Sunday, June 24, 2012

Paintball Slaughter House Imperial, CA

The guys of Yuma Vindictas and I headed west to Imperial, CA to take on Nemesis Paintball in their slaughter house paintball field. There was a clash of styles. Nemesis is a traditional scenario type team, and their field lent itself to their style of play. Yuma Vindictas play a speedball tournament style.

The field was two main rooms with two rows of pillars in each room. Separating the main two rooms was a small connecting room with large doorways to one wall. Most of the action took place in the doorways of the connecting room.

Vindictas's superior firepower overwhelmed the tactics and home field advantage of Nemesis. Four of the Five games played Vindictas was able to take the win.

Sketch I made


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Stand Up Paddle boarding the Colorado River.

I finally got around to stand up paddle boarding on the Colorado River. In my typical fashion I went in the hottest part of the day starting around 1:30. I took off from West Wetland Park and headed up stream. I didn't have any plan on how far I would go, but I knew I wanted to go at least as far as Gateway Park, about one mile up stream.

There was no shortage of people doing float downs on the river. Almost every one of them asked me what I was doing and told me that I was going in the wrong direction.

The river in the area I paddled varies from about 1 foot to 5 feet in depth with a bottom of sand and the occasional beer can from lost form one of the many people floating down. The river really is the only oasis here in the desert of Yuma.

The first mile was peaceful, I only encountered one family flowing down. I let them try my board for a little while.

At Gateway Park the river was full of people and I threaded my way through. I continued to get a lot of attention as I paddled by. Upstream of Gateway Park was when I started passing the giant flotillas of rubber rafts and some jet skis. I also passed by the sherif in their air boat, that you could hear long before you saw, as its made its way down stream.

I am happy with this trip as a whole. The only bad part was the heat. Next time I will start earlier in the morning and try to make it all the way to "Shit Creek" as the convergence of the Colorado and Gila rivers is known. I will also try to get video of next time. I thought I had things set up this time but when I got home my camera hadn't recorded anything.

If you zoom in, you can see on the map below the upstream route wasn't nearly as strait as the down stream.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Morning Mountain Biking at Sugarloaf, Yuma, AZ

I took a pre work ride with one of the guys I work with. This was my first time going out that early, and also my first time going out riding with somebody else.

The guy I went with rides about 20 miles a day, but is not used to single track riding. I blew him away on the trail. I had to stop and wait for him every time the trail split. I was hoping I could get him in some good follow or lead shots with my helmet cam, but he couldn't keep up.


Sabino Canyon, Tucson, Arizona

Lonely planet list Bear Canyon in the Sabino Canyon park as one of the best hikes in Arizona. Unfortunately I was there the wrong time of year and there was no water and so no seven falls.

I wasn't about the let the lack of water or triple digit temperatures stop me from getting in some hiking. I decided to just wander around and see if Sabino Lake had any water, it did not. I made my way along the trails and then down the creek bed to Sabino Dam.

I liked how this area of the desert has so much more life than here around Yuma. So many more cacti and bushes.

When I arrived at the dam, there was no water behind it, but there were some small pools of stagnant water below it. Despite their small size the pools had minnows swimming around in them. I found it kinda funny that there was water below the dam but not behind it, seems to kinda defeat the purpose of a dam, Near the damn there was also a shady little picnic area that I took refuge in from the sun for a while as I decided if I should hike any farther.

 View of the Dam from the trail
 The Dam
 Survey Marker on the Dam
 Pools below the dam
Dam from below

I will need to head back during the late summer monsoons or in the late spring to do the seven falls hike and enjoy the pools.


Piestewa Peak, Phoenix, AZ

What better to do for Memorial Day weekend than hike a peak renamed in memory of Army Spc. Lori Ann Piestewa. It is one of the two peaks in the middle of Phoenix. I was surprised by the crowds, there was a steady stream of people heading up and down. The path was partially reinforced, but clearly needs more work, because in its current state it only seems to make the walk more difficult. There are a lot of awkward steps and stone cemented into place edge up.

Over all it was a pretty good hike. A short climb to the top of a mountain with views of downtown and the areas surrounding Phoenix. A good bit of cardio to start the day.
 Looking up to the top

 The trail
 The peak
 Survey marker at the peak
Looking down at the trail from the peak.


Taliesin West, Scottsdale, AZ

One of my main draws to Phoenix was Taliesin West. A Frank Lloyd Wright home and school in Scottsdale, celebrating 75 years.

I first became interested in Wright in high school. While studying architecture in I took trips to the houses built by Frank Lloyd Wright and saw some movies about him. I also had a friend, who's father was an architect and his style imitated Wright.

One of the first sights on the tour was some petroglyphs. This one at the entrance includes the squared spiral that Wright came to use as a symbol of Taliesin West.

Each area of the house had these Chinese theater scenes in the spaces that divided them. The story goes that Wright bought them in pieces and his students erected them.

The front fountain and front yard also acted as a fire break. It also offered a little green separating the house from the surrounding desert.

The campus Bell Tower over the kitchen, that acted as the dinner bell.

Fire breathing dragon, that was originally a gift to be part of the fountain. Mrs. Wright did not think any self respecting dragon should spit water so she had it connected to propane.

