Sunday, September 19, 2010

Bike Ride down the Coast

Time for a Break
Today Linda and I went on one of our ‘standard rides from Mission Viejo to Las Pulgas Road on Camp Pendelton Marine Corps base.  There was a thin fog when we started but it turned to an overcast about a half hour into the ride.  We managed to get to the Starbucks in downtown San Clemente about an hour and fifteen minutes into the ride where we not only stop for a break, but we pick up our riding buddy Nate.  After a short break we are off again down the old coast highway which is at times a functional road, part of a park, and bike path through the marine base.  We ride past the San Onofre nuclear power plant and state beach, and the trestles beach that is a popular surfing destination.  It is a pleasant 56 mile round trip with a lot of views of the Pacific Ocean from the bike trail.

While we were resting at Starbucks, Nate said that he like reading the blog, but felt that I should branch out into other subjects that I find interesting like diet or politics.  He was thinking the adventures of Steve & Linda might get old after a while unless we were going somewhere more exotic.  Oddly enough I was emailing to another person about this same subject - that vote came in to keep the blog simple and stick to what is going on in our lives.  Decisions.  Well even though I don’t agree with Nate on everything, he does have good taste in bike jerseys, so he could have a point.  I will have to think about what else I might add other than travel and things we are doing.  Stay tuned.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hiking the Aliso and Woods Canyon Wilderness Park Hike

Scouting the Trail
Well this isn’t really a posting about a vacation, but it was a fun local hike and it is going to be a few weeks until we go on our next multiple day out of town adventure, so in order to keep the blog from getting to stale in the mean time, here is a post about our hike this morning.

We drove from our house with Linda’s sister Cindy to Laguna Beach and headed up to the top of Park Avenue which put us at the trail head.  We gathered our gear, studied the map and headed down the trail.  After an initial dilemma about which trail at the trail head to choose, we found a sign posting the trail by name and we were off.  The trails were in fact very well labeled throughout in addition to the usual warning signs about rattlesnakes and mountain lions which are put up to heighten the sense of adventure.
We've hiked a whole half mile! That's a little depressing
When we started it was foggy and cool, but after a couple of miles the sun burned off the fog and we took off our jackets.  The trail was fairly wide and very well traveled, we saw several groups of hikers and quite a few mountain bikers.  It would actually be a better hike during the week, less bike traffic would be a plus.

Still Smilling
We got back just at lunch time so we enjoyed the sandwiches that Linda made for us, sitting on a picnic table that rocked up and down every time one of us got up.  We packed everything back into the car and headed home.  It wasn’t a big adventure, but it was enough to keep our legs in hiking shape for a while.  We had a great morning and will be adding this to our list of things to do around Orange County.  We do have to start our hiking training for next summer’s birthday hike!
Resting in the shade
OK, we kind of got into resting

The final climb

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Vacation Day 8 – Las Vegas

Well the National Parks are a thing of the past now.  No red rocks in Las Vegas, but hey, it is a different kind of experience.  The drive went pretty smooth, we stopped for coffee and a snack along the way, but returning home doesn’t seem like the same kind of adventure.  We are staying our last night in Las Vegas.  This time we are staying on The Strip instead of downtown.

We arrived to check in close to three o’clock.  Lieza and Kamar’s room had a problem and they were switched to another room.  Someone must have left a tiger in the room they had originally been assigned.  Our room wasn’t ready yet, so we left all of our stuff in Lieza’s new room and went out to see the town.  We saw the places up and down the strip, touring the different shops and attractions.

After we got back we went over to cousin Tom’s for supper and a visit.  We topped off the evening with a nighttime visit to watch the fountain show at the Bellagio.  It is off to bed now, tomorrow we drive back home.  It will be good to see our friends and family, but it is sad to end a good vacation.

Stephen and Linda at the Bellagio
Kamar at the Venetian
New group of buildings near the Monte Carlo

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Vacation Day 7 – Hiking and Sightseeing in Bryce National Park

Stephen, Kamar & Linda on the trail

Today is our last opportunity for any real hiking on this vacation, and the weather was perfect for it.  The sky was a deep and cloudless blue, the wind was light, and the temperature was cool.  We had several hikes to choose from so we consulted the trail guide and decided to do a combination of 4 different trails.

The first trail was the “Peekaboo Loop” the description is: “Steep but spectacular hike through the heart of Bryce Amphitheater.  See the Wall of Windows.”  Sounds pretty good doesn’t it!  The second was the “Navajo Loop” whose description is “See Wall Street, Two Bridges, and Thor’s Hammer on this short but steep trail.”  Sounds like another winner – they named several of the ‘Hoodoos’ on this trail.  The third was the “Rim Trail” whose description is “Outstanding views of hoodoos from above.”  We get to see the canyon from above and below!  The fourth was the Queens Garden Trail.  We were able to weave them into a large loop with only a mile or two of repeats.

