Thursday, August 25, 2016

On a clear day......

8:21 am - Thursday - It was 36 F degrees earlier this morning!  Taking into consideration that the high Wednesday was 80, that is a 44 degree swing overnight.  For the first time since late June we had both of our built in electric heaters cranking out heat this morning.  The weather continues to be perfect......sun, blue skies and no wind.

Wednesday looked a lot like Tuesday......I worked on a couple of bikes for friends in the morning and in the afternoon we took a ride......a ride over to Lakeview Commons at El Dorado Beach.  It's about 4.5 miles each way, and much of the distance can be ridden on paved bike paths that run almost to Stateline.....

Our two 'dumpster diving' beach chairs

Nothing like a 'pano' for perspective

 Note the color variations in the water as it gets deeper, plus the 'sea' plane, and para sailors, too.

......we arrived at Lakeview Commons about 2:30 and sat relaxing, reading and just plain enjoying the amazing view looking northward.  On a side note, the beach chairs you see in the above pictures were recovered earlier this summer from dumpsters.  They are both, obviously, used, but are in pretty good shape.  They both have shoulder straps on them so they can be easily slung on our backs for walking, or a bike ride.  When it's time to depart TVC we'll store them in one of the maintenance sheds until our return next year.

Of course, being so close to Sidellis Lake Tahoe Brewing, we had to stop by on our way home for a couple of brews and an early dinner before continuing our trek homeward.......

We love this table as we park our bikes on the other side of the lattice fencing seen in the background enabling us to keep an eye on them.

.....we arrived back home just begore 7 pm, and settled into another evening fire.  A few minutes after I lit the fire  we were joined by fellow nomads Brian and Maria (30 somethings) whom we met our first year on the road when we stopped off briefly at Cedar Key, FL........the aforementioned cold chased us indoors by 8:40.  We watched Masterchef, and were in bed by 10:30.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Grapefruit.....

8:36 am - Wednesday - Weather: Sunny, clear blue skies, no wind, 45 degrees.  Ever get tired of perfect weather?  No, me neither.....I just need something to complain about once and a while.

Tuesday was a perfect day for me.....I tuned up 3 bikes for friends, and cleaned my Intense 5.5 up from our trip to Mammoth.  I had the tunes going all day in the trailer, and the time just melted away......one of my favorite ways to spend a day.  TLE spent the day reading (one of her favorite things to do), and running a few loads of wash through the splendid Splendide.

Around 4 pm we mounted our trusty Cannondales and rode 4.6 miles (we covered about 9.3 miles in all) out to Meyers to try a new to us restaurant, Verde Mexican Rotisserie.  We had seen this restaurant across US-50 from Getaway Cafe for the past two summers, but had never given it a try until Tuesday.  Yelp gives them 4.5 stars on 145 reviews.....that's pretty impressive, and so is their food!   I ordered two fish tacos, and TLE a chicken quesadilla.....we both loved our entrees.  In addition they do offer four draft brews......Corona, Pacifico, Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin (IPA), and a fourth I cannot remember......why?  Well, I stopped at the Ballast Point offering and decided on a pint to chase my food......TLE ordered the same, and we both thoroughly enjoyed it.....there is just a hint of grapefruit in the background.  A very refreshing brew!  Ironically, the Ballast Point website suggests paring this offering with fish.....



......and, by the way, the fish tacos and quesadilla were wonderful.  We ate alfresco.....no surprise there......and sat in the shade of a market umbrella enjoying the evening air for over an hour before beginning the return ride to TVC.  We had a little head wind on the way out to Meyers, so it was nice to be chased home by a tailwind!

For an encore we decided to have a fire, drink some grapefruit (see a trend here?) margaritas, and smoke (me) a couple of cigars........


.....as I have said before, a great day deserves an appropriate ending!  We sat by the fire until almost 8 pm listening to music, and just enjoying the Tahoe air.....there is nothing like it.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

38%

9:51 am - Tuesday - Went to bed about 12:30 am this morning, and didn't get out of bed until 9:15 am this morning......I needed that!  Slept like a brick, as they say.  Clear blue, sunny skies once again.

