Monday, December 30, 2013

Hardly Ho Hum on Hicks and Um

Say Mister, wanna go for a ride?

The Boyfriend descending Mt. Um. 

The Boyfriend took me on a hard ride and gave me a good time.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

She Danced with her Nutcracker

Oh my gosh, I'm going to the ballet. What would the Christmas season be without seeing a fresh version of the Nutcracker by Ballet San Jose.

That's about as much as I can show you due to copyright laws and such.  Spectacular scenery and costumes.  A subdued version, focusing more on the E.T.A Hoffman fairy tale.   I appreciated this take rather than the typical showy production.  It was elegant.  The snow flurries and snow flakes scene was out of this world.  I believed the dancers were snow flakes and the dry ice/fog machine blowing onto the stage and into the orchestra pit was magnificent.  By the way, go Symphony Silicon Valley for its wonderful performance. 

I cried at the end.  She's waiting for her Prince.  In her beautiful tutu.  And in the back of the stage, the Nutcracker awaits in silhouette.  How haunting and oh so, french!  Not sure about a happy Hollywood ending.  Fantastique.  Go Ballet SJ!!

Holly Trolley

Wait, wait for it, it's the fa la la Holly Trolley!  Doesn't take much to make me squeal with delight.  A swell free holiday service from SJ VTA.  According to this article in the SJ MercThe Holly Trolley was built in Milan, Italy, in 1928 and operated there until the mid-1980s, when the Italian government donated it to the San Jose Trolley Corporation.

So cute inside.  We sat on wooden benches.  If only every day commuting could be like today.  Well, it was a bit noisy -- this video clip captures the noise and the route.  Clang clang clang.  Festive.  Loved it.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

A favorite character of mine is The Grinch.  Alas, though, plant me downtown at Christmas in the Park and I get a little misty seeing kids having a swell time.

Our tree.  My camera does not do it justice.

Each year, The Fairmont San Jose has wonderful holiday displays - this year a gingerbread house.

Last week, I did the Santa Run to help support Christmas in the Park and Downtown Ice, the ice rink surrounded by a circle of palm trees, a classic California scene.

Ah, Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph's.  Miss E asked me to join her for this evening's Season of Hope concert -- her friend, a handsome tenor whose voice brought tears to my eyes was performing.

An interior view of the church.  Lovely concert.  Lovely time with Miss E and her family.

Last year, I joked about Reindeer of Troy in my neighborhood.  Well, somehow, this year, it kinda looks pretty.  My neighborhood is swell and they put up with me, The Grinchie.  Recently, we welcomed Garden to Table, a wonderful project to build sustainable organic farms in urban areas to help our less fortunate neighbors.   Right on my street.   Just another of my favorite things ....

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Santa Baby

A year ago, The Boyfriend and I stumbled upon the first ever Santa Run Silicon Valley, an event to help support our wonderful Christmas in the Park, considered one of the top ten displays in the world.  I jokingly said I would enter the 5k race next year.

Well, here I am.  Did I do any training to prepare for this race?  Ho ho ho ho my belly laughs.  Um, I showed up.  Met my friends and waited for Rudolph and the other reindeer to whisk me away in their sleigh.  Didn't happen.  I expected to walk and maybe run a little bit and hopefully finish the 3 mile course in 45 minutes if I was lucky. 

I don't know what happened but I shot off like a reindeer on steroids.  Okay, a bit of fancy.  I started running (also known as jogging) and essentially never stopped.  I was like, yo Santa, yo Elf, get out of my frigging way.

There's me.  Sweat was pouring off me.  My thighs felt like cement.  I kept pace with this wonderful woman wearing bells and every time I heard her bells, I kept pushing myself.  Running in costume, among a sea of red Santas, some in tutus, others wearing antlers, and so forth, cracked me up and made the event funny and memorable and enjoyable.

I called The BF and said, I'm just about finished.  Actually it was more like I was high as a kite and yelled something crazy into the phone and thank God he understood. He had only just arrived and barely made it to the finish to snap my photo.  It was wonderful to have him there at the end.  Wonderful.

