Thursday, October 25, 2012

Balloon Fiesta 2012

This year we made it out to Balloon Fiesta twice. Once in the evening hoping to see a glow, which did not happen and for one beautiful morning with perfect conditions. I towed Dylan in the trailer both times. 

For the evening session we headed out and met Linda at the field as she was riding home from work. Dylan and I arrived earlier than Linda and just ended up hanging out in front of the Intel tent where we would eat dinner once Linda arrived. Here we are waiting,
 Even though the "glow", where they light up the balloons but don't fly, was canceled because of gusty winds, the view was still really cool, there was this strange looking cloud hanging over the Sandias that of course glowed in the sunset.
and of course, there are fireworks every night,
 In the morning I got a flat tire and had to change it on the trail as the "Dawn Patrol", the dawn patrol launched while it is still dark and look like floating lightbulbs where they burn to gain altitude, the must fly until it is light to be able to see obstacles and landing sites, balloons flew over us. 

Once we made the field, the first balloon we saw left little doubt as to where we were,
 Balloons bumping,
 There were lots of shapes out since it was calm enough for them to fly, like this zebra,
The you have the human zebras that clear a down wind path so the balloons can take off without knocking people over, though it was so calm that they only moved a few feet before they were well above head height.
 Family shot in front of a row of balloons,
 The spiral pattern of many of the balloons looks pretty cool as they fly overhead,
 This is the first time I've seen the "Darth Vader" balloon out,
 And he was off chasing the rebels,
 Smokey the Bear for Mom,
 The balloons launch in rows from the down wind edge so that they don't have to clear each other, so you get these long rows of balloons waiting for the OK from a human zebra for take off. 
 Linda and Dylan below the "Airibel" Creamland dairy balloon.
 Airibel framing some balloons,
 And again, "Airibel" is huge and they were hoping to fly her on this day but the wind shifted and if they had flown there would not have been anywhere large enough to land her. We have yet to see the whole cow fly, but they can detach the front and back and it leaves a normal balloon, I think, that We've seen flying.
 Noah's arc,
 Looking into the Wells Fargo stage coach balloon,
 A tribute balloon,
 The three bumble bees, with baby leaving the parents behind, I think the hands of the parents were actually attached,
 Linda and Dylan on the field again after the sun came up,
 Balloons, balloons and more balloons,
 I always like these shots, looking through the balloon as it is layer out and getting blown up with shadows of people watching. A couple of parents holding children and someone working on straightening the balloon out.
 Linda using her enormous weight to help hold the Intel balloon down. The intel balloon actually flew as part of the "Dawn Patrol", landed, was packed up and drove back to the field to re-inflate and tether in front of the Intel tent.
 At the end of the morning it was just the Intel balloon and this one sitting tethered to the field for people to mingle around as they headed back to their cars or bikes.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Big Basin State Park

After spending the night at the Davenport Roadhouse, we had a nice breakfast in their restaurant. Linda tried something new, wheat berries, kind of interesting, crunchy. Then we collected our leftovers from their refrigerator and headed off to Big Basin State Park to see some HUGE redwoods. After the long hike the day before for Dylan we decided to start out with a short loop, though it turned out to be longer than we were told. Here Linda and Dylan are dwarfed by some large trees. 
 Moss and lichen enjoy their own climate on the north side of the trees.
 Crazy bark, I can't help but think about climbing holds when I see stuff like this.
 Dylan and I in front of another tree.
 Looking up through the "Chimney Tree", the entire center is burned out and yet it is still alive and growing.
 The tallest tree in the park, the "Mother of the Forest", of course the widest is called the "Father"
It is always so impressive to be in a true old growth area with the enormous trees towering above you.

Dylan did catch himself...

Monday, October 8, 2012

Ano Nuevo and the Davenport Roadhouse

While we were in CA we also took a short two day trip to check out some local spots that we thought Dylan would find interesting. The first of which was Ano Nuevo, just a little north of Santa Cruz. Ano Nuevo is a preservation for Elephant Seals. You park and have to hike out to where the Seals spend most of their time lounging on the beach. As we pulled into the park we war told that the Seals were out at the furthest outlook, about a 2 mile walk out with a fair bit of sand towards the end. After the epic of getting Dylan to put on sunscreen and out of the car he was distracted by a surfer and Linda and Dylan followed him down to a beach that is within the park but not the preserve. Here they are walking as I try to catch up. 
Linda and DYlan hanging out on the beach having lunch and watching the surfers.
 The surf did not seem very good, you could not ride a wave for very long before it broke and died. After awhile we headed on out towards the Elephant Seals. Once we crossed into the preserve the trail quickly turned to sand and since it seemed as though I was going to be getting it in my shoes I took them off, Dylan had them on and off through the sandy part.
 Most of the Seals were just lounging.
 You would see sand thrown up in the air over then seals constantly. Apparently even when it is cold out, which it was, it is still too warm if you have several inches of blubber keeping you warm. Flipping up the sand with their flippers helps to keep them cool. The seals are so inactive because they don't go out to sea to eat, so they are fasting and trying to conserve energy. There were a handful of seals out playing or wrestling in the shallow water though.

Here are Linda and Dylan trudging up the last big sand dune on our way back towards the car. Dylan hiked the whole way on his own, 4.3 miles. Though it did take some coaxing, in the form of playing games, like going on safari, to get him back.
 We then checked into our lodging at the Davenport Roadhouse. They have several rooms above the restaurant, which was quite good, we ate there for dinner and breakfast the next morning, and this little cottage out back where we stayed.
 The service was excellent. Because we had a child they let us use a little attached room with an extra bed and after dinner, there was no refrigerator int he room so the waitress let us keep our leftovers in the restaurant to pick up in the morning after breakfast.

Here is a shot of the family overlooking the beach that is across the street from the Davenport Roadhouse.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

21 Months Later

On our first weekend in CA last week we headed out to Vacaville to do some shopping since Linda always complains that she never gets a chance. Of course this was after riding in the morning so it turned into a very long day. My sister, Joy, her husband, Chris and their daughter, Kailee joined us as well. Dylan now plays very well with Kailee so it is great to see them together. Here is Kailee after diner enjoying so ice cream.
 and the two kids playing on a coin operated safari vehicle, with out the coins of course.
 Over the last 21 months, whenever we go back to CA to visit my family we stop by the home I grew up in and got burned when the house next door went up in flames (New Years 2011). The home that my parents are living in now is leased by the insurance company and the lease is up soon. SO here is the state of the home that needs to be done. Living room,
 Kitchen, with doors
 Kitchen cabinets...
Obviously there is still a fair bit of work to do, but it is a lot better than when it was stripped down to just the framing.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

War of the Wall Grade IV 5.10+, Calaveras Dome, CA

For the last week of September we headed to California to visit my family. My parents were kind enough to watch Dylan one afternoon and the following day so Linda and I could get out and climb a long route together, something we had not done in quite some time. We can't just leave Dylan hanging out at the base of the wall all day while we are out of sight, 1,000' above...can we?

We drove out to Sutter Creek and had a nice diner seeing as it was close to our anniversary, then headed back to the hotel and set the alarm for EARLY. In the morning we drove up Hwy 88 to Cook's Station and fearing we had missed the turn stopped to check. They were very helpful and we still had a ways to go before turning off the highway. Once we turned off we started to drop steeply down into a deep canyon on a very windy road. After 15 miles and countless potholes we parked below Calaveras Dome. The rock rises only a few minutes from the road and is 1200-1500' depending on what part of the wall you climb.

We headed up the trail and quickly came to the wall, only later to find out that it was not where we needed to be to approach our chosen route, War of the Wall. Needless to say we wasted a bit of time trying to figure out the best way to get to the base of our route that started off a ledge system. We ended up climbing a very long and runout (meaning scary and a fall could have very bad consequences) pitch where it seems other climbers had made the same mistake.

Once on the route things improved greatly. The first pitch is an amazing full rope length of splitter granite crack, starting at finger sized and slowly getting wider over its 200' to hands. After that an interesting traverse under a roof got us to the next section go crack which took up up another 200' to a very spacious ledge. Here Linda and I are on the ledge looking up at the next pitch which is an absolutely amazing 200' corner.
 We had a quick bite before heading up from here. Upon reaching the belay I had some concerns about the next pitch, it was face climbing and I could not immediately see the first bolt. We had brought plenty of gear for the route but if we were going to bail we would need 2 ropes or have to leave a bunch of gear to set additional anchors. Well I only keep one rope in CA and had not brought a second so it was onward and upward. Eventually I saw the bolt and headed off, the pitch was great, fun climbing on knobs that stuck out of the wall. Here is looking down on that pitch.
 The next pitch was mostly face climbing as well, but this time on dikes that criss crossed the face.
 Here Linda and I are at the top of the route with Salt Springs Reservoir in the back ground. The dam is the reason for the paved road leading down into the canyon.
 Most parties rappel after the long corner that Linda and I had our snack below, but I would not have missed the next 2 face climbing pitches, after that the climbing went from absolutely classic to just OK, but with only one rope we had to go up to hike off. There was really no good description of the hike off, just that it was possible. Now I know why. We spent about an hour navigating through manzanita to get to a treed gully between Calaveras Dome and Hidden Wall behind. Then another 2 hours to trudge down the gully without the benefit of a trail. Here is Linda on about the easiest bit of the manzanita.
After hiking out we still had to get diner and drive 3-4 hours back to my parent house, needless to say, a very long day, but one spent with my wife doing something that we mostly enjoyed (except the descent).