Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Dying? Never fear, MHG is here!

You are reading a walking, talking, CPR and first aid certified tennis coach. So if any tennis balls get lodged into high schoolers, I'll be able to save the day! Or, as I learned, I can just walk away. As long as I don't start CPR, I can leave... OK, I wouldn't do that, that is the mean side of happyguy.

Tennis practice went alright, I've gotta make some cuts tomorrow, and I'm still not sure who to keep and who to cut. Some of the kids I'm thinking about cutting have won more than other kids, but they're winning by lobbing the ball back into play, not hitting good, solid strokes. Lobbing only gets you so far, and I'd really like to see solid strokes that aren't as consistent... which is contrary to how I played tennis in high school--which makes it a morally difficult decision. I might not have made the team using my own logic!

After tennis practice, I made a quick trip to the pool. I swam a season's best 3 laps, then hit the diving board for a few minutes before heading back home. I really suck at swimming when it comes to stamina. After only three laps, my head was spinning, which makes jumping off the diving board much more difficult. When I was nine years old we would swim dozens of laps a day at swim practice, and I fancy myself in better shape now than I was then. Weird.

At least tomorrow after breaking hopes and dreams of teenagers, I get to go over to Jeremy's house and fantasy football it up! We've got a draft at 8pm, and he's got wireless internet, so a few of us are heading over there to drink and talk shit. Ah, how I love talking shit about sports. Especially with Jeremy and Marc, because from the bottom of my heart: YOU SUCK!

Friday morning Dad and I head out to Spider Meadows for an overnight hike, expect some more hiking pictures. We'll be back Saturday night for a few post-hike brewskies and a soak in the hot tub. Rough life.

Sunday: pool party!

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Holla at Me

Man, I haven't listened to Tupac in a while... good times. Tupac always reminds me of long high school nights riding around Seattle in Andrew's Honda, bumping the greatest rapper ever.

I just got back from hanging out at Tyler's place. It was a gorgeous summer day in Seattle, topping out at around 75 degrees... and I was cooped up in a First Aid training class down in South Seattle. I was ready to go toss the frisbee over at Greenlake the second I stepped out of the Red Cross office, and lucky for me, Tyler was down too.

We tossed for a bit, and finally got some long-tossing in, which we haven't done for a while. We usually keep the tossing short so we can chit-chat, but we backed it up a bit today and I got to run around a bit and throw some hucks. Frisbee fulfilled for the time being, thanks Tybo.

We walked back to his place and watched "300" for the first time. Renee and Tyler had already seen it, but didn't mind watching it again. I liked it, although I don't think it's at the Braveheart or Gladiator level. After the movie, Renee went to bed and Tyler fired up WoW. He got his 3v3 pvp team together with Mike and Guang, and I got to witness some high level arena pvp for the first time.

Before tonight, their combined record was something shabby like 7 wins and 20 losses. Tonight, they finished with 8 or 9 wins and only 4 or 5 losses, so they were doing very well! Three of their losses came against the same team with two druids and a rogue--which has me looking forward to playing my druid at high level, they've got quite a few options when they hit 70.

Ichi is staring down at me from the top of the computer I've got on my desk downstairs. He's got a little booger, but I think I'll let it stay there and let Watson make fun of him tomorrow. Ichi doesn't seem to like Tupac as much as I do, dumb cat.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, August 27, 2007

Late Summer Cleaning

I've switched a few things around on the blog. I did a bit of reminiscing last week and went back to check out a few of my very first posts on this blog. They had a lot more to do with creative writing than the daily journal this blog has become, hence the "fun with words" title. In an attempt to get back into creative writing, I've created a fun-with-words blog, and removed that title from this here blog. I hope to get a lot of my creative stuff down on that blog, and keep this blog for poker and daily updates.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Lake Tapps'n It!

Have I already said how nice it is to be home?

Tyler, Marc and I spent Saturday morning hitting some tennis balls down at Bryant Park. Marc's started out the day with a "practice serve" that ended up being a homerun--clearing the fence by a wide margin. His serve picked up as we kept playing, and he got aces on both Tyler and I. I got a few aces of my own in, and we had a good time playing for maybe 90 minutes. Tyler never really played much tennis growing up, but his racquetball skills translate well to the game and he held his own against me and Marc.

We dropped Tyler off at his place, picked up Sarah at the U-Village QFC, then headed down to Lake Tapps. We hit a mighty big traffic jam on the way down to Auburn, and it took us about twice as long to get there than usual--but I napped in the back seat for a bit of the wait. I guess all four lanes of traffic were closed on I-5 South near Tacoma due to a big accident involving a car from the northboud lanes hopping the median. If I was riding my bike and that happened, it'd be game over for me. No continues.

The weather was pretty crappy out at the lake, it was drizziling rain when we got to the cabin. Usually when the weather is crappy, the lake is a pretty boring place to be. We play cards and what not, but the big appeal to the lake is obviously the water and having fun in the sun. That said, this trip was easily the most fun I've had out there in crappy weather.

Sarah, Marc and I were the first three out to the lake, and we started the afternoon off with some 3-handed pinnochle. Marc crushed us. We switched the game to Lier's Dice after finding a few extra dice in the Clue and Pictionary boxes. Lier's Dice is a game I picked up from Conor, Kristen and B.J. in Davis during a bye in a frisbee tournament this summer. The game is crazy amounts of fun. Lots of lying, lots of trickery--my kind of game! Coronas #1, #2 and #3 were drank during these first two games.

Jeremy showed up around 6pm, with two young ladies, neither his girlfriend... scandalous! Not really, Tanya had to work, and the two attractive ladies were friends from work, who also happen to captain the kickball team Marc and Jeremy picked up with this summer. Kim is from Massachusetts, and we spent a good amount of time talking about how the Yankees Suck! and some of the differences between West Coast and East Coast. Liz is from Michigan, and she might have the most energy of any 24-year old I've ever met. She was wrestling with Marc's co-worker Jamison, who is also a cop-in-training. Liz ended up on the ground with her hands in cuffed position more than once, but she tried a number of different tactics to try and take down the big guy. One included pretty much jumping onto him and wrapping her legs around him... maybe I should look into a career change.

Sam showed up a bit later, and we had a game of Asshole already going. He hopped right in and assumed the roll, and I think he kept the roll from that point on. I was Asshole a few times, and although a usually nice Asshole, I decided to change tactics for last night's game. Every card I dealt out, I was making people drink. As expected, I had my comeupance after the last card was dealt and power was restored to El' Presidente' Kim. Eventually the game changed to Bullshit Pyramid, one of Marc's favorites. We also got a few games of Lier's Dice in at some point, but my memory is a bit foggy.

Corona #4, Coors Light #5, PBR's #6, #7, Alaskan Amber #8, Fat Tire #9 and Miller Lite #10 were drank during the fun games.

I'm not sure how, but it was decided to start playing sardines. Marc hid while the rest of us drank out on the porch. Sam was wearing a headband that he stole from Liz, and Jamison requested a Karate Kid impression that almost was the end of Sammy C-K. He was in the crane position, went to kick and kicked a chair, stumbled backwards towards the railing... the small of his back hit the railing and he started flailing. He caught himself at the last second, and if not for the catch, he would have had a nice little drunken fall over the railing to tell the paramedics about.

