Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Eastern Sierra Hiking

I spent a lovely weekend hiking and camping in the Eastern Sierra Mountains at Pummice Flat Group site #2 in the Mammoth Mountain resort area near Devil's Postpile with the Loma Prieta Gay and Lesbian Sierrans.

Wednesday night I packed my car with my camping and hiking gear. I got off work at 11 am on Thursday and started my drive to Pummice Flat. The drive was very relaxing and easy. There was not too much traffic getting out of the San Francisco bay area. I arrived in Oakdale at about 1:30 pm and had a late lunch at the Subway sandwich shop. I ordered a foot long sandwich and ate half there and the other half would be my dinner once I arrived in camp.  After lunch, I made the drive up 120 to Groveland where I stopped to fill up the gas tank and then continued on to Yosemite where I popped in using my National Park's pass.  The drive through Yosemite to Tioga pass was awesome per usual. After descending the Tioga Pass to 395, the drive continued to be stunning with views of the Dana Peak, Mono Lake, and the Eastern Sierra's rising steeply to my right. I soon hit 203 and headed to Mammoth mountain where I stopped at the entry station where only people camping in the area are allowed to drive. I showed my National Park's pass again in lieu of the ten dollar entry fee. Then I crept down the twisty mountain road to the campground arriving at about 5:30 pm. About six people in my group had already arrived. I unpacked my camping gear and set up my tent and then ate the second half of my foot long sandwich for dinner while happily conversing with my camping buddies.

My humble abode for the weekend
On Friday, our trip leader had a 14 mile round trip hike to Ediza lake and back planned leaving from the Agnew meadow trail head.  Eight of us tumbled into two cars and drove from the campground to the trail head arriving at about 9 am.  We were all in long sleeves and long pants at the start of the hike as it was a chilly morning (~37F at breakfast) but within 15 minutes or so of hiking and the sun beating down on us we were stopping to strip off our layers and soon were all in shorts and smeared with sun screen!  We hiked past Olaine lake and enjoyed the reflections of the mountain in the lake.

Olaine Lake reflection
After Olaine we started heading up hill a bit more to Shadow lake.  Before Shadow Lake we hiked next to a water fall and at the top had a marvelous view of Shadow lake.

Hiking next to the water fall under Shadow Lake
Shadow Lake
We hiked next to Shadow Lake and soon picked up the creek that flowed into Shadow Lake on the other end of the lake that we would follow to Ediza Lake.  The views just kept coming and coming on this hike.  It was hard to stop taking pictures and just hike!

Ediza Lake

We finally arrived at Ediza Lake and five of us decided to go for a skinny dip.  I got naked but decided to leave my glasses on thinking I would just sedately swim along with a calm breast stroke.  That was a big mistake.  The minute I waded in I forgot I had my glasses on as the cold lake water took my breath away.  I realized that I wouldn't get in by just wading and needed to dive in.  So I plunged in and it was mighty cold and I didn't remember about my glasses till I surfaced spluttering and shaking my head.  Somewhere in that move, my glasses fell off and that was the last I saw of them.  For 15 minutes we stared at the water where I dived in and tried to find them to no avail.  I felt like such a bone head and was bemoaning my stupidity and how much it was going to cost me. I wear very expensive glasses.  This stupid move would end up costing me roughly $590.00.  Ug.  Oh well. I managed to come out of my blues and have fun the rest of the hike.

The hike back to the cars was just as beautiful if a slight bit more fuzzier for me without my glasses, but I could see well enough to hike normally.  I didn't have to worry about seeing my footing.  I had no trouble scrambling on the rocks next to the falls nor stepping over logs, etc. etc.  We got back to the cars at about 6 pm and headed back to camp to make dinner and have a nice couple of hours chatting and socializing.  After dinner as it got dark, we all headed to our tents and said good night.

Saturday we had an even longer hike planned, 16 miles.  8 miles to Minaret Lake and 8 miles back.  I knew I could do another long hike but I also knew it was going to wear me out.  I almost passed on the hike but our leader convinced me that although it was more miles that the hill climb was not as steep and the trails not as rocky as the day before so she actually considered it easier than the previous day's hike.  This hike began at the Devil's Postpile trail head area.

Meadow near Devil's Postpile trail head
As with the day before, we started all bundled up but quickly stopped to remove layers and put on sun screen.  We then hiked at a steady pace till we reached a rest stop our leader had found when she scouted the hike.  The rest stop was in a collection of rusty colored rocks with a creek and some pools.

Rest stop on the way to Minaret Lake
We continued on after the rest stop to Minaret Lake.  We hiked next to another water fall although it was not the Minaret Falls but the nameless falls that originate from Minaret Lake.

Hiking next to a nameless water fall
We were getting to higher altitudes at this point (Minaret Lake is at 9800 feet) and I was starting to slow way down.  The leader was checking with me often to be sure I was OK.  I was fine but the nature of my hiking is when I get to high altitude and up hill I just slow way down.  I am very much a tortoise when it comes to hiking!  I just keep plodding along at a steady slow pace!  I was glad when we reached Minaret Lake and  we sat down for a nice rest and lunch!  I passed on the skinny dipping this time but two dived in the lake and said it was colder than the day before but the views as they were swimming were incredible.

