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JANUARY - APRIL, 2009 BLOG
MAP - today's Dias hike -- Sunday morning -- Down Diaz to Muir Beach and back... report & photos coming.
Photos from the hike down to to Muir Beach and back:
MAP - Today's hike -- Amazing, amazing, amazing views, and warm weather.
We started the trailhead on a pullout off of Bunker Road -- a grassy meadow setup for cars to park (and across the street from a horse barn and stables).
It's a nice easy grade starting out climbing Coastal Trail up to where McCullough Rd. intersects Conzelman Rd. (tourists flock all over Conzelman in
their cars for the World Class Vistas here). Then the trail turns into a steep climb to the summit of Slacker Hill (920') which we were happy to have all for ourselves
with views incomparable anywhere in this country. From the top of Slacker you look DOWN on the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway 101 and across San Francisco and
panoramic views of the entire S.F. Bay.
Some of the many spring flowers on the trail today:
For all my photos today I carried just the 40D camera and my 24-70 2.8L lens. No other lenses in my day pack -- often I carry my 85mm 1.8 lens but the 24-70 pretty much made that unnecessary. I always carry a small handy tripod in the pack too but don't use it much -- maybe 20 to 30 photos using it all year, but it does come in handy for those few shots. It's a "Velbon Deluxe Mini Tripod DF-10 ML" and was only 30 bucks, soaking wet.
Photos from the top of Slacker Hill -- we had it ALL to ourselves:
First of all, congratulations to Tom Boonen for qinning the Paris-Roubaix "Hell of the North" bike race. It's his third win and Versus TV broadcast nearly two hours of the race in HD... nice.
The hike loses 1,500 ft. as it descends from Pan Toll Station down to sea level.
On the mid-point of the Steep Ravine trail climb that parallels Webb Creek in a deep redwood forest is a ladder that keeps the trail alive.
Check out these pictures:
Saturday morning we did a long hike (9.1 mi. and our map at left) from the Sky Trailhead on Limantour Rd., on Pt. Reyes/Golden Gate National Sheashore.
It was a loop route starting on Sky Trail, past Sky Camp and Mt. Wittenberg, then a right and down to the coast via Woodward Valley Trail.
We took a short 10 minute beak at the Coast Camp and then left and climbed up Laguna Trail to the Fire Lane Trail (lot of long, steep
stuff there!) and back to Sky and where we parked. We did this in total 3 hrs. 40 mins.
This loop surrounds one of the burned-out zones from the large Mt. Vision fire that swept through this area in Oct. 1995 -- "...The fire burned 12,354 acres of private, state and federal lands. Winds of up to 45 mph quickly transformed a small fire ignited by the smoldering remains of an illegal campfire into a firestorm. Forty-five homes in the town of Inverness Park were consumed in the first 24 hours of the blaze."
Signage Reward - the signs which reward you after the 2.2 mike hike up the Fire Lane Trail (from the Laguna Tr.) to its junction at Sky Trail.
We did that 2.2 mi. segment in a swift 55 minutes. The map shows one very steep section -- in fact, there are several, this leg of the hike gives
you the best workout.
Photo at the right is part of this Fire Lane trail.
We also hiked a portion of the Sky Trail from Bear Valley here (last September 2008) in my blog. It was foggy back then.
An article in the SF Chronicle earlier this week first caught my attention to this hiking loop. He (Tom Stienstra) claimed it to be 9.6 miles (which for sure is an exaggeration by about 1 KM).
This long hike though did set us up for a nice dinner reward in the evening with David and Heather at a *fantastic* restaurant, Aziza -- Moroccan style. See the photos below. The chef/owner Maroud Lahlou just won an Iron Chef competition (though it was taped 6 mos. ago). The food and drinks -- from the bar's specialty cocktails, the appetizer, entrees, and the stupendous desserts are a memory long worth savoring. Thank-you Farnoush and Maroud. (I now have 77 Facebook friends)
Ken's Top 26 Book List -- Most Influential, dated 3/19/2009
1. Childhoods End, Arthur C. Clarke 2. "The White Mountains" (The Tripods) trilogy, 'John Christopher' (Samuel Youd) 3. Hyperion (2), Dan Simmons 4. Endymion (2 more), Dan Simmons 5. Goedel, Escher, & Bach, Douglas Hofstadter 6. Sociobiology, E.O. Wilson 7. The Bible, various 8. The Odyssey, Homer 9. The Iliad, Homer 10. A Brief History of Time, Steven Hawking 11. C.S. Lewis's "Out of the Silent Planet" trilogy, can never forget it. 12. Carlos Castaneda's Don Juan - several shaman books including "A Separate Reality" 13. Darwin's "On the Origin of Species...Natural Selection" 14. My Organic Chemistry textbooks (yes!) 15. Tom Wolfe, many, especially "The Right Stuff" and "Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" 16. "American Psycho" by B. E. Ellis 17. "Dune" by Frank Herbert 18. "Rome & Juliet" & "Julius Caesar", Shakespeare 19. Immanuel Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason" 20. "The Mind's Eye" by Hofstadter 21. J.R.R. Tolkien's Hobbits trilogy 22. "A Tale of 2 Cities", Charles Dickens 23. "SPACE VIKING" by H. Beam Piper (I love hard sci-fi, have read this book twice) 24. "On the Road", Jack Kerouac 25. "Walden; or Life in the Woods", Thoreau. 26. "The Stars My Destination" (aka "Tiger, Tiger"), Alfred BesterNo photography books here! Number 27 would be Lance Armstrong's "It's Not About the Bike" (1999).
R.I.P. actors Ron Silver and Natasha Richardson.
Road bike racing for 2009 starts here because I renewed my racing license last weekend.
I last saw action Sept. 2004 at the Giro di Dan Francisco criterium in the Masters 35+ 1/2/3 race (photo at the left).
Movie Review - WATCHMEN
I did something rare this week -- actually saw a movie in the theater in its opening week. It took WATCHMEN to pull that off. This short review is based solely on the movie and what I know about it; I've not read any of Alan Moore's graphic novels, but I have seen a couple others of his works as movies, especially V FOR VENDETTA (like it a lot!) and FROM HELL (excellent! about Jack the Ripper).
WATCHMEN is a rather existential film, about the human condition and what being "alive" and "safe from harm" are about. It takes place in an alternate universe, late 1985, and Nixon is still president. Thanks to Doctor Manhattan (Billy Crudup) we won in Vietnam and the world has changed. However, the Soviet Union and its nuclear arsenal are still the arch enemy of the USA.
Into this world a Watchman (formerly the "Minutemen" during the 1940s) is murdered, brutally. The film is ULTRA violent and not suitable at all for kids younger than 16. Watchmen are all humans without extraordinary powers (unless you count 'uber Bruce Lee karate moves' superhuman -- even by a woman, Silk Spectre II, played by the beautiful Malin Akerman of Sweden, has such highest level, 0.0001% top class karate skills). Watchmen are illegal in 1985 by a law passed by US Congress in the '70s. Their style of vigilantism is no longer welcomed. Doc Manhattan is still legal, works for the Dept. of Defense, and is the ultimate weapon of the USA. He has true superpowers transcending anything imaginable. In fact, he is god. He is superman. He lives in a quantum state and can be in multiple places at the same time. Like the OUTER LIMITS, he was created by accident during some science gone wrong in the 1950s. Now he is god and is an American!
The movie's hero is Rorschach (Jackie Earl Haley of BREAKING AWAY "Cutters" fame). He still wanders the dark, shadowy back alleys kicking criminal's ass and is the film's narrator ala film noir style. He's a hell of a fighter and wants to solve the mystery of who killed the Comedian. The film's pacing, plot, intelligence, and direction is stunningly brilliant. It's an adult film that should appeal to all science fiction buffs and deep thinkers.
If this stuff appeals to you, and the long length (2:40) of this movie, then go see it! I rate it a full 4-stars and it's now in my top 10 list of All Time -- it's that good.
-Ken Papai, 3/13/2009
Artesa wine bar. We also visited Cuvaison and Bouchaine today, with an early dinner at Moylan's brrewery (triple IPA!).
Mustard's was closed due to a recent kitchen fire, alas.
[Artesa (Codorniu) (Artesa winery and vineyards photo at the right from 2/21/09]
Artesa view towards Domaine Carneros, across the vineyards.
Trail Map. Another day of excellent weather afforded Cindy & me the opportunity to get in a good hike -- this was another new loop for us, though we've hiked parts of this last year [see the blog link/Dipsea]. We parked on the side of the road -- Muir Road, just below Muir Woods, and started the 2.2 mile climb on Deer Park fire road. Most of the hike here was on the Dipsea Trail as it straddles and crosses Deer Park several times. After that, and at the top of Cardiac Hill, we turned left and west to the coast down the Coast View (AKA "Coastal") trail (lots of mountain bikers too enjoying this perfect weather) and a left down the Heather Cutoff trail -- I counted 22 switchbacks on Heather! Then we tromped through the meadow, across Muir Rd., fording the shallow creek, and left back to where we started via the Redwood Creek Trail, through Frank Valley, which was muddy in spots.
