Whilst my parents were here we undertook a rather long road trip, about 7 hours to be precise. Our destination was the Grand Canyon in Arizona but on the way there we decided to take a detour via the Hoover Dam. The dam itself is built on the border between Nevada and Arizona so it was an excellent way to ensure Mum and Dad properly visited the two states. 

The Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s and is one of the largest concrete structures ever. As my Dad is a civil engineer by trade, and a rather big fan of concrete  we assumed this would be a good stop off. I was expecting him to be rather excited but to be somewhat underwhelmed myself as funnily enough I've never been that impressed by concrete! I couldn't have been more wrong. 

We arrived at the the dam having driven past Las Vegas and we drove over the top of the dam to park on the Arizona side.We then walked back across the dam so that we could see it from all sides and angles. 

Dad and Andrew decided to take a tour of the power plant, however Mum and I were not so sure about it as there were signs warning you not to go on the tour if you were worried about small spaces. Not wanting to chance it we had ice cream in the sun, whilst the boys went about their geekery!

I love those photos, they make me think of those government adverts where you see people in their work place talking about pensions or how the new working wage is helping them. Sorry, my brain thinks weirdly!

Once we had seen everything it was time to hit the road again for another 4ish hours until we arrived at our final destination; the Grand Canyon. 


Recently my parents came out to California for their second visit. We were planning to mix sightseeing with lots of relaxing as they (like us) had been rather busy in the lead up to their trip. Whilst Andrew was working we did two day trips to see some of our favourite museums; the Huntington Library and Gardens and the Getty Center. 

The Huntington Library and Gardens gave Dad an opportunity to really try out his new camera, particularly in the Chinese garden. It was a lovely warm day and we enjoyed meandering round. Sadly as it was winter there were fewer plants and flowers out, but you can imagine how beautiful it will be come the summer. Here's a few photos from the Chinese garden, which is my favourite part. 

The only photo I took from the exhibits indoors was this one and I'm afraid its because something about it made me laugh. This was in the European art area. They had allowed a modern artist to come and place art instillations around the existing exhibits. Most of them rather annoyed my mum and some of them I really didn't get, but this one made me chuckle. Its almost like an ancient superhero in my mind. I love it!

As for the Getty Center, we arrived on another really warm day and made the most of the views of Los Angeles, sprawling out below us. Dad took an architectural tour which he really enjoyed. I wish I could tell you some important facts about the buildings and the concepts but all I remember from Dad's recap was that the architect fell out with someone over the garden area and refused to come back onto site. So there we go, fun fact! 

My favourite painting from the Getty on this trip is the picture below. Something about the little girl just captures me. She's so sweet looking and I love the way it looks so tonal with the painted wall in the background. As I was snapping the picture on my phone the security guard said, "That's a good choice, its one of my favourites too." That made me chuckle. 

I love swanning around museums and those two are definitely my favourites in the Los Angeles area. Up next, our epic road trip pit stop; the Hoover Dam.


Macintosh has always been a bit shocking off lead. He's never really nailed the basics of the recall command 'come' and just tends to do his own thing. However recently he's been behaving a bit better. As a result we have been allowing him off lead a bit more, in select locations. 

He behaves really well off lead on the aqueduct (pictured above) so we let him off whenever we go there. He's also been behaving pretty well on the Pacific Crest Trail up near our house. He loves running ahead but always waits for us to catch up with him. So again we have been letting him off there.

Until the other day. 

Above is a picture of the area of the Pacific Crest Trail we usually walk. It doesn't really show you how steep it is but you can guess its fairly high up because the wind turbines look small. Anyway we went for a walk along this trail with our small group from church. There was quite a group of us and despite the cold wind it was great fun. However Andrew, in his infinite wisdom, decided letting Macintosh walk off lead was a great idea, despite the fact there were lots of people and it was harder to keep an eye on him.

At first it was great. Mac ran backwards and forwards between all the groups of people and kept the children amused as they chased him. So I began to relax and not worry about him so much, especially as Andrew had "got it under control". Then it happened, the inevitable. Macintosh smelt something and off he went. Slowly at first, but then gathering more speed. We watched him zip down the side of the hill we were on and up the next. I began to panic obviously and this only got worse when we saw the rabbit he was chasing. Now I knew we were going to lose him! 

Up until this point Andrew was insisting that Mac would simply come back when called, but despite pretty much everyone calling him Macintosh was simply ignoring us. When he went over the brow of the next hill Andrew decided that my stress and panic was clearly too much so off he charged down the hill after him. Thankfully my husband runs like a mountain goat when needed so he got down pretty rapidly. After a few mini games of hide and seek, and being cut off from the other side by another rather quick lad, Macintosh was eventually apprehended and placed firmly back on the lead. 

I wish I had some pictures to show you but in my panic I didn't take any. All I could think was; that dog is never going off lead again, we nearly lost him, I'm going to have words with Andrew and other things to that effect. 

