Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Summer Vacation part 4

This little park (they actually call it a warming station) is full of weary cyclists and Mexican family reunions but no Linda and Sarah. Could they have passed us while our heads were down? Not likely. I send Katie to backtrack because someone needs to stand here and wait.

7 minutes later Katie returns with missing family in tow. They had stopped back a ways on the trail thinking it was the cut off point to head up to the bridge and didn't want to cover any unnecessary ground or double back once we realized our mistake. There was no mistake, before me coiled like half mile snake was the road to the bridge and I'm not sure but I think I saw a mountain goat dead on the side of the road. We had a family pow-wow, I explained that we didn't have to actually cross the bridge, we saw the bridge and that was good enough. But it was no use, I could see it in their eyes . . . must cross bridge.

Like Pickett's last charge we mounted up and prepared to take the summit. Linda and I got about 200ft before our handlebars (not to mention our legs) shook uncontrollably and we had to dismount and start walking. Sarah and Katie disappeared around one of the 57 bends. It wasn't long before we spotted them ahead walking their bikes along the side of the road while being rudely passed by BMWs and Tour de France wannabes.

Once the terrain leveled out to just uphill, we swung a leg over and started peddling again. We assumed the position - heads down thighs burning and pressed on. Katie and Sarah once again passed us by but this time we kept riding. Finally I saw Katie stopped ahead on a "landing" waiting for us. When I reached her I looked around and, you guessed it, no Linda and Sarah. One should have been ahead of me one behind but no sign of either. Just as I was about to take my post waiting and sending Katie to look for them, we spotted them walking their bikes up the hill.

Apparently Sarah turned off at a parking lot. Linda suspected as much and turned off looking for her. Sarah just needed a little privacy for a technicolor yodel. Perhaps clam chowder wasn't the best choice.

We were almost there! We could smell the exhaust. Finally we roll onto the bridge, cyclists whizzing by us in both directions, we take in the view, we are high but apparently not high enough - it's all uphill to the other side. Did I mention it was windy? Well, we made it, it's all downhill from here . . . . right?

Monday, July 30, 2007


Summer Vacation part 3

Did I mention the wind? I kept thinking if we just come back the same way I will hardly have to peddle, just sit up and use my girth as a sail and make back all that effort I am now expending.

We get to the 100 yard incline. The bike people call it a 100 yard incline because it sounds much better than "big ass hill" but perhaps it's all a matter of perspective. For us Texans if you see your buddy standing in the road about a mile in front of you and you don't see eye to eye one of you is on a hill. Most of the way up the "incline" we paused to take in the view and some much needed oxygen.

OK so we are getting a little tired but everyone is hanging in there and we can see most of the bridge now. Perhaps we will just ride to it's base look up and marvel then ride the wind home.

At some point while riding along the water the bike path turned to sandy gravel, still navigable but the peddles get a little stiffer and the occasional mini sand storms are a bonus. Oh well, except for the incline it's still fairly flat and we need to make it to the bridge. With heads down and thighs burning we push on.

We finally make it to the little park beneath the bridge. At least 2 of us do. Katie and I look at each other. We lost Linda and Sarah.


Summer Vacation part 2

While walking along the Wharf we stopped at a very cool arcade. It had machines from days gone by, some from the early 1900s. There were mechanical fortune tellers, player pianos, giant diorama like displays the size of a king size bed where all the little people and animals would move and spin for only 25 cents and the predecessor to Foosball.

We began to see signs for bike rentals and stands with lines of high tech bikes and people being launched by very helpful looking attendants. Everyone looked happy. Right there under one of the billboards next to a bike stand were brochures touting the pleasures of a leisurely ride over the Golden Gate Bridge. Linda was intrigued, Katie was pumped, Sarah was apprehensive, I was torn. We talked Sarah into it, she was being a good sport and willing to take one for the team. The 4 year old across the street has spent more time on a two wheeler than Sarah and Katie have combined. Linda's and my cycling routine consists of once around the neighborhood once a month. But it was a nice day, we were all feeling good and just slurped down a little fresh clam chowder in one of those cute bread bowls for good measure. We were on a roll (get it? a roll, . . . bread bowl, cycling - it's a pun).

We decided to rent from one of the locations at the other end of the Wharf so it would be closer to the bridge and there would be less people and traffic to deal with. Remember that free parking space? It is close to part of the Wharf, but not the part where we are now. We make our way up the 30 degree incline. Without the use of oxygen or a Sherpa we make it to the car. Equipment is gathered, organized and distributed. Linda decides to pull a quick change in the back of the van, almost passes out from heat prostration. Back down the hill to start that leisurely ride.

