Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Star Trek - last 2 days

Day 5 had an early start, meaning I decided to bail on the Festival of the Moon party the night before, too bad because it sounded later like it was a lot of fun with Kenneth Mitchell painting people's faces.  But it was worth it because we were (more or less) wide awake to enjoy our shore excursion with Robert Picardo!

The Doctor picked a good one, Dunn's River Falls plus a dolphin encounter.  I might should have read up on it more beforehand, if only to realize just how wet we'd get, but the surprise was part of the fun.  Our guide briefed us well on the bus to the place (in addition to telling stories about Jamaica and teaching us a funny song I wish I could remember), so we didn't carry anything to the falls that we didn't want to get soaked.

Dunn's River had another excellent guide plus a videographer who captured the experience for us, and since it was a great location, plus Robert Picardo was along, Kip sprung for buying the CD.  Thanks Kip!

Some of the cute shots taken as we worked our way up the river - Live Long and Prosper:


It sounded and looked like a lot of water, but wasn't much volume, and the rocks weren't slippery in the slightest, so it was just a matter of good foot placement.  We got the hang of it and started trying more challenging routes:


Another woman in our group led the way to the right and we were like, sure, why not!



The Doctor was a good sport about getting doused; I asked him about his T-shirt and he said that being known for Star Trek for so many years was a blessing - and a responsibility (a nicer version of Mr. Monk's "a blessing, and a curse" line).  Super nice guy and fun to hang around with for a few hours.


Only slightly COLD!


Our group shot at the falls:

(photo credit Entertainment Cruise Productions)

Nana's group was waiting their turn, and someone started a bit of trash talking... here's photo evidence that Robert Picardo was at least partly involved:


However... he didn't have anything to do with starting the water splashing war (ahem, that might have been me??  Don't tell The Doctor).  Our videographer was taken by surprise as well, so I could only get a fittingly-blurry image of the encounter - I think the result was a wet draw  :)


Now for the ocean part of the day, the dolphin encounter!  We got a safety briefing and fitted with life jackets, while trying to pay attention at the same time to the dolphins distracting us with tricks (which I didn't get any pictures of).


Hello sweetheart!


I left the camera on dry land while we waded onto a walkway up to our waists and tried not to float away with the waves while our guide introduced us to our dolphin named Toni.  She was great!  We got to pet her, swap kisses, high-five, and watch her swim away wearing my sunglasses (she did bring them back).  Thank you Toni!

Mostly dry and back on the bus, thank you Jermaine for an excellent day on Jamaica!


A shot of the ship's atrium, Star Trek-style:


New onboard this year was Michael Westmore, a legendary makeup artist.  He gave a couple interesting talks.  I especially liked the gathering of Rene Auberjonois (Odo), Casey Biggs (Damar), and Michael Dorn (Worf) where they talked about their experiences in elaborate makeup and what they had to go through every day before/during/after filming.

(photo credit Entertainment Cruise Productions)

And now - the Main Event final table (Star Trek cruise version)!  Kip was in the atrium plenty early, so when the casino folks said they could sit at whatever seat they wanted, he was like, "I couldn't NOT sit here" and snagged the spot next to where Wil Wheaton would be seated.  We snagged the chairs just behind them.


John took the camera and got some fun photos during the early rounds of play.  Wil had a mic on, so everyone could hear his comments even though we didn't always know what the other players had said or asked.  It didn't matter, he was hilarious, as evidenced by this picture:


A view from higher up in the atrium - including the table that was the PRIZE for this event (what?!):


Kip did great, busting out 2 other players in one hand - including WIL WHEATON, so now he has that accomplishment in his poker cap.  So cool!  Also cool was that Wil hung out and watched the rest of the action, doing commentary on the hands.  Entertaining and informative (we couldn't see the cards for the most part), what a fun hour.

John concentrating on the action:

(photo credit Entertainment Cruise Productions)

It came down to Kip ("Mr Disco"), the guy in the cap (whose name was John, I believe), and Mr Spock.  Kip busted out in 3rd place, and soon after John won an all-in hand by Mr. Spock and it was over.  The blind structure was very aggressive and there was luck involved, but also some good play, and it was neat to watch.


Wil signed the table so it could be shipped to the winner (again - this is the prize!  Not just the opportunity to play at the same table as Wil Wheaton, which is special in its own right):


The casino employees were thrilled to get photos with Wil too:


That ... was ... awesome!

