Travel in 2009

December 15th, 2008

I’m trying to decide where I might travel to this next year in 2009… since I did so much traveling in 2007, I made a pact that I should only do international travel “every other year” so that I could afford the finances! In that year I graduated from NPS, drove across the entire country camping and sight-seeing along the way, then backpacked around Europe for 7 months seeing friends and new places — hitting 10 countries in all, then finally had a family vacation to Hawaii for Christmas and the New Year. So, that was an expensive year!

So far on the radar for 2009, I’ve got a friend inviting me to go to Iceland in March to admire the glaciers and take advantage of the good exchange rate, my study abroad in Norway group reunion planned for May in London, and another friend inviting me down to Honduras to volunteer with street children and practice my Spanish! Oh, if only I could afford to do them all!

March for LIFE, March for Ron Paul!

January 22nd, 2008

Today is the March for Life in our nation’s capital, Washington D.C.! Last year I joined the March for Life in San Francisco, and after today I will have marched for life on both coasts! There is no issue more important to me than the preservation of Life – and this falls into politics as well with abortion and war (see entry below) – which is why I encourage you all to vote “Dr. Ron Paul for Life”.

Here’s a great Ron Paul for Life video:

When it comes to the other candidates, all of the Democrats are for abortion and of the republicans – both Guiliani and Romney have been vocal and resolute for abortion “rights”. McCain while opposing abortion as birth control (but not incest/rape) he is adamant on federal funds for embryonic stem cell research in this EWTN video however EWTN says Ron Paul is a great Right-to-Life candidate. The problem with abortion “rights” is that no one has the “right” to murder. No one has the right to take your life and you have no right to take another’s. This stems from the very Philosophy of Liberty. Also, no other candidate promotes all “Pro-Life” issues like Ron Paul, who by principle is against: abortion, the death penalty, federally subsidizing embryonic stem cell research and unjust war (following the Christian “Just War Theory”). See just how compatible Dr. Ron Paul and Pope John Paul II are on Pro-Life issues!

Abortion is a matter of “principle”, not “privacy”. Dr. Ron Paul (OBGYN) is “the man of principle” and the ONLY Pro-Life and Pro-Peace candidate running for the Presidency. The Philosophy of Liberty is to protect both Life and Liberty – you cannot protect Liberty without protecting Life! (the ultimate liberty).

Updates? We don’t need no…

March 27th, 2007

Ok, but maybe an update would be nice! Since my last post about the exciting ‘via ferrata’ course in WV, I’ve (done a lot), then moved back to Monterey over the Christmas/New Years holidays. I saw several good friends and family along the way (Jeff in CO, Mike in NM, Vince and Terri in AZ, Pat in CA, Liane in CA). Back in school now, I’ve got a thesis to work on until graduation in June. So you may not see many more updates until then… this thesis will be taking all of my time. =)

Via Ferrata at Nelson Rocks

October 23rd, 2006

I had an awesome time this weekend doing the “via ferrata” (iron way) at the Nelson Rocks Preserve in West Virginia. If you loved climbing trees and such as a kid, you’ll definitely enjoy this via ferrata which is really just ‘very technical and vertical’ hiking on a mountain! Instead of traditional rock climbing — where you scale a rock face mostly straight up with ropes — via ferrata has an iron cable bolted into the rock with handle bars as needed along the way. One only needs only to don a harness and pair of “rabbit ears” (webbing, 2 ropes with caribiners, 3rd optional fall-brake rope) then climb/hike their way up a mountain and around trails!

Via ferrata can be a challenging of course, but it definitely lowers the barrier for non-climbers by providing them easy iron holds, safety support, and no need for advanced climbing techniques and skills. We enjoyed camping out at Seneca Shadows on Saturday night and then spent Sunday on the rocks. This via ferrata course is likely the best in the U.S.A., though over 300+ exist in the Alps of Europe where it originated. The Dolomites in Italy look good! Photos now online!

