Building a cycling speaker setup  
Wednesday, September 20, 2017, 06:57 PM - Work
Posted by Administrator
I built a music box for a tow-behind bike trailer. Check out the schematic and video for all the DIY details.







Parts:
Batteries - $37
Battery Charger - $15
Waterproof Switch - $10
Volt/Power Meter (optional) - $19
Bluetooth Audio Amplifier Board - $49
0.625-in x 4-ft x 4-ft particle board/plywood - $13
Polystyrene Foam Board Insulation (vibration resistance) - $13
Speaker Terminal(s) - $6
100+ W Speakers - Wide range of prices, but less than $40 is possible.
Spare wire, screws, caulk, etc.
Total cost: ~$180
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Mega Bike + Hike Sandia Adventure with Jess 
Sunday, September 17, 2017, 03:04 PM - Weekend Fun
Posted by Administrator
I convinced Jess to join me for a multi-sport adventure that turned into a rather major endeavor. We started at 7am at the Tram parking lot and biked down Tramway, up Route 66 (Reaper Ride) to Tijeras, and up the hill to Canyon Estates Trailhead. Jess really struggled up the final climb, but we took some time to rest and rehydrate while we locked our bikes up. After the break, we hiked past Travertine Falls and up to South Peak via the steep CCC Route. We summitted just before noon and enjoyed all the wonderful views from the top. For some reason (probably boredom), I downloaded the cachly app and started hunting for a few geocaches as we worked our way north via the Crest Trail to the Tram. I found a couple ammo box geocaches and we happily wrote messages about our fun day. The weather was good, but my hip flexor and IT Band weren't happy about the 8 miles to the Tram. We also randomly ran into Emily who was doing a S-to-N crest solo backpacking trip. She was having hip pain, but refused any help - which I could certainly relate to. I was definitely hurting by the time we made it to the Tram.

Long day out with stats something like the following:
Total distance: 30.2 miles (without tram)
Total climb: 6500 ft (without tram)
Bike: 17.4 miles, 1200 ft climbed
Hike: 12.8 miles, 5300 ft climbed
Moving time: 7:23
Total time: 9:58









(Hiking Portion is Highlighted)
Larger. GPX

Also, fondue dinners are fun!

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Boundary Waters Canoe Trip 
Wednesday, September 13, 2017, 07:56 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
I took a much-needed week off work to join my parents and three of their friends for a canoe trip into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) Wilderness in upper Minnesota against Canada.

I got lunch with Daimon and his wife in Minneapolis - a real treat since the last time I saw him was for his wedding 5 years ago. Then a van full of excited southerners towing a trailer and 3 canoes showed up and whisked me north. We stayed in a small motel between St. Paul and Duluth that night as the rain poured down. I hoped the weather forecast was right and we would have lighter weather during the next week. Luckily, I convinced the rest of the team to take a detour to get Betty's Pies in Two Harbors on or way to our campsite and put-in at Fall Lake Campground. We had pie for dinner and we had pie for breakfast. It was fantastic.

The next day, we headed north. We portaged around Newton Falls to Newton Lake, and quickly reached Pipestone Falls, and portaged again. On the first one, Mom and I found someone with a cart to help bring our gear across, but on the 2nd we were on our own for the 1/4 mile walk. I threw the canoe on my back for the walk, but halfway through the middle thwart broke - so we set it back in place, carried about our business, and started dreaming up campsite remedial actions. Back on the water, we paddled our way up Pipestone Bay of Basswood Lake and saw a Bald Eagle leave his perch and cruise the shoreline. We did a quick, albeit jungley, hike to Azion Lake for lunch. The entire day and all the lakes were glass. It was quiet and eerie. Eventually, we found a chipmunk-operated campsite on the south-side of Pipestone Bay and set up camp around 1:30pm. With plenty of time before dinner, the whole gang took a swim and then Steve, Kurt, and Andreas fished while the rest of us heckled them.






The next morning, Dad cooked some of his legendary pancakes while Andreas and I fashioned a new yoke for the canoe. Using a hand saw, we were able to notch a section of pine tree to do the job (and it held for the whole trip!). Needless to say, we got a later start. In general, canoeing is such a relaxed way to travel through the world, aside from the portages, of which we did have one to cross over to Back Bay. At first the weather was calm, but eventually a south wind set in. Mom and I struggled into a moderate headwind through the shallow waters of Back Bay and wondered why there were thousands of dead insects on the water surface. Too cold? Natural life cycle?

The group separated some, but we regathered on an unnamed island on our way to Hoist Bay when we ate lunch. When we got to Hoist Bay, we took a 90 degree turn ENE and the winds turned to our favor. We slid past Canoe Island and Norway Island before finding a suitable, unoccupied campsite on Washington Island. More swimming. More Fishing. And Mom and I cooked Quesadillas for the crew. Steve served up a couple small-mouth cooked in southern spices.






The next day was difficult. Winds rotated to the North and we were battered making our way up the US-Canada border to United States Point. The chop was getting large enough that Dad and I were politely asked to stay close to the Andrea/Mom canoe (we rotated teams). This day I got my first taste of paddling "the barge" which was our only plastic canoe. The other two Kevlar canoes slid through the water with an estimated 76.3% less drag. After fighting the wind and chop, we turned the corner and headed West toward Basswood Falls. Surprisingly, even with the wind at our backs, the waves still made this a tough stretch. This area does not allow motors, so we were suddenly alone - at least for large portions of the day, which was nice. It felt like a wilderness area. We stopped off for lunch on a beach and looked at Canada. M&A snuck into Canada, while Dad and I may have drifted into international waters. Definitely a different scene than our southern border. Eventually, we found a campsite we called, "Camp Blowhole" because it was on the blowhole of the island that looked like a whale. It was well sheltered and we pasted the time looking at the moss and lichen that covered the island. Mom, entertained the group with a crossword puzzle that lasted a surprisingly long time (days).





