Tuesday, December 28, 2010

From Salmon Falls to Cronan Ranch

A break in the weather leads Geno and I to the foothills east of Folsom Lake for an out-n-back 10-mile hike along the Salmon Falls Trail to Cronan Ranch Regional Park. Beginning at the Salmon Falls Bridge, the spectacular trail winds through an undulating terrain of oaks and pines above a river gorge (the lower South Fork of American River) ending along the water's edge within the Cronan Ranch Regional Park. After 10 miles, my body and feet were feeling the physical exertion. Much thanks to the efforts of the American River Conservancy and the Bureau of Land Management for another great winter hike!

Christmas Memories

Discovery Park in Winter

During a recent 6-mile city walkabout to stretch our restless legs between successions of winter storms, we paused to survey the flooding at the Discovery Park, entrance to the American River Parkway near downtown. The high flows can be seen along the river banks near downtown just below the confluence of our two mighty rivers. This isn't the high-water mark for the river, but it getting there.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Lights of Christmas

The true Lights of Christmas burn within our hearts and minds. Peace and Happiness to All.

White-Crowned Sparrows

The ever fleeting and elusive White-Crowned Sparrow roams the neighborhoods in winter hiding inconspicuously within our plants and scrubs with its faint high pitched chirp. I always feel privileged when I am fortunate enough to witness this bird in song. Capturing pictures of them can be a test of one's patience and lucky stars.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Consumnes River Preserve

Late December afternoon at the Consumnes River Preserve with the Canon EF 100-400mm lense. Click on the picture below to view a slideshow. When you are done or just wish to quit, click the "X" on the upper right corner of your window.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Winter Visitors

This year, I'm seeing a higher number of Snowy Egrets and an occasional Great Blue along the local drainage canals which crisscross the neighborhood. With a borrowed Canon EF 100-400mm lense, below are pictures of some winter visitors. Click on the picture to view a slideshow. When you are done or just wish to quit, click the "X" on the upper right corner of your window.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Black Diamond Mines Regional Park

Exploring the Black Diamond Mines Regional Park, part of the East Bay Regional Park District within the Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Overall, the East Bay Regional Park District includes 65 parks spanning more than 100,000 acres with 1,100 miles of trails. With the onset of winter and snow in the mountains, these regional parks which are often too hot during the summer months, are prime areas for wintry day hikes. In the past years, I've been to a number of the East Bay Regional Parks, but this is my first hike within the Black Diamond Mines Regional Park. On the heels of the latest storms, Geno, Dick and I encountered crisp blue skies above soft colored hillsides of golden grass and phenomenal views of the east bay and central valley. Discover more about the Black Diamond Mines Regional Park using a Google search.

Click on the picture to view a slideshow from our trip. When you are done or just wish to quit, click the "X" on the upper right corner of your window.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hawaii On My Mind

It's been more two weeks since returning from Oahu and a winter chill is beginning to settle upon Northern California. We had spent two weeks on the Pacific Island with no particular agenda other than to relax and enjoy the scene. Our place was a 10th floor condo above the noisy streets of Waikiki near the busy shops and restaurants a quarter mile from the beach. Our motto while there was to simply act as if we lived there. Some highpoints from our trip include the completion 4 books between us, exploring Oahu with my Bike Friday, strolling the streets of Waikiki on warm evenings (especially on Halloween Night), and of course sampling the great local foods. Speaking of food, in my opinion, the best Ramen in Waikiki can be found at the Tenkaippin at 617 Kapahulu Avenue.

Now, Halloween Night on the streets of Waikiki was a surprise to Kay and I. We had no idea that locals and visitors alike took to the streets in costumes, from the elaborate to the minimal. Don't forget this is the tropics where little clothing is needed. From end to end on the sidewalks of Kalakaua Avenue was an endless parade of costumes and sightseers. People with the most elaborate costumes often attracted a crowd and were trailed by the flash of cameras. And I didn't have my camera! Shoulder to shoulder with the throngs, we spent the evening strolling the sidewalks enjoying the costumes, street performers, and its festive atmosphere.

Click on the picture to view a slideshow from our trip. When you are done or just wish to quit, click the "X" on the upper right corner of your window.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

More Crocker

On a quiet Friday, the first day of an impending chain of storms, Kay and I venture to the newly renovated Crocker Art Museum. What we found was an active thriving art scene full of energy with a building that is both seamlessly functional and the epitome of the art of design. The amount of art on display was impressive as well as its wonderful exhibitional space. The new architecture appears to frame the historic Victorian, a showcase in itself, and the internal transition between past and present is effortless. The breathtaking open space leads to a maze of corridors and rooms as one wander the arts. If you love art and design, visit the Crocker Art Museum, the envy of any major metropolitan centre. Click on the picture below to open a new window and view my slideshow. When you are done or just wish to quit, click the "X" on the upper right corner of your window.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Crocker Art Museum

On Oct 10, 2010, the Crocker Art Museum celebrated the opening of its newly expanded facilities designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects. The expansion tripled the size of the museum which opened with great anticipation from local officials, artists and art enthusiast. The event included performances by the Sacramento Youth Jazz Band, Symphony and Choir; Salsa, Indian, Mexican African and Irish dance and music. Car art from the Art Car Fest 2010, provided plenty of fascination outside the museum. Kay and I rode our tandem to the event, but decided to visit the facilities on another day due to the crowds. Click on the picture below to open a new window and view my slideshow. When you are done or just wish to quit, click the "X" on the upper right corner of your window.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Rainlegs for my Cycling Friends

What are Rainlegs? It's an obscure rain product that's available for cyclist. Most cyclist I know haven't heard of them. Even some cycling friends in the UK haven't heard of them and the product comes from Europe, Holland to be more specific. The best way to describe Rainlegs is to say they're like chaps, similar to what cowboys might wear, but for cyclist. They cover the upper front of your legs with waterproof material to keep them dry while riding in the rain. I discovered Rainlegs through the internet via a friend. I've always thought the concept made a lot of sense but never purchased them since I, like most cyclist, avoided riding in the rain. Well, a 6-week self-contained bike tour in the UK changed that. Right or wrong, the UK is known for its rain so I wanted some type of protection. I've used full rain pant in the past and disliked wearing them. They're noisy when cycling, causes overheating, and are difficult to put on and remove. So I decided to give Rainlegs a try.

After receiving them in the mail, the first thing I had to do was to figure out how to put them on. Now, anyone can figure it out after a few minutes but allow me to describe it anyway. There are five fasteners. One for the waist and 2 for each leg; hence five. Also, there is no backside to the Rainlegs. To put them on, first determine which side is the inside. The smooth nylon surface is on the outside which means the waterproof coating is on the inside. Put them on by fastening the waist first, somewhat like putting on an apron. Then each leg can be fastened; one is a clip-on and the lower is velcro. Tighten as needed and you're good to go. Does it look funny? Well maybe, but you'll overlook that after using it in the rain.

So how does the work? After using them on the 6-week bike tour in the UK where it rained on a regular basis, I'm sold. 'Fabulous' would be an appropriate word for describing them. Rainlegs will now be part of my regular gear whenever I bike tour. I may even wear them just walking in the rain. For cycling, they address all the issues I had with full rain pant. Rainlegs are not overly noisy, don't cause overheating, and are easy too put on and remove. Best of all, they work and keep you dry from your knees up to your waist. You'll have to wear your rain jacket if you want to keep the rest of your upper body dry. Ha! During the tour, I rode in the rain with and without them on. I then decided that I preferred having dry legs. It's a comfort issue and I felt warmer when my upper legs were not wet. The only issue I had is that material from the Rainlegs sometimes caught (hooked) on the nose of the saddle when I stood up on the bike. This may only be an issue for me because of my saddle type and/or bike setup; and not an issue for you. Other than that, I'm happy and I'd recommend Rainlegs.

Be safe everyone.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

United Kingdom, The Summer of 2010

Kay and I finally flew over the big pond to the United Kingdom. The impetus for this trip started with a friend from the UK, Shirl, whom I met during a self-contained ACA bike tour across the U.S. in 2008 along the Southern Tier. She wanted to organize a bike tour across the UK and invited friends from the 2008 Southern Tier tour group, self-named the "Happy Bottoms Club". For me, the opportunity to tour in the picturesque countryside of England, Wales and Scotland by bicycle was not to be missed, rain or shine. Kay and I decided to add two weeks of travel exploring Leicester (Shirl's hometown), London and Bath before the bike tour, thus, our 2010 summer in the United Kingdom came to be. Much thanks goes to Shirl for organizing everything and for being the reluctant trail boss of the bike tour. Also, "thank you", Shirl and Lee, for your outstanding hospitality toward Kay and I, and the rest of the gang during our stays in Leicester. The way you opened your home and hearts to all of us has left a lasting impression on me.

Below is a photo journal of our trip in the United Kingdom. Photo journal! This means there's a lot of pictures. But then again, it takes a lot of pictures to tell the complete story and I generally prefer pictures over words. Also, it's my hope that this will help me to remember all the details of this journey when I look back sometimes in the years ahead. "With age comes wisdom, but at the cost of memory". You can quote me! The photo journal is divided into six groups below. Kay flew home soon after we concluded our travels in Leicester, London and Bath just before everyone arrived for the bike tour. In brief, the bike tour went from Lands End (UK's southwestern point) to John O'Groats (northeastern point) by way of an indirect route. The object was to see as much of the best of the UK as we could. After John O'Groats, we spent time exploring the Orkney Islands, then riding back toward Edinburgh.

Click on the picture below to open a new window to view the PICASA slideshow. When you are done viewing or just wish to quit, close the new window by clicking the "X" on the upper right corner of your window. Kay and I have added text to each picture to help tell the story. We hope it all works.


After arriving at the Birmingham airport, Shirl whisked us off to her hometown. Having the opportunity to stay with Shirl in her home was such a wonderful experience. It gave us a feel of everyday life in a British town away from the tourism of London and Bath. Leicester is one of the oldest cities in England. We found the city to be quite quaint and yet it had a bustling city center marked with historical landmarks, large shopping malls, open market, and restaurants.


Double-decker buses, museums, historical landmarks, pubs and more, London is a thriving and interesting city. We were able to explore the historical landmarks, experience aerial views of the city, see the eye-popping crown jewels, and of course, shop at the famous Harrods department store, Kay's favorite.


From London we trained to Bath, a town famous for its healing hot springs. The town square is cluster of landmarks including the historic abbey, Roman and medieval baths, shops and restaurants. Bath was also the home for Jane Austin, the famous English novelist of romantic fiction, and architect/designer John Wood, famous for the Georgian style terraced homes.

UK Bike Tour:

I divided the tour into three parts for presentation purposes. Now, what can I say about this tour, but thanks to Shirl for all she did for us. The heart of a person is defined not by their knowledge, believes, or abilities; but by their actions. For me, it's another trip of a lifetime. This tour allowed me to see, learn, and experience so much regionally, culturally, and historically. I hope the pictures will give you a good sense of our journey through the UK this summer. The varied and rugged wide open landscape of northern Scotland still lingers in my mind.

Lands End to Lancaster:

Kirkstone Pass to Tongue:

Thurso to Edinburgh:

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Secret to Happiness with B & J

What's the secret to their happiness?

Why are these two smiling?

Click on the picture to find out.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dim Sum Outing

Dim Sum outing with brothers, sisters-in-law, uncles, aunt, and Kay. It sure was good, but too noisy for good conversation.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Small Wheel Beast of Burden

Getting ready for a 40-day fully loaded bike tour of the United Kingdom. Pictured here is my Small Wheel Beast of Burden, a Bike Friday. Although I'm impressed with the Bike Friday's ride quality, handling and durability, I still have some apprehension about the little bike despite knowing friends who have toured with them. Guess that's natural 'cause it's so small and it'll be loaded with more than 40 pounds of gear. The Bike Friday is a foldable bike with 20" wheels that fits into a standard size check-in luggage for airlines. This means I can avoid special handling for the bike when flying and its exorbitant fees.

The impetus for this loaded tour is Shirl, whom I met during a loaded ACA bike tour across the U.S. in 2008 along their Southern Tier route. That being said, much Thanks goes to Shirl, who lives in the UK, for organizing this trip and putting together the itinerary. I remember her saying that we should consider bike touring the UK when we were riding across the U.S. and now it's coming to fruition. For me, the opportunity to bike tour in the picturesque countryside of England, Wales and Scotland was not to be missed, rain or shine. I've got my raingear and my fenders so I'm ready to go. This tour will also be a reunion for 8 out of the 17 that rode across the U.S. in 2008.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Old Pictures Never Die

What a surprise! Here's a 2005 picture of Geno, Jim and I touring the Sonoma Coast which ended up on the cover of the June 2010 Adventure Cyclist Publication. We're riding on Coleman Valley Road. Picture was taken by Chuck Haney.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Havasu Canyon

During the last week of May, Keith, Jay, Ralph, Harvey, Brandon and I spent 5 days in the Havasu Canyon area west of the Grand Canyon's South Rim. Havasu Canyon and its well known Havasu Fall is located within the Havasupai Indian Reservation 3,000 feet below the Hualapai Hilltop Trailhead at the rim. There were no services at the trailhead and the closest town is Peach Springs, 70 miles away. We backpacked down the 10-mile trail to the campground and spent 3 days exploring the waterfalls, sparkling blue-green pools, narrow canyons, and caves before returning to the trailhead. Although it was cold and windy at the rim when we started, the temperatures within the canyon were warm, perfect for camping and swimming. Besides the series of larger waterfalls, Havasu Canyon contains numerous cascading blue-green pools created by the natural travertine all along Havasu Creek. Travertine is a form of limestone and comes from the mineral springs that feed the creek. The unusual limestone formations can be seen in the pictures beside the falls and creeks. This is truly a unique place and one of my top ten natural wonders. Click on photo below to view a PICASA slideshow.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Grand Canyon on my Mind

Here I am hiking the Cool trail in the Auburn Canyon area with a 40 lb pack in preparation for my backpacking trip into the Grand Canyon later this month. Hiking with such weight is not my favorite activity, but the opportunity to visit the Havasu Falls area of the Grand Canyon with friends was not to be missed. Should be a great trip with the gang from the central coast. Hmmm! Now what else might I need and where else can I drop some weight! It's a constant quandary. Click on the picture below to see an overall map of our destination within the Grand Canyon as well as a trail map.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Tour of Yosemite

This year, I joined the Sac Bike Hikers on their Tour of Yosemite organized by long time members Hazi and Steve. The tour starts with a train ride to Merced early in the morning followed by a 48-mile bike ride to Mariposa where we spend the first night. From there it's 25 miles to the Cedar Lodge where we spent the next three nights. The Cedar Lodge is located along the Merced River 8 miles from the entrance of Yosemite National Park. Participants were free to visit Yosemite by bike, bus or feet over next two days. Riding to Yosemite means climbing 2,000 feet plus to the park while a bus ride cost $7 for a roundtrip fare. I cycled to Yosemite on the second day, and rode the bus into the park for hiking the following two days. Others did various activities from riding, hiking, sightseeing, and just relaxing. Some even did a century ride of 105 miles with 11,000 feet of climbing. Awesome! In conclusion, Yosemite National Park is a scenic wonderland of shear granite and waterfalls, and a great destination for a bike tour. This is the earliest I've visited Yosemite after winter and the thunderous waterfalls were impressive. Thanks Hazi and Steve for a great tour. Click on link below to view all the pictures.
From Yosemite Tour 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bear Valley in the Spring

But, it's a rainy Spring. Good time to post some pictures. These are from our mountain bike ride through Bear Valley 60 miles northwest of Sactown. We did a 37-mile loop over Walker Ridge and down into Bear Valley starting from the junction of Highways 20 and 16. We missed the peak of the wildflowers and the leading edge of the next storm kept the skies cloudy throughout the day. But I still enjoyed the ride. Click on the link below to view all my pictures in PICASA.
From Bear Valley 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Exploring Anza Borrego

Geno, Mike and I join the Sac Wheelmen for four days of bike riding in Anza Borrego State Park. This is the club's annual Borrego Springs Zodiac, part of their series of multi-day bike rides away from Sacramento. It gives club members an opportunity to ride different regions under an organize club ride atmosphere. In all, I rode a total of about 180 miles in 4 days. The hardest climb was up Montezuma Valley Rd which was a 3,600 feet ascent over 11 miles. Geno, Mike and I concluded the riding with hikes to the Palm Canyon Oasis and the Slot Canyon before heading home. There's a lot to explore at Anza Borrego State Park so I plan to return with Kay in the future. Click on the link below to view all my pictures in PICASA.
From Borrego Springs Zodiac 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sights of San Diego 2010

With a wet start to the new year, Kay and I decide to head south to San Diego for some warmth and sunshine. After a quick stopover in Los Osos to visit Jay and Cathy, we spent 10 days in the coastal city doing day rides with the tandem and visiting local attractions like Balboa Park, the Maritime Museum, the Gas Lamp District, and Little Italy. Our rented one bedroom cottage on a quiet residential street a half block from the beach is located in the funky Ocean Beach area. Close by was Mission Bay and the popular Pacific Beach area. Our location gave us good access to all parts of the city as well as easy access to the bikeways. Click on the link below to view all my pictures in PICASA.
From San Diego 2010