Down with TOB? (Theology of the Body)

October 9th, 2006

I haven’t even been in Maryland for a week, and now I’ve already taken in 2 sessions on the Theology of the Body (TOB). Pope John Paul II gave over 129 short talks in his Wednesday general audiences from 1979-1984 defining the Catholic view of sexuality. Under the title “Theology of the Body”, these church teachings provide a groundbreaking view on how our own humanity of body and blood unites us to Christ through the Creator’s design of our own sexuality. There is a young adult TOB study group meeting near Baltimore at The Church of the Crucifixian and also a greater-DC area group (TOB related) meeting at The Good News Cafe in Gaithersburg. After just seeing one Christopher West video (on marriage), already I am hooked on learning more about how to find and practice a truer love in my future relationships.

The Theology of the Body is built upon the 1968 encyclical “Humanae Vitae” by Pope Paul IV and heavily influenced by then Bishop Karol Wojtyla. I personally have been dwelling on how simply “God is love” (1 John 4:8), but these teachings take that even further. Pope Benedict XVI just wrote his “Deus Caritas Est” (God is love) encyclical which also discusses the nature of love even further and is worth a read. My friend Harley and I remarked how coincidentally “very TOB” this Sunday’s Liturgy of the Word was! (archive)

Rennfest was great

October 7th, 2006

I checked out the Maryland Rennaissance Festival today in Crownsville and was quite impressed! It was my first time at a Rennaissance festival and I had always had some reservation about going for some reason, perhaps concerned that I might feel ‘out of place’. It’s actually quite a lot of fun though, especially if one really ‘gets into it’. I much enjoyed stepping into that era and the organizers did a really fine job. With everyone in costume, tournaments, the arts and crafts, food and drinks, games, etc… and of course with the old English language – it’s quite a fun day experience, better than a carnival even! Next time I’ll get knight or friar costume before I go, and I think it will be even more fun. Luckily the rain held off, and it wasn’t a “Rainfest” after all! (It did start to sprinkle more though as I was leaving.)

To saunter in the mountains

October 7th, 2006

Would you join me for a hike saunter in the mountains? I really enjoyed the old message by Albert Palmer of “The Mountain and It’s Message” (mp3 audio). If you enjoyed it as well, I hope you would join me on my next saunter in the mountains. I’ll likely be starting along the old Appalachian trail here in Maryland soon, but once I return to California in January, I should be in the Sierras, Big Sur, and hopefully along much of the John Muir trail (wp).

Audiobooks Rule!

October 5th, 2006

I just recently completed a cross country road trip, from Monterey, CA to Balitmore, MD over the course of nearly 4 days, while driving for 12 hours+ a day sometimes. One thing that really kept my mind awake and entertained during this time was some great classic audiobooks such as: Around the World in 80 Days (Jules Verne), The Prince (Nicolo Machiavelli), Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One’s Reason and of Seeking Truth in the Sciences (Rene Descartes), The Man Who Knew Too Much (Gilbert Chersterton), The Innocents Abroad (Mark Twain), and parts of several other texts thanks to the wonderful resources of Librivox, Free Classic Audiobooks, and Free Christian Audiobooks. I’m also going to check out some of the audiobook offerings from Project Gutenberg and LiteralSystems.

“Around the World in 80 Days” was by far the most entertaining and adventerous. You know those books that you “just can’t seem to put down”… this is one of those books, and I could hardly ever turn off my headphones since I was so into it. Each chapter will leave you reeling with suspense, and it’s quite a good story – and appeals to my sense of adventure. The thing I was suprised to read, was that nearly 3 chapters take place in Nebraska! I should have read this earlier when I was a child, and I am suprised it was never thus mentioned to me then!

