Wednesday, November 30, 2011


What a week week it was! (note: as I type we are safely at home, and I just don't seem to have enough hours in the day lately to catch up with things. I FINALLY went thru all the pictures and have selected ones for posting...this will likely go into a 2nd post as there's just too many pics for just one).

Anyway, on with today's topic: KONA!

We flew from Honolulu (on Oahu) to Kona (the Big Island, which is sometimes also called Kona, which makes things very confusing) on Saturday after only 3 days on Oahu. The Big Island is my favorite of the Hawaiian islands I've visited, mostly because it's BIG (hence the name "the Big Island"). I haven't yet visited Molokai or Lani, but have been on the rest. They are all nice, yet each island is TOTALLY different from the others. But the Big Island is just that. It's BIG. That means the people who are there are SPREAD OUT! And there aren't nearly the amount of people on the Big Island to start with as there are on Oahu. There are only 2 main cities: Kona and Hilo. Kona is on the west (ie dry) side, while Hilo is on the east (ie WET) side. Hilo gets 400" of rain a year, while Kona gets 10. Which side would you want to live on? I've been to both cities (many years ago I flew to Hilo for volleyball tournaments and stayed a few days), and most everybody prefers Kona, which means it's that much more expensive. Hilo is MUCH greener though as you can imagine.

We stayed at the Kona Coast Resort, which is a timeshare. John and Donna own a share and have stayed there many times over their 20 or so years of ownership. This is the 2nd time we have joined them...the last being 4 years ago I think. We had a really nice view of a country-club golf course from our 2nd story balcony (which is called a lani in Hawaii). Below is a picture of a very cute mongoose running around in the grass. They have mongeese ( mongoo'ses?) all over the islands, and they are EVERYWHERE! They are not natural to the islands but were brought there on purpose. The story of how this came to be is this: 

Long ago they (the State of Hawaii) were trying to find a way to help keep the rat population in check...due to the sugarcane fields there were just oodles and oodles of rats. Some scientist put a rat and a mongoose in a cage together and they fought to the death, with the mongoose winning (as they are VERY fast...and kill snakes in the wild...too bad there have never been any snakes in the Hawaiian isles). SO...they figured GREAT! Lets bring in a bunch of mongeese and let them go...which they did. And BAM! Nothing happened. Rats come out at night, mongeese come out in the day. The two never meet, thus never fight to the death. So now they have a mongoose AND rat problem. They ARE very cute though...much like a squirrel, only their tail is way different and is always straight out behind them...very streamlined. And their ears are kind of like a teddy-bear or soemthing. Almost like a land-otter...if there was such a thing. And they are VERY skittish around people, and will quickly dart into the bushes at the first sign of movement.

The ever-so-slinky mongoose

It was on either the first or 2nd full day there that we visited the seahorse farm. Yes, an actual aquatic farm where they raise seahorses. You see, they are VERY rare in the wild, and as every saltwater aquarium lover wants some, they pay good money for them. However, the ones that are caught in the wild don't live long in captivity. They are carnivores, eating small shrimp and such, (or plankton as babies). This 'farm' has been open for over 14 years now. WAY back in the beginning they kept trying to get the adult seahorses to eat frozen brine shrimp (thawed and poured into the water), which is a staple food for saltwater aquarium fish. They tried and tried but they would only eat live shrimp that were actually swimming around. Finally one day they had one that ate the frozen ones. As over time, the others in that tank learned to eat them by watching. And they found they could take any of those 'trained' seahorses and put them in other tanks where they train a whole new batch to eat the frozen shrimp. Seahorses mate for life amazingly enough, and they found that the babies from frozen shrimp-eaters automatically would eat the frozen shrimp when they were old enough.