One of my favorite little things about the house was the use of irregular pentagon doors. Only Wright would be so bold as to think that he could improve upon doors.

I am disappoint that I did not get any pictures of the three theaters on the property. My favorite being the cabaret theater. A well designed cave to be used as a dinner theater. The acoustics were the best part. The lack of right angles and the sounding board under the stage made it so any whisper from the stage could be heard everywhere in the theater.


Finger Lakes Part 5, Watkins Glen

I spent a weekend in the Finger lakes with my family for hiking and wine tasting. I will break the trip up by park, this is part five.

Watkins Glen is the only state park I had previously visited in the finger lakes area. It is by far the most developed and the busiest. The lower parking lot is full of tour busses. Despite the development and the departure from nature it is spectacular. In a short distance there are 19 waterfalls in a steep walled narrow gorge.

The natural beauty is a dream for any photographer. The steep walls help to create dramatic light on the falling water. By this point I had gotten my slow shutter speed waterfall photos down, I just wish I had a tripod.

 View from the bottom
 View from the first bridge

Working up from the bottom, you quickly come to a falls that allows you to pass behind, before heading into a cave up a spiral stair case. 

 Behind the falls
 Looking back out of the cave

One of my favorite falls isn't even part of the main creek. It was these trickles of water running down into the gorge. The path runs under a ledge where the water was dripping off the above ledge. The only bad part was walking under the ledge got you wet so where was a bottle neck on both sides as nobody wanted to get wet. Using long exposure gave you these beautiful long narrow fingers of water, that people could stand behind.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Finger Lakes Part 4, Wine tasting

I spent a weekend in the Finger lakes with my family for hiking and wine tasting. I will break the trip up by park, this is part four.

After our hiking around Robert Treman park, we got to the good stuff, the wine tasting along the Cayuga Wine trail. We plotted a course north along the east side of the lake to hit a few wineries.

The first stop was Six Mile Creek Winery. This might have been the best stop. 6 tastings for $2. They offered about 6 whites, 6 reds, and 3 sweets. Because the finger lakes is big on Rieslings and May is Riesling month, I was happy to see the reds. I have always preferred red wine to white.

Stop number two was Kings Ferry Vineyards. I did not appreciate this winery as much. They didn't offer many reds and their tasting was pretty confusing. The only notable thing was they had two late harvest wines available for tasting for an additional dollar each. As an added bonus 13 tastings was enough to start to get that warm feeling.

Stop number three was Bet The Farm. It was a cute little place. They didn't have as many wines as the other spots we made, so you tried all their wines. In addition to wine it was a gourmet food shop. They had a variety of cheeses and other gourmet snacks. Also it was nice because this place was right on the lake. It shares a parking lot with a town park that has some tables and benches right at the waters edge, that just inviting you to come down and taste the treats you just bought.

Stop four, and the final winery we visited was Long Point Winery. This winery was another one with a good variety of whites and reds. They also had my favorite wine of the day a 2007 Syrah, which has always been among my favorite grapes. They also had a little deli but unfortunately we arrived too late.

Of course we couldn't head back without hitting a falls. We stopped at Ludlowville Park in a little residential neighborhood. The falls looked pretty cool. Big and flat on top and a big cave under one half and rocks on the other side. Naturally I jumped the fence so I could go stand at the ledge. The logical next step was to go into the cave. It couldn't be done without getting my feet wet, but there was a knee deep ledge going around the cave. I managed to make it without dunking my phone in the water and get these photos in the precess.


Finger Lakes Part 3, Robert Treman

I spent a weekend in the Finger lakes with my family for hiking and wine tasting. I will break the trip up by park, this is part three.

Robert Treman park was the third of our waterfall hikes, and our only morning hike.

We started the hike from the bottom as we did with the Buttermilk Falls. We started by heading to the lower falls where in warmer days they flood an area to make a pool, to include a diving board right in front of the falls. This was not the case while we were there.
 Here you can see where they would damn it
 Lower falls and sand bar
 I'm standing where the diving board would be

From there we headed up the rim trail. I was a bit disappointed that the trail didn't keep to the creek bed. Most of the trail ran about half way up the gorge, with only occasional views of the creek and its falls. Below is a photo of one of those gems. It was still a pleasant hike through the forest, just a shame that you are so near a creek that you can't see.

After about half way up you walk across a narrow ridge line then down some stairs into a flat area of high grasses. From here to Lucifer Falls the the gorge trail does follow the creek bed, but the water is pretty calm and free of falls. Then just below Lucifer Falls you reach a bridge that divides the Lower gorge and upper gorge trails and connects across the creek to the rim trail. Sadly the upper gorge trail that takes you right along the falls was closed.

It took some time to talk my family up the stairs to the Lucifer Falls over look on the rim trail. They were ready to head back down. I had to promise them that they could continue up the trail .5 miles to the upper parking, while I ran down to retrieve the car at the lower parking.

 Lucifer Falls from the bottom
Lucifer Falls from the overlook on the Rim trail

I feel like I made pretty good time on my trail run down the rim trail. Even with getting a little lost near the bottom as the trail entered the camping area. I managed to get to the upper parking pretty shortly after my family reached it.