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2019/02/25 Catching a 4 day Storm at Kirkwood and Heavenly
π 2019-02-25 01:01 in Snow
I got a new model 3 to replace last year's model S and it hadn't gone to the snow yet, so this week's storm was a great time to take it there. I drove monday in time to beat the storm rolling in and literally beat the chain control by 15 minutes. The road closed a few hours later and stayed closed for 3 days...
I figured that the car might make it to kirkwood in one shot, but it wasn't too clear if it would and it would be pretty miserable if I started running short and had to drive back or ended up getting stuck, so I stopped at the Manteca supercharger for just 15mn, which gave me an extra 10% of battery and I arrived with 20% left, so in the end it wasn't needed:

my car predicted it would arrive with 14% left, that was very close, I would have had 10% left if I hadn't stopped to recharge
my car predicted it would arrive with 14% left, that was very close, I would have had 10% left if I hadn't stopped to recharge


Carson Spur is looking interesting now, it closes almost as soon as snow starts falling
Carson Spur is looking interesting now, it closes almost as soon as snow starts falling


Got a nicely priced unit from Pyramid Peak properties and let the car charge slowly over the next 3 days
Got a nicely priced unit from Pyramid Peak properties and let the car charge slowly over the next 3 days

it was snowing nicely soon after I arrived
it was snowing nicely soon after I arrived

The next morning was sadly too windy, so as expected KW opened very late (11:30) and only a couple of boring lifts. I did do a few runs on chair5 until I got bored and confirmed chair6 was not going to open for the day, and went back to my condo to get some work done:




sigh, no chair6 for us :(
sigh, no chair6 for us :(

Day #2 had another foot+ of new snow, and the roads were still closed. I was hopeful for a great day, but chair6 only opened close to noon (i.e. very late) and only a very narrow band of it (even access to chamoix was closed, and the drain on the other side was closed too of course):


opening the door was interesting
opening the door was interesting

some other doors couldn't be open at all :)
some other doors couldn't be open at all :)

chair6 being readied, finally...
chair6 being readied, finally...

nice warning, I'd rather that they tell us that than stay closed because of limited medical help being available
nice warning, I'd rather that they tell us that than stay closed because of limited medical help being available

the runs I was able to do from chair6 didn't suck
the runs I was able to do from chair6 didn't suck


Day #3 sadly had the road open from Carson Pass, so people showed up :) More of chair6 got opened:


more snow falling throughout the day
more snow falling throughout the day

I got to meet Ricky, the head of ski patrol of nicely gave me a tour and showed me the challenges they deal with
I got to meet Ricky, the head of ski patrol of nicely gave me a tour and showed me the challenges they deal with



eventually the wall opened and that was quite good, I lapped it for the rest of the day :)
eventually the wall opened and that was quite good, I lapped it for the rest of the day :)


Day #4, I stupidly slept at kirkwood due to poor planning on my part, but drove to heavenly to meet my friend Ovidiu to do some powder runs on firebreak and palisades:

nice snow accumulation of the last days
nice snow accumulation of the last days

my car was all nice and clean and came out when the sun did :)
my car was all nice and clean and came out when the sun did :)

obligatory kirkwood sign picture
obligatory kirkwood sign picture

drove to harrah's parking and joined Ovidiu in the long friday morning gondola line
drove to harrah's parking and joined Ovidiu in the long friday morning gondola line


I noticed that, nice tires on that stretcher
I noticed that, nice tires on that stretcher

we walked to the first backcountry gate as the lifts weren't running yet (!)
we walked to the first backcountry gate as the lifts weren't running yet (!)



back down to the road
back down to the road

big easy was open, so we took it to the fire break gate to run palisades
big easy was open, so we took it to the fire break gate to run palisades

