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2012/09/27 Tour of Grand Canyon North Rim
π 2012-09-27 00:00 in Trips
Jennifer's Mom was staying with us to help Jennifer after her ankle surgery, and since Jennifer was supposed to start walking with a brace to strengthen her ankle, and she wanted to show something to her mom before she moved out of country back to Taiwan, she elected to do a tour of the north Rim of the Grand Canyon to Page, and finishing up to the South Rim before flying back out from there through flagstaff (the closest airport with commercial flights and rental cars).

The whole trip was a bit over 1000 miles in 5 days, not bad. We obviously didn't have enough time to properly hike or backpack in some of the parks, but Jennifer wasn't able to anyway, so it was mostly short distances from the car.

So, we flew into Vegas early morning, got our rental car, food and water and got the hell out :)





Day 1: Valley of Fire

Anyway, after a short-ish drive from Las Vegas, we got to the Valley of Fire thanks to a tip from JBQ:











Cool Roads
Cool Roads


We went for a scenic short hike at the end of the park.





pink rocks were cool
pink rocks were cool



more nice road/landscapes
more nice road/landscapes



And we finished with the famous elephant rock on the way out:





The Valley of Fire had a special meaning to me since my first book on the USA back when I was still in France, had elephant rock that happened to be from there (and I had no idea that was the case):


So that was well worth the time we spent there, and we then went on to Zion hoping that we'd get an hour or so to see the visitor center, but we forgot that we'd already lose an hour crossing the border, so that didn't quite work out. We just stayed by our bed and Breakfast to see a sunset:





Day 2: Zion

The next morning, we left reasonably early and went to Zion where we took the required bus after of quick visit of the visitor center. We only had one day to spend there (not counting the drive out we did the next morning), and that's not nearly enough for a normal visit of Zion, but in our case since we couldn't hike much or climb, that turned out to be just enough.



Except during very lowest season, the busses are required, but they run very often
Except during very lowest season, the busses are required, but they run very often


that's a tasty mushroom :)
that's a tasty mushroom :)

the ground squirrels were very friendly, but could bite if fed them and that was forbidden
the ground squirrels were very friendly, but could bite if fed them and that was forbidden

fleurs!
fleurs!


wheeping rocks
wheeping rocks

with two walking sticks and an ankle brace, Jennifer could walk a bit
with two walking sticks and an ankle brace, Jennifer could walk a bit












Day 3: Leaving Zion

Next Morming, we drove away from Zion towards Bryce, but did the hike at the other end of the tunnel before heading out:



light entry for the tunnel
light entry for the tunnel


From the other side, you can park and hike up:




that road would have been fun blocked off and with a real car :)
that road would have been fun blocked off and with a real car :)


you get a nice view from the valley and road to the tunnel from up there
you get a nice view from the valley and road to the tunnel from up there





Day 3: Red Canyon

After driving to Bryce Canyon, we hit Red Canyon just before that, and it was worth a quick look:




I did the reasonably short hike to the visitor center and Jennifer drove there
I did the reasonably short hike to the visitor center and Jennifer drove there



Day 3: Bryce Canyon

And finally we got to Bryce Canyon for the afternoon, which was barely enough for a visit with the car. We drove to the end where we had a late lunch, drove back to see view after view with Inspiration point as the grand finale. We then finished by sunset point for the super scenic 3 mile hike:













We then got to Inspiration Point, arguably the best view in Bryce Canyon:





And we finished with a beautiful 3 mile hike:


















And we got back on top just in time for sunset and moonrise:



That was a really nice day, Bryce was fantastic. We then went to the nearby town for some food and sleeping.


Day 4: Page's Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons, and Horseshoe Bend

The next morning, we got out of Bryce as early as we could to get to Page and Antelope Canyon as early as possible and get a tour of lower antelope canyon while a beam of light shined in. Well, even though it wsa late in the season for that, we got lucky and saw a couple for a few mere minutes.


Day 4: Upper Antelope Canyon

We started with Upper Antelope Canyon, the most popular, and paid our due to the local tribe for a 1h tour. The tour was indeed spectacular and we got the best time of the day. That was good timing and luck.












Day 4: Lower Antelope Canyon

After the great views, we drove to lower Antelope Canyon which is definitely worth visiting separately and much deeper:











Day 4: Powell Lake

Next, we went to check out Powell Lake:












Day 4: Horseshoe Bend

and we finished with some pictures of the famous Horseshoe Bend:



it was a tiny bit late in the day sun-wise, but still nice
it was a tiny bit late in the day sun-wise, but still nice




Just this once we finished the day a little bit early, although getting dcent dinner in Page on a sunday night was no piece of cake.


