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2017/01/05 2 days at Heavenly with Louis and Ovidiu
π 2017-01-05 00:00 in Snow
Louis was nice enough to accept a trip to Tahoe and do all the driving a mere 8 hours after landing in SFO and getting home from our Paris trip. I didn't get to sleep a lot, but thankfully Louis was more awake than I was. We were on the road by 04:50. Now, our plan was to go to Kirkwood and see what happens, but sadly Caltrans never opened SR88, so we couldn't get to Kirkwood directly and had to change plans and drive to South Lake Tahoe. At that point, I made the mistake of saying "Eh, well, we're here, let's just go to Heavenly, it's low winds today, it should just open without problems".
Big mistake, I didn't actually know how much Heavenly sucked nowadays. For various reasons they got very little open (Sky never opened and Canyon opened past 11:00 and had 20-30mn lines on a thursday!). I ended up mostly running Canyon despite the lines, thinking about how much better it would be if Heavenly wasn't so lazy and actually opened sky.



4 lifties to get sky ready, and then not open it. Good job!
4 lifties to get sky ready, and then not open it. Good job!


canyon was good for the first ride and then went downhill fast :(
canyon was good for the first ride and then went downhill fast :(

yeah :(
yeah :(

some people were fed up and hiked up towards sky express
some people were fed up and hiked up towards sky express






After the disappointment of day #1, not due to lack of snow, but mostly due to Heavenly suckage, we went back with Ovidiu (who nicely hosted us the previous night), and finally they did bother to open sky express. As expected the conditions were great:









Ovidiu then took us to fire break, an gate to exit the ski resort and ride down all the way to the bottom of the gondola. That was prety sweet:




untracked
untracked



don't miss the bridge
don't miss the bridge

After taking the gondola back up, we did a last run in the rock field off tamarack (but the entrance we took was not good), and then called it a day:




Thanks a lot to Ovidiu for hosting us, guiding us around heavenly, and Louis for driving us.

2017/01/03 Paris Aquarium
π 2017-01-03 00:00 in Aquariums
While in Paris, just a few minutes from the Eiffel tower, there is now an aquarium. Actually it's been around for 10 years now, but honestly I had never heard of it. It's been dug into the ground where there was nothing before, so honestly I didn't expect much, and to be honest it wasn't much, but eh, it's still an aquarium, worth about 1h or so.
The highlight was actually the touch pool at the end with big carps that were happy to come brush towards your hands, I even had several that tasted my hand with their mouth. Funny how curious they were, maybe they were hoping for food.





small sharks
small sharks

slipper lobster
slipper lobster

leopard shark?
leopard shark?


shark egg
shark egg







and the carps at the end (no, they weren't magikarp, but they were friendly :)
and the carps at the end (no, they weren't magikarp, but they were friendly :)

See more images for Paris Aquarium
2017/01/03 Cafe des Chats in Paris
π 2017-01-03 00:00 in Cars
During our time in Paris, I figured we'd go check out a somewhat new cat café in Paris (one out of only two). By the time we arrived, we found out that it was actually kind of a real café/restaurant with a proper menu, and somehow they are allowed to serve food with cats roaming around.
There was however a line to get in, and once in people were actually expected to order food or at least a drink and stay at their table with maybe cats that could come by you, or not. It didn't seem like you could roam around and go find the cats to pet them.

Clearly that looked underwhelming compared to other cat cafés we've been to, so we didn't bother going in. I just took a few pictures from the outside:









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2016/12/30 Bruxelles Autoworld
π 2016-12-30 00:00 in Belgium, Cars
While in Bruxelles, we went to check out Autoworld, which turned out to be a really good. Two floors filled with cars, mostly European, some quite rare, some unique. I spent a couple of hours there while Jennifer was waiting for me, and it was time well spent.













double tire, interesting
double tire, interesting








This electric 'car' was the fastest one in the world in 1899*, at 105kph
This electric 'car' was the fastest one in the world in 1899*, at 105kph

















pretty colors :)
pretty colors :)




fancy futuristic car :)
fancy futuristic car :)


lamborghini
lamborghini










damn, a citroen-maserati, didn't even know those existed
damn, a citroen-maserati, didn't even know those existed





pretty
pretty

The belgians, kings of comic books, even had comic strips portraying a race car driver.



Bruxelles Autoworld, if you're anywhere close, go see it.

See more images for Bruxelles Autoworld
2016/12/30 Brussels Air Museum
π 2016-12-30 00:00 in Belgium, Flying
While visiting the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History in Bruxelles, we entered the hangar where they kept all the planes. That section of the museum is effectively Brussels' Air Museum, with a nice collection. It seems like the museum doesn't get a lot of funds, the hangar wasn't heated (as in near freezing), many plane tires were flat, but it doesn't change the fact that the collection was quite good and well worth a visit.

Considering the airport wasn't nearby, I also came to wonder how they got all those planes there.












some kind of training drone?
some kind of training drone?










another interesting midget plane
another interesting midget plane














what was that?
what was that?

another training drone?
another training drone?

See more images for Brussels Air Museum
2016/12/27 Partial Day in Ghent
π 2016-12-27 00:00 in Belgium, Trips
After finishing breakfast in Holland after our family gathering, I drove back to Beligum to Ghent (barely one hour) and found the nearest parking lot where we could leave the car for the day.

Sadly it was foggy, so we didn't get great views from the towers there, but we still had a good time enjoying the views, little Xmas houses, and another canal boat ride:

Sint Michielskerk
Sint Michielskerk


Saint Nicholas' Church
Saint Nicholas' Church

sadly, not much of a view from the top of those churches, bummer... (Belfort and Saint Bravo's Cathedral)
sadly, not much of a view from the top of those churches, bummer... (Belfort and Saint Bravo's Cathedral)

So, we went to Saint Bavo's Cathedral while hoping that the fog would lift:










They have a very nice triple panel painting, which you can see closed and noon, and opened the rest of the time:




We then went back to Belfort tower, but the fog didn't lift




Sigh...
Sigh...



Music box that actuates the bells of Belfort
Music box that actuates the bells of Belfort

Ghent was full of little Xmas houses. We went to see a few:






chocolate tools, yummy
chocolate tools, yummy





Just like Bruges, the canals were nice to see and do a ride on:






narrowest house in Ghent
narrowest house in Ghent






From the canal ride, we went to see Castle Gravensteen:




just like the rest of Ghent, the view wasn't fantastic due to fog
just like the rest of Ghent, the view wasn't fantastic due to fog




Before long, it started getting dark, got a few pictures:


We then went back to the train station, drop off the rental car, and took a train to Bruxelles:

err, where did I put my bike? :)
err, where did I put my bike? :)

See more images for Partial Day in Ghent
2016/12/26 24H in Bruges
π 2016-12-26 00:00 in Belgium, Trips
Since we were going to Holland, close to the Belgian border, I figured we should take a few days to visit Belgium. It was only 4 days, not enough, but then again, that's what we had. We started early on December 26th with a Thalys high speed train to Bruxelles and a connection to Bruges. We got there in only 2h20 or so.

first time I've seen X-Ray machines before boarding a train
first time I've seen X-Ray machines before boarding a train


Once in Bruges we went directly to our B&B (Saint Sauveur, Bruges), run by a super nice French lady who gave us loaner bikes so that we get around more quickly (mind you Bruges is very walkable, but bikes helped us get around a bit more quickly, especially when we went to the edge of town).
Most people do Bruges in 2-3 days, we did pretty much all of it in 26 hours :) (and that includes waiting for things that only opened at 10:00), delaying us quite a bit:


Saint Salvator Cathedral
Saint Salvator Cathedral

Church of Our Lady
Church of Our Lady






Then, we went to walk around:





We then did a boat tour, a good way to look around:













The main plaza was next, starting with Belfy Tower, which we climbed to the top after a 30mn wait in line:











music box for the bells
music box for the bells

We then did the rest of the main plaza and the museum there:













Next, we went to the chocolate museum, where we had only 35mn before it closed (everything closes early):










We then went to visit the bruges story museum, which thankfully closed after 17:00, unlike everything else:




Main Plaza looks great at night too of course:




We then went out for dinner to conclude our day:



The next morning, we had to wait for museums to open. One of them opened at 09:30 instead of 10:00, how nice:












We then biked to the city gate:






And we finished our trip by visiting the French Fry Museum (which of course are not French, but Belgian):





We then had to pick up our rental car, and drive to our Dutch Family gathering.

See more images for 24H in Bruges
2016/12/18 Fantastic Trance Night with Solarstone at Verso
π 2016-12-18 00:00 in Clubbing
I had seen Solarstone once before and he had done a great set at Dreamstate. Then, he did another 5h open to close set at Verso not a long time ago, but I totally missed that one due to poor planning. This time, I made sure to get my tickets early, and ended up going even after finding out my company Xmas party ended up being the same evening (darn), and I did not regret it: Solarstone threw a fantastic set, it was just good stuff up to the end:










And at the end Solarstone was super nice and came out to meet and greet. He loved my shirt and nicely took a picture with me:



I also have to give another big thumbs up to Verso. Not only do they get good DJs, but they have the least about of BS for getting in. Compare with places like Pure Lounge in Sunnyvale, where they first do a weapons search, which is annoying but potentially understandable, however when they do a drug search looking everywhere, even within the pockets of your wallet, this is totally pointless and a great way to turn off your customers.
Moral of the story: Verso: great, Pure Lounge: Bad. Hopefully Pure Lounge gets the hint and losens up. I told them, tell them too, and in the meantime, keep going back to Verso only instead :)

And here is a 30mn summary of the 5H set:

2016/12/16 Another try at powder at Kirkwood
π 2016-12-16 00:00 in Snow
After a crappy half day at kirkwood as all the forecast powder turned to hard ice, I gave it another shot with 2 coworkers, Ted and Marcus. The forecast looked pretty good, it was supposed to dump big time during the night with a snowline falling down to 3000ft, making a day trip with early rise, not sounds so good.
So we left the previous day, stayed at a condo in KW with other coworkers, and got up the next morning to see that the snowfall at base level was actually very disappointing. The top got more, but it was heavy wet powder, not fluffy stuff, but still it was fresh snow, more than a foot of it, so we took it :)

only a bit overnight
only a bit overnight

nice plate :)
nice plate :)

things looked good
things looked good

you can tell from here, it's pretty heavily packed
you can tell from here, it's pretty heavily packed


chamoix still involved sliding down a rock on your butt
chamoix still involved sliding down a rock on your butt


the drain was not bad, but still a bit low on snow
the drain was not bad, but still a bit low on snow

the ridge from cornice was open, you could ride it down
the ridge from cornice was open, you could ride it down

except I ended up on top of this, and had to jump it down, maybe 7ft. That was a bit scary since the snow underneath was not much of a cushion
except I ended up on top of this, and had to jump it down, maybe 7ft. That was a bit scary since the snow underneath was not much of a cushion

Anyway, it wans't the best day ever, but a good day overall. However, it's only going to go downhill from there until the next big dump.

See more images for Another try at powder at Kirkwood
2016/12/11 Visit of Black Chasm Cavern, in Volcano, CA, on SR88 on the way to Kirkwood
π 2016-12-11 00:00 in Public
After having gone to Kirkwood where the conditions were terrible, we left early since skiing ice was no fun at all. Arturo made the great suggestion of going to visit Black Chasm Cavern on the road back, just off SR88.

So let's be honest, it's far from being the best cavern I've visited in the US, however, it has a vast arrays of rare helictite crystals, which I had never seen anywhere else. Water pressure causes water droplets to be pushed out of the rock, evaporate, and leaves behind very unusual organic looking growths:














Good call Arturo, thank you (and thanks to Johannes for getting us there)


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