Minaret Lake
View of Minaret Lake from our lunch spot
Cathy at Minaret Lake -- no glasses :-( 
It was about 2:30 pm when we finished lunch and realized we should start back as we had said we would be back at the campground around 6:30 pm.  The hike back was lovely and a bit easier being all downhill.  My feet were sore and I was getting very very tired but the beauty of the area took my mind off my soreness and tiredness!  We got back to the cars at about 6:30 pm and back to camp shortly.

Sunday was my day to drive home but I decided to check out Devil's Postpile before I started my drive home.  I got up at 6 am and had my breakfast and then broke down camp and got all but my food packed in my car.  I left the food in the bear lockers so I wouldn't have to worry about a bear breaking into my car at the Devil's Postpile parking lot.  I got onto the short half mile trail to the Postpiles by about 8 am.  I quickly hiked to the Postpiles and had fun photographing them and looking at them for a few minutes.

I was admonished by the gang at the campground to hike to the top of the Postpiles so I did and got the shot below of the hexagonal shape of the posts.

It was worth the little 1.3 mile hike to admire the uniqueness of the Devil's Postpiles.  I also saw that there was a passport stamp area at Devil's Postpile so I ran to my car to get my National Parks passport and get the Devil's Postpile stamp! Then I drove back to camp to fetch my food and start my drive home. I borrowed a friend's glasses that corrected my vision just enough so I could read road signs with them and would put them on when I was approaching junctions.  I stopped at Olmsted point on the way through Yosemite's Tuolumne meadow area to get this shot of Half Dome.

The rest of the drive was fairly uneventful.  I ran into the usual traffic jams at the junction of 120 with 205 and on highway 580 just before exiting to 680.  I put NPR on my radio station and enjoyed listening to the shows while I waited through traffic.  I got home at about 4 pm with plenty of time to unpack the car, get a shower, and post my pictures online.  All in all it was a fantastic trip if you leave out the losing my glasses fiasco!

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Sam McDonald hike

On Saturday August 2, I was off on a hike with the Gay and Lesbian Sierra Club section of Loma Prieta.  I was looking forward to this long 9 mile hike as I was not the leader and could be a little more relaxed and not have to watch out so much for others.  I always do watch out for others when I hike but not as intently when I know there is a hike leader also doing the job.  It was nice to know that I could stop when I wanted and get that lovely picture and not have to worry about keeping an eye out on the gang so much.

Sam McDonald park is located near La Honda California about 10 miles from the Pacific coast.  Its a wiggly drive to the park from Silicon Valley.  The drive went smoothly and there wasn't much traffic.  We arrived at the park just before 10 am.  Six other folks showed up for the hike.  We set off on the Big Tree trail and very soon thereafter got on the Heritage Grove trail, a lovely shaded trail through the redwood trees perfect for a hot summer day in the bay area.

Heritage Grove Trail at Sam MacDonald County Park
I hiked along with my friend D. and we caught up with each others doings.  Then the group sort of shifted places and I ended up catching up with new friend, L.  It was very pleasant.  After 30 minutes or so we reached the hill up to the Sierra Club hut and ran into another group of hikers going down the hill.  It turns out they were another Sierra Club group, the Black Mountain group.

When we got to the top of the hill we made our way to the Sierra Club hut for a water break on the deck and so the hikers who had not been here before could take a look at the hut.  It appeared there was a group staying there that weekend but they were not around so we used the deck for our break along with a collection of about 5 women hikers who were also just passing by the hut and not staying there.

Sierra Club Hut in Sam McDonald park

I realized at our hut break that I had forgotten to put on sun screen so I rubbed sun screen all over my now slick with sweat face, arms, and legs.  I also removed the pants legs from my convertible pants to turn them into shorts as it was a warm day.  We all agreed though that although it was hot it was not too hot!

Our next stop was at the bench with a view.  S. and I decided to find a geocache that was near here and D. got mock mad at use for sneaking off to find it!  We found the cache and then joined the gang to admire the view.  Shortly after that we stopped at a picnic table for lunch.  Its always nice on a hike when a picnic table happens to be right about where you want to stop for lunch!  After lunch one of our hikers signed out and headed back home as 9 miles was just a bit much for her on this day.  The rest of us started our descent down to Jones Gulch or as the hike leader, D., likes to call it "Fiver Fingers gulch" as the creek is covered with five finger fern plants.

Five Finger ferns

Cathy in Jone's Gulch

We stopped at Five Fingers gulch to explore the gulch and have a little rest break.  Then we headed back up the hill to the Towne trail.  D. warned us that this hill was a very gradual up but seems to go on forever.  He was right.  The trail does these long switch backs and towards the top I did keep thinking that this was the last switch back but then there was another one and another one and another one!  We did finally reach the top and there was a bench just crying out for us to sit on it!  As we were sitting there S exclaimed that there was a geocache here.  She reached under the bench and found the cache right under where she was sitting!  We had a little rest and then took off for the last mile or so on flattish fire roads and finishing off on the Big Tree trail back to the parking lot.

I was tired and my feet were a bit sore at the end of the day but it was a marvelous hike with good company. And S. and I added two more geocaches to our long lists of finds.

The good, the bad, and the ugly of Blogher'14

The good was the voices of the year readings.  I enjoyed all the readings.  I did not expect as much emotion as I witnessed in the readings.  The blogs were obviously near and dear to the reader's heart and no one just stood up and read it.  They infused it with the emotion that doesn't always come through with just reading something on line.

