Homer's Travels: November 2007

Friday, November 30, 2007

Update 3: The Big Bump

I'm happy to say that the bump on my leg is much better today. I visited with the doctor today to have my packing changed. The test results had come in. It is a Staph infection. The one strange thing is that it was not resistant to the first antibiotic and is resistant to the second, usually more effective, antibiotic. This seems strange since I didn't see any improvement until I started the second antibiotic. I guess it just took some time for the first antibiotic to kick in. I've been prescribed more of the first antibiotic and I will be going back on Monday.

The improvement over the last two days is encouraging and I am hopeful that I will be hiking by next weekend.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Spamming Mary

I visited Technorati the other day checking to see who was linked to Homer's Travels and noticed that a German website was listed. I followed the link and, to my surprise, discovered that some spam site had lifted my post about the Mary Apparition, translated it into German, and posted it. What the heck?

Should I be worried about this? Is it just one of those things that just happens on the Internets and we have to live with? I just don't want to be associated, even indirectly, with a spam site.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Update 2: The Big Bump

I went back to the doctor's office today to have my bump inspected. She is not happy with the progress so far. Leave it to me to get a drug-resistant, drug-resistant Staph infection. She has now got me on another antibiotic that is supposed to be 85% - 95% effective in killing this bug. Not sure why she didn't use it first. She said it was more expensive but it cost me the same - I guess my insurance is absorbing the cost. I hope it works since the next antibiotic is an IV drip.

During the changing of the packing, I experience probably some of the worst pain ever. It was a sharp pain and is soon calmed down to a moderate pain. Thinking it wasn't so bad I opened my eyes to see that she had stopped doing anything to the bump and was waiting for me to calm down. I could have swore she was still probing around. Not encouraging. Next time we numb that sucker.

I go back on Friday and we may have the lab results by then so we can be sure what I got myself into.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Wife And The Coach

The wife had a great day Monday. Charlie Weis, coach of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, stopped by her school. He was down from Stanford, where they won their last game of the season, paying a courtesy visit. There is a football player at her school, a junior, that Notre Dame is interested in. NCAA rules prohibited Coach Weis from talking to him until he is a senior but it didn't stop the Wife from talking to him and getting her picture taken with him. Her friends at school were so nice to her, arranging a sub when he arrived. They even had secret call signs . She received calls: " The Shamrock arrives in 30 minutes". Heh. He got his picture taken with several teachers and coaches. He also sat down with another junior who wasn't sure how to proceed with his sports career (Coach Weis was not recruiting him) to give him some advice. The Wife thought he was a really nice guy. She passed him a thank you card with her business card in it - networking at its finest! (She is so much better at that than me - I suck) Who knows, maybe we'll get free tickets ...

She was kind of glowing when she got home. Nice to see after the misery of the cold she's been fighting.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Update: The Big Bump

Here's an update about my leg. I went back to the doctor's office today. This time I met with a Nurse Practitioner who, frankly, knew more about what was going on then the doctors did. She took one look at it and said that it had to be cut. I could not agree with her more. I'd been poking at the thing for a few days and it was obvious to me that there was something in there just waiting to get out. So after some very ineffective numbing, she got to work and ... well I'll spare you the gory details. Suffice it to say it was one of the most painful things I have felt in a long time.

The Nurse Practitioner suspects that it is a Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). This is one of those drug resistant forms of Staph that the media refers to as a superbug. While it is resistant to many antibiotics, there are at least three, including the one I'm already on, that have been effective for treating the infection. She took a sample of the fluid to be tested.

The Matron of Honor asked about photographs. Well, I'm afraid it's too late. I didn't take any before the visit to the doctor and now it's all bandaged up. I'm sorry to disappoint. It sort of looks like Mount Fuji. Instead of white snow, think red. Then again, it's a little too rounded on the top to be Mount Fuji. Maybe a cinnamon covered Native-American burial mound? I don't know.

I'll be going back on Wednesday to see how it's doing. I suspect that hiking is out for this weekend. Bummer.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Darkened By A Drunk

I woke up early this morning and turned to the night stand to see what time it was. The clock was gone. I sat in bed until I realized the absurdity of that thought. Rational thought slowly bubbled up to the surface and I realized that the power was out. I got out of bed at 6:00 am to feed Homer and to let him do his morning ... you know ... duty. It's amazing how dark the house was. I am so used to the little LEDs that shine, blink, and tell us how early it really is. Not today. The only lights that were on were the LEDs on my network gadgets that are connected to an UPS. I went into the den and turned off the NAS and went back to bed.

We got up at 9:00 am. My leg was hurting like heck. I think it may be getting worse as the Ibuprofen isn't doing much. I know I should have taken the Vicodin prescription the doctor offered me. But NOOOO. I'm a manly man. A manly man in PAIN! That's what I am.

I plopped myself down in the den and decided to read. It's amazing what you can't do without electricity. No computer. No TV. No heating pad for the damn leg. I ruled out putting up the Christmas lights since I would want to test them before I got on the roof. The leg would also get in the way. I had a stack of magazines that I wanted to catch up on so I dug into the pile.

The wife was getting a little pissed. She was going to miss the last Notre Dame football game of the season. I dug out an old radio and she found a station that was carrying the game. He was happy but still pissed.

I got up and ate a light lunch and decided to assemble our fake tree. It took me three hours. It usually takes me only one. I was so tired, my leg was killing me, and I was moaning, groaning, and whining way more then usual. I had to rest several times. Even a piece of Angel Food cake didn't help!
The wife went outside to talk to the neighbors. Turns out some drunk A$$hole decided to use the sidewalk as a road at 5:00 am in the morning and took out trees and electric poles before ditching his car and leaving the scene. Because of that doofus, I actually had to look at my watch to tell time! HUH! Then again, no one was hurt by this idiot which is something to be grateful for.
When I attached the last limb to the Christmas tree, the wife gave out a whoop - "Electricity is back!" After setting clocks and TV speakers, I, of course, went up to the den and turned on the computer. I had to get my internet addiction fix, you know.

I felt a little weird so I took my temperature - 101.7°F. Well, isn't that special. That explains why my hair hurts. I think another visit to the doctor on Monday is a given.

P.S. One more whine. I had written this post and was almost done when Blogger wouldn't let me save it. I lost everything. D'OH! Believe me, the first draft was much better than this one. Unfortunately you all will never know.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Wallow Or Read, That Is The Question

Thanksgiving is over. I think I'm still digesting all the yummy stuff I ate.

