Duane and Clare Ann's
Life in California 2005

with side trips to Kansas and the eastern seaboard
also starring granddaughter Ashlynn

At the bottom the page you will find a Flash slideshow of our hike from Glacier Point to Half Dome and down to Yosemite Valley.

2005 in pictures

Ashlynn's first cross-country skiing at a campground in Grant Grove, Kings Canyon National Park.

We took along Ashlynn's friend Lila.

She didn't like having to get back up after falling, but did a good job.

Ashlynn had never seen a big city, so we went to San Francisco. She walked farther across the Golden Gate than her father did at her age.

The Golden Gate Bridge really is amazing.

There is a lot going on beneath the bridge.

It is fun to see things through a six year-old's eyes.

We never did figure out what the heart was for, but she made it for Duane.

One of our favorite vegetables is asparagus, so we decided to plant some like we did in Reedley.

It's a lot more trouble to plant asparagus than some things, and it never grew. We think the roots dried out too much before planting.

The Big Meadows nordic ski trail has a well-groomed road suitable for skating style or more traditional skiing. It does have long sweeping downhills that are quite challenging enough for us.

We have also tried taking some of the ungroomed routes off the trail. For those who like deep snow, they are great.

The problem with going off the trail is you might be followed by snowmobiles and have your way back trashed. But it's great scenery.

The snow was certainly deep enough.

Ashlynn's second sister arrived.

The Blossom Trail Bike Ride happens every year, leaving out of Cricket Hollow in Reedley on the Kings River. The three of us rode the ten mile ride. Ashlynn did great.

Ashlynn, her mom and sisters.

We had another outing to Grant Grove towards the end of the good snow.

We had learned about the California Condor release program at Grand Canyon and knew that Pinnacles National Monument was one of the release sites. So we came to check it out. Pinnacles is what's left of an 8,000 foot tall volcano.

The area was awash in wildflowers.

More flowers.

We headed toward Condor Gulch, of course.

Ashlynn's photo of Duane and Clare Ann.

Ashlynn has Junior Ranger badges from Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon North Rim, so she signed up for it here too. It involves filling out a workbook.

On the way in there is a display about the condors, listing each one and giving its details.

Duane's mother took a serious turn for the worse the end of March. He flew out to Akron, PA and was with her when she died March 31. Clare Ann and Ashlynn met Duane, his sister Donna and her husband Kirby in Newton, KS for the funeral. Here we are at father Don's grave.

We stayed over beside Goessel with friends Myron and Pat who sold their dairy and built a golf course. Here Ashlynn is helping feed their daughter's steers. The red dress is part of the dress-up game that preceded.

Then the bull needed to be watered.

Myron uses a Gator to get around the golf course for maintenance. Riding it might have been Ashlynn's favorite part of the trip, barring her first airplane ride.

Ashlynn tried her hand at putting on a real green at Pine Edge Golf Course. The dairy setup is in the background.

Clare Ann's cousins had a gathering in Hesston. We had never met some and hadn't seen others for a long time.

Lots of family history and gossip to catch up on.

The Ruth family home between Hesston and Halstead. This is where Clare Ann's father, aunts and uncles were living when they moved to California in 1915. The house is gone now, taken by a tornado in the 1990's.

Ashlynn doesn't have much experience with real wind, 35 mph or so.

Donna had brought along lots of old photos of Mom and made a display at the funeral. Mom was an athletic young woman.

Some of Mom's nieces and nephews came to the funeral. We had not seen them for a long time.

Ashlynn liked flying a lot, and waiting to do it not at all.

T-Ball in Clovis is for 4-7 year-olds. Ashlynn, being 6, is one of the big kids.

We had no luck seeing condors at Pinnacles the first time, so we went back and Ashlynn finished her Jr. Ranger course.

We took the high peaks trail.

We were pretty tired when we got to the top, not knowing there was a lot of up and down to come.

The view from the top is pretty nice.

The trail became tiny steps chopped out of the rock.

