Monday, June 27, 2011

Scenes from a Mountain Vacation

Our week-long family vacation to the High Sierra is over, but we have lots of great memories to hold on to for the next year until it's time to go again.

The camp counselors, most of whom are college undergrads or just-graduated grads, were routinely friendly, energetic, and upbeat:

I bet any kid would love to have this guy as a counselor. He just LOOKS fun, before he says a word.

The scenery, thanks in part to a snowpack 400 percent of normal, was fantastic.

I loved the sound of rushing, trickling water, nearly everywhere we turned:

We marveled at the snowfields as they popped against the blue sky and gray granite mountains:

Most days, one or more of us was out on the lake, enjoying the kayaking, canoeing, and sailing:

I loved my photography class...

And we all attended the multi-generational singalong...

Every twilight brought us outside to admire the view...

And one night there was a special campfire...

With marshmallow roasting...

and S'Mores.

The 21-and-up crowd enjoyed a beer tasting...

and cocktails on the porch, every evening.

The younger ones played almost constant games of volleyball...

and basketball...

LOTS of basketball...

Goodbye for now, dear lake and mountains.

We will come back to you next year.

And love you all over again.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Silver Beauties, Sierra Edition

It's no secret I love women who celebrate their silver hair. I'm a total fan. It takes guts, grace, and a sure sense of self to wear un-dyed hair in this youth-obsessed culture.

I've written about Silver Beauties before. This week, I realized how many of them are right under my nose, at this piece of Heaven in the High Sierra.

I'd love to introduce you to a few of my favorite heads of silver hair, and the beautiful women who totally rock the look.

This is L., mother of four, whose pixie cut is perfect with her fine-boned features and athletic lifestyle.

She's gorgeous without a speck of makeup on.

This is A., whose youthful face contrasts beautifully with her long, silver hair.

Toned and trim, she's a force to be reckoned with on the volleyball court.

Just look at those legs!

When silver-hair and a strong, svelte figure come together in the same woman, the effect is head-turning.

When my good friend S. first started going silver ten or so years ago, she looked at her hair in a magnifying mirror.

"Cool!," she thought. And so began her sojourn into Silver Beauty. Her hair is like a silver cloud. I love it.

And look at it shine!

I first noticed K., below, when she blew by me on a mountainside. She's in fantastic shape and is one of the fastest hikers I've ever met.

I've never seen her without her tanzanite-and-diamond necklace, which perfectly sets off her blue eyes and beautiful hair.

From my own experience, and from watching the gorgeous Silvers around me, I've come up with a short list of tips to enhance the beauty of silver hair:

1. Try using hot rollers or a flat iron to bring out more of your silver hair's natural shine. These tools help because silver hair tends to be coarser than other colors of hair. And coarse hair reflects light less efficiently than smooth hair.

Ceramic-plate flat irons are available in a variety of prices, from around $30 to over $100.
photo: deedoucette

2. Try one of the many shine enhancers on the market. These products are available at any good drug store or beauty-supply store and they look like hair spray. But instead of holding hair in place, a shine enhancer imparts a beautiful, youthful shine to your hair.

Shine enhancers are terrific and don't cost much more than a bottle of hair spray.

3. Dress in colors that enhance your natural coloring. Not sure what those shades are? Grab a friend, a mirror, and a bunch of different-colored tops. You'll quickly find out what shades make you sparkle, and which make you look like you had a very hard night.

Usually, Silver Beauties look great in the cool spectrum of colors--all the blues, purples and lavendars, bluish greens, and pinks with a blue undertone. Silver Beauties also usually look terrific in black, white, and grey. Experiment a little and see what else works for you and your coloring. If true red was your friend 20 years ago but now makes you look haggard, try coral. You might be surprised.

Many Silvers look fantastic in shades of blue.

4. Choose a classic haircut and visit your hairdresser routinely to keep those split ends away. Nothing says "witchy" faster than split ends!

No split ends here, please!

5. Be at peace with yourself. Each of these women, above, radiates inner health, peace, and confidence.

And that can make you gorgeous, head to toe.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Omelets on the Deck

One of the joys of this place my family goes to every year in the High Sierra is the delicious food. (Well, there's also the delights of not having to meal plan, grocery-shop, prep, cook, wash dishes, and put them away, too. Even an enthusiastic cook like me enjoys time off from all that.)

But the food here, it's great. It's plentiful. And, if you don't watch out, it's insidious. You can run around all week long, hiking mountains, playing on the lake, chasing after kids, and still end up several pounds heavier than when you started out.

It's that good.

One of my favorite meals is "Omelets on the Deck," which happens twice a week. The student staff members set up propane burners outside on the large deck overlooking the lake. They put out a gajillion crocks filled with yummy options, and folks line up to get an omelet, cooked to order.

The possibilities are almost endless.

Humor is a big part of this place.

Oh, yum.

Yet more yum.

Some of these chefs never flipped an omelet in their lives before a week ago, but they're quick learners and good sports.

They are also aficionados of silly hats.

Here's somebody's omelet, approaching completion:

A quick flip over, and it's ready to slide onto the plate of an eager customer.

I was going to be all virtuous and order a veggie-only omelet, but then I clapped eyes on this:

Smoked Gouda. Smoked cheeses are my new passion. They are almost irresistible!

So I give myself partial credit: It was a veggie-laden, salsa-spiced omelet, with just a tinge of naughty.

At least I avoided the sausages.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Walk in the Woods

After a day of getting used to the altitude here in our little bit of Heaven, I took a hike up a mountain to a small lake with The Hubby, Lovely Daughter #2, and her Beau.

The snowpack in this part of the Sierra Nevada is at 400% of usual for this time of year. Because of this, things looked a little different. Many of the meadow flowers we're used to seeing at this time in years past were just little green shoots. Streams of meltwater ran down our normally dry hiking path. Waist-high snowdrifts lined parts of our walk.

Our destination was a sweet lake with a cluster of cabins for rent and a tiny general store that sells delicious, home-made lemonade by the pitcher.

Hikers love to come here and put their feet up at the oilcloth-covered tables and rest a bit in the old-fashioned lawn chairs.

Usually we see folks swimming in the lake as we sit and sip our lemonade. Often there's a knot of brave youngsters jumping off a sheer cliff on the far side, which makes for great entertainment.

This year, the only people on the lake were pushing aside ice to navigate their way around:

And the jumping rocks had a cold, forbidding look:

I amused myself taking photos of some of the fantastic textures around us:

And I spotted the coolest telephone booth, EH-ver:

The first thing that caught my eye was the blue phone book (natch!):

But then, I looked up and saw this dude:

Now, THAT's a phone booth!

Next, a high-decibel buzz split the quiet scene into splinters. I saw something I'd never seen before:

Men cutting up a snowbank with a chainsaw! First this guy made a series of lines in one direction. Then he made a series of cuts in the opposite direction:

Then three folks with shovels moved in and lifted up square-sided chunks of snowbank and tossed them aside:

Nifty! From a nearby porch a cute dog watched the scene:

Fully refreshed, we took a last look out over the scene...

...and scrambled down the mountain.

The best part is, we can do this for an entire week. Heaven!


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