They had milk and cookies for us!  The first place finisher's time was 16.56.  As for me, I exceeded my expectations.  Don't go there, please as to what constitutes expectations....  Results are here along with an interesting graph.

I received a present later but I can't blog about that.

Just the Stats:

Finish:  33.58 with a pace of 10.57
I placed 1,035 out of 3143 finishers

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Tis the Season to be Cold

I wanted to go on  Miss P's club ride but I got stuck with The Boyfriend instead.  Oh oh, I'm in trouble ... Truthfully, it's too cold for 9am starts.  All this week and last, I've braved the cold temperatures on the, wait, wait for it, 1.4 mile ride to work.  Here I am trying to entice The BF with black silk stockings and what's that, could it be Mistletoe above me.  Okay, I'm rolling up wool leggings and top of wool leggings along with two wool jerseys.  Wool, it does a body good.

We intended to bike to Sunol from Cardoza Park in Milpitas.  I amazed myself by getting up Old Calaveras and The Wall.  I attribute my success to the 3 flat miles of biking I do every day to get to work.  Alas, we did not make it to Sunol.  We managed 20 miles.  The BF never felt warm.  I have been trying to convince him about the pleasure of wool and how it does a body good ....  It's not my kind of weather so I have sympathy for him.  Wool stays dry and that's the difference. 

Later, I went to Sports Basement to pick up my costume for tomorrow.  I had ordered a size small but apparently I didn't get the memo that small was for elves.  The girls behind the desk were quite impressed with my abs. and exclaimed what great shape I was in.  They wanted to give me a candy cane.  Which reminds me of last night.  You see, there was a slug on one of my celery stalks.  Funny thing, I had just finished reading an article about introducing delectables from other parts of the world, into our country -- you know, like crickets, horse, and guinea pig.  Not going to happen anytime soon for me .... 

I plan to be naughty and nice for tomorrow's event.  More importantly, it begins at 3pm.  The temperature should be just about right.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

I Got Hitched

Last month, my mother gave me her car.  I had it transported from Virginia.  I always said to no one in particular, well perhaps to The Boyfriend, that when I got a new vehicle, I'd get a bike rack.  Miss P. suggested that I go to Rack n Road.  Thank you Miss P. - best recommendation ever.   I can't say enough about this store's customer service and knowledge.  The BF and I spent close to an hour deciding on the right model for me.  Roof racks are much cheaper but not going to happen for a short person such as myself.

I selected the Kuat Sherpa for 2 bikes.  Beautiful.  It's aluminum and weighs about 28 lbs.  It took an hour and a half to have the hitch installed and the bike rack mounted.  Can't even tell it's part of the car.  Again, I can't say enough about the excellent customer service I received from Rack n Road in San Jose.

Today, The BF and I went for a test spin.  The set up is easy, loading and unloading a breeze.  We only managed to bike 20 miles because biking in 45 degree temperature with an icy wind is not exactly my idea of a good time.   What's with the cold snap!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Trot up Ham

Another Thanksgiving.  And that means time to trot up Mt. Ham!   This year, The Boyfriend and I left a half hour earlier than the start for the LKHC event.  I haven't been on the bike for ages for a number of reasons; and I wasn't sure how I'd fare.  Mr. Bill, in his yellow banana, passed me at about 4.5 miles.  The first wave of LKHCers steamed past me around mile 8.  If you do the math, it's kind of pathetic but I was impressed with myself.  Being surrounded by mostly male cyclists was quite motivating.  Hmm, wonder why...  Here I am at mile 17.53 at 2 hrs. 25 min.  An excellent time for me especially given lack of training.  Please refrain from laughing too much.  It's also where I met The BF coming down, so, I turned around and trotted back down.