We are officially down to 38% occupancy as of Monday morning....wow....these are like mid June numbers.  We had 13 arrivals on Monday, and an equal number of departures.  TVC feels like a tomb compared to the prior 7 weeks.

I spent time installing new hydraulic disc brakes on TLE's Cannondale F600.....like mine, her original disc brakes were just worn out so I bought her new brake levers, calipers and rotors.  I found out while removing her rear rotor that part of her problem had been a somewhat warped rotor, which made it almost impossible to adjust her rear brake.  Well, now she has 'new' everything and should be good to go for another 10 years.

The weather finally changed Monday morning......we had heavy cloud cover all day Monday, a lot of thunder late afternoon, and finally actual rain for about 15 minutes around 6 pm!  Our first rain, although probably not measurable, since mid June.  While brief, it was enough to settle the dust.

We reported for work at 3:25 pm, and were immediately swept into the boredom vortex that has gripped TVC for the past week.  As I drove around the park I was startled at how empty it looks.......



......usually you cannot see that far down this row in Section G!  Of course, there are always things that need to be done, but get put off in favor of more important things when we are super busy, so I grabbed a broom and headed out back to sweep off the tether ball courts (big round concrete slabs) and all of the concrete around the office/store.....that kept me busy for a couple of hours.....I was eventually chased inside briefly by the rain.

I don't know if I have ever put a picture of our very nice pool area in the blog, so here is an evening picture for your viewing pleasure...... 


.......pretty clear, huh?  The pool closes each night at 8 pm, and then I check the chlorine and PH levels and adjust either, or both as necessary.  Johhny, our day time pool guys does most of the heavy lifting every morning cleaning the filters, backflushing the filtration system, adjusting the chlorine and PH levels, sweeping, etc.  After I check the pool I add water as needed.....this night I needed to add no water as the pool had hardly been used due to the cloud cover, and cool temperatures all day.

Another thing I enjoy when we are not so busy is being able to stop and talk with our long term customers (those who are here all summer).  They are kind of a sounding board for me.....I get a feel for what is going on in the park during the day when I am not on duty, and respond to their concerns as needed.  Many of these folks have spending their summers here at TVC for 20-30 years!  They are all very interesting people, and I love how much they love TVC, and care about the park.

Once again we clocked out around 11 pm as there was nothing else to do.  We've been averaging 7 hours a night the past week, or so, and it is actually nice to get home early. We haven't had a call on the Ranger Phone for 2 weeks......sweet!

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Back to regular programming.....

8:59 am - Monday - Awoke to very cloudy skies this morning......now that's a change!  Temps will be in the 70's for the next week......looking forward to the cooler temps.

We were up a little after 6 am Sunday, walking across the street to Schat's Bakery by 7:15 to buy a couple cups of coffee and some pastry.....TLE had a croissant and I an apple fritter.  We sat for 30 minutes talking about our weekend, and then headed back to our motel to pack our stuff in the car.  We were in the VW rolling northward on US-395 for home listening to one great tune after another on Sirius-XM Classic Vinyl just before 8:30 am, and rolling into Carson City 90 minutes later.  The drive was totally uneventful, but the scenery and music were spectacular!    

We picked up a few things at Trader Joe's, fueled up at Costco ($2.39/gallon for premium) and then headed for Supercuts where I had my ears lowered before we headed up US-50 over Spooner Summit and back into the Tahoe Basin.  We arrived home just before 1 pm, and were unpacked and relaxing in advance of our afternoon/evening shift 20 minutes later.

We watched the USA men whip Serbia by 30 points in the gold medal basketball game, the last official sporting event of the 2016 Rio Olympics, took a nap, and reported for duty at 3:25 pm.  In some ways if felt like we hadn't been gone for almost 3 days.......

Back in the saddle

.....the park is still quite empty....still hovering around 50% occupancy.  TLE says we have 182 arrivals on the Friday leading into the Labor Day weekend, so I looks like we'll be close to 100% for 3-4 days, and then things will really get empty.

All evening we had thunder and lightning, but no rain other than sprinkles here and there.....I was sure it was going to rain.  We were off by 11 pm.......just not enough to keep us busy for our full 8 hour shift.  I had to quiet down folks in a couple of sites, but by the time we arrived home just after 11 the park was quiet.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

My friend Paul.....