I was going to hike Sulphur Mountain Road today but something came up. Specifically, I received some sort of bug or spider bite on my thigh that has become infected. It got progressively worse on Monday and Tuesday. At times it feels like someone was jabbing my thigh with a knife. I saw a doctor on Wednesday and she prescribed antibiotics, told me to apply wet heat, and to stay off it. So I'm staying off it which means no hiking this week. I must admit that I wasn't looking forward to hiking this week. The Jalama Beach blisters haven't quite healed yet and I think I just need some time off.

This four day holiday has been very weird so far. The Wife has a cold. She's had it since Sunday and she's been blowing her nose and coughing all day and night. She seems to be getting better. This thing on my thigh has me immobilized. It wakes me up when I role over in bed. I woke up this morning aching all over - I think I didn't move at all while I slept and I'm just stiff. I've been downing the ibuprofen like candy. I just really feel out of sorts. Discombobulated. Askew. Down in the dumps. BLAH.

Of course, now that I have time I don't know what to do with it. I'm considering sitting around wallowing in self-pity or maybe catching up on some reading and doing a few seasonal chores. Seasonal chores would be putting up the Christmas Lights and assembling the Christmas Tree.

It will all get better.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Roadtrip 1995 - Epilogue

I really enjoyed my 1995 roadtrip. It did have it's ups and downs as most long trips do. The trip was a little too long. The first two weeks were totally awesome but, about two weeks into the trip, I began to run out of steam. This was also when the weather started to transition from summer to fall and the chill of winter - and snow - began making appearances. My first rain was at Glacier. My first snow was at Grand Teton. Of course, the sight of snow on the mountains and evergreens was spectacular.

Living out of suitcases wears on a person after a while. I stayed 29 nights in one hotel room or other. In total, I drove 8,056.3 miles in 30 days. Since I swore off television and radio, most of the time in the hotel rooms was spent eating, reading, and sleeping. I read several books on the trip - don't even remember most of them. The real frustration set in at Yellowstone where the RV traffic drove me insane. The awesomeness of the park was nearly canceled out by the crowds. The Grand Canyon had a similar crowded feeling. But for every Yellowstone or Grand Canyon there was a Sequoia, a Glacier, a Crater Lake or a Mount Rainier. I don't regret going to any of the places that I visited. I took over 30 roles of film (224 of the best are here). Everything was new, different, and awesome in its own way. Here is a map of my wanderings:

I decided to do this trip to "find myself", which I know is a cliché, but I was at a place in my life where I felt stagnant and I didn't know where I was going or what I wanted to do with my life. I was a 32 year old single guy who had never dated in his life (sadly, that is not an exaggeration). I had no friends outside of work. I spent my nights watching television, playing crappy video games, and surfing the web (The web was around in 1995 but there wasn't much there yet). I was pretty anti-social outside of work.

At work I was more social and I had a group of really good friends. But that ended at the door each day, mostly by my choice. I was at a crossroads at work as well. The project I had worked on for the last 8 years was winding down and I wasn't sure what I would be doing next. I wasn't much interested in getting promotions as the next step up would be management and I wasn't interested in management.

So this month of traveling the west, visiting parks, hiking in the wilderness, and marveling at the beauty of it all, gave me time to really contemplate my situation. What I had hoped for, that life altering epiphany, never happened. I was mildly disappointed but that passed and I decided to just keep doing what I was doing. Seven days later, while looking for information about Space: Above And Beyond, I entered a Fox Network chat room and met the Wife. My life hasn't been the same since. The road had put me in the right frame of mind and I found what I had been looking for, not on the road, but on a small screen in my apartment back home.

How appropriate that I am posting this on Thanksgiving for the Wife is what I am most thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What Is It?

OK boys and girls, time for a pop quiz. On my Chief Peak hike a few days ago, I came across this odd structure. It stands at least 10 feet tall. It has rungs to allow someone to climb it. The capped spigot extending out the hole on the side is connected to a pipe that turns upward inside. Below the spigot, the structure sounds hollow. The structure is in a depression some 20 - 30 feet from the road near a bone dry pond. The structure is attached to three railroad ties that form a three pointed base.

So, what the heck is it? I have an idea. Let's see if you agree. Leave me a comment with what you think it is.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Angels And Swallows

On Sunday we were supposed to go to the Doo Dah Parade and Mission San Juan Capistrano. Well, it turns out that the Doo Dah Parade, advertised as the "occasional" parade, will be on 20 January 2008. The 2007 parade will be held in 2008. Go figure. They were holding the Doo Dah Parade Queen auditions on Sunday and I suggested that the wife and the "J" apply but, after contemplating the idea with a twinkle in their eyes, they decided not to. So we postponed the parade trip. We still were interested in going to Capistrano and the wife suggested we go to Mass at the Los Angeles Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. So on Sunday the "J" dropped by and we headed to the Cathedral.

The Cathedral is a little controversial because of its contemporary design that some consider ugly. I'll have to admit, the outside is very blocky and not that attractive. We had some time before Mass started so we walked around the grounds including the children's park and the fountains before dropping some dough at the gift shop.

We entered the cathedral and walked through some of the art exhibits in the small side chapels. The inside of the cathedral is pretty impressive. There is a mixture of the old and the new. The tapestries are very interesting and very well done. The sconces are each unique.

Mass started and we sat down. Cardinal Mahony presided over the Mass. Nothing special here, just an ordinary Catholic Mass. An interesting factoid: The Cardinal's chair is made of wood from 6 of the 7 continents. Unfortunately none of my pictures of the chair came out.

After Mass we went down and walked through the mausoleum. Very cool. There were some beautiful stained glass windows. I saw Gregory Peck's burial spot. Pictures of the cathedral and the mausoleum can be found here.

After one last visit to the gift shop we got back on the road and drove down to Mission San Juan Capistrano. We parked near the Basilica and walked around the corner to visit the Mission. The cost of admission included an electronic tour. I listened to some of it but most of the time I just wandered the grounds. The main structure of the mission was destroyed by an earthquake in 1812 when over 40 people died including two young boys in the bell tower ringing the bells. They have decided not to rebuild it and to preserve it as close to its present state. I think that is a wise choice. It shows what this mission has gone through. The small Serra Chapel, under renovation when we were there, is considered the oldest church in California.

