Thursday, July 29, 2010

What I Did on My Summer Vacation, Chapter 6: Found an Apartment in Fresno (or Finally Grew Up)

I've had a great two years living with Katie and her girls, and though I'll miss them, I'm looking forward to getting back into my own place when I return to Fresno in a few weeks. So, I went over to the Central Valley for a couple days to look for a place to live.

This was tempting...but I was afraid I wouldn't give the moat the attention it needed.

Of course, I was very tempted by this, too, but I'm pretty sure that just the electricity bill would have put me in debt.

Ummmmm...these aren't real, are they?....

This is one of the actual homes I could afford, but I decided to pass.

Nice and cool in the summer...for about an hour.

Thankfully, I won't have to live in one of these... I did find a really nice apartment! But, no, I'm not posting pics...there's too many weird people on the internet!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What I Did on My Summer Vacation, Chapter 5: Witnessed the Hitching of Joe and Malinda...Well, Kind Of

Malinda and Joe tied the knot on July 17th! And from start to end, the day was fun and touching for everyone.

As do all weddings, the day started with everyone getting all dolled it just me, or does Lacey look thoroughly bored at the prospect of being in her first wedding? (Disclaimer: Ummmm...Missy took this pic, as I wasn't there before the wedding...well, in fact, I actually missed the wedding by 10 minutes, as I didn't make it back in time from my birthday celebration in San Francisco...had a bit of a hard time tearing myself away. But, of course, I DID make it to the reception! For goodness sake, there was BEER there.) those curlers make everyone look like this?...She's breathtaking! Clearly, she takes after her aunt (on her dad's side)... ;)

Lacey-Buggins was a bit pooped after the excitement (and heat!) of the wedding itself. She took a power nap in the truck on the way to the reception at Todd and Ally's ranch out Sweetwater, and got re-energized.

This is a very sorry attempt at showing how beautiful the ranch is...Perfect for a reception.

Marcus and Kim took care of the food, with the help of some friends. And, damn, if it wasn't one of the best bbq dinners, EVER! Gotta love them garlic-soaked carbs heated up on the grill!

Jim helped with the cooking, too.

Had to make sure I wasn't seeing things. Yup...hula girls on my Hawaiian cowboy brother's shirt. Aloha.

Todd and Larry were in charge of, I mean, in charge of the bar. That Crown bottle sure emptied quickly...

Now THAT girl is stylin'! No wonder my niece is such good friends with Cammi...they share the same great fashion sense.

Erinn and Lance's boy took advantage of the grass right away.

Mom and Missy relaxing under one of the easy-ups. Mom was clearly going against Reid tradition by drinking (gasp!) WATER!

It took a suspiciously long time for Joe and Malinda to arrive at the reception... but, hey, they're married now, so it's not like tattlin' on 'em will do any good.

With everyone happily fed, Kim finally got to take a bit of a break from the bbq, and had a few cold ones with Tina. Gotta love the glasses on these girls, too!

Really, can you think of a better place for kids to play than a ranch?....Lots of fence to climb!

The grass felt great on bare feet, but apparently so did the dirt. (This is Lacey's foot, by the way...mine isn't so dainty.)

And what's a Bridgeport wedding without Donna Smyth's cake?!!! Three flavors...ALL delicious!

Lacey BEFORE the bouquet was thrown...

...and AFTER the bouquet was thrown. Awww...Lacey didn't get it, darnit. I think her dad had it rigged, as he'll likely never let her go.

The adults kept up the dancing (well, and drinking) into the wee hours of the night (many even camped out at the ranch!), but little ones started to get a little drowsy as the sun sank. Thankfully, they had good papas like Patrick to provide a comfy resting place.

Malinda and Joe are a GREAT couple, and it was an honor to share in their big day! Congrats, you two!

Monday, July 26, 2010

What I Did on My Summer Vacation, Chapter 4: Went Over to the Dark Side...Running, That Is.

I know. It's shocking. But after 11 years of cycling, I've taken up running. Well, I'm not sure you can REALLY call what I'm doing RUNNING...maybe walking fast...or "locomoting more than leisurely..." But, whatever the correct term, this summer I'm training with Kim and Ann to do the Tioga Pass Run.

We started running three times a week just after July 4th, and have now increased to four times a week with a long run on Sundays. This Sunday was the first, and we ran to Barney Lake (Ann couldn't go, though, because she hurt her knee, so April was her stand-in). Barney is in the Hoover Wilderness, which borders Yosemite National Park, and begins at Mono Village (13 miles out of Bridgeport). The trail is maintained by the Forest Service (they do a fabulous job!), and starts out with 2 gradual uphill miles that abruptly turn into a final 2 miles of steep switchbacks that bring you to the lake. But, that means that you get to run downhill all the way, furious, and, well, for a klutz like me, just plain treacherous.

This is April and Kim near the beginning of the run trying to entice me to run faster by flashing a...peace sign?...Really?...A breakfast burrito and a grande cafe mocha would have worked MUCH better.

The trailhead is in a campground at Mono Village, and initially, the trail is in pretty thick trees. It eventually opens up into this meadow that can get pretty darned hot in the afternoon. We headed out early in the morning, though, so it was nice and cool, and even rained a little here and there.

Here, I think April was whispering to me: "Ok, bee-ahh-tch, I can see you want to wimp out and head back, but I got up at the butt-crack-of-dawn to do this because you begged me to, and I'm not about to let you turn back now..."

