Friday, February 14, 2020

Winter Book Reading

Shelter Quiver

Following the lead of Paul Magnanti, I am doing a post on my quiver of camping shelters.

First up is our family tent, an Alps Mountaineering 5 person nylon cabin.  We don't camp as a family anymore, but this giant-sized tent might come in handy as base camp shelter.  It is a typical house tent but packs pretty small.

Next up is my one person tent, an Alps Mountaineering Mystique 1.  I call it the "coffin" due to its shape and small size, but I really like it.  For my size, I have plenty of room in it.  It is also quite weatherproof having used it rain and sleet without issue.  I don't take it backpacking anymore but use it on troop car camps often.

My "go to" shelter is my handcrafted Ray Jardine one person tarp.  I have taken this on most of my backpacking trips and absolutely love it.  It is very lightweight at barely over a pound.  I can also adjust the pitch to match the conditions.  The only drawback is entry and exit must be done at the ends which can be tight if the tarp is pitched low.  I have put this tarp through some pretty nasty storms in the Sierras so have no qualms using it on any 3 season trip.  I would like to try it in snow one day.

For Philmont 2017, I got a Tarptent MoTrail.  This is a very light weight (~2 lbs.) two person shelter.  It handled the rain and wind and Philmont very well and I use it often, especially on couples backpacks and scout backpacks.  I got the pole set with it since I don't use trekking poles.

For winter camping with the Specialist groups, I have been sharing a North Face 4-season tent.  But I have experimented with using a Go-Lite Shangri-La as well.  This tarp shelter has nicely sloped sides to shed snow.  It is very lightweight as well.  I sometimes use this on backpack treks to mix things up.

Lastly, I want to give a shout out to the "green monster", a vintage canvas tent from my childhood.  This Sears behemoth was my family tent when I was growing up.  It is massive in both weight and volume. I got it patched and the zippers replaced and we used it as my family tent for a while.  It is quite easy to set up once you had practice.  The drawbacks were that it didn't handle wind very well and it took up a lot of space.

I would like to mention the REI Quarter Dome 2 I purchased in 2014.  I bought it for hiking the Kalalau Trail with my brother.  This is a great, lightweight backpacking tent.  2 adults are very cozy but for one it is very spacious.  I took this to Philmont in 2015 and loved it.  Unfortunately it was stolen from my car a few years ago.

Voice of Reason

Can we vote for this guy.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Everyone sacrifice (except for us)

It seems that some Oxford students protested that the university should divest itself of its current fossil fuel investments.  The school treasurer responded that he couldn't do that but offered to turn off the gas heat in the dorms.  The students were predictably put off by the notion of making a sacrifice themselves.  They were undoubtedly sulking with their electrically powered smart phones under electric lights in their cozy fossil fuel heated rooms.
If you have a WSJ subscription, the article is pretty funny.

Joshua Tree Jumbo Rocks

For this year's troop outing to Joshua Tree National Park, I secured some sites at Jumbo Rocks campground.  We headed up Friday night, set up tents and had a nice campfire in the cold.
The next day, we did a nice 5 miles hike to some old mining sites.  The weather was perfect as explored the Mojave desert.  Sunday was a quick breakfast and then headed home just avoiding a storm that was rolling in from the west.

Joshua Tree in Joshua Tree

Pinto Wye Arrastra

Rock formation

My tent

Boulders and scouts

Monday, January 13, 2020

Domelands Campout

After many trips to Anza-Borrego, we finally got to the Domelands (aka wind caves). We drove up Friday night and since the area is just outside the park boundary and under BLM jurisdiction, there were some shooter already in the prime spot.  So we flopped right at the trailhead.  The next day we did an awesome loop hike.  We first headed down some washes getting cliffed out a couple times.  We then headed up the slot canyon having to avoid the erosion pits.  We eventually made it up to the caves where another troop was there and setup to camp there for the night.  We stopped to eat lunch huddled next to a small bluff to stay out of the wind.  We hiked bake to camp to rest for a while.  After a bit we decided to head back.