9:22 pm - Saturday - I met Paul Hood back in 1992 while mountain biking in Chino Hills State Park when I was a mere 42 years old.  He was just 29 at the time......he and his pre-teen son were riding together.  I was by myself as I usually was.....I since have become smarter.  Not a good idea to go mountain biking by yourself when you might find yourself miles from civilization at any given point......what if you injure yourself and no one knows where you are?

Well, anyway, Paul is a very outgoing guy.....some might even say brash.  I was  a little offput by him at first blush, but he invited me to go riding with he and his son the next weekend, and I was always looking for someone to ride with, so I accepted.  That was the beginning of what is now a 24 year friendship and well over a thousand miles of mountain biking.  

In 1994 I introduced Paul to the Mammoth Mountain Bike Park, and that was the beginning of many adventures.  This was at the very beginning of full suspension mountain bikes......I began riding in 1989 right at the beginning of the mountain bike boom, and my first bike was a Specialized Rockhopper......ridged fork and tail.  Over the years we have both spent thousands of dollars on the latest technology updating, and upgrading our rides......and over the years our riding group has grown.......

1993 - Chino Hills State Park - Paul took this picture of me on my first full suspension bike....a Proflex 752 (Proflex was later bought by K2).

 2007 - Mammoth Mountain

 2008 - Mammoth Mountain

2013 - Claremont Wilderness Park

2012 - Chino Hills State Park

2007 - Mammoth Mountain

2006 - Mammoth Mountain - lunch at the Yolder

 2014 - Mammoth Mountain

 2005 - Mammoth Mountain - it snowed

 2005 - Mammoth Mountain - the weekend after Labor Day!  We began our ride in a blizzard!

2014 - Mammoth Mountain - riding the gondola to the top

2016 - Mammoth Mountain.....the two old guys have still got it!

......Paul just turned 54, and I will be 67 in less than 2 months......we're both 24 years older.....our bodies are beginning to display the ravages of time.....we don't ride as fast, or as recklessly as we once did.  We used to say to each other when out riding trails that we referred to affectionately as 'HIGH CONSEQUENCE' if you made a mistake.......if our wives knew where we were riding they would not have let us out the front door that morning....sometimes there were 500 foot sheer drop offs and the trails we rode were just 12 inches wide with no room for error.

We have shared hardship, danger, and adventure together always having each other's back.  We have ridden some epic rides together.....some as long as 75 miles in a single day......a lot of miles for a mountain biker.  There were times when we overextended ourselves and were so exhausted we wondered if we would make it back home that night......literally......when one of us was down the other would always get the other going again.....one time Paul pushed my bike and his for 3 miles until I could recover enough physically to get back on my bike.  One time we literally pulled into his driveway on our bikes after a 14 hour ride just after sunset.

If I was in trouble and I called Paul, I know he would be there as fast as he could, and the same goes for me.  Most of the people I rode with prior to going fulltime are at least 13 years younger than I (Paul), or younger than my oldest son, Chris, who turns 44 this year (Brenda, Richard, Ryan, Mark.....you know who you are).  I have always been the old guy in the group.....now that I am gone, Paul says he has taken my place as the senior citizen.  His knees hurt him more as he gets older, and he cannot ride as many miles, or hours as he once did.....I'm just getting older and think more about 'what if'.......what if I have a bad crash (my last bad crash was 1999 when I broke my left collar bone).....it takes longer for us older guys to heal now, so we go slower, and ride fewer miles.  Paul is one of those friends who will always be a friend, even when we are too old to ride mountain bikes anymore.

This weekend was kind of a celebration of our mountain bike friendship, which has spanned 24 years......it was just Paul and I this weekend riding the 'Off The Top' trail (begins at 11,052' elevation.....way above timberline) one more time.........stopping periodically to take in the wonderful views, and reminisce about our long friendship and all the great epic days we have had together.  We didn't go particularly fast today, but we probably had the best time we have both had in years.....no young guys pushing us to go faster.  We only covered 22 miles today, and only did two runs.  Back in the day we would have covered 22 miles by 10 am, and been aiming for 50 for the day.  Those 50 mile days are now in our collective rear view mirrors, but the memories are strong, and the friendship even stronger.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Mammoth.......

