Friday, December 25, 2015

Lovely Christmas

Miss P. and I spent today in Half Moon Bay, specifically Princeton-by-the-Sea, near Barbara's Fishtrap restaurant.

We marveled at the scenery, enjoying the serenity of the area.

But even Nature has its moments.  I watched this egret with its yellow feet, dive into the water and chomp away at a little fish.  We also watched a seagull enjoy a freshly caught crab, big enough to be served as an appetizer for us, you know. 

We explored.  We tackled the tide pools, me wishing I had better shoes to deal with the wet and slippery surface.  The ocean was calm in some parts, and violent in others, with waves crashing against the rocks.  Simply a most wonderful time.  And a lovely way to spend Christmas.  Joyful and Peaceful.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

It's Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas

1977, standing in a long line with my brothers in Dale City (Woodbridge, VA), simply unheard of it at the time, to see some movie called Star Wars, and from the get go, we were mesmerized. Why, not because of the incredible special effects, but by a spectacular story line with unforgettable characters, a plot perfectly played out and why certain films capture our imaginations forever and become classics. Though, even back then, I could not stand Princess Leia's hair do. As I matured, I fell out of love with Luke and moved on to Hans....

And here before your eyes is a 150 lb chocolate replica of R2D2 at the Fairmont Hotel, San Jose.  I kid you not.

Another Star Wars chocolate delight created character  in the lobby of the Fairmont, San Jose.  Always, a treat to visit this hotel during the holidays.

Smell the dark chocolate.  It took over 150 hours to create this wonder, weighing in at 200 lbs.

Oh, Dr. Seuss, you bring tears to my eyes.  Concocted of 170 lbs. of white chocolate and icing.  This was in the bar at The Fountain at the Fairmont Hotel, San Jose.  No one was in sight.  I considered sitting at the bar, and saying to no one in particular, "Yes, I'd like a cocktail.  Do pull up a chair, and join me."  And I have a soft spot if you're a fireman or The Boyfriend ....

Seen in the lobby at the Fairmont, San Jose.  Lovely.

Concocted of gingerbread.  Magnificant.

One last parting shot from The Fairmont, San Jose.  Sweet.  My neighborhood has also decorated its lawns, dazzling effects, makes me have hope for our world, to bring joy and peace to all of us.  Do come to downtown San Jose for a visit.  And I have yet to tackle Christmas in the Park.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The University

After I returned the bike to the bike shop and thawed out,  The Boyfriend showed me Princeton University.  Wow, it was spectacular.  I wish I had allocated more time and I wish I had come a few weeks earlier to see the beauty of fall foliage. 

It was like being in England.  Nothing like my campus.

Wow again.

Could have been used for a movie set.

Once in awhile,  I insert a photo that includes The Boyfriend, so you know he truly exists.

The museum, showing an exhibit of Cezanne.  I could have spent hours here.  Much like Stanford's Cantor Museum, it is free and worth a visit.

Alas, my visit came to an end.  Monday morning, The BF put me on the Princeton Dinky and then I continued on the big train to Newark Airport and back home.  We don't always know what life has in store for us.  Who knew that I'd one day go to Princeton.  It was magical.  Thank you Mr. Boyfriend.

Weekend Sightseeing

Time for sightseeing in Princeton.  Where, I ask you, are the firemen.... oh but wait, I have The BF to be an object of my affection.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, The Boyfriend and I went on 30 mile rides (Pennington and other areas) and then he showed me the sights.  He's used to biking hard and fast through the various townships while I wanted to soak up everything at a slower pace.  We saw live deer.  We saw dead deer.  Sunday's ride was a bit miserable because of the low 40s temperature.  My feet and hands were not happy.

Meanwhile, off the bike, he showed me Einstein's house, occupied by someone so we only viewed the exterior. Neato peato.

This is Nassau Hall, an impressive building, a campus and national landmark.  I loved all the architecture as I always do when on the East Coast.  The sense of history, you know.

We also drove through New Hope and Lambertville, two towns that reminded me of Old Town Alexandria in Virginia.  I wish I had taken photos showcasing their charm.  Above is the Delaware and Raritan Canal in Lambertville.  We had a swell time at the The Alchemist & Barrister, a pub in downtown Princeton.  Good food, good atmosphere.  Sunday saved for visiting the university and next blog entry.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Meeting My Prince in Princeton

My Prince, aka The Boyfriend, met me at Princeton Junction.  He took me to his swanky pad off Nassau Street in downtown Princeton where we celebrated Thanksgiving with an Indian meal.  No, the above photo is not his swanky pad but a shot of somewhere in Palmer Square in the downtown area.  Lovely historic and vibrant downtown.  Maybe Los Gatos or Willow Glen in my neck of the woods comes close to the look and feel but neither quite matches the quaintness of a East Coast town. 

