Thursday, October 30, 2008

Haunted Navigation

Sheila and I rode down to Pease Park last night for some LUNA Chix Haunted Navigation, put on courtesy of Stephanie Childs. We rode around town with Debbie and a couple other women, looking for spooky and historical checkpoints - fun! We learned more about Austin and I even scored some new socks as a bonus prize :)

Monday, October 27, 2008

PitP - race report

Dave Bogle wrote a race report about Team Vignette's experience at last weekend's race (Pain in the Pines):

(with more photos!)

Pain in the Pines

John and I volunteered at the Pain in the Pines race last weekend. Kip was the course designer, so he put us to work doing some fun things - vetting CP's in the woods, setting a few CP's for an early morning run around the lake, and handling some special tests.

I biked up to CP5 with a pack of balloons and a camera. Teams were required to blow up one balloon and then transport it back to TA without putting the balloon in a backpack:

John was in charge of a basketball special test (as teams were in their boats, they had to throw a basketball into a net on the pier). I believe the Steel Sports race website will post some photos of that at some point.

After that was done, John ran the "scooter and mystery eating event" leg. Teams rode scooters around the EZ loop bike trails - and the scooters had been kept secret until after the race had started.

One person per team picked a mystery item to eat - which turned out to be M&M's, candy corn, and strawberry malt balls.

I hung around the TA and took random shots of racers coming in and out:

Katrina running the check-in/out table:

Team Vignette finished in first place overall, despite Julie's mountain bike crash where she somehow jammed a stick up her nose! Wow!

More shots from the TA:

John after collecting CP flags and ribbons from leg 3:

Rodney and Katrina:

What a fun weekend! Big thank you to Kip for an awesome race!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Back in time, back in France...

Going back in time about one month, John and I were in Europe. We had just finished the GTA (yay! Race report to follow, someday...) and we had rented a car in Geneva for 10 days. We decided to drive around and do some sightseeing, revisit one special place in the Alps, and see a couple cities we had not visited before.

So here are several “catch-up” blog entries with photos from our trip. You may have to click "Older Posts" at the bottom of this page in order to see them all. I’m going to load these in “backwards” order as an experiment so hopefully everyone can read them chronologically.

Starting with... the Refuge de Rosuel. This was our accommodation at the end of Day 5 of the GTA (2006 and 2008). We enjoyed it there very much and wanted to go back again to soak in the beauty of the surroundings without the pressure of the race. It turns out that part of what makes it special is having a group of 35 fellow runners and friends there with you. So the refuge itself seemed dark and quiet. But the valley around it was still spectacular.

We were so very lucky to be sitting in the right place at the right time to see a rainbow IN A WATERFALL from the refuge parking lot. Not sure if this photo will show it very clearly, but here goes:

And a photo of the magic that is Rosuel and the area of the Parc de la Vanoise:

The refuge itself:

A neighborhood sign we happened to catch sight of:

Via ferrata, baby!

We rented via ferrata gear in Bourg St Maurice, read a via ferrata guidebook in the local tourist office, and headed up to Val d’Isere to explore some rock faces. I started with the easier end of one long route.

I had fun snapping a couple shots of John following me up the rock. I use the rungs, and occasionally the cables, while John tries to climb using only the rocks:

The Val d’Isere ski area in the background:

We thought this one might be captioned “John peeing from a plank” but it turns out it actually came out as “John contemplating the world’s shortest bungee jump”:

When we found the harder portion of the route, I grabbed the nearest bailout, while John continued on. He reported that it was “AWESOME!” and that I really would not have enjoyed it:

That’s my mountain goat!

Fly like (or with) an eagle

We backtracked to Grenoble specifically to spend a day watching the parapentes flying in the annual Coupe Icare festival. It wasn’t even the busy weekend yet, but there were parapentes everywhere.

Then there was the most amazing thing we saw, I’d say during the whole trip. I spotted a large bird and it looked like it was attacking one of the parapentes way up in the air! Then we watched closer and realized the bird was flying alongside it. And in fact it would land on its trainers arm in midflight. The trainer was flying tandem (well, in addition to the bird on his arm) so one guy could steer the parapente and the trainer could focus on the bird. How cool!

They landed and then walked over to the area where we were hanging out. It turns out the bird was a young Bald Eagle from North America - wow! We may never see anything like that again.

La Saline Royale

We drove north toward Dijon, stopping in at la Saline Royale (the Royal Saltworks). I had searched the UNESCO website looking for World Heritage Sites, and this was the closest one.

We found a well-preserved set of buildings where they used to process water from nearby sources to get salt. It turns out that there are much better ways to get salt around the world (salt mines, e.g.) so this factory didn’t last too long. But the idea behind la Saline Royale was to create a little city around the factory and provide everything the workers needed. Saving gas the old fashioned way, I guess. It was funded by Louis XVI so it had to look nice as well.

We enjoyed roaming the gardens, with their whimsical themes:

An early bowling alley:

And the buildings (designed by Claude-Nicolas Ledoux) were nice too: