Sierra Canyon Hiking Group – Reno – Hike to Hunter Creek Falls

Seven of us from the Del Webb Sierra Canyon hiking group did the hike up Hunter Creek to the falls today.  The trip was only about 5 miles round trip with about 1000 feet of elevation gain but it was a really difficult hike because the trail was narrow and rocky with lots of steep parts on gravel. In spite of the difficulty the hike was well worth it.

One of the great things about this hike is that it goes through some wonderful wilderness but the hike starts only about a ten minute drive from home.The trailhead was at the end of  Woodchuck Court which we reached from Plateau Road. The trail followed Hunter Creek and canyon. There was lots of ice on the creek which made it really pretty. If you take this hike be sure to take the right fork about a mile in near a grove of Aspens. We went left and stayed near the creek which turned out to be a mistake. We had to make our way through thick brush and then scramble up a very steep bank to get back to the trail.


We had lunch at the falls which were covered in ice but still had a lot of water flowing.



This was one of the prettiest and wildest places we have hiked to and the amazing part is that we were probably no more than 5 miles from downtown Reno.

If you would like to see all the pictures from the hike you can see them on Flickr by clicking here.

Be Interesting

I started blogging back in September of 2004. Sun had started urging all of its employees to blog. I had never even heard of blogging but I thought I would give it a try. Sun was an incredibly nurturing place to start blogging. There was an internal discussion list that people used to ask questions and to give hints about blogging. One of the fathers of blogging at Sun was Tim Bray. He urged Sun bloggers to follow the Sun blogging  policy that he published. Many of his precepts like "Don’t tell secrets" and "Quality Matters" are valid for anyone who blogs whether it be in a corporate setting or not. I try hard to continue to follow them.

One of the precepts of that policy was "Be interesting". It is now over three years since I started blogging. I am no longer a part of corporate America. I love blogging and my overarching goal for my blog is to be interesting. To be interesting is in fact one of my goals in life. I don’t want to bore myself and I certainly don’t want to bore others.

The question I often think about is what makes a blog interesting? Tim says

"Write What You Know ·
The best way to be interesting, stay out of trouble, and have fun is to
write about what you know."

I think that is good advice. It is also why I need to be an interesting person to write an interesting blog. One of the fun and challenging things about being retired is that I get to explore interesting on my own.  I no longer have an employer to help define what makes me interesting.

Some people consider a blog a personal journal. People who talk only about themselves are not particularly interesting. So I don’t think a log of what I do each day would work for me. I do find that people who do interesting things write interesting blogs.

The people in my blogroll to the right write blogs that I find very interesting. They are certainly good examples of  what makes a blog interesting.

I don’t have a magic answer to the ‘interesting question’ and my blog and I are a works in progress. I would really like to hear what others think makes a blog interesting. 

What its like to live at Sierra Canyon by Del Webb

A couple of times I have received emails from people who are thinking about moving to Reno. They have read my blog and are wondering what it is like to live in a 55 and over community like Del Webb’s Sierra Canyon. Recently someone asked me the following.

"We also thought about living in a retirement community but felt it may be full of
really old people and lifeless. Can you tell me more of your experiences of
retirement living in Reno and at Del Webb?"

I thought others might find my response to him interesting so here it is.

"Thanks so much for your email and kind comments about my blog.

When I told my girls that we were moving to a Del Webb community they
were horrified that we would move to a place for "old people". Before we moved here we could never see ourselves living in an active adult community. But when we started looking for a place to live in Reno Sierra Canyon seemed like a good place to live since the houses are very nice and the rents are so reasonable.

We moved last July and it has been a great experience. I am sure there
are lots of old sedentary people here but the people we have met have been
just the opposite. If you have  looked at my blog you have probably seen all
the hikes the hiking group takes. We have a lot of fun. The people in the group are really great, interesting, active people that I have enjoyed getting to know. In addition to hiking Sierra Canyon has lots of other activities

The gym always has people in it working out and I really love the yoga
class. There are also Pilates classes, water aerobics classes, dance classes and lots more.

The people in our neighborhood organized a wine walk last week. We each chipped in $10. Thirty of us visited 8 houses (including ours) and
tasted wine. It lasted from 1 until 4. Anyone visiting the neighborhood at 1
on Saturday would have been surprised to see people coming out of houses
all at the same time carrying wine glasses. We met a lot of new people and had
a lot of fun.