Day 5: Monument Valley

The next morning, we drove from Page to Monument Valley. We actually thought it was pretty neat. Some viewoints were quite worth it, and I definitely doing your own tour so that you can enjoy some viewpoints like the North Window Overlook and Artist Point Overlook:
























Day 5: Grand Canyon South Rim Sunset

Once we were done with Monument Valley, we drove towards the Grand Canyon South Rim to see the easternmost entrance we had never seen: Desert View and its watchtower, and then got to a viewing point for sunset.














Day 6: Grand Canyon South Rim

The next morning, we got up early and went to see all the viewpoints on West Rim Drive, which we were able to just drive to instead of taking the bus since Jennifer was handicapped (we got a special code for the gate and were allowed to drive to all the stops).
Mind you, I would rather have been able to hike a lot of that, but Jennifer was not quite ready for that yet, and besides we didn't quite have the time anyway (we had to go to flagstaff to catch our plane home).






















And after a lunch by the canyon, we drove to Flagstaff to return the rental car and fly home via Phoenix.



This was a packed 6 days, but we got to see a whole lot (probably 10 days worth at a slower pace, taking time for more hikes that we just couldn't do this time around). We sure got to see a lot considering, and I got about 1200 pictures after weeding the bad ones, not bad.

See more images for Tour of Grand Canyon North Rim
2012/09/25 Crafty Squirrels
π 2012-09-25 00:00 in Public
Our bird feeder has been very popular with the local birds, but I happened to catch a squirrel climb straight up our outside wall, then our outside lamp, pulled on the rope I had to stabilize the feeder, and tried to grab food from it.
Damn, that's crafty all right.



See more images for Crafty Squirrels
2012/09/21 Shuttle Endeavour Flyover
π 2012-09-21 00:00 in Flying
It was scheduled to fly right by google, so I had little excuse not to go. I biked to the Steven's Creek Trail, facing the Moffett Runway to see the flyover:

Lots of people came on Steven's Creek Trail
Lots of people came on Steven's Creek Trail

Roof parties
Roof parties


Ok, it didn't fly where we hoped, so I was just under it :(
Ok, it didn't fly where we hoped, so I was just under it :(



See more images for Shuttle Endeavour Flyover
2012/09/16 Re-education Hike for Jennifer at Rancho San Antonio
π 2012-09-16 00:00 in Hiking
Jennifer was on crutches for a while after her ankle surgery, but eventually she had to start walking a little bit to strengthen her muscles while loosening her new ligaments that were too stiff and needed some exercise (just a bit at a time).

We went for a hike to the farm in Rancho San Antonio.

Dinner was just walking around, right next to us :)
Dinner was just walking around, right next to us :)


Jennifer had her special walking with her special stabilization brace
Jennifer had her special walking with her special stabilization brace

Made it to the farm
Made it to the farm

You need a haircut, buddy :)
You need a haircut, buddy :)

Bacon!
Bacon!

Wild deer came by
Wild deer came by

On the way back, I took the slightly longer and scenic high road, and Jennifer took the flat one back



I got to see them down the other path with the 20X zoom
I got to see them down the other path with the 20X zoom

We went to check out the RC planes on the way back



Good little walk all around.

2012/09/08 Another Art and Wine Festival in Mountain View
π 2012-09-08 00:00 in Public
I realize that after a while, they are kind of all the same. In some way that's partially true. We do find some novel things from time to time though, and also get refills for things like custom soap.

So there you go, a few more pictures:


pretty butterflies
pretty butterflies



we got one of those for our chat :)
we got one of those for our chat :)

James Hodges would be happy with one of these :)
James Hodges would be happy with one of these :)

A nice picture of Vernazza in Cinque Terre. We went there.
A nice picture of Vernazza in Cinque Terre. We went there.


2012/09/06 Visiting San Diego
π 2012-09-06 00:00 in Trips
Since I was going to San Diego for Linuxcon 2012, I figured I should use the opportunity to visit San Diego. I took 3 days extra, and then spent one of those days to go diving, leaving me with barely 2 days left.
I had seen all the parks in San Diego already (Sea World, Legoland, Wild Animal Zoo (whatever it's called), and saw the Zoo in Balboa park maybe 10 years ago). Turns out it takes more than 2 days to see the rest of San Diego. 3 days would have been ideal :)

Either way, while the days were packed, I got to see everything I could given the time, especially on that very busy Sunday I flew out and described below.

Got a few shots from the plane:

Sea World
Sea World


As soon as I arrived, I went to the waterfront to visit the Maritime Museum and got an included cruise:


the midway, which I went to visit later
the midway, which I went to visit later





Back from the cruise, went to visit the few boats and submarines they had on display








Next was the USS Midway, the best aircraft carrier I've ever visited. They show you a lot more than the average boat, you see 4 levels of decks, and the inside of the city on the sea.
You can see all the pictures of the Midway.

