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May 21, 2004
One year

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Joss, Gail, and Cameron dine al fresco

We have now owned our mountain-top property for one year.  We still haven't started building yet, but our application for a building permit is currently somewhere in process.  In the meantime, we are still getting a lot of use out of the place.

Just about everyone in our extended families has been up here camping at least once or twice.  At other times, we enjoy having just the four of us up here.  After our first camping trip, where we erected several tents, a kitchen, and a gazebo on the top knoll (where the building pad is), we decided to leave that area unobstructed so that everyone can enjoy the view.  Instead, we pitch our tents variously on the north or west knolls, and leave the top knoll for lounge chairs and camp fires.

We got used to a regular schedule of evening entertainment as we spent time up here last Summer.  First, there is the gorgeous sunset. Then, the dragonflies come out and dance for us.  They are followed by the mosquitoes (not fun).  The mosquitoes in turn are followed by the bats.  There is nothing more thrilling than sitting in a lounge chair in the twilight, watching bats zooming around over your head and listening to the "Snap!  Snap!" sound of them chomping on their mosquito prey.  (Russell has been trying for months to get a photograph of one of the bats.  We have a lot of pictures of blank sky.)  Finally, we are treated to a canopy of stars that stretches from horizon to horizon.  Down in the smoggy Bay Area, we had almost forgotten how many stars there are -- or how stunningly beautiful the Milky Way is as it stretches across the sky.

The days are just as peaceful and relaxing.  Although the wildflowers are already gone with the advancing heat of Summer, it is just nice to be up here with nothing urgent to do.  Although it can get to 100F at the height of Summer, it is always possible to find some shade.  (One of Russell's rituals is to move the lounge chairs around continuously during the day to follow the shade.)  And we are constantly treated to the sight of turkey vultures and hawks as they circle about in the sky.

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A turkey vulture circles overhead

One of the reasons that we bought this property was that Cameron loved the property in Crest, France, from our world trip years ago.  One of the highlights of Crest was a set of tree swings that the boys played on almost every day.  So one of the first things that we installed up here in Calaveras was a similar set of tree swings.  Both Cameron and Joss love them, and for Gail and Russell, they bring back very fond memories.

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Calaveras tree swings

During the last year, we have also installed a zip line and a trapeze swing (the joy of having numerous trees).  With the coming of Spring, the weather has now turned warm enough for us to begin camping again this year, so we continue to build our infrastructure.  We have installed a trampoline that is the new play highlight.  At some point in the future there's going to be a house built here, but in the meantime we have plenty to keep us occupied.

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Joss on our newly-installed trampoline



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