The mission grounds were very attractive. The gardens were in bloom and fountains were full of colorful fish. The flowers attracted a large number of monarch butterflies. There were no swallows here at this time and I hear that they don't come here as much as they used to - too many tourists. This was a beautiful mission. The sun was starting to get low and the angles of the shadows enhanced the views. Everywhere you looked there was something that would catch your eye. I was very impressed by this one. More attractive then most in my opinion. Pictures of the mission can be found here.


I want to take a brief moment at the end of this post to explain to the occasional readers of Homer's Travels about me and religion. Despite the Mission posts, Salvation Mountain, the Rosary Bowl, the search for Mary apparitions in the Mojave, the Pilgrimage of Saint James I am contemplating, and other Catholic related posts, I am not a religious person. The wife is Catholic and, even though I am not, I do respect her beliefs and I do enjoy this stuff from an historical and cultural perspective.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Hiking Ventura County #37: Chief Peak

My latest hike was a trek up to the top of Chief Peak. Chief Peak gets its name from its shape – it looks like a reclining Indian Chief complete with headdress.

The hike starts at the Rose Valley campground. I have been here a few times visiting Rose Valley Falls. The campground is usually full but, on this chilly Saturday morning, there was only one camper. I headed for the gate that lead to Rose Valley Road. Some people call this road Chief Peak Road.

The road is open to four wheel drive vehicles and you soon see why. The well maintained road - bulldozer tracks are visible and would be useful on the return – is steep in places. The first two miles winds up the hills to the top of the Nordhoff ridge. On the way you have views of the campground, mountains, canyons, and the Piedra Blanca that I hiked earlier this year.

By the time I reached the ridge I was whipped. The steep road was tough. At the top of the ridge you reach a 'Y' in the road. To the right is the road to Nordhoff Peak ( I will be going there early next year) and the left takes you to Chief Peak and places beyond. The ridge road was a gently rolling road with views in all directions. I was surprised that there weren't any trees up on the ridge. The ridge was covered in short scrub and dwarf trees no taller then 10 or 12 feet. From this vantage point you had a beautiful blue sky above and you could look down on the top of the marine layer. The marine layer filled half of the Ojai valley. The road up here was very quiet. The only sounds were the sounds of the occasional bird and the low rumble of a commercial plane flying overhead - this place seemed like a plane superhighway. Look at all the contrails.

I walked about two miles along the ridge. The description I had described a “marker on the right for the narrow trail” up to the peak. I got closer and saw a wide path that seemed to head up to the peak but the sign said “Area Closed” so I continued on. Further along the road I stopped to look for a geocache - “C4P Frogs and Me”. When I didn't find it, I decided to continue on the road. You could see the distinctive strata of Topa Topa in the distance.

At the five mile point the road ahead turned away from the peak. I assumed I missed the trail. There was a jeep trail that I could see but It didn't look like it went in the right direction. So I turned around and, muttering expletives under my breath, I hiked back. I looked for the cache again and found it this time – Yay for me! I never found the narrow signed path. I reached the wide path I had passed early on and decided to ignore the sign. As I got closer, I noticed the small print on the sign that said “to motor vehicles”. Not being a motor vehicle, I felt better about ignoring the sign and headed up the correct trail.

This wide path climbs up sharply to the first of three peaks. The first peak represents ... well ... um ... well, it represents the Chief's “package”. At least that's what it looks to me. The trail scales the next peak that represents the chest of the Chief. This was a tough section. Very steep and covered in small rock. The trail then dips down the chief's neck before climbing up to the highest peak – the head of the Chief. At his chin you run into a rocky cliff. Cairns direct you around to the right. The trail is a little unclear in parts when the path requires a scramble up the rocks. I added stones to the cairns as I went by. The vague trail takes you up to the Chief's forehead at the 5,595 feet mark. I wonder if the altitude had something to do with my huffing and puffing?

I sat down at the peak and ate my lunch and took in the 360º views. The marine layer had pulled back somewhat and you could see all the way to Lake Casitas. When there is no marine layer you can see the islands. Not today. The haze was thick on the horizon. This didn't diminish the view much – it was totally spectacular. I looked for a cache that was once on the peak but I'm pretty sure it wasn't there anymore. I found the peak register and signed my name on the critter chewed notebook. From here I could see that the jeep trail, the one I saw just before I turned around, did go up to the peak so I could have come up that way saving me some distance. Oh well.

I took some pictures and started back down the trail. It was really tough going with the trail covered in loose rocks and dirt. I made it back down to the ridge road and headed back. The sun was out and it was quite a bit warmer then on the way up. It seemed a lot longer and more hilly going back. Doesn't make much sense. I passed my first hikers on the way back. On the way up I only had one companion. I had expected to see more people.

When I got back the the "Y" in the road, the hike started to get hard again. I discovered that the safest way down was to walk on the bulldozer tracks. The tracks were softer and allowed me to dig in the heal of my boots. On the other parts of the road the rocks were like ball bearings on the hard vehicle packed dirt. I managed to get all the way down without falling on my butt but I came close several times.

I prefer single narrow trails through the woods to dirt roads with few trees. Having said that, I liked this hike. The spectacular views from the ridge were amazing. Missing the trail up to the peak added about 2 miles to the length of the hike. In the end I hiked 10.79 miles with 2,186 feet of vertical. Pictures are here.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Music: The B-52's At The Chumash Casino

Roam if you want to When the wife suggested we go to see The B-52's at the Chumash Casino, I had some misgivings. While I liked some of their stuff I just wasn't a big fan. I decided to say "Yeah sure" and figured that I would have an OK but bored evening at a concert that I only half-heartedly was interested in.

Roam around the world We invited our good friend the "J" to come along with us. We always seem to have a good time with her around. The wife and I stopped by and picked up the "J" and made the hour or so drive up to the casino.

Roam if you want to We arrived starving. Not sure why but all of us were hungry. We headed to the Chumash Café to peruse the gastronomic delights. The wife and the "J" had the open faced turkey sandwich and I had a yummy grilled chicken sandwich.

Without wings, Without wheels Since we were out on the town, as it were, we did something we usually don't do after a large meal - we ordered dessert. Unbeknownst to us the Chumash Café is famous for it's large desserts. I had the five layered Chocolate cake with a dollop of chocolate ice cream, the wife had a jumbo caramel ice cream sundae, and the "J" had something that escapes me but a large amount of ice cream was involved. Yaozaa - it was all yummy a lot and totally deadly.

Roam if you want to We waddled out of the café and headed for the penny slots. We had about an hour to kill before they opened the doors so we plopped out engorged carcasses in front of some slots and gambled away. It was hilarious watching the wife clap every time she won 10¢. In the end, the wife won three bucks and change, the "J" came up short, and I broke even.

Roam around the world They opened the doors at 7:30 pm and we went in. We headed over to the t-shirt booth and took a gander at the wears [heh]. The wife purchased a cool rock lobster t-shirt but she had difficulty with the money. She insisted that $20 plus $5 equaled $30. I helped her out and we all chuckled about this evenings math deficit.

Roam if you want to The bingo hall filled up - they used this room for bingo when they're not having a special event like a concert or a boxing match. The crowd was a little smaller than the Go-Go's concert we went to a month ago but roughly the same age. We were seated in the back of the room one step up from the bottom row of the bleachers. This wasn't too bad since this was a small venue and there really wasn't a bad seat in the house.

Without anything but the love we feel The lights dimmed, the crowd cheered, the B-52's took the stage, and just blew me away. I was surprised just how many songs I knew - Private Idaho, Roam, Love Shack, Channel Z, and, of course, Rock Lobster. Mixed in amongst their classics were songs from their new album coming out next February. The new songs had that classic B-52's sound and peaked my interest in their new album, as intended. I really enjoyed their stuff. You can't complain about songs with such weird lyrics. I was very surprised, pleasantly so.

Take it hip to hip The wife and the "J" were laughing throughout the concert as they watched this guy dance to the music. Definitely not ready for "Dancing With The Stars". The wife was imitating his wicked moves which would set off the "J" and I. By the end we were all imitating him.

Rocket through the wilderness After an hour and a half the concert was over and we headed for the car. The "J" started making the animal sounds from Rock Lobster and other people in the parking garage joined in - too funny. I drove us home with the B-52's running through my head (and they're still there as I draft this post).

A great time - simply a great time.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Roadtrip 1995 - Part 12: Las Vegas And Death Valley National Park

My last stop on my roadtrip was Las Vegas. I left St. George and drove into Vegas. On the way you pass through Arizona on a short stretch of road with beautiful rock formations that is truly magnificent.

In Vegas I found a Days Inn that was a block off the strip behind the Balley's. I started off with a walk down the strip looking for lunch and something to do. I am not much of a gambler which means that there really isn't much for me to do in Vegas. I looked through the list of shows and bought tickets to four shows - two that evening and two for the next. If I recall correctly one show was at Harrah's, one at the Riviera, one was at the Tropicana, and one at Balley's.

I killed time until the first show which turned out to be mediocre. The second show was Crazy Girls. Yeah, I was a red blooded single guy back then with no attachments so I went to see a bunch of bouncing boobies. What can I say. Anyway, I was sitting relatively close to the stage and I was wearing a bright tie-dyed shirt that I had bought in Estes Park. During a break for the girls, a comedian came out and she was working the audience. You could tell she was looking for someone to pick on. My shirt must have shined like a beacon. Our eyes connected. Damn - I was not in the mood to be the butt of a comedian's jokes. She said something that I don't even recall, I stared her down, and slowly shook my head. I still remember the look on her face. It was kind of like "Damn, is he a serial killer or what?!" I must of had an evil look on my face. She dropped whatever she was going to say and moved on to the next poor schlep. Later on I would buy a Crazy Girl poster and got it autographed by some of the girls. The fact the girls who autographed the poster were not actually in the poster was a little disappointing.

The next day I woke up and just laid in bed wondering what I was going to do for the next 12 hours before the next show started. Then I decided that I should go to Death Valley. My original plan was to go through Death Valley on the way home but it seemed like a better idea to do it now. I left the hotel and headed into the desert. I left a little later then I should have, and could have, but I didn't think it would be an issue.

My first stop was Scotty's Castle. I ended up there just after a tour had left so I had an hour to kill. I ate some lunch and walked up to Scotty's grave. He's buried next to his dog. I took the tour which was pretty cool. The music room organ, with over 1,000 pipes, is the highlight of the tour.

My next stop was Badwater where I walked out onto the salt flat. I remember it being warm but I don't recall it being too hot. Definitely not as hot as our vacation in 2005.

The drive back to Vegas seemed longer then the way out. I had a show at Harrah's and I thought I was going to be late. I got back to the hotel, showered, and got to the show just in time. It was mediocre. I then drove to the Tropicana for my last mediocre show. Turns out all the shows were pretty mediocre. The wife and I have become a little pickier now and we are more careful then I was in selecting shows when we go to Vegas.

The last day was an uneventful five hour drive from Las Vegas to Oxnard. The last part of this roadtrip series will summarize the trip and reveal how the trip changed my life ... or didn't. Pictures are here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Pilgrimage Of Saint James

When we were in Las Vegas with the Matron of Honor and the Best Man, The Best Man told us about the Pilgrimage of Saint James, also known at the Way of St. James. The pilgrimage is a trek across Spain ending at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain. The path outside of Spain varies and extends into France, Italy, and eastern Europe. The most common path starts in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in western France and is known as the French Way. The French Way is 769 km (477.83 miles) long. To be an official Pilgrim, you have to complete at least 100 km (62.14 miles). The Best Man and Matron of Honor were thinking of doing the 100 km segment in 2010, the Holy Year for Saint James. The wife and I are very interested in doing this walk as well.

The French Way is a well define path. It is traveled by thousands of people each year - the number is increasing each year and is especially heavy during Holy Years. There are refugios or albergues (dormitory style pilgrim hostels) located in villages and cities along the path that cost only a few Euros to stay at. Camping is not required. Some of the albergues are spartan and we would probably have to carry sleeping bags. Some food and supplies are also available at the albergues. I'm guessing it would take at least a week to ten days to do the 100 km.

As I've researched the Way, I have found myself considering doing the entire French Way. I would go ahead of the others, walk the Way, and meet up with the them in Sarria, Spain, the 112 km point. I figure it would take me almost 50 days to do the whole thing. This would mean doing about 10 - 12 miles everyday. Everyday for 50 days. I would have two years to prepare. I wonder if two years is enough to psych myself into it?

The logistics of it are relatively simple. Fly to Paris. Take a train/bus to Saint Jean. Pick up a Pilgrims passport (You receive stamps from churches and albergues to prove you were there). Pickup a map and guidebook. Start walking. The longest gap between albergues is 26 km (16 miles) between Saint Jean and Orisson. It is also the part of the trail that goes through the
Pyrenees. Most towns with albergues are around 5 - 10 km apart (3 - 6 miles)...

