Austria and Italy 
Tuesday, September 22, 2015, 07:40 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
I took a work trip over to Europe to re-energize a collaborative DER interoperability research program. Luckily, I got a little time away from conference rooms and labs to explore, drink a few beers, and get my fill of doner kebaps.

In Vienna, I climbed the St. Stephen's Cathedral on my first day in town, did a few days of work, and then toured the Belvedere and Schloss Schonbrunn - palaces from the Austro-Hungarian Empire era. The palaces were incredible structures and were surrounded by immaculate, immense grounds. Interestingly, the power from the Habsburg House was primarily gained through marriage as opposed to war (e.g., Emperor Francis II of Austria married of his first daughter, Marie Louise, to Napoleon); but I got to hand it to Franz Joseph I, he makes a nice home for himself!


St. Stephen's Cathedral Platz


Belvedere - Side A

Belvedere - Side B

Schloss Schonbrunn maze

One of the highlights of the trip was being hosted by the Governor of Vienna to a stunning dinner at city hall. They led us up 3 flights of stairs with a red carpet stretching up the middle into a large room with 4 massive chandeliers, handed everyone a glass of champagne, and wined and dined us all evening - and then the entertainment showed up: a couple who performed a few ballroom dances for the audience.


Wien City Hall



Researchers celebrating the completion of a good project

---------------

After Vienna I flew to Milan and caught a late train to Lecco. My tight 45 min layover in Munich was shortened to 20 minutes and I had to sprint to make the door. "Mr. Johnson, please come to Gate 27, we are closing the doors." Needless to say, my bad didn't make it, and I didn't have any luggage for the next 48 hours.

Nevertheless, I made do with my free, very rainy Sunday to tour Lake Como by boat. As luck would have it, my Japanese colleagues had the same idea and we shared the day together. The boat hopped from town to town, but we only stopped off at Bellagio and Como. Bellagio was particularly spectacular - perched on the tip of the peninsula on steep cliffs. The rain made all the cobblestone streets glisten and there was something very charming about all the people working together to adjust their umbrella heights to squeeze past one another on the narrow walkways.








After the smart grid communications workshop, I had a free day. Originally I was going to do one or two Via Ferratas (Gamma 1 probably), but it was pouring rain, so I headed down to Milan. At least there, I could play tourist and check out the Duomo and EXPO. The Cathedral was the most impressive I've ever seen in Europe (Take that Paris and Cologne), perhaps because you could walk up onto the roof and see the architectural marvels up close.





The EXPO is a modern day version of the World's Fair and Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life Theme was particularly tasty. I got some Bangladeshi curry and momos for dinner and washed it down with a BeerLao. The exhibits (and queues) ranged wildly for each host country. The US wasn't stunning but the high-ropes course for Brazil was wildly popular. The Middle Eastern countries with money, created elaborate facilities, but the poorer countries in Africa, and South and Central America didn't do much more than put up a few museum exhibits. I did learn a lot about food around the world, but I think the most interesting thing I saw goes to Estonia for their national sport of Kiiking; basically standing on a rigid swing and flipping over the hinged point!



The following day, I visited the RSE lab to discuss the experiments we're running in collaboration with them. Maurizio was kind enough to go out to dinner with me and show me the Navigli District - where the Leonardo da Vinci-designed canals transported stone to the cathedral for centuries.



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4th of July in San Diego 
Tuesday, July 14, 2015, 06:58 PM - Trips, Weekend Fun
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For the 4th of July, I decided to take Jason up on the offer to sail on the bay with the fireworks show. I landed on Friday afternoon, and we went straight to the Torrey Pine Sailing Club on Shelter Island to jump on the 25' Catalina. It was a fairly quick sail, but good got me some more skipper time that I could put toward an ASA certification.




The following day, Jason did a big bike ride while I took Chama on a 6 mile loop in Penasquitos Canyon. I do like the idea of having a dog, but I travel too much to make it practical. Jason and I rode the 20 miles to the marina on Saturday because the holiday crowds were insane. Plus, it's fun in a sadistic way to ride with an ex-pro racer. Jason's so hard to hang with - he's tiny and leaves near-zero draft for me to catch a break. We sailed to Catalina Island on the 24' Newport with a Jason's friend, Justin and his girlfriend, had pizza and beer and then meandered around the bay waiting for dark. At 9pm, the 3 barges in San Diego Bay fired up their shows. We were motor-sailing between all of them. The reflections off the water were spectacular! I did my best to get a few photos, but the movement of the boat made it tough.














Sunday, we did a check-out sail on the 27' Catalina with a couple joining the TPSC. I didn't get any tiller time, but it was still a great sail with 12+ mph winds. We drove straight to the airport from the marina, and fortunately I was delayed 45 minutes, because I was able to watch the US dominate Japan in the 1st half of Women's World Cup final with everyone at Gate 8. I headed to Denver for 3 days of rain and NREL meetings and then finally back to ABQ.
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Dro and Nicole Wedding 
Thursday, June 25, 2015, 06:42 PM - Trips, Weekend Fun
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I flew out to Oakland Friday morning and linked up with Matt in the city. We did a great little tour of the town: we hit up all the Andy Goldsworthy pieces in the Presidio (watch Rivers and Tides), went over to ride the slides in Seward Mini Park, got a burrito in the Castro (in celebration of the Supreme Court ruling...although the Mission District burritos are supposedly better) and then had a beer in Mission Dolores Park. I love that park!









Mid-afternoon I split with Matt and went over to Chris and Anna's to watch the women's world cup game and then drive up to a great AirBnB I reserved north of Bodega Bay. The house was great with a sunroom that looked out onto the rocky coast and Sonoma Coast State Park trails along the cliffside. I spent the morning exploring the beaches while Chris and Anna did a long run. Then Russell met up with us and we all got brunch in Cape Fear Cafe in Dunkin Mills. The drive was spectacular along the Russian River because the sun was finally breaking through the morning marine layer. We headed up to a mountaintop retreat (cult center?) outside of Tyrone, reunited with a great group of friends, and witnessed a charming wedding.




The reception was in Bodega Bay and hosted a number of characters from the SOTD (Stallions of the Dawn crew from NREL '06), sailing trips to BVI and SVG, and others along the way. Sadly, Paul and Pearl didn't make it, but with their newborn, they can certainly be forgiven. It was great to have T$, Russ, Chris, and Dro together again - we're a crazy gang and sooo much fun. Where else can you talk about (and plan) renewable energy startups and nudist communes in the same breath? When all the toasts, dances, and G&Ts had come to an end, we retired to the AirBnB place, assembled a 500 piece puzzle (for some reason?). I couldn't get everyone onboard but I took a midnight walk on the beach with T$ and her fiancé.






Sunday, we had a lovely brunch with the wedding crew, and then retreated to the bay area again. Chris and Anna took me to a great Berkeley Indian place, Vik's Chaat, for dinner and then I was off to the airport. Great weekend with amazing old friends!
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PVSC in New Orleans and Taos Search 
Monday, June 22, 2015, 08:25 PM - Trips, Weekend Fun, AMRC
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I spent the week at IEEE PVSC in New Orleans. Conference was good, but I'm shifting away from PV physics to systems integration so it didn't hold as much interest to me as it normally does. Plus, this was my 5th time at the conference talking about arc-faults so it's getting slightly old.

Got a chance to meet Rachel and Jack for dinner. Not much chance to see that side of my family since they're so far away. I took advantage of the easy French Quarter access to social and have a beignet and hurricane or two.

The highlight as usual was the Sun Run. We managed to get a team together this year and Hot Carrier Injection tied for first place. Thanks Jack and Birk! I ran the 2.81 mile 5K in 18:33 (20:45 pace) and egged Jack on enough to have him out-sprint me at the end :) But either way, I earned my 5th Larry Kazmerski tie.









On Saturday, I grew restless and went up to camp with Kelley and crew for her birthday. I found them at sunset at Lower Hondo CG. Kelley, Francisco, and Amanda had just finished Wheeler and were completely content to relax by the fire. Stephanie and I just showed up to party and eat s'mores. I randomly met my work colleague in the campsite, so I asked Carrie to join us. Matt rolled in about 10:30 and Alyse ended up nearby.

At 0700 the next morning, the AMRC crew (Matt, Alyse, Jeff, and I) met at TSV parking area - turned incident base to search for a missing 61 year old male. Instead of getting a blackhawk ride to the top, we had to hike the 4200 ft up Yerba Trail to Lobo Peak. Justin from Atalaya SAR, jumped on our team and we ran a long, hot mission up to the ridge, down the ridge, into the steep drainage, and eventually back to the trail. After 7 hours we heard the death code come across the radio. We were only 0.1 miles from the find, so we traversed to meet Team 31 and assess the situation. I couldn't call the IC directly (no coverage) so our team headed back to base to sort out the recovery.

I let IC know the situation 2000 ft, 1.7 miles, and 20 stream crossing separated the team from the TH. They needed the body bag, litter, etc. At about 6pm, I made the decision to go home and not help out with the recovery (a combination of fatigue, plenty of help on scene, and busy work day Monday). Alyse and Matt did however bring supplies up to the group - putting their climbing somewhere north of 6000 ft for the day! Bravo! The body was recovered somewhere around midnight, putting the end to a week's worth of searching and providing closure for the family.

This mission was well covered in the national news because the patient was the White House Chef for Clinton and Bush. Some of the reports include: ABC, ABC again, New York Times, CNN, NPR, Taos News, and HuffPo.









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Visiting parents in IL  
Saturday, June 13, 2015, 02:13 PM - Trips
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I headed back to my childhood home in southern Illinois for a week. Aside from writing a conference paper and preparing/defending a DOE proposal via webinar, it was a relaxing visit home. First few days were cold and rainy, but it eventually got into the 90's with the standard 80+% humidity.

I helped my dad set up the first half of his latest sculpture: a jousting knight for the Abbey Ridge Brewery. I also helped with his latest film project by manning the mic boom for a couple scenes while he directed. The film included a climbing segment so I brought a bunch of gear with me from Albuquerque. I was the safety officer and had to set up a few shots of the actors trad climbing. It wasn't easy since they didn't have any climbing experience, but we made it work. The route I liked the best was at Devil's Stand Table in Giant City and completely stunning--so it should look great in the film. We were lucky to have a stunt double to actually lead the route, otherwise I was going to have to lower the actor onto the face. The final shot of the climbing scene was the climber falling, so dad and I set up a green screen behind the trampoline with bamboo. Hopefully it all worked out even with the 13-year cicadas screaming.










For the rest of the week, we took a couple bike rides, delivered art to the Alto Winery, loaded and distributed mulch, setup the pool, listened to the Woodbox Gang in Carbondale, played board games, and hiked the trail.






On Saturday, it was Ed's wedding reception. Ed and I were best friend's in jr. and sr. high school and I went to Peru with him a couple times. The wedding was a small gathering, but it was nice to finally meet Danielle and see friends from years ago. Terry is farming and Ivan is trucking. Ivan also started his family with a couple kids. Steve's mostly the same: still scheming to get back to Peru and probably happy to have his kids out of the nest.



At the end of the trip we swung by Washington to visit my grandparents. They are still living alone in their house despite the growing list and severity of ailments. As an early Father's Day gift, the family gave grandpa shirts to help him get back to his wife. With his alzheimer's he's been known to get lost from time to time.





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AMRC OCC Final Weekend with additional Ski/Climb/Cave/Bike 
Monday, May 4, 2015, 07:30 PM - Trips, Weekend Fun, AMRC
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I've been in a little funk of late, but this last weekend's really jolted me back to life. Friday, Kendrick and I headed to Santa Fe Ski Area to take a few laps on the Nambe Chutes with his dog Sarah. The bottom was melting fast and we ended up walking over a number of mud patches. By the halfway mark, we were in much better shape and we finished the skin just as the sun was hitting a few nice couloir lines. I dropped into an easy chute on Styx below Deception Peak and carved up the spring corn. Kendrick and Sarah were close behind. Luckily another group had put in a bootpack to the top via Rubicon so we didn't suffer too much on the return. Our 2nd line was far more interesting with a 55 degree entrance on Armageddon. A snowshoer was even kind enough to send us a few pictures of us dropping in. After lap two, Jeremiah and his friend showed up, but we decided call it and made our way back to the ski area base.









Kendrick and I grabbed pizzas at Il Vicino in Santa Fe and then worked our way out to Diablo Canyon. He convinced me to climb Post Moderate (though we ended up on Hellboy at the top) to level the score from the skiing. Kendrick made it look easy on lead - I, on the other hand, managed to unconfidently work my way up grunting and cursing. The crux of the 2nd pitch gave Kendrick pause and he had to downclimb and rework the problem a couple times. On top rope it wasn't as daunting and I pulled though. We rapped off the mid-pitch anchors as AMRC members started showing up.







The OCC crew, fresh from their NM SAR Field Certification testing, arrived at Diablo around 8:30. They were given a mock scenario to find a fallen climber, Shaniqua La Fonda, based on a few cell phone GPS coordinates. My team ended up wandering around east of the canyon for a while until the patient was located. We brought up ropes and rigging kits for the low angle rescue and set up 4 sequential anchors down to a trail to IB. I finally got my Baofeng radio programmed and it came with this very nice feature where you can listen to the radio until a communication comes in - we selected the mariachi music on 94.7. After a long, slow lower we made it back to the camp at 1am, debriefed, and then pitched camp.

In the morning, we started with the test-out stations. I manned the rigging station with Hans and Angela. Once everyone was finished, I went to the Styx wall and did a couple 5.7 top-rope climbs (one by belaying myself with a grigri - that was new). After lunch we went down to the Rio and cooled off. Kevin, Sarah, and I piled into Kendrick's Jeep and off-roaded a little on the way back to camp.






A storm was moving in, so we used the afternoon to watch Cliffhanger in Justin's van and go spelunking at Buckman Cave. The OCC crew went up there without a rope - so it was only Kendrick, Gio, and I that got any quality cave time. We covered much of the same areas that Mike and I explored a couple years ago. But this time we went a little deeper to a place labelled "Hell" with an arrow down a ~60 ft pit. It was a dead-end, but that was the farthest I've gotten so far. There is another big rappel from the big room with a triangular hole in the ceiling - guess we'll get to that one next time. I did also manage to avoid ascending the 1st rap with a tight squeeze and 20 ft of aid climbing. The first drop can be avoided in the future to save the rope for the lower sections.







As we got back to camp, the BBQ party was in full swing. The OCCers passed their tests so they officially joined the team. They were given their 8 mm cordelettes and Verena was awarded a grigri for her outstanding work in the class. A fire was built up and then we got the idea to have radium release hitch tying races. A week before, I claimed I could tie one in 30 seconds, but only got it down to 35 seconds before sharing the video with the class. Supra soon after sent me a video on FB that showed a 30 sec radium. So now it seems this has become a thing. I was paired up with Nick, the new guy, and I lost terribly... Supra beat him, and Lance won it all in the end. How funny to be tying knots at midnight. I also partook in some champagne and a couple beers at the fire, breaking my 26-day alcohol-less stretch. I had been trying to get a little more fit for mountain biking racing, but this party seemed worth breaking the drought.