Descartes’ Discourse was very intriguing as he brings about perhaps the first notion of the scientific method and algorithm of grasping an understanding of very large and complex problems by breaking them down into smaller pieces, and solving them each individually to solve the whole. We all use this method now in object oriented program design and component based system construction (if all the components of system A are “secure” -> system A is “secure”?!). He devoted his life quite humbly to understanding the world as much as possible in order to live a very just life. He thus goes into discussion for a proof of God and many other philosophical discoveries, including the infamous “I think therefore I am”.

I found “The Prince” to be rather quite boring at times, unless you really care to listen about the tales of ancient Princes, lands and soldiers doing battle against each other and working to maintian their victories. This book really appears to be a rendition of “The Art of War” with lessons learned by Machiavelli through extensive study, all condensed into a book of lessons for the new Prince of Italy at the time. I found some parts insightful and intriguing, but most of it would put me to sleep.

There are so many great books here to read — err, listen to — that I think I’ll keep busy for quite some time. I do hope to volunteer and read some classic texts into audiobooks as well, should my voice be appropriate enough for the task.

Mark Twain… cracks me up!

October 5th, 2006

Perhap’s I never caught much of the humor in Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn” when I read it as a child, or perhaps there wasn’t much there. He is definitely quite hilarious though! (Funny I say “is” when he died nearly 100 years ago, but his words still live today!) For just one small taste of his humor, check out his short essay “On the Decay of the Art of Lying” at LiteralSystems.org — which provides a spoken mp3 version as well.

I listened to quite a few audiobooks while driving across the country (courtesy of Librivox.org), but am still working on the 60+ chapters of Twain’s “The Innocents Abroad“, written in 1868. I’m finding it quite entertaining though! It’s a narrative about Twain’s adventure on a voyage to visit the holy land and several other ancient cities along the Mediterranean of high historical interest. Thank goodess for limited copyrights to create a free culture and the good volunteers at Librivox.org, that these great works of Mark Twain and many other famous writers are now freely available for all to read and listen to.

25th International Day of Peace

September 21st, 2006

Did you know that today, September 21st, is designated an International Day of Peace by the United Nations? I just found out this morning! It is labeld as “a day of global ceasefire and non-violence, an invitation to all nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities during the Day”. Wikipedia even says that “Observance of the International Day of Peace has not yet become widespread.”

There are a couple of events scheduled in California, and I hope to checkout the Night Light project in Santa Cruz tonight. I just found out that Mr. Cello Man will be playing tonight for the Marin IDP Celebration.

Talk Like a Pirate!

September 19th, 2006

Talk Like A Pirate DayAhoy mateys! Today be that great jolly day of the year again, International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Avast! Ye land lubbers best learn how to talk like a Pirate or at least learn some Pirate Phrases, lest ye sound like a fool today! If you have a pirate keyboard all the better!

Some good phrases already used today:

Avast! Morning plunderings included milk and cookies from the store. Arrr!

Argh! Tis a jolly good remindar. Lest we sea dogs forget about tis joyous day. (Eric)

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!

Hermitage and Adobes

June 24th, 2006

Hermitage view

There was lots of activity today in Monterey! First, just after my morning Old Coast Road run, I dove down for mass service at the Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur which is just ~1/4 mile south of the lodge/restaurant in Lucia on Highway 1. I must say that the service there was exceptional, very reverant and quite beautiful – perhaps the most beautiful mass I’ve ever seen or heard! My new friend Noelle introduced me to the hermitage just yesterday and I’m glad she did. I just wish it wasn’t so far (55 miles on Hwy 1) away! It is beautifully tucked up in the mountains though, and sits above the fog that engulfs the coast during the summer… which looks like clouds from above and might make you think you’re in heaven! Makes me ponder becoming a monk or at least going on a retreat out there.

