Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Angel Island 2017

Last weekend, Troop 14 landed on Angel Island, in the San Francisco Bay for a camping outing, and to do a service project. And mostly we wanted to soak in the beautiful views. If you have never been to Angel Island, it is must when exploring the Bay Area. We took the Ferry from Tiburon, although you can also get there from San Francisco's Ferry Building. The island has lots of history, from the Fort McDowell to the Asian Immigration Station. It was known as Elis Island of the West, though it came with the sinister twist of the Chinese Exclusion Act. During the cold war, the island provided a last line defense through a battery of Nike missiles.  Here are a few memories from the past weekend:

Not our Ferry

We moved in place a Civil War era cannon

We erected civil war era tents for next weekends' Civil War Days. 

Former hospital building at Fort McDowel

A view of Tiburon and Belvedere

Saturday, April 08, 2017


Last winter, we visited Solvang, CA, a Danish town near Santa Barbara. It has plenty of coffee houses, a few windmills, an Ecco shoe store and lots of pastry shops. Danish flags are everywhere. On a layover to Spain, I had a few hours to kill in Copenhagen. I decided to go explore the real deal.

From Terminal 2, the Metro will take you from the Lufthavn, straight downtown Copenhagen (cost: 36 DKK). It is a packed 20 minutes ride. I got off at the Norreport Station, which I assumed meant Nord Station. I turns out I overshot the city a little bit and decided to walk back towards the center.

I was able to see many of Copenhagen's touristy places. Rundetarn (*the round tower*), Kongens Nytorv, Stroget shopping street, Gammel Strand, the parliament building Christianborg (*Borgen*), and Nyhavn. Nyhavn was very nice and quaint. I didn't make it all the way to the little mermaid. Instead I sat down in Nyhavn for a Fiske plate with herring, salmon, shrimp and cod, and of course a Calsberg pilsner.

My first impressions about Copenhagen: a clean, safe and friendly city. Lots of coffee shops. Seriously, there are coffee shops everywhere.

Danish is very difficult to understand. Although I did make up a few words here and there as it sounds a lot like the West-Vlaams Dutch dialect. Fear not, most people speak a little English.

And as advertised, there are lots of bicycles everywhere. Very few big European cities have too many bicycles. If I were to do a little day trip again, I would rent a bicycle.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Kennedy Meadows and Lake

Before we spent a week in the Emigrant Wilderness, we did a test hike at altitude with the younger boys in the troop. We started at Kennedy Meadows in the California Sierras and hike towards Kennedy Lake. Truth be told, we never reached the lake. We came close as we got stuck in the bog of melted snow about 0.5 mile from the lake. Here are a few pictures from the trip.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

No more Sopranos in the sky

Dear Mr Lingus,
Flying Aer Lingus from San Francisco to Dublin has been wonderful. The flight was uneventful. The service was friendly. The food was just fine.

Now, let's discus the entertainment system on the Airbus 330. From the start a quarter of the systems needed to be restarted. I thought I was one of the lucky ones, with a system which worked from the gecko.

Then, my Irish luck ran out. Or perhaps it was the curse of Tony Soprano. As I selected an episode of the New Jersey crime boss, my system semi-froze. While I could navigate the menus at a snail's pace, no movie or tv show could be summoned.

After the dinner service, my system was reset. And then I was able to break it again. Again Tony!

After some trial and error, I figured out how to revive it: by starting an entirely different application, such as the mapping app, and then return to the movie app.

Arriving safely at your destination is expected. Airfare is beyond our control and it is all somewhat of a black box. Your mileage these days will vary as it comes to food. That leaves the entertainment system as the one thing which sets you aside from your competition.

No more Sopranos in the sky.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Emigrant Wilderness

Our annual weeklong backpacking trip brought us this year along the Emigrant Wilderness trails in the California Sierras.

This trip was much different from last year trip along the Lost Coast. First of all, it was much more challenging, as we descended into valleys and climbed mountains, all while at 8000ft elevation. I enjoyed the scenery very much: from the steep switch backs, built by the California Conservation Corps, to the lily pad covered mountain lakes, to the small and crystal clear rivers. 

