We’re Flying on Air!

As an almost-surprise gift this year, Darlene signed us for a pair of “flights” at the indoor “skydiving” facility iFly in Union City, CA.  Glenn and Michele came down from Portland for the weekend to give it a try with us along with several friends in the area: Martha, Dave, and Greg as well as Darlene’s 79-year old aunt Betty and her two young charges, Travis and Dillon.

After a bit of instruction on how to hold your body, we each got two one-minute “flights” in the vertical wind tunnel with our iFly instructor, Charlie.  As beginners, we were all just learning how to hold a more-or-less steady hover in the 110-145 mph winds.  (They adjust the wind speed on-the-fly for the size of the person.)  Everybody had a blast and opted for the “fly high” option on our second flights where the instructor takes to the air with you and carries you aloft spinning up and down the shaft.

Click through for pictures and videos:

  

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Beginner’s Ride?

Glenn and Michele came down from Portland this past weekend to try “iFly” with me and Darlene, but on Saturday they joined us for their first taste of mountain biking.  They rented some nice, new demo Trek Fuel EX bikes and we set out from the Epicenter bike shop in Santa Cruz to take them on a nice beginner’s course around the middle half of Wilder Ranch.

They took to it so quickly, picking up each new handling skill easily and conquering all the climbing and maneuvering, and always up for more.  So much so that we ended up climbing to the top of Wilder and on over to do some UCSC back campus trails before coming back by way of my favorite descent in Wilder.  So much for sticking to the beginner’s route!  But I think they enjoyed their first time out!

  

And… bonus!! A video of all of us belly-dancing (sort of) the night before at Menara’s, a Moroccan restaurant in San Jose:

 

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Edwardian Ball 2015

Last weekend, Darlene and I attended both nights of the Edwardian World’s Faire and Ball in San Francisco again:

  

And then on Sunday we spent the day at the California Academy of Sciences:

  

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Revisiting the Galapagos Islands

I originally got to visit the Galapagos Islands five years ago but Darlene has long wanted to go herself.  Of course the Galapagos Islands are well known for their abundant and unique wildlife, their fascinating and beautiful geology, as well as for the inspiration and development of Darwin’s theory of biological evolution.  So, no, I really didn’t mind going back for a second visit!

We were in the Galapagos for twelve days (December 5th through the 16th) and we stayed overnight on the islands of Santa Cruz, Isabela and San Cristobal with day trips out to Santa Fe, Bartolomé, Leon Dormido as well as a few smaller outcroppings.  (Here’s a great map.)  This was a land-based trip (as was my previous trip), but this time I booked the trip through BikeHike.com and extended it with time on our own for four days (and to include San Cristobal).

Our days were filled with hiking, biking, kayaking, snorkeling, and boating as well as with sea lions, iguanas, penguins, giant tortoises, sharks, sea turtles, rays, cormorants, pelicans, frigate birds, crabs and fish!  And great food!  The whole trip was fantastic!  (Thanks again to our guide, Jorgen, and to everyone else who contributed to making this such a fun experience!)

Here’s a little video I put together covering the whole of the trip:

(6.5 minutes, 120 MB download)

And here are my pictures and other video clips from the trip (including some of Darlene’s), separated into four galleries:

Days 1-3: Santa Cruz and Santa Fe

  

Days 4-5: Bartolomé and Santa Cruz

  

Days 6-7: Isabela and Sierra Negre

  

Days 8-12: Santa Cruz and San Cristobal

  

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Tahoe Skiing

Click through for my gallery of pictures plus a video montage from this past weekend skiing at Squaw and Alpine Meadows with the Outdoor Adventure Club:

  

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Princess Darlene

A Merry Christmas to all from Princess Darlene…

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Burning New Moon

Caught a super thin crescent of a new moon chasing the sunset a couple of days ago:

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Looked like it was on fire as it set behind the ridge – here’s some video through my telescope
(at 4x normal speed):


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Spruce Goose

While up in Portland, Oregon this past weekend for my brother’s birthday, Glenn, Michele and I made a day’s excursion to the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum, the current home of the “Spruce Goose” and a huge variety of other aircraft.  All pretty cool and definitely a worthwhile visit, but it’s a little annoying that they charge extra (and separately) for tours inside two of the aircraft: a B-17 bomber (“Flying Fortress”) and the Spruce Goose itself.

Click through for pictures:

   

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Glenn’s 45th Birthday

My brother, Glenn, decided to run 45 miles over the week of his birthday, starting with a half-marathon and culminating with the final five miles to an eatery in downtown Portland specializing in fresh-baked pies.  (Mmmm… pies….)

He made this commitment before he came down with a bronchial infection or knew that he’d have some nasty windy and rainy weather to run through during the week. However, with the aid of a mélange of drugs and the hesitant okay from his doctor, he ran the miles anyway and some of us joined him for his final five miles… and pie!!

Here’s his take on the experience

Click through below for my pictures:

  

We also happened to catch the Portland Lighted Christmas Ship Parade on Sunday night:

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Misty Santa Cruz Sunrise

I woke to the first glimmer of this fantastic misty, foggy sunrise out my bedroom window a couple of days ago… so I scrambled to set up a camera on the deck to capture a time-lapse video and snag a few nice shots.  Pan supervised:

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