Well, it wasn't long before they had a real thing going: seahorses that would live in captivity! And they live a long time...they have some that are 14 years old (from near the very beginning) and still going. So the scientists have no idea how long they can actually live. And due to their success in domesticating them, they have now taken a huge load off the reefs of the ocean, as you can mail order a pair right from this farm, and they will live! As word of mouth goes out, there are fewer and fewer being harvested from the wild as everybody knows they won't live long. 

 An adult seahorse from a mated pair lounging around in it's tank (the other one is at the bottom). As we approach the tanks, they come up to the top hoping you are going to feed them (which we did).

Due to the amazing success in their breeding/domestication program they are now branching out to other tropical saltwater fish, hoping to accomplish the same feat (lessen the amount taken from the wild). The stars of the farm though were the Sea Dragons! They are native to Australian waters, and are EXTREMELY rare! The Aussies know they have a good thing going, so keep any exports to a bare minimum and TIGHTLY controlled. This farm waited years for a permit and finally were able to import a few young ones, which are now full grown. They are quite large now, probably around a foot or so long. They look a lot like a blob of leafy seaweed, only their head and snout is very similar to a seahorse (they are related). Their 2 pairs (2 males and 2 females) are nearing breeding age and they are REALLY hoping they like each other and mate. Every aquarium in the world would LOVE to have Sea IF they can get them breeding they will really have something on their hands. Being as it's nearly impossible to get them, the marine biologist giving our tour said the adults would probably sell for around $10,000 EACH...IF you were able to buy them (which you can't). Here is a picture taken from the web (as we weren't allowed to take pictures of them at the farm, we could only briefly peek in on the 2 pairs swimming around...thank you wickipedia):

An adult Sea Dragon (they are even bigger than this picture, and just amazing to look at in person!)

After the seahorse farm we pretty much bummed around and just took it easy for a few days. Relax, eat, drink tasty beers and such. That was the primary agenda, and we are very good at it! We didn't plan too much, partly as we just wanted to relax, and partly because John has a broken arm and was somewhat limited as to his activities (no horseback riding, etc). However we all went out on a deep-sea-fishing charter on Wednesday  (the day before Thanksgiving). This was our big 'whoop-de-do' for this trip). Even though John had no chance to even try to reel in a fish, both he and Donna went out with Jeannie and I for a half-day charter. We were the 2nd trip of the day for our particular boat: the "Bite Me 3". The Bite Me is a charter company and I think they have either 5 or 6 boats (the boats cost around $300,000 each btw, so it's no small thing to have a large fishing boat). Ours was a 40' boat equipped with six LARGE saltwater fishing rigs.

The Bite Me 3 coming to pick us up for our afternoon on the water

The morning charter was late leaving as the guys who went out were LATE! I think that jinxed them, as they got SKUNKED! Not a single hit on a lure or fish caught. They didn't look too happy as they departed the boat (which was late returning for us). The driver of the boat was Capt. Andy, a very nice guy. And the crew was Hector. He's a native Hawaiian from Kauai, and was a very nice guy also. As we boarded he told us about the prior customers, and we ASSURED him we brought our luck with us! As we pulled out, Jeannie wanted a picture with him, and after he said "now THAT will bring good luck!"

Hector and Jeannie as we head out from the marina 

Hector immediately set to work rigging up the fishing poles and getting lures in the water. It was our first deep-sea charter and I had no idea how the outrigger thingeees worked (the large poles that hang out to the side of the boat after we leave port with lots of lines and such attached to them). They are used to spread out the 5 lures we have in the water so they aren't on top of each other. I'd estimate that our 5 rigs were roughly spread out about 25 yards or so, and a few hundred yards behind the boat as we trolled our way out to deep water. 