We got to bed around 3am, and I woke up this morning around 9am to eggs and breakfast sausages by Chef Marc. They were a nice compliment to the poppiseed cake my Dad whipped up for us to bring out to the lake. Thanks, Dad! I was quite groggy this morning, and there was a tiny piece of me wishing I had consumed at least a drink or two of water before I went to bed. Jumping in the lake sobered me up quickly post-breakfast. We played all of the usual sports, wiffle ball, frisbee, football, and of course, Lake Tapps Hack.

Ed and June showed up as we were finishing lunch out on the porch. Talked with them for a bit, then Kim needed to get back to Seattle for some afternoon work. We all had a great time and are probably heading back out to the Lake again in late October to celebrate Liz and Marc's birthdays, which are one day apart.

My laptop is on the fritz. More on that later.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I'm a Lightweight


So, Seattle has these gargoylish, cyborg street lights. During the day, they function on a normal, American rotating sequence. But at night, things start to get a little crazy! The normal, fair sequence goes out the window as soon as dusk hits, and the weight-induced sensors activate--much like the gargoyles from my favorite cartoon on Friday afternoons grades 6 through 8.

In theory (if that isn't a harbringer of doom for this paragraph, I don't know what is...)... in theory... it works out great. The light stays green one way until a car comes in the other direction, then the light changes for that person until someone comes in the original direction the light was green. The problem for me lies in the fact that I am just too damned skinny. The combined weight of me and my 300lb motorcycle isn't enough to register the weight-scale, so the light stays red for eternity. I toyed with hopping off my bike and hitting the pedestrian signal, but I wasn't positive it would make my light green at 65th and 25th AVE, because the north and south green lights are split up. After a minute of getting shafted on the light right-of-way, I gunned it up the hill and back home. F cyborg lights.

Other fun things tonight:

The second-place vote getter for my title this evening was: "If I was an Aboriginee, You'd be Dead!" My Mom and I headed down to University of Washington for the first Women's Volleyball game of the season tonight around 7pm. We rolled through the light at 25th AVE and I think 50th, where it crosses the Burke Gilman. I thought I spied Tessa and Jared on their bikes waiting to cross 25th, but the girl looked much taller than the Tessa I remember. We swung up to our usual parking spot in a restricted, but never checked, parking area up on the UW campus and walked down to the pavillion. On the way, we walk on a road parallel to the Burke Gilman. The road is just above the trail, and we eventually make our way down onto the trail via various dirt paths that lead down to the B.G.T. As we were walking down the dirt path, Tessa and Jared go whizzing by on their sporty bikes towards Gasworks.

How was the ride?

No sooner do I unswivel my head and tell Mom about knowing those two people on the bikes, when I almost run into Marie Holzapel. She was on the latin class trip I took to Italy my Sophomore year at RHS, and she is the preppy blonde-type I longed after for much of my youth. She was walking down the trail talking with another girl I recognized, but couldn't put a name to. She didn't notice me *single tear*, but it was kind of weird running into 3 people I know within about 20 feet of each other on a foresty section of the Burke Gilman Trail.

I didn't say "Hi" to any of them, but it still weird for me to run into people I know. After living in Tacoma, Sacramento, Portland and Tahoe for the last seven years, I've gotten used to not knowing anyone where I go out. Coaching at a local high school isn't going to make me any less anonymous. I've already had to watch what I wear to tennis practice. My normal attire consists of wanna-be cool shirts with snazzy sayings, like, "I get loaded at Gray Lumber" or various beer shirts. In high school and college, they were all the rage (or banned). When I'm coaching high school, they just don't seem very appropriate, so it is usually just a plain ol' white shirt or a sporty shirt for me.

Lake Tapps tomorrow!

Labels: , ,

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Creative Mood

Today was a fun one. I played tennis with my Mom for the first time in years. She said she hadn't played since Marc, the two Sara(h)'s, Mom, and I hit balls up at Sun Mountain four years ago. Yes, at one point both Marc and I were dating Sara(h)'s. He had the one with the H... sucker! Sara's brother was actually named Chris too, which was kind of odd, because my sister's name is Sara.

Before tennis, we watched a bit of the James Blake match and the Little League World Series. I have fun watching these things with my Mom, but they are things I rarely do on my own. I watched a bit of March Madness and the NBA playoffs when I was in Tahoe, but other than those, I haven't really paid much attention to sports. But at home, I watch a lot, because it is a nice bond that Mom and I share.

James Blake came from behind to win his match, and the two little league games we caught went to extra innings. Each ended with a walk-off home run. Winners hopping up and down; losers crying. The games are exciting to watch, I just wish there wasn't so much pressure on those kids.

Right now I'm watching a mix of my favorite you tube videos, Johnny Cash, Metallica, Ani DiFranco, Audioslave... and I'm watching a muted USA basketball team crush the team from the Virgin Islands. I'm just amazed that right now, on the court there is worth about a billion dollars in lifetime earnings. Five guys. Billions dollars. And they are all playing on the USA basketball team, risking injury and giving up their summer to play the sport they love. I definitely think more of these players now, they're pretty much proving that there is more to basketball than money--at least for them. I'm not exactly sure how their families feel about them giving up their summers, but that's another topic.

On to being creative...

I get nights like this every once in a while (I'm sure I've posted about it before), where I just feel a bit different than normal nights. I usually don't give a second thought to wasting the night playing a video game, watching TV and going to bed. Nights like these I just can't sit still, and wasting the built up energy feels painful. I want to create something amazing, something beautiful, while my creative juices are bubbling over.

Watching amazing bands at their infancy gives me a huge boost. Pearl Jam comes to mind:

And back on the opposite end of the spectrum, Johnny Cash and Woody Nelson:

Solid. Gold. The stories of Johnny Cash and Woody Nelson could fill a library. Seeing Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam at their infancy is one of the coolest things about the internet and youtube, in my perspective. By now, Eddie probably has enough stories to start a library of his own.

If you listen to the start of "Drive On," Johnny Cash was reading lots of books about Vietnam, and from reading those books he creates this amazing song and personal lyrics from his head.

But when it comes to me, what can I really do? I know I can make a difference for the better in this world. It might come in the form of being a teacher who loves his job and makes a difference for a handful of my students. I might be a great coach who shows kids how much fun sports can be in the right situation. But when it comes to creating something great, I really tend to lack in that department.

There is a part of me that yearns to create. That is probably why I wrote so much and took so many pictures down in Tahoe. Taking pictures isn't really creating, but more capturing memories in my view. Putting those pictures together to make a video is getting closer, but I did a half-assed job at that, because I just wanted to get the thing done.

Being a film director, or an author, would be one of my ideal jobs. I have absolutely no skill in either field, but I think my imagination is one of the most imaginative out there. When I watch a movie or read a book, I always try to figure out what is going to happen next--like almost everyone else out there--but the difference is that the things I think up are just so "out-there" and unbelievable that I usually just laugh the ideas off. In a few cases, I hit the nail on the head and look like a genius. For the most part though, it is just kooky Chris and his zany imagination.

