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Friday, February 28, 2014

Day 43 - 2/28/14 Indoor Rock Climbing

Last night I was looking at the web and I saw an indoor rock climbing center near Miramar and made it my goal for today.  I have been wanting to try it for sometime.

They offer a Beginner's Belay Class each day but only have 4 slots per class.   This is the required prerequisite to climb unless you are climbing on a mechanical belay.  Well I should say it is a prerequisite for someone to climb as you need a trained belayer for you to climb.

I thought this would be a good thing to do with Madison and Taylor as they both like to climb. Also I was looking at doing this at the Worcester indoor climbing facility but never went.

The weather in San Diego today was rain all day, sometimes heavy and very windy.  This weather backdrop provided for the opportunity to do something inside.

I arrived at Merimar Rim indoor climbing center about 9:00 to find out about the beginners program and sign up for the class at 3:00 if an opening existed.

I walked in the door and saw the vast high walls marked by colorful hand/foot holds. Some walls reversed to make for very chalenging climbs.

I was greeted at the desk by a woman more than willing to help answer all my questions.  I was always courious of folks on the fire department that did climbing when we had a tech rescue team.  I always thought that I didn't like heights I wouldn't like this.

I learned that it was $8.00 for the class and that I kind of needed a partner as your belay class is around someone climbing and you can't do both jobs.  Climbing is not the technical stuff it is managing their lines and supporting them so they don't fall to the ground if they loose hold of the wall.

I signed my life away in a waiver of liability and then signed up for the belay class for 3:00 pm as there was no one anyone yet.  They were ok to signed  up without a partner as I will have to imagine managing the rope for a make believe person.

As I had all day until my class I went home and did some things with the camper to get ready for the next leg of my trip.  Then I headed out to the UTC Mall to see if I could bind some new sneakers for the climb as my current Merrells were kind of dirty from the dusty trail hikes.  They are still in good shape for hiking but this climb is inside and a clean environment.

I found some sneakers just what I wanted for $29.00 at sears on sale.  Couldn't beat the price for quality, and although a bit loose until I get some suitable inserts they were good for today.

I headed over to the climbing center now at 2:45 arrival for my 3:00 class and checked in and paid my $8.00 and was given my harness.

I then looked around at the equipment to study it all.

Carabeaner, belay devices, and chalk bags here.

Here special shoes and harnesses.

Basic shoes at $100 if a member and Harness that is basic is $60 and the one with carabeaner and chalk bag for $100.

So for a couple hundred dollars you would not need to rent equipment.

Oh I forgot to tell you that to be certified or checked out to get your tag to belay there you need to come back after at least one day to be tested on remembering what you were tought in the class.  

I was kind if aggravated that I had not done the class yesterday and then I could test today, but I have tomorrow (Saturday) to come back before I leave Sunday.

While hanging around I watched 2 woman who had taken the beginners belay class some time ago test out and intentively watched and absorbed as much as I could befor my class started in 10 minutes.

It was now time for my class and I first needed to learn the figure 8 knot as this is the Knot used for the climber.  You turn it into a double figure 8 by passing the rope through the harness I am wearing and then trace the figure 8 back up through the knot to finish this off.

My next thing I learned was belaying.  My class instructor was great and in one way that I was the only student as I got full attention.  The bad part was I didn't have a partner still to practice my skills with.

No picture but the carabeaner hooks though the two loops that the climbing rope passed through above.  Then the rope gets bent and passed through the belay device that has a metal loop and the carabeaner is used to loop both.

I needed to then learn the command terminology, hand placements, rope management and so on.

Now the instructor was determined to find someone as my partner to tryout what I was taught or better stated what I had learned.

We walked through the walled canyon of climbers and after getting turned down twice she found a willing well fit 30 something man who agreed with a wide smile.

We went to the wall and I learned that I needed to tie the climbers knot and climb the wall.  I thought this was a belay class.  I learned that I needed to know what it was like to be belayed.

I scaled the wall to the top hitting the rope connection at the top and repelled down.  Did I just do that?  Yup, and no feeling of fear.  I don't generally have fear when I am holding on and know the mechanism and I tied the knot and I was in a comfort zone.  That was fun!