6:45 am - Saturday - Here we are at Mammoth Mountain, so you know the 143 mile drive south went as planned.  We were in bed by 10:30 pm, hence the early hour.  I'll meet my long time friend, Paul Hood, for breakfast in an hour and then we will head to the 'Adventure Center' to ride the gondola to the top of Mammoth Mountain (11,000' elevation) to begin our first run of the day in their mountain bike park.

We were both up before 8 am Friday in anticipation of our weekend adventure, and were hoping to be in the VW driving south before 11 am.....as it turned out we departed TVC at 10:30 am on the dot.  Traffic over to Stateline was terrible, and it took us over 40 minutes to get over Kingsbury Grade and into the Carson Valley, but once we were past Gardnerville, NV we began to make good time.

We arrived in Walker, CA right at 12 pm and stopped, as planned, at Walker Burger for two of their famous Walker 1/4 lb. burgers with fries.  They have this funky alfresco dining area adjacent to the burger stand, which we love.......



......we continued our drive south along the Walker River passing through Bridgeport, and then over Conway Summit, the highest elevation point along US-395, where we took a brief break to take our traditional 'summit picture' looking southward toward Mono Lake and Lee Vining, CA......



.....we arrived at Mammoth Mountain just after 2 pm, and were checked into our motel room by 2:30......we walked across the street to the small 'Outlet Mall' where TLE spent some time......not too long.....shopping in Bass Shoes outlet store for some black boots.....she found a pair at a good price and we were off to Liberty Sports Bar for a couple of drinks before we headed back to our room to rest up before dinner.......


.....we always eat at least one meal at Gomez' Mexican Grill over at the Village, and that is where we headed a little after 6......we were, frankly, still a little full from our Walker Burgers so we just ordered a carafe of Cadillac Margaritas and an appetizer (Mexi Fries) and sat enjoying the balmy evening air.  They have live music each night at the Village, and this night they had a band playing Brazilian music, which we thoroughly enjoyed.......





.....the elevation here at Mammoth Mountain is about 1700 feet higher than SLT, but it feels the same to me.

We were home by 8:30 and settling into the evening before heading to bed around 10:30......a nice first day at Mammoth.....Saturday we will hit the trails!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, August 19, 2016

The 'bear' facts.....

8:31 am - Friday - Up early......today is getaway day.....headed south to Mammoth Mountain in a couple of hours!  Greeted by another cloudless day.....so what else is new?

Thursday was another warm day.....the high was 85.  I worked on the bike of one belonging to the son of Miguel (head ranger).....the rear wheel was out of true causing it to rub constantly against the rear brake.  I readied my mountain bike stuff (shoes, body armor, tools, etc.) for our trip south all the while watching the USA women indoor volleyball game versus Serbia.  Serbia won the tie breaking set 15-13, so the USA women will play for the bronze.....a very disappointing loss!

We reported for our shift at 3:28 pm to find things very, very quiet......another quiet day/night.....only 36 departures, with 52 arrivals for Thursday.  The park stands at 55% occupancy and will not get much higher this weekend.  I spent time outside watering the grass by the horseshoe pits, the swimming pool, the front entrance island, and the island at the entrance to the group sites.  We're hoping our work this summer to get grass growing again will payoff next spring

Our local brown bears have been very active the past week.....I have seen at least one bear every single night lately, the most startling was when we pulled up to the restrooms in Section E Wednesday night about 10:30 pm.....just as I stopped the cart I heard a loud 'CLUNK', and asked TLE if she heard it.......we both turned around to find a 500 lb. brown bear sitting on top of one of the dumpsters.....less than 10 feet away.  Yup, our brown bears are 'dumpster divers', and very good at it. Fortunately, they are not very aggressive, and do not break into cars, RV's, or tents, but they love our dumpsters!

We are back to a full moon here in the Tahoe Basin.....caught this shot about 11:15 pm last night......


......Thursday night was very slow, and we ended up clocking out about 11:10 pm.....everything quiet, and yes one more bear sighting near the office/store just before we clocked out.

We're off to Mammoth within 2 hours......yay for us!  Thanks for stopping by!