We got 3 nice runs on Palisades until heavenly closed the gondola for wind :(


nice runs to burnt forest (2000ft vertical), the rest was more crappy snow
nice runs to burnt forest (2000ft vertical), the rest was more crappy snow

back up for more
back up for more

nice lenticular cloud that came from the pretty heavy wind
nice lenticular cloud that came from the pretty heavy wind

bridge back to firebreak and the bottom of the gondola
bridge back to firebreak and the bottom of the gondola


And after those 3 nice runs, sadly half of heavenly closed and despite it being barely 13:30, we decided that the rest of heavenly wasn't worth it, so we both went home. Thanks Ovidiu for being my guide for the half day :)

2019/02/22 Infected Mushroom at Mezzanine
π 2019-02-22 01:01 in Clubbing
Opulent Temple has been rocking the playa for many years I was lucky enough to first find them back in 2005: http://marc.merlins.org/perso/clubbing/2005-09.html#DJ-Ti_sto-at-Opulent-Temple-Black-Rock-City-_Burning-Man_ and 2007: http://marc.merlins.org/perso/clubbing/post_2007-09-01_DJ-Dan-Paul-Oakenfold-Gabriel-Christopher-Lawrence-at-Burning-Man.html , and been enjoying them since then. Just last burning man in 2018, they had awesome shows. Thanks guys!

Obviously, this costs money. I remember making donations to their funds back in the day, but as a more sustainable approach, they have been running fundraiser events like this one, and apparently with enough of them, it's been able to more or less fund Opulent Temple at Burning Man. Well done guys.

Infected Mushroom definitely puts on a show. It's kind of hard to describe, but Syd Gris wrote "their electric live shows" which sounds like a good description. The event was sold out a month in advance and so packed that I couldn't quite take decent videos, so I stuck to pictures, and even those were tough (ok, I was also enjoying an experience appropriate to the evening).




















Big thanks to the OT crew for bringing us this show, it was definitely one for the books.

See more images for Infected Mushroom at Mezzanine
2019/02/15 Paul van Dyk at Pure Nightclub
π 2019-02-15 01:01 in Clubbing
Paul Van Dyk at a club 10mn away from my house? Abolutely, sign me up :)

It had been a while since I went to Pure in Sunnyvale, given the ridiculous search they put me through last time, and the attitude of their bouncers that really pissed me off (never mind how pointless the search was anyway).
This time again, they did a weird search going into my camera pouches and looking at weird things while skipping the entire contents of my pockets which they clearly felt were no empty (I even had an umbrella in there). I really don't get their logic... On the plus side, they didn't card me to ensure I was indeed more than 21...

Anyway, once in, the opening DJ was ok-ish but totally not playing the same kind of music, and around midnight PvD arrived and layed a decent set:










See more images for Paul van Dyk at Pure Nightclub
2019/02/12 First Snowmobile Trip around Mt Tremblant, Canada
π 2019-02-12 01:01 in Cars, Snow
After arriving in Mt Tremblant, and snowboarding a few hours, I confirmed that anything not groomed was sheer ice, so I figured I might as well try some snowmobiling instead while waiting for the incoming ft+ storm.

I had to drive 20mn to a nearby town and rent for a local store. They just gave me a 2mn briefing on what button does what, a crappy map showing me where to go (this included crossing multiple roads). Sadly, I ended up missing a turn that was not obvious at all and had to ride on the street only to figure out that a snowmobile cannot turn at all on asphalt, making things very hard.
Eventually I got help and directions back towards the trail and had a great 70km 2h30 ride across cold canadian wilderness.
I could have flipped the thing multiple times and hurt myself easily. I did top out at 100kph and caught air at least once, as well as scared myself a few times but managed not to understeer into a river or a half frozen lake :)

This probably wouldn't last more than a few days if they allowed americans to rent those things with no guidance, or a proper map (I had to use my GPS more than once to find breadcrumbs back), or over drive off the trail into a tree, or a lake :)

Either way, definitely had fun, and this probably beat any speed limited guided tour available anywhere else.






yeah, the planes were unexpected
yeah, the planes were unexpected



I eventually reached a place that had dog sleigh rides, and turned back there
I eventually reached a place that had dog sleigh rides, and turned back there


Covered wooden bridge, very nice
Covered wooden bridge, very nice







2019/02/12 2.5 days at Mt Tremblant
π 2019-02-12 01:01 in Snow
Because I happened to be nearby for the Porsche ice driving school, I figured I might as well go check out Mt Tremblant, especially as I went to its racetrack in the summer 8 years ago and while we were there, they nicely gave us a ride to the ski resort during the summer.

