Thursday, August 28, 2014

Angeles National Forest

After Reggie's bar mitzvah, we drove up to the San Gabriel Mountains. Jimmy went to college in Claremont, I went to Cal Poly Pomona about 15 minutes away. Whenever we needed to get away from college life, we'd drive up to Mt Baldy in the San Gabriel Mountains.

This is the exact spot that Jimmy proposed to me 24 1/2 years ago. I had just come home from visiting my best friend who lived in Florida at the time and jimmy wanted to go out to a nice italian dinner. Afterwards, he wanted to take a drive up to Mt. Baldy but I complained because I was so tired from the trip. I was pretty much like "dude i don't wanna drive up there I'm so freaking tired" but in 1990 lingo.

When we stopped, he hugged me like a normal hug but i could hear and feel his heart beating a million times a minute. I was clueless. Oblivious, said to him, "your heart is beating a million miles an hour". The rest is history.

We got up there just in time to watch the sun set. I had forgotten about how beautiful it was up there. There were so many layers and layers of mountains that stretch to the ocean.

We drove a bit more and caught this view of downtown Los Angeles before it got dark.

24 1/2 years later. Where does the time go??

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


My cousin and her family came up to the hideaway last weekend. She and her husband haven't been up in over 10 years, so of course that means it was their kids first time.

It was a short weekend so we didn't get a chance to do too many activities.
They wanted to do some gold mining. So we went down Jamestown, a historic goldmining town about 30 minutes from our hideaway.

While they didn't exactly strike it rich, they found a few pieces that'll serve as very nice momentos of their hard labor.

After they were done digging for gold, we took a steam train ride through the sierra foothills.

Of course a summertime evening at our hideaway means smores.

Even though we didn't have the time to do a full off-road experience on the atv, the kids enjoyed riding around the block a time or two.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Mazel Tov

We celebrated a big family event this weekend.

The oldest of the 3 nephews had his bar mitzvah.

What a huge event and amazing rite of passage.

It was our first bar mitzvah but not our last. 2 more to go after this.

Jimmy and his oldest brother had a part in the ceremony.

Two of Max's brothers came in from New York. Reggie had his 4 most influential uncles up there supporting him.

I can't express how grateful I am to be a part of this family, how much joy they bring to my heart and how much love I feel for them.

I was honored when they asked me to do Reggie's video montage. They showed it during the reception after the ceremony. It was a lot of fun compiling the photos and add music to it. It's a pretty simple video, but everyone seemed to enjoy it.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Camp Retz Throw Back Thursday

The Bowen family hadn't been up to the cabin during the summer in 6 years. I don't understand how we let that much time pass!

I was reminiscing and looking back on old photos after everyone left last week...
Miss A and her dad, 1st time on a floaty.

Miss A and her mom, picking up a little bit of speed.

Mr. W with his dada.

Middle nephew, 5. Slow but sure.

Youngest nephew...not quite ready for the floaties, but so adorable posing on his dad's boat.

Oldest nephew, 7, figuring out his balance.

Smores are such a treat!

Oldest nephew used to love them burnt.

Graham cracker face!

Middle nephew prefers marshmallow-less smores. Just like his Uncle Jimmy.

Tired eyes. Ready to call it a night after a day on the lake and a belly full of smores.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Camp Retz 2014

My favorite part of the summer!!

This year in numbers:
5 families. 9 kids. 7 adults.
2 motor boats.
2 kayaks.
1 surf board.
1 canoe.
2 tow tubes/floaties.
2 lakes.
2 scary injuries but none requiring hospital visits, though at the thick of it, we thought either one of them could be emergency room worthy. Thank God we were wrong.
Dozens of bruises. I'm sure all 16 of us had many. I came home with 3.
1 stuck Dodge Ram pickup truck.
100 sandwiches.
Pounds of fruit, meat, cheese, pizza, pasta, eggs, junk food, marshmallows, graham crackers, Hershey chocolate bars.
Layers of sunscreen.
Laughter and happiness to infinity.

In 4 1/2 days.

I'll let the photos tell the rest of the story...
Rock jumping.

And rock climbing.
And lots of heart palpations from the watchful eyes below.

Supportive mom.

Miss A going fast.

Mr. W trying to keep up with his big sister.

Miss A and her cousins.

Going a little faster now.

Youngest nephew going fast.

Middle nephew striking a pose and taunting his mom.

Middle nephew owned the lake this day. He was the King of the floaties. Not only did he get sideways, he actually stayed on! Uncle Jimmy was disappointed he couldn't throw his nephew off. That's become the goal - to whip them around and try throw off the older nephews. Middle nephew held on tight and couldn't be dumped.

Youngest Miss E kept up with the big boys.

This was her 1st year solo on the tubes.

Mr. W strikes a pose.

Oldest nephew strikes a pose.


Mr. W got a bit of kayaking in.

So did his dad and his cousin.

A view of how low the lake was. We had to launch the boats in the dirt, to the left in this photo. The black truck and the white suv with the canoe is ours. The lake is usually at the level where the dock is, on the right of the photo, towards the top of the waterline. They just rebuilt the boat ramp last year to extend as far down as it does, but it wasn't extended far enough for this year's drought.

Smores! Perfect ending to a day on the lake.

Oldest nephew ate 10 of these in 1 night. 6 or 8 the night before.

Max likes her 'mallows burnt.

Ed achieves the perfect caramelization.

Baseball talk on the deck after eating smores.

Group photo missing a family of 3. They had to leave at 5:30 in the morning.

That is why this is my favorite time of the summer.