We decided the leave the tents up and do a day trip to Basswood Falls the next day. We walked down the Basswood River for about a mile inspecting whatever flora and fauna (eagles, an otter, and more chipmunks!) we came across. That night we tried to catch the Northern Lights - Andreas said it would be the highest probability of catching them that night based on the NOAA data. But we didn't see anything except a wonderfully starry night.




The following day we battled another headwind south toward Pipestone. We hoped we could float through the creek from Jackfish Bay to Pipestone, but beavers had dammed it, so we had to run another short portage. On the other side, we stopped off at an awesome cliffside campsite to take in the views and rest a bit for the final push south. We paddled another hour+ into the gale until we made it back to our first campsite, where we were greeted by Charlie T. Trouble our favorite food-stealing chipmunk. Lathered on the DEET and killed a handful more mosquitoes, the state bird, for the 5th night in a row. The weather held off until that night, when a ferocious thunderstorm came through camp, but the rain had stopped by morning.



The final day was fairly easy, even with the two portages. We knew the way and a few of us were ready get off the water. It was a fun trip, great to see the world from a canoe, and the bugs were actually manageable.


larger
GPS data
Approximate Distances:
Day 1: 6.8 miles to Pipestone Bay
Day 2: 10.3 miles to Washington Island
Day 3: 9.8 miles to "Whale Island"
Day 4: 5.45 miles, day-tripping to Basswood River
Day 5: 10.7 miles to Pipestone Bay
Day 6: 6.6 miles to Fall Lake
Total: 49.65 miles of fun + a few miles of canoeing on Day 0 to go fishing with Steve.

And Here's a video my Mom put together of the trip:

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Josh's 30 Birthday  
Thursday, August 10, 2017, 10:52 AM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
Like my 30th Birthday, my Mom wanted to do something fun for my brother for his 30th. She created an elaborate medieval/fantastical plot involving a bunch of people in the family. I had three roles: the first was to give Josh clues to start a treasure hunt that my parents would conduct to give him Amtrak tickets to Chicago (where he would meet his cousins and a family friend); the second was to give him a time and place where he would get a weapon (super soaker) for the final battle with the evil king; and the third was to be taken hostage, rescued by Josh, and help him kayak down the river battling river enemies to the king.

For the first clue, since we are both getting into cybersecurity work, I thought it would be fun to create do something with encryption. I sent him the following message:

Lord Marcel,

Nearly 40 years ago, Knights Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir, and Leonard Adleman created a tool for exchanging information between kingdoms. I must use this tool to securely send information from the land of Adobe as there are many eyes watching our movements.

Your secret code was recently sent via text. The public key is (n = 597782322723352841, e = 65537).

Use your code to decipher my decimal messages by converting to hexadecimal and then to text. As an example, 454340527577251408658717599750907599391754895552930391484449 is an unencrypted base 10 birthday message.

Please await my next letter for instructions.

God speed,
Earl of Tillay

P.S. 16172526842824332 486461013351423796 372855876819966270 173013308343788726 175628482683316976 51457655426288031 112532939420200262 103102526154905960 212110150840885429 116036075239775253


I sent him the private key in a text: "162568843699643261"

Without going into too many of the details, Josh was required to perform RSA decryption of the coded message. The description of how to do that is here. And the python code to do that is here (for all your programming nerds).

A few days letter, he sent me a message indicated that he figured it out and I sent him the coordinates for his first clue for the scavenger hunt that my parents put together. He managed to complete that and get his tickets to Chicago. Yay!

The next round of puzzles (to give him the water gun) was a little more involved. It started with me sending him a link to this image: http://adventurejay.com/stereoclue.jpg



which, read adventurejay.com/josh.pdf which had a bunch of clues. The solutions to the puzzles are here.

With a couple hints, and a couple required corrections on my part (whoops), the solution was determined to be "421261450043257479" or "/c3.pdf" when decrypted. That led him to adventurejay.com/c3.pdf.

He got back to me fairly quickly with the solution: White Fire Mayhem. And I told him where he could meet up with someone who would give him his water gun :) It's not easy turning 30!

For the extended, weekend party, Jess and I flew to St. Louis. The first night we had dinner at Josh's with Mom and Dad. Then we drove down to Washington, MO to pick up Grandma and take her down to the Huzzah for a beach picnic and float. We also visited grandpa in the old folks home.





The following day, we woke up early and Dad, Josh, and I competed in the Wood River Triathlon. Dad did a great job with the swim (most people just walked on the pool bottom and should have been disqualified) and came in 21st out of 234 with a 8:15. I jumped on my Dad's (small) road bike and did my best to ride the turny course. It was six laps with six 90 degree turns, so it was hard to keep the speed up. I managed to take a wrong turn into the staging area after my first lap (not much signage at this event), which probably cost me ~20 seconds. (I've got all my excuses lined up.) In the end, I averaged 20 mph for 33:20 and 25/234 although I would have been 17th without my navigational mistake. Not too bad. And Josh suffered a couple laps (4 miles) to bring us on home with 2nd out of 10 for the teams (the first group was pretty stacked).




After that we headed back to Washington, MO where we (tastefully) shackled Josh and put him in his own van with instructions on how to find me. I left in my parent's Prius with Mom and Jess, while Dad, cousin Tim, and aunt Holly came separately with the kayaks. There were a few complications with instructions, but eventually I was freed of my captors' restraints and on the water with Josh in a couple kayaks loaded with water guns and water balloons. Ready for battle, we navigated through the drunk rafts and eventually came across captured Maid Jess along with three in the king's legion. There was a water battle, and I don't really know who won, but I'll say it was us.