I want to join the bridge group
and my husband and I often play pool. There was a tournament last Saturday.
I hear that the photography group is great and the several of the people
we hike with are in the book club.

The very best part about living here has been the people. I have never lived any place where it is so easy to get to know your neighbors. I mentioned this to a friend in the hiking group Monday and she said most people who move here tend to be social outgoing people.  I think that is true.

The down sides of living here are that you do pay homeowners dues
(actually our landlord does) and the homeowners association is pretty strict
about what you can and cannot do with your house. Of course this does protect
home values.

My husband and I chose Reno because we wanted to live some place
cheaper than California and Reno was a convenient place to rent while we waited
for our house to sell. We haven’t decided whether we will settle here permanently but we are seriously considering it. Reno has been a very pleasant surprise. It is a beautiful setting and there is sure a lot to
do. Some of the people we hike with volunteer at the art museum. The museum sounds wonderful and working there sounds like fun so I want to check
it out.

If you have any other questions please let me know."


Sierra Canyon Hiking Group – Monday hike – Steamboat Ditch

The Steamboat Ditch Trail is a 43-mile-long canal, finished in 1878, carrying water for irrigation. It starts on the Truckee River west of Reno and ends near the junction of the Mount Rose Highway and Highway 395 south of Reno. Today we hiked from the Verdi fire station across form Boom Town and Sierra Canyon and followed the ditch up stream. None of us had ever done this before and it turned out that much of the hike was cross country since there really wasn’t a trail. There wasn’t much water so we even hiked in the ditch for a while.
The wind was really blowing. It was clear and sunny when we started but by the time we were done clouds had blown in it was getting colder and was starting to rain. Luckily when we stopped for lunch it was still a nice day.

If you would like to see the rest of the pictures form the hike you can see them here.

Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni

I just finished reading Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni. Moaveni had Iranian parents but grew up in San Jose. She lived and worked in Iran as a reporter for Time magazine and tried to figure out who she was and where would she feel at home. She knew that she always felt like an outsider in the U.S. but she was surprised that Iran couldn’t feel like home either. Lipstick Jihad would be an interesting book even if it wasn’t set against the backdrop of the reform movement going on in Iran in the 90’s. As Moaveni says

"All of our lives were formed against the backdrop of history, fated to be at home nowhere – not completely in America, not completely in Iran."

Because of this "backdrop of history" Lipstick Jihad is a fascinating book. I especially like that Moaveni helped me understand the complexities of the American Iranian relationship. It is not black and white. Iran is not evil and the U.S. good. Moaveni does not have an an answer to who is right and wrong in Iranian American relations but she did help me learn about Iran and Iranians.

The other thing I really liked about this book is that the theme of trying to find home is really a universal one. Because Moaveni was caught between America and Iran her search is a particularly interesting one but I have learned that we all try to find where we belong and at some level are always searching for home.

I experienced this when I was 13 and my family moved to Australia. I loved Australia but I missed home. It was an important lesson to learn that coming back to the U.S. I didn’t really feel at home either. I didn’t want to move back to Australia but it would always be a part of me. I feel the same way about Reno and Sunnyvale. I miss Sunnyvale and Reno doesn’t quite feel like home but I don’t want to go back to the Bay Area.

Lipstick Jihad reminded me that what I have to do is work to remember all the people and places that are part of my history and move forward recognizing that they are all part of who I am. I think this is true for all of us whether we have moved from Sunnyvale to Oakland, across country or even just to another place in our lives like from the work world to retirement or from college to the work world. Home is something we create with the help of our memories and our friends and families, as Moaveni says "we carried its scraps in our pockets, and when we assembled, we laid them out, and were home."



Duke and I are going out to dinner to celebrate tonight. Our house in Union City is sold! The sale of our house is a classic example of how prices in the San Francisco Bay Area have gone down. It was on the market for four months. This was our first offer and the house sold for $165,000 less than what a house like ours in our development sold for back in November of 2005….. Oh well, that is history and we have our money. We are happy.

There are a couple of other interesting parts of the experience.

  • People always tell you how important it is to have fresh paint, new carpet and staging, all of which we did. It turns out that none of that mattered. The buyers were in escrow for a house like ours. They were offering less than the loan on that house and the bank was dragging out the closing process. Our buyers were in a hurry and decided not to buy the other house. They are from Los Angeles and bought our house without ever looking at it! We closed in less than 2 weeks. Can you believe it.
  • You might think that once you move your personal possessions out of your house the cost of the homeowners insurance might go down. You would be wrong. As soon as we changed our mailing address our insurance company canceled our insurance. We had a terrible time finding someone who would sell us insurance on a house that no one was living in. We had been paying $1,800 for 12 months of homeowners insurance. The new insurance cost us $4,800 for six months!