Hector checks on things as we are trolling out, constantly making adjustments to the lures so that they are 'just right' for catching fish

Well, Hector and Capt. Andy know their business, and we DID bring the luck! They had seen a school of dolphins after we had been out around an hour or so and Capt. Andy immedietly made a line for them, and we proceeded to do large circles around the school as they swam. Two other boats saw the same thing and we had company as they all wanted to be in that area all of a sudden. But WE got the hit. It was pre-arranged who is the FIRST person to get "in the chair"...and that person was Jeannie (RATS!!!). It was her idea to go out after all, and I surely couldn't' begrudge her that. Capt Andy was watching and said he saw the 'hit'....he thought it was a marlin as he saw a spear briefly. Well, the drag started peeling off one of the reels and Jeannie quickly made her way to the chair. Hector helped her get all set and strapped into the fighting rig, and he brought the rod into the fighting chair holding jig quickly. Once Jeannie was ALL set to fight, he set the drag and BAM, the fight was on! Capt Andy had stopped the boat and the fish wasn't taking much line, he was just sitting there a few hundred yards out (the HUGE reel has around 900 yards of 187lb test monofillament fish line spooled on it).

As Jeannie began her fight, Hector was quickly bringing in all the other lures so there wouldn't be any tangles which would endanger catching the fish. Once he had everything clear we all 'helped' Jeannie as she fought and fought. One of the things about reeling in hundreds of yards of line is that the reel doesn't spool it left/right by itsself...the fisherman has to do that. So not only does she get to TRY to reel in an as yet unknown size fish, she needs to move the line back and forth across the spool as she does so. Well, it was very quickly realized this was a big fish. Jeannie was doing her best, but the rod would bend down and then it would take back all reeling she had done and more. Over and over. The rod is short and stout, and has pulleys where the line touches, yet this broomstick size rod would bend over pretty good now and then as the unknown fish would fight his way deeper and back away from the boat.

Oh, did I mention that it got HOT out there? Once the boat stopped moving forward, the warm Hawaiian sun started to take it's toll on Jeannie. She was dripping sweat and reeling with all her might. Nobody did a time check, but I am betting she fought for around 45 minutes or so (purely a was a LONG time) when we finally got a look at our beast. It was still underwater but was flashing blue and silver, and looked HUGE! Once Jeannie had reeled the fish to the boat, Hector was able to grab the leader of the lure, and the fight is over. Capt Andy had us step back and as Hector pulled the fish close to the surface, he was able to slam a huge gaff thru it's head. There was no escape now. I think we (us passengers) felt a little bad at this point, but for the capt and crew this was money and they weren't going to let it get away.

The gaffed fish being readied to bring aboard. The fight is sadly over for this beautiful monster of the ocean.

And here is our catch....a Blue Marlin (only not very pretty now that it's dead, they quickly turn gray)

Hector and Capt Andy winch the fish to the pier for weighing

And here is the happy (yet sad) group of fisherpeople with their catch. It weighed in at 203lbs, and was the first marlin caught by the Bite Me 3 boat in 5 days! 

After the weigh-in, the fish market folk come out with a large rolling cart and take the fish away to be processed. We are allowed to keep up to 40lbs of our catch, the rest goes in equal thirds to the fish-market, the Capt. and the crew. Considering that Blue Marlin sells for $11.99 a lb in the fish market, I'd say they all had a pretty good day. Especially as we only took 10lbs (what are we to do with 40?) Also, consider that this was our fist deep-sea fishing excursion! Now what am I to do? If I ever go out again I'll have BIG expectations! But quite honestly, I don't think I need to do this again. Not that I wouldn't mind having a shot at fighting my own marlin, but I don't need another one killed for my own vanity. This catch was for all of us, and was remarkable to watch unfold. I was wildly happy for Jeannie at this awesome catch, yet totally green with envy. And yes, I'll have to work on that envy thing. But I'm only human, and doing the best that I can.

Dinner of Marlin steaks and John's famous FRIED potatoes, and Jeannie's salad. MMMMMMMMMMM!

So...turns out 10lbs of beautiful marlin filets is quite a large batch. We had fish that night ( seen in the picture above), and also for Thanksgiving dinner in lieu of the traditional turkey and such.
Thanksgiving dinner in Kona. Marlin steaks, baked potatoes, rice, salad, and fresh sliced papaya.

