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We Flew, We Saw, We Ate, We Flew

54th Annual Urbanna Oyster Festival 2011

We Flew too far, saw too few friends, ate just the right amount, and enjoyed every minute of it!  After missing the 2010 version we just had to get back.  To those we missed seeing, here’s to v.55 in 2012!

J

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Oregon Road Trip!

Leaving the Overland Rally in Hollister, CA on Sunday we drove north, north, and more north.  First destination was Portland Oregon.  The PAV’s maker and two other Sprinter tech companies are all three based near Portland.  So, we spent several days hanging out in the area while modifications and additions were completed.  Thanks to all at Upscale Automotive, Van Specialties, and of course Outside Van who all did fabulous work and happily dealt with our time constraints.

Just into Oregon we took a detour so L could visit Harry & David… home of Moose Munch

L, you may NOT buy that much Moose Munch!

L, do NOT try to break into the Moose Munch machine!

Besides The PAV details, L’s first request was to visit the Portland food trucks. After a walking tour we went back and sampled the #1, #2, and #3 most popular choices.

Portland's #1 choice

Portland's #2 choice

Portland's #3 choice

Food for thought...

The iconic Voodoo Doughnut, home of the maple bacon doughnut

Our tour of eastern Oregon continued

Mt Hood from the north side

Salmon in the fish ladder at Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River

Heading Southeast out of Portland, we saw a small sign on the side of the interstate for pumpkins at The Roloff Farm.  Could it be?  The stars of the TLC show Little People, Big World?  We took an immediate exit, detour, and did in fact wind up at the Roloff Farm.

Pumpkins

Hey Matt, can I try out the Pumpkin Catapult?

Get down from there, that's not your chair!

Clammers at sunrise

Two tourists

Saturday morning while driving through Lincoln City, OR I saw this truck outside the Beachside Coffee shop.  I had to go back and take a few pictures.  Inside we met Erin who had just purchased the shop via a Craigslist ad and moved on Tuesday with her husband and two kids from Arizona.  Talk about a major leap! By comparison it makes our decision to move to the left coast tame!  Best of luck to you and you family in your new venture/adventure.

"On the coast of somewhere..."

J

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Overland Rally – Hollister Hills, CA

Overland Expo, Overland Rallies, and their associated companies put on a rally in Hollister Hills, CA (about 2/3rd of the way north between LA and San Francisco). Similar to last weekend’s seminars on Catalina, this weekend was geared toward explorers who have an interest in overland travel. We made a bunch of new friends and learned a ton about international road travel (and off road adventuring).

After dark meet-up at The PAV

Night time screenings of movies and slide shows

Friday and Saturday were full of seminars like route selection, wilderness first aid, general discussions about logistics (like visas, crime, provisioning, etc) plus how to drive in locations that require 4 wheel drive. Needless to say The PAV is not off-road friendly.  Saturday morning Anthony was kind enough to offer us seats in his Land Cruiser. The vehicle’s modifications for overland travel had just been finished last week. Anthony and his wife Astrid were planning to embark on a multi-year around the world trip this December 2011. However, just four weeks ago Astrid was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. During the weekend Astrid was in the hospital for her second round of chemotherapy. However, she insisted that Anthony go to the rally for the weekend.   Keep up with their story on their blog at http://www.overlandnomads.com

Update:  our time with Anthony must have been well spent. We can’t rightfully take any of the credit… BUT… Anthony won first place in the Expedition Trophy Challenge (driving contest) on Sunday!  (It must have been the spotter on your first run in Saturday’s class…)

Anthony & L in "Hank". L, there is no backseat driving course...

Walking the course for Saturday morning's driving class

Kristina demonstrating the spotter's role

I'm not sure Morgan has a firm grasp on left foot braking techniques

Anthony at the top of the hill

If you get stuck in the water crossing you have to hook-up here

We’re looking forward to seeing all of our new friends (Anthony, Art, Benji, Brent, Dan, Grace, Jonathan, Leeway, Nick, Ryan, Shawn, Zack, and Astrid!) in Flagstaff, AZ May 2012 for the Overland Expo!