OK, I can feel this becoming an obsession already. We'll see if it really happens.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Book: Richard K. Morgan's Woken Furies

I would characterize my latest read as a Noir Sci-Fi Singularity Dystopia. The book is Richard Morgan's "Woken Furies". This is the third book that follows the character of Takeshi Kovacs. Kovacs was introduced in the book "Altered Carbon" and his story was fleshed out some more in "Broken Angels". In Woken Furies, Kovacs' story returns to his home, Harlan's World. We enter the story part way through and, as you read the book, more and more details are revealed about what he was doing when the reader came into the story. You learn that Kovacs is a sociopath sometimes bordering on the psychotic.

"Altered Carbon" introduced the reader to a distant future where everyone has a memory implant called a Stack which records the essence of the person. When a person dies, their information is downloaded into the stack of a new body, known as a Sleeve, and they can carry on with their life. In a way, humanity is now immortal moving themselves from one body to another. In many cases the bodies are custom made, enhanced with extra strength, speed, stamina, and other desirable traits. People can download themselves into virtual worlds where time can move at any speed and the virtual world can be customized to whatever the user wants. For example, you could download yourself to a beautiful beach, spend a year lounging on the beach, and then return to your real body with only a few minutes having passed in real life. The same virtual worlds are also used for interrogation and torture.

The book winds threads of religion, politics, revolution, archeology, technology, morality, sociopathy, honor, revenge, and loyalty when Kovacs pisses off some important people and, in doing so, ends up going against himself when a younger copy of his essence is re-sleeved and sent after him. The twist in the end promises to change all future Takeshi Kovacs novels.

In the background of all three novels are the Martians. This is what Morgan refers to the ancient race that once lived in our neighborhood. Only ruins and a few intelligent machines, that have eluded our technological grasp, still exist. The Martians play a very important role in this book and it looks like they will play an even larger roll in the next book.

These concepts of downloading and saving the brain and living in artificial bodies or virtual worlds is very similar to
Ray Kurzweil's ideas. The difference is that Kurzweil's world is an optimistic utopia. Morgan's fictional world is dark. Kovacs is an ex-military, known as an Envoy, whose main job was to control rebellions and civil unrest. After a particularly haunting mission, he left the Envoys and became a mercenary who doesn't hesitate in killing. In fact, many times he is more criminal then mercenary. While he is the "good guy" in the book, his means of doing good are a little drastic almost always involving some weapon or other. The world he inhabits is driven by money and power and you can see that he is a product of that world. You can be re-sleeved if you have enough money. You can be enhanced if you have the right connections. Harlan's World is dominated by the First Families, the Yakuza, and other mafia-like organizations. This world, as pessimistic as it is, is probably closer to what the future will be like. People and groups battling for wealth, influence, power, and immortality.

I liked "Altered Carbon" better then "Woken Furies". The climax, in my opinion, was not well defined and it feels like the whole purpose of the book is to set up for the next book. Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed the book and there is a lot of valuable back story there. I just wish there was a little more beginning - middle - end in the book. The book felt like a bunch of beginning and middle and very little end. If this were the second book of a trilogy, I would understand but each of these books are supposed to stand on their own. I don't think they do, this last one especially. I guess I will have to wait for the next Kovacs novel to get my end.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Hiking Ventura County #36: Montecito Peak, Saddle Rock, and Cold Springs Trail

Lately I have picking the wrong days to hike. This time I chose Sunday the only day of this long three day Veteran's day weekend that was totally socked in. Sigh. I would have hiked Saturday - a beautiful day weather-wise - but the Homecoming party lasted until 1:00 am and I didn't feel like hiking on only 4 hours of sleep. The hike was supposed to have some great views but the fog/marine layer/mist/drizzle would drop the visibility quite low along the entire hike. One result is that I did not take as many pictures as I usually do.

My hike this week took me up to the summit of Montecito Peak by way of the Cold Springs trail. I reached a trailhead at 6:40 am for an early start up the trail. It was a trailhead, not the trailhead. The sign that said "Cold Springs Trail 2" should have been a clue. Went right over my head. I geared up and headed up the trail. The trail passes by the gates of homes worth many times our net worth until it starts switchbacking up the hill. I looked at my GPS and realized that I was not getting closer to the geocaches and that I was on the wrong trail. I realized what the sign at the trailhead was saying and, since the trail was going to intersect with the correct trail, I continued upwards.

I eventually came across a sign indicating that this was the Saddle Rock Trail. The trail turned rocky and fairly steep. I paused to rest and looked to my right and saw ... an ammo can hidden between two boulders. I opened the can and it turned out to be a geocache. Go figure. (After I got home I looked for it in the cache listings but could not find it. Not sure why.) I signed the log and continued on the trail.

Near the top the trail arrived at a large flat area large enough to land a helicopter. Someone had laid out a large peace symbol in stones. From this high point I saw that the trail continued up to an Edison road (A road used by the local electric utility to service the power line poles). The Cold Springs trail also crosses an Edison road and I figured this was how I was going to get to the correct trail. I turned left on the road and followed it along the hillside. I passed a strange little structure that I would've explored except that it was on private property. As I looked at it I could have swore I heard something above the structure making a Huffing noise. Not sure if I was hearing things or if there was something watching me.

Down the hill a little ways the road split. I wasn't sure which way to go until I noticed an arrow pointing the way. It turned out to be the right way. I passed a trail that was heading in the right direction but it was not signed and the description said that it was a signed trail. I continued on the road. My GPS showed that I was getting close to a geocache, "Hot & Cold" that was on the trail. After finding it I continued on the road until it dead ended. Drat! So I turned around and went back to the unmarked trail and headed up. 40 to 50 feet up the trail was a small sign that said "Cold Springs Trail" The sign was numbered - this one being 6 - and listed the elevation. YAY! I was on the right trail!

The trail head sharply up the mountain switchbacking up the west side of the peak. The trail was rocky with portions covered in small stones and gravel. It was tough to go up at times. I picked up another cache, "The Spotted Puppy" on the way up. As I climbed higher the soup got thicker as the mist became light drizzle. The good is that it kept me cool. The bad is there was nothing to see beyond 30 or 40 feet. This made navigation difficult. To get to the peak you had to follow a steep overgrown spur. Since I could not see the peak I wasn't sure where this side trail was. I ended up passing the spur thinking it was just a game trail, a wash, or both. The trail eventual brought me up to the top of the saddle where a short 5 foot scramble got me up to the top. Fortunately for me, there was a geocache planted on the top of the peak so I was able to follow the GPS along the saddle to the hidden peak. The trail along the saddle was probably a game trail but it was relatively easy to follow. Once you got close to the peak the trail turned steep, feeling more like stairs than a trail. At the top I rested a moment and looked for the cache, "Montecito Peak". I was having trouble so I decoded the clue. Unfortunately I decoded the clue for another cache and it took me on a wild goose chase. After about 20 minutes, I sat down on a rock and ate lunch. As I ate I looked at the clue, realized my mistake, and decoded the correct clue. Duh! It was easy to find with the right clue.