Sierra Canyon Monday hike in the Donner Pass snow sheds

Last Thursday the Sierra Canyon hiking group hiked up to the railroad snow sheds over Donner Pass. We didn’t have flash lights so we didn’t go in very far. Today we decided to go to the other end of the snow sheds and hike all the way through them. We started at the top of Donner Pass right down the road from Squaw Valley ski resort and ended at the spot overlooking Donner Lake where we had lunch last Thursday.
You can see that the weather was a lot grayer and colder today.


The snow sheds used to protect the trains from the big snow load over Donner Pass. About 15 years ago a new train tunnel was opened that goes through Mount Judah. The snow sheds were abandoned. The rails were removed and they now make a fascinating hike. In this picture you can see some of the sheds we hiked through. You can also see that there is a lot more snow up there than there was last Thursday.


And here is a picture inside one of the sheds. If you would like to see all the pictures from this hike they are available here.


Driving home we could see people skiing at Boreal. They just opened this weekend..

Cold Stream Valley – Sierra Canyon Hiking Group Thursday hike

It was an absolutely perfect day to hike today. The sun was shining and the air was cool but not cold. The Sierra Canyon Hiking Group hiked up into Cold Stream Valley South of Donner Lake. We parked at the same place we did for the Tinker Knob Hike a couple of weeks ago. For that hike we had snow and fog. Today was just the opposite. There was no snow left. The gate was closed on Coldstream Road off of Interstate 80 so we accessed the trail by driving through Donner Memorial State Park.

For much of the hike we were on the old railroad bed that you can see from Interstate 80. We passed the entrance to the railroad tunnel under Mount Judah and then came to the entrance to the old snow sheds where we had lunch overlooking Donner Lake. The whole hike was about 6 miles. Here are some of my pictures and the rest can be seen on Flickr here.

The entrance to the railroad tunnel under Mount Judah


The entrance to an abandoned snow shed


The snow shed was pitch black on the inside.


Lunch break overlooking Donner Lake


My first year of retirement

I just passed the one year anniversary of my retirement so I thought it would be worth looking at what I said I would be doing when I retired and comparing it to what has happened. It has been a quite a year with lots of ups and downs. Back when I decided to retire I wrote a blog entry about the things I wanted to do. I’m including exerts from it here with comments about how things have turned out.

from  the bog about my plans….. "My career has certainly been a big part of how I define myself. In
fact during hard times in my life my success at work greatly helped my
self esteem. But at this point in my life I have lots of joys and
interests outside of work and I really don’t think I’ll have too much
trouble adjusting. And retiring now doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll never
work again. It just means I’m quitting for now."

I haven’t missed work at all. I love working for me. I love having my life to myself. I’ll never say never, but I really can’t see myself ever working for someone else again. I’m having too much fun.

Here is the list of things I said I wanted to do with my retirement. I’ve put comments after each one with my observations about what has really happened.

" 1. Spend more time with my Husband, my Daughters, my new Grandson,
my family and my friends. There never seems to be enough time and now
I’m hoping there will be."

I have certainly done some of this especially when I was still living in the Bay Area but one of the down sides of moving to Reno has been that I don’t see enough of the family and friend we left behind and I really do miss them. Moving out of expensive California was part of the financial strategy that allowed me to retire at age 54. I love Reno and the new friends I am making  here but the down side is definitely missing my family and friends in California.

"2. Exercise more regularly – weight lifting and  walking. "

It is certainly easier to find the time to exercise without work getting in the way. I haven’t been lifting weights but I have started yoga (I really love it!) and I have been swimming and of course doing a lot of hiking. The hiking has been awesome. The Sierra canyon Hiking Group  and the wonderful hiking opportunities around Reno have made hiking one of the very best things about retirement and moving.

" 3. Sell our house and move. We don’t know where but exploring the
possibilities will be a big part of the agenda for the next few years.

We put our house on the market but unfortunately we did it in about the worst market for selling a house that I can remember. I don’t want to jinx things but there may be light at the end of the tunnel on this front. The move we did. Since July we have lived in Reno. I love it here. Reno is much better then I ever expected. It is so nice to live in a smaller town with lots of amenities but less traffic and lots of fun places to explore and things to do. I wasn’t sure about living in a Del Webb over 55 community but that has also exceeded expectations. We have met so many wonderful people and are having so much fun!

