deep breath and look around.  You can see the American River and the beautiful Foresthill Bridge that crosses it.

Now walk back up the highway.  Directly across from the entrance to the car park you will see a little spur trail running diagonally uphill.  Walk up that spur.

Quarry trail, Auburn, California

At the top you will find a convenient sign.  This is the trailhead for the Quarry Trail, at least the way I run it.  Stretch out here in the shade.  OK?  Let’s get to it!Quarry trail, Auburn, California

Quarry Trail is one of my “challenge trails.”  The running “difficulty level” is high, not extreme, but it will get your attention, especially the first half hour which is all uphill, not steep, but relentless.

Quarry Trail, Auburn, California

Pretty, isn’t it.  This is typical of the lower trail.  During the first mile or two, you will cross two small creeks.

You will see a sign inviting you on a side excursion up the Pig Farm Trail.  Don’t be tempted.  You have been warned.  The sign says “steep.”  That is trail runner code for YOU. WILL. DIE.

At this time of year, sunny stretches of the trail are lined with wild flowers.  AhhhhhhhCHOOOOO!

Run run run run.  Up up up up.  Be observant and by and by you will spot a sign on your left that promises you a short cut.  Take it.  By the way, “short cut” is trail runner code for “steep.”

This is a typical section of the Short Cut Trail . Looks a bit wilder, doesn’t it?  Yes, and also less churned up by horses.


Water bottle?  Yep, I am reminding you to take a drink of water when you get to the top of the Short Cut.  The top is  an otherwise nondescript section of the trail, but you will be glad to get there.  Guess what?  Your uphill work is done!  Now, run run run run.  Down down down down.  In less than a mile, the Short Cut trail will end.  If you go right, you will connect with the Olmstead Loop trail.  Don’t do that.  Olmstead is another adventure altogether.  Go left, toward Highway 49.  Be quiet and listen.  You can hear the traffic.

On this day, just before I got back to the highway, I spotted a couple of other runners in the meadow ahead.

Cross Highway 49, also known as the Cool-to-Auburn Grand Prix.  Be careful.  The drivers along this curvy, downhill stretch of 49 all think they are race car professionals.

Go through that gate where I have placed the red arrow and continue through the Quarry parking lot to pick up the trail on the other side.  It’s well marked.

Run run run.  Down down down.  You won’t get more than a peek of the Quarry, but you can hear the massive machines during this section of trail.  By and by, the trail will appear to end on a small gravel road.

Just bear right and keep going downhill.  The recognizable trail will begin again in just a few yards.

Now, pay attention.  Here is the place where it is easy to take the wrong turn.  Still running downhill, you will come to a very obvious fork.  Continue downhill, to the left,  as indicated in the photo below.  If you go uphill, toward the right, you will eventually come to Lake Tahoe . . . in about 92 miles.

Toward the bottom, you will begin to hear the Middle Fork of the American River.  You will also see lots of the much-despised scotch broom.

Soon the trail will end at the dirt road that parallels the river.  Make a hairpin turn back to the left and run along the road.  You will cross another little creek, it typically runs all season, by the way.

You are on the “civilized” final stretch of the loop.  The Middle Fork will rarely be out of sight, and never out of hearing.  You may have to share the trail with other birds of a feather.

There’s a turn off that goes up to the old quarry, now mostly reclaimed by Ma Nature and known as Cougar Canyon.  It’s called that because . . . well . . . mountain lions live there, one ancient lion, to be more precise, a scarred and unpleasant old warrior with a broken jaw and one fang that  juts out crazily from his lower lip.  Not surprisingly, he is called Snaggletooth.  Cougar Canyon is a beautiful and interesting side trip for another day.  Just be careful up there.  Keep your eyes open and stay alert.  By the way, I made up that stuff about Snaggletooth.  My little joke.  Just to see if you were paying attention.

You will see the ruins of the old bridge that crossed the river and connected to the Foresthill Road.

Here’s what’s left of a railway tunnel.


There’s an assortment of rusty artifacts if that kind of thing turns you on.

Keep your eyes peeled and looking to the left as you reach the ruins.  You’ll spot the entrance to the Hawver Cave.

I’ve never been inside, but I’d like to take a look some day.  They discovered lots of fossils of North American mega-fauna in there:  dire wolves, giant sloths, mastodons an so on, as well as Native American artifacts.  It’s kinda dark and spooky.

The final stretch is about a mile long.  It’s paved and right next to the Middle Fork.  You could take a thousand fabulous photographs during this last lap, but I’ll just give you this one,  typical and representative.


It is beautiful, and looks peaceful, but be very careful.  This river  killed a lot of people who underestimated it’s power, speed, and frigid temperature.  In fact, stay out of the river unless you know it well.  I have rafted on the Class 4 rapids further upstream, and I have great respect for the dangers of the Middle Fork.

Hey!  What’s that up ahead?  Highway 49.  The car.  We made it!

I hope you enjoyed your outing on the Quarry Trail.  See you on our next run through the Sierra Foothills!


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