Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wide Load Ahead

Tomorrow, I will be heading to Northern Oregon for a loaded 6-day tour. Dennis Engblom is organizing and leading this tour. Dick Fraschetti and I will be joining Dennis on this trip. We are eagerly looking forward to seeing and covering some new territory on our bikes.

This time I will be using the Bike Friday with full panniers instead of pulling the Samsonite suitcase trailer (see 5/17/08 blog entry for pictures of trailer touring set-up).

I will test out this touring combination for the Fall Japan tour. I took the bike out for a quick spin around the neighborhood to see how it handles. Hmmm, a little wobbly but I hope that's just getting used to the heavy load.

The bike alone weighs 28 lbs. and the four panniers and gear weighs another 48 lbs. I hope my gears are low enough to haul 76 lbs. uphill.

Took this pic before my test run. So far, so good. Wish me luck.

Front view of bike

Rear view of bike

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Snow Mt. Hike Weekend, June 14-15, 2008

Snow Mountain - West Peak Marker

The Sacramento Hikers, led by Rich Blackmarr, tackled the twin peaks of Snow Mountain this weekend. The weather was perfect for a hike but due to the fires near Paradise, the skies were hazy and the smoke obscured views toward the Cascade and Sierra Mountain ranges to the east. The views toward the lower Sacramento Valley were also a little smokey.

In spite of limited views, the gang of 11 hikers enjoyed a beautiful weekend in the Northern California Coast Range camping Saturday night at Letts Lake and completing the 8 mile RT; 2,000+' climb to the twin summits early Sunday morning.

Snow Mountain, comprised of east and west peaks, are located in the Northern California Coast Range in the upper Sacramento Valley. The east peak at 7,058' is slightly taller than the west peak at 7,038'. Both peaks are the tallest coastal peaks north of San Francisco and 2nd tallest to Black Butte Mountain at 7,448' in the entire California Coast range. The twin peaks are the 29th highest peaks in California.

The east peak and adjacent St. Johns Mountain are visible from the I-5 interstate freeway. In normal winters, snowfall accumulates on the mountains and lasts until June.

On clear days, Mt. Diablo, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Konocti are visible to the south.

Letts Lake located at 4,000', sits amidst evergreen forests. We were all surprised at how beautiful the lake turned out to be.

A beautiful trail meanders around the small alpine lake.

Fresh fish for dinner!
A young lad, Ryan, caught this rainbow trout from a fishing platform

A mother mallard herding her brood of seven ducklings

Time to fire up the camp stoves for dinner. Relaxing and enjoying a warm evening at the Letts lake Campround.

Mike offering a hunk of polish sausage to the non-vegetarians

Don wolfing down his pre-made chicken and cole-slaw meal. Pretty yummy heh?

Early Sunday morning, start of the 2,000' hike to the summits.
L-R Herb, Don, and Frank

Hiking up and over the "Wall". The Snow Mt. Peaks are behind the mountain range on the horizon.

View back down the trail. Note the smokey haze layer on the horizon. Bummer!!

Passing an old "bristlecone-like" skeleton

Fresh corn-lillies popping up in a picturesque meadow

Frank and a big pine donut

A field of corn lillies popping up along the trail

Me, Bill and Frank at the saddle between West and East Peaks.
West Peak behind us.

Don at the top of East Peak.

Across the valley is a snowbank lying below West Peak ridge.

Herb at the top of East Peak

Me at the top of East Peak.

Saddle seperating the two peaks to the right. We hiked along the saddle to get to West Peak.

Group foto on East Peak,
elev. 7,058'

Don and Bonnie sitting
L-R standing - Herb, Frank G., Frank F., Jean, Rich, Mike (kneeling)

Video of the View on Top of Snow Mountain

At the top of West Peak, elev. 7,038'

L- R Don, Frank G., Herb

On top of the world!

Special note: When Patti was alive, she was often the hiking widow and could never do these strenous hikes. With her passing, her spirit is accompanying me on every hike.