On the way down we came across a wildlife biologist who studies the condors. She had her spotting scope trained on number 312 perched on a rock we had just walked under.

Ashlynn was fascinated by the paraphernalia. Each condor has a radio tracking chip, so with a directional antenna and a radio with the right crystals the biologist can tell which condors are where. There were six condors resident at Pinnacles just then. We saw 312 through her scope. Ashlynn told her, "I want to be just like you when I grow up."

Back to T-Ball where the adults stand on the field with the kids to tell them what to do.

The Pilots of Clovis T-Ball.

Ashlynn and her father Andrew with his motorcycle.

In T-ball you have the choice of hitting off the T or having a parent pitch to you. Ashlynn preferred pitching.

Ashlynn had a dinosaur-themed birthday party. Here we play stick the horn on the triceratops.

Dinosaur pictures were cut into pieces and buried in the sand. The kids took turns fishing them out with tweezers. The girls won.

Dinosaur footprint shuffleboard.

Blowing out the candles.

Opening presents.

Then that night the family party with more candles to blow out.

And more presents.

Ashlynn learned to rollerblade pretty quickly, although it was a couple of months before she ventured around the block.

Right after Ashlynn's birthday we went to Yosemite to see the falls at their peak. This is "Tunnel View."

Staircase falls above Curry Village only happens in the Spring.

We headed for Vernal Fall. This is the view across the valley to Upper Yosemite Falls.

Illilouette Falls is just around the corner to the left of the spray. Note the snow above it.

Looking down at the river below Vernal Falls.

Across the bridge and up toward Vernal Falls.

The brink of Vernal Falls. We reached it via the mist trail, which thoroughly soaked us and was freezing cold.

Another view of the brink with the valley below.

Duane and Ashlynn dry out atop the falls.

Rather than go down the mist trail again we went up the John Muir trail, getting a good view of Vernal Falls from above.

A closeup of the brink of the falls from above.

Nevada Falls above Vernal Falls.

Ashlynn and Vernal Falls from the John Muir Trail.

Ashlynn and Nevada Falls at a spot where we also took a picture of her father when he was her age.

Looking down on Upper Yosemite Falls across the valley.

Lost Arrow Spire near Yosemite Falls. It is popular with rock climbers.

Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls.

Half Dome from the valley floor.

Ashlynn got a bunny named Twinkle. Twinkle has brown spots on her back so that when she sits in the yard she looks like a soccer ball.

Off to Ashland, Oregon for the Shakespeare Festival, giving Ashlynn her first look at Mt. Shasta.

Ashlynn by Ashland Creek.

Ashlynn's photo of Duane and Clare Ann.

In early July we all flew to Baltimore where we stayed with James and Faith Wenger. Here Ashlynn "helps" James wash Kichon.

Faith, Ashlynn and Clare Ann at the Wenger's house.

We then drove with Wengers to Charlotte, NC for the Mennonite Church convention.

Clare Ann was a delegate this time.

Carol Grieser was one of the people in charge of children's activities. She had been Andrew's first grade teacher when we lived in Elkhart, IN.

The Convention Center sign.

Ashlynn and the Charlotte skyline.

We drove back to Baltimore then used the Wenger's house as a base to visit New York City and Washington, DC. On the way to NY we stopped in Akron, PA to visit Duane's sister Donna and her husband Kirby. This is Ashlynn's photo.

In Akron we stayed at Mennonite Central Committee's Welcoming Place, which made it convenient to visit our many friends in MCC.

On the advice of our former boss in Indonesia we didn't drive into NYC, but took the Staten Island Ferry. That was good advice.

Ashlynn was fascinated by the ferry ride, and it was fun to see the city grow larger.

A view of the ferry dock on the NY side.

The NY Stock Exchange.

Clare Ann and Ashlynn at the World Trade Center site. It's just a big hole at this point.

Workers have erected this cross down in the pit.

Then on to the Empire State Building.

View from the top of the Empire State Building.

Another view from the top.

and another.

The view looking down.

Another view.

Clare Ann and Ashlynn looking down.

The Empire State Building.

Ashlynn's favorite thing was the subway. We bought day passes and rode it a lot.

We even backtracked to be sure we could see Grand Central Station.

The outside entrance to Grand Central.

There was an elevated alert status and lots of police in the subway.

How long until the train comes?

Back on the ferry we saw the Brooklyn Bridge.

Passing the Statue of Liberty at sunset was special.

This Coast Guard boat chased us all the way to New Jersey, jumping our wake and roaring around to the delight of the passengers. It sure looked hard on the kidneys as they leaped over the wake and came crashing down.

This sign was one of my favorites. Posted between the mens' and womens' rest rooms in the Staten Island Ferry terminal. I agree that over 3,000 people in the restrooms would make them unsafe.

We stayed across from Meadowlands stadium in New Jersey, then the next day went to the Statue of Liberty. It would have to rain.

The ferry to Liberty Island also stops at Ellis Island, but we didn't do that stop.

The statue is pretty impressive up close.

Statue of Liberty.

Statue of Liberty.

Back of the Statue of Liberty.

Ashlynn thought about trying to do the Jr. Ranger program here, but it was aimed at older kids.

A piece of the torch to give a sense of scale. The entire inner frame has been replaced over time, and quite a few other parts. Salt air isn't good for metal.

Statue of Liberty.

Statue of Liberty.

Aslynn worked on her Statue of Liberty pose.

A smaller version of Statue of Liberty.

We returned to Wengers' and then headed to Washington, DC. Here we tried to decide which Smithsonian to see first.

We saw the original Star Spangled Banner being conserved, as opposed to restored.

Then to natural science where there was a hands on lab for kids.

The First Ladies exhibit had lots of dresses and china.

I've heard of Starbucks in bookstores, but banks?

Capitol Mall.

The statue on top of the capitol.

The Capitol Building

We visited the Supreme Court. Duane is a member of the Supreme Court Bar.

Our Congressman, Devin Nunes, arranged for us to tour the Capitol. We were late for the group, so had a private tour by one of his interns, who did a nice job. We are in a tunnel linking the offices with the Capitol.

Even non-public spaces are decorated.

Here we are in Statuary Hall with our guide Tal.

Tal is a Cole Bulldog, just like Ashlynn.

Ashlynn was shocked to learn how much her share of the national debt is.

The Supreme Court building has several walls devoted to inscriptions from famous cases.

Back on the mall with the Washington Monument behind.

More Smithsonian,dinosaurs this time.

Ashlynn compares her hand to a triceratops foot.

In the Air and Space Museum we saw the plane that flew around the world non-stop.

We hadn't really expected to see conservative Mennonites checking out jet engines.

At the Washington Monument Ashlynn shows how big the stones are.

View of the Lincoln Memorial from the Washington Monument.

The White House from the Washington Monument.

The base of the Washington Monument.

The Washington, DC subway.

Not long after we returned home the house two doors down burned. There were seven fire engines.

Then we went backpacking to Upper Twin Lake above Huntington Lake. The Forest Service has a web page for the area.

A Mariposa Lily.

Ashlynn observes carpenter ants working on a log.

Huntington Lake.

Clare Ann's pack grew and Ashlynn's shrank.

9,000' Potter Pass was the highest elevation we encountered.

Ashlynn's photo of Duane and Clare Ann on Potter Pass.

Our camp site on the rocks quite a way from the lake.

We found enough wood for campfires during high mosquito time.

A bee having a snack.

Tiger lilies.


We hiked above Upper Twin Lake to George Lake.

Upper Twin Lake has an island. Can you spot the two people swimming around it?

When we returned from our cross-country hike around the lake Ashlynn was hot and determined to go swimming. The water was colder than she expected.

A feature of this area is a large group of boulders in various stages of splitting or flaking.

Headed home.

Our hike from Glacier Point to Half Dome and back down to Yosemite Valley

Last modified 20090716.
©2009 Duane Ruth-Heffelbower.
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