So there we go, Macintosh inevitably broke his good streak and we are back to walking on the lead at all times!


The second half of our Lake Tahoe trip obviously involved a lot more playing in snow. Macintosh absolutely loved spending every day just wandering around in the snow. Its definitely harder work than you'd expect clambering around in deep snow but it was so much fun. 

One thing Andrew and I had been so excited to do was to cook a traditional Christmas dinner for our friends. We had already cooked one on Christmas day, but making one for a larger number is much better. We didn't manage to snap any photos of the dinner, other than one right at the beginning because we were all too busy munching away! 

New years eve was going to be the highlight of the week for me as we were going to attempt to ski for the first time. Andrew, Nicole and I had signed up for a half day of ski lessons. Nicole had done it a long time ago, but Andrew and I were novices. I was super excited prancing around in all my snow gear and the first half of the lesson went really well. I didn't really fall over but Andrew did. I was beginning to feel confident. Then we went onto the slopes. It all changed. 

Our instructor was a bit of a wally and I didn't really get on with him. He kept pushing me to go further or faster than I felt comfortable and I just kept crashing out. Andrew was maddeningly good (as always). He was trying to help out a little bit but I just couldn't seem to stop crashing. Then on the final slope of the morning I got my revenge, albeit accidentally. I was skiing down the slope, as instructed, and ended up heading straight for him. He didn't hear me coming and I couldn't stop quickly enough so I took him out! Was not so amusing at the time as he landed awkwardly on my knee but Andrew and Nicole were rather pleased I did it. 

The afternoon however was better. I managed to stay upright and skied a fair bit. It was possibly made better by the fact that Andrew kept falling over on the last slope of the day. It may have made me feel a little more excited. But here are the few snaps we got. The last one is us at the end of the day feeling cold but happy with ourselves. 

We celebrated after skiing with a meal out and then some rather exhausted partying back at the cabin. The dogs, who had spent all day in the cabin just chilling out pretty much looked how we felt!

But we pressed on, played some games, watched Jools Holland (via the wonders of the internet and delayed tv) and rang in the new year pretty much as we crawled into our beds! 

Some of us partied harder than others! 

One New Year's Day our final lot of friends arrived having had an awful journey saga. They had tried to fly across the country to Lake Tahoe several times but due to a variety of insane issues they didn't make it until the penultimate day. As we waited to hear whether they had finally made it Andrew and I took a walk and spotted a guy being pulled along on his snow board by his dog. Obviously that got us thinking and we tried to get Macintosh to pull us on a sledge. The affect was no where near as cool. 

The final day at the cabin was a sad affair. We absolutely loved our winter wonderland, but we took one last stroll and play in the snow and then packed up to go home. Poor old Macintosh refused to get in the car, I think he wanted to stay forever. He is definitely a cabin sort of dog. But I think we've decided that a snow trip is needed at least once more this year!


Excuse the lateness of this post. Other things have taken precedent!

Over Christmas and New Year Andrew and I took the opportunity to head up to Lake Tahoe for a winter holiday with some friends. Lake Tahoe is half in California and half in Nevada so we managed to tick off another state during the trip, which is always a bonus.

We rented a cabin which from the photos looked idyllic and did not disappoint when we arrived there. It was set back slightly into the woods and surrounded by snow. There were giant icicles hanging off the side of it and it just look picturesque. The amazing thing about it was that the backyard was sloped which made it perfect for sledging!

The first thing we did when we arrive was obviously to start building some runs. Andrew and Christian naturally took the engineering role and started building. Poor old Penny was still a little unsure of the snow at this point, which was natural as it was the size of her. However Macintosh was fully embracing it and spent the entire time exploring. 

Macintosh quickly discovered that running down the sled run ahead of the person on the sledge was rather exhilarating and began to do it quite often. Thankfully he is a rather speedy dog so there were no collisions! We spent ages the first couple of days just enjoying the snow out the back. I don't remember when I last saw snow that deep.  

The lake itself is stunning. Its nestled in the Sierra Nevada and its actually the biggest alpine lake in the whole of North America. I was struggling to capture the sheer size of the lake and its beauty, but we did manage to have a wander around by it one day. We captured some sweet couple shots of us and Nicole and Christian. The dogs mostly behaved for the photos. 

Obviously with such a large lake just sitting there you had to make snowballs and see who could through them the furthest. That's just a must! 

The first half of the holiday finished up with the arrival of our next set of friends and more time just messing around in the snow and playing games. One game we played, that I was rubbish at, but enjoyed playing was called Suspend. It's basically a balancing game that you take in turns playing. I was so rubbish at it because I struggle to grasp the basics of physics but it was fun to play.

So there we go, there's the first half of Lake Tahoe. Hopefully it won't take me too long to put up part two!