We jumped off the cliff and floated down to Uncle Jim's place on the Meramec. There Josh vanquished the evil king and saved the day! We played around in the river a little more, BBQed, and eventually headed back to WashMo to rest. The following day, I had one last visit with grandpa before indulging in a bottle of Chambourcin at Montelle Winery and catching our flights back to ABQ - although the trip was ultimately delayed a full 12 hours with back-to-back mechanical and weather issues.






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Mountain Rescue Mission on Muralla Grande and Training on Torreon 
Sunday, August 6, 2017, 02:52 PM - AMRC
Posted by Administrator
This last week was packed with a couple fun rescues and trainings. On Weds, a couple climbers attempted to climb La Selva, but ended up on Excitable Boys and then found their way over to the football field ledge. From there they decided that it was too risky to rappel because they didn't know if they would find a place to build an anchor. So they hung out while we got our team up to the top of Muralla Grande and built a system with the 1200' line. I rushed home from work at about 5:00 and with the help of Hans' quick truck driving skills we were on at IB by 6:00 (impressive!). A couple teams were already out, so I carried the TerrAdaptor legs down. Those are really awkward to haul.

Hans, Ang, and I built the TerrAdoptor and I watched the edge while Craig was lowered and raised 400' to pick off the two uninjured climbers. We had awesome throw on the mainline and eventually a nice army of firefighters and cops to help haul. The weather was nice and it didn't end up raining so everything worked out well, especially for the climbers.









Then this weekend, Supra led an interesting training with a couple fallen climbers. Elena and I were on the strike team and found the subjects on the top of Torreon. On of the climbers was dead and the other had a femur fracture and pneumothorax both with impaled object puncture wounds. I haven't done a lot of medical lately, so it was a good WFR refresher for me: running through SAMPLE taking vitals and monitoring the patient while the raise system was constructed. Oh and I also built a nice traction splint for the femur fracture out of Elena's trekking poles! Matt came down on the litter, we packaged our patient, and then I joined the haul team on top. The final stretch of getting the little through a 4th class boulder field was a challenge, but otherwise things went smoothly, albeit a little slower than desired. It was a nice training and Elena got to learn a lot, exclaiming in the debrief that it was the "best training ever!"










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Vegas, Baby! 
Sunday, June 4, 2017, 09:27 PM - Trips, Weekend Fun
Posted by Administrator
Jess was getting together with old friends, Kristen and Keith, in Vegas for the weekend and she invited me out to stay with her. I said, "Sure!" We all met up at the Luxor on Friday morning and then went out to the Rehab pool party. Their friend, Josh, just moved out to Vegas so he acted as our official tour guide. Beach balls, swimming and loud music was a great start to the trip. It was super warm so the margaritas were tasting especially good. We all headed out to First Friday on Fremont St. where they have live bands in addition to the booze, gambling, street performers, and outdoor alcohol vendors. After strolling up and down the well-lit street with movie screen canopy and ziplines we ubered back to the strip and worked our way through the casinos back to the Luxor for bed. Nothing too insane, but it was fun.









In the morning the group went over to the Aquarium at Mandalay Bay. It was short but pretty nice with a few tube walkways. The gang then headed north along the strip hitting up casinos, bars, and any shiny attraction along with way. We had a great steak dinner at Mon Ami Gabi across from the Bellagio, before the rest of the crew took off for the airport. Jess and I nearly ran to catch the Cirque du Soleil at the MGM Grand. I think this show was the highlight of the trip. The hydraulic stage was awesome and the way that used it to play out different fight scenes was spectacular - especially when they were using the 'arrows' to traverse the stage.






The last day, I had to gamble a little just to say I tried it. Jess and I bet on black and won. Then we bet on 12 and lost. I played a couple hands of blackjack and lost. I did double my $1 in the dollar slots, but ultimately lost about $50 over the course of the weekend. We we're very good gamblers - but Keith and Kristen managed to win $200 at the Buffalo slot machine (and probably spent similar quantities to do so) and Josh won $1000 with a royal flush on bar-top poker on Fremont St., but with the quantity of time he spends at such things that does make sense (he's a blackjack and poker dealer and has a strong affinity for slot machines). I can see the appeal though - it's a rush to see the next card or roulette wheel spin.

Jess and I went to the Bodies exhibit at the Luxor. I had seen it in L.A. 10 years ago, but it was still fun and educational. We headed up to New York, NY to ride the roller coaster, but they had it shut down due to wind when we got there. Instead we wondered through Cesar's Palace, Mirage, and Treasure Island and got ice cream. So I think I can say I've done Vegas now and I did a little gambling, so I can cross that off the old bucket list.



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Iron Horse 2017 
Wednesday, May 24, 2017, 08:51 PM - Weekend Fun
Posted by Administrator
Jeff wanted to do the Iron Horse this year, so I decided to provide company on the long climb. Plus Emil had a Citizen's Tour pass up for grabs and Kendrick wanted to get rid of his MTB race bib so I weaseled my way into an unofficial omnium for the weekend. Jeff wanted to give Sheliah a bed for the night, so I brought the camper up and stashed it at Tom and Jordan's cabin by Lemon Reservoir. It was a beautiful spot with nice pine forest near the Florida River. Verena and Nicole were also visiting Tom and Jordan so we had a fun little AMRC bike crew.