Kamar seems to be taking to hiking.  She ordered a set of boots online.  Maybe they will be at her house when she gets home!  We are starting to talk about doing a day hike up Whitney next summer.

Profile of our hike
Lieza found an alternative to the morning hike, an all morning guided tour of the park, covering it from end to end with transportation on one of the park shuttle buses.  She said it was a great tour, and got a lot of great pictures.  She took us to one of the sights in the south end of the park called “Natural Bridge”, which is a combination arch and hoodoo.  It was spectacular.  On the way back we saw some deer grazing right by the side of the road.  They seemed pretty unconcerned that we were there.

Who peed on the grass?

We finished the afternoon with swimming in a large indoor pool and spent a little time in the hot tub to make sure that we don’t get any stiff muscles.

Tomorrow we drive back to Las Vegas and stay on the strip.

Here is a link to the Picasa Album for Bryce.  Or this link.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Vacation Day 6 – Arches to Bryce National Park

Today we woke, packed the car and got ready for our second long driving day from Arches to Bryce National Park.  As it turned out, Linda and I were ready a little early, so we walked over to the grocery store to get a cup of coffee.  There was a picnic table and some trees next to the store and a couple having a breakfast picnic meal from the groceries they had purchased.  Since this is the way that we like to travel, we had to stop to talk with them.  They were from Austria living in a town not far from where Arnold was born.  It was interesting to talk with them about traveling in the US and Europe.  It is kind of fun to exchange perceptions of places from a visitor’s perspective.  They felt it was kind of boring that we only get to drive 65 miles per hour on long straight roads where you could obviously go 120!

After we said goodbye, we gathered up Lieza and Kamar and started heading toward Bryce.  Linda had sandwiches for us, but Lieza and Kamar felt like stopping at a restaurant.  Around lunch time we got to a town called Salina.  The road signs announced the usual chains like Subway, etc. but Lieza spotted a sign for a place called Mom’s CafĂ© and suggested going there.  Way to go Sis!  It was a real cool place that has been around longer than me (at least in the 1940’s) and half the town seemed to go there for lunch.  It was intriguing enough that I decided to have coffee and ice cream (Yum).

Mom's - Salina Utah (Not a chain)

We got to Bryce in the mid afternoon, shortly after finishing the audio book “A Walk in the Woods”.  We checked into the hotel and went for our initial exploration of the park.  Once again it was spectacular and completely different from the places that we have been.  We stopped at several of the overlooks, took pictures and contemplated where we would start our hike for tomorrow.
Kamar and Lieza in front of the gift shop
Hoodoos in Bryce Canyon
Small Hoodoo up close
Tomorrow is our last day of real hiking so we are hoping for a great day and great weather.  It should be sunny and cool, so it looks promising.  We think we have a good route picked out.  Wish us luck!

Here is a link to the Picasa Album for Bryce.  Or this link.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Vacation Day 5 – Arches National Park

Today we got up early in the morning to go see Arches and do a little hiking.  We started out by taking some pictures in the south end of the park.  We then traveled up to a place called Delicate Arch near the center of the park and got out for a short walk up to the viewpoint.  We spent some time looking at the arch and taking pictures, morning seemed to be the best light from that angle. After we got down from the Delicate Arch we drove up to the north end of the park to the trailhead for the “Devil’s Garden” hike.

Lieza took the car keys to go exploring some of the sights by car, and Kamar, Linda, and I embarked on the trail.
Lieza, Kamar, and Linda

The official description of the Devil’s Garden Trail reads: “Longest of the maintained trails in the park, Devil’s Garden Trail leads to eight awe-inspiring arches.  Expect narrow ledges with rocky surface hiking and scrambling on slick-rock.  Beyond Landscape Arch, the trail becomes more challenging as it climbs over sandstone slabs; footing is rocky; there are narrow ledges with exposures to heights.  Spur trails lead to Partition and Navajo Arches.”  Who could resist that!
Landscape Arch
Walking on the edge of the "fin"

Actually when you are walking on the top of these slabs or “fins” they only look a couple of feet inches wide, the wind seems to be blowing at gale force beyond classification velocity, and the drop on either side seems to be tens thousands of feet down.  When you get to the view points on the trail the views are spectacular!  This park is very majestic.  We had a great time.

That arch has to be around here somewhere!

Tomorrow we pack up and drive to Bryce National Park.