Friday morning, we went to Jay's Cycles to rent me a Trek road bike.  I brought my biking shoes.  Cycling in Princeton reminded me of Virginia, especially where my brothers live -- dense wooded areas.  Except in Princeton, everyone lives in fabulous mansions with a lot of land; every other sign was for someone's farm.  I kept wondering, "who mows the lawn, and what are the heating bills like."  There were a lot of open preserve parks and solar panels too, much too my delight.  And signs about no fracking and no pipeline, too.  We lucked out with the weather on our 30 mile trek, very mild temperatures, though of course I was decked out in wool.

Time for some sightseeing.  No, no, no firemen....  Here I am at Washington's Crossing in Bucks County, you know, history, people, history!

Wow, I never thought I'd be here.  The Boyfriend sure knows how to romance me.

Here we are at Bowman's Hill Tower in Pennsylvania.  As I write this blog entry, I learn that the tower is closed today due to weather conditions.  Goodness.   I'm lapping up the history in any case.   Tomorrow is another day.

Welcome to the Garden State

November 24, 2015

4am, I'm on Super Shuttle on the way to SFO.  It's 32 degrees in the Bay Area with frost on cars.  Missing out on LKHC Mt. Ham tradition but certainly not missing that's freaking freezing and there's snow atop the mountain.  5:30am, I'm at the airport.  At 6am, I'm at the gate ready to board at 6:10.  I wasn't sure what to expect having never traveled on Thanksgiving Day but everything went smoothly.  Two days ago, I was in a dentist chair because a crown fell out.  Phew, didn't need root canal surgery, this time. 

I'm on my way to New Jersey.  My mother went to high school in NJ and she took the train to D.C. for work.  She met my dad while commuting.  Oh goody, in flight entertainment.  No, there aren't any firemen aboard.  I shall sit back and watch lots of movies, like the latest Minions film.  The Boyfriend provided detailed instructions for what to do when I land.  I have to take the air train to the train station and then a train to Princeton Junction.  Everyone was super friendly and helpful.  Looking forward to a much needed getaway with my man.

(the photo was taken in Lambertville, a cute little town by the Delaware and Raritan canal, as was New Hope).

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

LKHC Old La Honda

I felt like Cinderella going to the ball, in this case, Low Key Hill Climbs Old La Honda; to be included and dazzled by princes and princesses who climb this classic hill far faster than me.  Of course no one, as far as I know, was particularly entranced by my presence.... I was placed in group six, along with Adam Tow and others, a great bunch, with lots of camaraderie and jokes to my delight.

I didn't want my bicycle to turn into a pumpkin so I scrambled as much as possible to meet the deadline of beating my LKHC 2009 score of 34.02. Alas my knight in shining spandex was not there (aka The Boyfriend) and I did need to wear bike shoes not glass slippers ... still I shot off, armed with an assortment of classical music to keep me inspired.  OLH is full of shadows, greens, blues, browns, with the occasional stream of sunshine.  I mostly stared at the asphalt and pretended to be somewhere else, a lovely ballroom in 19th century Vienna meeting dashing princes. 

Well, my bike did not turn into a pumpkin because I finished with a time of 32.33!  Of course this is laughable compared to others (results page) but I remain pleased.   Afterwards, I descended Hwy 84 and stopped in front of the Woodside fire department, waiting and waiting for the firemen to notice me.  Didn't happen.   Of course I've butchered the Brothers Grimm fairy tale.  No one was wicked, there weren't any evil stepsisters or stepmother either.  A delightful note to my tale though is the lovely 8 year old girl who rode OLH.  We see our LKHC tradition continuing with a new generation.  And that is a happy ending.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Ride to the Cemetery

Happy Halloween!  My favorite holiday of the year.  I think adults should be allowed to go trick or treating ... just saying.  Anyway, today I joined Donny's ride in search of dinosaurs and a cemetery in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  We began on Old Santa Cruz Highway and snaked through Redwood Estates, where we encountered our first dinosaur of the day.  Had I stopped to take a photo, I would never have gotten back on the bike.  I climbed most of the steep pitches save one where I had to walk.

We went under and then over Highway 17 to Summit Road where we explored a number of hilly side roads.  It was ever so fun descending but climbing was ugh, ugh, and ugh.  There were bits where I dropped below 3 mph.  I had dressed in black wool and that was so wrong.  The day heated up quickly and I was roasting.  Easily in the 80s.