The good was Tig Notaro.  She cracked me up and educated me a little bit about breast cancer and how folks react to it and what it entails.

The good was running into two women who buoyed up my ego by being amazed at my profession and how long I have been at it.  One was near my age and reminded me how much work it involved to become a software developer when I did in the late 80s and how it was indeed an impressive achievement.  It seems rather an ordinary achievement to me.  The other was a bit younger than I but so impressed with me that she asked me "may I touch you" twice!  Once when I revealed to her that I wrote software for satellites and once when I mentioned that I worked at NASA Ames Research center.  Who knew that I would walk away form Blogher'14 with a sense of wonder that people were impressed with what I have accomplished in my professional career.

The good was hanging out briefly with Denise, Tarrant, and Karen.  The good was meeting Laurel and Jenna and having good chats and meeting scores of others whose names I have forgotten but who lightened my day by chatting with me.

The good was the ending party and how I was able to overcome a bit of my social anxiety and dance like no one was watching way off in the corner to get away from the very loud speakers!

The bad was being bored at two of the sessions.  Not bad for Blogher'14 but bad for me personally.  I realized I really have no desire to improve my blog or learn how to monetize, or how to publish a book, and any myriad of things the sessions covered and so I was bored.

The bad was when my social anxiety did get the best of me.  It did at the Friday parties.  I just felt like a fish out of water.  I tried to engage with people and never felt  relaxed.  It did at the beginning of the closing party.  I wandered around the party three times looking for where I could plop myself down to eat my McDonalds.  I finally did plop down on the ground and felt sort of lame that I was all by myself.  But then some other folks sat down with me and I was back on track.

The ugly was when the Saturday lunch food did not agree with me and neither did the midlife mini-conference.  I ended up deciding to leave the mini-conference as it wasn't going in a direction I liked and I really needed to make a trip to the bathroom.  Fortunately, I chased the ugly away with a wonderful nap on the fake green grass outside the convention center!

All in all the conference was a mixed bag for me but with slightly more positives than negatives!

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Death Valley Adventures

My trip to Death Valley started out with me stumbling out of my bed, getting dressed, and hopping in my car at 6:00 a.m. on a Thursday. I drove till around 9:00 a.m. when I stopped for coffee, a Cliff Bar, and gas somewhere on highway 5. My next stop was at noon in the town of Pearsonville on highway 395 where I had a Subway sandwich for lunch, got more gas, and headed off on the last leg of my journey to Death Valley. I arrived at the Furnace Creek group site H at 3:30 pm. No one else had arrived yet so I had first choice of where to locate my tent. I got a nice spot in the shade of a one of the few trees at the site. By 4:30 pm four of the five others joining me on the campout had arrived at the campground. Everyone got set up and we made our dinners and then enjoyed an evening of chatting and some star gazing once the cloud cover went away. I went to bed around 8 p.m. and while I was asleep the last person arrived.

Friday I had agreed to lead an 8 mile and 3300 feet elevation gain hike from Dante’s View to Mt Perry. G. and S. decided to join me and the C., T. and J. decided to spend the day relaxing in camp. We set off in my car at 8:45 a.m. to drive to Dante’s View. We got to Dante’s View around 10 a.m. The view from the parking lot of Bad Water was amazing!

We set off on the Dante’s Peak trail towards Mt Perry. We passed by Dante’s peak and found the use trail to Mt Perry. A use trail is a trail created because so many people use the same route to go to a destination. About 2.5 miles into our hike, I lost my balance for reasons unknown to me and took a hard fall onto the rocks. I fell mostly on my right side and gouged my knee on a rock, scraped my right forearm, and got a bruise on my right elbow. G. and S. ran over to be sure I was OK. I sat there for a bit doing an inventory of my body and felt like I was OK to get up. I got up and saw the gouge on my knee. I got out my first aid kit to take care of the cut. I washed it with an alcohol swab and then put a bandage on it (click if you want to see a pictures of the boo boo) and on the scrapes on my right forearm. I walked around a bit and determined that I was OK to hike a bit more.

After about half a mile though I decided that it was a bit much for me to continue on with the hike so asked G. and S. if they were OK with having lunch and then turning around and heading back to the car. They were fine with that. We admired the view of Mt. Perry and hoped to tackle it in another year. 

The hike back was uneventful and beautiful. We had hiked mostly down so we had lots of exercise on the way back going back up! We got to the parking lot at 3 pm and headed back to the campground.

G. and S. headed off to check out the Furnace Creek visitor center and stores while I settled down to remove my bandage and do a more thorough job of cleaning my wound and putting antibacterial goo on it to prevent infection. I finished up my cleaning and then settled back in S.’s comfortable camp lounge chair and had a nice nap in the shade to escape the 96F heat at the campground. I woke up for my nap and was heading to the bathroom when C. showed up at the campground. She had run into G. and S. at the visitor’s center and came to check to be sure I was all right and invite me to go to the visitor’s center to escape the heat. We ran into more of our gang there and C., T., J., and I ended up at the saloon for a beer. That was fun. We laughed and drank in the cool of the bar until someone put on loud music on the juke box that drove us back to camp. At camp we all started in on cooking our respective dinners and then settled in for another nice night of chatting and star gazing. 

