Thursday, December 26, 2013

Elkhorn slough

Heidi and I went for a quick paddle Christmas eve.

The weather was too gorgeous to miss. It was 76'F or 24'C warm for Christmas !

We had a little visitor while in the harbor, usually Otters are very shy, but this critter just climbed up in to the boat.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Kayaking Tomales Bay.

Sundays adventure was to paddle from Millerton Point to Lawsons Landing, just inside the mouth of Tomales Bay. High tide at 10:30am at 6ft, low tide at 4:30pm at -1ft (about as big as they get in California). Weather was forecast to be perfect - warm, light wind NE 3-5knots... 

Poised for action at Millerton Pt. Carmela, John, Krista, Heidi and I had staged a car at Lawsons Landing take out. I figured a 6mph paddle with the 3mph tide 13.2 miles would take a little over 2 hours. We could stop, picnic, take lots of pictures and walk up and see the elk and float around watching the harbor seals and myriad seabirds.

We stopped in at Shell beach first - the water was glass on the way over, but there was a little evidence of a sea-breeze building.

After a sandwich and yummy cookie we reviewed the plan. One of the kayaks we had with us was an inflatable kayak/ raft hybrid. It didn't hold sufficient speed or track well and was already tough going in the headwinds that were building. We would have to split.

Heidi and I would head for the car and Carm, John and Krista would either head down as far as they wanted, with us picking them up on the return, or paddle around and head back for the car.
The sea-breeze picked up to a 15mph headwind. With the sea breeze, the temperature dropped from 68'F to 56'F, pretty ugly for the scenic tranquil lazy kayaking I had promised. Those darn weather people ! We had 9 miles to go and 3 hours of sunlight. We were averaging 3mph. Yikes - this was going to be a grunt !

Not much time to stop, though we had to a few times to drain the kayak, the chop was pretty bad. Once we made Hog Island, the wind calmed and we were able to average a better speed and catch some time back up. There were loads of seals on the sand banks begging to have their photo taken, but our hands and feet were frozen, so we trucked on. We did catch John on the radio though, all accounted for and warming up at Nicks Cove. Good to know.

We reached Lawsons Landing at dusk, hurriedly packed, loaded and started thawing out on the way back to meet the others.

Quite a paddle, there is really too much to see here, even on the perfect day. I think next time we will plan on at least an over-nighter.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Flying in the freezing air.

We had some record breaking cold temperatures in the bay area last week. Along with that usually comes some good flying and clear air.

Which means good clear pictures. I was hoping for some snow shots but only Mt Hamilton got a dusting.

Saturday was considerably colder than Friday. At launch it was barely 32'F during the day, and at 5200ft cloudbase it was 20'F.

When Zac asked if I wanted to go cross country to the south, my fingers were frozen stiff and I was pretty uncomfortable. I declined thinking I would, top land and grab my bar mitts. I had dressed pretty warmly otherwise, below 3500ft I was OK I opted to just punt around. Setting the small upwind task to fly over where we are staying in Fremont.

Getting down was a challenge, it was got dark at 5pm and everywhere around the LZ was still going up at 400fpm. I landed with my sunglasses in my mouth. Broke down quickly and went and got Zac from Hollister (50 miles south).

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Yosemite weekend get away.

This passed weekend Heidi, Carmela and I headed over into the Sierra foothills. We took Kayaks, bikes, hiking shoes and a couple of gliders. With the intention of using all three. We put the kayaks in the Toulomne River, just below La Grange. It would be really fun on river kayaks. In our Ocean beasts we were restricted to a small but pretty section of the river.

The next day I wanted to show Heidi around Yosemite valley. We biked around the scenic spots, parking at the trail-heads and doing some short hikes. Starting at Bridleviel Falls. Which is pretty dry right now.

Then we rode up to Mirror Lake and hiked the loop trail there. There's a nice view of half dome, funny how small it looks through the fish eye lens, it  is almost 5000ft vertical from there.

The lighting was nice around there that time of day, which was good as the frost never broke all day in the shaded curry village.

While Mirror lake was completely dry some springs were still trickling, allowing some green areas. From there were rode around to Happy Isles and hiked up to Vernal Falls.

The next day, a few folks took flight at McClure. It was better than I expected, I think Jay squeeked out 45 mins.

Great to see the McClure crowd again.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Finding our feet

It feels great to be back in California. Seeing good friends I've not seen for a long time. The views from mountains. The nice dry air that doesn't carry so many allergens. Coming from Texas I feel like I'm in the Andies here. 