As I headed back towards Monterey, I saw many colorful wind flags and found out they were markers for todays 8th annual Big Sur Hidden Gardens Tour presented by Big Sur Arts. One could drive along the highway and take a look at elaborate private gardens of the rich! Also today, and my reason for heading back to town, was the Adobes Fiesta hosted by the Monterey History Association. I didn’t make it back it time to tour any adobes, but I did volunteer as a docent from 4-5 p.m. at the San Carlos Cathedral and newly opened Heritage Center (museum) for visitors. It was great to see all the items in our tiny museum collection, and I hope to still visit the historic adobes in town.

Misc: I met Doc Wong today and a crew of people at the local Thai place, Siamese Bay Restaurant here in Monterey. I spotted the “docwong.com” logo on a van outside and found the man himself just inside the restaurant. I introduced myself but forgot to ask what brought him to Monterey. I do hope to make it up to Redwood City in July for the next motorcycle maintenance class though!

Old Coast Road Run

June 24th, 2006

This morning I ran the 10 mile Old Coast Road down in Big Sur. It starts on the northeast side of Bixby Bridge and then returns to Hwy 1 again just in front of the entrance to Andrew Molera State Park. This road was “the highway” along the coast before Hwy 1 and the Bixby Bridge was built in 1932. It is semi-popular for runners, mtn biking and general people driving through to enjoy the scenery (though you’ll pass up Point Sur and the Lighthouse along Hwy 1). The most popular direction of travel is North to South along the road, which provides some steep descents with relatively mild ascents. It is pretty remote though, so you’ll probably want to run with a buddy at the least, and with aid stations along the way if you’re lucky!

We had about 15 or so WNLR runners that ran it today as part of a birthday run for Brad, who organized it, and whose b-day was Friday, but Gene’s (I believe) was today. (Note: I passed up the doubledipsea for this, but am glad because this was a lot of fun!) We had Kevin driving around in a pickup truck as our aid station along the way which was great! A few runners started at Andrew Molera at 6:00 a.m. and ran the 8+ miles north to Bixby bridge where they met the others around 7:15 a.m. to start down Old Coast Road. I suprisingly woke up late, at 7:00 a.m. and sped my way down the 1 to get there in time. I arrived around 7:20 a.m. to find empty cars, then drove 100yds up Old Coast Road and luckily saw them there! I managed to catch up on some of the downhills and had a great time.

Afterwards we drove down to the Big Sur River Inn for breakfast and I had the Little Sur Omelet for $10 with a strawberry smoothie $4. After telling the waitress I needed to take off quick, I was suprised to receive my food in about 5 mins later! Talk about service! I’ll definitely be going back again, and also to soak my feet in the river which I hear feels great after a run! I also met Sally and was finally able to get my membership fee in for the WNLR group.

Hospitality Club Social

June 20th, 2006

I recently moved to Monterey in September, and since then, I’ve been lucky enough to get a few Hospitality Club guests stop on by and finally “pay forward” the genuine hospitality I received while in Europe over a year ago. I’m excited to be living in such a beautiful and tourism-rich area now, and hope to see the HC really ‘come to life’ here!

Since the whole HC idea is about ‘bringing people together’ and fostering international friendships to increase intercultural understanding and strengthen peace, I thought it would be great for the local HC members to get together and also to invite others to learn more about the Hospitality Club! So here it is… what I believe is the first Monterey-area HC social event ever!!! You’ll want to be a part of this!

What: Hospitality Club Social Party for the Monterey area

– meet fellow local HC members
– introduce your friends to the HC and meet other locals
– share stories of traveling, life, etc around a campfire on the beach
– sports activities?: frisbee, football, etc if interested
– eat, drink, and be merry… =)

When: Sunday June 25th, from 4 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Where: Carmel Beach, near the 13th street intersection

Read the rest of this entry »

San Carlos Benefit

June 9th, 2006

Monterey is a city with a wealth of history, and perhaps the most historic and ‘well preserved’ as such of any city in all of California. Monterey was the capital of Alta and the entire “California” under both Spanish and Mexican rule, and it was here (in a building just a stone throw away from my house – Colton Hall) where the Constitution for the U.S. state of California was drafted and signed (in both English and Spanish). Only one building though remains that can claim to have seen “all of the history” of Monterey and as such California — and that is San Carlos Cathedral.

