Soaring Over Tahoe

For my birthday, Darlene bought me a glider ride with the Truckee Tahoe Soaring Association based out of the Truckee airport and we were able to squeeze in together for a 40-minute flight over the mountains between Truckee and Lake Tahoe.  It was, of course, a wonderful experience and we got to learn a bit from our pilot Pablo about the capabilities of gliders – like the ability for them to sustain 1000-mile flights up and down the Sierra Nevada range, riding the thermals. Both Darlene and I did get a little motion sick (no doubt partly due to trying to take pictures and video) but not too serious.  It was a little noisier in the cockpit than I expected from all of the air rushing over and around the canopy but we were easily able to talk to each other.

While we were aloft we were joined by two other gliders coming in from more distant locations.  One of them was just coming across Lake Tahoe fairly low from the direction of Carson City and we watched as they searched out some thermals to get themselves back up again to a more comfortable 11,000 ft elevation over the 8000+ ft mountain ridges around the lake.

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A Little Bit of the Tahoe Rim Trail

Darlene and I got a little taste of the Tahoe Rim Trail exploring west from the Tahoe house as far as Burton Creek State Park this past weekend.  I was surprised to find that there’s also a paved road that runs from Brockway Summit around to Burton Creek State Park, called the “Fiberboard Freeway” on some maps and apparently popular as a cross-country ski route.  We also wandered into the cross-country ski area that’s part of Northstar that I’d never seen before – including the “Caboose Hut”.

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Flying Around Mono Basin

This little road trip to the Eastern Sierra got off to a rough start as I experienced a breakdown in the Traveling Cat Adventure Vehicle far from any service help.  I was on US-395 just past the intersection with CA-108 (still closed from snow on Sonora Pass) when I suddenly felt multiple and ongoing jerking motions from the transmission as it seemingly tried to jump between gears.  I was luckily right in front of a pullout (which are few and far between) and was able to pull off the highway and try to figure out what was going on.  I ended up waiting about four hours as Mercedes roadside service tried to find a tow service before I found I could get the vehicle moving and head back towards Gardnerville and eventually Reno to get the vehicle looked at the next day.  (For more play by play on what happened, see this thread in the Sprinter-Source forum.)  Anyway, after losing a couple of days to dealing with that and then another day back at the Tahoe house fixing the RV’s refrigerator (which had also started acting up), I eventually headed out again.

I was going to meet up with Hoan and his family in Mammoth Lakes but they ended up bailing out and so I spent a few days in and around the Mono Lake basin.  The first night was a little off road on the way up to Virginia Lakes after discovering the dirt roads any higher were still blocked with snow.  Still it was looking to be a lovely high altitude spot for star gazing with my telescope – until after setting everything up I realized I had forgot to pack my counterweight – making it mostly unusable.  D’oh!  Still it was a nice spot to fly the drone around a bit with Mono Lake visible in the distance.  And Pan caught himself a mouse. ;-)

  

The following day I dropped down into the Mono Basin and went off roading a bit to get near the Mono Craters to go exploring on foot and in the air.  (I wasn’t going to try take the Traveling Cat Adventure Vehicle up the slopes of the craters!)  My cross-country hike turned out to be much more difficult than expected as it was really tough just getting up a step or two without slipping back on  the steep scree slopes.  But my, such a lovely and fascinating view over the top by flying the drone!

 

The last day involved some more exploring and flying near Grant Lake – and I found myself pushing the vehicle climbing on some just barely passable rough dirt roads.  Once again, I’m really looking forward to downsizing to a much smaller and more capable off-road van.  After getting out of there without mishap, the return trip involved backtracking north on 395 to highway 88, Monitor Pass and Markleeville.  Tioga Pass was still closed and Sonora Pass and Ebetts Pass would be a really bad idea for a 25 ft. RV!  Carson Pass was lovely and snow capped all over on the way back though.

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Bunnies, Wizards and… Real Estate Developers

Lots of gaming this month, including several meetups at the local library.  After the second broken playthrough of the auction game Estates, I finally realized I had goofed a fundamental rule in teaching the game. Nobody could possibly come out ahead… next time let’s try playing it in the way that it’s possible for someone to succeed!

On the other hand, our first playthrough of Chinatown was really fun, though hard to keep our voices down in this wildly interactive, open trading/deal-making game. And it was fun to finally get Wiz-War to the table with a group of four – even though my wizard got killed off first!  D’oh!

   

Nacho started hosting some gaming nights at his place this month.  We did some finger flicking of race cars around a track (what was that called?), squeezed little miniature towns together in Tiny Towns and enjoyed lots of repeats: building amusement parks in Unfair, werewolf hunting with One Night Ultimate Werewolf, pattern matching in Sagrada, space conquest via Space Base and maze maneuvering in Drakon.

   

Besides a couple more rounds of Bunny Kingdom, Darlene and I finally started Pandemic Legacy: Season One at home.  We’re only a few “months” in but so far things are under control – which probably means things are going to spiral out-of-control soon.

Oh and I introduced Kathie and Dave to Quacks of Quedlinburg. Dave came out the clear leader – and the supreme Quack!

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Dan & Rachel’s Wedding

Dan and Rachel were married this past Saturday at the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose:

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Fresh Powder in May

We got a couple more storms in mid-May along with a nice cold snap to bring fresh powder to the slopes… yay!  I was able to head up with the cats and hit Squaw the morning after each storm and even just happened to catch Granite Chief moments after it opened on Sunday:

  

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Marvin the Martian Lands in Tahoe

Darlene and Marvin the Martian joined Resi, Troy and Aiden for the closing ski weekend at Homewood in Tahoe this past Easter weekend:

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Dressed for Hamilton

For Darlene’s birthday we went to see a performance of the musical Hamilton at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco – in costume of course.  The smiles are mostly due to the very enthusiastic and zealous person who insisted on taking our picture for us afterwards!

 

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Joslyn’s Visit

Darlene’s niece, Joslyn, came out from Wisconsin for her spring break from school and I think we managed to fill her time here.  We visited Shark Fin Cove, Pigeon Point Lighthouse, the Seymour Marine Discovery Center and saw dolphins while flying the drone from the sea cliffs near Pescadero.  We spent one morning to see the redwood trees at Henry Cowell State Park and a deserted Roaring Camp Railroads.  We introduced her to the sea otters at Moss Landing and got in a guided walk at Año Nuevo to see the elephant seals (lots of weaned pups at this time of year) and she and Darlene stayed overnight at the Monterey Zoo and fed the elephants.  Besides a couple of movie nights and several interesting board games, we also went up to Tahoe for three days so she could learn to ski – and she was careening down the mountain in no time!

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Gaming in March

Darlene and I got in another game of Great Western Trail – not withstanding Pan’s attempt to thwart us.  That picture was after having just finished setting up the starting game state – the first time.  We had to herd him away from the table mid-game a few times after that to avoid disaster.

Later, with my local gaming Meetup group, I tried out the cold war espionage, item-collecting game Covert (and cleaned up like a super-spy! ;-)

At another gaming meetup, I finally got the hidden traitor game Dark Moon back to the table again and incorporated some of the Shadow Corporation expansion into play with six players but it went very strangely.  All of our dice rolls were so lucky that we completed all four events in just one round and a half of play – without really any intrigue of trying to suss out the infected players.  Lame.  Will have to try again.  Meanwhile, others were engaged in a multiple-hour, six-player, three-stage bike racing series championship with Flamme Rouge. Darlene and I were introduced to the dice-rolling Space Base game and we introduced others to a quick three rounds of Cheaty Mages.

  

On a Wednesday night, five of us attempted to summit K2 (via the board game, K2) and alas, one of my climbers and somebody else’s were caught up top in a blizzard and died.  Very sad.  Kat came through though with maybe just a little frostbite to win the game.

At a Saturday gathering, I introduced the group to Quacks of Quedlinburg, in appropriate costume of course! Several of us managed to max out our potion-brewing cauldrons – but then I did forget a rule about when you’re allowed to use the neutralizing agent.  Oops.  After that I tried a game of Whistle Stop for the first time – that one was interesting, but a bit slow with five players.

Darlene and I also introduced her niece Joslyn to some board games while she was here for a week visiting from Wisconsin.  Besides Quacks of Quedlinburg, Bärenpark and Evo, we made a first run on the new spin on cooperative, crime-solving detective games, Chronicles of Chrime.  This game uses an app to allow you to explore a crime scene and related locations in virtual reality and has you prompting characters with the various bits of evidence you find to gather more clues and eventually piece together a solution to the criminal mystery – all while consuming in-game time that allows the situation to evolve.  Pretty cool!

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Sun and Snow in Tahoe

I was able to join Jon at Northstar and Bill and Kat at Heavenly for three days of skiing mid-week last week – and we had lots of sun and snow to play in.

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Ice Dams Remain

Partial snow load from off of roof

As I detailed earlier (Those Ice Dam Blues), the Tahoe house developed thick ice dams all around to the point where I was getting water intrusion where the dormers meet the roof above the deck.  Turning the poorly-installed heat tape/cables back on, and leaving them on 24/7, let the melt water drain off (and re-freeze into a thick layer on the deck).  I called around and found Millers Roofing would be able to come out and clear the snow and ice from the roof about a week later.  (Boy would that suck if the heat tape hadn’t been able to get the water to drain.)

Well… it would seem that I had some entirely unfounded expectations over what to expect.  I was thinking that a service to clear the snow and ice from the roof would leave the roof relatively clear of both (at least until the next snow storm).  Though I had no idea how they would safely remove the foot-plus thick ice, I was surprised to discover that they apparently don’t actually remove all of the snow or apparently any of the ice.  Six hours of work for three guys (and $2250) and what they do is remove about three-quarters of the snow off the top.  Troy sent me a photo of the front of the house two days after the roof snow removal crew finished (and after another storm dropped some more snow).  Here’s the before/after shots:


One week before and two days after the clearing work

When I did get to the house about ten days later, I was dismayed to see that while a lot of snow was dumped off the roof, the ice dams remain everywhere around the house except for where the heat tape/cables run beneath the dormers:

   

And there’s quite the load of snow and ice from the roof on the deck now:

 

The concern here is how the melt water from the roof continues to fall and refreeze into a slab of ice on the deck – getting up to the door thresholds.  We are starting to get a little bit warmer weather so we’ll see how this goes in the coming months but this clearly needs some work to avoid this mess in the future – both the ice dam formation and the ice slab on the deck.

All of this makes me wonder if it was worth hiring that crew to do that partial snow load removal.  I can see some more shingles are peeling off the roof eaves but maybe it would be worse.  On the other hand, the ice dams remain until they eventually melt away and there’s plenty of snow remaining (and to come) to feed them.  Hopefully there won’t be any water intrusion elsewhere on the roof where there are no heat cables installed.

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Utah Ski Week

Our annual week of skiing and board gaming didn’t happen last year but we did manage to get together this year in Utah.  Bill, Kat, Jon, Stan, Tom and I all hit up Alta, Snowbird and Solitude over five days.  We had plenty of snow and a few extra inches here and there over the course of the week.  We also got in plenty of gaming: Diamant, Sushi Go Party, Bang!, Slide 5, Decrypto, Cheaty Mages, Codenames: Pictures, Ricochet Robot, Cutthroat Caverns and a partial game of Fury of Dracula.

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Check Your Old Sunglasses and Goggles

We were just about to toss out some old goggles that were in the closet and, on a lark, decided to check their UV protection.  Mine were maybe 10+ year old Oakleys (haven’t used in many years) and Darlene’s were her old Smith’s that she had been using up until last month.  Both are fitted with orange “high contrast” lenses.