By Friday we were getting a bit tired of marlin (and we had a LOT left in the fridge) John had struck up a conversation outside with some new people and turns out they like fish BAM! They were the lucky recipients of about 6 lbs of fresh caught marlin!

Well, this will have to do for now. I will work on Kona Part II over the next few days. Hope everybody had a wonderful Thanksgiving! 


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Aloha from Oahu

(note: turns out that the timeshare over here on the Big Island DOES INDEED have interent...woo-HOO! And thus, I am able to connect with the world. So, without further adieu, I give you the last 3 days on Oahu!)

 Aloha (hello)!

We arrived safe and sound in Oahu Wednesday afternoon. With no checked luggage, we quickly picked up the rental car and made a beeline for for Waikiki Beach and the hotel. Getting off the airline in Honolulu is always a joy. You step out of the gate area into open air...and it's almost always 80 or so degrees out. Suddenly wearing long pants is not the ticket. Our rental car this time around was a Lincoln Towncar...or as I called it, "The Love Boat". First time I've driven a Towncar. It was huge, but it drove nice.

We got downtown and the room was PHENOMENAL! We were staying at the Hilton for the first night, as Jeannie had points to use or loose (FREE ROOM!). We ended up on the 27th floor in the Rainbow Tower...the closest toward the ocean. We even had 2 directly ocean view and the other looking north towards the airport and the West Shore. It was probably the most amazing view I've had from a Waikiki hotel. Here is what we saw:

Keep in mind this is a 3 picture panorama that I made shooting from the oean-view balcony. Turns out doing a pan of that much area gives the ocean a rounded look at the horizon, and the closer stuff doesn't connect together in straight lines (such as the seawall jetty at the far right of the first pic and far left of the 2nd). And the wave direction also doesn't work...but all in all it shows what we saw. We headed out  soon after a basic unpacking and had our favorite Mai Tai's at the Hale Koa hotel's Barefoot Bar (the BEST Mai Tai's on the island IMO) before an early dinner.
The FIRST Mai Tai of the trip

Thursday we drove up to the Pearl Harbor area (where we lived) and did a local hike we both love: the Aiea Loop. It's about 4 miles through various forms of jungle high above Aiea/Pearl City. The terrain goes from lush green thick and mucky to wide open and sunny tropical jungle. On the far side of the loop there used to be a gigantic tree with airplane parts stuck in it. Back in 1944 a B24 Liberator had taken off and the pilot failed to make a turn in the darkness and the plane crashed into the jungle on the ridge. All 10 crew were killed, and there is now a nice plaque at the start of the loop honoring the men. The tree has fallen down (unless I missed it the last 2 times we hiked it) but the area it used to stand was rather dense jungle on a VERY VERY steep portion of the ridge. I have many pictures (and here are a few) of our hike, but none do justice to the beauty and ruggedness of the Hawaiian jungle.
 Here's Jeannie taking a break in a sunny section as we head down towards the creek at the bottom.

The H3 freeway heading up the Halawa valley towards the tunnel and over to Kailua/Kaneohe on the eastern shore. (note: Halawa is pronounced "Halava" Hawaiian the w is pronounced with a v sound)

The H3 freeway took over 20 years to build, as seemingly every shovel of dirt was into burial sites of ancient Hawaiians. They ended up finally building nearly the entire freeway suspended above the jungle on giant concrete stanchions, and when it was finally completed it was the most costly few miles of freeway in the US...something like 20 million $ per mile.
You can see Jeannie up ahead as the trail turns to the left. When the trail went downhill she was like a deer running ahead of me. Any time I'd stop to take a picture she'd easily get 50 or more yards ahead.

Thursday afternoon we moved into the Hale Koa hotel which would be our home for the next 2 nights. This is the military hotel just next to the Hilton in Waikiki Beach on a gigantic piece of Army property. We stay there every time we go to Hawaii (as I'm retired Navy) and all I can say is Biba's restaurant downstairs has possibly the best Mahi Mahi on the island! (and their Mai Tai's ARE the best!)

