Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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8/31/2006

More horses and bikes

Filed under: — stan @ 8:20 pm


Lucinda liked riding the horse on Sunday, so we went back to do it again today. This time we did the two-hour trail ride. Elsa was our guide again, and our horses were Gideon and Big Maude.

The ride was very nice. We covered more ground than on the shorter ride, going all the way to the edge of Fallen Leaf Lake before heading back.

After the ride, we had lunch at Lucinda’s favorite little Mexican restaurant. Then we rented bikes for an afternoon ride. Lucinda wanted to try riding by herself. We rode through the woods to the end of the forest trail and back. It was a fun little ride, even if we had to go a little slower than usual because of Lucinda.

Before dinner, we went to the pool so Lucinda could play there for a bit. Then we had dinner at the Horizon Casino restaurant.

Pictures from the day are in our photo album.

8/30/2006

A Lava Cave

Filed under: — stan @ 9:04 pm

Wednesday was our last day at Lassen. We got breakfast from the Mineral Lodge and headed back into the park. The people at the south entrance told us that there was a beaver dam on Hat Lake. This is the little lake that was created by a lahar in the 1914-1917 eruptions. So this was our first stop.

We were hoping to see some beavers, if for no other reason than to continue our streak of seeing animals that begin with ‘B’. We walked around the lake and saw the beaver dam and the lodge out in the middle, but we didn’t see any actual beavers.

The next stop for the day was the Devastated Area exhibit. There is a short trail that shows some of the effects of the pyroclastic flows from the 1915 eruption, including flattened forests and big boulders moved down the mountain. It was impressive.

Our last stop for the day was Subway Cave. This is a bit outside the park in Lassen National Forest. This was an interesting landscape. The whole region is covered in recent lava flows, which just looks odd to us, since we’re not used to it. The cave is in a section of a very large flow that left a lava tube. We brought jackets and flashlights to take the tour. It was interesting and a lot of fun.

After the cave tour, we got in the car and headed back to Tahoe. We stopped for dinner in Reno, and we got back to the house just before dark. It was a very fun side trip.

As always, the photos from the day are in our photo album.

8/29/2006

Climbing the peak

Filed under: — stan @ 9:13 pm

Today’s adventure was to climb Lassen Peak.

It was cold in the morning. The thermometer at the cabin said it was 45F (7C), which is pretty cold for SoCal people like us. It certainly seemed cold for August. We went over to the little restaurant at the Mineral Lodge for breakfast.

After breakfast, we headed up into the park. The trail to the peak starts at nearly the highest point on the road through the park. It was about 8,500 feet (2591M) above sea level. This was a trail that didn’t mess around. It was steep uphill from the start, and it never let up. The trail switchbacked up to the top of the east ridge, and then it climbed up the ridge to the summit. Along the way, we passed a number of snowbanks, and we had to promise Lucinda that she could play in them on the way down.

This was easily the biggest hike Lucinda has ever done. And I ended up playing mule and carrying her for about half the hike. But that was all right. We want her to remember it as a fun time and not as a Death March. And this hike was truly the high point of our trip. 10,450 feet according to my handheld GPS unit, and 10,457 (3,187M) by the USGS map. Either way, it was a tall mountain. The air was noticeably thin at the top, but that didn’t bother us too much. We made the 2.5 mile trip up in 90 minutes, which wasn’t bad for toting a 48-pound live load on my back.

At the top, we saw the big lava dome left by the 1917 eruption. We also had a commanding view of the park and of Northern California. We could see Mt. Shasta clearly off in the distance. It was a perfect day.

There was a lot of snow at the summit, so Lucinda wanted to play in it. We stayed up there for a while before heading down. It was pretty cold and windy up there, so we were glad we brought our jackets.

For the trip down, Lucinda walked the whole way by herself. When we got the big snowbank near the bottom, she met another little girl, and they played together in the snow for a long time. But that was all right, since we didn’t really have anything else planned for the day.

When the day was over, we got dinner at the Mineral Lodge and then went back to our cabin for the night.

Here is the link to all the pictures from the day.