Whenever I read a good author, I always wish I had their ability. I think the creativeness is there, in all honesty. I just need to get my truthful thoughts down and not worry about who is going to read it.

A few months back, I read Dr. Pauly's first few posts on his blog, and they were very similar to the stuff I write. Day-to-day accounts of what is going on, with an occasional story or rant thrown in. When I read his blog now, it seems like he's a completely different writer--and he probably is, but I would love to know what made him undergo that metamorphosis. Was it just caring about his writing more, and giving it more attention? Or was it something deeper? Or was it just a conscious effort not to write like everybody else?

Also, like I've found out in my few failed NaNo's, I am very much a self-critic. Most of the time I'll just hit 'publish' after I'm done writing up a post, but sometimes I'll go back and check it for spelling or to see if the point I'm trying to make actually presents itself in what I right. When it comes to writing something big, like a novel, I have a hell of a time not going back and changing things at the instant I think they need changing. Maybe the story will go in a different direction than I originally thought, so the beginning needs to change. If I don't change that beginning right away, I think I'll forget to do it, or it will just plain bug me until I change it. But in the process of changing the beginning, I lose interest in writing the next section that brought about the change in the first place!

My creative mood is quickly being taken over by sleepiness. I'm debating going back through this and cutting about half of it out, but I think I'll go ahead and post it and read through it in the morning. I could always just save the draft and check it out in the morning, but where is the fun in that? How do you guys write? Do you write out a post and check it over? Do you give your post a night to rest, then give it a quick glance and publish it? Or do you just shoot from the hip?

Labels: , ,

Pictures from Nevada City and Tahoe

EDIT 10/07/2007 --Re-mastered this video with a better quality song, reposted--

Here is a compilation of some of my favorite pictures from Nevada City and Tahoe that I've taken over the last 8 months.

The song is "Disarm" by the Smashing Pumpkins.

I'll miss you, Tahoe!

Labels: ,

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Coaching is a go

This JV Coaching job isn't going to be easy. I've got about 20 new tryouts that are vying for about 4 open spots on the team. Ouch! The whole goal is to get the JV players lots of competitive tennis under their belts, and in turn improve to contend for a varsity spot next year. There are a dozen JV returners from last year who probably aren't going to make the nearly-full varsity team, and there are four really good new freshman that might even bump down some varsity players from last year to JV.

I feel bad for a lot of the kids, because when I was playing tennis at RHS, they would have definitely made JV, and possibly even varsity. But this year our team looks to be a real competitive one, and they probably won't make the cut at the end of this week.

I am looking forward to the coaching gig once we get past the cuts though, because they all have plenty of room to improve, and I think I will be able to help them get to that next level. Whether it is footwork, forehands, backhands, second serves or their return game--there are holes in everyone's game that I've seen so far, and it is going to be fun to try and mend those weak spots in the players' games. I think our JV team will do amazingly well this year too, with the amount of talent I've seen so far. Winning isn't really a big part of my job, getting them prepped to win at the varsity level is what it is all about.

Tyler and I are going to head over to Sand Point tonight to go play some racquetball, then head back here for some hot tub therapy. Living at home ain't all that bad.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Coaching Opportunities

I've had a pretty relaxing first few days back in Seattle. Got to hang out with Tyler and Mike over the weekend, which was good fun like always. We tossed the disc, played some Mario Party 8 on the Wii for the first time, and saw the Bourne Ultimatum. Didn't get to see Andrew or Marc, Andrew is over in England and Ireland for the month and Marc was off camping in the rain for the weekend.

I've been playing quite a bit of WoW, and I finally got a guild started up last night with the help of friends and a few other interested parties. The guild is based around exploring all of the content and starting from scratch, much like the Everquest guild I helped create last year. Been playing a druid and I'm having lots of fun dancing in bear form.

Outside of WoW, I've also been getting a lot done. I visited my old high school about observation hours and an open assistant coaching position with the tennis team. Tennis was the only sport I played in high school, and I am very interested in helping coach this Fall. It turns out that the old assistant coach is now the head coach, and he is an incredibly funny guy. His nickname for my 6'6", 150lb friend is "MEAT!" "Hey Meat, get over here!" He'd teach us the proper fly-fishing technique whenever we'd meet in the hall during school... he was just a guy that made me laugh. Tryouts started yesterday, but it was rainy. I rode my bike over to the courts during a break in the rain, but they were empty. It looks a bit rainy again today, but I'm hoping to get ahold of Mr. K to see if I can grab that assistant coaching position.

On the way back from the high school, I stopped by my old community center, where I played basketball for a dozen years growing up. I've talked to Tyler and Brandon about helping out assistant coaching if I try to coach a team, and they both seem interested (although Brandon would be on a temporary basis due to travel). Filled out some forms at the community center for the basketball position, which I won't find out about until mid-Sept. As I handed the packet back to the guy at the desk, I noticed an Ultimate Frisbee sign up sheet on the counter. I inquired about it and it turns out they are looking for coaches there as well! So I wrote "Basketball and Ultimate Frisbee" on top of my coaching submission and had a fun chat with the coordinator at the front desk.

I could have a very full plate this Fall and Winter, assuming I get a part time job as well. I was thinking tutoring might be perfect for me, seeing how I want to get into teaching, it would provide a little insight into what teaching might be like. I've got to wrap it around my two classes at NSCC and coaching though, which might prove difficult. We'll see!

Agenda for the next few days is to get a WA license plate for my motorcycle (Yesterday I also signed up for a MSF course in October) and to contact teachers at both elementary schools and high schools about observation hours. Wednesday Tyler and I are planning on playing some handball/racquetball. Thursday my Dad and I are heading up to the cabin to get some work done up there. Then Friday or Saturday I'll be heading out to Lake Tapps to have a fun weekend with some old familiar faces!

Labels: , ,

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Some Counter Strike Fun

I left my copy of Counter Strike: Source up in Seattle when I moved down to California in late December, but I found it today and installed it on my laptop. It has been a long time since I played, and in case you don't know, it is a little terrorist/counter terrorist first person shooter. More importantly, it works well with Fraps, and gives me another game to try and capture video in.

In this little clip, I decide to switch it up and use two pistols for shits and giggles. I get lucky and see one of the counter-terrorists opening a door just as I'm about to, so I swing around behind the door and get an easy kill. Where one person goes, usually another few follow, so I waited a few seconds for his buddy to come. Another T came up to the door and turned into a dummy, and I got another free few shots in the back of a CT.

I walked out the door and picked up a M4A1 on the way out and ran smack dab into another CT. I got him down to 7% health, but he head-shotted me. Then the fun begins. My camera follows him around as he hops up on the roof, where he sees a T. He grabs his grenade and launches it at the T, but unfortunately for him, it just falls to his feet. boom.

Labels: , ,

Friday, August 17, 2007

I'm Home!

It feels great to be back in Seattle, and although there were some amazing spots on my 1,000 mile ride home, the last 100 miles from Enumclaw to Seattle were the best! The Cascade Mountains are just striking, especially compared to all of the other mountains we saw along the way. The green of the forest, the steepness of the mountains, and the blue of Lake Washington--just screamed: HOME!