On Saturday we split up into two groups again. C., G., S., and I decided to go to Ubehebe crater, Scotty’s Castle, and Titus Canyon. J. and T. headed off for a hike at Golden Canyon. After an hour or so in the car we arrived at Ubehebe crater and decided to hike around the crater rim first and then descend to the bottom of the crater. 

The hike around the rim took about forty five minutes and was awesome! When we finished our circuit of the rim, C. decided she wasn’t up for descending into the crater so she remained at the top while G., S., and I descended to the bottom. The trail down to the bottom was very gravely loose dirt. It made the descent very easy on the knees to sink in the gravel instead of jarring the knees against hard packed dirt. At the bottom we ran around like little kids and enjoyed the views. G. decided to pretend to be exhausted and lay down prostrate on the ground and had S. take a picture. Unbeknownst to us, C. on top was watching us with her binoculars and she was panicking that G. had hurt himself and was rehearsing in her head what she needed to do to rescue us if G. turned out to be hurt. Fortunately we decided to head back up and so she could see that G. was OK. The trip up was tough because of the loose gravel. It was one step back for every two steps forward. But we persevered and made it up to the top in 23 minutes. 

Next up in our day was to see Scotty’s Castle. It was a short 15 minute drive from Ubehebe crater. When we arrived at the Castle we were pleased to see a shaded lawn with picnic tables. We parked and snagged a table under the shade of a tree and ate our packed lunches with a marvelous view of the Castle in the cool shade. 

After lunch we decided to not tour the Castle as none of us wanted to pay for the tour and we wished to remain outdoors. We did pay a visit to the visitor’s center and I purchased a post card there to send to my parents while G. purchases a topographic map of the park. We then checked out what looked like a moat of the Castle but turned out to be an old swimming pool that is no longer full of water or used and that slaked our collective curiosity about the Scotty’s Castle and we ready to be off to our third location of the day, Titus Canyon. 

We arrived at the mouth of Titus Canyon at about 2 pm. It was hot and we were glad to enter into the Canyon and find shade. As we hiked we saw cars, other hikers, lizards, and beautiful tall canyon walls! Titus Canyon is open to four wheel drive cars so as we hiked we had to step aside to let the cars pass. 

One car stopped to ask us if we were all right. Apparently they had trouble figuring out that some people like to hike on foot in the canyon! The canyon goes a long way so we decided to hike till 3 pm and then turn around and head back. On the way back we realized that we had been hiking slightly up before and were now hiking slightly down. It was a small relief as it was getting quite hot and we were getting tired. We arrived back at the cars satisfied with our adventures and ready to get back to camp to relax.
When we got back to camp we dropped S. off at the visitor’s center and the sign out front declared that it was 100F. Oh my! When we got back to camp some of us dunked our heads under the water faucet at the sink and then put our chairs in the shade to cool off! That felt good! I also took my bandages off my cut to check on it and it seemed to be healing and not infected so I cleaned it again and put on more antibacterial goo and put on a new bandage. We then had another pleasant evening of cooking dinners, talking, and star gazing.

I was up at 6 a.m. on Sunday, my travel back home day. I got all packed up by 6:30 a.m. and started my trip home. I was the first of our gang to leave. I took my time traveling on 190 and stopped to take pictures of the Devil’s Cornfield, the Mesquite Dunes, and the Eastern Sierra mountains on my way home. After leaving the desert area I did my usual hardly stopping driving till I got home at 4 pm. It was good to be home in the cool air and be able to shower and relive the memories of my the Death Valley adventure by downloading all my pictures! 

Mesquite Dunes
Devil's Cornfield in Death Valley
Highway 190 View
Eastern Sierra Mountains from highway 190

Monday, March 11, 2013

Double Dose of Hiking

I did a double dose of hiking this weekend: Windy Hill on Saturday and Garin/Dry Creek park on Sunday.  Both hikes were about 8 miles long with blue skies, sun, and temperatures in the low 70Fs just about perfect hiking weather.

I was nervous about Saturday's hike.  I was a first time leader for the San Francisco Hiking Club and due to park rules about group hiking, I had to limit the hike to 20 people.  I spent last week fielding RSVPs and hoping that I did not get more than 20 people wanting to come on the hike.    I was also fretting about the fact that the parking lot at the Portola entrance fills up by mid morning and the hike was due to start at 10 am and I wasn't sure if people would find parking on the street if the lot was full.  In the end 15 people RSVPed and the parking lot did fill up but we all found parking either in the lot or on the street outside the lot.

Three cars (myself included) took a gamble and parked on the street despite a sign that said that overflow parking was .4 miles down the road and to not park on the street.  I decided that the place I parked was off the street enough to not count as parking on the street.  It was a little sketchy to assume that but in the end I did not get a parking ticket and neither did any of the other participants.  Its a fact of life you get used to in California that parking lots will fill up and you'll have to scramble for finding alternate places to park.  I do prefer to lead hikes to places where parking is not a problem so I may put this park on my list of parks where I will not lead big hikes.

Windy Hill

Once all 15 of us got to the park successfully and were safely parked my nerves calmed down considerably and we were off on our 8 mile hike.  We started the hike on a flat bit of trail through the meadow and past Sausal pond and then started our ascent in the warm sun on the Spring Ridge trail.  The further up the trail we hiked, the more views: Stanford University tower and dish, Mission Peak, Moffett Field, Mt Diablo, San Francisco, Oakland, and the San Francisco bay.   When we reached the top of Windy Hill we could see both San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean on the other side of Skyline ridge.  We had lunch up on top.