We did a quick tour of some of the door decorations, regretting that we didn't take time this year to see them all.  People put a lot of work into these.

One snippet:


Redshirt gnome - "Join Starfleet, they said.  It'd be fun, they said":


Brent Spiner put on another wonderful show, such a lovely voice (and I never tire of watching the piano player direct the band with his hair):

(photo credit Entertainment Cruise Productions)

Phil Plait, Thomas Dolby, and Erin Macdonald played "The Science of Lying" game show, which can be summarized with "a British accent is way more believable - and funnier - than an American one, even when the Brit is lying his butt off":

(photo credit Entertainment Cruise Productions)

One more big event at the end of a full day - Q's costume contest!  We went as observers this year, which worked out great because the atrium was a better venue for seeing everyone.

On the way to the atrium, just a random encounter like you'd normally expect on a cruise ship...


JT is an astronaut!  We happened to be standing in the right place to chat with him briefly beforehand - he said he hoped the microphone would work through the suit, and he wasn't sure how long he would last in there (the air may not have been recirculated like in a real suit):


JT kicking things off:


Then - this happened - I cannot even imagine the effort required - go JT!



Gunslinger Data and unicorn Q:

(photo credit Entertainment Cruise Productions)

Qapla'!

(photo credit Entertainment Cruise Productions)

That's just...creepy!

(photo credit Entertainment Cruise Productions)

The winner was this incredible costume contraption that I can't even begin to explain, somehow his head is in the cube and he's toting along the horned creature that looks like it's carrying his head, OK I tried to begin to explain it but you can see why I shouldn't have bothered.  He needed help getting up and down the stairs, thankfully they only made him do it one time.  Amazing, dude!


The last day, always sad and yet still thrilled to be there and just wanting to appreciate everything.  Time is flying!

We somehow managed to be in the same place at the same time, me and Kip wearing our DISCO shirts and John available to take a photo.  So yep, it's staged, but we're pretty proud of ourselves anyway.  Because - running plus Star Trek!


Wil Wheaton did an entertaining Q&A with Jordan Hoffman, and I'm going to interrupt myself to mention one of my favorite happenings of the week.  It must have been added late-minute, because I can't find it in the program, and we were probably told not to take pictures there.  So I forgot to include it in the proper spot within a previous post.  But it was awesome!  And worth some words.

Wil read a selection from his new book, "All We Ever Wanted Was Everything", and he confirmed his status as one of my favorite audiobook readers (Ready Player One!), in addition to demonstrating his potential as a good author.  Plus he interjected comments about his thought processes while writing the book, he was funny, he was entertaining, he got a standing ovation, and he pretty much made the whole cruise worthwhile in that one hour.

I loved his Q&A as well, as he spoke personally and honestly on several topics including mental illness.  He made me laugh, he made me cry, thank you for coming on this cruise, Wil!


(photo credit Entertainment Cruise Productions)

I spent much of the day jumping around trying to see a bit of everything (unfortunately missing the narration of Discovery episode "Despite Yourself" by Mary Chieffo, Jason Isaacs, and Jonathan Frakes; Kip really enjoyed it).

However, once I sat down for "The fans deserve 'Justice'" where Denise Crosby, Michael Dorn, and Wil Wheaton did commentary for one of the worst TNG episodes ever, there was no way I was going to leave in the middle of that!  The episode itself was so bad it was funny to start with, then adding comments from the three actors who called "Stop!" to discuss the action just made it all the better.

And then it turned out that two fans just happened to have the same costumes in their arsenal?!  They were invited to jog up on stage afterward for a large amount of appreciative cheering and applause:


I briefly checked out the Search for Spock cryptic clue hunt, finding a couple gnomes throughout the day but not having time to seriously tackle the endeavor:


Walking Soccer with Thomas Dolby as explainer and referee was fun to watch: Players speed-walking while kicking a ball around the court.

(photo credit Entertainment Cruise Productions)

Erin Macdonald did another science briefing, this one drawing more people than they had chairs for (it doesn't take long to become an Erin Fan when you start listening to her talks).