This is Friday morning. Jeannie's first cup of joe is on the nightstand (you're WELCOME Matt!) and the sliding door is open looking out at the beach and letting in the already warm Hawaiian air into our FRIGID room (Jeannie likes to turn the thermostat down to about 60 for sleeping). She is reluctant to finally climb out of bed for some reason.
Jeannie's twin brother John (my Navy buddy) and his wife Donna finally arrive in Honolulu Friday afternoon. He's sporting his new cast covering the surgery where they put a rod and screws into his radius (the big bone in the lower arm). They were SUPPOSED to fly on Wednesday like Jeannie and I did. However Monday he fell out of his hayloft about 12 feet onto a bare concrete floor. Considering everything, he was VERY lucky to get away with just a broken arm. When he returns from the trip he says he'll tell everybody he was attacked by a tiger shark.
Friday dinner (and BEER!) at the Yardhouse on Lewers Street. They claim to have the largest selection of draft beer in the world. All I know is the half-yard of tasty beer is just what the Dr. ordered, and not just for John! For any beer connoisseurs out there, give me a shout and I can direct you to them if you are ever in Waikiki. Their beers are from all over the world and are an amazing selection. It would take a VERY LONG vacation to sample them all!
After dinner Jeannie and I made it back to our room JUST in time for the Hilton's Friday fireworks display. We had a spectacular view, and I was able to snag a few decent shots. It sounded like a battlefield as the reports echoed off the hotels and wasn't very far at all from us. Quite a nice ending to our last night on Oahu. 

In both photos you can sort of see the Hilton hotels at the far right. In the 2nd shot you can clearly see the building that towers above the closer bldg (which is darker). That farther bldg is the Rainbow tower where our first nights room was only 4 floors from the top.

Our Saturday morning stroll along the beach. This is the world-famous Diamond Head crater of course. I only have about 3000 photo's of this landmark. But still you HAVE to take more pictures of it. Leaving Hawaii without any DH pics is a violation of State Law. It was a rather blustery morning, but still shorts, T-shirt and flip-flops. A so-so day in Hawaii is still a banner day most anywhere else. Especially in November!
Here we are at the beach in Waikiki. And yes, that is the amazing Diamond Head just behind know....just like in the last picture, only you can't see it.

And finally, Jeannie and I bid you Aloha (goodbye) from Oahu.

Next stop: Kona and the Big Island.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tunitas Creek Road & Priests Rock Trail, & Veterans Day!


On Tuesday I did a road ride and FINALLY went down and back up Tunitas Creek Rd. It's the road I climbed about a month and a half ago, thinking it was possibly the most awesome piece of road-riding pavement ever. The weather forecast was 64 in San Jose. Got up at 11am after a whopping 4 hours sleep and was riding by noon. Turns out I needed another forecast. The one for INSIDE the redwood canopy. As I climbed up out of Woodside on Kings Mt road towards Skyline Rd, the temp dropped to about 51 degrees.  On the way up there were 2 does just grazing away on one of the switchback turns...I stopped and we watched each other for a bit, and I even managed to get a picture of them. They sure didn't seem to be very afraid. Deer are such pretty animals, and to watch them run (especially UP a seemingly impossible climb) is just awe inspiring.

Doe, Rei (and Me)

I was riding in a short sleeve jersey, arm warmers, knee warmers, and my wind vest. No toe warmers, ear warmers, or a jacket. After crossing Skyline Rd I started descending on Tunitas Creek. THAT is where things changed. 51 is pretty chilly, even when climbing...but it's do-able because you're working hard. But once you start to descend, 51 is way past chilly. And it had now dropped to 49. I was SO cold...I started stopping every mile or so in any sunbeam that managed to slip thru the enormous redwoods, and I'd stand there shivering and shaking for a few minutes until I talked myself back on the bike to continue down. I knew it would be better climbing...I just had to endure the descent.