On the way down after lunch we saw some daffodils on the hill side.  One of our party told us that a gardening group got permission a couple of years ago to plant the flowers and he was the one who spotted the flowers.  Later on Hamms Gulch trail we saw trilliums and hounds tongue wild flowers and enjoyed the cool of the forest out of the bright sun light.


Hounds Tongue

We finished our loop at 1:50 pm and I basked in the glow of lots of compliments about the hike from the participants.   Its always nice to get thank you's from the participants after a hike is done especially for a hike that I was nervous about leading!

Sunday's hike with Loma Prieta Gay and Lesbian Sierrans at Garin/Dry Creek park was more mellow for me.  I was just a participant on this hike so did not have to worry about logistics or who would show up.  I just had to get myself to the car pool location and then head to the park and enjoy the hike!

Vulture in a tree at Garin Park

The hike started with a sighting of vultures circling in the air and then a vulture sitting in a tree with wings spread.  I have seen cormorants do this but never a vulture.   It was rather exciting and a little menacing!   After the vulture sightings we had a nice hike through a meadow on a few narrow bridges to cross creeks.  We stopped at Jordan pond for a snack break.  Then we headed up hill for nice views and some good

Jordan Pond

exercise.  At the top we saw piles of rocks scattered about and expounded upon theories as to why the rocks were so organized into piles.  We could not figure it out.  The best guess was farmers had moved the rocks to clumps to clear fields of the cows to graze in.

Piles of rocks at Garin park

We enjoyed hiking along the ridge to Gossip rock where we had lunch.   Its called Gossip rock as there are holes in the rock where Indians used to grind stuff and they would also gossip as they ground items!

Cathy at Gossip Rock

After lunch we descended down back to the parking lot through a more shaded part of the park.  We saw some wild turkeys and perhaps a red winged hawk and lots of poison oak!

Lots of poison oak growing off the trail!

We finished up the hike at about 2 pm and had hoped to walk through the gardens near the parking lot but discovered the garden was not open on Sundays.  Bummer!  So we made our way to our cars and said our good byes.  It was a wonderful mellow hike with lots of unique things to see and good conversation with the other participants.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

March Exercise Goal

I have made a goal to exercise for 52 hours in March.   Why 52 you ask?  Because I'm going to be turning 52 on March 24 and because it was close to exercising 1 hour a day on week days and 3 hours a day on weekend days.  I have not been exercising enough lately and I'm hoping this will motivate me to do it.  I have only been exercising on weekends and saw the need to get exercise on week days.

So ... the tally so far

March 1:   0.000 hours
March 2:   4.000 hours hiking at Pinnacles National Park.  8.5 miles!
March 3:   2.000 hours walking at Fremont parks looking for geocaches!  5.5 miles!
March 4:   1.083 hours on elliptical, 375 calories, 3.5 miles.
March 5:   1.033 hours on treadmill, 3.6 miles, 791 feet.
March 6:   1.180 hours hiking at Shoreline, 4 miles.
March 7:   1.620 hours on treadmill and elliptical, 5.8 miles
March 8:   1.080 hours on elliptical
March 9:   3.000 hours hiking at Windy Hill
March 10: 3.400 hours hiking at Garin/Dry Creek
March 11: 2.000 hours walking to work and on elliptical
March 12: 1.000 hours walking to work

TOTAL:   21.480 hours

So I'm 41.3 percent to my goal.  I'll be reporting my progress on my blog as the month continues by editing this entry over and over!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Book vs e-book

I have owned a Kindle since July 24, 2012.   What motivated me to buy an electronic book reader was my desire to be able to travel with lots of reading material that didn't take up large parts of my luggage space.  I picked the Kindle brand because I shop mostly at and since Amazon makes the Kindle its nicely set up for me to buy e-books through them.   I also hoped that since it was also one of the first electronic readers to come out that they have smoothed out all the kinks.  The Kindle brand has been a good choice for me.  I'm happy with how it operates, how it looks, the ease at getting electronic books on it, and purchasing books for it.

The big question for me though was how it would compare to regular books.  Here is what I have found out so far since I started using the Kindle and continued to read regular books.

Book advantages:

  1. I can leave a regular book sitting on a chair or table or beach blanket in public and not be terribly worried about whether its going to be stolen while I'm away unlike leaving my Kindle in these spaces. 
  2. I can pick up a regular book and quickly envision my progress based on where the book mark is located.  I don't get that same kind satisfaction from looking at a bar chart on the bottom of the Kindle as to what percent progress I have made.  
  3. With a book, I can give it or loan it to a friend quite easily or I can trade it in to a used bookstore for credit.  I'm not sure I can do that as easily with an e-book.
  4. Not all books are in e-book format yet.  An example is I wanted to read Roger Zelazny's Dream Master book (published in 1966) but it was not available on in e-book format.  
  5. There is a short time period on airplanes where you can't read e-books but you can read regular books.
  6. My library does have e-books available but often the book I want is not in e-book format while it is on the shelf!
  7. A book can sometimes serve as conversation starter and I have had fun discussions in waiting rooms or airport gates with someone about how they are enjoying their book or how I like my book.  This has not happened to me with an e-book.
  8. I still prefer the touch and feel of a real book to the touch and feel of my Kindle.
E-book advantages:
  1. I can buy new e-books just about anytime I want.  I don't have to wait for a bookstore to open or wait for the book to come in the mail after ordering it online. Its really fun to want to read a book and be able to buy it and start reading it in literally minutes!
  2. It is handy to be able to set the text size for an e-book.  I can't change a book's text size.
  3. An e-book is great for reading hefty sized books (think War and Peace).  The Kindle is small and light like a paper back book but you still have the entire hefty book inside it!
  4. Its much easier to carry around lots of e-books than books!
I don't think I'm going to give up regular books any time soon.  I'll keep my Kindle and use it in the situations where its handy like while traveling or when I want to get and start reading a book right away, but for most of my reading I will probably continue to stick with regular books.  