Here is a link to the Picasa Album for Arches.  Or this link.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Vacation Day 4 – Zion to Arches (Moab)

Today was one of our big travel days, essentially going from one side of Utah to the other.  Although it was a long drive, it was beautiful scenery the entire way.  We did also have a chance to do something you can almost never do in Southern California; use the cruise control.  It really is more relaxing, but only when the freeway isn’t packed with cars.

We started out the day with a short hike to Emerald Pool just for one last look at the park, and then packed up for the drive and headed out.  We listened to an audio book for part of the time and bounced ideas around for Lieza’s term paper.  (She finished this evening and emailed it in, so she can forget about class for the rest of the vacation.)  We arrived in Moab in the late afternoon, got settled at our hotel and then went for a quick look at Arches National Park about five miles down the road.

Kamar was the first to point it out, but it really is true, several of the rock formations look like the ones in the Roadrunner cartoons.  This definitely looks like the inspiration for them.  Maybe tomorrow when we are hiking we can get an autograph from either the roadrunner or Wiley Coyote.

We Only had time for a short sampling of the park, but we were able to enjoy the late afternoon sun on the rocks and a pretty nice sunset.  I will include a couple of pictures with this post, but will have to put off putting together a picasa picture gallery until tomorrow morning.  It is getting pretty late, and we are getting up early to go hiking.  I think our niece picked out another ‘strenuous level’ hike for us.  Luckily the hotel we are stay at has a hot tub.  We may be in it tomorrow night!

Balanced Rock - Arches

View from Fiery Furnace - Arches

Sunset at Fiery Furnace - arches

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Vacation Day 3 – Hiking in Zion

We planned to wake up early and go hiking up to a spot called Angel’s Landing before it got too hot.  We figured we would wake up at about 5:00 or 6:00, grab coffee and breakfast and hit the trail.  We woke at about 8:00 and instead of the forecast bright sunshine we had cloud cover.  We had breakfast and go going a couple of hours later than planned, but at least it was also cooler than yesterday’s forecast predicted.

Lieza hiked with us up the Grotto Trail to the turn off to Angles Landing and turned back to work on her Term Paper and relax.  Linda, our niece Kamar and I went on the hike up Angles Landing.  Now some of you might think that it is stupid to go hiking with someone that is more than 30 years younger than you,  It is stupid.  It is more stupid if she runs regularly.  Linda and I persevered and pretended to climb without effort although I doubt we really fooled anyone.

We got to the top of Angel’s landing and the view was spectacular, as you might hope after climbing 1600 feet in elevation.  It was a great place to have lunch.  After lunch we took a few pictures and decided it was time to head down.  The decent wasn’t too bad, but there were a few places where you had to be careful of your foot placement and your grip on the chains. 

After we got down, we took a different trail back to the lodge, this one went to a place called Emerald Pools which had a couple of waterfalls and plants hanging on the sandstone cliffs.  It was a great way to end the hike.  We went back to the room and rested for about an hour and then all of us got on the tram and took it as far up the canyon as the road went.  From there we all hiked the River Trail which is a beautiful walk up the river to a place called The Narrows.  The Narrows is a place where the trail goes into the river, and continues up river.  This seemed a bit ambitious since it was getting pretty late in the day, and a little risky since it had rained a little in the afternoon.  There are signs warning about flash floods in the narrows and although the possibilities were remote, we decided to head back and have supper and a shower instead.

Tomorrow we pack up and leave Zion to head to the town of Moab Utah on the Southeastern Side of Utah.  From there we will visit Arches National Park.

Linda getting ready for the final climb up Angel's Landing

Linda and Kamar taking a short rest

Pictures of today on Picasa or this link

Monday, September 6, 2010

Vacation Day 2 – Las Vegas to Zion

We started off the day with a small breakfast and a lot of coffee, and then loaded up the car.  Linda went down to the Casino to play video poker once again.  After her triumph of the night before of beating the machine, she was confident she would be able to come back again with a buck or two in big winnings.  She was back in ten minutes, ten dollars poorer.  I have a theory that they set the machines to be more aggressive in the morning right before everyone is leaving.  If you are going to leave anyway, your money might as well stay.

We headed up the interstate toward Zion National Park arriving in the mid afternoon.  We lost an hour when we crossed into Utah and went from the Pacific to Mountain time zone.  We checked into our hotel and then went for a tour of the valley on the trams that take you throughout Zion Canyon.  We got a few pictures and some tips from the rangers on good hiking trails.  We are planning to be up early in the morning and do some hiking.
Zion Canyon

Kamar, Lieza, and Linda at the Zion Lodge

More pictures on Picasa (Link)

Vacation day one - Mission Viejo to las Vegas

We converged at the trunk of the car early Sunday morning and started to cram all of our possessions for the week into the trunk of the car.  Initially it didn’t work, and after a few rounds of how bad do we need this we hit a happy equilibrium, got all of the essentials including peanut butter pretzels and a portable espresso maker, slammed the trunk shut, and off we went toward Las Vegas.

