Sunday, January 31, 2016

2016 hike 4: Rodeo Beach and Marin Headlands

This weekend, I did a small hike, together with my gang, as it was my wife's birthday. We parked our car near Fort Cronkhite, in the Marin Headlands.

Rodeo Beach
After a hike across the beach, we headed up the hill in the direction of Battery Mendell and Point Bonita lighthouse. Unfortunately, we arrived too late to cross the bridge to the lighthouse. Be there by 3:30pm!

Battery Mendell

Rodeo Beach

Point Bonita Lighthouse

Sunday, January 24, 2016

21 days

I like a glass of wine. I like a pint of beer. I like especially a cold pilsner, on a hot summer day. This was the case quite often during the Christmas break in the Argentine summer of San Luis, with temperatures above 100F.

I resolved to quit drinking alcohol during the first 21 days of January. Today is day 16 and I am happy this has not been a tough resolution so far. Having a couple of cold beers in the fridge (Dogfish Head namaste), or an open Malbec on the kitchen counter surely can be tempting. Or worse, celebrating my birthday in the middle of the month required extra suffering.

Water, water with a pinch of grapefruit juice, tomato juice, fresh squeezed lemon with grated ginger or a cup of tea are now my drinks in the evening.

My secret hope is that not drinking my calories can be the tipping point to dropping weight (in addition to eating more salads and lots of walking). Thus far I am -4 pounds.

Update: Day 21 came and went. I got a few high fives on Beyond that it was a non event, all while my fellow hikers last Sunday were drinking 1 liter steins of beer at the Park Chalet. I am still happily checking of my alcohol free resolution. Since this week is our company kick off week, continuing my winning streak is a smart idea.

2016 hike 3: Matt Davis trail in Marin county

In between the rain storms, we hiked this weekend the Matt Davis steep ravine trail (linklink). This hike starts in Stinson beach. Getting to Stinson Beach does require a strong stomach, as you go around the many, many corners along the Pacific Highway.

The hike is wonderful, especially after some rainy days, when the river and waterfalls are full of water. Overall, we did about 8 miles with 1500 ft of elevation change. It starts of steep through the redwoods, along the river. Near the top you get nice vistas of Stinson Beach and Bolinas.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

2016 hike 2: Coyote Hills

This morning I revisited Coyote Hills regional park (ebparks). My last trip was together with the cub scouts, during a warm spring day. Today was a wet winter day with a storm arriving any time today.

The Bay View trail is an easy stroll on a paved surface. If you want something more challenging, you can cut over the hills at various places. Today this steep climbs were muddy.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

2016 Hike 1: Mission Peak

July 4th 2012 was my first hike up to Mission Peak. I've returned since a few times, although mostly in the summer months, when the trail is dry and dusty and the sun is scorching.

Today, the first hike of the year, I went up again together with troop 14. We hiked up to Mission Peak, starting from Ohlone College. It was cool, the hills were green and we got a little drizzle along the way. Some parts of the trail were very muddy: extra fun.

Mission peak stands 2516 ft (766m) tall and you almost start from sea level. Today, the view was excellent. On occasion we could see as far as San Francisco and Oakland.

the view from the top, towards San Jose

the view from the top towards San Francisco

Ebparks: Mission Peak Regional Preserve

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Welcome Home

Entering the country through Dallas Fort Worth airport, from Argentina, was wonderfully smooth thanks to the new automated passport system.

US citizens and permanent residents can now use the new system. You scan your passport, take a picture and answer a few of the customs related questions. Unlike the automated check-in system of American Airlines, the systems works wonderfully if anyone in your party has a greencard. At the end, it will print a piece of paper per person in your party.

You will then show the information to a border agent who does verify it matches your passport picture and that’s it. It took us all perhaps 10 minutes.

While I do love the smooth entry into the country, and like the efficiency, I am a sucker for the friendly ‘welcome home’ from a real border agent.

By bicycle through Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires may still be many kilometers away from being a bicycle friendly European city, things are changing for the bicyclist.

First of all, there is the fact now that Buenos Aires has bicyclists, beyond the bicycle messengers. Secondly, you can even find special bicycle lanes (bicisendas), which are separate from the regular crazy traffic in Buenos Aires.  More than 150km of bicycle lanes have been added. Lastly, even the new trains have special bicycle cars. What a change from several years ago!

Both the bicisenda and metro bus were initiatives from then mayor, now president, Macri. Both improved the way people move throughout the city. The former obviously brought bicyclist to the city. The latter created lanes specific for city busses, allowing much faster commutes for many in the city.

I did not see any city bicycles, which you can rent, like in many European and now also US cities. Although from the city website, there is an EcoBici for rent.

With the already crazy traffic, I am curious what the accident rate is for the new bicyclists in the city.

For now, I’ll continue to use the great bus system and omni present taxis.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Las Salinas

Las Salinas de Bebedero (wiki) are about half and hour from San Luis, along Ruta 7 to Mendoza. As many of our friends posted on Facebook and Instagram of their winter vacations in Tahoe, Colorado or Wyoming, I was able to post pictures of big white mountains of salt.

This is where the Dos Anclos salt company brings together piles and piles of snow harvested from the nearby salt lake.

Some fools thought it was a great idea to drive their cars through the salt and salt ponds to the lake. Good luck with your car carriage, body and paint! Best to park your car outside the area and walk there.

Watching mountains of salt, amid a desert, is something wonderfully weird.

Sierra de las Quijadas

After several miscues from local tourism office and national park information line, with respect to opening hours and availability of guides to hike into the canyons, we finally made it to the only national park in the province of San Luis: Sierra de las Quijadas. (Somebody mentioned there are ongoing negotiations between the national and provincial governments about the park ownership. Some suspect this is why there was so much conflicting information between the various offices.)

Around kilometer 900 on ruta 147 (about one hour from San Luis), you will find this wonderful park. One can do simple day hikes, hike into the canyons with a guide (required), and even camp in the park. Guides will take you in the morning, before 10 or 11, and after 3pm, assuming there are no heavy rains and the temperature does not get above 36C. Two liters of water is a must (and a minimum).

On the summer day we were here, the temperature reached 41C (106F). Although the guides were eventually allowed to hike down when the clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped, we were already on our way to do the 1–2 hr day hikes.

We walked the Sendero Flora and Sendero Miradores Balcon Sur, Potrero de la aguada, with a view of the Farallones rock formations. All this was once part of the Camino de los Dinosaurios and plenty dinosaur skeletons have been found here.

I plan to come back in winter and do the 10km hikes into the canyon in colder days.