It almost looked the same :)


Anyway, I left my previous hotel bright and early for the 1h drive to Mt Tremblant. A big storm was coming in later that day, so it was great to have a room at the Marriott with underground parking and walking to the slopes:



the village is cute
the village is cute


given that it was a weekday without new snow, no lines
given that it was a weekday without new snow, no lines

this was a summary of the resort: ice city...
this was a summary of the resort: ice city...



Sadly, the first day was cold (-18C) and no new snow. Due to freezing rain the week prior, the entire place was covered with ice outside of trails that were groomed, but the grooming only lasted so long:

going down to soleil was a big mistake, sun facing slopes were of course sheer ice
going down to soleil was a big mistake, sun facing slopes were of course sheer ice


After a few hours or doing mostly boring groomers and hating my life the moment I left groomers, so I left the slopes by noon and went snowmobiling instead.


Thankfully the next morning we got over 30cm of new snow, which fixed a lot of things:



my hotel gave me an early tracks pass, was able to up 45mn earlier, score
my hotel gave me an early tracks pass, was able to up 45mn earlier, score

it snowed most of the day, so we got more
it snowed most of the day, so we got more


it didn't suck, but the snow was barely enough to cover the ice in places
it didn't suck, but the snow was barely enough to cover the ice in places



not a big sign
not a big sign

wait, I'm out of bounds? Since when?
wait, I'm out of bounds? Since when?

the village was more snowy by the end of the day :)
the village was more snowy by the end of the day :)




hot tubs were missing an Arturo :)
hot tubs were missing an Arturo :)

Day 3 got another 15 to 20cm, which helped refill the tracks somewhat from the previous day:



haha, great that they tell you
haha, great that they tell you

oh boy, some of the translations were wrong. This one actually said the opposite...
oh boy, some of the translations were wrong. This one actually said the opposite...

a bit of a line, but I was almost first to go up
a bit of a line, but I was almost first to go up

not so warm either, but good to keep the snow
not so warm either, but good to keep the snow

the north facing side had 3 good high speed chairs and better snow
the north facing side had 3 good high speed chairs and better snow

more snow
more snow

pseudo side-country was pretty good
pseudo side-country was pretty good


'le edge', haha
'le edge', haha

short moment of sun
short moment of sun

other side country
other side country

By 12:30 I got off the slopes to get back to the airport, but had yummy of poutine (with chicken and bacon) for the drive back :)


See more images for 2.5 days at Mt Tremblant
2019/02/08 Porsche Ice Experience Driving Course at Circuit Mecaglisse
π 2019-02-08 01:01 in Cars
Circuit Mecaglisse is 1.5h north of Montréal, and I was lucky enough to be accepted in their level 2 course thanks to the training I got at Dirtfish learning the basics of rally driving. As expected, my almost 20 years of track driving was mostly worthless :)

They had a professional photographer who obviously took better shots than I did :)




The busy photographer (40 drivers) got a few shots of me, along with my talented co-driver Alain. Alain was a great guy as well as one of the best snow/ice drivers in the group, which definitely made me feel self-conscious. He showed me what I should have been doing :)

Alain
Alain



for a short while I was also driving with Mark, the other star in our group
for a short while I was also driving with Mark, the other star in our group