Yesterday morning, Dad and I checked out the Steens Mountains, about an hour outside of Frenchglen. The mountains are pretty cool, and the result of two glaciers banging into each other thousands of years ago. It is the biggest half-pipe I have ever seen.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Once we got back to Frenchglen, we started the trek to Pendleton, which was about 260 miles. Just south of the small town of John Day was easily the nicest road I've ever ridden on. Fifteen miles of very recently repaved road through a national forest, with shoulders wide enough for bikes to safely ride. There wasn't a bump in the entire 15 miles--perfect for riding my motorcycle around 40mph turns.

North of John Day I decided to take the lead, because the windy roads were just too fun to go Explorer-speed. I was only in the lead for about 10 miles, but in that ten miles I whacked my first bird. One of the first things you learn while riding a motorcycle is S.E.E. Scan, Evaluate, Execute. Well, here I was, riding happily along a road, with a river on my right. I come around a turn and see about five duck-looking creatures walking across on my side of the two-lane highway.

Scan: OK, five bird-looking creatures. I'm pretty sure they can fly, and I'm not sure why they are walking across the road.

Evaluate: Well, I'll probably just cross over into the oncoming lane and avoid them, or slow down and let them disperse and drive through whatever opening they leave me.

Execute: Well shit, a semi just rounded the corner, so I'm not going into the other lane. Slowing down... why aren't the birds moving? Fly away! OK, a few of them flew to safety, but there is one right in front of me, ah crap! Brake! But not too fast to flip me...

The bird finally lifts off when I'm about ten feet from it, going 30mph. It whacks my tiny shield on the front of my bike and I dodge the rest of the bird as it flies over me. The semi is directly to my left, and I hope I didn't bump the bird into the oncoming semi--because it would be game-over for that bird. I don't know if I actually killed it or not, but Dad said he saw some blood on the windshield when we stopped for lunch shortly thereafter. The liquid didn't look red to me, it could have just been bird-slobber... ...right...

Dad and I stayed at a Best Western in Pendleton last night, and it was a very nice hotel. We ate at the Shari's across the street, and I had a gut-busting Double-Stack Bacon Cheeseburger, and added two Widmer Hefeweizen's to wash it down. The hotel had high-speed internet, and I checked email, checked a few blogs and got my WoW fix in. We both got to bed pretty early again, and woke up at 6am this morning.

Today's riding was the most difficult, because it was chilly, and there was a pretty stiff side-wind the entire trek. I had to pull over about 50 miles into the trip and put back on the liner in my jacket, as well as a long-sleeve t-shirt. Once we got to about Issaquah, I ditched my Dad and headed home :)

So much to do now that I'm in Seattle. I have a lot of work to do on the teaching-front, and I'm also looking into assistant tennis coaching at my old high school, and also coaching a youth basketball team at my old community center. I've always wanted to, and now is the perfect time :) I've got a month before classes start, and I will be spending two or three of those weeks observing classes from high school to elementary school.

Went out to go see Bourne Ultimatum today and I had a few gripes with the otherwise as-advertised-action-packed movie. First is the bouncy camera. They purposefully made the camera have a head-bob effect, which just got annoying after a while. Second, I sure hope the female lead (from that dancing movie) didn't get paid by the line, because she sure didn't talk much. I think her signature move was the: stare at Matt Damon, then nod and walk away. Lastly, there sure were some no-brainer spots in the movie: "this is the worst possible spot, why would he want us here?" "He's got a reason." At this point I turned to Tyler and smacked my forehead.

Just finished cleaning the spa out with Dad, and it has been raining on and off since I got home. It is good to be back! I love the rain!

Labels: , , ,

Hiking With Dad (LONG)

(written two days ago where internet hasn't been invented yet)

Well, I’m either old… or I’m living the life. I’m currently freshly showered, sipping a Corona and sitting in a rocking chair on the second floor of the public Frenchglen Hotel in Frenchglen, OR. There is a window open behind me, and another window on the other side of the room blowing a nice breeze over my shoulders. I’ve got my laptop with no internet in front of me, and I’m trying to figure out where to begin.

I just finished a very good ‘family style’ dinner out on the deck. Along with Dad, there was a retired couple sitting across from us, and an 80 year old doctor who rode a motorcycle down from Portland. Frenchglen is in Southeast Oregon, so it is quite the drive from Portland. His motorcycle is parked out front, and it has a futuristic-looking side-car. Instead of a wife, he keeps a 10-gallon fuel tank in there for the long rides.

During our meal of rice, spinach and artichoke dip, chicken, rolls and salad, we all shared stories. The older couple (in their 60’s) had some really neat stories, including taking a train from Eugene, OR to Miami, FL. They went down the coast on the Starlight Express (I believe?) then took a train from Los Angeles to Miami. They stayed a few days in San Antonio, New Orleans, Miami—-then flew back to Eugene. Not bad! We had a good dinner, filled with laughs, and I wasn’t meant to feel too out of place, even though the rest of the table had a good 40 years on me.

I scooted out early from dinner and played with Ichi a bit. He’s had quite the day. I went and got Dad from the hotel this morning a few minutes earlier than scheduled, re-introduced him to Ichi, then the next thing Ichi knew, he was trapped in the Explorer with his grandpa! It was a pretty hot drive from Tahoe to Frenchglen, and Dad finally admitted at dinner that the thermometer in the Exploder hit 101 degrees somewhere in rural Nevada. Luckily for Ichi, he had air conditioning this trip! After the normal Ichi freak-out, he settled down, and at almost every stop along the way, he was curled up in a ball on Dad’s lap. Ichi is going to spend the night out in the Exploder tonight, but tomorrow night we have a hotel in Pendleton, OR that allows cats—-so he’ll get to come inside then.

I don’t feel too bad for Ichi though, because I was out in the 100 degree weather all day on my ninja. The drive today was about 400 miles, and it consisted of pretty much staring at the back of the Explorer for 8 hours. It wasn’t that bad though. Dad planned the route through Nevada and Eastern Oregon, and I agreed because I’ve really only drove I-5 from California to Seattle. Dad said he had some amazing country to show me, so I obliged to let him plan the trip.

His favorite part of today’s trip was about 30 miles north of Winnemucca, NV. We turned off of I-95 and took Hwy 140 through Denio to Frenchglen. At the turn off onto Hwy 140, there is a straight-stretch of road that must of lasted 30 miles, not a single turn. It felt like you could see forever, and there was not a single car in sight. You can go the entire drive from Sacramento to Seattle and never lose sight of another vehicle. Dad and I drove for a good 20-mile stretch without seeing another soul. The scenery was amazing, and even though there were ‘open ranges’ along the highway, it felt pretty safe to take my gaze off of the Exploder’s license plate and glance around. A couple things struck me on that long, straight-stretch. First, whoever had to build all those telephone poles along the highway must have had one helluva-long summer. There were telephone poles every hundred feet along the highway, and we sometimes crossed a different stretch of telephone poles heading perpendicular to the road. They stretched on as far as I could see… hundreds, maybe even thousands of telephone poles, out in the middle of nowhere. Power has to get from the Hoover Dam somehow, I guess—but damn if those telephone poles aren’t going to be obsolete in twenty years.