Well, both appear to be failing to provide UV protection now.  Not good!

Sunglasses and ski goggles can lose their UV protection over time.  So… double-check your old sunglasses and goggles for UV protection!

I tested with a UV flashlight (“black light”) I picked up recently off Amazon when I decided I didn’t want to trust the unknown Chinese manufacturer (“Oho”) of some new camera goggles I bought.  As it turns out, those new goggles and my old Liquid Image camera goggles I’ve been using for many years pass the UV flashlight test fine.  (As do my and Darlene’s sunglasses.)

You can do a quick and dirty test just using a $20 bill and one of these inexpensive UV flashlights.  You can also get a more professional test (with an actual UV blocking measurement) from your local optician.

Here’s a bad result on left (strip is fluorescing due to UV light getting through lens), good result on right – both are orange tint lenses and many years old:

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Those Ice Dam Blues

  

Record loads of snowfall (and occasional bouts of rain) mean lots of snow and ice on the Tahoe house – enough to build up ice dams all the way around the house and to eventually find water streaming down the walls in the dining room.

It looks like the problem spot is where one of the dormers meets the roof.  Melting snow collects above the ice dam below the dormers, getting under the shingles until it gets high enough to stream down where the dormer wall joins the roof.  There is some heat tape installed under these dormers to create drainage through the ice dams but it’s not installed quite correctly and I had mistakenly understood that it’s not necessary to run it at night when the temperatures get down to the teens outside.  Apparently there’s enough heat getting through the roof to melt the snow even when it’s that cold outside.  So I ended up with water streaming down the inside walls (past electrical outlets, to boot):

      

Not good.  I’ve got a crew coming from Mills Roofing later this week to remove the snow and ice buildup.   There will be more snow and then more melt and more ice dams though.  The heat tape that is there now is only on a portion of the rear of the house and it wasn’t installed properly.  It doesn’t hang over the edge of the eaves as it should (to let the water drain off the roof) and a good 8-10 feet of it is wasted strung up on the wall coming from the junction box.  I was able to rearrange some of it but the roof here is too steep for me to deal with most of it.

I’ve been in contact with Brian from Summit Ice Melt Systems and will be looking into potentially installing their product to prevent these ice dams from forming at all.  However, that still leaves the issue of all this melt water collecting and refreezing on the deck below – and potentially leading to further water intrusion into the house:

  

There’s also still the outstanding damage to the roof from prior seasons.  There are several sections of shingles missing from the roof but I wasn’t able to find anyone that wasn’t already booked up to repair the damage over this past year.  I did eventually sign up with Jeff’s Roofing Truckee but he also wasn’t able to get to it before the first snows arrived.  He did manage to locate a supply of the Tamko shingles in South Lake Tahoe though.  Hopefully, he’ll get to my roof later this year once the snow and cold weather is gone:

  

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Quite a Bit More Snow in Tahoe

Three weeks into February and Lake Tahoe ski resorts have already received record snowfall for the month: Squaw Valley got over 21 feet this month so far and nearly 43 feet for the season, and Homewood even more at 23 feet for the month.

Crazy!  As in awesome fun! Well, except when the roads are closed due to nasty, accident-prone weather conditions – we spent one Saturday night trying to get back to the house in Tahoe Vista from Homewood.  First the lake road was closed due to numerous accidents and when we finally tried to take the long way around via Truckee (and through some crazy whiteout conditions across the meadow below Northstar), they ended up closing Brockway Summit.  After taking a break in Truckee for dinner and going back around through Tahoe City, we finally made it back to the house by 10 pm – maybe only barely before the unplowed snow on Regency Way got too deep for us to pass.

Three bountiful feet of snow overnight and many resorts had trouble opening for Sunday morning.  (Squaw and Alpine didn’t and Homewood was overwhelmed with people and only one chair lift they could run.)  That pattern of three feet of new snow repeated again and again over the month.

Short video montage at Homewood, Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows over February.

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