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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mountain Bike Ride - Biship Ranch

I recently took my mountain bike out for a ride through the Bishop Ranch Hills off of Bolinger in San Ramon, CA.  The trail started off a little too steep for me to ride, so I had to walk my bike up the first 50 yards or so of the trail.  Once I got up the initial ascent I was able to start the ride.  The trail that turned onto had a lot of dips, turns,  and some great views of Mt Diablo and the San Ramon Valley.  My ride back down the steep part of the hill resulted in me going over my handle bars and doing 3 somersaults as I tried to brake at the last 30 yards before the end of the trail.  I was fine except for some of the flesh on my elbow, shoulder, legs. 

The trail began with this nice view of the sun beginning to set behind the oak trees:

Once I got to the peak of the hill I had these views of the sun shining on the Mt Diablo and the hills of the San Ramon Valley:

Here's a picture of part of the trail with the starting to set behind the hill:

Here are my stats and info from the ride:

Name:Bishop Ranch San Ramon
Date:Jul 26, 2011 7:18 pm
(valid until Jan 23, 2012)
View on Map
Distance:4.84 miles
Elapsed Time:1:16:35
Avg Speed:3.8 mph
Max Speed:25.1 mph
Avg Pace:15' 49" per mile
Min Altitude:474 ft
Max Altitude:977 ft
Start Time:2011-07-27T02:18:16Z
Start Location: 
 Latitude: 37.749596º N
 Longitude:121.963113º W
End Location: 
 Latitude: 37.749574º N
 Longitude:121.963155º W

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Humming Bird

Here's a pic of the Humming Bird that has taken the feeder on our porch over as his territory.  I tried to get a picture with a slower shutter speed to capture the blur in the wings, but it didn't really work out.  I did however get this pic with a higher shutter speed while using my speedlight:

More pics can be seen at: Humming Birds

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Yosemite Valley Bike Ride

Last weekend we decided to head up to the Brosius Hide Out (my parent's cabin) at Pine Mountain Lake in Groveland, CA. 

We headed up on Friday night so we could spend our Saturday fighting the crowds in Yosemite.  July weekends in the Yosemite Valley can get pretty crowded and this past Saturday was no exception.  It was a complete Zoo near all the easy access sights.  It was especially crowded near the Yosemite Falls because they are really roaring right now and it is pretty easy to access by shuttle. 

We decided to try and avoid  the crowded areas and just ride our beach cruiser bikes around the bike trails in the valley.  The bike trail circles the valley, so it made for some nice sights, but there were also some patches of the trail that went by the various shuttle stops where it got pretty congested with clueless, lost looking people who are oblivious to space.  I always get a kick out of the people who see me coming towards them on my bike, look right at me as they walk right into the middle of the bike path, and then have a confused look on their face when they see me have to hit the breaks to avoid hitting them.  It cracks me up at how frequent this happens. 

Well anyway, it was too crowded to drive around the park.  Next time I go to Yosemite, I'll stick to my normal plan of hitting it up on a week day.  I only took a handful of pictures this time from my bike:

The rest of the pics can be seen here: Yosemite July, 2011.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Iron Door Saloon

After 8+ years of heading up to my parent's cabin in Groveland, I finally got to hang out at the Iron Door Saloon.  Time and time again during each trip to the cabin I would keep saying that I wanted to hang out and grab a drink there, but I until last weekend I had never made it.  Most of the time we would either end up having a BBQ at the cabin, having pizza from Two Guys Pizza, or I'd be too tired from a day at Yosemite that I'd just want to relax on the couch.  Finally, after a day in Yosemite last Saturday we headed to the Iron Door Saloon for some food and drink.  The food was good and the character of the place was everything you'd expect out of the oldest running bar in CA.

I didn't have my camera with me, but I did manage to take a few pictures with my phone:

From Main Street HWY 120

The Bar


Dollars hanging from the ceiling. 
A quick history lesson on the Iron Door Saloon: 

The Iron Door Saloon is located in Groveland, California, about twenty five miles from the entrance of Yosemite National Park. According to its proprietors, is the oldest continuously operating saloon in California. It remains a popular tourist stop on the main road between The Bay Area and Yosemite.

The name "Iron Door" comes from the saloon's front doors which are made from solid iron. The inside of the saloon is what you would expect from a typical historical saloon with the original bar intact. The roof is adorned with dollar bills and other historical artifacts. Live music is played on the weekends.

Monday, July 11, 2011

San Diego Weekend

Recently we headed to San Diego for a weekend to hang out with some friends.  We decided to make it a road trip so we could stop off to pick up Holly's wine package at Cougar Winery in Temecula.  We like their wine enough to keep our wine club membership with them just so we have an excuse to head down south from time to time.  So we hopped in the Escape and headed south down the 99 (which I'll never do again because it is sooooo slow) and made our way to Temecula.

