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2006/05/29 2006/05/27-29: Skyline to the Sea Hike
π 2006-05-29 22:50 by Merlin in Hiking

After the practise Mission Peak Hike, Jen and I used the memorial day 3 day weekend to do the Skyline to the Sea hike.
Basically, it goes from close the intersection of Skyline and Hwy 9 , to Waddell Creek Beach on Hwy 1

After having done a "small" hike around Big Basin Redwoods to the sea without any weight, I remember that we had done about 21 miles in 9 hours, and while I was sore the next day, it wasn't too bad.
I figured doing a 3 day 30+ mile trip wouldn't be too bad, except for the 40lbs+ of weight with gear. This yielded an average hiking speed of about 4kph (2.5mph), with a bit more than 10 miles/day.

In order to supplement the map we had (which wasn't stellar), and add a little fun and recording factor, I took my two garmin GPSes. The Etrex Vista Cx, which is supposedly the hiking one unfortunately had fairly mediocre trail maps, but at least gave some indication of where we were, and was nice for computing time and distance to destination estimates. Incidently, the Etrex ended up having pretty bad reception in the forest, which would be understandable if it were not for my wrist forerunner 305 GPS recording the entire days without problems (except for the 3rd day where its internal batteries died, hence the whole on the map below since I had to rely on the Etrex and it lost reception for 45mn!!!)

Anyway, due to a late start (my getting up late, bad traffic on hwy 17 as it was a beach day, and time to shuttle the cars), we only started the hike around 15:00, but by keeping good pace, we made it from the Castle Rock start at Skyline to the Waterman Gap Camp around 19:45, with 45mn of daylight/twilight remaining.



A few pictures from the first day are below (and here is a link to the rest of the hiking pictures from the 3 day hike of Skyline to the Sea through Big Basin Redwoods )











Sunday, we started the second day a bit earlier, 10:30-ish, and had plenty of time to almost reach the Sunset Trail Camp (if we really had to, we could have, but it was full anyway, so no reason for rushing). Instead, we found a nice non-charted camp site (well, now I have a GPS waypoint :) )







Living in the rough :)
With a tent, inflatable pads, sleeping bags, dry food, gas heater, all you need is water. Since carrying water is heavy, the best solution is a water filter with water pump and purifier to get more water. Dinners that way can actually be quite tasty :)







On the 3rd day, we were already a good way down sunset trail, and went to Golden Falls, Silver Falls and Berry Creek Falls.









Then, I recognized a familiar sign pointing to McCrary Ridge Trail, which is where Bob and I did a fairly strainuous finish for our hike. But considering it was going the wrong way, and that it sucked without an extra 40lbs on our backs, we stayed on course for the Ocean :)









Almost here, I can taste it :)






Yeah, success! :)
It was a nice, albeit very windy day at the beach. We just weren't exactly wearing the right clothes for it :)







After that, was a reasonably fun drive back to Castle Rock to pick up the other car (Bonni Doon, Hwy 9, Skyline), and some rest at home our respective tired legs.

Again, here's a link to the rest of the hiking pictures from the 3 day hike of Skyline to the Sea through Big Basin Redwoods )
2006/05/26 DJ Tiësto @ Ruby Skye
π 2006-05-26 23:40 by Merlin in Clubbing

Tijs started playing some time past midnight, and overall I thought he did an ok job, but I having listened to what Armin and other DJs played at Asta the night before, I would have much rather been there. I guess it doesn't mean that Tijs was bad as much as I tend to prefer Armin's music nowadays.
That said, it was still quite a nice party, especially with the cool decors work that Ruby Skye did, it was really pretty. The sound, however, I found that I couldn't hear the melody as much as the bass...
Oh well, it was still nice to be there though.

A few pictures are below, and you can also look at the rest of the pictures of Tiësto at Ruby Skye that night











2006/05/23 Scored a ticket to Tiësto @ Ruby Skye's 6y anniversary party / COG1 thieves
π 2006-05-23 12:23 by Merlin in Clubbing



By the time I heard about it, it was sold out. They decided to do an encore the next day, but by then I'd be hiking somewhere, not really within distance of SF :)
Luckily, I just was able to buy a ticket from a coworker who couldn't make it.
It will be interesting as I will have to wake up by 09:00 the next morning to go hiking for the 3 day weekend, but eh, sometimes you just have to go for it. This should be a great party :)
(BTW, this is not crazy, the alternative I considered was to fly and take the train to Den Haag to go see Armin for his 250 ASOT episode at Asta, but ultimately, it was a bit dodgy timewise and I wasn't too sure I'd be back by friday, or in what state :)


In other news, the guys from cog1 marketing stole this picture from my web site and put it on their web page as part of the rotating gif . I sent them an Email asking for reasonable compensation, and of course they haven't replied yet.
I have better things than to sue them, but in times where the recording industry sues their customers left and right, if their promoters start stealing pictures from their customers without paying royalties, there is a problem.