Anyway, here are my pictures. The drive from Montréal was actually "interesting", a passing storm yielded some ice on the road and driving 20mph wasn't even safe anymore. Eventually it turned to snow, which was easier to drive on with the snow tires on the 2WD rental car I got:


the nice hotel where we were hosted, but it was 45mn away from the track
the nice hotel where we were hosted, but it was 45mn away from the track

they fed us well :)
they fed us well :)

Every morning, we got a bus ride to the track, which is specifically designed to have a layer of ice in the winter:


when I say ice, it really is ice
when I say ice, it really is ice

Kees Nerop, the head instructor we were lucky to end up with
Kees Nerop, the head instructor we were lucky to end up with

we drove both 4WD and 2WD 911s
we drove both 4WD and 2WD 911s



they had studded tires, but the studs were pretty short
they had studded tires, but the studs were pretty short

A few driving pictures:

Alain, showing me how it's done :)
Alain, showing me how it's done :)

I didn't expect things to be easy, and they weren't. The biggest problem is if you go in a bit too deep, there is mostly nothing you can do to fix it. In this oversteer turn exercise, I turned a bit too late and while I did mostly the right things, I was just a bit too late and smacked the snow wall with the car:

sigh. this was not a proud moment
sigh. this was not a proud moment

This is when I need to really recognize Porsche for offering this class at all and allowing students to make mistakes. Basically unless they deem that you were driving like an idiot, you aren't liable for damage. They apparently have a full supply of body panels and bumpers, are quite used to fixing/changing them.

seeing the cars eating snow as people hit snow banks, was also pretty common. At least the intercooler was cool :)
seeing the cars eating snow as people hit snow banks, was also pretty common. At least the intercooler was cool :)

that one wasn't me, but another cracked bumper
that one wasn't me, but another cracked bumper

The driving was a both fun and very hard. It definitely kicked my butt. Honestly, I sucked when I showed up. I couldn't even properly drift in a circle. By day 3, I was far from being an expert, but my proudest accomplishment was managing a 4mn power drift when I wasn't even able to manage a single turn without spinning when I started:

Now, this is nothing compared to the better students who could not only drift but even fit between cones, which I can't quite do yet:

By day 3, we were driving around most of the track. It was still hard as hell as there was very little recovery possible if you went too fast, but if you went too slow, it was hard to not possible to induce necessary oversteers for most turns, so the balance was quite hard to keep.
The last day, we finished with 2WD cars on a super icy track with killer downhill off camber turns. I managed to get one right a couple of times, like at the 1:45 offset and then smacked into the snow wall by getting my timing wrong the 2nd time (offset 3:10). What's terrible is that we knew what was going to happen before it did, but by then there is no recovery possible with a 2WD car (a 4WD has a small chance of pulling out with power):

The day ended with us getting a hotlap from one of our coaches to show us what we could have done if we didn't suck :) I lucked out and got a lap with our chief instructor (forgive the non optimal camera placement):

And just like that, it was over. We had a farewall dinner with prices for the best drivers in each group (i.e. not me :) ):


Thanks to all the instructors, to Porsche for letting us drive their cars and make mistakes, and the great codrivers in our group (blue group is #1 !) :)

2019/02/08 Sciences de Montreal
π 2019-02-08 01:01 in Sciencemuseums
While it's not a top science museum, and while it has a weird layout and unused space, there are some fun displays that took a few hours:




fun video on sound:








A nice expo on first natives:



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2019/02/07 Montreal's Musee Grevin
π 2019-02-07 01:01 in Museums
Another nice wax museum worth visiting:
























They had a good explanation of how the wax statues are made:




See more images for Montreal's Musee Grevin
2019/02/07 Back in Google Montreal Office, 8 years later
π 2019-02-07 01:01 in Google
Can't believe it's already been 8 years since I last went to Montreal. Back then I popped in the office without my badge and someone nicely let me in back then. This time I had my badge, stopped for lunch, and talked with a few nice googlers.