Since there weren’t any other cars or police cars within our miles of sight, I decided to pass Dad and punch the ninja up to 100 for a little giggle. I couldn’t think of a better, safer place to do it (although I was a bit worried about the ‘Open Range’). I crouched down and gave the bike lots of throttle, and it responded with a zoom. I hit 100 and decided that was enough for me. I checked my rear-view mirror and was surprised to see the Explorer so far behind. I popped in the clutch and let the bike coast for a good mile until Dad caught up. I moved back over to the left lane and let him pass me on the right side, as if we were rewinding the tape. Good times.

Other than the fun stretch between Winnemucca and Denio, the ride was a good endurance test. It was almost as long as the ride to Vegas in June, but it was a much easier ride, because I was following Dad. Going it alone is pretty tough, I wanted to stop more often on my ride down to Vegas than I did with Dad today. Some of that might have to do with the hike we just got through, and my patience and stamina are near an all-time high.

Speaking of hiking, the hike was amazing. Truly a once-in-a-lifetime hike. We had near-perfect weather. 70-75 degrees, blue skies, no lightning storms and no fire/smoke until the last day hiking out. We got incredibly lucky with the weather. You can pretty much rely on sunny weather for August in California, but camping at 10,000ft in rock bed, lightning storms are not your friend—and they are mighty frequent on sunny, August days. Also, if luck is not on your side, the months of planning a hike can quickly be for naught if a wildfire strikes.

On our last day, we saw a bit of smoke on the 5.6 mile hike out, but it didn’t seem too bad. It wasn’t until we got to the car and started driving back to Mammoth to pick up the Exploder, that we noticed how bad the smoke was. You could hardly see the mountains when we got back to Mammoth, and we knew the mountains were there, because we had seen them four days earlier on our entry into the Ansel Adams Wilderness.

The wilderness is aptly named, and it definitely rivals the Cascades. Some of the view we got were just incredible. We camped at Thousand Island Lake our second night, which sits at 9800ft. Mount Banner shades the lake in the afternoon, and it is 13,000ft high, standing just to the Southwest of the lake. Our hike up to Thousand Island Lake was a bit of a grind at 8.5 miles and probably around 2k elevation from Agnew Meadows—and I promptly stripped down to my shorts and hopped into Thousand Island Lake when we arrived. I could see the glacier which fed the lake, but that didn’t stop me! It actually wasn’t that bad, until Dad saw me getting out after diving in and said, “Mind doing that again for the camera?” I didn’t, but that second dive seemed much more brisk than the first!

From Thousand Island Lake, we climbed Island Pass, descended into a really nice valley with a picture-perfect stream. I got a few shots of Dick pumping water at the stream where we ate lunch. There were foot-long fish swimming around in the stream, lush grass, and the constant trickle of the stream to make you feel at home in the wilderness. That great feeling caught us a bit off-guard, because from the top of Island Pass, all we saw was a valley with trees, and we were all staring across the valley at Donoghue Pass, which we were going to climb the next day. If we had a bridge across the valley, we could have saved ourselves a few thousand feet of elevation, so every step down into the valley, we knew would be a step up the other side. The perfection in the valley got our minds off the hike back up though, and we made it to within 1000ft of Donoghue Pass and camped at over 10,000ft our third night on the trail. That third day was pretty rough, because it was spent at or above about 9800ft, and we did quite a bit of climbing.

Back to my all-time high in patience, climbing isn’t exactly my Dad’s forte. He makes his money with his long strides in the flat meadow. When the path gets steep, he shuts down into 1st gear and his long stride collapses into a literal toe-to-heel grunt up the hill. The steepest part of the entire 27-mile trail was about five hours into our first day. We had a 0.6 mile stretch that rose 600ft. That’s 1000ft/mile. We averaged 2h/mile. Two hours per mile. Not two miles per hour. It took us over an hour to hike 0.6 miles. I love my Dad, but that pace was a grind on my patience! It seemed to me, that if he just took bigger strides, he’d go at least two times faster—but I didn’t say anything. He knows his body well enough to know what pace he is comfortable with, and the fact that he is even doing a 27-mile hike at age 65 is a pretty impressive feat in and of itself. I feel very lucky to even have the opportunity to hike with my Dad when he is 65. I really doubt I’ll be doing any 27-mile hikes when I’m his age.

I tried my hardest to stay positive about his pace, and for the most part I think Sarr, Dick and I did a good job. It was difficult at times, because we all (including Dad) were very cognizant of the fact that Dad was the slowest out of the group, and we kept a pretty good attitude about it. It had me thinking a lot during the hike though… what is the best way to handle a situation like this, where there is one weak link. I plan on both teaching and coaching within the next few years, and I’m sure I’ll face this issue again in the future. You don’t want to hold everyone else back, but you also want to try your hardest to boost them up. A few times during our hike, Dick and Sarr would go ahead of us and find a spot for lunch, or a spot to camp once we got close to the campsite. That seemed to please them, but over dinner tonight in Frenchglen, Dad commented that sometimes on our hike Dick and Sarr would race ahead to a stream for a stop, but by the time Dad and I got there to rest, they’d be ready to go again, and Dad would get no rest! I guess another unique thing about our situation is that Dad is 65, and isn’t afraid to speak his mind, or request a rest stop. It probably meant more rests, but it also staved off any serious problems from occurring, because Dad knows his body and isn’t afraid to make us wait if he needs a rest. I can see the opposite of that having a very bad outcome in a classroom sense. If the kid isn’t willing to raise his or her hand and admit to not understanding, or get their parents to do their homework, or any other number of things, the problem is just going to get worse and worse.

OK, I’m getting a little off-track, but I would like to hear any advice about what to do when there is a weak link in a group. I think we did a good job, but I felt some of our tactics were either a little too childish, or just not right for the situation—but I was at a loss for how to handle the situation any better. We didn’t really have any way of making him go faster, so the hike was pretty much testing his speed and our patience. Dad also admitted after the hike that he felt rushed for most of the hike, but I don’t really think we could have accomplished the hike in the number of days we had allotted going any slower—so it was more a planning thing than anything else. He also likes hikes where you backpack in, then spend a few days without your pack going on day hikes and coming back to base camp every night—and this hike was definitely not that! All told, I think we all still had an unforgettable time, and it was the perfect way to cap off my six months in Tahoe. To make the matter a little less stressful, Dad and I had an amazing pace on the last morning, when we hiked out to the car. The trail was 5.6 miles of meadow, and Dick and Sarr gave us a little head start like they had become accustomed to—but they didn’t catch up! Dad was zooming in the flat, shaded meadow, and we had a great talk along the way. We got to a little junction of trails about 0.6 miles from the parking lot, and I left a false note for Dick and Sarr, saying we arrived there at 8:30am (when I left the note it was closer to 9am), and for them to move their butts! Dad and I waited around the corner for them, so we could all hike out to the car at once, and we had a good laugh… Dick said he’s going to frame the note.