2006/05/20 Hiking Mission Peak
π 2006-05-20 22:07 by Merlin in Hiking

Since Jen and I are going hiking next weekend, we went on a practise hike Saturday to test the equipment and my hiking shoes.
It was a 2200foot climb over 3 miles (Mission Peak in Fremont), and it took 1H20 on the way up and 1H on the way down. I did ok going up with 40lbs on my body, it was almost harder going down as the road was a bit slippery with the extra weight.
As the day was reasonably windy, there were a few people handgliding, it was fun to watch. It was also weird to see the whole bay as I usually see it from a plane when I'm coming back over Sunol pass.
(credit goes to Jen for some of the pictures)

















2006/05/18 I drove the fastest road car in the world
π 2006-05-18 23:45 by Merlin in Cars

This morning, I got to drive a Bugatti Veyron , which is and probably will remain the fastest road car in the world (as well as the most expensive, with a price of 1.3 million dollars + tax). You should follow the link to wikipedia for the gory details, but interesting pieces are acceleration from 0 to 60mph in 2.5sec, 1006HP (and the 2 8 cylinder engines with 4 turbos actually develop 3000HP, but 1000 are lost in the exhaust, and another 1000 are lost in cooling).
Before you ask me how I pulled off a test drive, it's thanks to a coworker who had bought a car at the dealership, got an invite himself, and told me about it. When I called, with his referral, I was able to get the last test drive left on the schedule (the Veyrons were only there for 3 days). What's kind of interesting is that 2 people had already bought one, haven't received yet, and went for a test drive as their first time driving the car ever.
Anyway, in my case, well, it was just a cool thing to try. The test drive itself was unfortunately a bit short, and while I did get to drive the car for maybe 5-10mn, we didn't really get much clear road, and never got to see its handling or how it would handle when pushed in a corner. The other bummer is that the driver who would take you out was actually a Lemans driver and he told me how he would make a left on Bear Creek Road, but he couldn't do that anymore because the cops knew he was giving test rides.
Yet, we still got to do a few launches on the freeway, and boy does the car have power. Surprisingly it was very stable, easy to drive, and wasn't that loud, although you could hear the turbos spinning. While, we never got to push the car much, it was really nice to drive. Too bad I didn't have a newborn to sell :) so that I could reserve one for late 2007 (!)
Oh, the other interesting Tidbits is that I drove the actual car that Jeremy Clarkson drove on Top Gear when he tested it (race against the Cessna 182), and that VW loses about 4 million dollars on each of the 300 cars they'll make over the next 6 years.











Back at Los Gatos Silicon Valley Auto Group, I used the opportunity to test drive an F430 spyder, which is almost 5 times cheaper with its punny 490HP :)
The sound was pretty glorious, I have to give it that, and it was fun to drive too :) I kind of knew I liked that car, and I confirmed that I do :)

They also have all kinds of other exotic cars that you wouldn't really get to see in any other places in the world, including a Saleen S7. You can look at the pictures I took to see all those cars and other Veyron pictures I took . I just can't believe that I was stupid enough not to get a picture of me inside the Veyron. Doh!







2006/05/11 Useful VTA bike map
π 2006-05-11 14:57 by Merlin in Public

I just got this from a coworker:
http://www.vta.org/schedules/VTA_Bike_Map.pdf

It's a nice map of all the bike routes around the bay, quite nice.
2006/05/07 Zero Gravity Fun
π 2006-05-07 18:48 by Merlin in Flying

I was part of the lucky few to be on the ZeroG plane (see the link for details).
They came to San Jose for 3 days and 5-6 flights, and I was on the 3rd flight on Saturday, which happens to also be the first time they've done 3 flights in a single day (there is a fair amount of reset time between flight, as they are required to do intensive engine checks and maintenance between each flight).

We got a little excitement before the flight, as someone forgot a driver's license and when we got there, just on time, we had to go back, as an ID was unfortunately a TSA requirement. I somehow managed to drive back from SJC to mid-sunnyvale and back in 22mn, and be back in time for the flight :)

The staff was pretty incredible, they are indeed fully committed to making everyone's experience as enjoyable as possible, and as they jokingly advertise, the flight had the most legroom available of any flight I've been on :)
In a nutshell, they take you in a modified cargo airplane, where they added padding so that you don't hurt yourself too much when you bounce off the walls ;) and after taking off and going to an area of airspace where the pilots can play, they oscillate between 24000 and 34000 feet with a 45 degree nose up pitch (which technically qualifies as acrobatic flight per FAA rules), and stop the plane, which makes it go up and down a parabola during which the plane falls and accelerates down at the speed of earth gravity, making you weightless.







This is not a new method, it's been used for astronaut training for many years, but it was only approved very recently for use by the public. It's kind of funny how it is categorized as a passenger airplane per FAA regulations, and therefore you need an ID to get in, as you get searched with a wand by a TSA official.

The flight itself was obviously very fun. After getting to the right area and altitude (and that part is a big loud because the plane, being a cargo plane, is missing its sound insulation, so I couldn't even hear the announcements from the captain), they started to do parabolas, first leaving you a little perceived gravity left (simulating marsian and lunar gravity when you can do double backflips easily :), and then 0 gravity where you can just launch yourself sideways, bounce left and right, and up and down off the walls, and drink floating water for about 25 seconds or so.
Needless to say that it was super cool, and it was over way too quickly for me, although it was about right for other passengers who started getting some signs of motion sickness (that's one of the reasons why they limit the number of parabolas)
Long story short, if I could go back tomorrow, I would :) Now I can't wait for the videos that they took of us, to see the results. In the meantime, credits go to David T for a few pictures in addition to mine, as well as the videos, which you can all find here








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