Thursday, June 28, 2012

More fun on two wheels and other exciting news

This week just flew by, like The Sands of Time (if you follow the link, there's an interesting article in the Healthy Beginnings magazine written by local psychologist Dr. Drymalski which talks about time).

During lunch one day, I rode my road bicycle through downtown Reno along the Truckee River, past Idlewild Park to Crissie Cauglin Park and back to work.  It was a BEAUTIFUL and a peaceful getaway ride for nearly 9 miles.
It has been months, I mean since December since scissors collided with my hair so I went to see a stylist at Crush Salon to have the sun bleached part of my hair snipped off...about 5 inches or so.  The length is just beneath my collar bone and you can't really tell in this photo because my hair is so dark but it is layered.  This particular morning, I couldn't find my big round brush to style it so I used a curling iron which left it curlier than usual.
One evening I took my project bike for a spin to the ATM machine, a local coffee shop, and to a little park by our home that overlooks the golf course.  I sat there and soaked in the fresh air of summer.  I could have taken a nap there, LOL!!
Wednesday evening we finally picked up my 2013 Honda Metropolitan Scooter!!  I had my hair appointment the day before and waiting to pick it up was excruciating.  Especially since I have been waiting SO long for its release and now, the first Pearl White model in Nevada is mine.  I have ridden it around the neighborhood, to the dentist, and to the office for the past couple days so I will share my review with you soon.
My new toy - the 2013 Honda Metropolitan Scooter
John and I took it for a spin down the ways to eat dinner. He rode my project bike and I rode the scooter.
So we first went to this place we've been meaning to try called Simon's Cafe & Lounge on Lakeside Drive. It has a nice covered patio and a water fountain feature but after waiting 10 or 15 minutes with the menu the bus boy gave to us and no acknowledgement or water while we wait, we got up and left to eat at another place in the same center.  It wasn't as if we were in a hurry but if the service is indicative of how the rest of our meal will go, we'd rather take our business elsewhere.  Perhaps they were short staffed or whatever so maybe we'll try again another night.

And boy were we glad we supported a small local business that just opened a few months ago called A Taste of New York, a small Italian restaurant that also has a food truck.  John ordered the Chicken Parmesan Hero sandwich and I ordered the Meatball and Ricotta Calzone.  While we waited, the owner gave us a complementary appetizer of cheese bread and marinara sauce.  Mind you, it was not watery bland marinara sauce but a thick and tasty hot (warm) meat marinara sauce and it was GOOD.  Both the bread and sauce.  They also had a couple of wine glasses for us to use (we purchased a bottle from the Vintage Wine Shop in the same area.  By the way, that is a really neat wine shop and the only place in Reno with a tasting machine so you can try the wine before you buy.)
On the patio of A Taste of New York
What could be better than a perfect summer evening outdoors on the patio drinking wine and enjoying the best Italian food in Reno?  The bread, the sauce, the homemade meatball and ricotta in the calzone, and marinara sauce was oh so delicious -- it was YUM-YUM!!  We will definitely go back for A Taste of New York!!
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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Reno Street Food and Wild Island Adventure Park

We didn't feel like cooking Friday night so we went to the Reno Street Food at Idlewild Park to find something to eat. Appetizing aromas from the food trucks and trailers filled the evening air as we approached the venue.  This gathering is a weekly event from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. through the summer.
We grabbed a glass of beer from local brewer, Great Basin Brewery, before browsing the vendors to see what they had to offer.  Of course I couldn't resist the spicy hot link sausage at Brothers Barbecue. John had a really good gyro from Red Truck and when we were done with our food, we were still hungry so we also got some pork sticks from Full Belly Deli.  Dry rubbed, fried, and drizzled with sweet and hot sauce -- it was fall-off-the-bone tender goodness!  While we sat and ate, a puppeteer entertained the crowd who had gathered around him.  It was a nice evening.

Today was a special surprise for John from which he had been in suspense for two whole days.  I had purchased a couple of tickets for miniature golf at the Wild Island Family Adventure Park in Sparks, NV.  It turned out that John had a friend he's known since he lived in Reno, who happened to be the General Manager of the park.  The GM gave us a tour of the facilities past water slides, go carts, and the 21 (years olds) only bar area. There's also bowling, laser tag, and indoor black light miniature golfing too!  Then we parted ways so the manager could attend to business.  It was so nice of him to give up his time to show us around and he made sure we were taken care of.

Inside, we ate lunch at Water Dogs before we started our game.  A Philly Steak sandwich and chicken hot wings in a mix of Nitro and BBQ sauce.
Then we our game began.  I was leading and under par but slowly John caught up. I cracked under the pressure and in the end, he beat me.  So we'll have to go back for a rematch, LOL.
Afterwards we played some games in the arcade including air hockey (and John beat me again). Then watched the go-carts and since it was late, we didn't try it ourselves. But next time we will.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fun with Two Wheels

Over the weekend we picked up this old bike from a yard sale where this guy sells restored bikes. Most of the bikes for sale were ready to ride and then there were some bike frames and this one lonely "project" bike leaning against a tree.  All it really needed was a saddle, new tubes, and some grease to be rideable.  We handed the guy $25 and loaded it into the trunk of our car.
Since then John put a bell and an old leather Brooks saddle on it.  After he pumped up the tires he and I took turns taking it for a spin around the neighborhood.  What fun!!
All that's left to do is a good wash and it could use a chain guard so I don't get the legs of my pants greasy or caught in the chain.  Maybe a basket in the front too.  John is going to buff the chrome parts and my Serrano will go with me to the coffee shops, market, and office!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Born to Ride

The first Pearl White 2013 Honda Metropolitan to come through the doors of our local Honda dealership will be MINE!!!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Happy Friday

On the way to work, I got a flat tire and was just a few blocks away. While I was changing the flat, an elderly man stopped by. He was on the way to a casino to follow-up on an employment application he turned in. It was also his birthday.
He said it was very hard to find a job in this market, which made me very grateful my employer is understanding of delays like I had this morning.
His name was Robert and he had just turned 65 years old. He didn't need a job, he's collecting pension, but was too bored to stay home. As I completed the tube change on my bike I told him, good for him for staying active and busy and wished him a happy birthday.
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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sailing on Lake Tahoe

John doesn't like to celebrate his birthday so unless I make plans, he's perfectly happy with letting the special day slip by.  This year I made him a pick-your-own-adventure birthday card, which he enjoyed opening, and little doors and windows revealed how we would celebrate the big day.

Sunday following my Reno-Tahoe Odyssey relay run adventure, we drove to south Lake Tahoe where the Brook's Bar & Deck sits on the edge of the water as part of the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.  Twenty years have passed since John stepped foot on the shores of Lake Tahoe and I have seen its clear blue waters twice (briefly after my job interview in October and the second time was during the relay run but my team and I passed on the road after dark and I can hardly count that) so both of us looked forward this visit.
At Brooks' Bar & Deck, we ordered a mojito and mai tai (thumbs up to the bartender for not loading them with too much syrup) and fried calamari with tempura green beans and artichoke hearts to start.

For supper John ordered the fish and chips with garlic fries - both cooked to a crisp with a perfect golden finish.  I ordered a Summer Breeze salad (but added seared Ahi) which was spinach, arugula, papaya, grilled pears, strawberries, quinoa, and goat cheese with a champagne vinaigrette. Sounds like an elaborate salad but I will never know because John's meal came before mine and 15 minutes later my dinner was no where to be seen so it was a good idea I insisted on John eating before his food cooled off.

Our original waitress was no where to be seen (there must have been a shift change) and we asked our new waitress to check on the order and cancel it if it had not yet been prepared.  Apparently there was a glitch in the staff communication and for whatever reason, I never got to taste the salad.  We finished John's plate and were both full when the waitress brought the salad out to us asking if I still wanted it.  I appreciated the gesture but considering the mistake wasn't ours, I wasn't going to scarf down a $25 salad for the sake of eating it ($13 for the salad, $12 to add the ahi).  Unfortunately, John and I were already done with our food and ready to leave.  It wasn't our new waitresses fault even though she apologized several times; we let her know our meal has been a pleasure and secretly hoped next time things will run more smoothly.
Sitting on Zephyr Cove
Not letting that minor glitch ruin our experience, we continued on our way driving along the shoreline of Lake Tahoe in search of dessert before heading to the dock.  After we finished our ice cream and checked in with at the registration desk for our excursion, there was still time to play so we walked along the sandy beach of Zephyr Cove and sat for a while looking onto the calm blue waters of the lake.

When it came time to board the Woodwind II, a 50' catamaran sailboat there were about 15 other folks joining us for the trip.  We took a seat on some extra large pillows on the front deck and enjoyed the ride.  The crew was a joy to sail with, very accommodating and they kept the champagne flowing.  Over yonder, the sun started to set and the night was cool.  It would have been too cold if the crew didn't bring out blankets to keep us toasty.  We drifted for a while before the sails were turned and the wind blew us back to shore under the light of the oversized moon.

I'm glad John was a willing participant this year for he had a lovely birthday celebration!

These are photos from celebrating John's birthday at Lake Tahoe:

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sugar, Sugar

I think John knows by now not to make bets with me because if I accept, I would surely win (I don't agree to bets where I have less than a 97% chance of winning because I'm a low risk person). While we were at breakfast on Saturday, this song played over the speakers of the restaurant and I hear the words of the song, "Sugar, Sugar...oh honey, honey." Of course John recognized the artist instantly and challenges me, "If you can guess the name of the band, I'll give you a thousand dollars or sell a set of my wheels and give you the money."

Seeing that the wheels I desired were on the time trial bike he rode on to the Squeeze In restaurant where we were having breakfast and I had NOTHING to lose in this bet, I accepted his proposal. To his surprise, I guessed the name of the band correctly.  Of course, he was able to keep his wheels so we could at least ride our bicycles home afterwards.
Then we decided to check out the farmer's market down the street. We picked up some sweet cherries, fresh asparagus, and I can't remember but we were probably the merchant's best customers in the three minutes that we were there. Also picked up a three pound loaf of freshly baked sourdough bread with cheddar cheese crust.
Then made dinner with our bounty.
One of our favorite meals, eggs over easy fried with garlic and finished with soy sauce on sourdough toast with a side of roasted asparagus with sea salt and cracked pepper.
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Venus in Transit June 2012

When Venus passed in front of the sun on June 5, 2012 I had a chance to view the start of the transit briefly after 3 p.m. Later, when I was home there was a large dark cloud looming over our neighborhood and even though the entire transit would last 6 hours and 40 minutes, I thought for sure I'd miss the watching the remaining path of Venus before the sun set so I hopped in the car and drove a little ways to the neighborhood nearby to get some photos.

Unlike eclipses, Venus transits are truly rare. They come in pairs, separated by more than 100 years. The last one occurred in 2004 and next pair in 2117 and 2125.

Since this celestial event will not occur for over another 100+ years, I really wanted to witness it transpire before my very eyes. Then when I came home (the second time), the cloud overhead had cleared so that John and I could walk down the golf course behind where we live and watch the sun set with Venus in the foreground.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

My Reno-Tahoe Odyssey Adventure - Part II

Surprisingly I slept pretty well on the bed of gravel in the parking lot of Wal-Mart, however short lived my rest was. It was 3:30 a.m. and I heard our team captain announce that our team in the other van was about 30 minutes out from the exchange point where we slept. From within the cocoon of my sleeping bag, I opened one eye and then the other. A weather storm was rolling in. Like a zombie, I rose out of my bed and remembered why I was there. Adrenaline surged through my vein in anticipation of the events to come. Soon we would be hopping in and out of the van, supporting our team member with cheers and water (can you hear the ringing of cowbells?), and then running our own LAST leg of the 178-mile course before heading to the finish line!!

From that point on things were pretty much a blur. No doubt my faint memory was due to sleep deprivation.  I remember the spirit of the race, parade of people in costumes and decorated vans all around me.

I remember shouts of encouragement spilling out the window of team vans as they passed me.  And my ever present teammates checking in to see if my fueling needs were met and to make sure I was doing okay.  The last leg was the most difficult for me because it was heading uphill to the steep section where I would pass the baton to Joan. One of my teammates got out of the van to give me water, ran along with me for the last mile of my leg and didn't let me give up. Light headed and exhausted, I finished my part and relief came over me. I gave it my best for the 3.5 miles at 10:20 min/mi pace when I normally run this pace on a flat road. It's because of all my teammates that I pushed myself to my limits. Because of them, I ran faster than I would have if I were to run for myself.
Cheering Joan on Leg 30 to Virginia City
When the Reno-Tahoe Odyssey official results came in, our team crossed the finish line in 25 hours, 44 minutes, and 40 seconds at an average pace of 8:41 min/mi. We placed 59th out of 247 teams, 16th out of 116th in our category (open mix).  On one of the toughest legs, if not the toughest 8-mile uphill part of the course, our teammate placed 3rd out of the 247 people who ran that stretch.

My teammates: The Slackers
When the last runner on our team crossed the finish line, we gathered around Idlewild Park to celebrate and eat some real food. I am so proud of my teammates, and proud to have been a part of a group of really great, supportive people. We were strangers when we met and we parted that day, a team. The Reno-Tahoe Odyssey relay run was definitely an adventure and the proceeds also help to benefit the Northern Nevada Children's Cancer Foundation. It was a journey I'm SO glad I was crazy enough to embark on.

I hope you enjoy the photos from early Saturday morning (June 2, 2012) until the race finish!

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Venus in Transit Simulated

I can barely see Venus in transit with a naked eye from my desk right now (filtered with a solar viewer of course).  Hope the sky is clear when I get home so I can shoot some photos.   For now, this live simulation is pretty neat! The default location and is set to Reno, NV and you can see a simulated path of Venus for a specific location and specific point in time. We won't ever see this again in our lifetime unless you live for another 105 years.

Please install latest Flash Player to run SunAeon Venus Transit 2012

Monday, June 04, 2012

My Reno-Tahoe Odyssey Adventure - Part I

When I heard about the Reno Tahoe Odyssey (RTO), my first thought was you gotta be crazy to sign up for this event.  It’s a long distance running relay between 249 teams of (typically) twelve runners per team on a course that’s 178 miles long and loops from downtown Reno around Lake Tahoe through the Sierra Nevada to the beautiful high desert of Carson City and back to Reno ending with a festival.  Running the course can take a team anywhere between 18 hours to 33 hours to complete. The Odyssey is not so much a race as it is an adventure, and it's one I'll never forget because (call me crazy) I signed up and my team finished the relay this past weekend.
Team #161 - The Slackers
Our 12-person team was divided into two groups of six runners (including me) in Van 1 and the remaining in Van 2 (oddly enough, we were in a Honda Odyssey). Van 1 was the first to start (pictured above with the exception of Adam in the yellow shirt) from the Wingfield (whitewater) Park in downtown Reno at 11:15 a.m.  So that all of the teams could finish around the same time when the festivities begin, the less competitive teams start at 7 a.m. Friday morning and the most competitive teams take off from the start line at 4 p.m. the same afternoon. 

The course was broken up into 36 sections, called "legs" so that each runner will have three legs to cover (my share of the course are legs #6, #17, and #29).  Van 1 with the six runners would take the first six legs to where Van 2 with the other six runners would meet and take on the next six legs and so forth, leapfrogging from one van exchange point to the next.  While the runners in one van are putting on the miles by foot, the group in the other van have a few hours to eat and rest.
Reno-Tahoe Odyssey course (click for larger view)
Our team captain, Adam, was the first of our team to start.  Since it was a hot day, we checked in with him along the course to offer water and support.  In these photos, he's in for a surprise!
Our group in Van 1 ran their leg faster than anticipated.  We almost didn't make it in time to the baton exchange point and one time, my teammate Joan (in purple) had to keep running past the exchange point.  I chased after her to get the baton which set my pace to a strong start.

My first leg was #6, which passed the Boca Reservoir which I had not known has some interesting history dating back to the 1800's. There was once a town which started as a work camp for the transcontinental railroad thrived, a commercial ice cutting trade succeeded in the area, and a brewery that made one of the most popular beers called Boca Beer started.

It was a gorgeously clear but very warm day and other runners appreciated a squirt from the water guns that we had.
This runner may have been part of a bridal party of a couple in the relay who got married at the Bucket of Blood Saloon.
One lady was so exhausted, as she passed by our van she flung herself onto the seats inside and laid there for a while, resting until she was ready to continue.  We gave her a bottle of cold water to keep her hydrated for the rest of her run.

Soon after it was my turn!  Fresh with adrenaline, I ran the 4.7 miles at a pace that surprised me for my level of experience and fitness; I've only been running for five months. 8:27 min/mile pace for the first mile, 9:31 min/mile pace for the second mile, 9:41 min/mile pace for the third mile, 8:59 min/mile pace for the fourth mile, and then I ran as hard as I could at 8:02 min/mile pace for the remaining miles.  I felt strong when I crossed the finish line until I bent over and vomited the bite of pizza I ate shortly before my run.
Luke cooling off my head and Joan stands ready with water.
The exchange point was where my teammates in Van 2 awaited.  John had been following me during the last mile on the course with ice cold water for me to drink and cool off.  I felt awesome when I passed on the baton.

Our team drove to the next van exchange point, stopping along the course to cheer on our teammates in Van 2.

Throughout the day I felt the joy and thrill ricocheting from team to team. Many teams decorated their vans and the runners wore costumes of adding to the fun of the event.

 But the day wasn't over for us yet.  Our van still had one more leg to run just as the sun started to set.
We put on our head lamps and safety vests and ran into the night.  Many places along the shores of Lake Tahoe have no street lights so it's pitch dark and super quiet except for the glow of the moon illuminating the surrounding mountains.  It was eerie and majestic at the same time. The runners with the beams from their head lamps bouncing off the road and what light illuminated their safety vests reminded me of Tron.

My leg (17) went from the Tahoe Keys are to the Lake Tahoe Community College so it was pretty much on the urban streets. Even with headlamps and street lights, it was tough to see the ground moving underneath me. I really had to be careful of uneven surfaces and potholes.  For the most part, I ran alone in silence.  As I caught people I had their company for a while, long enough to exchange words of encouragements. "Good job!" "Keep it up!" before I continued on.  The average pace of my first leg was 9:03 min/mile and I finished the second leg at 9:08 min/mile.  I felt good about my run, despite being nauseous at the end.  Normally I run a pace of 10:00 min/mile on the treadmill and slower on the road so it must be the encouragement of my teammates and not wanting to let them down.
By the time Joan and I were done with our run, it was almost 1 a.m.  Our group waited at the Wal-Mart where Van 2 would meet us after completing their six legs of the course.  With 3 to 4 hours until the exchange, it was the perfect opportunity for us to get some shut eye.  Some folks slept on the asphalt in between a shopping cart corral.  We preferred the bed of gravel near the Lawn and Garden area which had more give.

I unrolled my sleeping bag and crawled in.  Laying there on the ground, I had the most intimate view of a bush and sidewalk overlooking the Wal-Mart parking lot, a perspective I thought I'd never see. With a smile on my face, I closed my eyes...and slept like a rock (no pun intended).  One more leg to go in just a few hours!

Here are more photos from the AWESOME day - you don't want to miss these!!

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Story of a Birthday Boy

Guess whose birthday is coming up?  He doesn't know it yet but this is a birthday card I made for him with flip doors to "pick his own adventure" for food and fun!  The placeholder photographs will be replaced by the real photos from the restaurant and activity he ultimately chooses behind the tags labeled "1, 2, 3" on the pages.
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