Somehow my front road bike tire delaminated on the drive up on the car, so on the race morning, I had to run around town and get a new tire. Got lucky to find a shop with time to do the work, but went with the Specialized Armadillo, thinking it would be like the GatorSkins. Wrong. It was way heavier and I could feel that sucker on the climbs. But, the ride started out well. I used my punchiness to stay in the lead peloton and crossed the Hermosa train tracks in 6th place (same spot that I flatted two years before), but this time I stayed with the leaders for another mile through the rollers until the big climb. Then I sat there and spun. The weather was supposed to be cold, but it was a warm sunny day and I wished I had not worn the long pants. I stopped at the first aid station for a clothing change and sunblock. I lost Jeff early on, and the rest of the crew was in the races, so I just worked my way up the mountain with random groups. Close to Purgatory Jeff caught me and was looking strong. It was cool to ride together for a while, but then I latched on to another group and he didn't chase. Toward Coalbank Pass, Jeff passed me and I couldn't climb hard. I really wasn't feeling strong, but there was a nice tailwind so conditions were good. At the top, I stopped off for a snack with Jeff, but decided to continue because I figured he'd catch me on the Molas climb. As it turned out though, he had to take the descents slow because of a rear hub issue and I didn't see him until the finish. I ripped the descents as usual but couldn't put myself into the hurt locker on the climbs to better my prior race time (even with the flat). Total time was ~4:43 (3:39 moving) for the 49 miles/5900 ft. I was actually 2.5 min slower this year compared to two years ago! That's pretty embarrassing -- but I'm fatter these days too. Luckily the train had some kind of mechanical issue so I handily beat the train when it rolled in at 12:30pm. It was nice of the snow to hold off this year too!




We gorged on some food in Silverton and headed back to Durango fairly quickly. J&S headed off to Phoenix while I rejoined the AMRC folks for a BBQ birthday dinner at their neighbor's snazzy cabin. I passed out early after a couple beers. The following day I headed into town around 11:00 and checked out all the festivities. At 2pm, my 19-34 M group launched for the mountain bike race. Instantly I could feel the exhaustion from the day before and that right about the time the climbing began. A good chuck of the riders were off their bikes and pushing on the first climb in multiple areas. We then meandered through the mesa top and dropped down to the ski area where there was a 2nd brutal climb were the majority of the riders were pushing their bikes. I cleaned the first portion to the turn, but then got off to save my legs and lungs. Then it was hairpin switchbacks back into town. I came in completely beat, went through the log obsticles, and then climbed the ramp through Steamworks (the only reason to do the race). That was super cool to hear the crowd yelling at you as you go through a brewery in a race! Then it was back out for two more hike-a-bike climbs on loose trail but then the pro group went blasting past me on the ski hill climb - they are so strong! I must say that I wasn't feeling this course at all (I think it would have been better the original, reversed direction; but they switched it because someone smashed their face into the window last year, so now we rode up through the brewery.) I relaxed a lot (too much really) in the 2nd lap because I knew I'd be in last pack of riders and I accepted it, but was able to ride my own pace for most of the final lap and actually shaved a few seconds (yay for negative splits!).

Stats:
16th out of 27
Lap 1: 36:14.40 (15th out of 25)
Lap 2: 40:50.50 (16th out of 23)
Lap 3: 40:41.50 (12th out of 23)

Elevation gain 2,350 ft.



Then on Memorial Day Monday, I joined the team for a highline training and rode the litter and not my bike :)



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12 Hours of Mesa Verde 
Sunday, May 14, 2017, 07:49 PM - Weekend Fun
Posted by Administrator
It's been a while since I've posted anything, but I'm hoping to back-fill stories of the last few months soon...

I participated in the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde mountain bike race for the 3rd year in a row. And unlike the last couple years, I didn't get rain/snow/sleeted on in the middle of my first lap. Spencer led out with a reasonable first lap (1:33) and I followed up with a so-so 1:35 without any of my patented red-lining/blow-up antics. They changed the course this year so it was a little longer at 18 miles. I did get passed like 20 times early and then I managed to have a minor crash around mile 5 on a little drop by a cliff - I didn't see the line until super late, cut right onto a babyhead, and laid the bike over. My shifting and confidence was a little rough from there on.

Josiah put in a nice 1:36 for Team Beercanical's 3rd lap. I felt I didn't leave enough on the course my first time out so I hammered a little more on my 2nd. The wind was kicking up quite a bit by this point, but it shockingly felt like a tailwind more than a headwind. I felt stronger and kept 'smooth is fast and fast is smooth' mantra close to the heart, but I somehow came in at 1:37. How strange. Josiah didn't have a good 3rd lap (1:45), so there wasn't any hope of Spencer getting in before the 5pm cutoff to force my 3rd lap; so that meant it was time to head back to camp to start the party!




(Shotgun transition)
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Mountain Collective Ski Trip 
Tuesday, February 14, 2017, 08:32 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
Jeff and I took the A-liner camper around to 5 Mountain Collective ski resorts over two weeks. We'd been planning this trip for years, and actually wanted to go up to Canada to ski 3 other resorts on the pass, but work/life obligations got in the way. At any rate, here's a movie that I put together of our excellent trip!

"The lightly anticipated and highly sensational "Dirtbags on Skis" has it all: powder, costumes, bad decisions, crashes, humor, and a healthy dose of bromance. This film, brought to you by Why We Do It Productions, will leave you wondering how they did so much skiing without a GoPro."


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Cold Adventures - January 2017  
Saturday, January 28, 2017, 04:27 PM - Weekend Fun, AMRC
Posted by Administrator
I attended an excellent scenario-based AMRC training on a brutally cold, windy Saturday morning. Hans and I we're on the strike team with Aspen and we discovered a patient had fallen off the limestone band of the Sandias near the Tombstone. Hans and I traversed around to reach the subject, while Aspen sorted out her plan for extraction. I clipped in the subject, before noticing it was a prospective member of the team and fellow Sandia ski team captain, Evan! Hans attended to the broken leg, while I worked on securing the patient to another tree above and boiling water for hot soup/tea. Frank came down and we loaded Evan on the skedco and worked him up the limestone band. I cleaned up the ledge while others hauled the patient to the parking lot. Car-to-car in 2 hours! Not bad.