Sunday, I was originally slated to ride the high road to Taos with Briana and company, but she got sick and cancelled. I chose to use my sunday to ride to the Santa Fe Ski Area. It was a tough climb and my knee started bothering me midway up. I dialed back the speed and eventually made it to the top - 30 miles and 4400 ft of climbing.
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Christmas in WashMo, STL, and So IL 
Tuesday, January 6, 2015, 10:09 PM - Trips
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I spent a week in the midwest with the family at Christmas time. I bought dad a road bike in ABQ for xmas, so it was a little bit of a give away when he came to pick me up, but Mom and I jokingly played it off like I had brought a bunch of dirty laundry back home to be washed. The other challenge was getting the bike box in the Prius, which required my mom to cram in the back seat half on top of the bike.

We sent to Washington, MO first and re convened the family for a nice lunch and dinner. The following day we went back to St. Louis for Christmas on my Mom's side. I managed to fix my uncle's beloved bubbles game by replacing some fuses (first time it's worked in 6 years). I think that was the best gift he's ever received for christmas in two decades :) In the morning, we did gifts with Jack, Rachel, and Jeremy Skyping on my iPad from New Orleans. Worked remarkably well.

After that we headed back to Washington to do Christmas on my Dad's side. Party of the festivities were to build Grandma (and Jolie the dog) a fenced in yard. The following day Rebecca drove down from STL to visit with me. WE reminisced about the good old days in Boulder with the NREL crew. After that came the photo day - Anne Elise and I managed to win the scavenger hunt by hitting the local thrift shop. The theme for this year was 'selfie', which I proudly won with the shot of me with ice frozen to my beard and hair. Anne Elise won 'best of year' with a shot of a lake in Guatemala.




For the last couple days of the trip, I went to my childhood home in southern Illinois. The family made the 26th annual hike (bushwhack) to Bald Knob Cross. I've done the hike every winter since I was 5 years old - so it was good to keep the tradition alive. Dad and Mom's HS friend and family from Manhattan stayed the next night and it was fun to see them catching up on the last 25 years. On my way out of town, the Johnsons, Pepples, and other Johnsons gathered in STL for a final brunch. It was nice to see Cara again - she seems to be happy and busy with work in Oakland. I'm sure I'll be out that way to see her again soon.






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A-basin Thanksgiving 
Sunday, November 23, 2014, 09:16 PM - Trips
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Briana, Josiah, and Dave drove up to Taos in Briana's new 1996 Aerostar van. We stopped off for a day of skiing in Taos (opening day!), but only the frontside groomers were open *yawn*. We drove to Frisco that Thanksgiving night, and after a slight 1 hour detour finally arrived at Frisco. We had to beg the cook at the only last open restaurant in town to serve us past 9pm. But it worked out and we had a very nice Italian dinner without a single scrap of Turkey to be found.

The next couple days, we skied Arapahoe Basin with Jen, Kirk, Chris and Harmony. (Bonnie did show up for the last day as well.) The steeps and back bowls weren't open, but they allowed a few mid-day hikes to powder stashes. Briana, Josiah, and I were blown away by a nice tree run that hadn't seen anyone else yet. The skiing was good to get the feeling back in my legs for the season and the Frisco food was exquisite: we had wonderful Tibetan and Bavarian dinners the following evenings. Plus the local bar had air hockey and I like air hockey.





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Japan  
Saturday, November 15, 2014, 10:01 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
Spent a couple days in Koriyama and a week in Kyoto as part of the IRED conference.

Photos are here.





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Amsterdam 
Wednesday, September 24, 2014, 10:21 PM - Trips
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I attended the European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition in Amsterdam to present some of my PV research. Overall it was good to meet up with my European counterparts and discuss the latest progress. I had been to Amsterdam back in 2006, but this time I was even more taken by the beauty of the city and all the bike use. The highlight for me was taking a boat ride with Henk, AIT, and Sandia people. We had about 1" clearance under the bridges so we had to walk the boat under many of them. We cruised the canals out past the main train station, and as night descended on the city, we stopped off at a local pub for food and a beer.








I stayed on an extra day to visit the laboratories of DNV GL in Arnhem. On the Saturday, Jack and I headed out to Naarden, an incredible fortified city. We got breakfast at the market where everyone was getting flowers, vegetables, cheese, etc. for the week. The small market was very peaceful and the country was looking spectacular because the rains had finally stopped. Jack and I rode our bikes the ~20 miles back into the city along a well-maintained set of trails. I'd love to go back at some point and explore them more thoroughly.








My research being presented in the Keynote Speech.


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Lake Powell Houseboat 
Saturday, September 6, 2014, 10:00 PM - Trips
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A large crew headed up to Lake Powell for 3 days on a houseboat. I wasn't a big part of the planning, but the trip went off without a hitch (aside from the time that I crashed the 53' boat into the refueling dock...)

On night one we got gear and people organized on the boat at Wahweap Marina. In the morning, we got our chart briefing and then headed for open water. The water level is clearly down about 80' from the high point and we had to use a dredged channel to get past Antelope "Island". We camped that night at a great spot around 37°6'42.11"N 111°12'22.85"W. Kaela, Laurel, and It was Jeff's Bday weekend, so we threw him a party and the ladies smeared him with cake.

On Saturday, we cruised out to Rainbow Bridge National Monument and did the short hike up to the arch. It was monstrous and the crew was in high spirits. That night we headed back toward home and found a great hidden beach at 37°6'29.98"N 111°14'11.71"W, where we built a fire on the hill and threw another party.

The last day we worked our way toward Wahweap, but managed to take a break on Antelope Island to setup a slip-n-slide and hold a flotilla party in the sun - I burned nicely from that.










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Korea - Aug 2014 
Sunday, August 24, 2014, 09:01 PM - Trips
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I went back to Changwon to visit KERI as part of our 3 year collaborative research project on advanced inverters for the smart grid. Dr. Ahn was gracious as always to host me, and we continued our discussions about the similarities and differences between the US and Korea, desert and forests, rich and poor, etc.





After the visit, I headed to Seoul for the Energy Tech Insight meeting. The changing of the guard at Gyeongbokgung was great because they would beat this huge drum and it would echo around the entire palace. I could definitely imagine that happening a thousand years ago.







After my talk at COEX in Gangnam, I joined my other colleague for dinner in Myeong-dong and then we took the tram up to the Namsan tower. It was worth the trip since the views of Seoul were so incredible.





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Mt Rainier 2014 
Thursday, May 29, 2014, 09:13 PM - Trips
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Mike and I attempted to climb Mt. Rainier for the 2nd time in early May. Like the last time, we had a major snowstorm load the upper slopes just before arriving, which led to avalanches (or at least avalanche concerns).

After a 4 hour delay, we got into Seattle on Thursday night (Fri morning) at 2am. We got the rental car and crashed at Laura's place. The next day was 50+ mph winds on the mountain and blizzard conditions, so we opted to stay in rainy Seattle. I walked Pearcy in the morning and we got some good breakfast and Rainier Beer for a post-climb celebration. To get firsthand beta of conditions, we went to Queen Anne to talk with Carrie (a mountain guide friend with Alpine Ascents International) who reported "nuclear winter" conditions on Thurs when she got off the mountain.

Saturday, we headed out at dawn and made it to the mountain in heavy snows at about 8am. The rangers told us there were very few people (just us) getting climbing permits and no one had summitted in a week. With the wind loading and fresh snow, we knew it wasn't shaping up to be good for us. We got our 60-65 lbs packs and harnesses on and began up the mountain. After about 500-1000 ft, we had broken through the cloud layer and could see the peak. It was glorious and intimidating - 8000' separated us from the top. The skinning was slow going but we shed layers and worked our way up the Muir Snowfield slowly. We reached Camp Muir with the usual blister stops around 4pm. Set up the tent. Cooked. Watched sunset. Temp dropped. Brushed teeth. Slept.

Alarm went off at 3am. The winds had been howling since we went to bed. Sounded like sustained 20 mph winds with 40+ mph gusts. It didn't seem like it was going to be our day with the wind loading. Mike said he didn't want to go and I said I was 50/50. Mike got out to move the backpacks to a more secure location and noticed 4 headlights crossing the cowlitz glacier. I changed my mind and said we should go for it, but Mike vetoed the idea. So in the end, we took the NWAC guide's advice and sat things out for a day. After breakfast and a relaxing morning. Mike and I roped up and crossed the cowlitz to check on the Ingraham's conditions. We ditched our skis at the base of Cathedral Gap climb and went up. Up top, we post-holed to our waist for 1/3 mile, cursed some guides on skis, and took a look at the route. Disappointment Cleaver looked scary--even a small slide would take out a climbing team and send them off cliff and into crevasses. The Ingraham Direct, while chewed up, looked like the safer route. We thought about hitting it at midnight and trying to make our 2pm flight on Monday, while we went back to Camp Muir. We skied across the cowlitz roped up, and thought about options. I wanted to see Laura, who was getting back to town that night, and I didn't want to pay $500 to change flights so I was in favor of bailing given that the conditions were probably still dangerous. Only one team of 2 summitted that day and it took them 14+ hours to make the journey. We had skis so it would have been quicker, but there was still no real hope of making the flight. Mike was less convinced, but once he saw the Sunday crowds at Camp Muir (dozens of people!), he wanted to get out of there too. We tore down camp and popped our skis on and headed down. Aside from sticky, wet snow at the bottom, it went well. I make the trip with a 50+ lb pack without a single crash. Mike had more trouble with the splitboard but we still made good time. We went back to Seattle a little dejected and sad, but in good health and ready to give it another shot in a year or two.

MOVIE!









More photos are here.
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Southern India for a Week 
Saturday, March 1, 2014, 09:29 PM - Trips
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I went to India for a week for a smart grid workshop and conference. Additional photos from the trip are here.

I arrived in Bangalore after 24 hours of travel and easily caught a cab to the hotel. It was 5am so there was not heckling or issues with crowds at the airport. I was expecting Kathmandu-like conditions, but found the roads better maintained and (surprise!) functioning traffic lights. I couldn't check in until noon, so I took a walk through the neighboring park. It was Sunday and there was a 5K/10K run/walk with thousands of people participating. Definitely a cool scene since they shut down the roads through the park for the run. I cruised by Vidhana Soudha, home to the Secretariat, but they were closed on Sundays so I only got to check it out from the outside.

I spent most of the day walking around getting oriented to the new country and appreciating the abject poverty that most people were living in here. Between my business obligations, I would take strolls around town or catch autorickshaws to different tourist spots around town.

The first time I caught a tuk-tuk, it was a wild experience: firstly the driver told me to not worry about starting the meter and he would make the drive for INR50. Then, despite my protest, he stops the tuk-tuk, says he's going to buy me a beer, and rushes into a store. He gives me a beer and explains its not a problem in India to drink when you're in the back of a tuk-tuk. I'm suspicious of the drink and the scam that I'm about to be subjected to, but I indulge on the way to the Bangalore Palace. The Palace was nothing particularly spectacular, but I could appreciate the Maharaja-era, all the photos of elephants and slain tigers, and the british influence throughout their occupation from 1858-1947. After touring the Palace, I noticed there was some loud music next door and ask my suspicious tuk-tuk driver to head over that way. He didn't do a very good job but I eventually got him in the general direction (thank goodness for the iPhone GPS), but the music had stopped. He then brought me to his buddy's shop with "very cheap prices and no tax." Ok, so that's the scam - fairly benign. I breathed easier and headed into to shop. It was very nice with all the usual tourist stuff: scarves, clothes, carvings, etc. I had read on the flight that it's highly appropriate to wear a tie at business meetings in India. I didn't bring one (unusual for me) because it seems to be going out of style in the US and I didn't feel it was necessary until reading that in my India Culture book. So I bartered for a tie, getting it for about half of their asking price. Who knows if I got completely ripped off, but it was only about $10, so I figured I couldn't go too wrong. Next the driver took me to his other friend's shop. They had cheaper prices so I picked up a few small carved elephants. Then the driver took me to another shop, and I told him that I was done shopping. He refused to leave until I went inside. So I walked in, told the owner I didn't have any money, and walked back out. I informed the driver I wanted to go to ISKCON, the Radha Krishna Temple (a Hare Krishna thing that I still know very little about). He refused to drive all the way out there, so I got out of the tuk-tuk and didn't give him a rupee for the effort. I'm sure he'll get his kickbacks from his shop friends.

ISKCON was an interesting experience. I had to take off my shoes, wash my feet, refrain for photographing anything, and then hike up through three levels of what seemed to be hindu shrines to a main room where people threw themselves to the ground in the presence of colorful deity carvings. I was clueless, but one thing did know was I shouldn't eat the food they gave out to all the visitors. I headed back to to the hotel with a legitimate tuk-tuk that ran the meter. I paid him the INR250 gladly for the hassle-free ride.

The smart grid meetings went well and we got a wonderful tour of the Central Power Research Institute. At the end of the formal meetings, all the members of the workshop went outside an planted a tree. It was a very sweet ceremony - and completely unexpected by everyone.

On one of my longer walks I ended up finding a washing area from the polluted runoff of Ulsoor Lake. There was at least an acre of laundry drying on clotheslines. I couldn't believe all the manual labor in India: streets are swept clean by women during the day while traffic whizzed past and lawns were trimmed by hand with snippers. And the smells were so potent! Some of those smells were terrible (open sewage running down the streets) and some of the smells were wonderful (all the yummy curries). The food was to die for. Naan, curries, tikka masalas, tandoori, and so much more were fed to us and I ate way too much on this trip.

The roads were a constant flow of cars, busses, autorickshaws, bikes and other interesting modes of wheeled transport. The horns would plast 24/7.

Some street-level action:




View from my hotel room:


Laundry drying in Bangalore:


CPRI high voltage lab:


The highlight of the trip was a train trip to Mysore on my free Saturday before returning to the US. It was a disaster to get the tickets and the train was about an hour late, but once I was on the train, it was so much fun! I got to hang out the door for 3 hours, snapping photos of the countryside. With the wind in my hair and the tingle of danger, I was completely stoked. When I got to Mysore, I found a driver to take me around for the day for INR500 ($8). First, we went up Chamundi Hill to Sri Chamundeswari Temple. I awkwardly gave a a few hundred rupees to a hindu monk who dotted my forehead with a Tilak third eye. Next we visited Nandi (Shiva’s bull), and headed back to town where I met my friend from the conference, Robby, who was another Georgia Tech alum. We took the long tour of the spectacular Mysore Palace. It had ornate carvings, monstrous rooms with stained glass ceilings, armory, and gallery looking out on the palace grounds. After that tour Robby and I got a few dosas, at a place where they were served on wet banana leaves. I was certain I would be getting on a plane in the morning sick, but I didn't end up with Delhi belly. Robby and I had a quick beer by the train station and I jumped on the train back to Bangalore while the sunset lit up the sky.

Train ride to Mysore:






Mysore:



Train ride back to Bangalore:

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San Diego Sail and Taos Ski 
Tuesday, February 11, 2014, 08:35 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
Weds, I headed out to San Diego for SunSpec meetings but was able to talk Jason into a quick sail before the meet-n-greet. We headed out to see for a little ways and cleared Pt. Loma. We could easily see Mexico and thought about making a run for it, but turned around after 1.5 hours. Wind was good and the swell was decent ~4 trough to crest.

After the meeting I stayed over at Jason's. We grabbed a pizza at the local Best Pizza restaurant and I met his SD friends.




Jason strapping his cane to his commuter bike.


