Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Sleepy, Sleepy, Sleepy. When will I ever learn that if I go to bed at 11:30 p.m. and get up at 6 a.m. I'll be tired all day. I just got sucked into TV last night: Big Brother IV, Last Comic Standing, and Law and Order. My memory seems to desert me at night as I keep saying "Oh I'll just stay up another hour, it won't be so bad tomorrow." Then tomorrow comes and ug ... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Tonight CCC is coming over and we'll pack up our backpacks and put them in my car so we can take off right at 2 p.m. when I get off work on Thursday. Yesterday afternoon after work, CCC and I put up her tent to make sure all the parts were there and that there was room enough for two in the tent. There was and the tent did have all its parts. We will be camping or staying at a motel Thursday night. The backpack trip starts early Friday afternoon.

Monday, July 28, 2003

Tuolumne Meadows trip photos are up now. Go to my webshot page and select album Tuolumne2003.

Here is a picture of my cute new nephew, Max.

My Yosemite trip was very fun but very tiring. I left the bay area at 11:30 a.m. on Friday. I made good time until highway 205 when I ran into stop and go traffic. I decided to take a lunch break at Tracy in hopes the traffic would improve when I got back on the freeway. I munched down a hamburger, fries, and frosty at Wendy's. I headed back on to 205. It was still trafficy but not as bad as before lunch. I drank lots of liquids on the drive to get well hydrated for the high altitude hikes. Highway 120 was free of traffic. I decided to give the Priest Grade road a try in the climb up to Groveland on 120. I didn't mind the driving conditions (steep and twisty) but my car minded. By the top my engine temperature gage had edged a little closer to the red zone. I stopped for a rest break, to get more gas and to let the engine cool a little just before Groveland. By the time I was done visiting the porta potty, getting something to drink, and fillin gup the car with gas, the engine temperature had dropped back to normal. Phew. The rest of the drive was uneventful but beautiful as I neared Tuolumne meadows. I arrived at the campsite at 5 p.m. to a site deserted of people but with lots of tents up. I figured most folks were on the Mt. Hoffman hike that started at 2:00 p.m. I put up my tent, got my food in the bear locker, and then fixed myself some dinner. By the time I was all done with dinner folks finally started arriving back from their day's hiking. It was a really nice group of people. We had fun socializing that night. I teamed up with one of the women's 10 year old daughter to try and start a coal fire. It was fun because the 10 year old was so inton it and hung on my every word. However we failed to start the coals. We had no lighter fluid or coal starter contraption so were trying to get them to start with newspapers. The papers just didn't stay lit long enough to catch the coals. The problem was finally solved when we found another bag of matchlight coals and this time these coals were easily lit with just a match. I head to bed around 9 p.m. as I needed lots of sleep before the hike on Saturday.

Saturday I was up at 7 a.m. after a fairly good nights sleep. I did have to rouse myself a couple times to visit the restroom because I had drunk so much liquids. I got myself some breakfast, packed up my backpack for the Clouds Rest hike, put on gobs of sun screen, and continued to drink water to keep me well hydrated. Everyone was ready for the hike by 9:30 a.m. We caught a shuttle to Tenaya Lake and were on the trail by 10:30 a.m. It was a beautiful day: sunny but with wonderful whispy white clouds wandering around the sky. The first challenge of the hike was rock hopping across a stream. Everyone managed it. Then came the big hill climb up the switch back trail. I just put my head down and trudged up it. At Sunrise junction (the top of the switch backs) we had a rest. Then we were off hiking the relatively flat portion. There were lots if flowers to gaze at on this section and one peaceful still pond. After the flat portion we started our climb up to Clouds Rest. It was so beautiful on top. We did have to coax several people over the scary rock scramble to the top. Two folks passed on the scramble and waited for us to return. About 4 folks were very glad they braved the scramble. There is an incredible view of Yosemite valley, Half Dome, and mountain peaks to be seen from Clouds Rest. There was a cute little chipmunk on Cloud's Rest wandering around looking for food handouts or crumbs. He got a raison I dropped on the ground. I didn't drop it for him but it was cute to see him nibble on it while holding it between his paws. I try to not feed animals in the wild but I have to admit it was very cute to watch this chipmunk nibble at the raison. After lunch and picture taking we started back to Tenaya Lake. At Sunrise junction we checked the time and it was 4 p.m. We started booking it down to Tenaya at that point because we wanted to catch the 5:30 p.m. shuttle. We made it to the Shuttle stop at 5:15 and caught the shuttle! If we hadn't caught the shuttle we would have been stuck there till 6:30 p.m. when the next shuttle was scheduled at the stop. Everyone was in good spirits and very pleased with the day's hike.