As I was looking for the cache and eating my lunch the marine layer had thickened up some more. Visibility was down to 20 - 30 feet. I signed the peak register and headed back down. This time I found the top of the spur and started down. I heard voices below. A group of hikers were debating if this was the spur or not. I raised my voice and let them know that they were on the right trail. They said it sounded like God leading the way which made me say "Follow the path up the mountain, my son." We all got a chuckle out of that. Heh.

The way back down to the Edison road was uneventful as I couldn't see any more then when I was on my way up. The rock and gravel made it a little more difficult as you had to be careful to keep your footing. I reread the hike description and I picked the correct trail down. The scenery on this part of Cold Springs trail was completely different from that of the one above the road. This part of the trail was forested and followed the side of a canyon. It was incredible. On parts of the trail you could hear the flow of the creak and waterfalls. The mist and drizzle condensed on the leaves of the trees above dropped like rain and created a counterpoint to the creek sounds. The mist swirled through the trees and along the trail. The sights, sounds, and wet smells of the dew drops made it feel like an enchanted forest. I expected to bump into Little Red Riding Hood , Hansel, or Gretel along the path. I really liked this part of the trail.

The trail winds down one side of the valley, crossing the creek several times. I found the "CITO Falls" cache near a particularly awesome falls. As I went further down I reached where the west and east Cold Springs trails diverge. This part of the trail is marked by a bench. There were four caches on the west branch. I stood there briefly debating going for these caches. I was tired. The farthest of the four was about 1.29 miles away but this could be deceptive. GPS show the "as the crow flies" distance and 1.29 miles could easily turn into a longer distance if you add switchbacks. I made up my mind and headed up the west trail. I found the first cache,"Little Cache, short and stout", fairly easily. The next cache was "The Cave". I had to take off my camelbak and other gear to fit into the cave. I had just got into the entrance when people came down the trail. I waved at them to let them know I was there - didn't want to see my stuff disappear. After they moved on I took my little LED light and crawled further back into the cave. It was about 12 to 15 feet deep with a turn in it. It was pretty cool and very dirty. My clothes were damp from the drizzle and this made it much easier for the dry dust to stick to me as I retrieved the cache. This was the first 5/5 cache - 5 star difficulty and 5 star terrain ranking. It really wasn't that hard. I would have called it a 3/5.

The Last two caches were on a side trail. I found the start of the trail easy enough but the trail turned primitive real quick. The trail followed a water pipe that brought spring water down the mountain. I struggled along this trail for awhile until I was about 0.14 miles from the first cache, "Tangerine Falls". Then the GPS reception turned spotty and the estimated distance started to get longer. This did not help my state of mind. I reached a spot that, I think, required me to go around a steep rock. With all the mist, the rock was wet and slippery. I'd had enough. I looked at the time and realized I was going up so slow that I would not reach the caches and get back before it was dark. This was especially true with the cloudy drizzle - it would be darker earlier. I reluctantly turned around and headed back down. The trail was difficult to follow on the way back down but I had less trouble than on the way up.

I returned to the main trail and headed down. I ran into another hiker who asked me if I knew the way to Tangerine Falls. I smiled and said that I think I did, that I had tried to get there, but that I didn't make it. He was probably in his 20s and was a lot fresher then I was and he said that he had heard it was hard to reach and that this was his fourth attempt. This made me feel better. I wished him luck, we shook hands and parted ways.

I followed the trail to the correct Cold Springs trailhead. I then followed the road about 2/3 of a mile to where I had parked the car.

One good thing is that my feet felt pretty good. I wore my new boots with the new, adjusted insoles for the first time (I had them adjusted on Saturday and they feel much better). While I did have some hot spots on my toes (from coming down hill) and my heals (from going up hill) I didn't have any new blisters and my old blisters didn't bother me at all. My right knee did bother me a little bit but I think that was because of the loose rock and gravel on the trail up to the peak. It took a lot of effort to keep your footing and this strained the knee a bit.

I had a good time on this hike. Better weather would have improved it but the drizzle made it different. Different is often good. I will probably try to go back and do those two caches when I am fresh and don't have 8.5 miles already on me. The mistake I made earlier, taking the wrong trail, actually added some variety to the hike. It turned it from a There-And-Back to a Loop - There-And-Back hybrid. The total distance hiked was 9.86 miles and the elevation change was about 2,710 feet from the correct trailhead, 2,620 feet from the Saddle Rock trailhead. Pictures are here.

Next week: Chief Peak.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Missing: Flag Pole and Flag

The wife came home yesterday to find that someone had absconded with the Notre Dame Flag, and the flag pole it was attached to, in front of our house. The first thing we have ever had stolen. What kind of sick person would steal a Notre Dame flag this year? It must have been some Navy fan. Or maybe a disgruntled UCLA fan. Or maybe someone who needed a flag pole. Heh.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Los Padres Reopens - Hikers Rejoice!

Good news, the Forest Service has lifted the restrictions in the Los Padres National Forest. This means I can resume my original hiking plan. Instead of Sulphur Mountain Road I will be doing Montecito Peak. This is looking to be a challenging hike as I am thinking about doing two branches of the Cold Spring Trail, each climbing over 2,000 feet. I will let you know if I actually do both branches. Kind of depends on if I survive tonight's party.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Roadtrip 1995 - Part 11: Bryce Canyon And Zion National Parks

What a difference a day makes. The day before I was struggling with traffic and generally tired of all the driving. Bryce and Zion energized me with new, unique scenery and bizarre rock formations. As I mentioned, Bryce and Zion National Parks were not on my original itinerary. A co-worker had mentioned a vacation he had at Bryce and Zion and, when I was looking for things to do in the one extra day that I had, these parks came to mind.