Now to let the man climb and I belay him.  I did well and pased the beginners class.

Determined to come back tomorrow to certify I was offered the opportunity to stay and rehearse what I had learned and I did just that.

Over and over again I went through each step by myself for an extra 1/2 hour.  Feeling confident with my work I left to meet the girls for dinner.

Here is a YouTube video on the belay basics training.

I met the girls and we went to dinner and I picked up some Ben and Jerry's New York Super Fufge Chunk for desert at home.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Day 42 - 2/27/14 Planning to Move on @ Trip to Temecula Wine Country

This Saturday I will have been here in La Jolla for two weeks.

What a nice break from the road trip I was on and quality time with my daughter in-law Dana and granddaughters Madison and Taylor.  The time has come for me to head out back on the road.  I had a relatively defined trip getting here although I was ahead of schedule due to the weather in the southeast and then Texas.  

Today was the first day I have seen rain since Ft. Stockton, TX when I woke up in the am to find 32 deg and rain.  It will rain tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday with improvement on Sunday. They are expecting the most rain they have had in 4 years.

Not wanting to drive in the rain as people here have difficulty driving in the rain as they mostly don't slow down, I plan to leave Sunday as this will be best for driving through Las Angeles to avoid traffic issues.  

Tomorrow I still have a couple of things that I want to finish up on the camper and Saturday I need to go grocery shopping to replenish my food supplies. Then I will be ready for the road.

Today started off like this with rain and low clouds.  Not the kind of day to hike or bike, so Denise wanted me to drive to Temecula Wine Country to buy some wines she likes.  

Clayton and Dana picked a great location when it comes to traffic.  When they travel to work and head east on CA 52 they are going against the traffic and in the afternoon the same thing.

My trip to Temecula took me the same way to the I15 north and I got to see mile after mile of traffic backed up in the other direction.

There was more good news was that my trip north took me through the first weather front to see parting skies.

The wine country here is very picturesque  with many wine companies some more popular than others.

My first stop was at the Wilson Creek Winery for their Golden Jubilee wine.  My first stop I failed to get the wine as they were out of it.  I tried to contact Denise but she was at a meeting so I didn't substitute for another wine that costs $20 a bottle.

It's a beautiful place and like others in the area the also have a restaurant.

I moved on to Denise's other winery of choice the Leoness Winery on search of White Merlot.  

I was more successful with my second stop finding what she wanted.  I bought 4 bottles for the trip home.  

Massachusetts does not allow shipment to the state and for me to ship the cost is prohibitive.  They will ride in the hul of camper for about 5K miles home.

If they were out of Denise's selection I would have picked something else to buy so I wouldn't be empty handed.

The weather was good until I got back to San Diego where it turned cloudy.  When I got to the house in La Jolla it was drizzling.  I went back out to Walmart for a bright color top for when I'm riding my bike.  I have a rear facing flashing red light but a bright colored shirt should also help.

I found a bright colored layer that that's made of compression fabric for $15.99.

When I got back to the house the drizzle stopped and I was able to get a bike ride in for about 1 hour.  My left knee was a little sore today and a rest of not getting a workout couldn't hurt, but the bike ride went well, although I still don't feel as strong biking up hill as I wish.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Day 41 2/26/14 Iron Mt. Hike, Veronique, & Disc Golf

 It wasn't until this am that I decided on a hike for today. Yesterday's hike was classified as high difficulty.  I didn't need that today so I sought out a medium difficulty hike to Iron Mountain that I found on

Like the Mt. Woodson that I hiked yesterday, this mountain is Lso in Poway.

Iron Mountain summit round trip hike is 6.4 miles and 1100+ Elevation change.

You start off in an easy to reach trailhead with plenty of weekday parking, but like the rest of the trails I have hiked they can be crowded especially on weekends.

I got an earlier start today getting to the trailhead about 8:35.  The temperature was cool from overnight and had cooled off each day with the increased clouds from the impending rain over the next few days. 

I drove to Iron Mountain by passing just south of My Woodson on a road that rose in elevation.  Iron Mountson trail starts higher in elevation than Mt. Woodson.