Saturday night I bought myself a burger at the grill and brought it back to camp and joined others who were cooking themselves dinner. We had many good conversations. Shortly after we finished dinner the sky started to darken and sporadic rain was dropping on us. We heard faint thunder too. Everyone was sort of rushing around to get rain jackets and put away stuff that needed to stay dry into the bear lockers. Then one of us noticed a rainbow in the sky. I walked out to a clearing and it was a double rainbow. I took some pictures and I hope they turn out! I headed to bed when the rain started to get more steady. I read the book I had brought with me for a bit until nature called and I had to make a trip to the restroom. I was back in my tent at 9 p.m. and went to sleep. I was woken up at 11:30 p.m. by a full bladder and noisy neighbors. I got up to go to the bathroom and maybe to ask the neighbor's to quiet down a bit. Fortunately when I got back the neighbor's had quieted down considerably so I didn't have to have a confrontation with them. I had another good nights sleep.

Sunday was the Mt. Dana hike. My preparations were a repeat of Saturday's. The only surprise was when I went to sign in for the hike, I had become a co-leader of the hike without anyone asking me if I would do it. I did say OK I'll co-lead. What they really wanted was for me to be the sweep. One of the other two leaders had her fill of sweeping the day before and the other leader didn't want to sweep either so it fell to me. I don't mind sweeping and find it more relaxing than being up front leading the way. Mt. Dana was the big hike for me. Last time I had hiked to Mt. Dana, I was mildly altitude sick and very dehydrated. I had finished the hike with a very painful headache. This time I drank like a fish all weekend to get ready for the Dana hike. I also took some aspirin before the hike and when I reached the peak. I tried to drink lots on the hike too. I drank two quarts of water but only managed to eat 2/3 of a Cliff Bar while on the hike. We had to skidaddle off the peak where I was going to eat lunch because the skies were darkening and we didn't want to be up there in a thunder storm! I had a slight stomach ache on the way up which made the last bit of the hike climbing over lots of large rock. I had to stop every 10 steps or so during the last bit to catch my breath and let my stomach settle down a bit. We determined that the stomach problem was not related to altitude because it wasn't queasiness. It was more like painful gas. Ug. When I got to the top and had a small rest and passed some wind so to speak I felt much better. I didn't have a headache. Keeping hydrated definitely helped a whole bunch. The hike itself was lots of steep switchbacks in the first half and lots of rock scrambling in the top half. It was very challenging and strenuous but two of us just trudged along in the rear trying not to think about how far it was to the top. The other woman stuck with me because she liked my pace. We made it to the top in about 3.5 hours. Then we motored down the mountain in 2 hours. I was very happy to have completed the hike without getting dehydrated or altitude sick this time.

After the hike it was time to drive home. I gave D. a ride home as his ride wasn't going to leave till Monday morning and he wanted to return Sunday night. We had a nice time catching up with each other's news. We made great time on the drive home. We ran into zero traffic. I got D. to his house in a little under 5 hours. I was home about 30 minutes later. I did do a scatter brained thing on the way home. I stopped at a gas station. I took my gas cap off and went to pump the gas when I discovered they didn't take a credit card. I had just enough gas to get home so I decided to leave and fill up the tank when I got to Mtn. View where I could use my credit card. If you haven't guessed it by now, I drove away without replacing the gas cap. I'm now short a gas cap. This afternoon I'll go to an auto parts store and see if they sell gas caps for my make of car. Oh well. It wouldn't be a proper trip without at least one snafu.

All in all it was a marvelous weekend at Yosmite. The company was good and I tackled some really challenging and beautiful hikes. I'm tired and sore this Monday but I'm not surprised. All that down hill really took it to my knees. I was groaning as I came down the stairs this morning. But I think the soreness will go away quickly. I should be back to my old self by the backpacking trip coming up this next Thursday to Monday.

I'll have pictures up by tomorrow!

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Oh one last thing ... if you are going to buy a National Parks pass and are an REI member you can get the pass for $39.99 instead of $50.00 directly from the National Parks. I bought a new pass Monday.

I still haven't been called in to the court house. Jury duty feels like what being on call must feel. I'm stuck having to spend the week around town. This will mostly bug me tomorrow because I wanted to leave for Yosemite and the Double Trouble GLS trip at noon but jury duty might mess that up. I told J. I was driving myself and to expect me some time between 5 p.m. and midnight. I'm skipping the Hoffman hike (this trip could have been called Triple Trouble).