nice 3D printer
nice 3D printer

They also nicely gave me a cool T-shirt, thank you:


2019/02/06 Dinner at Jerome Ferrer's Europea in Montreal
π 2019-02-06 01:01 in Dining
I arrived in Montréal with not a lot of research for food and when I looked for a nearby restaurant that offered seared foie gras, I randomly ended up at Europea which had a 10+ course tasting menu and was the top restaurant in town. Somehow I was late enough on the right day of the week to get a last minute table. Lucky me :)



this soup was made by heating up the liquid and making it climb into its mushrooms
this soup was made by heating up the liquid and making it climb into its mushrooms




they gave us VR goggles to watch where the oysters came from
they gave us VR goggles to watch where the oysters came from




then came time for cheese which they made for us from milk
then came time for cheese which they made for us from milk


it didn't have much taste though, salt, oil and vinegar helped
it didn't have much taste though, salt, oil and vinegar helped

I had to paint the next menu for the content to appear
I had to paint the next menu for the content to appear





2019/02/06 Montréal in the Winter
π 2019-02-06 01:01 in Trips
It had been 8 years since I last went to Montréal, although it was in the summer. Turns out Montréal is cold and much less lively in the winter, who would have known? :) Still, it gave me a chance to see some museums I had missed up to now.

Before you ask, I was there for the Porsche Ice Experience Driving Course at Circuit Mecaglisse.

got a quick-ish direct flight from SFO
got a quick-ish direct flight from SFO

Montréal was indeed snowy all over
Montréal was indeed snowy all over

I had a great dinner at Jerome Ferrer's Europea


The next morning, I went to check out the RedPath Museum in the university:


you can still bike in winter
you can still bike in winter

They have a great collections of shells and pretty rocks :)










From there, I took the underground paths to avoid the cold. It's actually quite hard to route underground. I tried for a while and eventually gave up and went back to the surface with the cold weather.
I next went to the Musee Grevin, which was quite nice:


Next, I went to visit the Google Office again


Interestingly they are testing electric busses with fast recharging stations


Next, I walked in the bitter cold towards Centre d'Histoire de Montréal:



the universal expo of 1967 looked great
the universal expo of 1967 looked great

look
look



Turns out I still had a bit of time left to see Pointe à Callière that had been significantly improved in the last years. Well worth the visit to see the foundations of the old city:










As I mentioned, there was a bit of snow:




freezing rain is fun
freezing rain is fun

seems fun to have to scrape that
seems fun to have to scrape that

they did a good job clearing the main streets though
they did a good job clearing the main streets though

Yeah, frozen river:


looks like this pickup truck is just parked on the frozen river next to where the boat
looks like this pickup truck is just parked on the frozen river next to where the boat


Habitat 67 across the mostly frozen river:



The next morning, I started with the Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal, which doens't look so fancy from the outside but is one of my favourite ones inside. I went early in the morning during the dead season, so it was almost empty, great for pictures:














Next, I went Centre des Sciences de Montréal:


A fun thing is that building, including museums have big rooms for the artic cold jackets that people wear outside, including eskimo-like boots:



And last, but not least, I stopped by Chateau Ramezay before it was time for me to head out and drive to Circuit Mecaglisse:





And that was it for Montreal.

See more images for Montréal in the Winter
2019/02/01 Transcend SF: Chicane/4 Strings at Mezzanine
π 2019-02-01 01:01 in Clubbing
Great lineup this night:
  • Jonn Connor B2B Northern SouI
  • Jason Reign
  • Taj B2B DJ Blurr
  • Chicane & 4 Strings
  • Chromata









  • Chicane was super nice and spent time talking with his fans and taking pictures after his set
    Chicane was super nice and spent time talking with his fans and taking pictures after his set

    and Khromata was there to close a great night. Thank you!
    and Khromata was there to close a great night. Thank you!

    Chicane played so many great classics that I ended up recording 1h10mn from that evening:


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