Cougar ended up being our 1st and last stop in the Temecula Wine Country.  Normally when we're in the area we manage to visit 2 or 3 other wineries before making Cougar the finale.  This time we decided to make it our 1st stop and we ended up staying for a few hours tasting everything they had to offer. Joe (our pourer) gave us some extra off the menu samples and after our long ride down there we felt like we probably shouldn't be boozing it up any longer.  Especially since we still had to drive to SD.  So we called it quits with the vino and headed for SD. 

We arrived at Jeff and Jenna's house in SD around 5:30 PM.  Jeff was working the night shift (he is a narcotics detective for the SDPD), so Jenna took us to Old Town San Diego where we had dinner at Casa Guadalajara which is a pretty lively place for Margaritas and good Mexican food!  After dinner we walked around the Historic part of Old Town where we stopped and got some of the best Salt Water Taffy that you can find anywhere at Cousin's Candy.  They make it there fresh and it is sooooo good!

Saturday we got a little beach time at Point Loma.  On the drive there Jeff found out that I like IPAs and this made him extremely happy.  He has recently gotten into Micro Brews and was happy to introduce me to the  IPAs and brews that the SD area has to offer.  On the way back from the beach he took me to the local liqueur store that offers an awesome selection of unique beers from all over the world.  We stocked up on his favorites and headed back to their house to have some samples.

We sampled 3 of the IPAs before getting ready for Jenna's B-day celebration which we were celebrating on the Horn Blower Sights and Sips cruise around the SD Bay.  The dudes got all spruced up in our finest sports coats while the ladies got all dolled up and looking nice in their sun dresses.  We loaded up in the soccer mom van and headed out to pick up our other friends Tyler and Monique along with Monique's sister before heading to the harbor for the cruise.

Prior to hopping on the Horn Blower I thought it was an ample time to take a few Boy Band pictures of the guys. Notice Tyler sporting the tank top under the sports coat!

We then headed for the Horn Blower to stuff our pie holes with nachos, crab sandwiches, and more beer as we cruised around the SD Bay taking in the sights.  The cruise took us under the Coronado Bridge, past a few Navy Ships, and gave us great views of SD.  We even got to see some Search and Rescue training over the bay which was pretty cool to watch.

After the cruise we headed to Extraordinary Deserts for some desert, although I had another IPA and a salmon sandwich =) We capped the night off at Tyler and Monique's place where I got to sample some of Tyler's beer that he had brewed at home.

The next day we headed to Coronado to have lunch at Miguel's Cocina, then some ice cream at Moo Time Creamery, before doing some walking around Coronado Beach and the famous Hotel Del Coronado.

I have always loved San Diego and I'd probably move there in a heartbeat if I had a good paying job lined up.  I think SD is awesome!

Big Sur, Hearst Castle, and Solvang

For our Honeymoon we decided to save a few bucks and just take some time to head down the coast.  Our original plan was:
  •  2 Nights (T and W) in Big Sur in a cabin at Fernwood Resort.  We would hang out, do some hiking, eat lunch at different places, and explore Big Sur.
  • Thursday morning we'd head South to San Simeon to the Hearst Castle for morning and afternoon tours.  Then we'd head to Cambria where we'd stay at the J. Patrick House.  
  • Friday we'd take our time heading further down the coast on our way to Solvang where we'd spend the rest of the weekend doing wine tours while staying at the Mirrabelle Inn.
Unfortunately we ran into a few kinks to our schedule that were frustrating at the time, but we rolled with every obstacle thrown our way and made the best of things.  Here are some of the highlights and lowlights of our trip:
  1. A week before our trip we were informed that there was a landslide on HWY 1 between Big Sur and San Simeon.  This meant that in order for us to make it to the Hearst Castle from Big Sur we would either of had to go back North and up around  Salinas to take the 101, or we'd have to take a long sketchy back road through the sticks.  Both options were about 2+ hours detours.  We decided that we'd just suck it up and wake up early on TH morning and go back North to take the 101. 

  2. It showered pretty much the whole 1st day we were in Big Sur.  We had a great hike at Point Lobos where we saw some Sea Lions and post card views at every turn of our hike. 

    The waves crashing against the rocks on the coast were amazing to watch.  The scenery was so breath taking that I threw a mini hissy fit because I had brought my long lens to capture some close ups of the Sea lions, but I didn't realize that we weren't going back to the car to get my other camera, so I was basically cameraless while we experienced such post card views on our hike because my lens was too long to capture any of the shots.  This made me almost cry like a baby!  Fortunately I was able to snap of some pics with Holly's point and shoot camera.

    More pictures of hike at Point Lobos can be found here.

  3.  Next we had a nice lunch at Nepenthe in Big Sur.  Due to the rain we didn't really get to sit on the patio and enjoy the great view of the Pacific Coast, but we did sit inside next to a wood fire which was nice, so it wasn't bad. 