Thanks my dear for helping me power up these mountains!!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Patti's Birthday Party at Peter and Susan's

Better late than never. I just got these photos from Peter and I wanted to post our little birthday celebration we had more than a week ago for Patti's 60th on 6/4/08.

I brought over my last bottle of Penman's Springs Cabernet that we picked up at her favorite winery in Paso Robles on our last RV trip to the coast back in Jan.-Mar. I also brought over a little birthday cake from Freeport Bakery for the celebration.

Susan served a delicious dinner of shrimp risotto and fresh greens served with her homemade orange juice and olive oil salad dressing. Yum yum good!

I was also dog-sitting my neighbor's cute little schnoodle Nicki and brought her over to the party. She met and rousted with Peter and Susan's little poodle mix Sophie. It was a fun time for all.

A toast to Patti. Happy 60th my dear!!

OK, kinda' goofy but we sang the birthday song to Patti. If you haven't noticed the cake got a little lop-sided on the way over to Susan's house. It didn't affect the taste.

Susan cutting the cake into four pieces, one for me to take home.

Oh my. . . quite tastey! Pistachio cake served with Vic's chunky almond ice cream. I hope you enjoyed it my dear . . . the first bite is for you!

Nicki, the one of the left, rousting it up with Sophie

Sunday, June 8, 2008

BBQ Dinner Party at Dick and Jan's - June 7

It's summer time in Sacramento so it's time to fire up the backyard BBQ. Dick and Jan just returned from Hawaii after visiting their daughter Brooke. Not letting grass grow under their feet they threw a BBQ dinner party at their lovely home in Carmichael. The first of the summer season.

Joining me were my cycling buddies and their spouses - Peter and Susan, Eric and Marie, Herb and Kay, Jim (w/o JoAnn who was a little under the weather).

I always look forward to a gathering at the Fraschetti's since they are masters at hosting a nice party with plenty of tasty food and the fine wine flowing freely.

The first course, plenty of tasty appetizers and wine

Susan, Dick, Kay and Jan gather around the table

Marie and Eric

Kay and Herb

Me and my date, Jim, with a glass of Penman Springs Cab . . . a fine wine!

Our host, never to be without a full glass

Fine conversation amongst great friends

The beautifully landscaped backyard is a perfect place for a gathering

Dick and Jan take great pride growing roses

A pool graces their well landscaped backyard

Master chef checking the pork tenderloins and shrimp

All the fixins' served with the main dishes - all very tasty!

Guests diving in!

It was a fine party - thanks Dick and Jan

L-R: Jim, Marie, Eric, Peter, Susan, Dick, Jan, Herb, Kay and my plate

Saturday, June 7, 2008

My Neighborhood and Favorite Hangouts

I promised my out-of-town friends that I will take pictures of my neighborhood and take them on a tour of Sacramento and show them my favorite hangouts.

I live in Old Land Park which was developed in the mid-1930's and considered one of the older, well-established neighborhoods in Sacramento. It is close to downtown, less than 2 miles, and surrounded by an eclectic mix of businesses and amenities - cafes, coffeehouses, bakeries, ice-cream parlors, specialty markets, stores, parks - all within easy walking or bicycling distance. Most of the businesses are the non-chain variety and owner-operated which are more prevalent in older urban settings.

We bought our home more than 34 years ago and one of it's appeal was the mature tree-lined streets. It gets hot in the summers so having a big canopy of shade trees gives our street a lot of cool relief. The homes were constructed before WWII when the builders were small and built only a few homes at a time. These older neighborhoods have that Father Knows Best quality because of the individual styles and unique designs of homes.

Patti's pretty red Prius sits in front of my house. Ironically, I bought this super fuel efficient car for her to commute in between Loomis and home. I now consider it her farewell gift to me. With the high cost of gas, I am more appreciative than ever. Thank you Patti!

My neighborhood was developed in the mid-1930's so the street trees are fully matured providing much appreciated shade during the hot summers. This view is across the street from my house.

