Scuba Refresher

Darlene relented to dipping into cold water again and joined me for a dive at Breakwater Cove in Monterey to refresh our scuba skills ahead of our upcoming trip.  54 degrees at the bottom of the dive – warm for Monterey!

 

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Steens Mountain

Exploring southeastern Oregon, Darlene and I made our way up to Alvord Desert, below the eastern front of Steens Mountain.  We zipped around the playa mid-day for a little while and then continued north along the steep eastern front of the mountain.  As it turns out, all the roads up into the mountain from this side feature private property signs and require special permission to access, so we ended up continuing on to other southeastern Oregon destinations before eventually circling back several days later.

Kiger Mustangs

On our way back we passed through the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and headed to the highlands in hopes of seeing the Kiger Mustangs.  These are wild horses which were only fairly recently discovered to be direct descendents of Iberian horses brought over by Spanish conquistadors some 400 years ago.  We did come across a large herd near the road that we could watch for a long while before sunset, even while we cooked and ate dinner.

The next day we took up the Steens Mountain loop from the north, going clockwise and checking out Kiger Gorge before finding a pullout along the road to spend the night.  (Too many mosquitos in the actual campground back down amongst the creek and aspens.)  Over the next couple of days, we checked out many stupendous viewpoints and got in a few hikes (including off-trail from the peak). We camped at another pullout near the top one night so we could more easily catch sunrise and we ran into another herd of wild horses at lower elevations.

Steens Mountain montage

After Steens Mountain, we headed home west (choosing to skip a follow-up visit to Alvord Desert) and stayed overnight in Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge where we enjoyed a soak in a hot spring pool and did spot a herd of antelope.

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Owyhee Canyonlands

On our southeastern Oregon tour, Darlene and I made our way over to the Owyhee Canyonlands near the Idaho border.  It was July and it was hot, so hardly anyone else was around.  We had to get up with the sunrise to get in hiking and exploration before the afternoon heat but it was gorgeous!  The rock formations around Leslie Gulch are fantastic as well as the Succor Creek Natural Area.  We would have enjoyed spending more days exploring but there was an incoming heat wave promising well over 100 degree weather for the coming days so we decided to skedaddle and find some cooler weather in the higher altitudes of the central Oregon mountains.

 

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Hot Springs and River Gorges

On our way through Nevada to southeastern Oregon, Darlene and I spent a couple of days exploring the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge and the Thousand Creek Gorge in particular.  Only spotted a single lone antelope but got in a bit of biking and hiking and a soak in the hot spring pool at the Virgin Valley campground.  Didn’t stay at the campground but found a spot in some nearby BLM land outside the wildlife refuge.  We also overnighted at Bog Hot Springs off of highway 140.

Somewhere along the way, on some rough and rocky side roads in the refuge, we managed to bust off our gray tank’s drain valve.  Didn’t even notice for a couple of days.  Oops!  Eventually we found enough parts to repair it about a week later.

It was also our first run using the Starlink system for internet access – working really well!

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Tahoe Summer Days

Darlene and I spent a couple weeks in late June and early July at the Tahoe house taking care of a bunch of house maintenance, including roof repair, clearing newly fallen branches and pine needles, moving the bear box to accommodate a widening of the driveway, etc.  We took some time off from all that to go climb to the top of a very windy Mt. Rose (elev. 10,785 ft.), do some mountain biking and hike up the Five Lakes trail near Palisades/Alpine Meadows.

 

We also had another bear visitor while up working on the roof:

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Among the Giant Sequoias

Darlene and I loaded up the van and the cats and headed out this past week for a short adventure.  First stop was to overnight under some dark skies in the San Benito mountains for a potential meteor storm from Tau Herculids.  (There was a decent meteor shower, but no full-on storm.)  We then spent the next five days in and around Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park, hiking among the magnificent giant sequoia trees, checking out Kings Canyon and exploring the Sequoia National Forest between the two national parks.  We also attempted an extended mountain bike ride from Buck Rock to Lookout Peak but had to abort due to a failure / total destruction of my rear hub – resulting in a long bike walk back.

We came across some black bears while hiking in Sequoia National Park.

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Central Nevada Road Trip

After a week in Mt. Bachelor, and with Darlene still visiting her mom, my intention had been to explore southeastern Oregon, but a series of forecasted storms would make many of those dirt roads impassable so I headed back south and ended up on a trip through central Nevada with the ultimate goal of visiting Great Basin National Park near the Utah border. (Separate post and gallery here.)

This trip involved traveling lots of remote routes, both paved and unpaved, and finding interesting places to camp.  Along the way, I spent some time trying out the mountain bike trails near Ely at Ward Mountain, visited the Lunar Crater National Landmark and explored the amazing clay formations at Cathedral Gorge State Park.  No alien encounters (although I was buzzed by what might have been an F-22 Raptor) and unfortunately the ghost town / fossil site Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park is currently closed for road repairs.

 

(If this HDR video can’t play in your browser, here’s a more basic, non-HDR version .)

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Great Basin National Park

Looking towards Doso Doyabi (center) and Wheeler Peak (right).

These are pictures from spending four days in Great Basin National Park in mid-April (with the cats, of course) – driving up to the Mather Overlook (the road was still closed beyond that point due to snow), hiking up the Baker Creek Trail and the Lehman Creek Trail, taking the Lehman Caves tour and venturing around to the remote southern tip of the park to hike up to Lexington Arch.

I want to go back sometime and do the hike to the top of Wheeler Peak (elevation 13,065 ft / 3982 m).

(If this HDR video can’t play in your browser, here’s a more basic, non-HDR version.)

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Ski Trip to Mt. Bachelor

With a long overdue incoming winter storm, Troy and I decided to make an impromptu road trip to Mt. Bachelor in Oregon for fresh powder – and we got plenty!

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Rachel in Virtual Reality

Rachel and Vishal get a taste of virtual reality (VR):

And a bit of Quacks of Quedlinburg:

(See more VR demos here)

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Greg’s 50th Birthday

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Ski Weekends at Homewood

These are pictures and videos from several more ski weekends at Homewood in Tahoe with Troy, Resi, Aiden and Darlene over February and March.

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Tahoe Ski Week

Darlene and I joined Bill, Stan and Jon for our yearly ski vacation week, this time in Tahoe in early March.  We hit up Northstar and Palisades Tahoe during the week, with lots of board gaming in between of course.  On Saturday, Stan and Jon joined us at Homewood with Troy and Aiden to enjoy a bit of new snow.

(3.3 minute video montage of our ski week)

And a little VR demo-ing:

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A High Speed Tour of the Tahoe Ski Areas

I took off in an F/A-18E jet from Truckee airport and visited most of the Tahoe area ski resorts in 12 minutes or less:

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Kevin & Vanessa’s Wedding

February 22, 2022 at Saratoga Springs, California:

 

 

 

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Gamers Gone Skiing

A four-minute video montage of our skiing days.

We got our gaming group together in Tahoe in early February for a few days of skiing and board gaming. Geof and Nacho joined me on the slopes at Tahoe Palisades while Jennifer, Adriana, Laurie and Richard checked out the lake and old town Truckee – and Laurie got in an afternoon at Northstar.

We had exploding potions in Quacks of Quedlinburg, color confusion in Hues and Cues, pushed our luck in Diamant, placed our bets in Wits & Wagers, rolled for the top in Mountain Goats, intercepted secret codes in Decrypto, managed our tricks in both The Crew and Instinct, swam with sharks in Survive: Escape from Atlantis!, built up a map of cities and roads in Carcassonne, dodged avalanches in Slide 5, and laid out our “stained glass” dice windows in Sagrada.

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