Friday, April 19, 2013

Welcome to New York

As I alluded to several times in earlier posts, I moved to New York City around the middle of October. The following is a post summing up what I've been up to since I moved here here.

...

My first weekend here Jenny was out of town, so I was trying to figure out what to do with myself. I was staying in our company apartment at the end of Manhattan for the week (not a bad view),



and on my way home from work on Friday I saw a notice that the Lincoln Tunnel was going to be closed that Sunday for a bike ride. Thirty-six hours later I embarked on my first 100-mile bike ride: Bike MS New York, a fundraiser for Multiple Sclerosis. The route was awesome: through the Holland Tunnel,


north through Hoboken, the Palisades, and eventually out to Stony Point. And then back. Whew- I was sure was glad when I saw this:


Twenty minutes later I was at the finish line. My last bike ride till April. Winter!

....

At the beginning of November (somewhat delayed by Hurricane Sandy), Jenny and I moved to our one-bedroom apartment in lovely Boerum Hill in Brooklyn. The neighborhood is sandwiched in between Cobble Hill, Downtown Brooklyn, and Park Slope, a roughly two-by-four block neighborhood bounded by the Barclay's Center, Court Street, Atlantic Avenue, and Flatbush Avenue. Here's our quaint street:


Here's the obligatory moving shots, starting with our empty apartment:


The chaos mid-move-in:


Et voila! We've added a few other decorations since then as well.


All in all, a pretty nice place and in an unbeatable location (near 12 subway lines!). I'm sitting on that sofa as I write this now.

...

Here's a few other random shots of my time here in the fall. Looking south and west from Williamsburg toward lower Manhattan on a cold winter night:


The famous Pepsi Sign in Gantry Park in Long Island City:


And Jerry (yes that Jerry) serving Jenny some Phish Food.



...

On a final note, after spending Christmas in Tennessee, I spent one night back in New York before heading west (young man)! I flew to San Francisco, where I checked out my brother's new place in Emeryville. The next morning we headed south through Big Sur and spent the night with my friend Teddy in Santa Barbara. Did I mention that I miss California?


The next day we got to Pasadena, where we stayed with another generous host, my friend Jeff's uncle's house. My first impressions of LA were pretty good...


And of course, there was the reason we were there in the first place, The Granddaddy of Them All- The Rose Bowl (not to mention a chance to catch up with family and friends- special shout out to all our generous hosts!!!). 


Stanford 20, Wisconsin 14. Not a shabby Fall (or start of 2013)...

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Farewell to California



Alas- in the middle of October I found myself leaving California for New York City, and while I suspect I will return before long, there's no definitive return date. And since there are a few things that slipped through the cracks on other blog posts, I wanted to post them here.

...

At the end of July I got the chance to drive up to Tahoe with my old roommate, Jared, and stay at "The Hill"- a piece of property near Lake Tahoe that has been in his family (and extended family) for more generations then I can keep track of. The Hill consists of several rustic cabins, a bocce ball court, a pool, and is a place where generations of Jared's family gather for the summer. I don't have any photos of The Hill itself (doh!), but Jared and I got to do a lovely hike nearby when we were up for the weekend. Quintessential Northern Sierras:


What a treat- a weekend in the mountains with friends and (his) family, sure beats a foggy weekend in San Francisco.

...

In August, I got the chance to drive the most expensive machine that I'll drive for a while: this $11,000,000.00 beauty.


This is the yacht that competed for the America's Cup a couple years ago (2007 I think). For those of you who don't know, the America's Cup is a quirky yacht race held occasionally, around the world. I say occasionally because the winner of the previous Cup picks the location of the next Cup, and then the other teams have to agree to the new set of rules- which didn't happen after 2007 until last year. The next Cup is in San Francisco (home of the last winner: Oracle) this year. Luckily for us, this year the competition allows teams to use (much faster) catamarans, making this boat obsolete, and giving us the chance to sail around the San Francisco Bay! The boat itself is pretty much entirely made of carbon fiber (hence the price tag)- carbon fiber mast, carbon fiber hull, carbon fiber sails, and even a carbon fiber steering wheel (light as a feather!). My dad and I went for a 90 minute cruise, under the Golden Gate Bridge and back to Fisherman's Wharf. Here's my dad hoisting the sail (up 11 stories!):


And I've gotta admit- there's something pretty iconic about this:



...

I couldn't leave this out either: Stanford 21, #2 USC 14. 


Hail! Stanford, Hail!



...