Going to walk to Mallard hill again tonight with CCC -- we need our fix before I head off for the weekend challenging myself on the hiking trails of Yosemite. After the walk I have to get the car packed with my car camping and hiking gear. I may end up making a late trip to the grocery store to buy last minute food and drink items.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

I have jury duty this week. So far all it has consisted of is looking at the jury web page everyday to see if I am supposed to report to a court house. So far the only messages I have gotten on the web page are check the web page again between this time and this time. I'm hoping that this continues all week long and I don't have to be on a jury. I have a backpack trip planned Aug 1-4 and if I end up on an actual jury I may have to just backpack Aug 2-3 and I'll mess up CCC's plan to car pool with me.

Last weekend was fun. My hike to Coal Mine Ridge went well. 6 people showed up for the hike. That's a nice number. The Coal Mine Ridge trails were mostly in the shade and the predicted 100+ F temperatures didn't seem to materialize. We even had a nice breeze for the last bit of the hike. We had lunch under these two big trees that had a real nice hammock strung between them. I gave the hammock a try. It was very comfy. Later CCC also gave it a try. She liked it too. Everyone enjoyed walking around the green algae covered lake.

After the hike, CCC and I drove home. I got to see her condo. CCC only lives a couple blocks away from me. We logged on to her computer to find out when Winged Migration was showing. We decided to go to the 4:15 p.m. showing at the Acquarius theatre in Palo Alto. I headed home to take a shower before the movie. The movie was awesome. I highly recommend it. Its a film about bird migrations with incredible shots of all sorts of birds. At the beginning of the film the announcer said that all of the film was film of actual birds not special effects. They must have had truly patient filmers and ones willing to fly next to the birds way up in the air (maybe using an ultra light plane) to get the shots of them flying on the migration routes. After the film I dropped CCC off and had a quiet evening at home vedging and watching TV.

Sunday CCC picked me up at 1:30 p.m. I was off to a CCC family barbecue party with her. It was held at a retirement place for folks from the military near Fairfield. It was a pool party. The swimming pool was inside but there were lots of glass doors all around it so you could see outside. I liked this I got the sense of being outdoors but didn't have to slather myself with sun screen. We had fun batting around a big beach ball with all of CCC's nieces, nephews, cousins, sisters, and sisters' husbands. After swimming we all sat outdoors under the canopies and had hamburgers, potato salad, and the other usual barbecue fare. CCC's family is a very lively bunch. It was a fun party. I was happy that I felt comfortable and my shyness was not so bad that day. I was a hit with one of CCC's aunts because I was willing to take home some left over potato salad, chocolate cake, and soda. On the drive home CCC and I had a nice long talk. We disclosed a lot of personal stuff to each other.

Yesterday I went in for my estate planning appointment with Linda Silveria, a lawyer. She convinced me to set up a revocable living trust instead of a will. I weighed all the pros and cons and thought the trust was a better option. She will be drawing up the trust and call me to come in for another appointment to go through it and be sure everything is how I desire. Its gonna cost me about $1000.00. A will would have been cheaper but I deciced the trust was worth the extra cost.

I also went walking with CCC at Shoreline park yesterday evening. Unbeknownst to us while we were walking to and from Mallard hill, L. was having Max, her second baby boy. Baby Max Roberts was born at 10:30 p.m. EST last night. I now have two nephews: Sascha and his brother Max. Max weighs 8lb 2oz and was born with a nice head of light hair. L. was in labor for 8 hours which was much better than her labor of 30 hours with Sascha. She and baby Max are doing fine.

Friday, July 18, 2003

Dinner on Wednesday night with Wen and Ki was marvelous. We got to soak in Marcia's hot tub after dinner. That was a nice surprise. I ended up not getting the yummy dessert because I got all filled up with my boca burger with grilled onions, skinny fries, and a fruit smoothie. It was the fruit smoothie that topped me off so I didn't feel like dessert. I got to ride in Wen's new used truck. Its nice for a used truck. She got nice new wheels for it too.

CCC is coming on my hike tomorrow and then we are going to go see the movie, Winged Migration probably in Palo Alto at the Aquarius theatre. Although we may go for a late afternoon discount show in Campbell to save some dollars. CCC has seen it already. She said she would enjoy seeing it again though.

I finished filling out the estate value form sent to me by the lawyer I'm going to see about setting up a will (or maybe a trust). I'll call her some time today to arrange for an appointment to talk about it. My possible lawyers name is Linda Silveria. She was a referal from my Raytheon Life Resources benefit. If I like her I'll stick with her but if not I'll try another lawyer. So far I like her from dealing with her on the phone.

