Napa-Sonoma Half Marathon

July 20th, 2006

My new activity buddy and friend Kelly joined me last weekend on a trip up to run the Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon. I ran just for fun and came in at 1:42/1:38 – but the sensor failed to capture my 5 minute delayed start, though it did get Kelly’s. It was quite a spectacle with a couple hundred runners waiting in line to use the toilets just 5 minutes before the start of the race! The early 0715 start was delayed, but only slightly since the police didn’t want to hold up traffic all day. The run was mostly flat with a few light rolling hills, and simply beautiful of course… running through the country roads from the Domaine Carneros Estate to the city hall park and plaza in downtown Sonoma. Afterwards there was plenty of free wine to sample, only after receiving a free massage of course!

Oh, and besides the half marathon, we also got in some great mountain biking and camping in at Skyline Wilderness in Napa, visited the Petrified Forest, toured a few wineries (Sutter Home, Beringer, and V. Sattui), stopped in the historic and quaint Oakville Grocery, broke down outside of St. Helena and toured the beautifully historic city, broke down again trying to get dinner at Taylor’s Automatic Refresher, bumbed a ride from our campsite to the race start, passed up opportunities for tv interviews, saw the northern-most and final Spanish mission in California – San Francisco de Solano, enjoyed a great Italian lunch on the patio of The Red Grape in downtown Sonoma, got a jump from AAA then replaced my truck battery (with Kelly’s help!), admired the artwork and Napa valley views from the patio at Mumm, and drove around much of Napa and Sonoma. It was quite a fun and busy weekend! Will post pics soon.

Yosemite and Hetch Hetchy

July 20th, 2006

A couple weekends ago I headed out to Yosemite with my friend Travis and his brother. This was my first wilderness experience camping in Yosemite, and even though it was just an over nighter – the experience was amazing! We hiked about 1.5 miles North up from Tioga Road on a fisherman’s path along the edge of Yosemite Creek (near the Ten Lakes trailhead) and found a perfect campsite near the river. On Saturday we drove out to the Hetch Hetchy reservoir and hiked up the switchbacks (exhausting) for some wonderful views of the valley and also over to the spectacular Wapama waterfall. I did some extra trail running on Beehive to Laurel Lake (16 miles?), and had a nice swim in the clear waters of a desolated lake. I’ll get some pictures posted as soon as I can get around to it… living amongst such beauty was spectacular. Close encounters: lizards, squirrels, rattle snake, another snake, deer, brown bear and a black bear.

Note: The Hetch Hetchy reservoir was created inside the National Park in 1923, and ever since John Muir and the Sierra Club have been lobbying to restore the Hetch Hetchy Valley (now submerged under 300 ft of water) to it’s natural state. Today the state just issued a report studying the feasibility and cost of such an action, estimating up to $10 billion.

Nomad in Oakland

July 2nd, 2006

I’m blogging now via free wi-fi from the trendy and eco-conscious Nomad Cafe at 6500 Shattuck in Oakland, CA. The food here is fantastic and a great value – though prices will be going up (for the 1st time in 2 years) to keep up with expenses. I’m a smoothie (Old World – $3.50) and blueberry muffin ($1.75) fan myself. For lunch today, it was Lois the Pie Queen at 60th and Adeline for a double cheeseburger (huge! on toast with chips) and iced-tea. I was just driving by and saw how literally “packed” the place was – and figured it must have been good! I was reassured as soon as I sat at the bar and the man next to me said he had been eating here for 20 years and I luckily stumbled upon a great place! Chris, the owner and child of “Lois the Pie Queen” was very friendly and quite busy taking care of the customers. As I was just finishing up, he read my mind and placed a piece of pie in front of my face. It was wonderful!

This whole weekend I’ve been in Oakland for a Free Radio Berkeley workshop and have been using the Hospitality Club to find interesting people to meet up with and to host me for a night. More about that later – but it’s been going great!