The next day, Sunday, Jess and I joined Jason and his new dog, Dante, for a Embudo loop hike up to Oso Pass. Similar to this. It was actually a pretty solid hike of 8.5 mi with 2400' of climbing. Dante was loving every minute of it too!




The next weekend, I was lured up to Taos with a 10-12" forecast. I drove up early on Saturday, but without any signs of a storm, went to Black Rock Hot Springs with Bonnie, Dave, Josiah, and Briana. The camper banged its way through the mud and snow to John Dunn Bridge and to a wonderful little spot overlooking the Rio Grande. After a nice long soak, we headed up the hill to the ski valley for the St. B party. The next day only had about 3-4"--a complete disappointment--but we all made the most of it by hitting all our favorite steeps.








The next weekend, it was only calling for 2-3" but the snows came, and they came hard! Jess and I went up and skied with Jeff on Friday for a great powder day. We hit an untracked Donkey Serenade for deep powder turns and lapped the What Chutes and Highline. Unfortunately, I choose very poorly for my last run in the Waterfowl Area where I dropped the lip and got about 1/2 turn in before hitting a big rock and then pinballing for 30 feet through a rock garden while my skis skittered across the obstacles. It was awful, but I was luckily uninjured. Now I remember why I never enter from that spot!






(This looked good, but it was a rock garden!)

Saturday was the first Corporate Cup race of the year at Red River. It was snowing like crazy so the conditions were a little questionable. I skied my standard middle-of-the-pack speed. Then Jeff, Jess, and I explored the limited, but untracked terrain in Red. The Aspens were particularly nice. At the end of the day, Jeff decided to stick around for a Sunday pow day at Taos. Jess had to work, but we found a ride back for her with some of the Lobo team. Back at the camper, I had to shovel for a good hour to dig out from a day of heavy snow.




It snowed fat until 11pm and Jeff and I wondered around the TSV happy in the fact the next day was going to be excellent. Bonnie spotted us and made us come in to the Blonde Bear for a beer, but we turned in early. The next day was a 13" day at Taos and one of my favorite days on skis. Not much was open early, but Jeff and I got waist-deep fresh tracks in Pollux and Castor. Then we slipped over to an untouched chute in Lorelei Trees and lapped hikes: Cuervo, Sauza, Billy Sol/Two Bucks, Wild West, and Juarez. I showed Jeff the cliff that spenser hit in Sauza. I chicked out, but went for it and completely cratered. We found one of his skis 200 feet down the mountain! At the end, we linked up with Briana and Dave for a couple runs. What a killer day!






(Jeff sending the Sauza cliff)

(Jeff's missing ski... after cratering)

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Aspen and Telluride for New Year's Eve 
Monday, January 2, 2017, 06:23 PM - Trips, Weekend Fun
Posted by Administrator
Jess, Jeff, Sheilah, and I took the camper up to Aspen for New Years. Jeff and Sheliah got a place with some other friends in Snowmass but I scored a deal through the mountain rescue community to crash at Mountain Rescue Aspen's cache to save some cash. Keith gave us the grand tour of the multi-million dollar facility with all their cars, snowmobiles, climbing wall, kitchen, locker room, laundry, etc. It's truly impressive.



On New Year's Eve we hit Snowmass and Jess and I skied for 1/2 day before Jeff and I went out to find bigger lines. The snow wasn't fresh but it was still fun to explore a new place. We hit KT Gully, Possible, Split Tree and at the end of the day, Jeff found a ~8' drop at Rock Island. I couldn't commit to the cliff - and ultimately wouldn't hear the end of it for 24 hours. For NYE, we found a little bar called The Red Onion in Aspen where Keith knew the bartender. We snagged a booth and Jess and I rang in the new year with champagne and a kiss.



(Cliff I chickened out of)


The next morning, the slopes were unsurprisingly and pleasantly empty. Jeff and I went over to Aspen Highlands and beat ourselves up on frozen bumps in Steeplechase bowl before Highland opened. We caught the snow cat to the halfway point with a pile of stoked skiers and then hoofed it to the highland peak summit at 12,392'. The views were wonderful and the run down Ozone was wonderful. At lunch we caught the bus to Aspen Mountain and linked up with Keith, who's on their ski patrol. He directed us under a couple closed ropes to a little place patrol "reserves for themselves and their friends." It was only a few turns, but they were the softest we'd found in the last couple days.








That night I dropped Jess off with Mario and company to drive back to ABQ, while Jeff and I headed to Telluride. We stopped at Lance and Bobbi Jo's in Ridgeway for the night and camped out on the street. Leigh, Justin, and Arthur were also there so it was great to catch up with their family.

In the morning Bobbi Jo loaded us up with egg and bacon bagels and we drove the hour over to Telluride. We found a place to park in the 72 hour lot and then began exploring. I quickly fell in love with the place because they had a whole cirque to play. Sadly Palmyra Peak wasn't open, but we took a couple laps in Black Iron Bowl and hit a great powder line in the (unnamed?) chute on skiers ' left. That night we headed to Smuggler's Brewpub for dinner and watched the dramatic Penn State vs USC Rose Bowl Game. After making friends with the locals, we agreed to ski backcountry the next day with someone. In the morning, I said I texted him saying that I would need to borrow skins because I didn't have any, and I never heard back. Oh well. Instead Jeff and I did a couple laps on Bald Mountain, Revelation Bowl and the frontside steeps. Ultimately, after 4 days of hard skiing, we threw the towel in the early afternoon and headed south.