I'm going to finish up getting some chores done after work today. I need to go put my birth certificate and passport back in my safety deposit box at Wells Fargo. I had gotten them to prove to Raytheon that I was a U.S. citizen. Then I am going to go get the car washed. Its very dusty from the drive on the dirt road to Butte Lake in Lassen. Yesterday I got the oil changed in my car and the mechanic commented on how dirty my car was and sort of hinted that I should get it cleaned by suggesting I get the gas tank filled up at the Valero gas station and get the free car wash that comes with filling your tank.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

I'm off to have dinner with Wen and Ki after work at Saturn Cafe. Last time I got together with them was on graduation day, Friday, July 13. Geez, its been almost a month. It should be fun catching up with each other. I think I'll have that yummy chocolate dessert at Saturn.

I have a hike to lead on Saturday for OAW. It will be at Coal Mine Ridge in a Portola Valley Town park. So far two folks have expressed an interest in coming on the hike. Sunday I'm off to a barbecue with CCC. I get to meet some of her kooky family (her description, not mine). One of the best things about this weekend is I get to sleep in both Saturday and Sunday. The hike isn't till 11 a.m. and CCC isn't picking me up till 1:30 p.m. on Sunday for the barbecue. I need a weekend where I can catch up on sleep

The meeting is over. We have action items set up. I'm glad that's done.

In 10 minutes I have to meet with F. at work to find out what work he is doing so I can write it up in the task plan. It will be good to get the chore over with. F. has worked with my brother Bob in the past and Bob says he is a cool guy. I need to get my brain in gear for this.

Friday, July 11, 2003

This is a first for me: my belt broke. It was one of these belts made of cloth and leather. The leather bits had the fastner while the cloth bit went around back. Well the cloth bit ripped away from the leather this morning as I was tightening up the belt. Oops. I had to fish out my green webbing belt. I always thought of belts as being some what indestructable.

Two days ago I got a lawyer referal from the Raytheon resource program (one of my work benefits). Yesterday I called the lawyer to ask about making a will and making an advanced health directive. She is sending me a form to fill out about my assets and then we will make an appointment to talk about if I should do a trust or a will (and whether I want to hire her). She seemed very capable and nice on the phone. I have already made a list of my assets so it shouldn't be hard to transfer the info to the form.

Found a funny list of questions today on the www. Poke on the link for a good laugh.

I'm going to go refrigerator shopping tomorrow. I'm hoping that I can get a new fridge with part of the deal being that they take away the old fridge. I think I'll go to Meyers Appliances in downtown Mtn. View and go check out Sears (where America shops). I want to buy a very energy efficient refrigerator. I'll have to measure the space I have for a fridge. The current fridge fits in the space almost exactly. I'm thinking I would like to get a smaller fridge so I can use the extra bit of space to store my mop, bucket, and broom. I'm getting tired of tripping over them in my little laundry closet.

I disposed of my broken monitor, broken radio, and broken VCR a couple days ago. I found a place in San Jose called the Computer Recycling Center. They will take old monitors off your hands for $15.00 and will take certain other stuff for free (like home electronics ... my radio and my VCR). It was cool to get these things to a place that might be able to recycle them instead of having them put in a dump somewhere.

Brother Bob shaved his head (but not his beard). I think I liked him better with skimpy hair but I was looking at pictures of him I have and most of the time he wears a bandana or a hat on his head so I don't really remember exactly what he looked like with hair -- so why not shave it off. I expect I'll get used to the new look pretty soon.

