Summertime brings bustle of activity

Summer vacation is barely a week old, and it’s already been quite the busy time for these kids, which is good because there’s nothing worse than watching them waste away hours becoming appendages to the couch.

It started last Sunday with a trip up to the North Coast, which was a divergence from our longtime Father’s Day tradition. For many years, we’ve spent the holiday berry picking at Avila Valley Barn followed by lunch at The Cliffs and tidepooling in Shell Beach with my dad and stepmother.

This was fine until The Cliffs went all in with the car show crowd and turned over its grounds to loud bands and drinkers.

So instead, this year we skedaddled to Cambria, and along the way, we tried out geocaching for the first time, inspired by Sunday’s story in Central Coast Living by Pat Pemberton and Joe Johnston.

If you have kids and a smartphone and want an excuse to get out and explore, this is a great one.

First off, it’s a treasure hunt of sorts, and what kid doesn’t love that? But even more so, it takes you off the beaten path, leading you to stop in places you normally wouldn’t.

We found caches at a pullout on Highway 46, in the lovely gardens of the Cambria Pines Lodge and in a little pocket park in the East Village.

It also was a chance for a little vocabulary lesson, i.e., the difference between “cache” and “cash,” which was what Mr. Big Soon-to-Be-Fourth-Grader was looking for at each stop, images of freshly minted George Washingtons dancing in his head.

Not until the last spot did we realize just why he was so excited about these hunts.

On Tuesday, with me now back at work, Little Miss Almost-a-Seventh-Grader rang out the school year by fulfilling a pledge she’d been making for several months, which was to once again cut her hair for Locks for Love.

She last did this two years ago almost to the day, and I knew it was coming.

But it was still a shock to receive the texted photo of her grinning at the camera, two pony tails now in her hands instead of on her head.

Everyone agrees that the new cut is both a) very cute and b) makes her look older.

I’m OK with first, of course, but a little sad about the second.

Finally, on Wednesday, my sister came home for a visit and declared she was taking her niece and nephew on a hike to the top of Bishop Peak. Is there anything more opposite to lounging in front of the TV than tromping up a 1,546-foot mountain? At first, the boy was a bit reluctant, he not being too wild about heights and all. But lo and behold, around midday, the photo arrived of the trio perched atop the peak, tired, dusty, triumphant and looking forward to Jamba Juice once they got back to the bottom.

I told them now they were going to have to do it again with me, because the only time we tried that hike, the dog suffered a heat stroke and made us turn around and carry her back down barely a third of the way up.

Later that night, the kid who’d been wringing his hands about the Bishop Peak plan one day earlier was now proclaiming it great fun.

Here’s hoping that outlook persists as well through the next eight weeks as it has for the first.

Joe Tarica is the presentation editor. Reach him at