Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Field Trip - Balboa Park, San Diego

We made our first family excursion down to San Diego today to visit Balboa Park.

Balboa Park is to San Diego as Central Park is to New York and Grant Park is to Chicago - 1200 acres of beautiful urban oasis. Plotted as public land back by the Mexican government back in 1835, it's development peaked when development started for the Panamanian-California exposition in 1915. This Worlds Fair necessitated the construction of the Spanish Colonial buildings on-site, most of which still stand and house a variety of museums as well as the world-renowned San Diego Zoo.

The San Diego Museum of Art is located at Balboa Park, Allie wanted to check out a Georgia O'Keefe exhibit before it closed - today was the last day. Since Celeste would be bored by an art museum, we checked out the San Diego Model Railroad Museum, the largest model RR museum in the US.

Exterior of the San Diego Museum of Man

Spanish Colonial architecture

Alcazar Garden fountain

Celeste violating the rules yet again

Botanical building, one of the world's largest wood lath buildings (built 1915)

Water lily garden

Interior of botanical building

Carnivorous plant display

Pitcher plant picture

mmm... peppers

More lily garden

Part of one of many model railroads

Celeste and a model of a Mexican canyon, HO scale

Modeled after somewhere in California

Overall we had a perfect day. The weather was great (of course) and we had a good lunch at a Mexican restaurant. The drive back home was along the coast, thru La Jolla, Torrey Pines, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Leucadia and then Carlsbad.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Thanks for the treat, Gregg

Homewood bike?

You south suburbanite readers, all both of you, know that 183rd Street is the major east-west thoroughfare thru Homewood, so I was a bit surprised to see a new brand with this name at the show.
Unfortunately the guys manning the booth were busy talking to some shop kids, so I didn't get the scoop on where they're based. Nothing came up in a brief web search either.

Long bike

for you and nine of your friends. From Santana. A double quint? Decabike?

Lunch, Vegas style at the Sands

mediocre turkey meat - check
deluxe garnish consisting of one piece of lettuce - check
one slice of unidentifiable cheese - check
two packs of French's mustard - check
watered-down Coke - check

All that for $12.75 from the fine folks at the Sands Convention Center. At least they take credit cards now.

After two days of crummy sandwiches, I switched to the chicken caesar salad. Three cups of lettuce, about a half a cup of chicken, a dash of parmesan and pouches of croutons (unsold croissants?) and dressing - $8.25

On my way home

I'm about ten minutes from experiencing my favorite part of being in Las Vegas - when I click my seatbelt for the flight back home.

Nice that The flight from here to San Diego is now only 75 min or so, too bad it's on US Scareways. Blech, what a wretched airline.

Had a fantastic Interbike, the bike industry has a lot of very, very good people in it.

And pleasant to find free WiFi at the airport here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Carlsbad Rating

Allison's "could I live here the rest of my life rating for 9/22/08" is a 9

*Based on 1-10, 1 being "I am going to puke if the sun shines and it's 70 degrees for one more day, get me back to the Midwest now!!" and 10 being "this is heaven on Earth, what took me so long to move here!"  

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Uh oh

Celeste discovered Photo Booth on my work computer.
Hours of fun.  Especially for her.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Home Depot's garden center, late September

Kinda fun seeing flats of annuals at Home Depot this time of year.
Snapdragons, petunias, etc. Rosemary sold in the groundcover section.

Even more fun checking out their tiki section.
Midwest HDs are severely deficient with their tiki merch. Sorry about the crappy cell phone pix.

Picnic dinner on the beach

We had a wonderful SoCal dinner tonight on the beach. Man do I look goofy (I was holding the camera with my left arm).

We had fresh sweetcorn as a side...
...and dinner was followed by some quality digging time.
The sand pit was quite large by the time we had to leave.
G'night sun.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Things I miss about Madison pt. II

Or, rather Monona in this case.

Saving big money at Menards. Not so much the savings, but the handy location about a mile away from our home. There were plenty of weekends where I'd make two to three trips over there over a 24 hour period. I've needed to purchase felt feet for the new IKEA table for about a week now, but can't justify driving five miles to spend $3 at the nearest hardware store (Encintas Home Depot). So the kitchen floor gets marred a little bit. It's a rental.

When we first moved to Monona, I figured I'd be hitting Home Depot most of the time. I've always been partial to HD, but this Menards was so handy - and so Sconnie. The "freebate" deals were too good to pass up, the Sunday circular was always read. Where else can you buy Famous Dave's BBQ sauce for $.29 after mail-in rebate?

After about six months of living there, Menards was my default home improvement center, I'd only made "special" trips to HD - like if I needed Behr paint or a gas grill. Or if Dad sent a discount coupon.

[cue jingle]
plumbing, electrical, appliances too
the savings will always come right back to you
you save big money
you save big money
when you shop Menards
[/end jingle]

Down On The Street

I spied this wingless aircraft on Palomar Airport Road this evening.

What the heck is it?

Aptera typ-1 prototype. No fairings on the front or rear wheels, MFG plate. Unfortunately my crappy cell phone pic does not show the unshrouded rear wheel assembly. It looks like a standard single-sided motorcycle swingarm.

Aptera is based here in Carlsbad, the plug-in gas hybrid version they're developing is claimed to get 120 MPG at 65 MPH - or 300 MPG if plugged in every 120 miles (if you believe everything on Wikipedia). They're going to be selling an electric version as well.

Pricing is expected to be $27 for the electric or $30k for the hybrid. Oh, and it's a 2.5 seater. The .5 is a small area behind and between the rear seats for a child seat. Production is scheduled to start late this year and you have to live in California to be able to purchase it. Looks like fun. Keith, you need to get crackin' on your three wheeler.

Oh, and Aptera is Greek for "wingless flight".

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bike building blunder

I was able to start assembling my American Dream Bike this evening, but ended up coming up a bit short. Literally.

The plan was to move the Alpha Q fork that I had on my old cross bike over to the Gunnar. I had cut the fork a bit on the long side for the other (smaller) frame, and checking the head tube length on the Gunnar website, I figured It'd work.

Turns out I forgot to include the stack height of the headset in my measurements. I could use about another 20mm of steerer tube. I guess I'll be doing some fork shopping at Interbike next week.

The bike is gorgeous, beautiful TIG welds and rich paint. Any bike with a rendering of a Labrador retriever is a-ok with me too. I was able to meet the real Gunnar back in June. Good dog.

Weight so far (w/o chain or front derailleur) is definitely respectable for a steel frame.

Once we sell our house, I plan on buying a Waterford frame to replace my current road bike.

Oh, and of course I was wearing the official footwear of San Diego County...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Joe and the Aqua Fury/Dragonfly

One of the hardest things to leave back in the Midwest was the Dragonfly, my 1957 Thompson Sea Coaster Deluxe wooden boat.

1957 Thompson catalog page

Green Lake, Norwegian Bay, cicra 1990

I bought it back in 2004 from my friend Bill, who's grandpa bought it new and used it extensively at their Green Lake cottage (west of Sugarloaf). In 1959, he re-powered it and upped the HP from the original 25 to 35.

Bill, Joe and I used the boat a few times each summer from 1989 thru about 1994. At the time it was stored at Bill's grandma's (later brother's) home in Berlin, WI. We christened it the "Aqua Fury", so named as the car that we towed it with was Bill's grandma's 1977 Plymouth Fury. The copper Fury only had 14k miles on it. I towed it once with my 1988 Subaru Justy, but ended up damaging the transmission, replacing it a few weeks later.

In front of Bill's grandma's house, Berlin, WI. Circa 1990

Dork on boat, again circa 1990

Bill ended up moving to the Bay Area in the mid-90s. At that point, the boat had another nice hibernation. Fast forward to 2004. Bill's brother Tom was selling the detached garage where the boat was collecting dust and had to get the boat out. Since we had moved to Wisconsin about six months prior, the timing was perfect for us to have our turn with the boat.

Allie was hesitant at the idea of having a boat. She didn't grow up around boats like I did and didn't see the appeal. But I was insitant so I took a trip up to retrieve it in April '04.

I think she was also a little let down when she first laid eyes on it. Covered in dust as it hadn't been used in about seven years, it looked pretty sorry.

The pups checking it out, the day I brought the boat home - April '04

I re-christened her the Dragonfly for this stage of the boat's life. The missing coctail flag was replaced with a Wisconsin state flag and a few minor maintenance items were taken care of. Surprisingly the boat fired right up once I put a fresh battery in. Amazing considering the gas was seven years old and the carbs still had old fuel in the floats.

Boating quickly became a favorite summer pasttime for us. Living about 4 blocks from Lake Monona and having a boat launch in our neighborhood made it super easy to launch the small craft for anything from day trips to after dinner cruises.

"Crazy driving", Lake Monona 2004

Of course being the Green Lake freak that I am, we had to make at least one pilgramige to Green Lake every summer. GL is only an easy 75 mile drive from the Madison area.

Summer 2005, Green Lake. Lone Tree Point in the background

Green Lake, Norwegian Bay, 2005

The boat and the "barn" at Old Acres Green Lake, 2006

A tired Celeste (bags under her eyes), Green Lake's North Shore near the Heidel House, 2006

With Carlsbad being our next destination, I knew I'd have to sell the boat this summer. Bill was contacted first as he and his wife had thought about moving back to the Midwest. He couldn't take it, so Joe was called. Thankfully he was able to buy it and keep it in the circle.

Now this boat was built by the Thompson Bros. Boat Company of Peshtigo, WI. Until Joe's ownership, the boat had never left the great state of Wisconsin. We were afraid that something very bad would happen once it crossed the cheddar curtain. Siezed wheel bearings maybe?

The good news is that Joe and his family have been enjoying it. The boat now lives in Naperville, IL and has had a few excursions in the short time that Joe's owned it. He's even rigged up a rope for towing his kids on a tube. Dang, I shoulda done that!

Joe's family on the Chain o' Lakes IL

I'm enveious that Joe was able to bring the boat out to Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. It's a trip that I had always wanted to take with it. Glad he took some great pix...

I never thought this boat would ever see Chicago or a Great Lake.
Chicago River