We visited for a while and then listened to an audio book for a while, kind of an in flight movie.  Today’s selection was an old favorite, “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson.  It seemed like a good choice for an opening to a vacation in the outdoors in the national parks.  We made it about half way through the book before we got to Vegas.  The second half should get us to Zion.

We arrived at the Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas and checked in.  The rooms are large and a pretty good deal at $69.99 a night.  The internet connection costs $12.00 a night, so this isn’t going out until I hit a place where the internet is no extra charge.  Maybe I will find that free connection in Zion, or a McDonalds, or a Starbucks along the way.

We walked up and down Fremont Street and toured the area.  On the way down through the casino we noticed that our casino ad a water slide that went through a shark tank.  This made Kamar’s and my ‘must do list’.  We came back from touring put on our suits and did the slide.  Kamar went twice, I went for a three times before we decided we needed to shower and get ready to have dinner with cousin Tom.

After Tom arrived we had dinner and then went outside to see the Fremont Street light show, which was pretty spectacular.  Tom headed home and Linda and Kamar went back in to the casino, played video poker for about an hour and finished up seventy five cents.  We went back out to see a second light show and then started to fade.  Tomorrow is another day!  Destination Zion.
Dinner at the Golden Nugget - Linda, Lieza, Tom, Stephen, and Kamar

Fremont Street - Tom, Linda, Kamr, and Lieza
There are a few more pictures in a Picasa web Album

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Getting Ready for a Road Trip Vacation

We are getting ready for a one week road trip vacation starting during the Labor Day Weekend. This will be a little different than most of our vacations. Generally we fly to our destinations and then either go cycling or use public transportation. This time we are driving. Another difference is this time we will be going with my sister Lieza and our niece Kamar. Lieza and I have been on road trip vacations together when we were kids, but that was over 40 years ago.

Our itinerary is to drive from Mission Viejo to Las Vegas for the first night. We will be staying downtown where we can hand out and see some the attractions and see our Cousin Tom. From there, we are going to Zion National Park in the southwestern corner of Utah. After two nights in Utah, we are heading over to Arches National park on the Southeastern corner of Utah and staying in the town of Moab for two nights. We will then start heading back in the direction of home and stop at Bryce National Park for two nights. After Bryce it is back to Las Vegas for a night, this time we are staying on the strip, which should give us different sights to see.

We think it will be a good trip. We should have lots of opportunities for hiking, taking pictures, and relaxing. It sounds like it should be fun and we tried to arrange it so we wouldn’t be in the car for too long on any of the days. I will try to make some updates and post pictures of our adventures from the road.

I will try to send an email to let you know there is an update, but technology in remote locations is sometimes sketchy. The good news is, even if I am a day or two behind with the email, the post should still be there. If you know of anyone that I missed, just point them to the blog link.

We hope you are all doing well.

Stephen and Linda

Friday, September 3, 2010

Bike Ride in San Diego with Frank

Our long time bike riding friend Frank was down in Southern California this week.  Linda and I loaded our bike on the car and drove down to Del Mar.  We met Frank at about 10:00 and started riding south along the coast.

Not long after we started down the beach we came upon the famous Torrey Pines park and hill.  It is famous among cyclists because of the hill, but the views are also spectacular.  We continued on past UCSD and Scripts.  After a bit, we stopped for coffee and an early lunch.  We then continued South toward Mission Bay.  We were able to use a combination of roads and bike paths to get down to San Diego Bay and skirt around the airport.  We rode along the Bay until we got to the ferry crossing which is a block or two from the Main train station in down town San Diego.

We bought tickets for the ferry and were able to board just as they were getting ready to leave (no waiting!).  The ferry took us across the bay to Coronado Island.  The ferry ride was a great way to see the skyline, and we were treated to a beautiful view on a clear and cloudless afternoon.  We road around Coronado, went down to look at the hotel Del Coronado.  After we saw the old hotel, we rode straight back to the ferry and caught the ride back to down town San Diego.

We rode a couple of blocks from the ferry landing to the old Union Station (Santa Fe Terminal) whee we purchased some tickets for the Coaster.  Riding the Coaster is pretty painless compare with riding on Amtrak.  The tickets are much cheaper and the conductors are hospitable rather than hostile.  We rode up to the Solana Beach station and rode about two miles to Frank's.

After we loaded up the bikes, we had all had a quick supper and then Linda and I headed home to Mission Viejo.  It was a great to ride with a friend and we had a perfect day for it.