I finally made it thru the redwoods and lollygagged the final 3 miles to the coast in the sun, where the temps climbed back to around 60. After that I turned around and climbed back up.
Thought this bike-hut was pretty's about a mile or so up from the ocean and before the redwoods. The little sign on the door says it's "always open". Must be an honor system or something...I didn't stop as I was anxious to just get climbing again and warm up. Stopping would only delay the inevitable cold. I'll stop someday though...would be fun to stop on a nice day with a crowd there to yak with.

 And the redwoods begin. Funny how it looks SO warm and toasty out. You can see how dark it gets just inside those trees. And these are the small ones!

 This was taken without a flash. It shows pretty accurately how dark it is inside the canopy. And you can see a bit of the bank on the left and how steep it is. This road was cut into the side of the mountain long ago.

 Nearing the top of the ridge (still 3 miles to Skyline Rd, at the very top, then the 4 mile descent into Woodside). The trees are much younger up here and the sun is coming thru. Again you can see how steep the bank is that they cut away to make this road.

It was a pretty awesome ride, but when you're freezing it's not as fun as it could be. All I could think of was getting back to my car and getting the heat on. But I did stop about a zillion times to take was just SO dark in there...the redwoods do a great job of almost completely obliterating the sun. It felt like it was going on night most of the ride, with only moments of sunlight peeking thru. I actually have a lot of pics from inside...but the auto-focus and all doesn't do a good job if you jiggle it ever so slightly w/ not enough light. It wanted to use the flash but I had to turn it off or the pics would be almost black.
  There's a car down in the middle of this picture. I'm betting that was an E-ticket ride! They didn't even bother to try to get the car out!

Finally I crossed back over Skyline and made a quick descent (cold as I was) to the car. It was warm again down in the village of Woodside...and the car was toasty warm! It never felt so good climbing into a HOT car!


Today (Thursday) I did a totally new Mt bike ride: Priest Rock Trail to Kennedy Trail out of Los Gatos. I found this trail looking online for new sections of the Bay Area Ridge Trail (BART) network. I've ridden portions of it farther north up off of Skyline Rd, and found this southern section and it looked worth a shot. It hasn't rained since last Thurs/Fri, so I hoped the trails would finally be dry. I was right...but there were semi-gooey sections and even yesterday they might have been muddy still. Looking at the BART map online it appeared the trail would climb pretty much from the start. Little did I know how true that would be.

 Looking back down at Lexington Reservoir. I've only been climbing a few minutes and already gained this much altitude. It's really beautiful up here.

The other sections of the BART trails I've ridden are quite fun. This part was a little slice of mt bike hell (on the way up I mean...coming down was quite fun actually). I only made it up 6 miles before turning around, totally wasted. This trail was the quintessential ridge ride. Ridges go up and down, and up, and get the picture. Initially I had to just climb climb climb to get up on the ridge proper. For about an hour. After that the trial continues to yo-yo with ever increasing high-points as you get further back. Throughout this ride I kept talking to myself about how interesting the name of this trail was: Priest Rock. I don't know about the Rock part, but I sure could have used a Priest! Over and over again (not kidding here) as I'd somehow barely crawl over yet another 15-20+% grade section, I'd get a look at the NEXT ridiculous grade awaiting me (and sometimes the next 2 or 3)...and the words out of my mouth were "oh God"...or "Jeeeesus!"...and more than once I actually I gasped "Holy Mother of GOD!"
Oh God!


Holy Mother of GOD!

It's either down or up, not much in-between!