J

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Catalina Island

Latitudes & Attitudes Seafaring Magazine sponsored a Cruiser’s Weekend at Two Harbors on Catalina Island this past weekend. Free seminars by and for boaters who have an interest in cruising. I was already interested but when I found out about the free food and beverages I said “we’re there”!

31 miles each way across the San Pedro Channel from Newport Harbor. We left as early as we could Friday morning and took our time returning Sunday. Southern California’s fickle wind even cooperated and let us sail for a while on the return. Add five whale sightings and warm sunny skies to make a successful weekend!

Thanks to our friends Don & Jill who agreed to come along with us and show us the ropes (I mean lines!).  They each have between 500 and 1,000 days of cruising experience and added to our knowledge base tremendously!

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Underway with Catalina Island in the background

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L at the wheel

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Jill & Don @ sunset in Two Harbors

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The Skipper and The Admiral

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Latitudes & Attitudes Saturday Night Beach Party

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After sunset in Two Harbors

J

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Only an RV or Boat Owner Would Care…

Not exactly scientific but the findings will still be flush with worthwhile information

After the week I’ve had…  and since I’m in control of the house this weekend…  I decided to do an experiment on the kitchen counter.

J

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We Made It!

One year ago yesterday L & I decided to take an introductory sailing lesson.  The very next day we signed up for a series of classes and experiences with the intent of advancing through enough levels to be able to bareboat charter sailboats word wide.  This past weekend we completed the final course that allows us to do just that (which means we “skipper” the boat ourselves without hiring a captain).

Friday night we met at the marina just before sunset.  After getting the boat ready with the help of the other four students the six of us (plus instructor) cast off.   We arrived at our Friday night anchoring spot in Long Beach harbor just after mid-night (Saturday morning).  At dawn all were up cooking and getting ready for Saturday’s coursework and sailing to Catalina Island.  By late afternoon we were on our mooring in Emerald Bay near Two Harbors/Isthmus on Catalina Island (L &I visited the same spot on our Trawler School trip).  After a few hours of studying for Sunday’s exam we took a water taxi into Two Harbors for dinner and then had a moonlight trip back to the sailboat after dark.  More boat handling practice Sunday morning before setting a 6+ hour course back to Newport Harbor.   During the passage home we took our written exam.

L&I both passed (yeah!) so we have more stickers in a book to prove we’re “insurable” for open water bareboat chartering.

No pictures from this weekend’s adventure.  I originally packed a big camera thinking I’d take lots of pictures.  In the haste of trimming the amount of gear we took on the trip I purposely decided to leave photo gear at home.  There will be future trips on which to make lots of images.

J

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I Blame It On Groupthink!

Thirty-one guys were here at the Nelson B&B, Recreation, and Event Center this past Thursday night.  Church men’s group.  We’re having BBQ’s once a month during summer break.  During sharing time one of the newer guys mentions he is the surfing instructor at a local high school (only in Cali!) and that he’d like to organize a dawn surfing session some Sunday morning.  A dozen hands flew up and suddenly I’ve signed up for my first surfing lesson.

Let me add that on Thursday night I mentioned that I was an eighty degree minimum water temperature kind guy.  79.9 degrees means I don’t go in.  80.0 degrees minimum.  Period.  End of discussion.  I was told the Pacific Ocean will never be that warm here, but since it’s nearly August, I could expect low 70’s.

The excursion was also sold as a sunny dawn surfing class followed by breakfast and then we’d all go to church as a group with mostly dry swim trunks.

At 5:30am this morning I woke to a light rain.  Rain!  We haven’t had any of that in months.  Why today?  But not being a quitter, I was there on time.

The boards are stored under the lifeguard office at a Newport Beach.  First items out were the boards.  Next item out was a wetsuit that almost fit.  They said I’d need it.  Heck, I needed it just standing there shivering on land!

After some words of advice and pop-up practice on the sand we headed to the water.