After climbing out of Wrights Station, we found the house on Skyland Road,  decorated for Halloween, Another climb.  Ugh.  I was spent and could not do the few remaining miles to visit the dinosaurs.  I turned around and while passing the Summit Store, what do you suppose I saw.  Wait, wait for it, yes sir, a firetruck.  The firemen waved me to pass them.  I think they just wanted to watch me bike... they got their treat, alrighty.  As did I.  I did 25 miles instead of 30 and close to 4,000 feet of climbing. It was a spooktacular ride!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

LKHC Mill Creek Road

 (photo Bill Bushnell)

This week's LKHC event  was a new one for many of us, a beautiful Bay Area backroad -- Mill Creek Road, complete with a resident who has a helicopter.   Today's ride - a time trial.  Battling a cold that wouldn't die, I was determined to venture out because I couldn't pass up on the chance to explore a road not done before.  Guess who showed up as a volunteer, I know, I know, this will mean nothing to most of you, but, it was swell to see Howard again. If nothing else, I know how to look good....

Oh lookey, I appear to be racing and with a male cyclist.  Look at his face of pain.  Look at mine.  Clueless.  We were close to the finish line, a 4.34 mile time trial of rollers and a few steep pitches of 8 percent or so.  Everyone enjoyed themselves, the weather was perfect, the volunteers super but we did have a run in or two with local residents (can someone say sour puss).  Honestly, we behaved, we left no carbon foot print, but, alas, some people were disturbed by our presence.  Such drama is simply not called for especially given much more serious events in our world that demand our attention.

Meanwhile, how did I do?  First off, I was third to go in the time trial before a cast of hundreds.  Or as Miss J. says, "It's because you're social."  Ha ha, you crack me up.  Well, I didn't place last for once.  Get out of town, you say. And according to Dan the Man, I'm up there with most consistent and improved in overall rankings.  Again, not sure this is anything to be proud of, but, one thing for sure, I had a swell time. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Out Without The Boyfriend

At Happy Hollow Zoo (thanks to Elena) for the Heart of the Congo fundraiser supporting the Virunga National Park rangers who protect mountain gorillas.

 I held a lemur's delicate hand, soft like velvet. Exquisite.  Dare I say it, better than dark chocolate, and maybe even ... well, you know. 

Mingled with cockroaches and hung out with a rodent, also known as a porcupine.

Chalk drawing on the sidewalk.  Wonderful event with staff sweet to answer my numerous questions.  No doubt I missed a lot since I was only able to stay a little while (the lingering cold exhausting me).  Til next year.

Out With The Boyfriend

Guess who's in town!

The BF:  I don't care if you have a cold, we're going for a bike ride.
Me:  Why must you torture me.  Listen Mister, if I'm forced to ride in my condition, then, I want some nooky afterwards.
The BF:  What!  You're sick.  I don't want to catch whatever you have.   I won't allow you to germinate me.
Me: I'm going to fire you as my boyfriend.
The BF:  And then you'll hire me right back.
Me:  I'll think about it.  Ooh, we're going to pass firemen on this ride, aren't we.
The BF:  Sigh.

Odd weather.  Heavy overcast, a bit chilly.  Never burned off.  Off we go, starting in Palo Alto along Junipero Serra to Foothill to Stevens Canyon and onto Redwood Gulch, a climb I haven't done in awhile.  Ouch.

He's so handsome.  I stayed behind him so I could stick my tongue out at him as I climbed and sweated buckets from the cold I've had for several days now.  We continued up Highway 9 to Skyline.  Sweet surprise on Skyline, a section that was exquisitely paved, allowing me to simply coast like I was on ice.

Taking a break coming down Page Mill.  Whew, on the home stretch.  Boy, I saw 4 dead deer today.  Yucky.  The weather worsened but we were able to get in a 38 mile ride.  Til I see you again, Mister.

Monday, October 12, 2015

LKHC Page Mill Road 2015

                                                (photo taken by Frank Paysen)

Saturday, October 3rd

Ring, Ring (I'd know that ring anywhere; it was The Boyfriend calling)

BF:  How'd you do on the LKHC Page Mill ride
Me:  Well, hello to you, too, Mister.
BF:  Give me the low down!
Me:  Well, the weather was ever so weird, a dense fog requiring car lights on Hwy 280, I had to wear my cycling woolies and wipe down my wet bike before biking from Shoup Park in Los Altos to the start.
BF:  Who cares.  How'd you do!
Me:  I saw a deer with big ears on Purissma before reaching the registration location.
BF:  What part of "who cares" did you not grasp?
Me:  Listen Mister, I'm telling the story from start to end.
BF:  Yes, Ma'am.
Me:  Biking in the Los Altos Hills was like I imagine a fall ride on the East Coast to be.  Fallen leaves, colorful Autumn foliage, damp, quiet, mysterious.
BF:  Oh for Pete's sake.
Me:  Alrighty, I thought if the weather doesn't clear by the time I get to registration, I am so not doing this for safety reasons but Cara was informed by residents that Page Mill was clear and good to go.
BF:  Go on.
Me:  Rather than be in the last group of the day, Dan the Man said it was okay for me to start by myself and self-time.  That way I could see some action for once as riders caught up to me!
BF:  I'm listening.
Me:  You should be.  So, I started at 9:45am.  The first wave of riders were scheduled to start at 10:10am.
BF:  And.
Me:  I put my head down, stared at the ground, zoned out listening to music, and shot off.
BF:  Go Girl.
Me:  At around mile 5.98, the national champion who joined our party passed me but he also said something to me.
BF:  He did!
Me:  Yes, and that's between him and me.
BF:  Shut up.
Me:  Then Mr. Bill passed me and Miss P in the car going to the top.  Or maybe they were first and then it was the national champion.  I can't remember.  And then more riders and Dan, too.
BF:  Go, go, go.
Me:  Guess what!  I got to the section where the two parks are on either side of the road, and someone shouted, "Green Ninja!"  I practically peed in my panties.  It was EC, a professor at my university who is part of the Green Ninja project.  I am a climate action hero, or at least I try to do my part.  That made my day and how I fared in the "race" didn't matter.