Saturday, I headed up to Taos with Mike and Allison. We crashed at Tim's pad and threw a little party with the ski crew. In the morning, we were surprised by a huge AMRC contingent (Justin, Leigh, Lance, Andy, Zack, BobbyJo) in the parking lot and the usual suspects were up too (Chris, Briana, Josiah, Marc, Megan, etc.) Overall a great day: I skied What Chute 3-5 with J&L&A and found a few powder stashes; gave Allison a little lesson; got a beer at the Bav; and ended the day on Fabian with Briana and Dave. Fun times in the mountains.




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Sailing St. Vincent and the Grenadines 
Thursday, January 23, 2014, 08:54 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
Photos of the trip are here. The video is here.




Photos of the trip are here. The video is here.

Saturday - I GS raced in Red River, drove back to ABQ, packed up the last equipment, and jumped on the 11:59pm flight to JFK. I had a couple hour layover in Bridgetown, Barbados on the way to St. Vincent, so I took a walk around the airport. Originally, I was trying to make it to the beach, but I abandoned those plans when it became a bushwhack. Instead, I walked around the ghetto streets, bought a coconut, found a bar, and make a few friends. After a couple drinks, a nice local woman gave me her number - and I walked back to the airport chuckling. Not a bad 2-hour layover!

I arrived in Kingstown around 8pm. A taxi took me over to barefoot charters, but they didn't know anything about our charter plans, so I settled up at the bar to wait for the rest of the crew. After the first sip of my carib, they figured out I was on La Dolce Vita and they brought a dinghy around to bring me out to the mooring. In the darkness I could see the outline of a beautiful 43 foot Jeanneau 43DS. I stepped aboard to be greeted by Joe, Stefan, Nate, and Alexis. Joe looks at me and says, “Did you just jump onboard with a beer in your hand?” I give him a smile and cheers him. Later that evening, Nicole, Billy, and Captain Dro showed up and we begin the party.

Sunday – After the lengthy provisioning process, giving Barefoot our passport information and cash deposit, and collecting snorkeling equipment, we finally made way. The seas were rough between St. Vincent and Bequia. A few people were starting to feel a little sick, but I managed to do OK. In fact, I would go the length of the trip without any Dramamine, whereas everyone else would pop a few each day. We were sailing with the swell, so we caught a few nice surfs on the way around the point and into the bay. After mooring, we dinghy’ed into town and eventually settled on a pizza place.

Sunday
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Christmas in Washington, MO 
Thursday, December 26, 2013, 11:02 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
I spent a week in WashMO with the family for Christmas. We had festivities planned for every day: white elephant gift exchanges, pictionary, other board games, movies, volleyball, walks, and lots of food. Some of the highlights were:

Misty dressed up.


Bartering during the white elephant.


Giving my brother my old mountain bike.


Having a beer with dad.


Grandpa admiring the pies at the local coffee shop.

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Thanksgiving in Alto Pass 
Thursday, December 5, 2013, 09:21 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
I spent a week back at my parents' place for Thanksgiving. Everyone from my father's side was there except for Anne Elise who was still in Chile with her study abroad program. I took a 30 degree bike ride with my mom and the family hiked to bald knob cross. It was me and my Dad's 25th year to make the journey (ever since I was 5 years old!) I also got to watch the pottery process in full: clay to store.


Cold bike ride


Grandpa hiking the trail


Thanksgiving dinner


Hike to the cross


Artsy hiking picture


Pottery making and shop


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Arcs, Sparks, and Alcohol: Chicago Trip 
Thursday, September 12, 2013, 07:59 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
I headed to Chicago for the UL standards development meeting on PV arc-faults this week. But before that excitement, I spent the weekend with my brother in Chicagoland:

Friday night we went out for a beer at Chicago’s American Outlaws bar to watch the US get killed 3-1 to the Ticos. Not the USMNT’s best moment.

Saturday was much more cheerful. We took the train in from Joliet to Chicago, rented bikes to cruise around Millennium Park, and then rented kayaks. We got a couple stable-feeling singles and had warm, sunny weather to take a lap around Goose Island and then down to the locks on Lake Michigan. There were a LOT of other kayakers out on the water, but I was proud of my bro and I for easily sailing past them with some Southern Illinois power strokes. There were also a lot of other tour boats and motorboats out for the good weather so Josh and I dodged the behemoths and surfed the wake after they passed. Overall, it was a cool experience on the water in a big city—slipping under the bridges and through the towering skyscrapers. Afterward we got a late lunch at Goose Island Brewery. Yum. And then we grilled up some brots for dinner. Double yum.








Sunday, I forced Josh to do a little work on his decrepit car. We found a U-Pull-And-Pay style parts place and we got a hubcap, two door handles, a gas door, and a passenger seatbelt (all for less than $50!) It wasn’t too bad to get everything installed and still get a nice 5 mile hike around Swallow Cliff Woods. As an older brother, I felt it was my responsibility to introduce Josh to some tasty Belgian beers, so we tasted a Chimay and Duvel while watching the new Star Trek. Then to cap off the night we had a Tim Tam slam and some traditional Korean candy. Triple yum.




Overall the meeting went well, and on Tuesday night the US qualified for the World Cup in Brazil with a 2-0 victory over Mexico!!


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Korea! 
Thursday, September 12, 2013, 07:58 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
One benefit of running international renewable energy programs is you get to travel internationally. I was invited to give at talk at the 2013 Energy Tech Insight meeting in Seoul, Korea by the Korean Energy Technology Evaluation and Planning (KETEP) group to highlight my collaborative research project with the Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute (KERI).