Bryce Canyon National Park turned out to be one of my favorite places. I entered the park early in the morning and stopped at the visitor's center to check out the hikes. I chose the Fairyland Loop and went down into the canyon, weaving around the hoodoos for four or five miles before returning to the canyon rim and back three or four miles to the visitor's center. At the time, this 8 mile hike was the longest hike I'd ever done. Along the way you pass Bristlecone Pines, some of the oldest trees ever discovered. They are not as impressive as the Sequoias and are kind of scrubby looking but some have been dated to 4,844 years old and are recognized as the oldest non-clonal organism known on earth. What these trees must have "seen" over their lifetimes as the water and air sculpted the multi-colored landscape of brilliant yellows, reds, and oranges is mind boggling. It is some of the most amazing landscape I have ever seen. Very cool.

The weather varied quite a bit as I hiked. It started overcast, moved on to some light drizzle, before semi-clearing letting some blue sky through. The clouds took some of the punch from the colorful landscape but it was still fascinatingly awesome.
I left Bryce and headed for the red rock canyon land that is Zion National Park. Even the asphalt used in the roads entering the park is red. The views here are just as amazing as those in Bryce but in a different way. The road I took into the park took me through the Zion-Mount Carmel tunnel. The tunnel is 1.1 miles long and slants downward. It was dug over 70 years ago to help connect Zion to Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon. There are periodic 'windows' cut in the side of the tunnel that let in the sunlight and fresh air in. What is it about tunnels that excite me so much ... I always want to yell WHEE!! I don't know why.

Once in the park, I did a short one mile hike called the Riverside Walk up a narrow river canyon. The hike is a popular hike that is a mixture of paved trail and river wading. It's really too short to call a real hike but I was worn out from the eight miles I had done that morning at Bryce and I took it slow.

A few years ago, Zion started banning all private vehicles on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive during the peak summer season and started a shuttle bus service to take visitors into this part of the park. I heard a story from one of the bus drivers that he had never seen any wildlife on this road when cars were permitted but only two days after the cars were stopped large animals like coyote were once again seen along the road. It only takes a short time for nature to take back what has been taken from it.

After a visit to the visitor's center for some postcards, I left Zion and ended up in St. George, Utah where I had a large dinner and spent the night. My visits to these two parks were too short. I'm sure I could have spent days there exploring and just admiring the beauty of the landscape. I hope to go back some day. Pictures are

My vacation was dwindling - only three more days until I would be home. Next stop: Las Vegas and Death Valley.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Feeding The World One Word At A Time

I'm an engineer. I'm supposed to be good at math and bad with the English language. Well, the son of a friend of the wife's sent an interesting English language related site that lets you test your vocabulary prowess, learn new and interesting words, and most importantly, help feed the needy. The site, FreeRice, donates rice to the United Nations World Food Program - 10 grains for each word you correctly identify. A warning, like most computer games, it can be addictive. During my first session, first of many I assume, I earned 1000 grains of rice and my vocab level was 43. Not bad for a lowly Engineer. On the math level, when we go out to eat, the wife has to calculate the tip - go figure.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Upcoming Stuff

A quick post about what is planned for the next couple of weeks.

  • This Friday is Homecoming at the wife's school. The game is between her new school and her old school. Her new school is favored to win. I haven't decided if I'll be going or not.

  • After the the game the faculty party is at our place. It's supposed to be pretty chilly out this Friday so the party will probably be inside. Looks to be a pretty crowded house that night.

  • On Sunday I'll be doing a hike on Sulphur Mountain Road. The hike is a 10 mile road through private ranch land. I've done parts before but never the entire 10 miles. There are also some 21 geocaches on the road so I'll be busy.

  • Monday is Veteran's day - actually it's when Veteran's day is observed. The wife and the "J" are going to take an Harmonica Lesson at the local college. The wife seems to be fascinated by the harmonica. I don't have a musically talented bone in my body. I just tend to hum a lot. I suspect it's feedback.

  • On Thursday we are going to a B-52s concert at the Chumash Casino. The "J" is joining us for this journey of food, gambling, and flashback.

  • On Saturday, assuming the Los Padres national Forest is still closed to hikers, I'll be doing a hike along the o'l Boney trail in the Point Mugu State Park. This hike is around 10 miles and I have a list of 35 (!) geocaches on this trail.

  • On Sunday is a trip down to Pasadena for the 2007 Doo Dah parade. The "J" will be accompanying us here as well. After the parade we will head south to San Juan Capistrano to visit the mission.

After that our dance card is empty. I'm sure that will change.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Hiking Ventura County #35: Jalama Beach

The Los Padres National Forest is still closed to hikers so I rearranged my hiking list and picked the one and only beach hike on the list: Jalama Beach. Jalama Beach is located in Santa Barbara County west of Lompoc, CA (I know, this hiking series needs to be renamed). The original hike was a 10 mile hike southeast along the beach to Point Conception. After looking at the geocaches in the area, I decided to increase the length a bit.

I reached the Jalama Beach Campground around 7:40 am. The beach was completely socked in with thick, marine layer, fog. It was also chilly - upper 50s. I put on a jacket which went around my waist less then 10 minutes into the hike - I knew that was going to happen. Instead of turning southeast on the beach, I turned northwest. The "The Outer Limits" cache was located about 1.8 miles northwest of the campground. Despite the campground being full, there were few people on the northern beach. I was a little concerned since some of the cache logs had mentioned that you couldn't reach the cache during high tide and I'd started my hike at high tide. The beach follows a rocky bluff. As I hiked further north the beach narrowed until the waves were crashing at the base of the bluffs. I managed to climb up on the rocks and avoid the cold Pacific water. There were tidal caves where the surf echoed - it kind of sounded like a jet engine inside the caves. The beach widened out further on. Someone had started building a Fort from drift wood and others had expanded it. Pretty cool.

I reached the end of my northwesterly trek and climbed up a steep path up the 74 feet to the top of the bluff. Actually, there wasn't much of a path but I went up the hill using the plant life as foot and hand holds. At the top, the cache was easy to find sitting next to the Vandenberg Air Force Base fence. Turns out the main North-South train route passes just 20 feet from this cache. Unfortunately there was no train running when I was there.

I walked back south along the top of the bluff for about a quarter mile looking for an easier way down the bluff. The top of the bluff was covered in dry brush dripping in dew. There was also a lot of scat - coyote mostly. I found a place I had seen earlier and made my way down. Turns out what looked easy turned out to be a little more perilous. I found out that the dark brown soil was pretty loose. I wasn't too worried as I slid down the bluff out of control since there were plenty of pointy rocks down below to break my fall. Using my hands, hiking pole, and rear end, I managed to stop my downward slide before any major damage was done.