The trail starts off in this nice tree lined path.

started off with others just ahead of me and behind me.  I soon caught up with a couple that came to a trail intersection and wasn't sure which way to go.  I had downloaded an application on my phone the other day called All Trails and I have used it over the last few hikes as it has a trail map and with GPS it marked where you are on the trail.  

I pulled this app up and showed them it was a loop trail.  They liked that and wanted the app.  It's free.

The beginning of the trail is only a gradual  rise until you get to the base of the mountain and the trail is a series of switchbacks to the top.

Just after meeting the couple and giving directions, I caught up to a wonderfully interesting woman who was also climbing named Veronique.  We somehow started up a conversation that lasted to the top and all the way back to the parking lot.  It made our 1 hour 10 minute hike up feel like 15 minutes.  She is French and lives in the US for many years with her husband and two children.

Our initial conversation was about teardrop trailer she could pull with her CRV.  I had looked at them and they are a good alternative to tenting and less than larger trailers with more stuff.  There are advantages to small teardrop trailers up to 5th wheelers and motorhomes.  It basically comes down to what works for each person's situation.

The hike quickly rises and opened up to vistas.  You can see clouds coming in from the first of the two stoms to bring rain to us.  Off in the distance is blue sky. This was south of our location and it stayed sunny there all day.

Below is a view of Mt. Woodson from yesterday.  

I found out that Veronique and I have been to many of the same places in Europe over our lives.  Having spent a lot of time in France over my career at Digital and Bruel & Kjaer, as well as, personal travels we had a number of things to talk about. We both love Annecy where she has traveled and where I worked in the French Alps.  We also so enjoy Copanhagen and Tivoli Gardens.

Veronique is also an avid hiker with plans to hike the Grand Canyon this weekend, which she has hiked before.  I am impressed with people that hike the Grand Canyon as this is no small activity to accomplish.  

She has some concern about the rain this weekend that will spill over to the Grand Canyon.  She spoke with the Ranger and he felt that it will not be all day rain.

Here is the summit of Iron Mountain and the wonderful views.

On the way down I asked Veronique to give me her assessment for my abilities to hike the Grand Canyon.  She said that she felt that I was in good enough shape to do it.

She brought my spirits up as I figured it was off my list of things to do unless it was in much better shape.  Now I want to add that to my list of things to do and to do sooner than later.

She gave me tips for other hikes in Poway that are less busy.

This is the first time I have hiked that I talked with someone other than brief conversations and it was nice to have such a nice conversation with someone that also listens to NPR and listens to "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me".

After I left Iron Mountain it was only noon and being only a few miles from Kit Carson Park I headed over to play 18 holes of disc golf.

I haven't played disc golf for a few days and was feeling I wanted to get a game in before it rains for a few days.

I had a solid game but I was mostly interested in practice so I worked on some of my techniques.

It was a good afternoon with a quick game then back home.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Day 40 - 2/25/14 Potato Chip Rock 7.8 miles & 2300 ft

I wanted a challenge hike after yesterday's 1/2 hour hike up Cowles Mt. and I got it with the hike up Mt Woodson and visit to potato chip rock.

I got a great early start at 8:50 while it was still cool and sun was low in sky.

The top of Mt. Woodson is beyond the highest peak in the center mountain.

The trail head is at the Poway Recreation center where Lake Poway is.  A very beautiful site.  There is a trail around the lake for short walks.

The sign says 2.9 miles to to of mountain.  This is after already walking 1 mile.

After leaving the lake it is a continuos climb that causes some to stop along the shaded side.

There is very little shade out here. I was sure glad to have my camel pack with 2 liters of water. 

A woman passed me just before this running up the mountain.  There are a lot of people who climb here that are in great shape.

While I was climbing FA18D's from MCAS Miramar flew over with after burners on.  Son Clayton used to me in the second seat known as a weapon systems officer ("WSO", pronounced "wizzo") is an air flight officer directly involved in all air ... Corps, "WSO" also refers to the aft crew member in the F/A-18D Hornet. 

Currently Clayton is the Flight Officer on the USS Boxer out at sea for 8 months due home at the end of April.

