Category Archives: travel

Last Minute Procrastination Before Driving to LA

It’s my monthly visit to LA, and as always, I wake up at an ungodly hour (5 am), do a mad rush to get everything ready.  I guess a smart man would prepare everything the night before.

I did prepare last night … put clothes in the bag, packed two sets of jerseys in, but there’s always the last minute thing to bring.  I guess the blog will make sure I have what I need for this ride.

So here’s a checklist

  • Shoes
  • helmet
  • Gloves (oh, shoot … where are they … check)
  • arm warmers, knee warmers
  • pump
  • USB cables
  • socks
  • food

I know I’m missing something … and this is all just before heading on the road for my 6+ hour drive.  Does everyone, who has a weekend trip, go through the same procrastination emergency?  Well, off I go.

Survived Thanksgiving Weekend

I am happy to report that I survived Thanksgiving weekend without gaining a single pound.  Wow, now that’s an achievement.  I was particularly nervous about this holiday season, as I worked so hard to get myself to a fitness level that I am happy with.  I had a regular routine going on, with a set meal pattern, and a set training pattern, and with this, it would cause an abrupt change.  Thankfully, I retained the same weight before the weekend started, despite all the good food.

My strategy on commuting during big holidays like this is to leave on the day of the holiday itself.  The idea here is that everyone is scrambling to get to their destination the day before, and by the time I start out in the morning, everyone will either be sleeping, or already at their destination.  I treated this day like any other work day (waking up at 4:40 am), and hit the road by 6 am.

It was nice traveling through to the first rest stop (somewhere north of Coalinga), and not have a whole lot of traffic.  This picture was taken at the rest stop … notice lots of parking space still available.

This strategy worked like a charm.  I ended up getting to my dad’s place in Monterey Park by noon, just in time to catch the trailing end of the Packers spanking the Lions in the traditional NFL Thanksgiving Day games.

Dinner was at 4 PM, so there was plenty of time to rest up.  Unfortunately, the afternoon game was the Raiders vs. Cowboys, and it was just embarrassing to see how bad the Raiders are on national television.  So what else is new?

Dinner was good.  There was the normal turkey, stuffing, pineapple and ham.  As usual, I eat too much whenever there is a feast like this … but I guess that’s what the word feast means … eat!!!!

I did overeat tonight … had myself two helpings, but I couldn’t help myself.  Even with all this feasting, later in the evening, I didn’t really feel like I was bloated.  All I knew was I had to get out and ride the following days.

Friday, was kind of a weird day.  I was hooking up with Herb and the gang at Budget Bicycles, just outside of Eagle Rock.  The plan was supposed to be to meet at 9:30 am, but they ran really late.  I didn’t feel like waiting a long time, and getting my legs cold, so I continued on my own local ride.  I did get some climbing in, but only made it 30 miles. In addition to the failed meet up, my phone was not fully charged, and my Garmin was not charged up the night before.  So no ride stats, and possibility of being out there alone without a cell phone to call anyone, in case of emergency.  This combination made me have to cut my ride short.

Saturday was much better planned.  I met up with Herb and the gang in Burbank (actually rode over to Burbank, so already had 20 miles before starting the actual ride).  However, I gotta tell you that before leaving for LA, I had taken my saddle bag off, and was going to dump it in my duffle bag when leaving on the trip.  Well … um … the saddle bag was not in the duffle bag.  Like a doofus, I left it at home, which had my spare tub, tire irons, etc … Yesterday, I stuffed a spare tube that I leave for my other bike, in my jersey pockets, but today, I completely forgot.  So today, I was risking it, riding without any spare tubes.  I didn’t want to suffer the embarrassment by telling everyone, so I was secretly hoping to make it through the whole ride without a flat … and luckily, I made it.

I was amazed at how fit I am.  Jason is a really strong rider, and I was just a notch below his level, but was able to chat with him, going up the climb on Chantry Flats.  It was cool, but not cold at all.  I guess I am used to this cool overcast type weather, since I ride this type of weather all the time in the Bay Area.  Hey, at least it wasn’t foggy going up the mountain like it was going up Page Mill several weeks ago.  Instead, it was a crispness in the air.  Made it to the top in 34 minutes (not like I was time trialing it).  Not sure what a good time going up Chantry is, but I imagine it’s a similar length and elevation gain as OLH.

When I drove down on Thursday, the weather was gorgeous, and there wasn’t even a hint of bad road conditions going up the grapevine.  However, on Saturday morning, it was reported that CHP had to escort some cars over the Tejon Pass, and there was snow on the Grapevine.  Ooh, this is bad news for me.  Strange how you are driving through one area, and it’s beautiful weather, and a day later, you see snow, and bad or hazardous road conditions.  I had to re-think my commute back to the Bay Area, so I decided to take the scenic route, and go 101 instead of the 5.  This is a longer route (adds about 2 more hours to the drive).

The weather was really nice on the drive back.  I don’t know if the road conditions cleared up on the Gravevine, but I just didn’t want to take that chance.  So I went ahead and drove along the coast, on 101.  Again, I started out early, around 7 am, which made for a pleasant drive.

What a Broiling Weekend That Was

This past weekend, I drove down to LA for my monthly visit to see dad.  It’s always great to see dad, and for those wondering, he is doing great.  As with most of us who are getting up in age, warmer weather seems to help our joints quite a bit.  After experiencing all the joint pains he has been feeling, he is giving me warning to make sure I take care of my joints too.  That’s good advise, so I’ve decided to start taking Glucosamine as regularly as I do my normal vitamins.  It’s a good practice, especially with all the cycling I do.

Then, on Saturday, I did a ride with my friends in Marina del Rey, down to Palos Verdes.  While at the top of PV East, temp registered in the mid-80’s.  All I could think about is how hot it is back in the valley, and also how hot it would be in the San Joaquin Valley, where my good friend is visiting her folks.  When I left Marina del Rey at 3 pm, it was 75.  By the time I go back to the valley, it was a whopping 95 F.

Since I couldn’t get approval to work from LA on Monday, I had to head back on Sunday.  I left the valley at 2 pm, only to get into a massive traffic jam, heading up I-5.  There was a car fire near Templeton Highway, just north of Castaic Lake.  The fire also torched about 20 acres of hillside.  Luckily, they put it out pretty quickly, but it still put in at least a 1 hour delay going through that area.

By the time I got through the Grapevine, then passing Bakersfield, my car thermometer was reading in the 100’s.  On my way to Kettleman City, it go to 110 F … dang, that’s hot!  The highest I saw it register was 113 F.  It didn’t look that hot, looking outside, as the sun wasn’t beating down too hard … but as soon as I rolled down the window, I could just feel the heat …

Then, when I got on Pacheco (Hwy 152), and going up into the hills, the temp started dropping to about 85 F.  Wow, what’s with this sub-100 degree heat?

I am impressed with all those farmers, who have to endure heat like this …. also, think about all those service workers, who have to work those telephone poles, caltrans working those road conditions … it must have been brutal.  And I’m only experiencing this from an air conditioned Prius!

Tioga Pass is open … really it is open

Now why would I have to re-iterate this? Well, you’ll have to go back to our Eastern Sierra road trip. There was an odd late-spring storm, that did a bit of white dusting on the mountains. We checked the Caltrans Road Conditions site, and it mentioned Tioga Pass being closed near Strawberry. We were going to use Sonora Pass (Hwy 108) as an alternative, and before we left Mountain View, we checked the road conditions site, and it didn’t mention Sonora Pass being closed. Well, by the time we got passed Oakdale, the sign says Sonora Pass is closed. What???? Oh, now we’re screwed. Well, we ended up taking a 2 hour detour, only to find out Tioga Pass opened up. I talked to the hotel clerk when we got to Bishop, and she said they opened Tioga Pass around 1:30 PM. That’s about the time we chose our detour!

So on our way home from Eastern Sierra, and after taking a detour through June Lake, we took Tioga Pass back home. This had to be one of the most scenic ways back home.

We drove through Yosemite just at the right time. Just enough to drop some snow, but not heavy enough to prevent driving through this gorgeous part of the country, and of California.

And we haven’t even gotten to the actual entrance to the park. The entrance of Tioga Pass is way up at 9900 foot elevation. I thought the picture of the cabin, with a big snow patch on one side of the building is cool.

… and of course, a shot of one of many meadows …

SJC is great … even with all the delays

SJC is one of the few airports that provide free wi-fi access for those nerds who bring laptops with them on their flight. Most airports (like Burbank, LAX) offer wi-fi, but charge $7/hour. No friggin’ way!!!!

For those airports that do offer free wi-fi, it’s cool … but most of them don’t have enough power outlets for you to plug in to, and most of the time, you have to sit in a chair, put your laptop on your lap, and just work with what little space you have … but in SJC, you have laptop workspaces … they actually built benches for you to sit at, and work on your laptop on a table! Gee, what a concept. And each workspace has two power outlets, and even a pair of USB power outlets! But then again, SJC is in geek central, Silicon Valley … I’m convinced now … this is the center of the Universe!

Just found out my flight is delayed … oooh, surprise! I’m sitting here about 20 feet from the customer service guy at Southwest, and the poor guy has to explain to everyone else that the flight is delayed. What’s worse is when one of his other colleague may be giving wrong info, and he gets the stink-eye from other customers. Being in Customer Service, I really know what he’s going through, and I can’t put blame on him. I know what it’s like being the guy everyone wants to complain to. I just had to tell him I know how it feels … it kinda brought a smile to his face.

It doesn’t help to get upset anyhow … just accept it. He did mention in the PA system that another Burbank flight is leaving out of gate 2 (I’m waiting at gate 9), which leaves in 20 minutes, and we could be on stand-by. I had no inkling to go over there, and all of a sudden, I see a swarm of people racing across to gate 2.

Even if I wanted to go to Gate 2, everyone else had a head start, so I decided to stay put. Besides, I’m in no hurry. I know I’ll get to Burbank some time tonight!