I walked back to the campground picking up trash as I went - it's a pretty clean beach and there wasn't very much to pick up - I just wanted to leave the place better than how I found it. The beach, both north and south of the campground was pretty clean. I found this odd because a lot of the rocks had spots of tar that were either the result of natural seepage or were the result of the off shore oil drilling. There are beaches in Oxnard where you have to clean the tar off the bottom of your shoes after a walk. Not here.

When I returned to the campground, 3.6 miles into the hike, I dumped the trash I had collected and dropped my jacket off at my car. Turning south I discover that there were a few more people on the beach - mostly fishermen, beach walkers, and lots of surfers. As I walked further south the people dwindled.

At about 2 miles from the campground I was alone. I reached a rocky section where a large landslide dumped a load of loose rock, covering a stretch of the beach. I rock hopped around this point and I felt something on the heel of my left foot. I thought I had some sand in my shoe. Now, I had picked up some new, custom, insoles on Friday and I was wearing them on this hike. The insole felt great. I sat down, pulled off my shoe and sock trying to clean out the sand and exposed a large torn blister on my heal. Damn! The insoles had shifted my foot position in the shoes resulting in a blister. I will have to have the insoles adjusted.

I put my sock and shoe back on, cinched my shoe tighter, and moved on. I turned a corner and saw what looked like a strange obelisk out in the misty distance. The first thing that came to mind was Lost - I can imagine Sawyer walking the beach and seeing something like this. As I got closer I could see it was a concrete pillar that, once upon a time, supported a corrugated pipe which drained water away from the bluff above. The pipe had corroded away a long time ago. Further down the beach I came across a large retaining wall, 6 to 8 feet tall, 4 to 6 feet thick, running along the bottom of the bluff, collapsing in some places, and showing the wear of years of pounding surf. Two things came to mind as I examined the weathered concrete. The first was Charlton Heston riding a horse down a beach and seeing the remains of the Statue of Liberty sticking out of the sand (Yeah, my mind was wandering in strange directions on this hike). The second was the futility of trying to hold back the Pacific Ocean. After I thought about it, I realized the drainage pipes and the retaining walls were feeble attempts to preserve the train tracks at the top of the bluff. It looked like nobody had maintained these defenses in many years.

This hike is known for it's wildlife. Mostly deer. I didn't seen any deer on this hike but I did see deer tracks in the sand. I was following some other tracks that I thought were a dog but then I noticed that there were no human tracks in the area. I reached a wide expanse of clean sand and I noticed that there were at least five canine trails. I figure that I was following a pack of coyotes. I did notice a freshly killed pelican that was all bloody and chewed on. I never did see an actual coyote though. This was all surprising since I thought the thick marine layer would have brought out more wildlife. I guess I was wrong. I passed some buzzards and seagulls picking at a seal carcass. There wasn't much left of it.

A walk on the beach is always accompanied by seabirds. I saw pelicans, seagulls, and cormorants. One pair of cormorants distracted me while I was taking their picture and the incoming tide took advantage of my distraction to soak my feet. I followed a solitary Crane down the beach. He kept flying away but I managed to run into him three times during the hike.

At the seven mile mark I sat down on a sun bleached piece of drift wood and ate some lunch. Since it was so cool I wasn't drinking very much water and the weight of my camelbak was really stressing my shoulders and lower back. Hopefully as I hike more they will strengthen up.

The hike continued down the beach a ways before I turned left into a canyon where I followed a dirt road up to the top of the bluff. The dirt road meets a paved road which eventually ends at the gate of the Point Conception Light run by the Coast Guard. You could hear the lonely sound of the fog horn. I sat down and rested near the gate. The gate was in disrepair. A chain was supposed to block the way but one of the supports had fallen over and the chain laid on the ground holding back nothing. I thought about walking out to the light but decided not to risk a federal trespassing charge.

I took off my shoe and sock and dug out the Moleskin I had in my first aid kit and put a piece over the blister on my left heal. I took off my right shoe and found a smaller blister forming there so I put some moleskin there as well. I wish I had done this sooner. The moleskin helped a bit on the way back but it still was sore by the time I got back to the car.

As I walked back down the dirt road I took a sip from my camelbak ... Lesson number umpteenzillion and two: while on a beach hike, always check your camelbak's mouth piece for sand or you will find yourself spitting grit!

The 5 mile walk back to the campground was uneventful. The tide was out so I walked closer to the ocean on the hard packed sand. This made it a little easier then on the way out. Walking on beach sand can be a workout. The trick is to walk close to the water on the water packed sand. I saw some really cool, iridescent, rainbow hued shells. I thought about bringing one home but I changed my mind and left it for the next beach comber. A jellyfish was washed up on the shore waiting for the tide to come back in.

The first sign of life when I approached the campground was a solitary dog, sitting on the beach, looking out to sea. I approached him and looked out to sea for it's owner. I couldn't see anyone out in the surf but then the fog was still pretty thick. The dog walked over, and sat down beside me and looked out at the ocean. It was a little sad. I started to worry that something had happened to the surfer. I noticed a backpack high up the beach and I headed that way to see if I could find some I.D. The dog didn't let me get within 20 feet of the bag. He growled, snapped, and barked at me until I moved away. I marked the position with my GPS and continued down the beach. Around the corner I ran into a surfer and asked him if there were people out there and told him about the dog. He assured me that there were several people out there even if you couldn't see them. I felt reassured.

I made it back to the campground and my car. I dumped my stuff in the car and went to the camp store. The store is famous for its Jalama Burgers but I wasn't hungry for a burger. I bought a Big Ed and a magnet for the fridge. The sun was just starting to peak through the fog as I left. I stopped at a cache on the way out, "Road to JB" where I swapped some travel bugs.

Except for the blisters, this was a good hike. A beach hike is quite different from you standard hike. The sand can be challenging. There is not much vertical on most beach hikes which balances out for the difficulty of the sand. The hike is not a quiet one as the crashing surf is a constant background noise. I prefer the sound of running creek water to surf. The bluffs provided a variety of rock formations. I have been interested in rocks ever since I was a little kid sitting on my Mom's lap and she read a description in the back of one of my comic books of what a geologist did. While this interest never turned into a career choice, didn't even survive the third grade, I still find interesting rock formations fascinating. Overall, Jalama Beach was a nice change of pace.

The total distance hiked was 13.47 miles - a personal best so far. Elevation varied from 0 to 144 feet. Pictures are here.