Monday, August 3, 2015

Lassen National Park 2015

Nearing the end of July 2015, coinciding with the appearance of a July Blue Moon, we stayed four nights at the Warner Valley Campground, located about 17 miles from the nearest town of Chester and about half a mile from the Drakesbad Guest Ranch located at road's end. For the past 9 years, our friend Steve has been the summertime camp host at this small primitive campground without flush toilets and showers. For much amenities, campers have to venture down the dirt road to the Drakesbad Guest Ranch where one could also get three square meals a day if they didn't want to cook outdoors. Besides visiting with Steve and watching the endless stream of PCT through-hikers, equally representing both sexes during a banner year for attempts according to Steve thanks in part to the movie "Wild" with Reese Witherspoon, we completed three hikes over three consecutive days. Needless to say, my feet and legs were talking to me all night long. We climbed Brokeoff Mountain, a 7-mile hike with 2,700 feet of elevation gain, followed by Lassen Peak at 5 miles and 2,100 feet of gain, and Cinder Cone at 4.2 miles with 900 feet of gain. The last hike, Cinder Cone, required a 600 feet ascent straight up on about 25% plus grade over loose volcanic rock. It was two steps up with a one step slide back if you were careful. All were very challenging over different terrain and I'm glad I did them in hindsight. Lassen National Park is great visit with lots of variety for those willing to dawn their hiking boots. Again, I haven't been very active with my camera, but here a link to some pictures by Geno on Picasa. Below are a few of my pictures from our hike up Cinder Cone.

From Lassen National Park 2015, the Cinder Cone

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Tour de Licious #3

Geno and Wendy call it the "Tour de Licious #3", as this is the third bike tour supported by Wendy's cooking which includes Peet's coffee, breakfast, lunch, ride snacks, after ride hors d'oeuvre, dinner, and dessert. This year it was a local 7-day bike tour from Sacramento to San Francisco, with camping at Solano County Park, Bothe Napa Valley State Park, Casini Ranch Campground (2-nights) and Olema Campground (2-nights), covering 285 scenic miles from the Sacramento valley through the wine country and along the stunning coast of California from Jenner to San Francisco via the Golden Gate Bridge, after which, we used the ferry and Amtrak to get back home. It was tough for me to get going, and back on the bike, after nearly a month traveling in Canada, but I'm glad I got it together. This is one of the most scenic multi-day rides out of Sacramento, and challenging, and it was great to do it with 13 friends. I didn't take many pictures, but here's a link to Geno's pictures on Picasa.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Goodbye Ottawa

Compared to many, perhaps we do overstay when traveling, maybe less days in each of the cities would have worked, but generally I feel the extra day(s) allows time to linger and hang out, perhaps people watching in a coffee house or park. Today we heard the local Gloucester Orchestra perform in the park across the Alexandra Bridge in Gatineau, an easy walk from our apartment. It was a low key event with a small mostly local crowd along with a few passing cyclist who stopped to listen. Seeing locals at play, running, fishing, surfboarding, performing, etc., offers a perspective on local living. Here's some parting images from Ottawa. Tomorrow we'll drive to Syracuse, NY for our flight home the following day.

Ceremony at the National War Memorial honoring veterans.

The Canadian Museum of History, interesting architecture.

Views from the Museum of History.

The Gloucester Orchestra performing in Jacques Cartier Park.

During the summer, several streets in the capital area in Ottawa and Gatineau are closed every Sunday morning for cycling.

Local opera company performing for the street crowd, part of the Magnetic North Theatre Festival.

Visiting the National Gallery of Canada.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

More from Ottawa

The city doesn't have the funk of Montreal, but there are plenty of shops, eateries, bars, coffee houses, bakeries, activities, etc. throughout the city core.

Chinatown, with its ornate gateway arch, is more a conglomerate of all Asian ethnicities in one area.

Shaw Conference Center

The National Gallery of Canada

Prime Minister's Office

Kay and I rented a tandem for some Saturday riding to get a different perspective on the city. Bicycling is a major part of the city, but different from Montreal in that much of the bike paths are along the waterways, three rivers and a canal, so they are well used recreationally by visitors and weekenders rather than just commuting from the surrounding suburbs. Cycling along the waterways takes riders pass woodlands, lakes, small waterfalls, greenways and parks, it's very scenic, very green and very active with cyclist, runners, walkers, skaters, and so on during the weekend. I now think Ottawa would rank highly as a great place to raise a family.

Around the city at sunset

Hanging in Ottawa

Canada is our closest neighbor to the north, but did you know that Ottawa is the capital of the country, nicknamed "Silicon Valley North", officially bilingual with English and French, one of the most educated cities in Canada with more than half its population graduating from a university or college, ranked 2nd for quality of living in the Americas, and the 2nd cleanest city in Canada; I'm learning. I found Ottawa aesthetically impressive and a showcase for its many massive stately gothic "revival" structures, contrasted against the cleaner lines of its more modern surroundings, perhaps best described as formal and functional in design, all reflecting the serious business at hand, governing the country. Owing to past city actions with intent and vision, the city core is beautiful and picturesque built near the confluence of three rivers, the Ottawa, Rideau, and Gatineau Rivers. For a photo enthusiast, it's easy to find great vantage points with varying city views, however, getting the best light is more difficult due to the region's changeable weather. One day it's sunny and the next is overcast with rain. I think I'm ready for some "California Sun". Here's my best after a few days.

This is the enchanting Fairmont Chareau Laurier Hotel which has hosted all the city's major events since its completion.

The Rideau Canal runs pass the Fairmont Chateau Laurier.

Rideau Canal

Fairmont Chateau Laurier at sunset

Norte Dame Cathedral Basilica

Parliament Building Complex

Views from the Ottawa River