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2007/02/26 3 days in Whistler Blackcomb
π 2007-02-26 22:03 by Merlin in Snow

While this was initially supposed to be a snowboarding reunion for former VA coworkers at Whistler, it ended up being Dragan, Jen, and me, later joined by two coworker to help fill the place we had gotten.
The snow conditions were quite good: fresh powder every day, although at the samme time, visibility was quite poor at times, and it got somewhat cold on some days. But eh, I'll be happy with this any day :) Unfortunately, marginal whiteout visibility also made Jen nauseous and unable to board until she got out of it (it wasn't a full whiteout, I could see which way was down, but visibility was indeed poor)
Unfortunately, 3 days wasn't really enough to cover the whole mountain like Arturo and I had done the prior year (because we weren't equally matched in skills, were a bit late in the mornings, and made the good choice to loiter around some runs when the snow conditions warranted them instead of trying to cover more and more runs). At the same time, it showed me portions of Whistler that I was longing to board, but didn't have the time, or opportunity to. That kind of sucks because it'll just make me want to come back :) (I would have given a lot to spend an entire day shredding powder in the symphony bowl, some of those runs looked awesome).
I also found out that one is better off having a cabin in Whistler than one in Blackcomb as far as mountain accessibility is concerned, but sometimes you also have to go with what's still available. This also goes for flights where the suitable friday evening flight to Vancouver had had its price conveniently raised to over $400 per person, with a return flight that was 3H late due to the United plane we needed, coming from Chicago, and being very late (thank you United for still having your fscking hub in the worst airport in the US). This was also while wearing plastic shoes I had just bought in the airport because I forgot/lost my shoes that morning, and all I had left to wear were my snowboarding boots :)
Anyway, I digress. Here are a few picts:



flight from SFO to YVR









Thanks to Dragan for organizing the trip, and getting us from the airport to Whiistler and back, a link to the best of picts and all the pictures from Whistler
2007/02/19 Hadn't gone mountain biking in a while
π 2007-02-19 20:03 by Merlin in Exercising

Jen and I went to the usual montebello loop. While the drive up and down Pagemill was fun, the bike loop was tough for me, I ended up with a bad sidepain almost as soon as I tried to bike up Grizzly Flat, and did my worst time ever: over 32mn vs my usual less than 25mn.

In the process, Jen kicked my ass on the way up :)
In a nutshell, it was my worst day of biking ever, quite humbling :)
... just like the class on how to cross a small river without getting wet :)



2007/02/16 Got into RC
π 2007-02-16 20:03 by Merlin in Rc

After the X-Ufo, I guess I got hooked into Remote Controlled flying machines, so I got a Blade CX2 helicopter, and a plane kit I still need to build. The CX2 is quite agile, and also more fragile like any RC flying device. The first day, I had to replace its inner shaft which is designed to break about right away, and had to debug a few more things later, but it seems to be flying fine now, and it's fun. You can see a quick video of my CX2 here
The plane will come soon when I find/take time to build it, and I joined the RC group at google, with coworkers who have quite elaborate flying machines, from cool helis that can fly upside down 700 Watt F18 plane that can fly at 120mph :)
Good stuff all around.









2007/02/12 Best of Best of Snow Pictures
π 2007-02-12 09:14 by Merlin in Snow

I've gone through all my snow pictures , and since I have more than 3000 of them as I write this, I went in each directory and made a BestOf directory.
I then wrote a script to collate all those BestOf pictures into a collated best of snow pictures over time (this one is actually worth looking at), and then went through the tough task of making a Best of Best of snow pictures below :)






































2007/02/11 A Couple of Hours of Powder at Dodge Ridge
π 2007-02-11 20:35 by Merlin in Snow

Unfortunately, the local ski resort in Yosemite (Badger Pass) was still reporting quite poor conditions, so I offered to go to Dodge Ridge, which was the closest option nearby (well, it was only 111 miles, but it still took a bit more than 3H due to the road conditions). At least, we were able to make it without chains.
While by the time we made it to the back runs, it was unfortunately already 13:30, the 2H we had there were pretty sweet. The snow was still pretty sweet: not even wet powder









You can see the other Pictures from Dodge Ridge
2007/02/10 Rainy Yosemite
π 2007-02-10 20:32 by Merlin in Trips

Jen had planned a trip for us at Yosemite for us. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the one weekend in many when the weather didn't cooperate with us, but we tried to make the best of it.
The weather saturday just wasn't that good, and visibility was quite poor, but it cleared up a bit by the later part of the day (not counting the fact that it rained pretty much all day). Still, we got a little bit of visiting in.
The evening was spent in a cosy and warm cabin, and we were greeted by a little bit of snow outside at 4000ft the next morning.





my Garmin 496 did a decent job of getting us around, while showing us the precipitation (rain and snow) we were heading for












Here are a few more pictures of Yosemite in the Rain
2007/02/05 Yearly Company Ski Trip
π 2007-02-05 20:12 by Merlin in Snow

Another year, another company ski trip. Sure, getting up at 04:50 for the 05:30 bus to Squaw was a bit tough, and we got there pretty quickly considering. I was on the slopes around 10:30 (the driver getting lost and going to Northstar instead of Squaw having something to do with it).
Unfortunately, the snow coverage was totally abysmal for february. I had never seen anything that bad... Thank you global warming!










All in all, the conditions just didn't feel good enough to stay a second day, so I just went home the next morning after the party.
A few more pictures of Squaw with little snow

2007/02/01 Night IFR training
π 2007-02-01 19:57 by Merlin in Flying

After coming back from Australia, I had of course lost my local club currency for both Cessna C182 G1000 and down, and Trinidad TB20. Since I had promised to take my friend Markus for a bay tour in a TAA (technically advanced aircraft), I decided to kill a few birds with one stone, and regain my C182 currency, night currency, and keep my IFR currency while practising on a new plane.
We went to livermore in actual IFR (ceiling was around 2600ft), almost let the plane land itself on the ILS approach, and come back IFR to PAO on the GPS approach, and added another landing for my 3 night landings.
This was time well spent, and it was cool to fly over a layer of clouds lit by the moon, as well as see planes lined up at a distance for San Jose, enter and disappear into the sea of clouds as they were approaching for landing at SJC

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