This beautiful tudor-style house a few doors down from my house was just finished, a total remodel, fits right in with the 1930's architecture of the neighborhood.

Peter and Susan live a few blocks away. Their beautiful home was designed, built and occupied by Leonard Starks, a well-known local architect.

A famous Sacramento landmark, the Tower Theater, is only two blocks away. I can walk to this classic art-deco theater which shows foreign movies. One of the unique amenities of Old Land Park neighborhood.

The popular Tower Cafe (TC) is housed in the same building as the namesake theater. The menu features "world cuisine" food. Jim Seamons, the owner, is a good friend of mine. This is one of several favorite eateries in the neighborhood and serves wonderful food at reasonable prices.

For you music history buffs, this is where Tower Records was born originally located in the back of Tower Drugstore which occupied this building. The neon sign featuring the jitter-bugging couple was saved from the record store and sits atop the entry to the cafe.

TC's outdoor dining courtyard is a virtual jungle. This is a great place to dine during the hot summer months.

Harry's Cafe on 16th Street is another one of my favorite good-value eateries. Harry serves a unique mix of Asian and American cuisine which is quite good.

Oto's Market is the best Asian market in town. Besides a wide array of Asian foods, they also serve wonderful take-out meals (bento box). This is the place to shop for sashimi-grade fresh fish.

Bento boxes line the counter. You need to get to Oto's early before they run out.

I got here in time today. This is my salmon teriyaki lunch . . . yum yum GOOD!!

Another Old Land Park fixture is the Freeport Bakery, annually voted Sacramento's best bakery . This is where I bought the beautiful birthday cake for Patti's 60th. See next blog entry for pic of cake.

Another one of my good-value eateries is Wakano Ura, a long-time eatery serving down-home Japanese-Chinese cuisine. This restaurant holds a nostalgic place in my heart since this is where my parents hosted our wedding reception banquet nearly 40 years ago.

Right next door is Osaka Ya, a Japanese bakery, the only place in town where you can buy monju, a rice-cake filled with smooth black-bean paste. A yummy desert!

Aaah, what can you say? Vic's, the best ice-cream parlor in town and within walking distance. This local Land Park institution is now run by the third generation of the original owners.

William Land Park is the center-piece of our neighborhood and is largest urban park in the city. The park contains a zoo, a children's fairy-tale land, golf course, baseball diamonds, fishing ponds, and vast expanses of picnic areas.

A really cool Airstream space-ship sculpture occupies South-Side Park, another neighborhood park near my home.

An alien sits atop the jet pod of the Airstream space-ship

A couple of my favorite bike shops in Downtown - City Bicycle Works

The Bicycle Chef is another bike shop run by a very nice owner

If I were ever to move, this is where I would go. Tapestri Square, a new east-coast Brownstone development in the downtown area. Talk about KOOL!!

Another street-front view of the Brownstone row houses

We're talking coffeehouses now. Java City was one of the original coffeehouses to open in the downtown area more than 20 years ago. When I was working, this was one of my favorite after-work hangouts.

With the renaissance of downtown, there are coffeehouses on every street corner. Peets is one of the best new brewhouses.

Sacramento has an active art in public places program. Neat and funky art is found everywhere. I like this keep on trucking dude. Cool shoes!

Another neat modern sculpture

Work is underway to modernize the old train station into a multi-modal transportation center.

Hard Rock Cafe occupies the east-side of the Westfield Mall. The City and Mall owners are working on plans to upgrade the old shopping mall.

Anchoring the west entry into the city is the classic Tower Bridge which connects Sacramento with the City of West Sacramento over the Sacramento River

Can't have a tour of Sactown without a shot of the state capitol building.
Home of Aaa-Nold, the Guvenator.

Sactown has become big town - light rail trains and high-rises

Cafes line the Historic Old Sacramento waterfront

A little like New Orleans with paddle-wheelers plying the Sacramento River