Trailhead

Lots of shell fossils in the area

Desert landscape

Overhanging cliff

Entrance to slot canyon

Fossilized urchin

Domelands

My tent

Friday, January 10, 2020

Torrey Pines Hikes

It has been a while since I have hiked in Torrey Pines but I decided to give it a try on a blustery day.  I parked along the 101 and quickly made it up the road to the visitor center.  I then did a loop down to a lookout and took the road back down.  Great views!

A few weeks later, Jyoti and Bengt joined me on a hike.  We parked in the state lot, headed up the road, down the beach trail and then along the beach back to the car.  Great weather!


Christmas in Baltimore

We had a great time spending Christmas and New Years at my brother's in Baltimore.  Lots of activities and lots of just sitting around.
One day, my dad, Jyoti and I hiked around Roland Lake.  It was a nice ~4 mile hike along old roads, railroads and trails.  I slipped on the icy mud and gave my ankle a bad sprain but was able to walk out.
We went into DC to visit a few museums.  I visited the Newseum for the first time (and last since it is closing).  It was a good but somewhat limited museum.  I enjoyed the Berlin wall section most.  While some of our group finished the Newseum, a few of us walked through the National Art Gallery on the way to the National Portrait Gallery.  I really like the Portrait Gallery, especially the presidential portraits. We also visited the new Spy Museum.  I really liked the interactive spy game that went threw the exhibits.  It has top notch artifacts and stories.  Highly recommended. 
We also played lots of games:
  • Catan - classic game; I really liked the 5-6 player expansion as well
  • Mystery Express - we always have to relearn all the actions whenever we play this
  • Codenames Pictures - the images made it a different game and we all liked it
  • Ticket to Ride Marklin - we played it without the passengers
  • Moral Dilemma - some of the cards don't make sense to all people
  • Chameleon - clever game
View of the Capitol from Newseum

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Favorite San Diego Hikes


I have been hiking in San Diego county since we moved here in 2001.  Although there are still some large areas I haven't explored yet (mainly south of interstate 8), I have put together my current list of the top hikes.
  • Mt. Gower – tough up and down hike with some really steep sections but the views are worth it.
  • Wilson Peak – some of the best views of Anza-Borrego.  You can start up at the bottom for a long or shorten it by driving up the ridge.
  • Manchester Preserve – my backyard hike is great short track.
  • Bernardo Mountain – can be crowded but great views from the peak.
  • Piedras Pintadas – do the entire hike out to the interpretive loop.
  • Eagle Rock – I prefer the southern approach out-and-back hike.
  • Blue Angel Peak – lots of rocks on this remote desert hike.  Be sure to find Smuggler's Cave.
  • Bayside Trail – Cabrillo National Monument gets thousands of visitors a year but few of them do this trail with awesome bay views.
  • Oakzanita Peak/Stonewall Peak – two great peaks with Cuyamaca Rancho State Park.  Oakzanita is harder but has better views to the west.  Stonewall is easier but is well worth it.
  • Viejas Mountain - tough uphill but the 360 degree views are spectacular.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Books

Time Team and Modern Monetary Theory


Lately I have been binge watching Time Team.  The show is a British archaeology "reality" show where a team conducts a three day dig at some site in the UK.  When digging Roman sites, they invariably find coins from the Roman occupation (roughly 60 – 400 CE).  One a recent episode that was taking place in Greenwich, they found coins from almost the entire four century period.  They matter-of-factly discussed the monetary policy of the emperors and how they devalued the currency.  The early coins were nearly pure silver but later ones where either smaller or mixed with other metals.  They commented on how this disrupted the economy as it was something everyone should know.  So even British archeologists know the basics of sound money.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Fiesta Island

Our annual Fiesta Island outing in pictures...

Camping

Kayaking

My tent

Flag