Vegas Baby!

It has once again been a long time since I have posted anything here. I really am going to have to do something about that.

Anywho, back in July we made a quick trip to Sin City for a family oriented weekend. I used “Sin City” and “family” together in that sentence (perhaps obviously) on purpose. You see, Las Vegas is a very different place depending upon who you are asking. When people find out you were actually born and raised in Las Vegas they typically tilt their head and pause. You can see the gears turning as they recall scenes from movies like “The Hangover” or a weekend they spent there years ago. I will admit, it is a little different. For instance, have you ever heard of PEPCON? One afternoon when I was about 6 I was playing in the backyard and looked up to see a huge mushroom cloud, then all the windows in the house broke. Basically a factory that produced rocket fuel was located within 5 miles of our house. There was a fire and they were storing about 4500 metric tons of product for the Shuttle program, some of it in HDPE (plastic!) barrels. The part of the story that really drives home “Las Vegas, Nevada” to me is that the following week at school we were all buying t-shirts that said “I survived the BLAST!” and had a big mushroom cloud on it. (Much to my dismay I was unable to find an image of one using the Google.)

Las Vegas is actually located in a beautiful valley with many interesting places to spend the day. I have to admit that I am a little partial to the desert and I am always blown away when people describe it with words like “wasteland.” On this trip I managed to make two quick (really quick) jaunts out to Mt. Wilson which is located near Red Rock. Red Rock proper was actually closed due to a large fire and I was figuring I would get some smoke filled photos but it ended up being super clear.

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Mt. Wilson – 36 photo panorama (click for larger size)

Monochrome Sunset

Monochrome Sunset

Desert Tree

Desert Tree

Sure, you can party your ass off while hanging out with strippers as you put your whole life savings on black. But to me Las Vegas is home. This trip was really busy but I hope I can share more photos of Vegas off “The Strip” as I make trips home.

Escape to Bear Valley

Erin and I decided to beat the heat and the July 4th crowds by making a run to her home town Bear Valley. El Jefe punished us on the local dirtbike ride, dragging us over every log and rock he could find. Upon returning from the great ride we were greeted by Nada with some tasty snacks which I immediately followed with a nap on the hammock… I know, rough right? After the nap we had just enough time to shower, eat more great food, then head to Mosquito Lake for a sunset and some photos.

Mosquito Lake

Mosquito Lake

We made sure the local inhabitants (mosquitoes) were well fed before heading back home.

Bear Valley is a pretty good spot for laying back and staring at the night sky. We happened to be there close to a new moon so I decided I would make my first attempt at photographing the Milky Way. Definitely room for improvement but I really look forward to making more photos like this.

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Lake Alpine under the stars.

We then headed up to Cape Horn to try to make some star trail photos, which didn’t turn out to my liking. Luckily star trails take a long time to make so we just sat back and drank hot cider under the stars for a couple hours before calling it a night. Great weekend!

Once again thanks for having a look!

Beat the Heat

Benny B invited me for a day out on the lake a few weeks ago and although spending yet another hot weekend¬† working on the front yard rehab sounded glorious, I grabbed my camera and tagged along. I don’t have too much to say so I will just attempt win you all over with cute kids!

Addie

Jax

Shred

Wake surfing… it’s kind of an old guy thing.

Oakley model?

Oakley model?

Stripes and Spray

Stripes and Spray

Contemplating string theory or just tuckered?

Contemplating string theory or just tuckered?

Heat Wave

Heat Wave

Thanks again to the Barnes and Bohlanders for letting me tag along!

Thanks for having a look and up next are some photos from Bear Valley and my first attempt at shooting the Milky Way.

BOOM!

Happy Fourth of July everyone!

From the rooftop of TMW

From the rooftop of TMW

I have REALLY been slacking on the blog. Updates to come soon… promise.

Meet the 125

I have been in a bit of a photography drought as of late. Other aspects of life have limited my opportunities to get out and shoot. Hopefully with a little better time management I can get that sorted out. One of the aspects that has been consuming copious amount of my time is preparing for the upcoming MRANN race session. I wish I could say I have been biking, running, and riding a lot…. but I haven’t. Bike prep has been my primary focus and fitness has been my, well, not.

We (Ziggy and I) decided to do something a little different this year. If you are smart (relative term when talking about racing motorcycles in the desert) you race a fuel injected, twin cam, 450cc four stroke pushing over 50hp with a torque curve so broad that shifting is almost optional.¬† These bikes will easily do over 70mph stock and when geared for the type of racing that makes up most MRANN races closer to 80mph. New, plan on spending about $8000 and then dropping another $1000 to set it up for the desert. If you are Ziggy and I (or a 14 year old getting their first big bike) you buy a used 125cc two stroke pushing a whopping 35hp and a usable rpm range from about 10,000-12000rpm. Oh and I hope you are ready for the blistering top speed of 60mph…

After a new piston, crank, linkage bearings, suspension rebuild/revalve, and of coarse graphics, here is what the mean machine looks like.