OUCH!   OH!   THIS WATER IS COOOOOLD!  @#$%^&*!!!   “Oh yeah, it’s cooled off in the last couple of days” because of some storm, yada yaadda, yaaaddda.

Wet sand. Light rain. Yup, this looks promising....

Cool fish stand next to the pier

Is this for the fish stand or a sign to welcome me out of the surf?

Where's the sunrise that was promised?

Official city time

 

Look at all of the other people out here at this time on a Sunday morning!

Men. Here are your weapons.

By the time we were frozen the donut shop had a line out the door

Ready or not surfers, swimmers, and other marine life... here I come!

Although I’m not sure this sport is for me, I greatly appreciate the experience.  In fact, I hope we do it one more time this summer on exactly the warmest water temperature day of the year!  But, I’ve decided the sales pitch was not 100% correct!

So how cold was the water?   Low 60’s!

J

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Summer Camp 2011 Is Over

It’s a sad, tired, yet reflectful day here on the left coast.  For the past eight days we’ve had friends from LA (lower Alabama) here to experience Summer Camp 2011 (O.C. adult version) at The Nelson B&B, Activity, and Event Center.

Here’s what the schedule turned out to be:

Arrival Day

  • 1:00pm PAV pick-up at SNA
  • Quick PAV tour of the surrounding area (including drive-by’s of the expensive car dealers)
  • Pool/Hot Tub & snacks
  • Dinner off the B&B grill

(not too much activity today as I had my coastal navigation certification exam that night… I passed!)

Day Two

  • Early walk to Back Bay
  • Breakfast at Haute Cakes
  • Kéan Coffee
  • Lunch of homemade Chicken Salad sammys
  • Kayaking in Newport Harbor
  • Dinner at Sushi Town

Day Three

  • Egg Scrambles from The Nelson B&B Kitchen
  • Crystal Cove Beach
  • Lunch at Beachcomber Express
  • Susie Cakes
  • Pearson’s Seafood Market
  • Dinner of Sea Bass of the grill

Day Four

  • Brunch at Memphis Cafe
  • Bike ride over to & around Balboa Island
  • Ferry ride to Balboa Peninsula (including a visit to the infamous Wedge surfing spot)
  • Chocolate Strawberries at Balboa Produce
  • Pool snacks
  • Visit to The Montage (L “borrowed” one of their drink ideas for the rest of Summer Camp 2011)
  • Dinner at Nick’s in Laguna Beach

Day Five

  • Breakfast at Sugar Shack in Huntington Beach
  • Sailing in/around Newport Harbor on Zabuloot (a Catalina 36) – yes, I was the skipper L was the winch
  • Dinner off the grill while on the hook in Newport Harbor

Day Six

  • Men to The Galley for breakfast
  • Men to the marina for my Polar checkout
  • Girls to the gym then off on a bike ride
  • Lunch at Bear Flag Fish Company
  • El Morro Canyon 5.5 mile hike (including BFI hill)
  • Guest tour of the HT mega store (LA folks demanded it be their first stop on all OC return trips)
  • Dinner dockside at Blue Water Grill

Day Seven

  • Early Catalina Flyer ferry ride to Catalina Island
    • Golf cart tour of Avalon
    • Metropole Cafe
    • Shopping
    • Avalon Grill
  • Dinner back in Newport Beach at The Dock

Day Eight

  • Biking to breakfast at Eat Chow
  • 15 mile bike ride including the Back Bay Loop
  • In-N-Out Burger (for strength)
  • Nothing Bundt Cakes (for strength)
  • 7 hr poolside/hot tub hors d’ oeuvres session (one new food item every hour)

Departure Day

  • Early PAV transportation to SNA for departure flight

Next up for Summer Camp 2012… a different location… (perhaps Italy?)

J

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Five days all above 7,000′

We took the PAV up to Mammoth Lakes area in the Eastern Sierras over the July 4th holiday weekend.  We saw many firsts.

First first is Obsidian Dome.  This is a steam explosion volcano that aside from lava rock made the glassy obsidian rock.  It was wild to look down into cracks in the ground knowing that a furry from underneath made these rock formations and the endless piles of rubble.