Over the course of the summer, I had a biking goal: to ride the Bay Trail around the entire circumference of San Francisco Bay. The Bay Trail will eventually be a 500-mile plus multi-use path around the edge of the Bay. Unfortunately, it won't be done until 2030, so I had to wing it and ended up with a 270 mile loop that in about eight pieces. 

            Create Maps or search from 80 million at MapMyRide
       

I'm eventually planning on turning this into a much longer essay-like post, but for now I'll just say, it was a pretty cool way to see the Bay- I can still smell the fennel. Special thanks to my riding buddy who joined me on the longest piece of the Bay Trail- an 87 mile jaunt through Napa.


...

And finally, a special thanks to the people who made San Francisco home- our weekly pizza/taco/mezes nights were perhaps the best part of San Francisco. 


So while I may be here for now...


... Don't worry. I'll be back.


Monday, April 8, 2013

Mt Stanford

As I alluded to in my last post, I had one more Sierra Nevada trip up my sleeve: a summit attempt of the 13,973-foot tall Mount Stanford with my brother and his friend Pat. We left the Bay Area after work on a Friday night in early October and made it to our campsite in Kings Canyon around 1:30 AM. It's a little strange to drive into what you know is a deep abyss in the dark of the night- with ominous thousand-foot tall shadows beckoning around every curve. Next morning we awoke in the valley:


After a hearty breakfast at the lodge in the Valley, the same lodge where my mom got food poisoning six weeks earlier (we're not superstitious!), we started our first day's hike: 13 miles and 5,000 feet up, from Road's End to the Kennedy Lakes. It didn't take long for us to get a view:



After a few hours, we reached the turn off for the Kennedy Lakes, and three hours (and one eventful stream crossing) later, we reached the Kennedy Lakes: 



Stats for the day: 6 hours, 13 miles, 5000 feet elevation gained, 1 wet boot, 1 wet butt, and 1 wet sleeping pad (that stream crossing was brutal). Not too shabby. After catching some alpen glow,


we enjoyed a camp fire (pro tip: pine pitch burns hot and bright!), and before long we were in the tent. After a relatively late start (10 AM- eek), we began our hike for Sunday: 7 miles, all off-trail, up the last 4,000 feet to the summit. We were only carrying day packs thankfully.


After passing a couple lakes we left the tree line behind and arrived at this sapphire lake. Our next step was up Harrison Pass. And it was tough. We were reduced to scrambling up one at a time, in fifty-foot increments (while the others hid to avoid fist-sized rocks). Whew.


We finally made it to the top of (what we though was) the pass. Whew. Here's Matthew and Pat celebrating:


At the top we got a nice view up the other side of Harrison Pass.


We definitely took the hard way up. And we still had another thousand feet to go! Mt Stanford is in the center-left.


One hour (and one altitude sickness-inducing scramble later), we made it.


360-degree views in all directions. Here are some highlights:


Looking east into the Owens Valley:


Looking north, up the way we came:


And looking southwest into the Kern River Canyon:


Our late start came back to haunt us, so we only got to spend about ten minutes on the summit. Definitely worth the sweat.


The observent among you may have noticed that one of the mountains in the photos above seems to be a little taller (5 photos up)- alas, it's not just an optical illusion. We technically only made it to the top of 13,940-foot Gregory's Monument, a sub-peak of Mt Stanford (close enough!!!). A late start (and a hellaciously exposed scramble) prevented us from summiting Mt Stanford itself. Next time!

Descending, we found the actual Harrison Pass (doh!), one ridge over, and made quick work of it.



A quick aside: there are definitely some impressive mountains around this basin, some of which weren't climbed until the mid-1990's (the spire in the right of this photo)!


Before long the sun began setting, and we made it to camp just as darkness fell. Whew. Our off trail hike made Saturday look easy!


It was a short night around the fire for us. Zzzz....

We got an early start the next morning and were back in the Valley by 10 AM. This is what is known as "Charging for the Barn" where I'm from. And of course, no Sierras trip would be complete without this friend we saw near the trailhead:


As is always best, we were more interested in her than she was in us. On the way out of Kings Canyon we got to see the road we had driven in at midnight two nights earlier (wow!), and we were back in San Francisco by 5 o'clock. A fitting end to my time in the Sierras (for now). I was on a plane to New York City five days later.

The Sierras will never be far from heart:


Even better was the opportunity to finish things off in California with my brother (and Pat, who I've taken on two of the toughest trips I've ever done)- it's easy to take having family so close for granted. So thanks Matthew.


P.S. It's pretty good to summit your alma mater too. See you in New York!