It takes me an hour to drive to my parents' house. The first half hour is on the freeway, but the second half hour is through twisting roads carved into the edges of mountainsides. About halfway between the freeway exit and my parents' house (so three quarters of the way to my parents' house) is a tiny little town called Lotus, which consists mostly of a campground on the banks of the American River. I stopped and took some pictures of the American River where it passes through Lotus. This is the little path leading down to the river.
And here's the river. See that mountain in the distance, beyond the bridge? My parents live up on top of that mountain.
The next picture shows what the river looks like when facing downstream from the same spot.
And here's a slightly different angle, still facing downstream.
There was a big yellow swallowtail butterfly flying around above these rocks, but it wouldn't hold still and let me take its picture, so you only get to see the rocks.
Then I drove up that mountain toward my parents' house. My parents live in a town so small it doesn't have a grocery store. The next town over has this thing that apparently passes for a grocery store. It's called the Sierra Superstop because it's in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
My parents live a block away from this pond.
It's a nice pond.
And it's very reflective.
And it has things floating in it. And lots and lots of algae!
I walked from the pond to the bottom of my parents' back yard (it's on a steep hillside) and took this photograph facing up the hill. Off in the distance you can see a bit of their house through the trees - or really, what you see is the deck around it, and the supports that hold the house up. The house is only one story, but because it's built on such a steep hillside, the floor that's at ground level in the front yard is as high above the ground in the back yard as if it were a second floor.
Then I went back to my car and drove it up to the front of their house, where I took pictures of . . . everything except the front of their house. Slight oversight there? Well, just so you can see it, here's an old photograph not taken by me - it's scanned from a newspaper clipping from when the house was on sale, just before my parents bought it. It doesn't look much different now, from this angle. And the bad quality of this photograph will remind you to appreciate the good quality of the pictures I take.
This is the front yard as seen from the deck. My parents added the bench, the potted plants on the steps leading up to the bench, and the potted plant in the foreground.
If you took one step forward from the picture above and climbed over the deck railing right in front of you, you'd be where I was when I took the next picture. This is a tiny fish pond that my parents installed in the front yard shortly after they bought the house. The butterflies, humming birds, and frogs around the fish pond are all ceramic. But the fish are real! See the bright orange things swimming around in the water? Those are the fish. My father caught them over at that bigger pond I showed you above, a block away, and transported them over here. There are just two of them in there. The cat likes to watch them, but apparently she has no talent for catching them.
Here are the front yard and garage (which is a separate building from the house) as seen from the front porch. That's my father's silver Nissan pickup truck in the driveway, and my silver Nissan Sentra parked behind it. My mother's silver Nissan Sentra is inside the garage, and looks virtually identical in every way to mine, although it's three years newer. And my previous car was a silver Datsun, which is what Nissans were previously called, so . . . I think if the people who are so eager to assert the existence of gay genes ever saw my family's cars together, they'd start searching for a gene that causes people to buy silver Nissans.
California's official state flower is the golden poppy, because originally much of the state was covered with them. My parents have lots of golden poppies in their front yard.
This is my parents' dog, upon whom my father shamelessly inflicted the name of an evil sportswear corporation. The dog's name is Nike. Nike spends most of his time up on the deck, but when my parents throw one of his toys over the railing and tell him to fetch it, he runs down those stairs you see there and comes down here to find it.
Here's the back yard as seen from the house, with a deer wandering through it. (There are no fences except for a small enclosure under the deck to keep Nike inside of, so deer wander regularly through most of the property.)
Here's a closeup of that same deer, as it continued on its way.
The deer was headed toward the house of the only neighbors whose house can be seen from my parents' house. The neighbors' house is this mansion here.
And those same neighbors own a bunch of miniature horses, who are only about the same size as Nike is. See the little miniature horses? There's a chicken coop back there too. The deer was heading toward the horses. It was probably enjoying the idea of meeting horses who were smaller than it was. (There are a lot of full-sized horses in the neighborhood for the deer to meet too.)
And that's the end of the outdoor pictures of my parents' house. Indoor pictures are coming soon!