I kid you not that I must have uttered those phrases dozens of times in the 6 mile outbound portion. It was so hard it was funny. In a 'I can't breath or use my legs anymore' way of funny. I can't recall when I last did a lowly 12 mile ride and felt SO utterly wasted. I will HAVE to go back! There are many more trails in that area, and it turns out I took the 'hard' way up. On the way back I ran into a trail steward who was out for a jog, and she chuckled at my 'choice' of trails to do an out and back on. NEXT time I'll go up a different route. But this trail is part of the BART network, and thus had to be done. I'm sure glad it's over though, as I won't be in any hurry to repeat this particular climb!


And that pretty much wraps up this week. Tomorrow (Friday) is Veterans Day...the annual day where Jeannie (the NON veteran) gets the day off with pay to sleep in and suck down coffee all morning at her leisure, while I (the VETERAN) get the honor of getting up and going to work. Actually, being as the holiday fell on a Friday this year (and Jeannie gets every Friday off as she works Mon thru Thurs, 10 hour days), she had TODAY off for the holiday! Technically, as far as I am concerned, this year she got TWO days off compared to my NONE! But hey...she is a Federal employee and that's just the perks of the job. My company has given up all of the 'lesser' holidays (don't mean that in a bad way) and I get them back during the week between Christmas and New Years. I just have to keep reminding myself of that. But it doesn't make it any better as I head off to work while Jeannie snoozes every year.

Anyway, Veterans Day is always a nice time to remember those who have sacrificed SO MUCH for our country. The world would surely be a much different place without their sacrifice over the centuries. Even now we have a vast number of our finest young men and women scattered across the globe, MANY in harms way, defending the rights we take for granted every day. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers that they will come home to their friends and families soon, safe and sound.

To ALL the veterans (AND their families!), THANK YOU!

And God Bless America!!!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Fall Back's that time of year again. The dreaded time change.

The fall change signifies a few things, one of them being that all of a sudden it gets dark early. Also it means that it's going to get colder soon (if it hasn't already). It also means we are deep into football season. Pardon me while I briefly diverge into the realm of the pigskin. Michigan lost yesterday to Iowa...rats. They had SUCH a great season going. Today being Sunday, that means Pro football. I just woke up a bit ago (working nights here in Sunnyvale), and I'm watching the Raider/Bronco game right's turning into a pretty good game. Tebow is playing his heart out for the Bronco's, but the Raiders are putting him in the grass almost every play. And the Raiders new quarterback Carson Palmer (who they JUST picked up from Cincinnati about two weeks ago) is doing ok too. Raiders/Broncos is always a HUGE grudge match...this one is being played right here in Oakland giving them the edge (Raider stadium is called "the Black Hole"....which is not a very friendly place for visiting teams).

OK....enough football..sorry about that little detour. Back to the original line of discussion. Fall. And cold.

Well, lets see...what else does the time change signify? How about the impending HOLIDAY'S? There is certainly that! Lets see...we are down to what, about 48 or so shopping days until Christmas? Gads, don't you HATE that? The GOOD thing about the impending Holidays (for us anyway) is that we are going to HAWAII over Thanksgiving! Woo-HOO! It's so close now I can almost TASTE it! I have SEVEN more work-shifts up here in Sunnyvale...head back home a week from Monday. Work my 'day' job on Tuesday, and Wednesday the 16th we fly to Oahu! We will spend a few days there staying down in Waikikii, then we fly over to the Big Island and will be staying in Kona with Jeannie's brother John and his wife Donna. They have a timeshare there and we did this same vacation about 8 years ago. I know Jeannie and I are REALLY looking forward to this. WARM! SUNNY! Both qualities we are typically lacking in our hometown. Well, we do get sunny...just not WARM all that often.

Speaking of WARM, it's certainly the Anit-WARM right now. A huge storm system moved over the area last Thursday....and it's been crappy ever since! I've only gotten out for ONE bike ride since I drove up last Monday. That was on Wednesday, and it was pretty decent. Trails were nice and dry, and the weather was mid 70's. Just about perfect. But we've been getting just enough rain seemingly every day to make the trails all gooky, and the roads (at least the roads I WANT to ride...deep in the redwood canopy) quite wet most of the day. And the temperature's been holding in the 50's most every day. Oh sure, I can already hear you all moaning...50's isn't cold! YES IT IS! It''s FREEZING! I even have the heat on in my hotel room!

