Sunday Stills: A Change of Altitude

It’s almost as if Terri (Second Wind Leisure) knew that my husband and I would be spending a few days up in the mountains when she came up with The Great Outdoors as this week’s Sunday Stills photo topic. Although I often have to search my files for images when I join in on one of her photo challenges, this time all I did was walk out the door of our little cabin and there it was… the great outdoors!

We were delighted when our friends, Kathy (Smart Living 365) and Thom, invited us to join them for a few days at their mountain retreat in nearby Idyllwild. The cabin they have rented for a number of years has a mini-cabin situated just a few steps away. It’s perfect for the hosts and the guests – lots of opportunities to connect, but enough separation so that everyone can have some privacy and alone time.

We hiked:

We hugged trees (and each other):

Kathy and Thom showing a tree some love.

We moved boulders:

Full disclosure: it didn’t budge (thank goodness!).

We watched the sunset… :

A fire a couple of years ago left these trees bare, but still beautiful.

… just before the full strawberry moon rose:

We enjoyed great conversations:

There may have been some adult beverages involved.

And, we marveled at nature’s artistry:

I loved how the bark’s texture changed closer to the soil.

The red bark of the Manzanita starts to peel, reveling the new growth below.
I think I saw a mountain gorilla on the trail… or not.

The few days that we were able to enjoy the clear mountain air and expansive vistas were just what we needed. There is nothing quite like spending time in the great outdoors to reduce stress, encourage reflection, and help us appreciate the gifts of Mother Nature.

Author: Janis @

My blog is about travel, relationships, photography, and whatever else pops into my head (even, sometimes, issues surrounding retirement and aging).

94 thoughts on “Sunday Stills: A Change of Altitude”

  1. Hi Janis! We ALSO have such a great time with you and Paul. You are wonderful guests (besides being a great photographer) and recorded some of the highlights of our time together. What a fun way to remind each other how important it is for us to get outside and appreciate nature. Looking forward to seeing you again soon! ~Kathy

  2. Why yes, Janis, I got out the crystal ball and saw everyone outside this weekend! How cool to be in Idyllwild with Kathy and Thom! I’m a bit jealous but so happy for. I’m home alone with the dogs as Hans made the 2-day road trip to Sacramento with a cargo trailer to pick up leftovers from our storage unit there. And got in some windsurfing, too. Please say hi to Kathy and I love all your photos–tree hugging a good for the soul. I definitely see a facial profile in that last pic, too, hmmm a troll maybe? Good job on that boulder move, LOL! Wonderful, this made me smile!

  3. Loved the shot of the strawberry moon and tree hugging is so good for the soul. So are good friends. I’m looking forward to my California cabin in the woods time coming up. Thanks for sharing.

  4. What a fun retreat, Janis. I’m glad the gorilla was friendly. You know how to get a boulder to move? First it has to decide it wants to move. After that, it’s easy!

  5. This is a great #SundayStills post, Janis. I absolutely LOVE the pics of the four of you enjoying time toghether — especially since we’ve all been housebound and socially distanced for so long! Fingers and toes crossed that our borders open soon!

  6. To experience the great outdoors is the perfect antidote against the often chaotic city life. Being an outdoors person, I enjoyed your photo essay very much, Janis.

  7. What a lovely visit, showcase, and reflection, Janis. The great outdoors is a wonderful place to be. That moonrise is spectacular and I really like the photo of sunset in the mountains as well. Quite the retreat and exactly what the doctor ordered, it looks like. Did you hide those adult beverages from view? 🙂

  8. Ahhhhhh…what a relaxing and enjoyable trip. I feel the same after looking at the photos. I agree, being in nature is wonderful therapy. Thanks for sharing the photos with us. Cheers to some adult beverages too 😉

  9. Your photos show such a beautiful part of the country. Very refreshing just to see what you saw. Nice that you could get together with another blogger, with or without, adult libations. *cheers*

  10. We stopped at Idyllwild in December, but instead of hiking we ate a huge brunch and walked around the town center. I love all the texture in your photos. Amazing!!

  11. What a beautiful getaway, and with all of the best things…nature, hikes, and good friends to share the experience. Returning to a semblance of normal life feels so celebratory, doesn’t it?

  12. Wow that really did look like a mountain gorilla – hahaha
    And the photo with the four of you it almost feels as if you are offering us some grapes – very inclusive vibe

  13. Wonderful photos, good times with friends, and marveling at what the great outdoors offers us equals a fantastic getaway! I love the boulder photo. 🙂 And we used to go there often when we lived in So. Cal. Thanks for sharing!

  14. It looks like it was a wonderful few days in a gorgeous spot with friends. I often pat trees and smell them while saying hello to them while on the trail. My favorites are the pines that smell like vanilla though. 😀

  15. Love the title. Janis! We all need a little altitude adjustment from time to time. We had a monsoon at our mile-high altitude today. Your photographs are fun and fabulous. I’m glad no one could move the rock or even hug all the way around the tree. – Perfect poses for Becky B’s #TreeSquares starting tomorrow, BTW. Here’s my rock lifting husband. You might have already seen it, but I’m so competitive. I think your rock is bigger, though!

    1. I remember experiencing my first Arizona monsoon… I had no idea they even happened before then. There was an amazing amount of rain in a short period of time. I think large boulders are Nature’s way of letting us know we aren’t “all that.”

  16. Beautiful pics, Janis. I’m glad you were able to get a change of scenery and recharge in nature.

  17. Fun, friends, hiking, a mountain retreat, the perfect getaway, Janis. 🙂The tree-hugging and moving boulder photos made me smile. I wholeheartedly agree with “nature’s artistry.” The red bark is something we do not have here. And, yes, the gifts of Mother Nature. (By the way – I see your glasses need refilling)😀

  18. Fantastic photos of your woodsy fresh air adventure. And I love the “gorilla” at the end. My guy and I spent a few nights up in the New Hampshire mountains last week, and as you say here – the change, the exercise while hiking, the views and vistas, the hugging (of trees and each other) all served to help us feel refreshed.

  19. Hi Janis.
    This was a fun post. I love your photos, textures, appreciation of nature and your wit.
    When I got to your pushing the rock photo, I was reminded of time and story from my childhood that I thought you would like. I too encountered a rock that needing to be pushed but my results were a tad different. I captured the story at:
    So how come no one ever does a rock pushing challenge? I’m ready for that one!

  20. This looks like my kind of getaway. Good friends, nature, trees, full moon…… I particularly love the photos. Yes I am a big treehugger as well. It is amazing how the energy of a tree can make one feel so very calm. I love the one pushing the huge boulder as well. Good times!


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