Another mile down and 1.9 to go.

There are plenty of rock formations out here.

Gaining in elevation.

There is one tree for shade on way up about half way.

Finically walking the ridge line and although gaining altitude it is more gradual from here on. 

I finally can see the summit.

The woman who passed me running up the mountain passed me here running down.

Kist below the summit is potato chip rock  and I find sitting on it.  During weekends it is known there is a line that could be 1 hour long waiting to jump across a crevasse or climb a relatively sheer rock surface.

I climbed the rock next to it for this picture.  There is a 5 ft jump across to the potato chip.

This guy and his girlfriend came up behind me and climbed the side of the rock and chose not to jump.

After him this guy tested the tip and told us that he oils feel the chip vibrate but not move.

There is shade at the top under the trees.

My selfie

This was a great hike that was challenging.  It took me 1.75 hours up and 1 hour down.  Some have posted that the took between 2.5 & 3 hours to climb.

Hiking mountains and biking hills around are great ways to get in shape.  It is hard work but it is paying off.

By the time I was heading down there were significantly more people headed up.

Come early if you want to get on the potato chip.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Day 39 - 2/24/14 Cowles Mountain Hike & Work on Camper

In planning out my last week here in the San Diego area I wanted to stay on the exercise track as much as I can as when I start on the road again I don't seem to get as much exercise that I would like.

Also later this week we are expecting rain that will impact my outdoor plans and I will look for inside things to do.

Checking out things to do I decided on Cowles  Mountain.  A good 3 mile round trip hike with good elevation change of 950+ ft.

A 20 minute ride brought me to this parking lot that was full and approaching it for a quarter mile in all direction every side street parking was full.  I lucked out pulling into the parking lot. Someone was just pulling out.

There is no shade on this mountain and it was a nice sunny day and 72 degrees.  There were people of all shapes and sizes, many with dogs in tow.  I could not believe the numbers of people climbing up and down.

I headed to Cowles Summit, but there were at least 3 other major trails up the mountain and other destinations.


At just about this location in the picture below when a woman coming down the mountain about 30 ft away screamed and I saw a snake move off the trail.  She came down and told me about her encounter.  It was hard to believe with as many people on the trail that a snake would be in the area.  I guess it could have been a rattle snake but I didn't see it close enough to know.

Next a picture in direction of where I parked and way off in the distance is the city of San Diego.

Now looking off to the same direction there is smoke showing.  Not black at all so it gave me the impression it was an outside fire.  Also the smoke went up and down that also supported an outside fire.

I hiked a bit more and took this picture.  Now sirens could be heard from responding apparatus. This is my first working fire I have seen on my trip.  Just after I left the Phoenix area last week they had a large fire with explosions in an industrial building. 

There is the blue sky.  Still a long way to go to get to the top.  Some people ran up others down and even a few ran in both directions.  Many huffed spuffed their way up.  Most you could tell hike this mountain on a regular basis for the cardio exercise.

This mountain is the highest spot in San Duego and has a wonderful 360 view. 

Here is the marker at the top.

The peak is a bit higher than the antennas on the adjacent knoll.

There is a good area on top to sit and catch your breath. I met a man and woman who live in the area that gave me some ideas on other hikes in the area that I may like to try.  He moved out here from Minnesota in 1973 and never thought of going back.

I asked a couple of woman if one would take my picture and the shorter dark haired one was quick to say yes.  Didn't feel like setting up my selfie camera setup 

A zoom into the reservoir below.

I got my inspiration for a hike tomorrow.  Bigger, harder, and better! The tip came from the couple I met, but what tipped the scales on the one I want to hike was a woman who was talking to a young couple that she needed more practice on this mountain before she felt she would be ready for the one I plan to try tomorrow.  I think I'm ready.  Tuesday's weather is still expected to be good with highs inland where the hike will be will be around 70. 

Wednesday and Thursday there is now a chance of rain showers.  Friday is calling for steady rain in the afternoon into evening and continuing into Saturday with heavy rain and even possible thunder.

This afternoon I worked on a few small items that needed attending to on the camper.