Grandpa’s House

Yesterday, Darlene and I came across “grandpa’s house” from the movie The Lost Boys while hiking in Pogonip Park here in Santa Cruz:


It’s now condemned and fenced off but they used the old Pogonip clubhouse for the exterior shots of “grandpa’s house” back in 1987:

And then we found this…

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Darlene Forgets Something

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Lake Tahoe to Desert Playa

We loaded up the van and headed out last week, stopping first for a couple of days to visit with Troy in Tahoe.


Our intention was to travel on to the Great Basin National Park in eastern Nevada and maybe into Utah but we had to cut the trip short and head home early so that Darlene could help a friend.  So we spent the couple of days we had checking out Pyramid Lake north of Reno (which is where Lake Tahoe and the Truckee River drain to) and then visiting the Black Rock Desert playa before heading home.

All of this area (and in fact all of northwest Nevada) used to be submerged in a huge prehistoric lake (Lake Lahontan) and the ancient water lines are still obvious along the mountain sides.  There are also lots of cool tufa rock formations in the area, though unfortunately much of the area around Pyramid Lake is off limits to the public and open to tribal members only.  (The lake and surroundings are part of a Paiute Reservation.)

Tufa / calcium carbonate rock formations (or perhaps alien artifacts)

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More VR Demos

More demos of VR for friends, this time with Dave and Kathie, separately with Troy and (updated in December 2021) with Clay:

See also past VR demos with Martha and Dave and with Glenn, Michele and Seaerra:


and my original demo of VR experiences with me and Darlene:


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Colorado Road Trip

I’ve already posted a series of galleries for most of our Colorado road trip:

This last gallery (Florissant, Shelf Road, Flaming Gorge, etc.) contains more miscellaneous pictures — visiting the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, driving the dramatic, unpaved Shelf Road south out of Cripple Creek, stopping by the Royal Gorge Bridge, hiking out to the dinosaur trackways near Red Fleet State Park (Utah), spending a couple of days at the south end of the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, seeing wild horses in Sand Wash Basin HMA in northwest Colorado, and overnight stops in Wyoming, Utah and Nevada on my way to and from Colorado.

Old homestead at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

On the Shelf Road

Flaming Gorge Reservoir

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Dinosaur National Monument

As part of our month-long Colorado road trip, we spent about four days in Dinosaur National Monument but could have happily spent more if not for the worsening smoke from this year’s California wildfires.

One of many canyon overlooks along Yampa Bench Road


Coming from the south, we started with the canyon portion of the park and spent two nights at the Echo Park campground.  One day was just biking out along the Yampa Bench Road and checking out many of the amazing river canyon overlooks.

The following day we turned our attention to the dinosaur fossils and petroglyphs in the western part of the park by taking a slow, rough 4WD road to the other side of the park.  (Why take the easy way around??)

At the Quarry Exhibit Hall, you can see hundreds of fossilized dinosaur bones still embedded in the rock:

Lots of petroglyphs along Harper’s Corner Road

And we had a close encounter with a pair of bighorn sheep:

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A Taste of the Kokopelli Trail

As part of our month-long Colorado road trip, we stopped at a fossil quarry site along I-70 near the Utah border called A Trail Through Time where you can see a few fossils still embedded in the rock:

Afterwards we chose to check out the mountain biking trails in the BLM area just across the highway. Turns out this very pretty area, Rabbit Valley, is part of the popular Kokopelli Trail that continues southwest into Utah and all the way to Moab, over 140 miles.  We just ended up riding as far as an overlook of the Colorado River that afternoon before returning to our campsite for dinner and to watch a very cool, very active, distant thunderstorm.  I went for another ride later that night after dark.

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Museum of the Mountain West

As part of our month-long Colorado road trip, we decided to check out the Museum of the Mountain West in Montrose after seeing it in Atlas Obscura.  Jim was our friendly tour guide for several hours and it proved to be quite an amazing collection of old west artifacts.  Very easy to recommend – check it out – but you’ll want a guided tour as as a lot of rooms are now cordoned off for self-guided visitors.  (They kept having thefts.)

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison

As part of our month-long Colorado road trip, we spent a day exploring the south side of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.  And yes, it is an incredibly deep, steep and narrow canyon!  We camped on some BLM land just outside of the park and spent a full day gawking at the canyon from the various viewpoints, including hiking out the Warner Point nature trail.

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Creede, Bachelor Loop and Wheeler Geologic Area

As part of our month-long Colorado road trip, we found ourselves in Creede and immediately discovered the incredible scenery of the 17-mile Bachelor Historic Mining Loop starting just outside of town.  We camped on a spur of the loop and then proceeded to follow the historic loop and gawk at the incredible scenery.  I do regret that we didn’t choose to ride our bikes along the route instead but it was still fantastic to see.


