Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for February, 2008

Lots of rain

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

We’ve had a lot of rain the past couple of days, and today was the first day I rode to work this week. I worked from home on Monday due to a migraine, and then yesterday the forecast said strong storms with possible hail and I decided it’d be better to drive. Then it rained on and off throughout the day but not at all during my morning or evening commutes. It was frustrating because I definitely could have ridden — but sometimes it’s better to be on the safe side, I guess. I really don’t enjoy riding in the rain for the most part, or at least I haven’t learned to enjoy it yet. It can be OK if it’s warm enough that the rain won’t make me cold.

This morning it was raining, but I rode anyway. We’ve also been having a heat wave, and temperatures in the 40s and 50s since Saturday. 44 degrees this morning felt quite warm. I wore my cycling-specific rain jacket, which I had forgotten I had. It helped keep the water off my upper body, but my legs still got pretty wet. I do have some better pants somewhere but I couldn’t find them so they must be dirty. Still, I haven’t found optimal pants to wear when it’s raining. My ride really wasn’t as bad as I expected. One of my coworkers saw me riding in and gave me a look of disbelief, which often happens when there’s snow. But I’ll take snow and ice over rain like this any day. Of course I may get to ride home in some of that this evening, if the forecast is correct.

Still, I’m convinced I can find a way to be more comfortable in the rain. I need better pants and a hat with a visor that’ll fit under my helmet to keep the rain off my glasses and out of my eyes. The rain jacket works pretty well and even has detachable sleeves, but in practice if it’s raining I find I need the sleeves. However that jacket does not breathe much so if it’s warm it gets too hot — and the fabric sticks to my arms unless I wear a long-sleeved layer under it.

Sheldon Brown

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

Sheldon Brown, purveyor of the fine sheldonbrown.com Web site, died of a heart attack Sunday night. Sheldon was a cyclist, photographer, bicycle mechanic and writer. His Web site has a wealth of articles about bicycle repair, which have proven invaluable to myself and many other cyclists. I’d often find answers on his site, or that he had posted in bicycle forums, when searching for information. I never had any direct contact with him, but I was surprised at the volume of answers he would provide for people, and his optimistic outlook on life. He even has a page entitled “The Bright Side of MS (Multiple Sclerosis),” which he was diagnosed with in August, 2007. He also has a fantastic page about his hat collection. While I didn’t know him personally, Sheldon Brown touched my life with the information on his Web site, great photos and fantastic sense of humor. We’ll miss you, Sheldon.

She said yes!!!

Monday, February 4th, 2008

The weather was gorgeous here all weekend, with mostly sunny skies and highs in the mid-40s. Yesterday, Sarah and I headed down to Jackson-Washington State Forest to do some hiking. We have gone camping there before and wanted to go hiking, but didn’t have time. With some help from my friend Dave, we decided to hike up Mount Baldy, which apparently has been renamed to the more-redundant “Pinnacle Peak.”

This was a difficult hike, but very beautiful.  It started with a long climb up to where an old observation tower used to be. The trails were quite muddy, so traction was poor and we were slipping and sliding much of the time. I felt like we were doing some damage to the trails but it was too late by the time we figured out how muddy everything was. The climbs were pretty steep and difficult, mostly going straight up the side of the hills rather than winding up gradually like many trails do.

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Steep climb

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Sarah

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Sarah and Rob standing where the old observation tower once was

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Support from the old observation tower

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Another observation tower support

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Sarah photographing Rob

There was a pretty good view from the observation tower, as it was on top of a big hill. The view was obscured by trees somewhat but you could still see quite a distance.

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The observation tower’s remains look almost like a cemetery from below

After reaching the old observation tower, the trail goes steeply downhill and follows a valley for a little bit before beginning and even bigger climb up to Mount Baldy. It was quite challenging, and the mud got worse. We ran into two other groups hikers during this portion of the hike, the only other people we would see all afternoon. It was great to have the whole place basically to ourselves.

Eventually, we reached the top of Mount Baldy. True to its name, it had a rocky surface with few plants growing on it — as well as a fantastic view.

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View from Mount Baldy

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Another shot of the view

Before Sarah could catch her breath, I hugged and kissed her for a few minutes, then on bended knee, pulled a ring from my pocket and asked “Sarah … will you marry me?” She had no idea this was coming whatsoever — I could see from the look on her face it took a moment for her to process what was going on and realize what I was asking. She was smiling but crying and hugging me and muttered some things, prompting me to ask, “Is that a yes?” She responded with an emphatic “YES!” My heart very nearly jumped from my chest. I knew this would be a great moment, but it was even better than I had envisioned.

The ring I chose has three round-cut stones, the middle one bigger than the other two. It looks even better on Sarah’s finger than it did by itself. The light was perfect for the occasion, the winter sun low in the sky and casting long, beautiful shadows despite being mid-afternoon, and wrapping everything in a warm glow.

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The ring

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Us

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Does she look happy or what?

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The trees below us

We spent a long time on Mount Baldy talking about everything and enjoying the scenery and each other’s company. It was amazing to have this beautiful land all to ourselves. The dog got to feeling a big neglected, but he got over it. Eventually we headed back. It was a long trip down the side of this huge hill, but it didn’t take as long as it did on the way up. In part our exuberance made it go by faster.

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Sarah and Rob

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Looking into the valley below

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Another great smile

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The trail

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Beautiful light

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Back at the observation tower

We thought about hiking some more on a trail that connects to this one at the observation tower, but it was getting a bit late in the day and we were tired enough already. We’ll just have to go back soon to hike more of these trails.

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Muddy trail
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The road back

Our trip back was excellent. We sure have a lot of new things to discuss now. By the end of the day, my face hurt from smiling so much, my ankles hurt from the hiking, and more importantly, Sarah and I felt closer than ever. A great way to feel after a perfect day.

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