Originally a Spanish presidio chapel, the current San Carlos Cathedral structure was completed in 1794 and thus making it the “oldest stone structure in California”. At over 200 years old though, it’s in serious need of conservation work, and tonight one of many great fundraisers will be held. As the Monterey Herald reported, “Camerata by Candlelight” will be an exquisite evening to enjoy both great vocal music and history in the cathedral before the local Camerata Singers take off for their European tour. Tickets are still available at $35/$50 (373.2628), and the show starts at 8:00 pm with a preview part and hors’doerves served with wine from Chateau Julian starting at 6:30 pm. An after party is also included! If you can, you really should try to attend and make a contribution to preserving this great icon of California’s history!

Update: This evening was wonderful! The singing was incredible and we (Eleanor, Jeannie, Annette and I) had front row seats of the whole show. It was a chorus of ‘heavenly voices’ singing in a heavenly setting! I forgot to bring my camera in for the show (was rushed from also volunteering to bus tables) but Annette’s camera pics may attest to our great seating and view. Thanks to all those who attended, volunteered, and made other contributions to the evening such as the wonderful hors d’oeuvres prepared from fine restaurants in Monterey and excellent local wine! It was too bad that Angela (Jeannie’s daughter) got sick that morning, she missed a great evening and I wish her well!

On a separate note: The Monterey Maritime & History Museum is offering **free admission** for the entire month of June! This is another great local treasure to visit if in Monterey.

First WNLR Run

June 3rd, 2006

This morning I had my first run with the Wednesday Night Laundry Runners in Carmel. I actually showed up at 6:30 (because I misread the schedule) for the 7:15 Saturday morning “Long Run”, and because of that got in 2x the amount of running! I ran for 45 minutes or so and was doing a cool down run along the beach, then asked 3 runners if they’d heard of the WNLR… they said, “Yeah, you can probably still catch them! Cut over across the Pebble Beach golf course and they’ll be on their way.” This is when I found out the run started at 7:15 instead of 6:30 (though I was still in disbelief.)

I found a footpath up from the beach, cut across to the golf cart road… and lo and behold — I saw about 40 runners coming my way from Carmel! I tagged along with the leading group of 4 runners and ran ~3 miles to the famous Cypress tree out on 17 mile drive, then turned around and ran back with Rick. Total running time: 1 hr 35 min. (A bit more than I anticipated though!) Rick said our returning 3 miles was about 7:08 min/mile pace! The run was beautiful, I highly recommend it! I think the best part was coming back through the golf course and cresting a hill when you can see Carmel beach again. =) See more runs on my good runs wiki page.

Experienced Ventana

May 28th, 2006

There was a special $5 off coupon in the Monterey County Weekly newspaper for camping in the privately owned Ventanna Campground in Big Sur. The offer was only good until the end of May though, so I headed out on another Thursday night (May 18th) to check it out (no classes until 1pm on Friday). I wanted to beat the Memorial Day weekend rush, and I certainly did! Also, since I plan to buy a California State Parks Annual Permit (or with membership) shortly, I will likely be camping only at the state parks in Big Sur after such. So the timing was quite good!

Out of the 70+ campsites at Ventana (3+ in regular use by Ventana employees) there were perhaps only 5 other campsites in use besides mine, and they were totally “sold out” for the next (Memorial Day) weekend. I think I actually got one of their best campsites also… site #22 which had a stream and two little waterfalls just yards away – I fell asleep listening to the falls. But be forewarned, there are definitely some great and some ‘not very good at all’ campsites there, so I tried to make note of that in case I should return again sometime. I’ll write up a report on Ventana Campground and post photos of the campsites in the near future!