Archive for August, 2007

Mt. Rainier

My parents were in town last week and I took vacation to play around with them.  One of our excursions was to Mt. Rainier.  I knew it was going to be awesome and I was still in awe when we actually got to the park.

We went to the Sunrise Visitor Center, which is the highest place (6400′) in the park that is accessible by car (though we saw plenty of bikers making the trek).  The entrance to Sunrise is on the north-east side of the park off Rte. 410 and it about 10 miles up an wide, safe switch back road (with no guard rails – those with strong vertigo should beware).  Once you get up there you’re greeted with amazing views of the east side of the glacier, so close you feel like you could touch it.  There is a small gift shop and snack bar (get the chili and soft serve ice cream) and it’s worth going in the visitor center to see the 3D model of the park as well as look through the telescope to see the nooks and crannies of the glacier up close.

There are many choices for day hikes as well as overnight camping from the visitor center. There is a good range or trails from easy to difficult.  We did the loop around Sunrise Camp that goes out toward Frozen Lake, out to First Borroughs and then around Shadow Lake.  This was a manageable hike for people of all ages and ability: clear trails, no real elevation gain, good distance.  Anyone with bad ankles, knees or hips may want to bring a walking stick.  You definitely need to bring a small pack with water, nibbles and a jacket (weather can change dramatically).

It was so beautiful up there it was if I couldn’t take a bad picture.  Between the glacier, the wildflowers, and the mountains you couldn’t find a more beautiful landscape.  I couldn’t stop myself from taking shots.  Here’s a sampling (in the middle photo you can actually see Mt. Rainier except it looks like a cloud in the lower left part of the photo):

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Ignorance at it’s best

These are the a-holes running our country.  The only positive spin I can put on this clip is if you take his sarcasm away he’s actually promoting the thing he’s talking against: riding a bicycle to limit our dependency on fuel!

Is this guy even aware of what France and the rest of Europe is doing?
I could scream!

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I Graduated to Wednesday Nights at the Track

About 5 weeks ago I had my first experience riding in the Velodrome.  Once you take the class you are invited to race on Monday nights, which is considered a learning night where you get lots of support and instruction as you get comfortable riding on the track. 

This week I completed my fourth Monday night of racing.  I got to do three races:

  1. Point-A-Lap (x6): this race you go around the track six times, the first person to finish each lap earns points.  I did terrible in the race. I followed someone sprinting off the front and tied/lost to them in the point lap and then couldn’t keep up the rest of the race.
  2. 3×2: this race you go around the track six times.  Every two laps is a chance to earn points.  The points are 4-deep (1st place = 5 points, 2nd place = 4 points, 3rd place = 3 points, 4th place = 2 points).  This was my best race of the night and I scored 7 points.
    Video: Group Health Velodrome 3×2 Women’s Race

  3. 3×3: this is just like the 3×2 except points are every 3rd lap and you go around 9 times.  I was tired by this race and kept up with the pack but didn’t do well with points.

The best part is the I graduated and can now race on Wednesday nights.  On this night they actually have an announcer, music and an audience.  There are also Category 1 and 2 women road racers who can eat me for lunch who race that night.  So I expect that I will encounter a whole new set of challenges.  Time to get some sleep so I have half a chance at keeping up!

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Chuckanut Drive

DSC03236Last weekend, Rob and I were invited to Larrabee State Park for the weekend to celebrate the birthday of our friend Steve.  We drove up from Seattle on Saturday morning and arrived to the park around mid-day.  Larrabee State Park is well suited for a variety of people:

  • It is a manageable size: not nearly as large as other National and State parks)
  • Easy to access: easy drive in from I-5, pull your car or RV into the site parking space and setup camp – you’re done!
  • Very accommodating: there are toilets and warm-water showers (for $0.50), all wheel chair accessible.  They have a welcome booth, staffed with people and pamphlets, with information about how to enjoy the park.  They also sell firewood in case you forgot yours.
  • Many features to enjoy: there is a park with covered picnic areas and an amphitheater; as well as several beaches within walking distance of the campgrounds.

DSC03242 Since it was a surprise party, we managed to learn when other friends of Steve arrived to the park.  We met Jenny (of Jenny and Tom), Jenny and Patrick and set out for a hike to the beaches.

There is an amazing amount of history, archeology and ocean life to take in just from the coast line near the park.  We saw layers of sediment worn away by the ocean – it was almost as if we could see sand being made before our eyes.  We saw purple star fish (above) and baby crabs (below).  A lot of cool driftwood and other assorted beach treasures. 

