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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Morning Run

Saturday Dec. 19 dawned cold and wet. The temperature downtown Martinez was a balmy 48 degrees with a dew point of 45. At around 600' in the hills west of Alhambra Ave. the temperature was at or below the dew point. I know, because we got lost - trail running in the fog.

We know those trails reasonably well, though never covering all of them. Last time we were there - a few weeks ago - Vince and I explored a new route and managed to find our way out at approximately where we expected. This time we decided to attempt to run that route in reverse. That was only one in a series of decisions which guaranteed a little excitement.

Another of those decisions was to diverge from the somewhat familiar path and take an alternate trail at the first of many trail splits. Several minutes of rather difficult climbing later, we encountered the next split in the trail. Visibility was well under 100', nothing looked familiar, and the typical landmarks on distant peaks or in surrounding valleys were useless. We could have retraced our steps at that point, since we were already 2 miles into our run, but true to form, we basically flipped a coin and pressed on.

Once we made that turn we committed to being truly lost. At each intersection we would compare opinions, and consistently agree that we had no idea where we were. We'd sometimes stop to listen for the fog horns out on the river, or the traffic from Highway 4 nearby, but even then couldn't be sure which way was out. At one point we compared perceptions regarding the compass headings, and found we were working with realities approximately 90 degrees divergent from one another. His North was my East.

Those who know me AT ALL will understand why at that point I gladly gave up my perception of reality for his, knowing that I'm capable of getting lost in a mall parking lot with no cars and one exit.

After alternating between left turns and right turns for a while, Vince recognized a trail that we had taken earlier (good thing 'cause I didn't) - but we were headed back down it in the same direction as before. Yeah - great big circle. At least then we knew which way not to go.

I used the GPS tracking on my phone to track this route - so we at least know where we were
Even if we didn't know where we "are."

After about 45 minutes of wandering at high speed, we did begin to recognize the trails and set out with more certainty.

We made it out.


I sit here this morning, another foggy morning, the day after Christmas itching to get back out there and run. Christmas Eve I rode the mountain bike from home, to Radio Shack looking for a new power cord for our newly inoperable DSL modem, then continued up to Briones Peak and back. (Don't get your AC Adapters from Radio Shack - I went to Fry's later and found it for a third of the price)

The modem now works.

Obviously - if you're reading this.

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Death Ride 2010

I think I can wait till after Christmas to start training.
This year - under 10 hours.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Snow Cycling

It snowed here in the San Francisco Bay Area and gave the news outlets a diversion from the typical political, economic, and global warming banter. Wait - global what?

It DOESN'T snow here, except a couple of times a year we are able to see a dusting at the higher elevations. Sunday night and Monday morning we got plastered - down to just a few hundred feet, making quite a spectacle of the foothills surrounding the Diablo Valley.
Mt. Diablo is still spectacular 2 days later.

Providence led me on Monday to an unexpected - though not unlikely - afternoon adventure.

The first act of Providence, was that a midnight feeding (The baby, not me) rolled my waking time back an hour, placing me on highway 680 South between Martinez and Concord at day break, unlike the darkness that I prefer. As I merged onto Hwy 4 I glanced to the east and saw the eastern hills and what was visible of Mt. Diablo below the lingering clouds glowing in the dim light. It DID snow - a LOT! I was instantly mentally rearranging my day.

The second act of Providence was that I received a text message from a fellow adventurer, Chris, who was interested in skiing our local ski slopes. I affirmed my desire to play in the snow - not sure how skiing was going to happen without lifts, and with the road up Diablo closed. His second text hinted at a willingness to ride his mountain bike up - and my preoccupation converted into pure distraction. Office work was quickly becoming impossible. Processing payroll seemed stunningly dull. The morning dragged by, as I imagined the sun melting all the snow.

I had an afternoon appointment which set the scene for Providence's final act. My afternoon appointment canceled. I called Chris, we set up a rendezvous, and I started the process of organizing the thermal layers. Ella was wanting to see the snow also, which after warning her of the risks involved ("You will get very cold"), guaranteed this adventure would be worthy of bringing the camera along.