Views to the coast were spectacular. For my photo work I carried my Canon 40D along with two lenses -- my 16-35 2.8L and the 85mm 1.8. I shot around just 80 pictures (few for me).
The first official hike of the New Year is "in the can." It was an excellent loop in very windy and sunny weather this MLK Holiday. Trailhead was at the Tennessee Valley parking lot at the horse stables; it was getting crowded--when we returned 3+ hours later the parking lot was a confused zoo of humans and so was the road leading to it, packed with vehicles of mostly people doing the super easy hike to the Cove and back. Our loop was the Pirates Cove - Muir Beach - Green Gulch Farm loop which consisted of three good climbs of about 1,000' each. You really had to hold on to your hats as it was 40 mph windy on the ridge summits. I used faster shutter speeds than normal to help stabilize the camera and took 150 photos using two lenses: the Canon EF 16-35 2.8L and the 85mm 1.8 prime. Trail Map; at the right, alternative map of this day's hike.
Several photos to come...
SOCIAL NETWORKING - I now have 73 Facebook friends, acquired only since Oct. 2008: nieces, nephews, cousins, trusted colleagues, and old & new friends. My cousin Michele Papai's scientist husband Dave Drabold (Physics - 'Theory of complex materials, especially amorphous semiconductors & glasses') is #51. [Physical Review sample article, Ohio U.]
Visited two wine bars in Sausalito (Bacchus and Wellington's) and then checked out a busy Cavallo Point
at Fort Baker (photo at left) -- beautifully restored. We left early because we couldn't find a good place to sit and
enjoy the view and the superb January weather. Someone else, up on the Marin Headlands, was shooting potatoes into the water (Darin!) the same
time we were leaving Ft. Baker... LOL.
The Bacchus & Venus wine bar (photo at the left) is a cozy place that also sells art. it's like a wine tasting shop with lots of stuff tourists can buy besides the excellent wine on offer. It reminds me a lot of Napa Wine Company in Oakville -- smaller labels and quality on offer.
Wellington's wine bar (photo at the right), a few blocks north of Bacchus is a fun place; it's very spacious inside and sits on the water, next to the sailboats. They also have some good beer in bottles available and a nice noshing menu with charcuterie and cheese.
B&V - W's.
Now that week one of the NFL playoffs has ended, and my dreams of the Colts going deep have been horribly shattered by
the Chargers' punter Mike Scifres and the stupid, moronic NFL Overtime rule; HERE ARE my thoughts on the best announcers
of the past 2008 season. Rankings are my ideas on who was really good this season - I watch a lot of NFL.
Ken's THE BEST NFL Announcers
1. Ian Eagle (and his excellent Thursday night radio on Westwood One). Ian has the best voice, very smart, describes the action so well, does not screw up, and should be #1.
2. Kevin Harlan - totally has the NFL voice down and I am always happy to hear him cover a game. He's a Classic announcer guy.
3. Matt Vasgersian - super smooth, similar to Eagle; young and smart and completely perfect on the action and players.
4. Sam Rosen - similar to Harlan, old school NFL type announcer who LOVES his job and another one I really look forward to every week. Another "Sunday morning" type that makes me smile.
5. Gus Johnson - a jock's announcer; he's exciting to listen to and isn't all that polysyllabic. Gus is superb at what he does and a lot of football flavor. Excellent.
6. Bill Macatee - corporate announcer style, good, accurate, but not much flavor there.
7. Dick Stockton - see Macatee, but older school.
8. Thom Brennaman - up and coming, keep a watch on him.
9. Dick Enberg - not as good as Stockton, too many "Oh My!"'s for my tastes, but a steady guy.
10. Chris Rose - too new, only his 2nd year, but is Vasgersian-like in quality.
11. Ron Pitts - a good announcer, but not that special, though he's better than a couple #1 teams (e.g., Joe Buck); Ron brings a jock's mentality.
I am excluding 4 guys: Joe Buck (fox), Jim Nantz (cbs), Greg Gumbel (cbs), & Kenny Albert (fox). These 4 are excluded because they get the top games every week and are NOT the best anyway. Joe Buck is the worst and should stick to baseball. Nantz is generic. At least Gumbel and Albert are very good and bring it every week.
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