There was a particularly cool rock with a face carved into the side (left).  We couldn’t tell if someone had carved it out of the rock or somehow molded it into one of the craters of the rock.  Either way, it was freaky and cool to discover.

DSC03241 From the beaches you get amazing views of the San Juan Islands and oyster farms along the coast.  One of the easier walk/hikes to do is the Interurban trail: it is a wide, flat trail (with exception of one part that drops off on to the beach).  It has a nice canopy of trees so you stay well shaded, even on a hot day.  The park appears to be pet friendly as we saw many with their dogs.  The beaches were all small and covered with blankets of kelp and seaweed.  We managed to find a plot of warm sand and take a nap in the afternoon sun.  There is also a train track that runs along the coast and you can see trains going by from time to time.

We met up with Rondelle in the park with the amphitheater.  Her brother and family and some friends were there.  Many friends arrived on bikes they rode from Bellingham.  And we all awaited Steve’s surprise arrival.  It was a fun evening of BBQ, tight rope walking, volleyball and the most AMAZING chocolate cake I’ve ever had in my life.  Apparently this cake is from the Mount Bakery in Bellingham, WA and well, let’s just say that I had an emotional and physical reaction to this cake.

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I’ve eaten other delectable food at the Mount Bakery before (like eggs benedict with fresh crab and asparagus) and never really knew about this chocolate cake thing.  If you make a trip to Bellingham for any reason, this is worth it!

Rondell and Steve (with his new gift: a walker)

After the main festivities we settled into our campsite, made a fire and cooked up s’mores and adult beverages.

On Sunday, we packed up camp and Rob and I took our road bikes for a tour of Chuckanut Drive, which despite it’s cool name, is famous in it’s own right.  It’s a beautiful stretch of road that connects Skagit Valley to Bellingham and crosses through some great towns.  My favorites, in particular, are Bow and Fairhaven.  First we rode north from Larrabee until we made it to Fairhaven.  Fairhaven is a town dating back to the 1880s that still has a ton of historical character despite the renovations to keep it’s main area in good condition.  This is a great place to mill around for a weekend.  They have a double decker cafe bus that serves fish and chips out the window, a quad lawn where you can enjoy music followed by a film on Saturday nights (in the summer) and a stretch of trail for walking and biking all along the coast line.  We had spent the day in Fairhaven once before and fell in love with it.  Today, we just passed through and then tracked back south, past the park again, as well as several of the Oyster restaurants along the coast until we got close to where the woods end and the farm land began.  At that point we turned around and headed back to the park.  All told we did about 25 miles.  The road was really fun to ride – rolling ups and downs, nothing too extreme and great ocean views.

We hit the showers at the park and got in the car for the ride home.

On the way toward I-5 we stopped in Bow for lunch at the Rhododendron Cafe – another amazing restaurant.  Head to this place with enough day light to sit in the back patio at dusk and get views of the garden with beautiful mountain backdrops.  The food is also amazing.  Most of our meals were topped with Nasturtium flowers – which are not only gorgeous, delicate and fragrant flowers, but also EDIBLE!!We completely indulged and got dessert after our lunch: brownie sundae and lemon pound cake with fresh blueberries from their garden.

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This was one of our best Seattle excursions since we’ve moved here.  Can’t wait to go back again!

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Racing the Velodrome

Monday was my second night racing in the Velodrome.  I am completely loving this new cycling sport! There is so much strategy and excitement involved.  And there is definitely a different level of fitness required (which I still don’t fully have).  Most of all, I meet really cool people, all of whom are friendly.  In addition, the track is beautiful and well run.  It’s in Marymoor Park and has views of Mt. Rainier.

I brought our camera this time and Rob and I took videos of each other racing.

The video that Rob got of me shows me loosing a 3 x 3 race, with points 3-deep.  That means that there are 9 laps and every third lap is an opportunity for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd people to complete that lap to earn points.
Video: Group Health Velodrome 2007 | July 30

You can observe in this race that I am pulling too much and not drafting and conserving energy.  This really prevented me from keeping up on the "sprint laps" (the laps where you earn points).  Part of the strategy of the velodrome that I’m learning is how not to get caught on the inside (hence my outside lane position).  However, I have not quite learned how to stay in the outside lane and not lead too much.  There is a technique that I have watched (that I will try next time) where people ride up the banked turns and let everyone pass underneath them and then fall in the back.  This would have allowed me to get out of the front and creep in an opening in the outside lane to sit in someone’s draft and conserve energy. 

I had done two other races that night where I did much better.  I even earned a point in one of the races.  It is also worth making the caveat that, while I’m improving my recreational road riding, most of the women racing on the track with me are Category 3, 4, 5 road racers with more experience and fitness on the bike.  They are very fun to race with and very encouraging of me.  However, I have to set realistic expectations and be happy that I can even hang as close as I did in this race.

My plan on my road rides are to practice sprinting intervals to improve my fitness.  Perhaps this will also keep my average above 18!

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Hello, my name is….(Part 2)

Since the "launch of my re-branding" a bunch of interesting things have happened that I wanted to capture. 

1. I’m making a "manual" move 

I’m moving off of and moving over completely to  I’m also changing my email (I’m absolutely dreading that: (a) telling everyone my new address and (b) updating all the accounts where I use my old address – this is sadly worse than changing addresses at the post office). 

2. I learned that many people around me face the same identity crisis

Not surprisingly, many people have the same naming/identity crisis issues that I have experienced for various reasons.  And my story prompted many of my friends to share their own stories about their names.  They were all awesome.  I didn’t have time to quote/site them all but here is a highlight of some of my favorites:

A friend who was legally named Elizabeth, then nicknamed Betsy and became Becky because her little sister couldn’t pronounce "Becky" correctly.  All three names are still "valid".

A friend with a large, Chinese, family made t-shirts for a family vacation.  To keep track of all family members, and simplify cultural naming conventions (culturally you are not just "Uncle Rob" but rather "My father’s, mother’s, youngest son, Rob" – or something to that effect) they devised a numeric naming system ordering family members by age.  The convention was such that main family member were a number n (example: 1), spouses were n+ (example: 1+), children were n.n (example: 1.1 and 1.2, etc).  The numbers were printed on the t-shirts and have since become the names that people use in the family.  Now there are conversations that happen like, "1 and 1+ were supposed to go on vacation with 5 and 5+ but 1.1 and 1.3 got sick so 1 and 1+ didn’t go and 4 went instead).  I almost didn’t believe this one.  I love it!  What was even better was how this resonated with a story from my own family.

Karen joked that if I really wanted to re-brand "Microsoft-style" I should have first named myself something else (like "Blue") to get people used to the idea of calling me "Becky".  LOL!

There were also several references to MSN vs. Windows Live. 🙂

Greg joked that I could have been more official by having a rude Q and A.

3. I’m having to regain the very little credibility on the Internet and with the Windows Live network

Because my "re-branding" is complete in that I am moving all of my Internet presence from Rebecca Levine to Becky Pezley (as exemplified by this, new, Space), I have lost all connection (as far as the Internet is aware) with Rebecca Levine, who happens to has some credibility in terms of search results that turned up content from my blog, as well as ratings that I had on Expo and QnA.  These are all things that I will have to re-build over again.  Sigh.  This is really sucky and I’ll get over it because, really, I didn’t have any serious Internet street-credibility and that stuff wasn’t that important to me.  In principle, it still kinds bugs me though.

4. I’ve lost all my important info associated with my old identity

This one hits me harder (like in the gut wrenching kind of way).  I’ve spent a bunch of time trying to salvage all of the content associated with my own identity. 

The first issue was migrating all of my Messenger buddies over to my new address.  This was a 1-for-1 manual process and it totally sucked doing it.  Way tedious!  The only cool thing that came out of that effort is that it was really easy to make them a friend on this, new, Space (though a lot of people who were friends on the old Space have not accepted my new request and I feel less complete since they are not yet my friends in my new world; there is also the fear that they take this opportunity to sever their friendship with me). 

The same harsh reality played out with my blog. The only thing that brings satisfaction to me in blogging are the comments and reactions that people leave on my Space.  I have taken the time to move all of my old blog posts over to my new Space and I’ve lost all the comments that go along with them.  I know that Windows Live has the idea of aggregating a bunch of different IDs together such that they are seen as equivalent when logging in so my old Space remains my space no matter how I log in – and that is exactly what I don’t want in this case.  In this case I want a complete break, fresh start and yet I want all my old stuff to come with me.

I haven’t even started to begin figuring out how I deal with all of my pictures that are on my old Space.  I’m torn between creating a list of links to all my old photo albums on the old Space or moving to a photo service that offers photo feeds and then creating an RSS feed gadget for my Space (which is what I would probably prefer if I can do it).

Even more than that I’m not sure how or if to "decommission" the old Space.

I’m sure some of my friends on the Spaces team might have advice.  Let me have it!

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