Sunday, December 23, 2012

2012 Reno Santa Crawl

I had never heard of the term "SantaCon" until after listening to Covino and Rich on a Sirius satellite show.  SantaCon is an annual mass gathering of people dressed in Santa Claus costumes parading publicly on streets and in bars in cities around the world (Wikipedia, 2012).  Covino thought it was "the most stupidest thing he has ever heard of" while Rich thought it would be the perfect opportunity for the single guy to meet girls, expressed an equation would probably be something like this [(women in sexy outfits + under the influence of cocktails) + (single guy + alcohol) = get lucky...maybe)].

While the common goal is to have a good time in spreading good will and cheer, the 2012 Reno Santa Crawl had a larger purpose which was to raise money to benefit the Washoe County Schools.  Commemorative cups were sold at $5 each which entitled the holder to drink specials at participating bars clustered in the downtown Reno area.  The close proximity of the bars and restaurants makes downtown Reno a great location for wine walks and pub crawls.  In addition to the Reno Santa Crawl, there is the Reno Zombie Crawl, Beer Crawl, Superhero Crawl, Vampire Crawl, Wine Walk, and Dine in the District (Crawl Reno, 2012).

Well the Reno Santa Crawl piqued our curiosity so John and I decided at the last minute to check it out and see with our own eyes what it is all about.  We went to one of the retail establishments the night before to purchase our cups (and in the spirit of the event, also picked up a costume for me to wear).

Last Saturday evening we drove downtown where we met up with a friend of mine and her sister-in-law.  There is not much more to the story that I can tell you and these pictures will share.  There were A LOT of people in the bars and on the streets (it is estimated that there were 13,000 people from the local area and others who came from Sacramento).  This event brings about $2 Million dollars in revenue to the local businesses downtown.
Hope you enjoy the picture slideshow from our 2012 Reno Santa Crawl web album!
Next year maybe I will try this:

Elgy in Character

You may not know that one of our cats, Elgy, likes to ride in cardboard boxes while we push or pull her around in it. We had purchased one of the car character kits for my scooter so it could look like a reindeer but instead I put in on Elgy's vehicle. She had such a blast in her new ride!
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Reno Snow

It started to snow and snow and snow on Saturday. The first significant snowfall in Reno this winter. Looks like there will be a white Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Nevada Scenic Byways

There was a meet and greet at work where I had the opportunity to learn about the departments and functions that serve their constituents. During my tour I picked up a Nevada state map and there was a section about the Nevada Scenic Byways.  Of the 10 listed, John and I are grateful to have been to all but two: Pyramid Lake (just 37 miles north of Reno) and Angel Lake (but we were so close during our visit to Great Basin National Park).
This is the list of Nevada Scenic Byways along with links to resources, my blog posts, and photo albums.  You can also view the brochure online or download the .pdf copy.  By no means is this ALL of the points of interest in Nevada and if you haven't been to these - it sounds like a great idea for a road trip!!

2. Mt. Rose

3. Pyramid Lake

4. Lamoille Canyon
5. Angel Lake

6. Mt. Charleston

7. Red Rock Canyon (there is a gorgeous scenic drive through Red Rock Canyon)

8. Las Vegas Strip (what can I say except there is too many photos to post during the time we lived in Vegas of our adventures on the Strip)

9. Valley of Fire
10. Great Basin
This coming year, we will definitely visit Pyramid Lake and I hope to visit Angel Lake on the way to a hopefully another family camping trip at Great Basin National Park.

Nevada State Parks:

Monday, December 17, 2012

Team Camp Weekend

About one mile south of the village of Mendocino, CA lies one of the most quaint coastal ranches in Northern Nevada called Spring Ranch and where we stayed the second weekend of December for John's cycling team camp.
The historic property has been renovated using antique and salvaged material. There is a bar loft and the main house (in which we stayed that weekend).  The rooms are furnished with amenities you would find in a hotel such as linens, towels, and bath essentials.  The kitchen is stocked with cooking utensils, pots, pans, dishes, silverware, spices--pretty much what you would need in your own kitchen.  Perfect for a family gathering and it has also been an intimate venue for many, many beautiful weddings.  I took more photos which are in this album.
The drive was beautiful. We took the back roads for a direct path to northern California. The route was scenic but it also made for a very long drive.
When we arrived Friday evening, we met his teammates who greeted us with open arms. Within minutes we felt like we were part of the group.  Instead of going out to dinner, we cooked dinner the two nights we were there.  John and I helped out in the kitchen while the chefs made quite possibly the best spaghetti carbinara I've ever had and salad one of nights and the next night we had poached salmon with roasted vegetables and sweet potatoes.  MUCH better food than dining out.
We sat in the dining room and the conversations flowed along with wine.
The next morning I took photos of the team (Hammer Nutrition/Charity of Choice) and then followed them in our truck as they embarked on a 100+ mile ride and 8400 feet of climbing.  You will see plenty of photos of these gentlemen throughout the coming year.  And no, their hair is not all blonde.  John thought it would be funny if I Photoshop one of the guys' hair onto everyone else's head.  If you saw the before photo, you might chuckle.
Will the real Dirk Himley please stand up?
Their ride started on Highway 1 from Spring Ranch and meandered south along the coast.
I drove ahead and stopped to take photos as they passed me by. It was a lot of fun for me to see parts of the Pacific Coast I hadn't seen and doing what I love -- photography and spending time with my sweetheart.  It didn't matter that he was riding because I got to see him pass by many times with a big smile on his face.  And he was doing one of the things he loves most).
Then the course headed east through the mountains and things got steep. The road was narrow and took many twists and turns. Some were 180 degrees and equally as steep downhill as it had been uphill! There are more photos that I took in this SmugMug album.
Eventually I split off and headed back to the ranch while the team continued their ride. I put on my running shoes and headed out the door, past some old historic barns to the cliffs. I passed a herd of deer eating dinner as the sun was setting. There's a trail leading from Spring Ranch along the cliffs on which I ran.  I made a two mile loop back to the barn to shed some clothes because I was getting warm from my run.
The trail makes a figure eight heading north and south.  I wish I had more time to explore ... so I will have to wait until next time :-)
The guys were already back at the ranch so I didn't want to leave again to continue my run.  We cleaned up and then John and I made a grocery run.  It was time to prepare dinner and many of us were in the kitchen again, helping in any way we can. 
The next day John went riding with his team after their morning briefing.  I stayed back at the ranch with the team captain's wife and she took me on a tour of the carriage house and bar loft. You really must see the photos of the interior of the bar loft - it is so cozy and private.  And the carriage house is full of so many wonders, it was hard to capture it all in photos.
When it was time to leave on Sunday we said our farewells and headed towards home, stopping in Sonoma, CA for dinner and a glass of a couple of the best local wines.  It was a GREAT trip and we look forward to going back to Mendocino soon.
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Monday, December 10, 2012

Night of Fun Bowling

The other Saturday we went to the Grand Sierra Hotel and Casino for some fun time bowling.
John won the first round and then as the games progressed, I started to pull ahead in each round. Perhaps my strategy of feeding him beer worked ;-)
We put come cash in the slot machines and came out ahead. It doesn't take a large win for us to walk, LOL. The casinos must hate us. We have never lost since we came to Reno.
Then we went home and took photos in front of the tree so our family can see the 9 foot silver tip we got from the nursery to support the local boy scout troops.
We tried to get the girls in the photos but they don't like to stay still very long for group photos but eventually I got Havi to cooperate although reluctantly.
I hope you are having a fantastic holiday season. Just 15 more days until Christmas!!!
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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Home for a Visit

I had a nice long weekend visiting family in Boulder City near the end of October.  As much as I wanted to ride my bike or run on the trails along Lake Mead and visit so many friends I've missed since we moved away over a year ago, I found that all the precious time I had to spend, I spent with our family.
John had driven home several days before I flew in on a Friday morning (he had loaded up our bicycles and his Retul fitting system to fit bicycles all week).
My mom-in-law picked me up from the airport and after we walked through the observatory at the Bellagio, she took me to breakfast at a cafe in the Paris (I think it was called the Sugar Factory).  Although the day was sunny, it was cool with temperatures in the 50s.  We sat inside next to windows overlooking the Strip.
After breakfast we went shopping until our feet hurt. Then drove through Boulder City to admire the city improvements (landscaping, palm trees, and lamp posts) lining the city streets. It was sure nice to be back in a familiar place.

I will never get bored of the Vegas skyline.
I wish I could tell you about all we did but I cannot remember it all.  I remember we had a really good time no matter what we did.  We ate out at several places and we cooked really good meals at home, including a Thanksgiving Dinner since we knew we would probably spend the holiday apart.
One of the days I learned how to sew from Maggie and both John and I tried our hands at tooling leather in his dad's leather shop (it made it appreciate even more how much skill it takes to turn leather into something beautiful).  John's dad is really humble and most people will not know that he was asked to make a guitar strap for Garth Brooks' birthday gift (an accessory that is normally not one of the custom made products in his shop of gun leather and cowboy gear to name a few...but someone sought out John's dad for his work).  I may or may not have posted photos of a beautiful leather convertible purse John and Maggie made me for my birthday which I still love (I'll have to post pics of it if I haven't already).

John's parents' company Western Star Leather also supplied spurs for a motion picture film soon to be released in national theaters.  Their business and products have been featured in many magazines including True West, Guns of the Old West, Shoot!, and Combat Handguns.  If you take a close look at his artwork in the image below and compare it to other custom leather made products out there, you'll see why.  There is no bias when I say others are pale in comparison to his craftsmanship.
Click image for larger view.
John rode his bike along the River Mountains Trail Loop while I went on a long walk with Maggie. We picked coyote gourds that you can make ornaments out of and pomegranates to include in our morning fruit salad.
A longtime friend of mine, whom I've know since I moved to Vegas in 2004, would finally fulfill her dreams of living in Utah.  It may be our only chance to see each other before she moved with her family so we met up for brunch to catch up on our lives.

Then John and I drove home. We took the scenic route through Bishop and past Mammoth where the changing leaves from the fall season were just breathtaking. We stopped at Schaat's Bakery for lunch along the way and before we knew it, we were back home with our kitties!!

Let's Play Ball

If I showed you just this photo, you wouldn't believe me that Havi likes to play basketball.
I spotted her from afar, with a ball under her paw and grabbed for my camera. Just as she started to bat it.
After that we rolled the ball back and forth across the floor ... until she got bored and moved on to other things, LOL.
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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

Last week I picked up a wind up toy for our cats.  It's a ghost and the eyes sweep back and forth, back and forth as it scurries across the room.
Ghost wind up toy 
I remember my Dad brought home a toy like it once.  It was a wind up blue police officer hat that would travel along, spin around in a circle, and pop up to reveal the face of a policeman that was tucked inside the hat.
This Halloween creeped up on us.  I have a costume but tonight, we stayed home.  We bought candy but not one trick-or-treater knocked on our door (no doubt because we didn't get a chance to decorate).  Next year we would like to catch the Zombie Crawl which we missed this weekend because we were out of town.  I had heard it was one of the biggest event and bar crawls in downtown Reno.

Speaking of zombies, I've always liked the living dead though oddly enough I am a baby about watching scary movies even in daylight.  I remember playing (and conquering) the game, Resident Evil when it was first out on PlayStation long before its adaptation into the film series.   Now John and I like watching the t.v. series, Walking Dead.  It's addicting, LOL.  Have you seen any of the episodes from Season 1, 2, and/or 3 and do you like it?
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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Fall in Reno

Fall is definitely here. Everywhere I look I see trees and bushes displaying their leaves in fantastic shades of gold and crimson. I haven't had a chance to walk around and take photos yet but I hope to before winter comes.
Fall Season in Reno 
Then last Tuesday, the snow descended on the mountain ranges surrounding Reno.  From my desk I can see a blanket of powder.
snow on mountains in Reno 
And the next morning, a snow-capped mountains beyond the golf course but no snow down at our level of ~4,500 feet above sea elevation.  I am told the snow storms came early this year.  So maybe we will get a chance to do some nordic skiing this winter.
Snow over golf course in Reno 
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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

If I only had such a thing...decision making might be much easier.
Without such a fairytale gadget, I did the best that I could given that I really wanted a camera with interchangeable lens and has the image quality that is close to a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera but a compact size of a point-and-shoot, the camera needed to fit within a budget and the inventory had to be on-hand (there's a part of me that hates shopping).  I couldn't wait for the release of the Canon EOS M and the Sony NEX-7 was priced a little steeper than I'd like to part with so I went home with the Sony NEX-5. 

It came with the 18mm - 55mm lens and flash accessory.  Bundled with the 55mm to 210mm zoom lens, the package was less than if I paid separately for the extra lens.  Since then, John got me a 16mm (pancake) fixed focal length lens and case to keep everything together.
Naturally John was my first willing subject...then Elgy and Havi.
The cats do not like the AF (auto focus) assist light and there were many shots where they turned away from the camera but eventually they gave in and became the subjects of my photos.
I am VERY pleased with the camera's ability to capture photos in low light settings (all of these photos were taken using existing light and no flash). No more blurry photos during the coming holidays and precious moments!!  On the down side, the menu and manual controls is very limited for manual/shutter-priority/aperture-priority and power shooting modes.  Still, the camera will stitch  panorama in a cinch, shoots HDR and decent videos, and is much lighter and less to carry.  Overall, this beats my Nikon D60 which I still have so I must admit I will probably use the Sony more often.  Stay tuned...there will be LOTS of photos coming soon!
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