  4. We then checked into the cabin at around 4pm or so. 

    At the exact moment we got our keys to the cabin  the power at Fernwood went out.  The cabins were the only part of the resort that weren't on a back up generator.  There was still a slight drizzle going on, so we decided to head over and unpack our stuff and then go check to see what the deal was with the power.  They told us that they estimated that it would be a few hours before it was restored, so we decided to go on a quick hike to kill some time.  The hike was great, but the power was still out when we got back.  The next estimate that we got was that they expected the power to be out for another 2 hours, so we decided that we'd open up a bottle of Champagne and have some snacks while we killed time.  The water heater was beeping every 10 seconds with a piercing beep and we couldn't turn it off, so we tried to drown it out with some music.  We finished off our bottle of bubbly and then started on a 2nd bottle of wine before we decided that we had enough of the beeping sound.  We checked in with the front desk again to get another status update and they didn't have a clear answer for when they thought the power would be restored.  We were told that we could switch to a room in the Motel, but we'd have to make a decision by 10pm.  At this time it was 8:45ish and we really wanted to stay in the cabin, so we headed to the neighboring tavern to kill another hour or so.  To make a long story short...we ended up having to get the motel room and by that time we had to transfer our stuff from the cabin it was pouring rain and dark outside.  We pretty much had to lug our bags by hand for what was about a 5 minute walk in the pouring rain.  It was a miserable 1st night of the Honeymoon.

  5. The next day we decided that since we had to go up North to the 101 to head to the Hearst Castle anyway, we might as well just bail out of Big Sur and do a 2nd night in Cambria instead.  We just didn't want to risk subjecting ourselves to more rain and another possible power outage.  Before heading North we headed to the McWay Falls which was something I had always wanted to get a picture of.  We happened to catch a break in the rain just at the right time for me to get some pictures, so I was pretty happy about that. 

    On our way back we saw this weird barefooted guy in his underwear and Horse mask which made us both crack up laughing.  We then headed back North stopping off for lunch before taking a hike at Andrew Molina State Park.  My pics from our Big Sur Adventure can be seen here.  Then it was off to Cambria.

  6. We arrived in Cambria just in time for wine and cheese hour at the J Patrick House.  We enjoyed a few glasses of wine, some cheese and crackers, and some funny conversations with this older couple who were visiting from Canada.  After wine hour ended we headed to the Moonstone Beach Bar and Grill for some good seafood.  From the patio of the restaurant we saw this beautiful CA Sunset

  7. Thursday morning we headed for the Hearst Castle where we took the Tour1 Experience Tour in the morning and the Tour 4 Garden tour in the afternoon. 

    Holly and I were the only two people on the Garden tour and our tour guide was a riot.  He was a surfer guy who told us all about how he just got divorced and started playing in a band.  He had some quirky mannerisms and every now and then he busted out a few air guitar moves while he showed us around parts of the Castle that we weren't supposed to be.  He even gave Holly some props so I could get a picture of her cooking in the Hearst kitchen.  More pictures from our tour of the Hearst Castle can be seen here

  8. Thursday night was more wine and cheese hour with our Canuck friends and then dinner at Madeline's.  Dinner was good, especially the fire show that we got with our desert. 

  9. Friday morning we headed down the coast stopping at Pismo Beach for some fresh air, before heading straight to Solvang.  As we pulled into Solvang we noticed that there were a lot of cars parked along the street, the streets were closed, and it appeared as if we couldn't get to our Hotel.  There was a quick minute or so where I was about to get really, really, really pissed off, but after a quick call to the hotel desk we were told how to access their parking lot and all was good.  It turns out that the Tour of California cycling race had a stage going through the main street of Solvang that day which made everything crowded, loud, and a bit annoying to walk through town.  It kind of sucked!

  10. We made up for it with a good lunch at The Fresco Valley Cafe, some grubbin danishes at Morten's Danish Bakery, some wine at the Wandering Dog Wine Bar, more wine at the wine and cheese hour back at the Mirrabelle Inn, before enjoying a really great dinner at Root 246.

  11. Saturday was the wine tour that I had purchased for us when I booked our room.  Bridgetta (the owner of the Mirrabelle Inn) took us around in her mini van for a personalized tour of the Santa Ynez Wine Country.  She took us to 5 places where she knows the wine makers and pourers on a first name basis.  She showed us a really great time and it was the only part of the honeymoon that felt the most like someone was finally taking care of us.  Later we walked through town to take in the sites of the small town before having another really good meal at her restaurant in the Inn.

 More pictures from our Solvang trip can be found here. 

All in all I had a pretty good time.  We rolled with the things that didn't go our way, still managed to have a good time, and we didn't spend a fortune so we have money to go on more trips later in the year.  The pictures from our trip can be found here: Honeymoon Road Trip.