We are greeted by some of those happy attendants, they are from Ireland. they give us a briefing, something about all bike paths, only 100 yards uphill, cross the bridge, downhill all the way to Sausalito, bike rental location in Sausalito and ferry boat back home. Sounds pretty good. they cheerfully outfit us with our trusty steeds, supply maps and launch us on our way. Within no time we are peddling along the sea wall taking in the sights.

Gee that bridge looks far away, and you know, there is a lot of wind here by the water. Oh well, at least it's flat and we are on bike paths. We can turn around at any time.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


What we did on our Summer vacation

The week of July 21st we went west, all the way to the edge of the continent. We flew into San Francisco, arrived around midnight our time but we decided to seek out a western delicacy called "In n Out Burger". Their specialty . . . . burgers. They have about 8 items on their menu which comprise of burgers, frys, sodas and shakes. Simple fresh and delicious - two thumbs up from us. Of course, lost amongst the industrial parks and seedy neighborhoods around the SFO airport gets no thumbs up. With bellies full and dog tired we GPS our way to our hotel and crash (fall asleep quickly).

Sunday we set out to explore the city. We were there for vacation about 8 years ago and did many of the tourist mainstays like Alcatraz and Coit tower. This time we covered some familiar ground like Lombard St (the crookedest street in the country) and Fisherman's Wharf and thought we might try something different. We had got an early start, traffic wasn't bad, it was cool yet bright and sunny, we found a free parking place close to Fisherman's Wharf. At this point the hairs on the back of my neck should have been standing up like porcupine quills.

This idyllic scene was about to spiral into the depths of Hyades.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Wedding on the beach

As you may know, this past 4th of JulyPatty got married! On the beach! His name is Jay and he has two boys. We just got a bunch of photos on a CD so I though we would share them with our readership. Like always you can click on the picture to get a bigger version

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Ghostly plastic bathtoy flotilla nears UK coast

Residents of the western UK and Irish coasts have been warned to expect an invasion by a vast flotilla of ghostly, immortal albino plastic ducks, according to reports.

The tale of the floating, whitened bird-simulacra migration is a strange one, dating back many years. It seems that the plastic bathtime companions were originally made in China. They were on their way to America in 1992 when a terrible storm struck their vessel in mid-Pacific, and shipping containers holding 30,000 of the hapless playthings were washed overboard.
A majority of the ducks - at that stage still tinted a healthy yellow - headed south, many of them reportedly finishing up in Australia, where they were doubtless accorded the traditional hostile reception.

Ten thousand of the plastic anatidaens, however, went north, embarking on an endless odyssey across the world's oceans. Like the legendary Captain Vanderdecken in his ill-omened ghost ship the Flying Dutchman, the flocks of plastic kiddy-pals seemed doomed to roam the oceans for eternity.

The luckless fleet of cursed, wandering sea-going toys - Flying Duckmen, perhaps - circled the northern Pacific for some years before a fresh horror befell them as they drifted into the Arctic. Here they became frozen into the pack ice, suffering untold torment in their icy prison as they slowly transited past Greenland into the Atlantic.

Bleached pale by their hellish polar ordeal, the doomed ducks drifted onward. Thawed-out plastic voyagers have landed since the turn of the century in New England, Iceland and Canada, and one may have been found in the western Hebrides in 2003. A retired American oceanographer named Curtis Ebbesmeyer has monitored the ducks' progress for the past 15 years, and it's his prediction that the plastic playthings' perpetual peregrination may now be headed this way. Ebbesmeyer briefed the Evening Standard yesterday, saying that "We're getting reports of ducks being washed up on America's eastern seaboard.

It is now inevitable that they will get caught up in the Atlantic currents and will turn up on English beaches. Cornwall and the South-West will probably get the first wave of them.

The Times claims that the globe-trotting bath toys have become collectors' items, and sell for $1000. If true, this could mean another greed-crazed beachcomber salvage flotsam bonanza frenzy, with hordes of opportunists descending on Cornish beaches hoping to get rich on the sea's pale, plastic bounty. We say: bad luck will surely come to those who seek to profit from the Flying Duckmen. Interfere with their eternal voyage at your peril.

I usually write my own copy but I don't think I could have topped this (copied above) blurb from the blog http://www.theregister.co.uk/

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