November Photo Round-Up

November finally accepted autumn into So Cal.*  Trees are turning.

With a little rain already, we are still waiting for the deluge of the El Niño that is supposed to head our way this winter.

The amazing Kronos Quartet played in Little Bridges.

An overflowing crowd remembered Aspen Geurts’ all-too-short life.


I spent three days in San Diego at the American Orff-Schulwerk’s National Conference. This first photo shows music teachers having fun. That’s why it’s called PLAYING music.

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Banners from various AOSA chapters.

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Things got a little crazy one Sunday at Trader Joe’s. The new card-reading machines were very slow, causing huge back-ups on all the lines.


How is it December already?

*Please don’t call our state Cali – that’s just wrong.


Claremont Wilderness Trail


I think we may have started a new Thanksgiving tradition. In order to stave off Turkey Butt (which is probably Mashed Potato Butt), we took the 5-mile Claremont Wilderness Trail Loop in the morning. Last weekend the trail was closed due to fire danger, so we walked the Thompson Creek Trail (blog post to follow). On Thanksgiving the parking lots were doing a steady business, but spaces were available. With temps in the upper 50s, clouds with patches of blue, it was a perfect day for the trail.

Claremont Thankful


I am thankful to live in Claremont. We moved here 30 years ago despite my dragging heels. I was pretty sure that I didn’t want to live in Southern California after having spent a year in Berkeley, but Claremont turned my heart around. Over the years I have found a real home here. It’s where my children grew up, where I have friends through school, music, church, daughters, and where I don’t have to shovel snow.

Happy Thanksgiving from Claremont!

Higgenbotham Park

Back in the day, the colleges had a IMG_0609faculty wives organization. I do not remember the name of it, and I remember wondering what the faculty husbands did. Whatever the origin, I made some good friends through the group, and my favorite activity was the “Meet-in-the-Park-for-Friday-Lunch” with the babies, toddlers and preschoolers.

One friend, who moved away many years ago, was in charge of choosing a park of the month. In September when it was still very hot, we always chose Wheeler Park for the shade provided by the big trees. Betsy was always on the look-out for new parks, and occasionally we would leave the Claremont borders and head to Upland, Cucamonga, La Verne or San Dimas.

In those days, the parks had very different play equipment than they do now. I have not seen a merry-g0-round, teeter-totter, burning hot slide, or other gems that might possibly cause injury, and were, therefore, lots of fun. Nowadays there are large plastic pieces which just don’t feel right to me.

Instead of using the official names of the parks, my kids would call them by their defining characteristics, and Higgenbotham Park was the train park. It had an Old West theme with a red train, a stagecoach, and I think it even had a facade of a jail. I wish I had photos of that.

Here is my daughter enjoying the former fun. The photo at the top is the train that has replaced the original.

Sycamore Canyon Hike

IMG_0607The 5-mile hiking loop in the Claremont Wilderness Park is extremely popular, and on weekends it is nearly impossible to get a parking space within a half-mile of the trailhead. Sometimes we opt for the shorter, but steeper, Sycamore Canyon Trail. Before the rain headed in, we spent an hour on the loop – almost 2 miles, and, according to my flight counter on my phone, it was 47 stories of up. That definitely skewed my daily average for the week. We saw about 6-8 people on the trail itself, although many people were enjoying the day along the flatter Thompson Creek Trail and Higgenbothem Park.

The gorgeous clouds made picture-taking easy.


The Pacific Surfliner

We miss riding the trains in Switzerland IMG_0464and Europe, but, actually, it is possible to ride trains in Southern California, too. Amtrak does not come through Claremont, but the Metrolink will deposit riders at LA’s Union Station for easy connections up and down the coast.

The Pacific Surfliner travels from San Diego to San Luis Obispo multiple times per day. Between San Juan Capistrano and Solana Beach, the west side of the train has lovely ocean views such as these.


Last week the national conference of the American Orff-Schulwerk Association (a collection of music teachers) met in San Diego, giving me the perfect reason to treat myself to a train ride, saving me driving stress, gas, and parking fees.