This was a common sight for me, seeing Kim and April disappear into the distance. I feigned holding back because I was the "photographer," but the reality is that I'm just pathetically slow. Well, and 10 years older than them. Ok, 10 years older than Kim....well, maybe 8. Dammit, I'm just slow.

The foliage gets pretty thick in a lot of places, perhaps more so this year due to the heavy winter snowpack. It was downright gorgeous, though the lack of visibility also made it easy for April and Kim to ditch my slow ass.

This was one of the views off to the south.

There was water running alongside -- and sometimes right on -- the trail in many places. Love the sound of running water...helps block out the sound of me desperately gasping for air.

The 2 miles of switchbacks to the top offer a special kind of painful fun.

Paused for more proof that we did the run somewhere along the switchbacks...I got a little delirious and can't remember where this was. But I do think that Kim might be whispering in April's ear, "See! I told you Kathie's the slowest runner EVER!"

Still somewhere on the switchbacks...Kim was either taking a drink from her Camelback, or singing Karaoke.

And finally....having left our cars just about an hour before, we made it to Barney!!! And we're all still smiling....amazing how fun suffering can be!

I think Kim was whispering to April here: "See? I told you Kathie would barely make it up here. If she goes as slow going down, we'll have plenty of time to have breakfast at Mono Village before she shows up."

Right after Kim took this pic, I pushed April into the lake so I could get a headstart...Dammit if they both didn't still kick my ass going back down!

Kodak moments at Barney captured for all eternity, we turned back for the 4-mile rapid descent. Is is just me, or was April skipping?....We actually didn't see Kim for long, as she took off like a rocket. At one point once back in the meadow, we hollered for her, and she only stopped because she thought one of us was getting eaten by a bear.

Ahhhh...finally made it back to the trailhead, with just a hop-skip-and-a-jump to get to the cars at Mono Village.

Eight miles of rugged-but-well-groomed trail, gorgeous views all around, laughing (while gasping desperately for air) with good friends, saving myself from numerous face-plants, and completing my longest run EVER...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

What I Did on My Summer Vacation, Chapter 3: Rode with Fresno Friends on the East Side

What's summer without lots of bike riding?...And with friends, no less.
Last year, Denise came over to ride for a few days with me. Apparently, she liked it, as she came back this year. On her first day, we rode from town up Conway Summit on Hwy 395, and then up to Virginia Lakes from there. That's about 11 miles of solid climbing, and roughly 3000 feet of elevation gain. (Of course, there's also 11 miles of descending on the way back -- at speeds as high as 47 miles per hour on days when I'm not a big chicken-shit.) This is the lowest of three lakes there, and it appears that not everyone arrives by bike. Go figure.

Luckily, they allow spandex in the store at the lake, as we really needed water.

Honestly, Denise can't go ANYWHERE without befriending some four-legged critter. This is Cooper, and thank goodness he already had an owner, or Denise would have strapped him to her bike to take him home. I'm always so embarrassed when she does that...

On Denise's second day, we met up with Mary, another friend from Fresno, and rode the June Lake Loop -- about 36 miles of sheer gorgeous. Mary was staying in Mammoth, so she met us halfway between Bridgeport and Mammoth at the Mobil Station at the foot of Tioga Pass. We rode from there, and this is Denise and Mary just after we turned off Hwy 395 onto the Loop. We were headed to those mountains in the distance.

Just one of the many spectacular views as we made our way around the Loop...and yes, the mountains in the background are nice, too.

Though it's late July, the water is still running high all over the Eastern Sierras. We passed right below Fern Falls...I think.

Finally made it to the town of June Lake -- and here's the proof.

This crazy rock is right at the beginning of the town of June Lake -- right by the Fire/Paramedic station. When I was little and we'd come in the school bus each week to go skiing at June Mountain, I always shut my eyes when we drove past it, as I thought it would surely fall on us.

Almost back to Hwy 395, there's a look-out tower at June Lake -- looking back at where we've ridden from is always cool. Well, and a bit freaky.

Back on Hwy 395, just a few miles south of Lee Vining, there's the Grave of the Unknown Prospector. The Bodie Chapter of E Clampus Vitus (you know...the Clampers...that historical society my dad and brothers belong to that is basically just an excuse to get drunk) dedicated this tombstone there awhile back, and it has the names of all the Bodie Chapter Clampers who've "Gone to the Golden Hills." Wonder if they're gonna put Dad's name on there...He was the Grand Humbug (or whatever the head-dude is called) at one point, so I'd think so. Seriously, the Clampers are cool, and have dedicated a lot of great historical sites around the Eastern Sierras.

After our ride, we ate at the "Whoa Nellie Deli" at the Mobil Station at the bottom of Tioga Pass -- the Carnitas Tacos ROCK! Then, with bikes packed on the cars, we headed to Bodie State Park, as Mary had never been there. Stole these first two pics from Denise -- she's more artsy than me. There are a lot of photography classes taught in Bodie because there are so many picture-worthy subjects...especially when we're visiting.

Really?!! Did you think I could see a bathtub out in the middle of the town, and NOT ask a ranger to take a picture of us in it?.... This is MY idea of artsy.

This is a shot I took through the sun porch of a house that belonged to the Cain family -- one of the wealthiest families in Bodie. I grew up with Jenny Cain whose dad, Walter, was born in Bodie. And her grandma, Ella Cain, wrote some of the most popular books on Bodie -- we have 'em at Ken's, of course. (This was a paid advertisement.)

Mary and me posing at what was the doorway to the bank...I think.

And of course, what's a trip to Bodie without posing at the cross-street of Virgin Alley and Maiden Lane -- the center of the "Red Light District"!

Good times!