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Christmas 2016 
Sunday, December 25, 2016, 04:28 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
I spent a week back in Southern Illinois and Missouri for Christmas. I caught a ride from Josh down to Alto Pass and we started right away with tree-decorating, Christmas songs, and overeating. The rest of the family came down the next day and we hiked up to Bald Knob Cross in a light drizzle. It was the 27th annual winter hike for my dad and I, but I can't remember it raining any other year.







Kathy, Twy, and Gabe joined for caroling and a hilarious game of reverse charades. Grandma stole the show with her ice skating impression and knack for being one or two cards behind. We also got in a family game of HORSE, held the family annual photo competition, opened way too many gifts, and Tim attempted to show me how to Ripstick.









Before flying back to the Southwest, I visited the uncles in St. Louis and my grandfather in the old folks home in Washington, MO. The family time was great.




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Red River Race Camp and Bull-of-the-Wood Yurt 
Monday, December 19, 2016, 04:49 PM - Trips, Weekend Fun
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Jeff and I took the Aliner pop-up camper to Red River and snagged a perfect little camp spot in the forest by the resort parking area. We skied a 3 days with instruction from the Lobos alpine team. It was especially great to ski with Nick because he grew up in Taos and is one of only a few NM racers to make the team. By the end of the three days, I was feeling good on my skis and running gates as well as I ever have (mediocre). Unfortunately the camper was an ice box without reliable heat and the temperature dropped to 1 F. Our breath put a layer of frost on everything in the interior of the camper. One of the perks of supporting the Lobos is that they sometimes offer corporate cup racers tickets to basketball games - so I was lucky enough to snag a seat in the box seats at the Pit later that week.





A couple weekends later, we broke with tradition and moved the Bull-of-the-Woods Yurt trip up to Dec. I brought Jess up with me on Friday and we skied a day inbounds in a whiteout blizzard. It wasn't that fun with the high winds. We met up with Spencer and hiked up to the yurt. I borrowed Leigh's sled and used it to schlep a 1/6th barrel of Marble Pils up the mountain. With me thoroughly weighed down, Jess and I were about the same speed so it worked out well. It did take a very long time, especially through the 5-6 downed trees, and I hurt pretty bad making it up from Taos Ski Valley (9,300') to Bull-of-the-Woods Meadow (10,800'). Fortunately, Spencer was able to break trail for most of the upper stretch.







Jeff came up later and strapped a box of pizza to his pack. In one of the trees, the box popped open and littered the trail with pizza slices. He tried to gather them all up, but managed to miss a couple. Later, Briana was coming up the trail and said that she was feeling really hungry but didn't to take the time to dig through her pack for food; when what should appear in the center of her headlamp glow, but a slice of pizza from the trail gods! She said she didn't even think twice about it and just picked it up and ate it. Once everyone made it up, we cranked the fire and drank merrily.

The following day, Jeff and I took a little tour up to Bull-of-the-Woods Mountain. The snow conditions were extremely unstable and the slope by the trail keep releasing as we hiked up. On the summit, it was freezing cold and the winds were howling. We concluded we couldn't ski anything steep, but we could work down the spine. A few turns into the descent, we dug a pit to check conditions. There were 40 cm of heavy dense wind slab on 30 cm of facets: a very bad combination. The column test failed with one hand tap at the boundary, and the Rutschblock test showed the whole upper layer slide on the facets. Scary! I was starting to think we might have bitten off more than we should have, but we skied the most conservative line we could find through the trees and quickly linked up with a mountain bike trail that took us back to the main road/trail. Definitely very scary conditions for any backcountry skier. Back the yurt, even more people trickled for night 2, making our total party crew 15 people.





Sunday, we cleaned up and skied back to the TSV. My sled was loaded with trash and I had to hold a power wedge all the way down the steeps. Unfortunately, on a couple of the dead tree crossings, the trash bags were punctured and I leaked a few items. Jeff was behind me though, so it helped pick up my mess. Back at Taos, it was chilly but clear and Jess finally got to see the place. We skied the backside for a few laps and then hit the Bav at the end of the day for dinner. Good times in the mountains. But then I spent a couple weeks recovering from a cold that was shared around the yurt...

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Lost hikers in TWA Canyon and the AMRC Rescue Challenge 
Thursday, December 8, 2016, 10:39 PM - Weekend Fun, AMRC
Posted by Administrator
I responded to a mountain rescue pageout for a couple lost hikers in TWA canyon. The last cell phone ping we had, put them on the trail directly under the tram, so Justin, Aspen, Leigh, Frank, Pete and I caught a lift up the tram to the top to search from the top while another team headed up Domingo Baca. As it turned out the ping was way off - and we were at the coordinates when the other team found the patients (approximately 1 km away). They were in good condition, so we walk them out with the other team.







Andy put on another skills-based rescue challenge this year. We did rappelling, ascending, knots, mechanical advantage, and crevasse rescue stations this year by the Eye of the Sandias. It went much smoother than in years past, and we finished up close to noon so we could hold the annual party on time. This year, I proudly earned my 5-year AMRC service pin.






Oh, and we've started up the Karl and Rose weekday night rides again. These are dark and chilly, but a great way to get a few MTB miles in during the winter.


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Niagara Falls and an Aussie Reunion 
Thursday, December 8, 2016, 10:02 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
I traveled to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls for the 2016 IRED conference. I had a great view of the falls from my hotel and snuck in a trip on the Hornblower (e.g., Canadian Maid of the Mist) at the end of the conference. There is sooo much water there. If we could only pipe that to New Mexico!








The other fun piece of this trip was I reconnected with a lost friend, Adam, in Buffalo. We hadn't seen each other in 12 years, but had done a few great trips together when we were both foreign exchange students at the University of South Australia. I couldn't believe how young and excited about exploring I was at that point in time. It was so cool to see him again! And it wasn't long before we were reminiscing of our adventures:
- The overland trek in Tasmania, where I did battle with the opossums and tassie devils; we climbed to the top of the acropolis, and cranked the heat by burning coal in a small cabin by Lake St. Clair.
- Camping on the beach in Freycinet National Park where we named the camp wallabies Wallace and Gromit.
- Watching sunrises in Uluru in the red centre.
- Tim Tam Slams on the Legendary Ghan train ride from Adelaide to Alice Springs.
- Cheering on Port Power in Aussie Rules Footie.
- Drinking wine in the Adelaide park for Forth of July.
- Goofing off on the Kangaroo Island tour.
- My junk bike with the bent front wheel and how I was too cheap to take a cab back to town after the pubs closed so I walked the 10 km train line from Glenelg to downtown until the sun rose one Saturday night/Sunday morning.
- And all our classmates, that I have long lost track of...

I was happy to meet Adam's wife and kid and take a walking tour of Buffalo. The town was clearly in a period of revitalization and the waterfront was awesome to stroll.




Unfortunately, I had to take a last-minute trip to DC for the halloween weekend, but Briana hosted a Monday night party for a few folks. My costume this year was an injured cyclist - how original!


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Chaco Canyon with Parents 
Friday, November 25, 2016, 09:54 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
My parents visited Albuquerque for the week surrounding Thanksgiving. We had a small, but sweet, thanksgiving feast at my place and ultimately decided to explore a little of the southwest with the camper. Mom was especially excited to try it out, that was until the heater failed on a 20 degree night.

After battling the washerboard, potholed, dirt road for miles, we popped up the camper in the Chaco campground and had a sandwich lunch. It was cold but the sun warmed up the canyon nicely. We toured Una Vida and the Petroglyphs and then took the first 80% of a guided tour of Pueblo Bonito, until the guide repeated the same thing for the 4th time. On our way back to camp, we stopped at Casa Rinconada and watched the visitor center video. We cooked up turkey soup and played backgammon and gin rummy back in the camper. The stars were spectacular in the cold clear night. Unfortunately, the contact in the thermostat was corroded so the heater wasn't working for most of the night and it was very chilly.











The following day, we hiked from Pueblo del Arroyo around the Pueblo Alto loop. The views of the valley with Pueblo Bonito and Chetro Ketl from the rim were worth the extra effort.






Next, we made an attempt to reach the San Antonio Hot Springs lookout on the rim so my Mom could soak, but the road was a mud bog and dozens of large trucks were out there cutting down christmas trees and rutting out the road. My dad suggested I should probably give up once the hitch was dragging through the mud. Just then a crew of 6 or more lifted trucks and jeeps came our way and I had to back all the way down the muddy road with an audience. It didn't go great and I let my dad help with the last 30 ft. So we cut our losses and camped off the road there in the wilderness just off NM-144. Dad whipped up a fire and we cooked dinner in the camper. That night it snowed about an inch. After admiring the snowy pines, I set to extracting the family from the Jemez wilderness and heading home. We originally planned to visit Bandelier, but with the snowy road, I figured it was better to avoid the road through Valles Caldera. Instead we visited the Jemez Springs Church and got lunch at The Range Cafe. It wasn't a completely successful trip, but a good test for the camper and fun mini-adventure with my folks.




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Moab Canyoneering Trip  
Saturday, November 5, 2016, 09:01 PM - Trips
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Jess and I joined a mostly AMRC crew in Moab for a weekend of Canyoneering. We joined Justin and Craig in Arches and started off the adventure with a warm up lap on U-Turn Canyon. I was relieved to see that Jess was a natural and hardly blinked when it came to steep cliffs or exposed rappels.




The following day, Arthur and Leigh joined our group for a trip through Pool Arch ("Rock of Ages") Canyon. The first rap down next to the arch is just spectacular! Then the barefoot obstacle course to get to the last couple rappel is pure fun. Oh and that last rap is pretty stellar for the view!







At that point the gang split up and Jess and I went off to do our own thing. We debated about what to do in Arches (hike, driving tour, canyon?) but settled on going to Elephant Butte - another technical route. Justin had warned me that the route-finding was tough - and it turned out he was right because I was left guessing a couple times before finding the first rap station. To get there required one awkward low 5th class move that left me thinking for a couple minutes. Once I was up, I put Jess on belay from the other side of the saddle and she made her way up with the rope. The first rap looked out on the fins of the Elephant Butte area, but required me to reclimb a little of the end to pull the rope. At this point, I convinced Jess to head up to the summit of Elephant Butte. It's only 5653 ft. but the the highest point in Arches National Park, so the views were stunning in all directions! Then we went back to retrieve our packs and realized we needed to head out a different valley - 15 minutes later we finally found the rappel station and were on our way back to the car through the Garden of Eden. We escaped the canyon just as the sun was getting low so the lighting was perfect with the dark storm front passing us to the northeast. I decided we had better take a sunset stroll through the Windows and we watched the sun drop over the horizon from a comfy seat at North Window Arch.






Back in camp, we cooked dinner and Jess won the hearts of everyone when she pulled out the s'mores. Lance carried on his usual jokes, and the Moab marathon crew joined the fireside party.



Our final Sunday morning, we finally got some sun! We decided with all the recent rain it would be too wet in Dragonfly, so we went to do Cameltoe Canyon. It was an interesting area north of the CO River at Gold Bar, but we didn't do the best job of route finding (I blame Justin), but eventually did get to a cool oasis-y little canyon with plenty of vegetation, medium-deep pools, and one moderate rapel. It ended up being a good length trek because we were able to have a group lunch and hit the road by 2pm.