8/28/2006

Bats, Bears, and Boiling Mud

Filed under: — stan @ 9:35 pm

Monday was an interesting day. It began early in the morning. Daylight was just seeping in through the blinds when we heard a strange noise. I got up to look out the window, but I didn’t see anything outside. But when I turned to get back in bed, something flew past my face. At first I thought it was a very big moth, but then I realized it was a bat. I told Cathy, “It’s a bat” and she dove under the covers. Being a good and attentive husband, I immediately ran upstairs and got my camera. I snapped some pictures of the bat as it flew laps around our room. Then I took the screen out of the window, thinking that the bat’s echolocation would see the opening. But it kept flying laps around our room. So I finally just held the screen up in its path. The bat whacked into the screen and grabbed onto it. Then I stuck the screen out the window and the bat took off and flew away.

After that excitement, we all went upstairs for breakfast. While I was cooking, I looked out the window and I saw a bear. Monday is trash day, and the bear was walking from house to house, checking everyone’s trash cans. We all were looking out the window at the bear when it stopped, stood up, and put its nose up to the window. At this point I started to think that maybe it wasn’t such a good thing for the bear to know we were in there. So we all went away from the window, and the bear checked out our trash can before walking away.

Finally, we finished breakfast and got ready to go. Today’s adventure was our side trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park. This is about 200 miles from Tahoe, so we were going there for three days to see the sights.

We left Tahoe and headed over the hill to Carson City and Reno. Then we took 395 north all the way to Susanville, where we stopped for lunch at the Black Bear Diner. We thought we’d continue with our bear theme for the day. The food was all right, and the portions were suitably bear-sized. Then we headed out on Highway 36 to get to Lassen.

We had arranged to rent a cabin in the town of Mineral, which is just outside the park. When we got there, the town turned out to be an interersection with a gas station, a general store, and a little restaurant. The sign said, “Mineral, Pop 90″. The cabin was nice, but it had no TV and no phone. And our cell phones didn’t work there. Bein’ city folk, we were somewhat unsure what to make of this. But the inside was decorated in a rustic bear motif, which seemed appropriate.

After unloading the car, we headed into the park. Our first stop was Sulphur Works, which is a set of sulfur vents and mud pots very near the entrance to the park. Next, we headed farther into the park, stopping at a small snowbank next to the road. This was the first time Lucinda had ever seen natural snow close-up, and she wanted to play in it.

The next stop was the trail to Bumpass Hell. We hiked out there, stopping at a few more snowbanks along the way. When we got there, we got to see boiling mud pots, boiling ponds, and gas vents with sulfur crystals growing in them. It was very entertaining.

By the time we got back to the car, it was nearly dark, and we set out in search of a restaurant for dinner. We had been told that the little restaurant in Mineral closed at 6:00, so we started back down Highway 36 toward Chester, which is a somewhat larger town. Along the way, we finally found The St. Bernard Lodge, which was open. So we went in and had dinner. I had the biggest hamburger I’ve ever seen, and Cathy and Lucinda shared the biggest ribs they’d ever seen. Then we headed back to our cabin for the night. Being that there was no TV, there wasn’t anything for Lucinda to do, so we all just went to bed.

All the pictures from the day are in our photo album.

8/27/2006

Horses and bikes

Filed under: — stan @ 7:29 pm

Sunday was a day of riding. On our way back from the hike on Saturday, we had passed a stable, and Lucinda asked if she could try riding a horse. So I called and found out that the Camp Richardson Corral offered trail rides, and they allowed kids. So Lucinda and I went there on Sunday morning to do the one-hour trail ride. Cathy went shopping, since she does not like horses.

The ride was very nice. Lucinda was riding Scotch, and I was on Parkie. We rode through the woods to no place in particular, but Lucinda liked it a lot. I took riding lessons when I was a kid, and I used to be quite good at it, but the last time I was on a horse was in 1972, so I was a bit rusty. My horse kept wanting to stop to sample mouthfuls of the grass along the trail. Our guide Elsa was very good, and she told me how to get him to stop doing that. After that, Parkie and I had an understanding and the rest of the ride was fine.