The ride was thrilling, and though difficult, was not as hard pulling the trailer bike as I thought it would be. In doing so, I unwittingly nearly completed another of this year's goals - pulling Ella to the top of Mt. Diablo. The road was closed to even cyclists at the ranger station, and between the steep grade of the trails and the setting sun, we wisely turned back shy of the top.

When it started spitting snow on the climb at around 1000' we were excited. When it started collecting on our helmets we were like kids at a carnival. We had no expectation of it actually starting to snow again, and couldn't have been more pleased. Ella got her time in the snow, and we got our adventure, nearly making it worth the frigid descent.

Yeah, it was cold on the way down. The climb kept us warm - even to the point of sweating. But playing in the snow chilled us, and the wind chill finished us off. My finger tips hurt for hours. We figure the wind chill was in the teens if not single digits up around 2000'.

As always - Well worth it.

Chris posted a compilation of video he took on the ride - available here. It's a long download, so be patient.

Also, Channel 7 caught us on video as we neared the Ranger Station at around 2,000'.
Fast forward to about 2 minutes into the video.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas Child

Our 2nd beautiful daughter is a mere 7 and 1/2 pounds with a soaking wet diaper, but has managed to blast a monstrous hole in our day to day routine, leaving only shreds of recognizable normality. Her effect on our emotional stability has been little less.

I am sleep deprived.

So far that is the best explanation I can come up with for the emotion laden thought processes that have been swirling the mists of recent cognitive exercises. On the one extreme, I find myself reacting to mere annoyances with the intensity of dire emergencies. While on the other, I am easily sobered and rendered melancholy by the simplest reference to maternity or paternity.

In short I'm pretty pathetic - especially by my own standards.

Yes, it is a bit alarming to see such a remarkable and respectable stoicism suffering abandon. But I believe it is not all bad. Blinding though it may be, I've peered through the chinks of the adamant facade and seen a gleam which I have previously either discounted or shunned. Even with the birth of our first daughter, I was undaunted, the conqueror and champion bringing life to the world, and victory to our familial obligation.
And then I was content to be the victor.
And I was content.
Next objective...

My wife tells a completely different story - not about me - but about her approach to this phase of our journey. I will not tell her story for her. But she has lived without a facade around that part of her life and has drunk deeply from what I'm now sipping.

Don't worry I'm not planning on opening an orphanage or a day care. But, since the loss of our son a year ago on the 12th of this month, I have seen life, mortality, and the part I play in them in a far clearer fashion. Now with the birth and life of our daughter, my part in the saga has crystallized even a touch more.

...that to say...

I would like to communicate in the most reverent, and immensely inadequate way, how I have for the first time realized that our Lord Jesus Christ came to this world - as a little Baby. You understand what I mean, because you've been there too, when I say that though you give ascent to many concepts, there are times when concepts meet circumstances and meld to become reality for you. No one else necessarily gets the benefit of it, but YOU are keenly aware of a new reality - for YOU.
For me - this Christmas - it is the infant form of the God of the universe.

I've heard a few Christmas songs this year for the first time which bring out the question of, in essence "What was Jesus' understanding as a child of His surroundings and limitations." As I am hearing these songs, I am able to put the face of my own infant child into the scenario, and am astounded that the Creator would condescend to not just the form of his creation, but into the barest and most dependent state of its existence.

No doubt Joseph and Mary are baffled, in addition to the emotions that all the rest of us face in those first few hours and days. I suppose the one fear they needed not have was the one of losing this child. They had God's promise. Yet, undoubtedly the hosts of hell had planned His demise. In my mind's eye I can see the swords of hell's fiercest drawn as they converge on the hillside town of Bethlehem. Then - a blinding diversion among a group of shepherds, leaves them vulnerable to an assault from Heaven's mightiest. The skirmish is brief and decisive, and a soft whimper softly shakes the earth to its core.

There are a thousand questions with no answer. Did He cry? Did he relinquish his omniscience for a time? Did he immediately begin to bear the burden of our sins, or was his infancy spared such weight? I wonder.

I am left with one answer.

Thank you.