There goes The BF.  I practically forgot about the 6'6 Canadian from Ottawa who sat next to me on the plane a few weeks ago.   Ah, I like this view...  Great outing.  I'm back on the bike and ready to trot some more.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Thorn in My Wood

Once again, I am off the bike for a few weeks due to medical reasons.  So, I said to The Boyfriend, "Entertain Me."  To which I expected, you know, a massage, or a manicure, or a pedicure, or bonbons, scallops in butter, a trip to Paris.  I mean really, do I ask for much?

So what does said Boyfriend suggest.  A walk in Thornewood Park in Woodside.  Yes, of course, the first thing I would have thought to do...  oh oh, I'm going to be in trouble when he reads this.

We tried to enter it from 84 but lo and behold, a tree had fallen and the road was not passable.  We entered from Old La Honda, which actually was the nicer entrance.  Our 2 mile or so walk was quite spectacular.  We came across a ranger in uniform, with blond hair, blue eyes ... rangers, firemen, police officers, they seem to be around wherever I am.  The ranger removed the fallen tree!

But of course, I did not notice the ranger with the blond hair and blue eyes, rippling muscles in uniform because I only have eyes for The Boyfriend.

Alas, The BF knows what I need. A good outing in fresh but chilly air, the smell of redwood, pine needles, fallen leaves and earth, to help me get healthy once again.  Though buttery croissants and brie in Montmartre would have probably worked equally as well.  But we had some pie and coffee at the Woodside Bakery and that was just fine.  Especially because I was with my man.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Along the Way

The things you see along the way when you least expect it and that's what makes what you think may be just another bike ride turn out to be enjoyable.  Those are leaves.  Do you see what I see?  A horse.  Naturally, I waited a moment or two for the Knight to appear.  Not today.

The more hands, the merrier ....

My, what big wattage you have ... you light up my life.  It was in the front yard of someone's home in Alviso.  How cool is that.  Gave me a nice jolt. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

LKHC Montebello - Bad on the Bike

I know, I know, you're thinking, "Wow, there's one babe who's bad on the bike."  Yes, I realize how bad ass I look.  How threatening I am to the others who came out for the LKHC season opener -- Montebello.

I haven't been on the road bike since returning from the Eastern Sierras.  Talk about bad.   Train for this?  Ha ha ha, good one.   I tend to just show up and hope for the best. I huffed and I puffed and I tried to be bad.  I didn't finish last!  Time up Montebello - 53.03.  Last year I did it in 51 minutes. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Eastern Sierras - One Last Outing

Saturday, September 21

Despite the miserable forecast, which by the way, worsened for the weekend, with Yosemite closing due to snow, we managed one last outing, a mix of biking and hiking.

A joy this trip was, full of incroyable scenery and fun times during Happy Hour with club members.

The flat part of Horseshoe Meadows, still accessible, the winds kept at bay.

One last moment of joy before the trip came to its end.  Back to the Bay Area we go.  Since Yosemite was closed due to snow, we returned going towards L.A.  Red Rocks Canyon was startling.  We missed the exit for I-5 and ended up on 99 which turned out to be a treat, seeing all the farmlands, and eventually making our way across CA-152 back home. 

Eastern Sierras - Horseshoe Meadows

Saturday, September 21st

Awoke to a forecast of dangerous winds, and alas, the last ride of the trip, a road not traveled before, Horseshoe Meadows, was abandoned.  See the zigzags in the photo above -- that would have been the journey, or at least the first part, since the remaining section is on the backside.

A bit of beauty from the backside, as seen in a car.

And the long descent, keeping in mind that it must be one fun time going down but a long haul going up.  Just the stats:  47 miles from Lone Pine with 6800 feet of climbing to the summit (10,080).  This road is far more exposed than Whitney Portal and Onion Valley.  The weather is always a factor.  The views are spectacular.  Oh well, perhaps another time.