Korea photos are here.

Amanda, a new business development person, and—for a couple days—Bob, joined me on this trip. Amanda and I got into Seoul a day early to explore the city and walk off any jetlag. Our first adventure was getting dinner on Monday night. We headed off from the hotel at around 7:00 and eventually found a place that offered Korean BBQ. Normally, you cook your own dinner on a fine metal mesh over the hot coals that they bring out, but since we didn’t know a single word of Korean, they took pity on us and helped cook our meal of Ox and Pork. The food was delicious with side dishes of Gimchi, small sardine-like fish, lettuce and sauces! You dip the cooked meat in the sauce and roll it up in the lettuce after remastering chopsticks.

Afterward I headed out alone to the Banpo-daero bridge over the Hangang River. The park along the river had a nice bike path and I was surprise to find at 10pm many young people biking and picnicking down by the water. The bikes were nice and fast, and the meals were heavy on the beer/soju. I instantly liked this place.



Tuesday, Amanda suffered jetlag much worse than I did and was up at 3am. With all the free time she did some research on places to visit, so we compared notes and then headed north into the city. We had mastered the subway at this point (absurdly easy) and went to get some food at the open-air market, Namdaemun. After that we went to Sungnyemun Gate, which was first built in 1398 to keep Seoul safe from foreign attacks. I got a little mixed up with directions at this point but eventually we located north and headed up to Deoksugung (one of the five palaces in Seoul). It was a nice grounds with great structures. The curved ceramic roofs of Korea are truly spectacular. We tried to go to Gyeongbokgung but it was closed on Tuesdays, so we wondered through Bukchon Hanok Village for a while and got some big dumplings and a bottle of sojo for lunch. Recharged, we walked to Changdeokgung and took the Secret Garden tour. It was beautiful! Small ponds and dwellings hidden in the forest. You could imagine this area looking nearly the same back in the 15th century when royalty was strolling the grounds. Jongmyo was closed (tues) so we went south to the Cheonggyecheon creek and then back north into Insadong for some shopping and ice cream treats. There was a place with amazing snorkle-shaped cones that they would inject with soft serve. They were so good!







Wednesday, we listened to Steve Chu’s keynote, were wined and dined for lunch, and I gave my smart grid presentation. We meet my Korean partners for an amazing 14 course dinner! It’s Korean culture to leave food on the table at the end of the meal to indicate that one is satisfied; and we certainly left a lot of food on the table but I would describe my condition as closer to immobilization/food coma. It was culinary madness! More food just keep coming and coming! Afterward, our hosts treated the US contingent to a boat cruise on the river. We quietly sailed through the city’s lights and pointed out the Olympic Park, Gangnam (“River South,” a rich neighborhood), and the Namsan tower.



Thursday, we spent some time at the conference, but flew down to Busan and then drove to Changwon. I was suffering from a cold that hit me on Tuesday morning, so I didn’t do much this evening.

Friday, we toured KERI’s labs and explored some of the city: the Seongjusa temple, Seongsan Shell Mound (archaeological site where seafood scraps were found), and House of Changwon (창원의집). After dinner, Amanda and I took a walk around the hotel and got some ice cream. From what I could tell, Korea’s a smoothly operating industrial engine: well-organized, clean, very safe, and I felt completely comfortable walking around at night. I liked this place.




Saturday, my colleague from KERI, Ahn, drove Amanda and I to Gyeongju for some sightseeing. We got to town, and after a little confusion over where to park, rented bikes and struck out to learn about the Silla Kingdom that controlled this region. There actually were 3 kingdoms in what’s now modern Korea: Silla, Goguryeo, and Baekje. Gyeongju was the center of this region from 57 BC to 935 AD with the 8th, 9th, and 10th centuries holding the most growth and historical artifacts. We first visted the tombs of the Silla (e.g., General Kim Yu-sin) in King Tomb Park and then biked to Anapji Pond to take in King Minmu's reconstructed dreams. We walked through the Gyeongju National Museum but then turned our attention to food. I guided the team on a slightly extended return route along the river and then we found a nice, completely empty restaurant for lunch. Ironically, the restaurant owners were eating McDonald’s and watching MLB.





The highlight of our day was traveling up into the mountains to a couple UNESCO world heritage sites. The first was Bulguksa, the stunning Buddhist Temple. The 2nd was the 8th century Seokguram Grotto, home to one of the best preserved Buddhist statues in Asia.




Ahn drove us down to the ocean to dip our feet into the freezing sea as the sun was setting. We cruised up the coast a short way along the fishing villages and then we decided it was time to find the hotel and dinner. We had stirfried Gimchi and a few bombs (sojo and beer).



The final day of the trip we popped into the Gyeongju Tower and toured the Millinium Park grounds. Ahn, Amanda, and I had a nice brunch in the sun and took the car, to a bullet train, to a train, to a plane, to a subway, to Dolores Park, to another subway, to another plane, to a shuttle, to a car, to my house. Actually, the San Francisco layover (7 hours!) was enough to spend the Sunday afternoon lounging in Mission Dolores Park in the sun and that was wonderful. Way better than sitting in the terminal.


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