Just at the edge of beautiful forest starts a large pile of rocks several hundred feet high

The rubble seems to go on forever

Part lava & part obsidian - the holes are from the hot steam

Obsidian

Glass-like obsidian rock

Yes, this is a crack that goes down, down, down

Another crack

 

Next first was Mono Lake.  Mono Lake was formed by the same seismic activity that formed Obsidian Dome.  It is one of the oldest lakes in North America. There are large calcium carbonate tufa formations made by underwater calcium rich springs bubbling up from the lake bed.  Over time when these springs mix with salty Mono Lake water these tufa tower formations are made.  It’s too bad that the City Of Los Angeles Water Department has drained much of the lake but restorations are in progress.

Mono Lake

Tufa formations

Tufa formations

Mono Lake

More tufa formations

Tuff forms

Next first was summer skiing.  This year Mammoth Mountain ski resort was open through July 4th.  We went up to check it out and I found my next business.  Yes, a burrito truck build on a snow cat.  For you southerners a snow cat is like a giant combination between a bulldozer and a snow mobile.  They are used to groom the snow on ski slopes, transport equipment and personnel, or as we learned… sell burritos.

It might need a coat of red paint but I can make it my own!

"One burrito, one beer, ten bucks please" See, I can do this!

Taking a break from by busy burrito selling

 

Yes, we're in lounge chairs in the snow slope-side... What? Are we wearing the wrong clothing?

Any clothing goes here! Yes, those are high heeled clogs...

We drove around to other nearby places to check on places for a return visit. We’ll be back!

The guide-book lists this lake as just a "7" (out of 10) on the scenic scale. This was as far as we got on our hike up to Crystal Lake. Liz deemed the snow cover patch as "closed till spring".

The last first was downhill mountain biking.  We survived but felt intimidated by everyone else who had more skills.

Just to prove that we did do some mountain biking

Video in a post sometime soon

J

 

 

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“650,000 square acres… pick a place”

Last weekend our beach excursion plans fell through at the last moment so Liz and I woke up Saturday morning and decided to head out for the night.  We tossed a coin between a 7,ooo’ elevation forest two hours north or a desert several hours southeast.  After checking the weather forecast we decided to have L’s first trip to the Western Colorado Desert before the daytime temperature really heats up for the summer.

We didn’t leave until early afternoon, hit lots of traffic, and arrived at the ranger station two minutes before closing. We rushed in and ask the ranger where we could camp.  He looked at us, hesitated, and said “The Anza-Borrego State Park has 650,000 square acres.  Pick a place.”  So we did.  (There are a few rules about not making new roads and campfires but basically it’s wide open land with a lot of off-road trails).  We picked a road heading east toward the Salton Sea. Forty miles later the pavement ends.  Take a right up a flash flood wash toward sandstone canyons and that’s where we parked for the night.

Off season in the desert starts promptly at the end of Memorial Day weekend. The temperature is heating up and the tens of thousands of off-road enthusiasts have packed their toys away for the summer.  As we drove through the town of Borrego Springs CA at 5pm last Saturday it was a ghost town.  We saw two people.  Ocotillo Wells was boarded up.  By the time we arrived at Fish Creek Wash around 6:30pm we hadn’t seen another vehicle for a while.  There were a few college biology majors camping near us studying lizards and snakes.

Here’s proof we made the trip.

L asked for chairs as soon as we arrived to sit out in the last rays of Saturday's sun and "warm-up"

"Umm... honey... there's no cell service out here..."

Dusk in Fish Creek Wash, outside of Ocotillo Wells, CA

There were plenty of stars out later but I was asleep by then

Just checking on breakfast

It turned out just fine

On our way Sunday morning deeper into Fish Creek Wash to check out the Wind Caves

L asked for a pause on the way down Fish Creek Wash for a photo opportunity

Trail marker, desert version

Wind Caves carved out by the sandstone yielding to relentless wind

Anyone home?

Two city folks out in the desert

Ancient petroglyphs. NOT!

J

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