Eastern Sierras - Alabama Hills

Friday, September 20th

After surviving the gusty winds that came from nowhere upon the Whitney Portal descent, time to enjoy the beauty of the Alabama Hills

One imagines that hunters and gathers, tired of the savannah, sneaked away to these boulders for a little rest and relaxation.  There are two entrances to the Alabama Hills -- one being from Movie Road (film locations abound) and the other, from the Horseshoe Meadows/Tuttle entrance, of which these photos were shot.  The movie location is an unpaved road, good for a mountain bike or car, by the way.  Thank you Mark for introducing me to this hidden gem of a ride. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Eastern Sierras - Whitney Portal

Friday, September 20th

Ah, Whitney Portal.  Last year, with lots more photos for your viewing pleasure, I almost had a break down on this climb.  I think any cyclist will tell you that this climb (second to Bristlecone) is far more challenging physically and psychologically than Onion Valley. 

It's only 4600 feet of climbing in 13 miles to the summit (elevation 8371) but the last 5 miles range from 9-11% and so it is grueling.  It wears you down if you're not prepared.  I was determined to conquer this beast, which meant no flirting (well, save for the many motorcyclists and cars who waved and cheered me on).  Thanks to lots of singing and staring at the pavement,  I shattered last year's time to the top. Unfortunately, the winds began to kick up and the descent for almost everyone except The Boyfriend (he came down much earlier) was difficult.  Winds, what winds, he asked.  I was blown sideways, feeling as though I had no control of the bike.   The best part was yet to come -- Alabama Hills.  Next post.

Eastern Sierras - Onion Valley

Thursday, September 19th

Some have described Onion Valley as the hardest climb in California.  Well, if Weenie Woman got up it, last year and this year, then, one must challenge said claim.  I am guessing that it is because in 13 miles, you will climb 5200 feet to the summit (elevation 9,200).

Naturally, The Boyfriend accompanied me on part of the journey, having learned that Ranger Rob among others held my attention.  He wanted to make sure that my dance card was filled with his name only.  At some point along the way, The BF revved up his engines and shot off like a rocket.  I really liked our gang this year (I enjoyed the company of the cyclists from the previous two years as well) because it was clear that everyone was there to have a good time and to go at their own pace.  

Me, at the top.  It was warmer this year, however, with all these mountain descents, one must come prepared with jacket and woolies, just in case.  Apparently, I dazzled some of the cyclists with my singing.  Take note Boyfriend.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Eastern Sierras - Lake Sabrina

Wednesday, September 18th

Last year, we simply could not face doing the 51 mile climb to Lake Sabrina and South Lake.   As was the case this year as well.  What was different this year was that we found ourselves walking in what can only be described as an alien moonscape.  See me.  I should be submerged in water. 

I am walking where the lake should be.  It is odd and startling.  Research about drought and drainage provide little in the way of details and understanding as to what exactly is going on. 

Some of the lake remains.  Here is a website with photos and history of the glory of Lake Sabrina.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Eastern Sierras - Pine Creek

Tuesday, September 17

Today, The Boyfriend and I did another new climb for us -- Pine Creek.  We started from the hotel in Bishop.  44 miles total with 3,550 feet of climbing.  What I consider a classic Desert ride, like I know what that means....

Lookey, there's my man.

We're in the middle of nowhere.  And what should appear?  You guessed it -- a fire truck.  And shortly thereafter, we came upon a fire station.  My kind of day ....

The BF:  Do you call them in advance and let them know that you're in town?
Me:  What can I say, they follow me wherever I go.
The BF:  Apparently.
Me:  What can I say, when you're in demand ....
The BF:  Sigh.

About a mile or so to the summit, we encountered headwinds, so severe, that I, being a weenie woman, unlike my man, had to get off my bike and walk.  About this time, Ranger Rob, with his rippling muscles, spotted what he believed was a woman in distress ...  I had me a mighty fine with Ranger Rob.  Seriously, had I been by myself, I might have asked Ranger Rob for a ride.

Yay, the summit.  And yah, The BF was my hero, having located a source for water.  I forgot all about Ranger Rob. Elevation at this point was 7,425 feet.

Is that man hot or what!  My top speed on descent was 38.5 and his was 47 mph.  The struggle was worth it.  The ride was lovely.  Onto Happy Hour, and well deserved.