And so, with no riding going on, my life on the road is pretty much work and sleep. I HOPE to break out of this horrid cycle tomorrow...but haven't yet seen the forecast (I'll catch that tonight at work during our 'lunch' break at 2am).

And so. Another dreaded time shift is in the books. That also means that I'll have to charge up my headlight when I get back home. Oh, and let's not forget Veterans day coming up fast. Evey year, Jeannie (a Gov employee) gets that hallowed holiday off. While I (the Veteran) get to work it. sure, I could take a vacation day, but quite honestly, I shouldn't HAVE to. It's a nice little annual jab in the gut. Not quite sure why it isn't a federal law that ALL Veteran's get the day off, and all NON Veterans get to work. Now THAT would be a Veteran's day holiday to remember...a true THANK YOU for your service! But alas, that's not the case. And this year I'll be on the road anyway, so can only give Jeannie a hard time over the phone. It will be observed on this coming Friday this year, so she will get Thursday off.

The only good news I can typically think of at this time of year is that we are FAST approaching the Winter Equinox. And soon the days will be getting longer instead of shorter. And there you go.... another year has past. Just like that.

Don't let the darkness get you down. Easy to say, hard to do. Here's hoping you Fall-Back into good times!

(Note: The following tidbit doesn't fit into this post, but I wanted to slip it in anyway).

I was on Moffett Field the the other day, and this plane had just landed. It's a Russian heavy lift cargo-plane similar to our own C5. The official name is an Antonov AN-124. Being as it's here in the area I'd assume it's here to pick up a spacecraft. It won't be one of ours (Lockheed Martin Space Systems spacecraft I mean)...but there are many other satellite manufacturers here in the Silicon Valley. I'll keep my ear to the ground to hear if any new spacecraft pop up at a launch site. If you are interested in the dirty details of this awesome plane (it's actually BIGGER than our own C5), here's the Wikipedia link: Antonov An-124

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Today's topic is about happiness.. I believe that happiness comes in many forms. There's the momentary happiness when get when you achieve some task or goal you've set for yourself. It could be a small victory or a large one, and the happiness felt is proportional to the size of the victory. Setting a new Personal Best on a big climb is good, but rather short lived. Being FIRST up the same climb in a tough group ride is even better. Or how about setting a new PB on an entire ride? Or killing said tough group on the same overall ride?

All of these things bring joy and pride in your accomplishment....happiness. As it should. Having goals gives us a measuring stick to gauge how we are doing. Comparisons to ourselves and to others.

But what about happiness in LIFE? Simply being HAPPY?

Yesterday (Monday) was my travel day for driving back up to Sunnyvale for the next 2 weeks. Meaning I didn't have to get up EARLY as is the usual for a workday. I did however voluntarily get up at 4:30am and bring Jeannie her first ginormous cup of coffee of the morning, calling out "COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE" as is our ritual. She then burrows further under the covers, hoping I'll show mercy and let her sleep for an extra 5 (or 10) minutes. She often begs. I rarely cave. After I pryed her out of bed with a crowbar, I was then able to go BACK to bed. This is a very rare day (when Jeannie gets up before me). So....apparently I fell back to sleep, in a state of total bliss. I was surrounded by our babies. They just LOVE to snuggle up on me. Jeannie  took this shot before leaving for work.

Happiness is snuggling babies!

I think this is what it's all about. Finding happiness in your life. It's very simple thing to find. A hug or kiss from a loved one. A sunny day as you stroll outside, reveling in the feel of sunshine. The feeling of the wind on your face as you cruise along on 2 wheels, master of all your survey. There is an infinite number of things that bring happiness. 

Here's wishing you find happiness in your life.