" 4. Improve my piano playing skills. I’ve taken lessons for the last
several years and I am looking forward to having more time to practice.

I did this until we moved. Then I gave away the piano with the idea that I would get a new one once we settled some place. So far it hasn’t happened. I haven’t touched a piano since mid June. I do miss it but I’m still debating whether I want to start playing again. I have very little talent and after all these years am still not a good piano player. But I do enjoy it. I play only for me and I probably will again some day but for now I am focusing on other things.

" 5. Blogging – I want to get to the point where I blog about
interesting things every day. I want to improve my writing and blogging
skills and I think the best way to do that is to just do it regularly.
I also want to redesign my blog and explore some of the technology I’ve
gotten behind on since I started my current job.

I guess it goes without saying I am still blogging. I really do love it. I’m still figuring out how to be interesting, how to improve my writing skills and how to improve my blog.  I still need to get better about blogging regularly and I still want to do some redesign and focus. My blogging like my life is a work in progress.

" 6. Travel – I’m looking forward to taking some long trips both within
the US and abroad. Duke and I have talked about spending several months
in Spain or Portugal or Australia or any of a whole list of other
places. The idea is that if we rented a place and really explored an
area then friends and family could come visit while we were there."

We have done some traveling. Our month long driving trip through Mexico last January was awesome. it verified for me how much I love traveling. Since then life has precluded any more travel for fun. I think once we sell the house this may change. I hope so.

" 7. Gardening – This is one of those things I’ve always thought I would like to do more of. We shall see. "

Other than helping Duke work on our yard in Union City this hasn’t happened. It is one of the things that will be difficult to do in Reno’s desert climate so this may be off the list. Time will tell.

" 8. Hiking – My goal is to do at least one long hike a week. "

Since moving to Reno and joining the Sierra Canyon hiking group I have been hiking twice a week and loving it. It certainly takes time and I didn’t hike very much when I worked. Now that I have the time it is awesome to explore all the beautiful places to hike especially in the Sierras west of Reno.

" 9. Financial Planning – I’m hoping to do what it takes to complete the practical experience for my Certified Financial Planning certification.
I’m still exploring how I will do this and then there is the question
of how I will use the CFP once I get it. I’ve got lots of ideas to

It seems like a real pity to waste the time and effort I put into taking all the classes and studying for and passing the CFP certification exam but the time allowed to get the necessary practical experience has almost passed and this is something I just don’t think I want to do any more. It is too much like work. I learned a lot and I enjoyed the process but I think this is off my list.

" 10. Guitar – I keep thinking I’d like to start taking guitar lessons again."

I’ve done nothing about this. It is still on the maybe someday list.

" 11. Read – I love to read. "

I have done a lot of reading but I always want to do more. One cool side benefit is that I have received review copies of a DK book about Lincoln and a DK book of world history and have written reviews. I’ve also decided to read a book about each of the U.S. presidents.

"12. Programming – I haven’t done it in many years but my degree is in
Computer Science and for a long time I’ve been intrigued with the idea
of working on an open source project."

I haven’t touch this goal but this is something I am still determined to do. I think I need to determine what my first step should be.

New things I am adding to my list to possibly explore now that I am a year into my retirement include the following.

  • Perhaps start volunteering at the Nevada Museum of art
  • Learn to speak Spanish
  • Become an amateur historian
  • Knitting
  • Geneology

My Mother’s death was the one terribly low point for this year. I miss her. But other than her death it has been a good year and I am looking forward to my second year of retirement and to continuing to explore my goals and interests.

Mount Lola. Sierra Canyon Thursday Hike

The Sierra Canyon Hiking Group Thursday hike was to Mount Lola. At 9,143 feet I believe Mount Lola is the highest peak between Mount Lassen and Mount Rose. We hiked up from Henness Pass Road off of Highway 89. The hike was 5.3 miles each way with 2,500 feet of elevation gain. It was  a very easy to walk on trail but the trail did go steadily up, up , up. The quiet and color on the way up were the kinds that make me love hiking.


The 360 degree view from the top was stupendous as you can see here.


As we reached the top a single hiker arrived from the south. Apparently you can also drive a rough dirt road  to Independence Lake and have a much shorter hike to the top from the south.

There were only four of us on the hike and the solo hiker took a picture for us.

If you would like to see al the pictures of the hike please click here.