Sunday, July 06, 2003

I had a nice time at Lassen. I was camping with Gay and Lesbian Sierrans and had signed up to lead a couple of hikes: one on Friday and one on Saturday. I did not have a nice time on the drive to Lassen: the traffic was awful despite leaving the SF bay area at noon. I got stuck on highway 680 and highway 80 for an hour. When I finally reached highway 5, the traffic was normal and I sped along at 70 mph. When I got close to Lassen I had troubles finding the Butte Lake road. The directions were not accurate and said to look for the road 44 miles from Redding on highway 44. So at 44 miles I started looking and slowing down at every dirt road I saw. It turns out the road was 70+ miles away not 44. After turning onto the Butte lake road, it turned out to be a dirt road and much of it was wash board. I finally arrived at the campground at 7:30 p.m. I found a nice spot for my tent and unpacked my stuff and sat and talked with C. and C. and then heading to bed around 9:30 p.m. Friday I led a hike to Prospect Peak. It was a 6.6 mile hike with 2300 feet of elevation. It started on the Cinder Cone nature trail. I only got 2 folks signed up (A. and C.) for the hike but that was cool as it is much easier to lead smaller groups than large ones. C. grabbed a nature trail description brochure as we started the trail. Fortunately she noticed that the Prospect Peak trail took off at stop number 9. If I hadn't know that I would have walked right by the trail. Fallen trees blocked the trail and the trail was not very obvious, but after wandering about a bit, C. saw a reflector on a tree and we figured that was a trail marker. We started the long uphill slog to Propsect Peak. It was a very steady uphill with no real steep parts. We took our time going up. It took a while to get to the top. We stopped for lunch just before the top as C. and A. needed to refuel. Both were quite tired. Lunch perked them up and we hiked the last little bit to the top of Prospect Peak. We found the peak marker and a peak log in a metal can. We got out the log and signed it. The views from the top were awesome. We could see Mount Shasta, Mount Lassen, Snag Lake, and the Cinder Cone. There was a snow melt lake at the top too (Prospect Peak is an old volcano so actually has a depression on the top which is where the lake was located). We took photos of each other standing in front of the lake and next to a patch of snow that was still not melted. Then we headed back down the trail and back to camp. It was much easier going down and we just flew down. We got into camp at 4 p.m. and had a nice time talking about the hike and all sorts of other stuff.

Friday night was potluck night. It took a while to get the potluck started. The food was good though and worth the wait. I went to my tent around 9 to do some reading before going to sleep. It was nice to sit in my cozy tent and read a good book while listening to the happy sounds of folks enjoying a camp fire after the potluck. I stopped reading at 10:30 p.m. and roused myself to make a visit to the bathroom. I returned to my tent and snuggled into my sleeping bag and fell asleep.

Saturday I led a hike to the Cinder Cone. The trail was easy to find for this hike. It is an extremely popular hike in the Butte Lake area of Lassen Volcanic National Park. This time I was leading a group of 4 and I had a coleader. We hiked to the cone and hiked around the back of the cone to come up the steep path in the back. We didn't know it was steep till we got there though. It was a beautiful hike going around to the back of the cone. You could see the beautiful brown orangy dunes up close. We all made it up to the top of the cone OK. It was quite a haul but worth it. The top of the cone is cool (another depression inside). This cone has very little vegetation on it and the hike up it is mostly on gravel that slips as you hike up it. At the top you could see Mt. Lassen, Mt. Shasta, Prospect Peak, Butte Lake and Snag Lake. We had lunch on top and got to witness a ranger at work. He came up to us and asked us to move to another area for lunch as he was about to site a group of people making their way up the trail for having gone off trail on the dunes below. We saw him give the tickets at a distance and the folks getting the tickets didn't make a ruckus or anything. They just took their tickets after, I imagine, a scolding from the ranger. We saw them later on the way down. They seemed to have managed to not let the ticket spoil their fun. I had a ball going down the Cinder Cone trail. We went down the front trail. It was wider and less steep than the back trail. I found it easy to bound down the trail as the gravel softened the landing on my legs and feet. I ran down the last of the trail. While waiting for the rest of the folks to descend three of us were standing under a tree for shade when we were suddenly enveloped by a dust devil (a little dust tornado). It was wild. It really blew hard. The sand hitting my legs felt like lots of little needle pricks. I put my back to the wind but the direction of it changed as it blew past and I had to quickly cover my face with my hat. The other two managed to get some shelter from the tree trunk. It was over pretty quick. The other folks said it was wild seeing the dust devil go over us. I thought it was a cool if slightly painful experience. The rest of the hike was uneventful. When we got back to the campground, I said goodbye to everyone and started the drive home.

The drive home was better than the drive there, but I was still frustrated to run into some traffic on highway 80. However, I made it home in 6 hours instead of 7.5 hours. I got home at 8 p.m. and took a hot shower. After the shower, there was a little pile of sand in the bathrub. That dust devil got sand all over me, especially in my hair. I had to wash my hair twice to get it all out. It was a very pleasurable camping trip at Lassen with two interesting and fun hikes and good company.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Ah. Donuts make me happy. I got myself a couple of them on the way home and now I'm munching them down.

Soon I need to get laundry started and pack up the rest of my stuff for the Lassen camping trip. I have a feeling its going to be a zoo at Lassen -- lots of crowds there for the holiday weekend.

I put some pictures from Trinity on my webshots page. I like the one where I'm standing on the snow. I also like the tall cedar tree and Eleonor lake.