After the ride, we all went and had lunch. Then we headed over to Anderson’s Bike Rental and rented bikes for an afternoon ride. This time, Lucinda rode in the little trailer. We rode through town and then through the Tahoe Keys marina neighborhood. We all though that it looked like Irvine-by-the-lake. I guess that’s why we don’t live in a place like that. Still, it was a fun ride.

When we got back to the house, we went to the pool for a while. Then we went and had dinner at Evans, which is still easily our favorite restaurant there.

8/26/2006

Cascade Falls

Filed under: — stan @ 7:41 pm

Today was our first full day at Lake Tahoe, and we started off with our obligatory first hike, which is the trail up to Cascade Falls. We have done this every year, and Lucinda likes it a lot. The last part of the trail is over rocks, so she gets to have some fun climbing on them. I’ve taken a picture of her at the beginning of the rocky part of the trail each year, so we can see her growing.

2003:

2004:

2005:

2006:

This year was also the first time that Lucinda did the whole hike without having to be carried.

When we got to the top, we explored the waterfalls for a bit. I played some more with my new camera. Here’s my latest Canon commercial:


All the pictures from the day are in our photo album.

After we got back from the hike, we all went to the pool for a bit. Then we tried to have dinner at Caesar’s Broiler Room, but we found out that the name of both the restaurant and the hotel had changed. It was now “Ciera” at the Montbleu. But the menu was about the same. I ordered the rack of lamb, but sadly, it came very undercooked. I sent it back and they charred it while cooking it. So in the end, it was barely cooked enough, and black on the outside. For dessert, we ordered the chocolate souffles, but they were barely chocolate. The sauce was all right, but overall, the dinner was disappointing. Particularly after spending $143 on it. So we probably won’t be going back there again.

8/25/2006

Vacation: Day one

Filed under: — stan @ 10:47 pm

The first day of our vacation consisted of the nine-hour drive from Los Angeles to Lake Tahoe. We left our house at 9:00 in the morning and headed up I-5 through the Central Valley. At Sacramento, we turned east on Highway 50 to go up and over the Sierras to get to South Lake Tahoe and our house there. It was a pleasant enough trip. Lucinda played games on her Game Boy while we drove up the freeway. We passed oil wells in Kern County, and endless farms north of there. Between Stockton and Sacramento, we were passed by a convoy of sheriffs from Butte County. They were all K-9 units, and one had a license plate frame that said, “You Run, You Done”, which seemed like an appropriate enough motto for a police dog.

The trip over the Sierras started out on a freeway, but the road dwindled down to two lanes at the top. Then we came down into Tahoe. When we got the to the house, we unloaded and then headed out for dinner. After dinner, Lucinda watched “The Cheetah Girls 2″ on the Disney Channel. The cable TV at the Lake Tahoe house is a big treat for her. And that was the extent of our day.

8/24/2006

Cool! I’ve seen all the planets with my telescope!

Filed under: — stan @ 12:44 pm

This morning when I got to work there were a lot of news trucks parked on the street by my office. Usually this happens after earthquakes, but I knew nothing big had happened last night. But then I found out they were all there to visit Planetary Science because the news had come down that Pluto had been de-listed as a planet.

But the bright side of this is: Back in 1997, when my friend and I attempted to see all the planets in one night, we actually succeeded. We just didn’t know it at the time.

8/23/2006

Lida, yet again

Filed under: — stan @ 11:10 pm

I’d forgotten that Vikki was leaving for Canada to do the Ironman there, so I brought my bike to work anyway, and I went riding at lunchtime. I did the now-classic Lida Loop. It was a very pleasant ride as always. But I didn’t take any pictures, and there wasn’t anything in particular to report. So that was that.

18 miles at lunch, 26 for the day.

8/22/2006

This is getting out of hand

Filed under: — stan @ 12:15 pm

There was some filming on campus at Caltech yesterday. They were doing a couple of scenes for “Numb3rs“, but when I saw this truck, the first thing I thought was, “Isn’t this CSI spinoff thing is getting out of hand?”

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