Susan and I didn’t get to take a full-blown vacation this year. No two weeks spent in the Far East or, on a 4,500-mile road trip around the western United States. Not even a long weekend anywhere. So when the end of my recently completed first module of training started to draw near she emphasized how much she needed a weekender with Idyllwild as her chosen destination — a place I’d only been to once a looooong time ago (as part of a church group back when I was a churchgoer).

Of course I said of course. She made the arrangements, did the research, and off we went. It was absolutely lovely. We stayed at the rustic Silver Pines Lodge. We ate at a variety of wonderful restaurants. We explored a cornucopia of little shops. We hiked. We liked. We saw more gray squirrels than we ever thought we could. And we greatly enjoyed the all-to-brief opportunity to swap fresh mountain air into our lungs for the city stuff embedded there. There is something about the smell of pines and the wind’s whisper through their boughs that is distinctly medicinal.

There Ranger and me are at right (click it for the bigger picture), somewhere along the popular and ultra-scenic Ernie Maxwell Trail (Ernie is the town’s leading conservationist and the founder of its newspaper: The Town Crier). I have a timelapse of the entire 5.2-mile out-and-back trek as well as some real time clips of us along Strawberry Creek that I might try to upload to YouTube, but in the meantime are our respective photosets can be found here on Flickr: