Heliocentric

The Summer Solstice beckoned us to ascend, and so we did…right to the top of Cerro Alto de los Bolbones.

That is, after we nearly lost our minds packing, preparing, shopping and slogging through traffic. I knew better than to do it all last minute, and it’s my general rule that the car should not be entered or moved at any time after 2pm on a Friday. But it was camping. On the solstice. On top of Mt. Diablo! You didn’t know you could camp on top of Mt. Diablo, did you? Well you can. And we will again. Every chance we get this summer.

The Juniper Campground is close to the summit, and one edge has campsites with the most amazing views. We could see as far as San Francisco and Marin.

Which was completely lost on the kids when there were marshmallows around.

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She only got dirtier as the weekend wore on.

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Little known fact about Jeff: The man has a sweet tooth unparalleled. This is what happens post roasted marshmallow.

After dinner we went for a solstice sunset walk.

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We found this group of Tarantula Hawk wasps clustered around one stem of Wild Oat. There was much antennae greeting and clamboring around. (They also seem to be much smaller than other Tarantula Hawks…any entomologists want to enlighten me?)

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Returned to the campsite to find a visitor.

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We were set up for success, what with an air mattress and our 5 person tent, the lullaby of wind in the pines and the glow of a supermoon. But we were also camped next to a group of middle-aged bros and their sons (who I nicknamed the Bryan Adams Reunion Tour after their music choices). While the rest of the full and silent campground snored on, our neighbors decided to party like it was 1987 in the Summer of ’69. So we got about two hours of sleep and then spent the morning chanting over the hot water, singing praise to our savior, caffeine.

The kids, by the way, slept solid.

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Good Morning.

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Chamise (Greasewood) is one of the primary chaparral plants on the mountain. A few twigs and leaves got into the coals during dinner time, and the smoke created the most heavenly smudge. This was the extent of our ritual, with some smoke and heartfelt hasty prayers for our new home to hurry on its way. Maybe some fallen branches made it into our car. Shhhh.

After fueling up on granola and strawberries, we packed ‘er up and headed out to Rock City.

This whole endeavor of a trip was the genius of Nature Mom, Linda, who recruited us all on Meetup.com. Rock City is one of her favorite places to take kids in the Bay Area. With sandstone boulders, caves and plenty of opportunity for general danger, it is now one of our favorites too. (Thanks Linda! We hope to see you again soon!)

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Dear Clyde and Lucy, thanks for defacing 50,000 years of history. I singled out this carving in particular, but the whole beautiful place is marred with the fleeting dreams of teenagers. The Trail Through Time is still incredible, but I had lost a few more shreds of respect for humanity by the time we were done.

We drove down from the mountain Saturday afternoon with sun in our bones and that view in our hearts. It helped shift us into the season, since we were feeling the dismay of sliding into summer without any demarcation. In fact, we were able to greet rain on Sunday with ease, spending the day indoors and continuing on with the celebration.

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How are you welcoming in SUMMER? (Or, if you’re Teeny…Winter?)

5 thoughts on “Heliocentric

  1. And, by the way, we had teenagers camped next to us who giggled and flirted (and yelled loudly at the raccoons at regular intervals) until 3:00am. We, too, hardly slept. Well, I hardly slept. My husband slept with ear earplugs and my son slept through it all. By the way, I hadn’t thought of roasting tamales while camping.. what a great idea! Hope to see you again soon, too!

  2. hellloooo heliocentrist!

    i love it on top of mt diablo!! what a magical magical mountain to stay on while summer is heave-ho-ing her way in, to be kissed by the sun’s first rays, drinking your favorite stimulant.

    that photo with the rabbit and the moon is so amazing, the sun’s hot glow on the rim and the strawberry moon floating gloriously, perfect.

    jeff’s sugar high face? too good. mine looks like that too.

    strawberry moons bring warm drizzles in june. πŸ™‚

  3. Looks like a solstice well spent! And thanks for the info on Mt Diablo–I’ve only been up there twice, but it seems like such a cool place. I appreciate the pointers on where to go, since otherwise I am clueless. Friday night I was on top of Mt. Tam with some friends, and there was a strikingly clear and beautiful view of Mt. Diablo all lit up. I didn’t know I should have waved to you guys! πŸ˜‰

    Also, I’m no entomologist, but those tarantula hawks do look very small. I only say that because I once saw a big one in a battle with a tarantula (you can guess who won…). You peaked my curiosity, so I did a little research… looks like the main genus, Pepsis, is the big kind. Those guys you saw were probably belonging to Hemipepsis, which are virtually identical to Pepsis except for being smaller (12-20 mm in length), although it also says that Pepsis can range from 14-40+ mm long. No idea what they were doing on dead Avena seed heads though, since it says they feed on nectariferous flowers, especially milkweeds. Maybe they were thinking about mating? More info here: http://www.bugguide.net/node/view/3921

  4. wow! that view and sunset gave me chills! SO beautiful. i love jeff’s sugar high face. and your neighbors and their bro reunion sound like our neighbors camping except i actually liked the music ours were playing, but still it was too loud too late. anyway, your summer sounds like it’s off to a great start πŸ™‚

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