Mark flying his new bright falcon at Ed Levin County Park
There's is much to be done in the near term, but snagging some time here and there to get out, is important, to me.

Especially when it comes to getting some fresh air ;) I took a quick hop on the new Alpha. (Thanks to Zac). It features an acute nose angle, and lots of billow.

It does definitely feel different to anything I've flown recently. Most noticeable was the turning radius, it can't be zero but sure feels like it, even at low altitude. It takes a little while to accelerate and retains very little energy, which makes me agree that it will be a very good teaching tool; which is exactly the idea. I've seen quite a few falcons zooming up to 15 feet on a flare recently (accidentally).

Also Heidi and I have explored a few local parks. Alviso sits at the south end of the San Francisco bay. We rode the levees quite a distance out into the bay. It affords a nice view of the play ground that is Mission ridge and Ed Levin Park. The levees allow nice flat trails for family ride (when dry).

It's an odd feeling being somewhat isolated knowing you are surrounded by 3 international airports in one of the busiest places on the planet. It's very reassuring these places exist. It's how I get my exercise. The bit sized pieces of history are interesting too.

Coyote Hills Park at Sunset.
I am in disbelief government considered closing open places down, and then actually did. I'm under no illusion that this is anything other than political leverage. On that note, I enjoyed the next episode in The Hunger games, trilogy, even if it is sobering analogy of what might be the current world culture.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Heading west

We set off, with as much as we could fit, which was probably way overloaded. It took 120Ibs of air in the read shocks to mostly level the truck. After a long day doing forgotten tasks and packing the trailer, we were really late leaving. An accident closed Hiway46 and we had to back track halfway home just to get on the interstate. We only made it 1.5 effective hours from the house.
That put us close to Sonora Caverns, so we decided to stop by and check it out. It has been on my list for a few years. It did not disappoint.

They had some interesting birds poking around the camp site too. Guard Peacocks :) I don't know if I'll pass through again, but if I do, the campsite will be on my list of places to crash if necessary. Along with Balmorhea Springs .

For the first time I was about to get in or out of Texas without some issue, then right before El Paso and the border. Pfffffft flap flap flap... I wonder if they can patch that ? Changing it was pretty easy, even with all the weight, but I was dubious of the tyre we had as a spare, I'd changed it out a couple days before because it didn't look so good. We planned to make it to Robin's place in Las Cruces, now fingers were crossed and I kept below 50mph. I was happy to make it :) I like Las Cruces and was eager to see Robin again.

Two new tyres the next morning and was were headed for Casa Grande to visit a family friend. Ahead of schedule for a change we saw the traffic 84 Miles ahead signal. I knew that would be close and also that there's the Pichaco gap there. Murphy's law it was right there, but it's tricky finding these things out from vague road signs, when you are on the move. Closer in it said I10 closed find alternate route. We looked at the map the frontage road goes through, and there was Hiway 79 too, but we'd have to back track 2 hours from the north to get to Casa Grande. Well that would have been quicker...

3 miles and 5 hours later, still in traffic. The frontage road was also closed. Would have been good info to post on the sign as well as the mile marker number. Since then I've learned the place to find good traffic info is . Traffic was backed up 6 miles when we got there, but later it was 15 - 20miles, which must be just outside Tuscon.

There really wasn't that much dust, poor driving standards and human error are the real cause.

Looks like there was some good flying weather on Wednesday west of Phoenix.

We cruised through the rest Arizona, without drama and hit no traffic in LA at all. It was great to catch up with Kraig and family, even if we were a bit zombiefied. 

So just LA north to do. No issues climbing the grapevine with our excessive load. The roads were crazy rough just as I remember. I think one of the new tyres is already hurting because of it. We made it to Fremont just in time for Carmela's Haloween party. It was great to see some of my ole' flying buddys again. The next morning we walked around the local neighborhood which has an old mission in it. The next steps, find and job, find a house.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Lake Travis

Heidi, her Mom and I took a day off packing, and went up to Lake Travis west Austin, to visit some friends. Gail won a deal and invited us to stay at this house. She kindly invited Isaiah and Christi over too, who dropped by. Great to see you, albeit such a short visit.

The hot tub and view are very appealing :) Certainly a nice place to relax.

The house has nice access to the lake too, though it is down about 50 feet or perhaps even more. We kayaked across to the other side.

I swam back for some exercise :)

The house has some fun big kid toys, the swing was tough to hold on to as it rounded the bottom, I didn't always manage it. The sounds of Heidi's laughter might still be heard echoing off the sides  of the lake.

And they had a wicked fast water slide too!