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Birthday Super RTM and Snowzobra/Gelande Quaffing 
Thursday, October 20, 2016, 08:52 PM - Weekend Fun
Posted by Administrator
I spent my birthday doing what I love: pushing through my limits in the mountains. I combined two of ABQ's hardest road rides into something a little insane. A ride that totalled nearly 11 hrs door-to-door (10 hrs in the saddle), 108 miles, and 10,000 ft of climbing. I did the "round the mountain" ride starting about 8am from my place, down Lead to the Bosque Trail and fought a north headwind to Bernalillo. I climbed past Placitas and hit the gravel stretch around 10:30am. That part is brutally relentless climbing over rocks, gravel, and dirt at a crawl for 7-miles. By noon I intersected the paved crest road 536, but turned right to climb the 2000 ft to the top of Sandia Peak. I summitted at 1am and ripped down the hill to have a big lunch burrito at Lazy Lizard. This is the point where any normal cyclist would go home, but instead I stashed my backpack under a tree and reclimbed the 4000 ft to the top of Sandia (in a relaxed 2 1/2 hrs). I didn't think I would make it, but the legs didn't cramp and the podcasts took my mind off the knee pain. I limped into the top and snagged a summit photo at nearly 5pm. From there it was nearly all downhill. I tucked into the standard 40 mph descent, turned right to Tijeras, and rode into a blinding setting sun and up-canyon wind back to my place at 6:45pm. Overall the body felt good the whole day. The Cytomax hydration and Taos Mountain Bar nutrition seemed to work for the extended effort. Unfortunately, my phone had some trouble holding a GPS signal and I didn't get my official stats for what may be the hardest century ride in the state!



2nd Sandia Peak summit of the day after 10,000 ft of climbing!


Birthday dinner: beer and ibuprofen.



I also hosted this year's Snowzobra "Pray For Snow" Party. It was perhaps the best year yet--which is saying a lot because this party has had some rather storied history including ice luges, flaming skis, a full matanza feast, and that one time we made the nightly news. But this year we had 75 people show up to burn the Snowzobra and I started Albuquerque's First Annual Gelande Quaffing Championships. Oh and I also went the extra mile to weld up a monstrous, 12' tall effigy skeleton made of rebar to appease Ullr using Supra's wire-feed welder.

I also built the setup for Gelande Quaffing - a drinking game that originates from the darkest recesses of ski culture (Jackson Hole). This was the centerpiece of this year's festivities so I had everyone cajole their closest friends and remotest colleagues to partake in the event. 4-person teams caught airborne beer with one hand to score points. I was convinced that the Josiah, Spencer, Sam, Jay team would be unbeatable, but when it came to the championship round, a few beers were dropped (Spenc and Sam!), and we fell 19-20 to a co-ed team (Kelley, Laura, Dave, Nathan) that threw a perfect game of 10 for 10 handle catches.





More on Gelande Quaffing:




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South Boundary and Tim & Sharon's Wedding 
Monday, October 10, 2016, 08:11 PM - Weekend Fun
Posted by Administrator
A tradition as old as Snowzobra, the masses have gathered at Garcia Park for mountain biking bliss. This year we timed the Aspens perfectly. There were bonfires, keg beer, one very rough icing, a broken finger, nudity, 4 flat repairs (on the same bike), and somehow 10 people cruised through the golden leaves back down to Taos successfully.








On Sunday, the group split up and Briana, Spencer, and I mountain biked up to Frazer Mountain in TSV. It was a horrible series of 25% grade climbs to the top and I was embarrassed that Briana beat me to the top. The views were amazing and the crest ride and singletrak return was super fun. It was definitely the $10 to ride out toward Wheeler.




The next weekend, I went to Durango for Tim and Sharon's wedding. I stayed with Mike and Allison on Friday night and Mike and I got a great ride in on Saturday morning down Haflin Creek Trail. It was incredibly steep, but super fun and the views were stunning.

The AMRC crew showed up in force as usual for the wedding. The ceremony was simple and sweet in the aspens outside of DMR. Then we went back to the ski lodge for dinner and the highlight: the AMRC crew sang Jennifer Warnes and Joe Cocker's "Love Lift Us Up" in red wigs (Tim and Sharon are gingers). I led the male part and Angela sang the female part, and I hope no videos of the performance ever appear on social media!






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AIT, Golden, Jeff's Birthday, Brewfest, and points in between 
Monday, October 10, 2016, 07:24 PM - Work, Weekend Fun, Week activities
Posted by Administrator
Here's a bunch of random things:

AIT Visit. I hosted a couple colleagues from the Austrian Institute of Technology in the lab to work on hardware-in-the-loop testing of a smart inverter. It was great to have Roland visit, as the two of us have shared some fun times in Japan, India, and France.




NREL meetings. I had a bunch of GMLC meetings in Golden, which sounds boring--and it was--but Spencer lives 5 minutes from NREL and he had a spare mountain bike! We rode over the mesa to dinner and had a couple local brews along the way. It was great to ride again with my ex-housemate while on work travel.

Flying. I went paragliding again - I took my 30th flight and finally got my P-2 rating!



Bike and Brew. Jeff had a bike pub ride for his birthday. He had a good time.



AMRC Brewfest. I survived 12 hours of volunteering at the AMRC Brewfest. Love that event because I see so many of my friends.



UNM talk. Thursday, I gave a talk at UNM on my solar research. "The Science & Society Distinguished The Public Talks are co-sponsored by the Albuquerque Section of the Institute of Electrical & Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and its Life Members Affinity Group, Sigma Xi (the Scientific Research Society), the UNM Department of Physics & Astronomy, and the UNM Division of Continuing Education."

AMRC mission. The next weekend I responded to a stuck climber at Diablo Canyon - but the rest of the team beat me there and got them free before I could be fielded.

Tennis. Jess and I played about 20 minutes of tennis before getting completely soaked in a monsoon deluge.


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