                                            (photo taken by Bill Bushnell)

The stretch between Gate 3 and 4 is, how should I put it, a bitch.  I am a recreational cyclist (get out your hankies).  I do Page Mill Road maybe once or twice a year. I don't train like many who showed up today (impressive cyclists!).  It is something I do because it allows me the opportunity to help my heart, be with friends, and appreciate the beauty of the Bay Area.   I forced myself to get through the difficult parts and to simply keep going.

How'd I do?  Well, of course, I placed last but ... in 2006 (different bike), I timed 75.34, in 2011, I timed 66.54 and today:  66 minutes. 

My secret:  mixing tofu with one egg and one egg white scrambled for breakfast plus sheer determinism. 

The BF was proud and supportive.

I am a Green Ninja super action hero cyclist.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

LKHC Montebello 2015

Hmm, I was tempted to go to the wedding.  But no, it's that time again to kick off the Low Key Hill Climb season!  Here I go again ....

Ring ring from somewhere on the East Coast --

The BF:   Did you start the season off with a record breaking ride?"

Let's discuss.

Do I train for this event?
Do I just show up and hope for the best?
Do I generally finish last?

I rolled out of bed like I do most mornings, thinking about doing yoga (not), wondering at what hour I may have chocolate (yes), hoping I see firemen (yay) ... okay, last month I did a practice run (surprise) to get a sense of when I would wimp out, fatigue, whine, wish I was somewhere else, la dee dah.  It actually paid off.

 (photo from Wink Saville Media)

We had a good turnout, the weather was perfect (hello, we live in California), 14 women registered this year (yay), a couple of runners, a boy (he's going places), some newbies (wonderful) and a few tandems.

It's Hammer Time.  No time for me to be weenie.  Give it my best shot. 

To answer The BF's question.  Well, hot diggity darn.  Why, yes, yes, I did.  Sort of.  Some stats:

2008:  55.58 (different bike)
2011:  54.53
2012:  51.05 (whoa, who was that chick)
2013:  53.05
2014:  57.47 (sigh)
2015:  54.54

Not earth shattering but frigging way better than last year.  The newly paved road surface might have been a factor.  I ought to get an award for most times finishing last!  And damn proud of it.  I do it because it's fun, it's challenging, and it makes me feel alive.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Up, Down and all over in San Benito and Monterey Counties

Mini road trip with Miss P.  Club ride today with our incredible leader Marcia starting in lovely San Juan Batista.  We covered 32 miles beginning in San Benito County and dipping into Monterey County. 

First climb of the day -- up San Juan Grade.  We were fortunate to have a breeze. 

Time to go down.  Yay.  I let the others go ahead of me, you know, in case the aliens were lurking ....  Several years ago, I waited here while The BF descended and then climbed back up.  I was excited to have the chance to bike it. 

Clearly, evidence of an alien ship landing on San Juan Grade.  As we know, tomorrow is a blood moon and no doubt, the aliens are delighted.

Next we climbed Crazy Horse Canyon.  Too much traffic but probably helped to keep the aliens away.  Eventually we made it to Aromas, a lovely little town.  With a library!

Guess what was next to the library.  Yes, the old firehouse!  I did not see any firemen.  They were probably out searching for aliens, and keeping me safe.

More climbing, this time on Carr.  Today's ride can be summed up by saying, climb, descend, climb, descend, repeat.  Great workout.  Here we are about to descend when this caught my eye.

On Anzar through Eucalyptus.  We had the option to do Forest/School Rock, an offshoot, but, next time.  Some of today's route was familiar.  I've done bits of it with The Boyfriend and also doing the Strawberry Fields Forever tour with Miss P.  We did indeed see fields of strawberries and cabbage growing here and there.  No sightings of aliens.  Yay.  Returning through downtown San Juan Batista was a nice way to end a great ride.