Siobhan, Kip, and I had to beg out early because we had a date with Casey Biggs and his Cocktail Concoctions demonstration.  He was entertaining as a teaching bartender (also worth checking out his Paso Vino Wineman videos).  The cocktails were a bit on the strong, less-fruity side compared to what we normally like, but it was fun to try new things:


He was also interesting to talk to and very happy to take photos with us - thank you Casey!


I caught a glimpse of Gorn's Gong Show, but didn't see what was obviously a highlight - a woman who sang "Don't Stop Believing" in Klingon!  (Thank you Klingon Pop Warrior for posting the performance on YouTube!)

(photo credit Entertainment Cruise Productions)

Oh yeah, there was also a meal in there somewhere, in which there were too many dessert options for each of us to pick just one:


And finally, the cocktail party for guests who had rebooked for 2020.  It was originally scheduled to be earlier in the day in 13 Forward, but it was moved to late evening in the Stardust - probably because SO MANY people had rebooked, and the theater almost didn't even have enough room!

Band 47 rocking the house:


One last surprise!  Jason Isaacs and Mary Chieffo came out to say thank you (no, thank YOU!) and then they performed "Dammit, Janet" from Rocky Horror, with assistance from the audience, of course - too funny!  More Rocky Horror, please!


Wow, wow, wow, that was an incredible week.  Reliving it with the blog has been so much fun.  Come join us next year - with Kate Mulgrew!!!

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Dumbarton Loop - faster known time

I've been thinking since I first set up and ran the Dumbarton Loop FKT course that I should be able to run it faster, under 7 hours anyway.  It's "winter" in the Bay Area, temperatures are excellent for running, with dodging rain and wind as the biggest issue.  Despite a rainy forecast and not knowing for sure how the dirt trails along the bay would be holding up, I was again in "what the heck" mode.

Funny thing was that this was the first time I was chasing an actual time for an FKT.  And it was my own time I was chasing.  One of these days I'll tackle something I have less confidence in accomplishing.  On the other hand, I ran reasonably well the first time around the Dumbarton FKT loop, so this wasn't a gimme.  Today I ran and kept on running, tried to keep from slowing too much, kept my stops short, and was really happy I didn't have to push at the end to make it.  My legs are really feeling the effort (and the pavement) afterward!

A lovely morning at the corner near Target on 1st Street (and it didn't take long to realize that I was wearing too many layers once I got started running):


Lots of recent rain means a full Guadalupe canal:


A rainbow!  I followed it for a couple hours, finally realizing I needed to take a picture of it.  I was committed to spending less time taking photos today, but this was camera worthy:


Double rainbow, with a reflection in the water, making me smile:


The dirt trails were in great shape, kudos to the builders and whatever material they used.  It was slightly slippery in one short section but for the most part really easy running (much better than other types of Bay Area mud, for sure).


Onto pavement for the duration, the path toward Shoreline Lake:


Possibly the best view I've had of the Dumbarton Bridge from here, with sunshine lighting it up, darker skies behind it, and clear air from all the rain:


And more good news!  The San Francisquito creek trail and Friendship Bridge are finally open, yay!  No more detour needed.  I filled my bottle at the Baylands Athletic Center bathroom, happy to save a little time vs. my Starbucks stop last time.  The new trail, with geese for company:


It's quite a nice bridge they have built:


I continued up the trail, through this S-turn:


A short way past, here's the exit onto Weeks Street - there was quite a bit of water in the parking lot today, but also a way to tiptoe around the giant puddle on the grass.  And the rainbow magic continues!


Starting up Dumbarton Bridge, the only significant (and it's only slightly significant) elevation gain of the route:


It started raining off and on while I was on the bridge, so I mostly kept the camera put away for the rest of the run.

My legs were not exactly pleased to continue running on sidewalks, at a faster pace than I normally ask, for this many miles.  Good training.  Also, I really wanted to break 7 hours so I could call it "good" with this loop.

The final break, at the convenient store at Cushing/Fremont (water from the bathroom, dark chocolate Kit Kat from the shelf):


Motor on, motor on, listen to a couple podcasts to pass the time, happy I'm not getting a full-on headwind while running south.  Check the watch, still good for time, keep running, almost there...

Yep, solidly broke 7 hours (6:36), glad that's over!


Yay for no major downpours, excellent weather, and for the variety of running options in the Bay Area!


FKT page for the loop:
https://fastestknowntime.com/route/south-bay-dumbarton-loop-ca