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Henry Coe Geocaching Adventure

I had a fabulous long day of geocaching and hiking at Henry Coe State park in the Hunting Hollow area yesterday, April 28, 2012, with my good friend, Sharon, otherwise know as Bykenut in the geocaching world.  I'm Hykenut.   So we're a nutty team!

We arrived at the Hunting Hollow entrance to Henry Coe at about 11 a.m.  The parking lot was unusually full and we saw four tall odd looking tents near the porta potties, lots of regular tents set up next to the creek, an outdoor kitchen, and folks hanging out near the sign up table.  We were musing what the tall tents were for when a lady near the table spoke up and told us they were shower tents and that the V.O. Cal (Volunteers for Outdoor CALifornia) was camping here and working on trail maintenance for the weekend.  She told us all about V.O. Cal.  It sounds like a really cool organization to volunteer for.  Maybe in my retirement years, I'll consider it.  After our talk with her and taking a bathroom break, Bykenut and I head off on the Steer Ridge trail.

Our first cache was about .1 mile from the start of the Steer Ridge trail.  The first cache we searched for took us the longest time to find.  This was a good thing as we had plenty of energy at the beginning of the day.  We spent 10 to 15 minutes searching all around this big old fallen tree trying to avoid the prickly sow-thistles  and not get close to the clumps of poison oak.  We had just about given up when we stepped back for one last look and I spotted a suspicious looking rock in a place we hadn't looked.  Bykenut was closer to it than I so she trundled over there and although it wasn't near the rock, she saw the cache on the ground near by.  Success at last!   We recorded our first find of the day and set off up the Steer Ridge trail.

We climbed up and up the Steer Ridge trail and stopped about every tenth of a mile to find another cache.  In the caching world there are rules about where caches can be located.  They must be at least a tenth of a mile apart.  Several geocacher hiders had worked hard hiding caches on the Steer Ridge trail and had put a cache just about every .1 mile!   At about the third or fourth cache, we failed to find the cache.  The clue for this particular cache was to use the step.  Bykenut is not much of a climber and is shorter than I so I was elected to use the step and climb into the tree.  I climbed up about three feet and could not spot any cache.  I then got nervous about being able to climb back down so gave up on going higher.  I looked and looked but did not see any cache within reach.  So we reluctantly agreed to call this one a DNF.  DNF is "Did Not Find."

The worst of the steep climb up Steer Ridge was over at the intersection of Jim Donnelly trail with Steer Ridge.  We stopped here under a wonderful shady tree (that also had a cache hidden near it!) for lunch and spotted the V.O.Cal volunteers working away on the Jim Donnelly trail.  They were digging on the trail and wheel barrows were being filled with dirt and the dirt offloaded elsewhere.  I could not see where they were going to offload the dirt.  It was a marvelous lunch stop.  I had a gaterade to restore my electrolytes lost on the hot sweaty climb up the steep bit of Steer Ridge and enjoyed my tuna sandwich.  Sharon had her cheese sandwich and her Cito Max drink.  We had to put on a layer as a breeze blew in and chilled us in our sweat soaked t-shirts.

After lunch the steep climbing was pretty much over.  We hiked on the rolling hills of Steer Ridge trail.  We found about 5 or 6 caches as we hiked along Steer Ridge and enjoyed the stunning views of the spring time green hills of Henry Coe.  Many fields were full of bright orange poppies.  We also saw fiddleheads and blue eyed grass along the trail.  We soon reached Wilson Peak where we had agreed to decide on the rest of the route.  We examined our maps and determined to continue on Steer Ridge trail  to Wilson Camp and pick up the Bowl Trail there and take it to Middle Steer Ridge trail back down to the Hunting Hollow trail and then to the parking lot.

It was two more miles on Steer Ridge trail to Wilson Camp.  Much of it was mild downhill and we saw more and more poppy fields and found 2 caches along the way.  When we got to Wilson Camp we took a break.  Its a real camp for backpackers and so had an outhouse.  Its always rather nice to be on a hike where you can use an outhouse rather than have to pee in the woods!   We had a snack at the picnic table there, found yet another geocache, and headed off on the Bowl trail.

The Bowl trail was just awesome.   We found oodles of caches on it and it hugged the hillside with mild ups and downs (nothing really steep) and great views.  I love being on trails that are new to me and turn out to be fantastic!   Towards the end of the trail, the plant environment suddenly changed for a small bit to sage and sticky monkey flowers.  I love sticky monkey flowers so was excited to see them and the sage smelled nice.  As we finished up the Bowl trail it was nearly 6 pm.  The late afternoon early evening light was very cool.