I then spent the rest of the day in downtown San Diego and the gaslamp quarter:









I also got to see a critical ride:


Once the conference was over, I went to Balboa Park to see the Science Museum. It wasn't the best one I've seen, but entertaining nonetheless. They did have good IMAX movies running, so I went to see 3 in a row :)




After the conference was over, I went diving off the San Diego Coast (kelp and wreck dives), which considering it was 6 dives in one day took 12 hours :)

The next day, it was my only day left to visit San Diego (2 in total) and I had a flight out that evening, so it was going to be packed.

I started with Cabrillo National Monument:









The naval base is well visible from up there
The naval base is well visible from up there


Next, I went to Jola to see the aquarium and Sea Horse nursery they had:












Next, I went to Old Town San Diego, which while I didn't have enough time to visit appropriately, was still quite nice to visit:




Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo

Next, I went to Balboa Park to see several things I hadn't seen the first day. I lucked out and saw birds that were there to be adopted. They were fun to be with:








From there, I went to the model railway museum:





Next, was time for the Air and Space Museum, which was a bit tough to see in 1h45, but I was able to see most of it and it was quite good: See my post on Air and Space Musem.

After the Museum, I jumped to the Zoo to catch barely catch a couple of hours before heading for the airport. Turns out, I hadn't quite planned for the fact that the zoo was going to be quite useless after sunset, so I had less time than planned, but made the best of it. Of course, seeing the San Diego Zoo in 1h and change, is a joke, but I took the tram around for the 10 cent tour, and saw a few things on foot before it got too dark :)






I have a few other random pictures. One interesting thing in San Diego is how much in the middle of the city the airport is. Great for commute, but interesting planes landing in the middle:



And there you go, the long somewhat rushed sunday was over, and time came to fly home. Next time, I'll plan for an extra day or two :)

See more images for Visiting San Diego
2012/09/02 San Diego La Jolla
π 2012-09-02 00:00 in Aquariums
While in San Diego, I went to see La Jolla Aquarium and Sea Horse Nursery:














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2012/09/02 San Diego's Air and Space Museum
π 2012-09-02 00:00 in Flying
While I was in San Diego's Balboa Park, I was running a bit short on time, but I still was able to see the Air and Space Museum before it closed:


they recognized a lot of pioneers of aviation, including French ones like Santos Dumont, Louis Bleriot, Marcel Dassault and others
they recognized a lot of pioneers of aviation, including French ones like Santos Dumont, Louis Bleriot, Marcel Dassault and others




Vintage Remote Controls
Vintage Remote Controls










It was quite a nice museum, definitely worth visiting.

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2012/09/01 Diving off San Diego
π 2012-09-01 00:00 in Diving
I was there for a conference and visited San Diego. I realized I had never dived around San Diego, so I figured why not?

Little did I know that San Diego actually has colder water than LA and Catalina, and barely warmer than Monterey that is freaking cold (make sure you know where the hole in the ice is, so that you don't get trapped under the ice sheet when coming back up :) ).

Then I had another brilliant idea, if the water is cold, why not sign up for 6 dives in a day. I didn't even know it was possible if you were not on a liveaboard and none of those dives were night dives.

Smallish boat compared to my typical liveaboard, but good enough for a day :)
Smallish boat compared to my typical liveaboard, but good enough for a day :)




My 3 morning dives were pretty miserable. Diving in kelp wasn't bad, but 15C was monterey cold and my rental was only a 7mm suit with no vest (in monterey I had a vest for that). Unsurprisingly, I was quite cold, and while I got to see a few things and it's cool to dive amongst kelp, the temps just made it pretty miserable.







look carefully, these were the steps back up to the boat
look carefully, these were the steps back up to the boat

In the afternoon, they thankfully gave me a 2nd wet suit, so I was now wearing 3mm plus 7mm on top, and the 10mm did the trick. The water was still only 15C, but bearable now.
The first 2 dives were to the yukon, which is indeed a huge ship and impressive to see. We didn't really go inside because I'm not trained for diving inside wrecks, especially because this ship is on its side, so up is not actually up :)
The Ruby was a smaller ship, but because the day ran behind it was a dusk dive turning into a night dive, so I didn't get to see as much. At last I saw the toilet that was there :)








hard to go on the toilet with 2 dive suits
hard to go on the toilet with 2 dive suits

I'll be honest in saying that I'm just not a fan of cold water. Having to wear 7mm with a suit and hood and still being very cold is not fun. The vis was also far from stellar and I'm told was actually pretty standard or even slightly above average. I did learn that I do need at least 10mm or an additional vest to dive in 15C water.
It was actually nice to see the Yukon which is indeed a pretty huge shipwreck, and kelp is interesting to see, but otherwise sea life was pretty minimal compared to the pretty high standards I'm used to.
It wasn't a waste of time, and it was cool to do 6 dives in a day in cold water no less, but I don't really need to be doing this again anytime soon :)

See more images for Diving off San Diego

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