One Deuce Nickel

One Deuce Nickel

I haven’t raced since August of 2012 and I have to say I’m pretty excited for the first race of the year tomorrow! I’ll let you all know if the 125 idea was as dumb (and fun) as it sounds.

The Grand Canyon – Rim to Rim – Day 3

After a solid night of sleep I woke up wondering what the hike out was going to be like. I asked my Dad the same questions I had asked him multiple times each day, how far, how much elevation, how long? Unfortunately his answers hadn’t changed. When it comes down to it hiking is just walking and you could pretty much walk forever right? As we packed up it was nice and cool. That perfect temperature at which you only get cold if you sit still for any amount of time. We must have slept in a bit because I noticed that besides a few deer looking for table scraps we were darn near the last people in camp. We finished eating and decided we had better get going.

Once you leave the campground you walk about a half mile, cross the Colorado River, and then there is no place to go but up.

Small cabin just past the campground.

Another smokey morning.

It's all up from here.

It’s all up from here.

Your legs start to feel heavy as the first bead of sweat rolls down your face and you have no choice but to settle in and just enjoy the views.

The crew pausing to have a quick look.

The crew pausing to have a quick look.

Looking back down on the Colorado.

Looking back down on the Colorado. (Bonus points if you spotted the rock face from the photo above.)

….up and up and up….

Switchbacks with a view.

Switchbacks with a view.

Heather and Al.... up.... up.... up....

Heather and Al…. up…. up…. up…. (pardon my polarizer!)

My dad kept telling us about this nice flat section. Well, it wasn’t that flat and it was about 100 yards long but I enjoyed every second of it. We stopped and finished off the last of the bread, peanut butter, and honey then got moving again before anyone got too comfortable.

Gettin' closer.

Gettin’ closer.

We eventually made it to the top, did some high-fiving and hugging, cleaned up, and I proceeded to absolutely gorge myself on burgers and ice cream.

If this sort of thing tickles your fancy I would highly recommend getting a good group together and going for it. Just don’t leave your wedding ring in the showers when you finish on the South Rim!

Group photo.

Group Photo.

The Grand Canyon – Rim to Rim – Day 2

Day 2 of the Grand Canyon trip started out cool and smokey. The plan for day two meant a longer hike than day one but now the trail was nice and flat. We would hike along Bright Angel Creek until we reached the Colorado River. Day two was highly motivated by the tales of actual cold beer at the final destination of the days walk. My pack was already getting lighter as Al was now graciously carrying a bit of my gear; an ankle brace and a knee brace. Poor guy is getting kinda old!

Sun peeking through the smoke.

Sun peeking through the smoke.

One of the days side adventures was a trip to Ribbon Falls. The trail to Ribbon Falls splits off the main trail and takes you over a bridge. Once over the bridge you begin to head back up a canyon adjacent to the much larger one in which we had been spending our trip. The canyon is quite narrow but it eventually opens up right before it dead-ends at a water fall. The water runs over the edge of the cliff and falls about 25 ft before it splashes onto a rock formation that I assume has formed over the years much like a stalagmite. The water then runs down the formation an additional 45 ft until it forms a small pool at the bottom. I did a horrible job of capturing the falls with my camera so you just get to see some of the moss growing on the rock formation.

Others

Others

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Ribbon Falls.

Once back to the main trail we wandered along and soaked up the scenery. As this particular finger of the canyon converges to the Colorado River it becomes more and more narrow until nothing is left but the the creek and the trail. Eventually we found ourselves at the famous Phantom Ranch and I was ecstatic to find the rumors of homemade lemonade and cold beer were true!

Falling behind as the others cruise down the trail.

Falling behind as the others cruise down the trail.

A bit of grass growing along the Bright Angle Creek.

A bit of grass growing along the Bright Angle Creek.

Crossing back and forth over the creek.

Crossing back and forth over the creek.

Trailside details.

Trailside details.

Soaking our feet at the end of the day.

Soaking our feet at the end of the day.

After enjoying a few lemonades and beers we finally set up camp and proceeded to make some dinner. Next came the most challenging part of the day….. The bar at Phantom Ranch closes from 5-8 so they can prepare and serve a select few dinner. We sat around like children waiting for Santa to arrive. Managing to stave off sleep for a few hours until the bar re-opened, we enjoyed one final beer and hit the sack. We had a long day ahead of us with nowhere to go but up.

Stay tuned for the final day of the trip! Happy Holidays!!!