At 6ish, we started our descent to Hunting Hollow trail on the Middle Steer Ridge trail.   It was a nice trail with short steep sections mixed in with flatter sections.  They were nicely timed so that you could rest the sore weary feet or knees from the last steep section!  I made lots of use of my walking stick to ease the battering on my knees and keep from slipping down the steep bits.  We continued to find oodles of caches on this downhill but had to DNF another cache.  The clue for this cache was "a fallen log".  However all the fallen logs near the coordinates had lots of poison oak around them and I easily get poison oak so try to keep it at arms length distance.  We peered at the logs from a distance but could not spot the cache.  We finally gave up as we were tired and did not want to risk getting poison oak.   We continued our descent and found our last cache of the day at the bottom of the hill along side a creek.  It was my 31st find of the day.  I didn't know that at the time.  I had simply lost count of the caches we had found (I logged them all this morning and came up with the final count of 31)!

The last bit of our trip on Hunting Hollow trail was flat but required three creek crossings.  Fortunately the water was pretty low and there were always rocks to hop on to get across without plunging our boots into the water.  Well at least I didn't plunge my boots in.  I think Sharon lost her balance once and the toe of her boot went in the water.  She finished the hike with a wet sock but it was less than 1/2 a mile so didn't bother her.  We reached the cars at 7:30 p.m.  It was fun to arrive to a jolly group of V.O. Cal volunteers talking about their day of volunteering and finishing up their dinner.  Bykenut and I packed my car with our hiking gear, extracted our wallets and other civilization gear and headed to Gilroy where we had dinner at Applebys.  It was a nice ending to our grand geocaching adventure.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

When the Blog Bug Bites

Phew.  This is the last day of NaBloPoMo.  I have come to the easy conclusion that I'm not a regular blogger and I prefer to blog whenever the blog bug bites me rather than do it regularly everyday.   Its more fun to write when the spirit moves me than at a designated time.  I suspect I will continue to blog at my usual snails pace of one or two blogs a month.    NaBloPoMo has not inspired me to blog more or to become more excited about blogging.  I'm not sure what I got out of it.  Perhaps the satisfaction that I made a promise to myself to do it and I succeeded.  Now that I know what it is like I probably won't participate again.  It was an interesting experiment and I'm still digesting what it told me about myself and my urge or not urge to write.

I'm off to watch a Stanford Women's basketball game tonight.  I nearly forgot about it until I got an email from the Stanford Women's Basketball publicity person reminding me of the game.  It was on my calendar also but I hadn't check the calendar out yet before that email.  I hate to miss a game as I paid good money for the tickets and the games are fun.  I do wish all the games were on weekends but alas about half of them are on work day evenings.   The PAC-12 games generally fall on Thursday and Saturday evenings every other week or starting in January till the beginning of March.  Tonights game is against an out of conference foe, UC Davis.

I got a new computer at work today and spent lots of time getting all the software upgraded that I need to do my job.   I didn't get much new work done but in the long run the new more powerful computer will help me do my job more efficiently.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Spent today figuring out sequence commands at work.  It sounds sort of boring but the main thing was I think I finally understand how the commands work.  Its fun to figure out something although a bit frustrating when the figuring out hasn't really resulted in any specific work getting done.  I have to think of the future when I'll be able to solve and fix the problems more quickly because of the time I spent to understand the commands.  Tomorrow I'll start using my new knowledge to debug the actual problem!!

After work, I went shopping at the drug store to get dental supplies. I have been approaching the end of the plaque rinse, the fluoride rinse, my dental floss, and my toothpaste.  Usually these items run out at different times.  I got two of everything at the drug store.  The grocery store doesn't carry the fluoride rinse my dentist recommends so I visited the neighborhood Walgreen's drug store.  As I was buying the stuff I remarked to the clerk that my teeth would be very clean.  I was hoping she would crack a smile but she didn't.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Head in the Sand

There is a part of me that just wants to stick my head in the sand when it comes to the Occupy movement and I'm feeling really guilty about that.  I have friends and family who are passionate supporters of the Occupy movement.  Perhaps I envy them their sureness that this is the right way to start fixing the unequal distribution of wealth in this country.    I am not as sure because I don't understand what is accomplished by camping for a long time in front of public places and I wonder what needs to happen before the occupiers will stop occupying public places.  I should probably get my head out of the sand and go read the Occupy movements web sites to further educate myself, eh?   My family has even admonished me to do so :-)   I should go search out that email and check out the web sites and put my head in the cloud rather than the sand!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Restful Day

I was going to go on a long hike today but I woke up feeling so tired that I decided to just spend the day at home.   I watched the Jets vs Bills game in between falling asleep on the couch!   I managed to be awake for all but one touch down.  I'm presently listening to the Raiders play the Bears.  If I hear excited announcer voices, I turn around and watch the replay!  I'm not usually a big football fan but today I'm enjoying it.

I spent part of the afternoon transforming my dining room table from "where my lap top sits and mail piles up" to a clean table top with a jig saw puzzle spread out on it!   I had to sort through tons of junk mail.  Then I spent some time shredding this junk mail.  I had to take a break to clear jams from my shredder.  I guess I was working it too hard!  With the jam fixed, I shredded the rest of the junk mail and carted the shreds to the recycling bin in my condo complex.  Then I moved my lap top to a small dinner tray right next to the soon to be puzzle table.

I got out my hardest jigsaw puzzle and have spread all the pieces out on the table and I'm in the process of putting together the edges.  I find that doing jigsaw puzzles is very much a solitary pleasure for me.  When I do it with other people I have control issues.  I want them to do the puzzle exactly how I do it.  All the pieces must be spread out before you start putting any together.  Then you do the edges.  Then the middle.  I get frustrated when these procedures are not followed.

I also got the dishes done this afternoon and made myself a nice turkey sandwich with the left over turkey S. so kindly let me take home with me after the dinner last night.  The dinner at S's house was great.  She is an excellent cook and made many delicious dishes.  We also had some high quality wines with dinner and port to finish off the meal!  

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hiking and Thanksgiving Two

Busy day today so I better get my NaBloPoMo post done early this morning.  I'm going hiking with the Loma Prieta Gay and Lesbian Sierra Club at Alum Rock park.  The park is in southeast San Jose.  We are going to do the Boccardo loop trail and hike on the south and north rim trails.  I believe we are pretty much going to hit most of the trails in the park.  In all its supposed to be an 8 mile hike with roughly 1500 feet of elevation gain.  It will be good to get some exercise and burn of a small portion of my second Thanksgiving dinner after the hike is over.  When the hike is over, I'll scurry home for a hot shower and then drive to south San Jose to a friend's house for a second Thanksgiving dinner.   Hopefully the hike will end as advertised at around 4 p.m.  That gives me just enough time to drive home, shower, and drive to south San Jose.  Dinner is set to start at 6 p.m.

I have a hiked planned tomorrow but so far no one has RSVPed so I may bag it and sleep in and go on a less rigorous solo hike and perhaps go Christmas shopping.  Hopefully the black Friday crowds will have dissipated a bit.  I'm not real keen on shopping but I would like to get it done early this year and have packages in the mail by around Dec 10th.   I thought I might drive to downtown Mountain View and walk up and down Castro street stopping in shops there.  It might be nice to give business to the smaller shops rather than the big mall shops!  I suspect I'll end up in book stores buying books as presents.  Its hard to go wrong with books in my family and we are nearly all avid readers!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Launches and Losses

Nearly forgot about my post for today but its 9:53 pm and its still Nov 25 so on with NaBloPoMo.  I went to the satellite launch today at Space Systems Loral.  It was fun but I have to admit I was disappointed that they did not have a t-shirt in my size.  After most launches, SSL and the customer who ordered the satellite usually make a t-shirt and give it away to those that attend the launch.    Today there were no t-shirts in my size.  Instead I ended up picking up an Asiasat7/SSL coffee mug.  It has a picture of Hong Kong (where the Asiasat company is located) on the mug with SSL and Asiasat logos in the corners of the picture.  I guess you can tell one of the things I like about launches is the free gifts!

The launch itself went well but as usual it was standing room only in the cafeteria and I was shifting about to try and get a view of the screen.  I managed to get on my toes and see the liftoff pretty clearly.   As it lifted off we all cheered and then watched for maybe a minute and then many of us rushed for the swag line so we could get good stuff.  I'll have to check the web site tomorrow a.m. to see if the satellite has started its maneuvers to get in the proper orbit and get all set up.   Its probably a week or so till you know the satellite is set up how it should be and working properly.

I got in some exercise today by walking to and from work for the launch.  Its 1.6 miles to the cafeteria at work from my condo door.   It took me about 35 minutes to make the walk.  I was most surprised with how sweaty I got.  I wore a sweatshirt and a heavy rain jacket.  About half way there I removed the rain jacket.  I never needed it.  I would have been fine with just the sweatshirt.  Oh well.  Does being sweaty burn more calories?  On the way home I carried the coffee mug and poster and jacket all the way home.  I should have brought my backpack with me so I could put everything inside it and not have to have everything in my arms!  It was a pleasant walk home.  I spend the afternoon relaxing and in the late afternoon decided to bake some more chocolate chip cookies.

I took a small bag of the freshly baked cookies with me to eat while I watched the Stanford vs Cal women's volleyball match.  The first three sets were really tight.  Stanford took the first one.  Then Cal won the second.  There was a half time break.  Then Cal came out and squeaked out the third set.  Then the wind fell out of Stanford's sails and they just couldn't get it together for the fourth set and Cal won it easily.  So the final score was 3 sets to 1 with Cal winning.  This was the last regular season game of the season.  The first week of December the volleyball national championship tournament starts.  Stanford has a very good chance of making it into the tournament.  This Sunday, the brackets for the tournament will be announced.  Stanford will probably host a first and second round at their home court and I plan to buy tickets to see the games.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Thanksgiving has gotten off to a wonderful start with being able to sleep in.  I stirred at 6:20 a.m. and had the wonderful realization that I did not have to get up for work but could keep sleeping.  I ended up sleeping till 8:05 a.m.  Now I'm eating breakfast and writing this post.  I figure once I jump in my car and drive to SF for Thanksgiving with my brother's family, I won't have time to get on the internet and write something.  I probably won't get home till around 11 pm I'm guessing.

Here are some things I'm thankful for ...

(1) My parents are still alive and healthy at 83 and 88.
(2) I have a good job that pays well and I like the work
(3) My health.  Except for being a tad bit overweight, I'm feeling healthy.
(4) The asexual community I have found on line
(5) The Loma Prieta Gay and Lesbian Sierra Club section
(6) Good friends
(7) Books and the authors who write them!