After the four-nights of hiking food, which was actually amazingly good, we hit Burgers Restaurant, in Mammoth, CA. We all had ½ lb burgers, and three of us had chocolate shakes to go with our burgers. The food and shake were the objects of my desire for the last few days—but in hindsight, I have to say eating all that food wasn’t the smartest idea, because I think all of us were a bit sick after gorging ourselves. The freeze-dried meals we had on our hike were the best I’ve ever had. Our normal dinner consisted of chicken noodle or cream of chicken soup to start, an entrée of Beef Stew, Chicken Teriyaki, Beef Stroganoff and Lasagna, a vegetable dish of peas, green beans, corn and vegetable surprise (not our favorite), then we’d finish up with hot chocolate or apple cider. The portions were great too, not too big, not too small, just enough to fill you up. This was the ninth hike Sarr and Dick have done with Dad, and they have got dinner down pat (except for vegetable surprise!).

I drove Dad and I back to Tahoe after the burgers. I was driving because I lost a prop-bet during the hike. From our camp at 10,000ft, I guessed there would only be 201 of these awful stone-steps on our hike up to Donoghue Pass. Dad guessed 313 and there turned out to be 423… argh! I counted them all, and after we passed Dad’s 313 guess and still had quite a ways to go, we bet again—he picked 560 and I picked 500. I don’t think I actually won anything on that bet, nor did I win anything on our time bet from the same spot. I guessed 10:30am to the top and he guessed 10:45am—we got there at 10:15am. I need to work on my betting strategy.

Other than the meals and the prop-betting, another thing that made this hike so memorable was all the wildlife we saw along the way. In order from largest to smallest, we saw: horses, mules, a buck with a 9-point rack, a doe, a coyote, a golden hawk, a fawn, a red fox, a marmot, a different hawk, bunnies, dozens of different birds, plenty of squirrels and chipmonks, a caterpillar, big biting ants, horse flies and of course—mosquitoes. One of my best pictures yet is of a lady passing us on her horse, leading what looks like a few pack mules up the trail. The light through the trees hits the dust coming up, and it just looks pretty neat to me. I have a minute-long video of the buck, who was eating some grass across the river from us while we were on a siesta. The golden hawk was really neat, and was perched atop a dead tree at our 10,000ft camp, the doe and her fawn were seen at the very end of the hike near the ranger station. Dad got a picture of the fox. We saw a few different marmots, but the one I remember the most was the one we came across on our descent down the Yosemite-side of Donoghue Pass—it had just been bathing in the stream and its fur was all spiked up as it waddled to safety. The second hawk we saw was one of the coolest moments I’ve seen out in nature. We had just crossed a bridge and were entering a forest when we heard commotion up ahead. The hawk had dive-bombed a squirrel, and the squirrel dodged away at the last second and started climbing a tree. The hawk flew up after it, but the squirrel kept running around the diameter of the tree—and it could run fast enough to always be on the opposite side of the tree. The hawk was having a devil of a time trying to fly around the tree and get to the squirrel, and eventually gave up and perched itself on a branch of another tree, trying to spot the squirrel’s escape. The hawk was pissed that he missed that squirrel! I saw some bunnies in the grass just before Thousand Island Lake, but wasn’t able to get any pictures. Dad and I spent time bird-watching, but I wasn’t able to get any good shots. Shooting birds isn’t easy, especially when the terrain reminds you of Oregon Trail and you drift off, imagining a buffalo sliding into your field of vision, then quickly running back off-screen. It wouldn’t have mattered though, because I only could have dragged 200lbs back to the wagon.

Picture Dump Time:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Tahoe: Your Days Are Numbered

Well, my last day of work is today. It should be a lot of fun, it is Wednesday, so I'm only working from 1pm to 5pm. I think a few of us are going out for drinks afterwards at the brewery, and I'm hankering for a beer sampler!

I did some packing yesterday, and packed up all my clothes that I won't be wearing in the next few days or on the hike. I'm getting happier and happier with my decision to leave in just over a week. The rest of my housemates have found a new place, and I would pretty much be SOL if I hadn't already arranged to move back to Seattle. They are party animals who will be living a 'balla' lifestyle--I am not.

My room is almost clean, after five months of stock-piling clothes and stuffing bils and paper in hidden crevices. I still have to vacuum, but I can save that for tomorrow.

Leaving Tahoe is going to be pretty sad, because it really does rival Seattle and Venice for the prettiest places I've ever lived or visited. It is serene up here. If not for the zillions of drunken tourists every weekend, and my friends and family in Seattle--I'd be hard-pressed to move away. Every day I go to work, I find myself staring at the mountains or the lake, trying to burn those images into my mind for those lazy, rainy weekends in Seattle.

The John Muir hike with my Dad begins on Friday, and it is such a fitting way to end my time here in Tahoe. I think I've finally gotten the time to do some self-realization in Tahoe, and it'll be great to be able to talk with my Dad about it along the hike.

When I get back to Seattle, or maybe on the drive back with my Dad, I'm going to start working on a 'Tahoe Highlight Reel' post, with some of my favorite times and pictures from my five months here. I've had a great time down here, and I think it was nearly perfect for me. If I had stayed longer, I'd feel like a bum for being so lazy in my mid-twenties, but since I'm leaving now, I get a chance to go back to school and work on the beginnings of a career in teaching--which is really what I've always wanted to do.

So... look forward to a big Tahoe recap post, as well as tons of pictures from my hike with Dad in about two weeks! Hope everyone has a great couple of weeks!


Monday, August 06, 2007

Live Poker, Sacramento Visitors and WoW with Waffles

After busting out of Kat's Donkament on Friday night, I decided to spend the rest of the night down at Harvey's playing poker. I'm a bit hazy on the details, but I was jonesing to play some O/8 again. I put my name on both the 3/6 and O/8 lists, and got called to O/8 first. I played in the same game last week, and went on a nice little run. The game is 4/8 limit with a half-kill for any pot where $60 gets pushed to at a person (one scoop over $60, or a split pot of $120 or more).

There are a bunch of older players who like O/8 because you can make money by just nut-peddling--and because there are usually two nut hands, there is more action than a 3/6 holdem game. Add in the fact that tourists who have no idea what they are doing steadily flow in throughout the night, and you've got yourself a pretty good chance at making money.

I don't remember (notice a trend?) any huge hands, but I finished the night up $75, 3 margaritas and 2 sierra nevadas. I am very far from a good player, and I kicked myself for two terribly played hands--where I won both, but didn't bet the river--which would have won me probably another $30 on the night. After my missed check-raises on the river, which all the rocks at the table took notice of, instead of kicking myself, I tried to use my dastardly check-raising image to my advantage. I thought by failing a few check-raises, I might be able to get a few free cards, because they'd be worried about me check-raising... but for the most part they just bet their hands when they had the low or high covered. I would have fared better just betting my hands as well.

I woke up Saturday with an unexpected hangover. I drank three bottles of water at the casino after playing poker. I watched a craps shooter throw dice the entire time I was drinking water, and I would have made a pretty penny if I entered the game--but I was happy and content with my $75 gain on the night--and didn't want to blow it on table games.