After a long day of huffing and puffing along the trail, there was nothing better than a bath in the mountain lakes, and then a hearty backpacker dinner. 

We hiked the trail starting at Crabtree, and set up camp at Camp Lake, Gem Lake, Emigrant Lake, Piute Lake, Bear Lake and back home. We passed many more meadows and lakes. Jewelry Lake was especially beautiful.

Next year, perhaps Desolation Wilderness?

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Food prep

For the past week, I have been cutting, cooking, and dehydrating a variety of foods for the upcoming backpacking trip to the Emigrant Wilderness. My bear can is filled to the brim with the following meals for four adults:

1. Dehydrated vegetable soup
2. Coffee and tea
3. Daily snack packs with almonds, 2 energy bars and a few jelly beans
4. Chicken curry (recipe)

5. Vegetarian Indian dal (recipe). It took me quite a while to dehydrate the dal into bark.
6. Pineapple upside down cake (recipe)
7. Oatmeal and dried fruits and nuts breakfast (see theYummyLife)

On Monday, we're heading out to Emigrant Wilderness, starting at Crabtree trailhead for an entire week. 

An artist rendering from our trip to Kennedy Meadows
in the Emigrant Wilderness a few weeks ago. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

A day in Oslo .. airport

Norwegian Air is a fairly new airline, with decently priced routes from the Bay Area (Oakland Airport) to Europe. It boasts an all Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet. On my trip to the South of Spain, I connected via Oslo, where I was to spend a few hours, awaiting my connecting flight. A few hours became more than 7 hours. That was plenty of time to people watch. (I wish I would have taken a trip to the city instead).

A few things struck me while sitting here:

I never experienced this much daylight. It is 10:30pm, and only now the sun is setting. Officially, sunset is not until 10:45pm. I can only imagine how the dark winter months must be.

Listening to Norwegian, it sounds like I language I should be able to understand (but clearly don't). A few words here and there sound so similar to Dutch. When the lovely lady announces in Norwegian that "all passengers should be boarding now", I understand it all.  Though I don't understand a thing of the casual conversations near me. Also counting in Norwegian is something completely foreign to me (except for the nul).

Norway strikes me as a very well organized and civilized country. People are friendly, and courteous. The keep the airport clean and recycle their trash. Bathrooms in the airport included digital cleanliness meters. There is power to recharge your phone or computer everywhere, and the airport has free wifi. I admit these aren't the best point of reference for a country, but it's all I had to go on.

Norway has a reputation of not being cheap. That seems to be especially the case in the airport. A few slices of Pizza Hut pizza is about $20. A Carlsberg beer is $10.

And it is true that almost all women are blond.

Spending a long afternoon and evening in Oslo airport wasn't that bad. It made me more curious about the country. Hopefully we can make a vacation here (in a future summer).

Sunday, June 05, 2016

2016 hike 9: Mount Tamalpais

Over the past years, I have hiked several trails in the Mount Tamalpais State Park, but I never made the trek to the top. Earlier this year, I hiked the Matt Davis trail from Stinson Beach to Pantoll ranger station and back to the beach. This time, I started at Pantoll and hiked the 10 mile round trip slow grade to the West Point Inn hiker lodge, and then to the top of Mount Tamalpais.

With this hike, only one peak of the Rim Rovers peak is missing. I've covered already the Pinnacles, Mount Wittenberg, Mission Peak, Mount Diablo, and now Mount Tamalpais. Missing is Mount St. Helena.

California State Flower: Poppy

California State Rock: Serpentine

See also: Gurmeet's blogpost on this hike.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Cure in concert

The Cure at Shoreline Amphitheater, in Mountain View on May 26, 2016

A Forest, The Cure

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Dutch oven cooking

In recent years, I discovered dutch oven cooking. My fellow old goat patrol members are excellent dutch oven chefs, with dishes such as impossible cake (with flan and chocolate cake), double chocolate cake, soup, lamb shanks, beef stew and lots more. One of my favorite recipes is chicken pot pie (recipe).

Last weekend, I was in charge of breakfast for about 10 campers. On the menu was a traditional mountain man (recipe) meal, with meatballs, hash browns, lots of peppers and onions, cheese and 12 eggs.