Later that day we decided to make our way up to the staging area (at 11,000 ft) for the Wheeler Geologic Area, based on an entry from Atlas Obscura.  You can’t actually easily drive the whole way as the dirt road gets seriously messed up and eroded away at points requiring serious 4WD maneuvering.  (Most people seem to take ATV’s or other off-highway vehicles.)  There is also a hiking trail but that’s best done as an overnight backpacking trip as it’s seven miles just to the trailhead leading to the formations.  We opted to follow the 4WD road on our mountain bikes as they aren’t allowed on the hiking trail.  (Except for the carve out for the dirt road, this is deep inside a designated wilderness area.) Interestingly, the Wheeler Geologic Area used to have national monument status until 1950.

As it turns out, the road goes way out-of-the-way to get there (14 miles) and it both gives up and regains a lot of elevation along the way.  Doing 30 miles round trip from our nearby boondocking site at 11,000 ft of elevation with a two-and-half-mile hike in the middle to actually see the formations turned out to make for a seriously brutal day – and that was with our electric-assist mountain bikes.  It was however a gorgeous ride and the geological formations are very cool – definitely worth the effort of getting there.

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Great Sand Dunes National Park

As part of our month-long Colorado road trip, we spent a couple of days at the Great Sand Dunes National Park.

We rented some rather worn out sand sleds, hiked to the high point of the first ridge (while fighting the strong high winds that day) and eventually managed to get the sleds working well enough to glide back down.


Sledding down the dunes

We had also planned to take the 4WD route over the mountains (Medano Pass Primitive Road) but were put off by the reports of very deep sand to get through.  We did hike up to see the nearby, cool-to-see Zapata Falls though.

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Visiting w/Martha & Dave

In early August, I met up with Darlene on her way back from Wisconsin and we spent a few days hanging out (and playing games) with Dave and Martha at their home in Conifer, Colorado. We then headed out in the camper van to wander around exploring a bit of Colorado for most of a month.  On our return, Darlene kidnapped Martha and brought her back to California to stay with us for a few days.

Giving Dave & Martha a taste of VR (virtual reality)

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Painting my Nemesis Figures

I decided to try a relatively quick and simple wash painting of the miniatures from my Nemesis board game, focusing on giving the creatures (or “intruders”) a nice scary look.  They came out great!


It took just a few steps but still most of a day.  I coated the originally gray plastic figures with a black spray-on primer (Rust-oleum Flat Black) and then, after that dried, I sprayed white primer from above (Rust-oleum Flat White) to create a sort of highlight/shadow effect over which to apply a wash.  (A wash is a very diluted mix of paint that you brush all over a figure – it tends to collect on edges and pool in crevices bringing out detail and definition, depending on how you brush it.)

I used three color washes from this Citadel Shade Paint Set. The primary shade was blue (Drakenhof Nightshade) and then I blended a bit of red and green washes here and there (Carroburg Crimson and Biel-tan Green) to give it a more interesting look.  I did a little bit of detail painting in the fleshy parts around the creatures’ open mouths and then painted in the floors and bits of equipment on some of the stands.  To keep the project short and simple, I just applied several coats of different solid color washes to each hero character corresponding to the player colors rather than painting all the little details realistically.

Last step was a spray-on, matte clear coat (Krylon Matte Finish) to protect the painted figures from handling while playing the game.

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Road Trip to the Pacific Northwest

Humboldt Redwoods State Park (California)

With Darlene out in Wisconsin visiting her family, I loaded up the van with Pan and Hera and headed up to the Pacific Northwest for a couple of weeks, visiting with my brother and some friends in the Portland/Vancouver area as well as exploring a bit of countryside – while avoiding the smoke from the wildfires already flaring up.

Visiting with Corey and his family

And with Jon & Siobhan


Glenn and Michele then joined me in their new van for a little tour around Olympic National Park.

Hiking in Olympic National Park (Washington)

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Another VR Demo

While visiting my brother in Portland, I was able to give him, Michele and Seaerra the chance to try out just a little bit of the virtual reality experiences I’ve been going on and on about excitedly for months:

If you’re interested, I write about what it’s like to experience VR in this post – plus I have a longer demo video.  And for more about Microsoft’s updated Flight Simulator, see Flying All Over the Planet.

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Gaming In Person Again

With everyone fully vaccinated, starting in mid-June we were able to get together for in-person board gaming again – and so much more fun than the entirely virtual meetups during the past year.

Some of the titles we’ve been playing recently: The Crew, Now Boarding, Near and Far, Burgle Bros., Sagrada, Azul, Nidavellir, Viticulture and Viticulture: Tuscany, Mechs vs. Minions, Covert, Cartographers, Acquire, Cloudage, Captain Sonar, Railroad Ink, Pret-a-Porter, Bang!, Smartphone Inc., Crazy Karts, Kanban EV, Sidereal Confluence, Between Two Castles, Vindication and Brass: Birmingham.

Update: We got together again on the last day of the month for Shikoku, Steampunk Rally, Cosmic Encounter, Feierabend, Betrayal at House on the Hill, Master Word and Villagers.

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