Barb, Roxie, Kristen and Conor eventually arrived at around 4pm. They were supposed to leave at 11am, but took their time, and ate in Placerville on the way up. We walked down to the beach and had a good time in the relatively chilly weather. We all hopped in the lake and tossed the disc for a bit before heading back up to the house. Conor and I played a 3-hole round of disc-golf on the way back to the house. We tied the first two holes, then on the last hole--hitting the stove on the porch, I sailed my drive way past where I wanted to go, and ended up going all the way around the house. Conor went the smart way, but I got lucky and hit the stove in 3, and on his 3rd shot he clanked the disc off the porch fence for the loss. He tried again and hit the stove, but no mulligans in folf! By losing, he had to buy my drink at dinner.

The five of us headed to Sam's Place for dinner, and they enjoyed it as much as everyone else I've taken there. Conor and I played two games of pool, and he won both. I sunk the 8 ball in the first game, and he won legitimately in the second game. He ended up paying for pool instead of my drink, because we got two pitchers of beer. I had been craving a french dip for weeks, and finally satisfied that thirst for bloody meat.

We headed to Harvey's after dinner, and Kristen, Conor and I played poker for a few hours while Barb and Roxie checked out the men in the casino. This weekend, both Friday and Saturday, Rascal Flats held a concert in the Harvey's parking lot, so there were a lot of cowboys and cowgirls in attendance. The ladies didn't mind the cowboys, and I sure as hell didn't mind the cowgirls! Cowboys aren't very good at poker.

Kristen isn't the best poker player in the world, but she had some shit luck on Saturday night. She'd flop the Q-hi flush and lose to a rivered Ace-high check-raised flush. She'd flop trips and lose to a turned straight, lost with pocket kings and queens--it was just a rough night for her. And it was also tough to watch, because with a few years of poker under my belt it was pretty easy to tell what hand Kristen had, and that her hand wasn't going to be good--but a fold wouldn't be easy.

I had a pretty rough night at the tables too, and although I didn't play perfectly, I played pretty well and lost $25. Even if I had played perfectly, I don't think I would have made more than $20 dollars on the night. Bad cards, and lots of situations where folding was pretty much my only option.

The bad cards didn't stop me from having fun! There was an elderly lady directly to my left with a pretty large stack of chips. Either she was on a rush, or she hit a jackpot hand. My hunch was right, and she eventually disclosed that she had hit quad Jacks earlier in the evening. The first five hands I was at the table, we both insta-folded our hands. After the fifth fold in a row, I said, "Ah, I see we play a very similar style!"

She chuckled, then I proposed a little side-bet with the 75-year old maiden. "Since we fold so much, why don't we make a game out of it? If you fold your and your two cards land and stay on the star above the 'Harrah's' logo, the other person gives the thrower a dollar." Surprisingly, she agreed, and we spend most of the night trying to line up our folds. We both got real close, but neither of us could land both cards on the star. Sometimes we'd land one, then the other would slide off, and sometimes we just missed completely. She got the closest, when both of her cards stuck to the felt on a lofty throw, but she was an inch away from the star.

The hand I was most proud of on Saturday night was a hand against the quad-jack lady on my left. She limped UTG, which brought many other limpers into the pot on my BB. I looked down to Qs8s and checked my option.

Flop came down Q,T,8, and I bet my two-pair. I got a few callers, and the turn was a brick. I bet again and the lady called as well as the SB. The river paired the ten, counterfeiting my two pair. The SB checked, I checked, and the lady bet out. She was a typical elderly lady, and bet her strong hands. I put her on A-Q, and after the SB folded, a lot of people would make a crying call, just to see her hand--but I was able to fold my top two pair with a crappy kicker. She flashed K-Q and I smiled. In a low-limit 3/6 game, those aren't the folds you usually want to make, but I was happy to save six dollars. Those were the type of hands I found myself in all night, and I was very happy to only leave down $25.

Conor was the big winner on the night, that lucky bastard. After poker, we found Roxie in the Keno lounge, just filling out cards but not betting--while getting free drinks. Nice. You go, Roxie! We joined her for free drinks, and Conor and I made a side-bet on a game of Keno. I felt so good about my picks, that I decided to go place a bet. Conor would not be one-upped, and joined in the fun. We had no idea what we were doing, and both lost $5. I got 3 of my 20 picks correct, and if I had only gotten 2, I would have won $10. Balls!

The five of us headed back to the house, and the party-poopers went to sleep early. We had a thirty-pack of Tecate, but only managed to drink 3 of them. For losing the keno bet, I had to chug a beer then do 25 situps, but somehow that bet changed to me chugging a beer while Conor did 25 situps--and we raced and made another bet, lol! I beat him handly, although I really suck at chugging beer. I forget what we bet, and I don't even think I made Conor pay up--weak! Barb and I played some Indian Poker, 3 card poker, and 5-card draw for drinks--and each of us basically chugged another beer. Then everyone zonked.

Sunday, we all woke up in the late morning and headed down to Zephyr Cove restaurant. The service is terrible, but the food is great. Service anywhere on a Sunday morning in Tahoe is pretty crappy, and I had good company, so I wasn't too miffed. I added a chocolate shake to my 'High Sierra' breakfast that included biscuits and gravy, two scrambled eggs, two pieces of bacon, two sausages, and hashbrowns. The chocolate shake was a perfect compliment at 11am, lol. I usually don't go that big for breakfast, but Kristen was paying, because I loaned her some money the night before at the casino. In hindsight, I should have just gotten the money back instead of having her pay for my breakfast, because I felt like I was on a freeroll and went nuts on breakfast.

After breakfast, we walked back to my house, chilled out on the porch for a bit, then decided to head over to Emerald Bay for some sight-seeing. Emerald Bay was packed, but we got a few pictures--it is the most gorgeous place on the lake.

We also stopped by the Angora Fire, which I haven't been to since racing out of there the day of. We drove up the road to Angora Lake, and once we got to the ridge, the site was pretty amazing. One side of the road was charred, the other side was lush, green forest. We got some photos, then headed down to Camp Richardson for a snack before they headed back to Sacramento.

I got home and fired up some WoW. Tyler and I had talked about what class would suit me best for a pve server--playing with Tyler, Mike and Guang if I actually intended to level up to 70. We sort of settled on a Druid, because of its versatility. I went to fire up a new character on their server, but found that the only alliance class to be a druid are night elfs, and I ain't playing no damn night elf! Taurens are the only horde class that can be a druid, and Taurens are much cooler, so I decided to remake my character on Waffle's server, and made a druid.

I played until about 10pm and was chatting it up with Waffles the whole time. That guy rocks the house, and if you even have an inkling of wanting to play WoW, or want to hang out with Waffles more... now is your chance! For the Horde!

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, August 03, 2007

Pirates v. Ninjas, Finale!

Head on over to to read the final installment of my first attempt at a little writing game. It was a lot of fun, and some of the comments made me take the story in an entirely different direction than what I was originally thinking. Other comments had me laughing my ass off :)

I have some ideas for the next writing game, but I'm definitely open for suggestions. I'm thinking either a World of Warcraft setting, a futuristic setting, or a possible ancient Rome or Greece setting. It isn't going to be a winner-take-all kill-fest like the Pirates vs. Ninjas, so if this one wasn't your cup of tea, I think you might still enjoy the next game.

Time for Kat's Donkament!


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Thanks Dad!

In response to my Mt. Tallac post, I received this email from my Dad:

"No more preparation hikes for you.....the old folks will be left in the dust (at least I will). from now on chocolate ice cream and carrot cake for you. remember how those girls made you feel as they left you in the dust...."


Labels: ,

When Worlds Collide

So I haven't been playing many of the blogger poker tournaments lately. A big reason is that I just plain forget what time they start. I decided to add MATH, the Mookie, and Kat's Donkament to my Google Calendar (which gives me email reminders 30 minutes prior to the event start).

I caught the Mookie last night for the first time in a month or two, and had a good time. Chipped up with a couple good plays against the aggressive players at my starting table, then lost a bit of it back making bad plays against those same players. I got moved to a pretty tough table with Hoy, Pushmonkey and Skidoo, among others.

I played tight, and got a great read on the table. I made a few weird bets 222, 333, which got some notice from the table. K-3-2 flop, and I flopped two pair with K-2 from the big blind and led out with a pot-sized bet that I really intended to look like a steal. Hoy gave me action with a re-raise, and I pushed. He mulled it over, knew he was beat, and decided to go with a fuck-it call. K-Q. Runner 10's sent me home to counterfeit my two-pair. I steamed for a while, then realized he had six outs, plus the runner-runner outs--so he wasn't as big a dog as I thought in the heat of the moment. It did feel good to completely outplay him though :)

Just before my bustout, I had been chatting it up over on Waffles' table, and he said something about playing his hunter more than his druid now. What?! Waffles plays WoW??? He busted out just before me, and gave me his server and name, so I hopped on after my bustout to make a Warlock and see if he was online. He was, and we chatted it up for a while.

The plan is to get all of the poker bloggers who play WoW to get together on the same server for some fun WoW times. The guild will be called "The Waffle House" and I have already called Vice President, so back off, bitches.

I'm a firm believer in moderation, so quit playing so much poker and start playing WoW!

Labels: ,

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Mt. Tallac Hike

There is nothing quite like an unexpected gift.

I woke up a little late today, but in no real rush. Wednesdays I usually go to work from 1pm to 5pm, so waking up at 10am instead of an hour earlier really didn't change much for me today. I was contemplating hiking up Mt. Tallac, but didn't have enough time before work. I thought about hopping on WoW for a minute, but I knew that minute would quickly turn into two hours, and I'd be on my way to work--grumbling about a wasted morning.

I decided to head to the Mt. Tallac trail head, with the intent of hiking a few miles in to either Crystal or Cathedral lakes. I hiked about a mile in and decided to take a quick breather, and check my phone to see how much time I had before work. I was hoping I could make it to the lakes and back, but it was going to be close.

I grabbed my phone out of my backpack and turned it on. I wasn't really thinking about getting service, I was just interested in checking the time--but the phone came alive with 4 out of 5 bars, and quickly chimed that I had a voicemail message. I checked my voicemail, and it turned out to have two messages. I was expecting a call from Kristen about her and Conor's plans to come up this weekend, but I wasn't sure who the other call was.

It was Flo, from work. No doctors were coming in today, so if I didn't want to work, I didn't have to... Hallelujah! I got this big grin on my face, because I knew I could now take it slow, and also make it to the peak! The other call was from Kristen, and it turns out her, Conor, Barb and Roxie will all be carpooling up on Saturday--so that was more good news!

The first few miles to the lake were nice and shaded, and not too steep. There were a couple areas that had burned along the trail, apparently from ash falling in the Angora Fire at the beginning of July. A couple was swimming in Cathedral Lake when I arrived, so I decided to save my swim for the way back. The trail got a lot rougher past the lakes. There was hardly any shade (I didn't bring sun screen, just a big, floppy hat), and it was a steep, gravel-filled trail.

I zoomed past a few people hiking their way up (from the Bay area--not acclimatized to the 6-9k elevation of the hike), then I found a group of about six 12-15 year old girls, along with their two chaperones. Apparently they were waiting for one of the couples I passed, who were also chapperones. I passed the group, and then about two minutes later I hear voices behind me. Two of the girls were busting it up the trail behind me, and eventually passed me about ten minutes later.

I could hardly believe it. I mean, I'm not in shape or anything, but I am an athletic, 25-year-old male, with a very long stride. These two girls passed me like I was an 80-year-old man with a cane! Nothing like getting passed by girls half your age to make you feel old!

Back to the trail itself... if I hadn't already read up on it, and known that the first little peak you come to isn't the actual peak--I would have been very miffed. You climb this really tough section and make it to the top of what you can see from the bottom--only to find that you are on a wind-ripped plateau, with another two miles of trail ahead of you. The plateau had some amazing wild flowers though, so I wasn't too bummed--along with an amazing view. A hike up to there would be plenty good enough for me usually, but I needed to get a good pre-John Muir hike in, and I wanted to see what all the hype about "best view in Tahoe" was about.

I passed a "Mt. Tallac this way" marker, and started to get giddy. The two girls were probably already up at the peak, but the rest of the gaggle were well behind me, so at least I wasn't completely shamed on this trip.

Made it to the peak at right around 1:30pm, which made for a 2.5 hour hike up the mountain. Granted, I didn't stop too often, or lolly-gag, but that is a pretty good time for a 3200ft elevation gain, 5-mile hike. The view from the top was simply amazing. Towards Lake Tahoe, you could see nearly the entire lake, easily the best view I've seen of the lake. I did a 360 video from the tippy-top of the peak, and I could literally see a dozen different tiny lakes in the mountain range, which I had no idea existed. It was a very cool spot to be on a Wednesday afternoon :)

Two other ladies were up at the peak, and they had quite a chipmunk audience. There was one fat chipmunk, who was the most aggressive, and he would chase away the skinny chipmunks. The two ladies kept trying to get the skinny ones food, but the bully would get the morsel every time. Damn bullies.

It probably only took an hour and a half of hiking to get back down, but I stopped for 30 minutes at Cathedral Lake for a swim and to give my water-filter a test run before the John Muir hike.

I got back into town and went directly to the cheap Mexican place and ordered a burrito. I had water on the trip, but no food--so I was huuungry!

The hike was great--water filter worked like a charm, and my boots were near-perfect. The only gripe I have is that the laces kept getting caught in the opposite boot, which had me face-planting every hour or so. I'll have to find out a better way to get those damn things out of the way! My feet are a bit sore, but that is to be expected after my first 10-mile hike in years. Hopefully this hike will build up a bit of toughness in my feet, so the soreness doesn't come around for the big hike next week!

Pictures: (pretty much in order from what I described above)

Fallen Leaf Lake and Lake Tahoe
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Burn-victim shrubs
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Cathedral Lake
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

A higher shot of Fallen Leaf Lake and Lake Tahoe
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Roughest Section
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Purple? pretty wild flowers
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Getting Close!
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Made it!
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

On Top of the World!
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Labels: , , ,