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Tim Foolery

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Monthly Archives: August 2018

Redwood State and National Park Hikes

Our trip continued north into Redwood National and State Park. This park was really the destination for this part of the trip. We had planned a couple of different hikes and were really looking forward to getting back to nature.

The Redwood Creek Lookout – Fogged in, but still beautiful

We had two full days to explore the area, with our home base being Eureka California. The first day, Independence Day, we chose to do our biggest hike of the trip. The Dolason Prairie Trail starts at 2,400 feet and descends down to 200 feet over 10.4 miles round trip. At the bottom there is another trail, the Tall Trees Trail, which adds another 4 miles to the excursion.

I don’t plan these trips, I’m just along for the ride and I failed to ask the right questions – I thought we were just hiking 16.75 km (10.4 +/- miles), not realizing that trail at the bottom even existed. We ended up hiking 24 km and were not properly provisioned. We were really rationing our water and were very parched as we made our way back up the steep incline at the end of the trail. It was tough and honestly pretty torturous. The views and the hike was beautiful, but I stopped having fun about 15 km (9.5 miles) in. I have never been so happy to see a crappy rental car before in my life.

The View

Dolason Prairie Trail – We hit it hard

The Dolason Barn – The beginning and end of Dolason Prairie Trail. A beautiful sight at the end of a long hike.

Pure nature for as far as the eye can see

A tree lined meadow on the Dolason Prairie Trail

A tree lined meadow on the Dolason Prairie Trail

The sound of this creek made for a perfect lunch stop.

The trail was quite soothing and bucolic

The majestic redwood trees

Dappled light through the canopies.

The forest was dense with ample switchbacks.

Obligatory vertical shot, up a tree.

The stream was free of all other hikers and was a great pit stop on this intense hike.

An upturned stump, massive and imposing.

We were exhausted. This was just our first day of the planned two days of hiking in this park. I now knew the questions to ask before setting off on a hike and Mike knew better the questions I should ask and he would be more proactive on offering up information.

The second day found us at the north end of the Park where we did a couple of easy, road side trails, then a longer trail (Ossagon Trail) that leads you from the Redwoods down to the beach. The trail was very steep too, but this time, I was OVER-provisioned. I had enough water and food to feed an invading army.

The Parks are not something I ever did growing up, so these are all new experiences for me. While it may not be the most strenuous of hikes out there, they are not all a walk in the garden, but the views are unbeatable. We know we won’t always be able to hike these trails, so we are pushing ourselves to do more and more of these while we are still (relatively) young.

How frequently do you visit National or State Parks? Is this a new thing for you or has it been an integral part of your life for years? What is your favorite hike in Redwood National and State Park?

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New Camera – The Good, the Bad and the Return

The new camera I purchased arrived and I took it on my recent trip to Singapore to try it out. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting. Let’s start with the good news:

The Good

The camera was small, lightweight and easy fit into the front pocket of my jeans. It went from completely off to ready to snap a quick pic very fast; I never ended up missing a shot that I wanted. It also was fast when it came to actually taking, saving and prepping for the next shot. I really liked the wifi capabilities; it allowed me to quickly save all photos from the day online – or onto my laptop or mobile device. That’s one of the things I use to hate about actual cameras: you’d have to either link up to your computer or plug the SD Card into your computer to transfer your images. Not in this case – loved this feature.

New Camera: Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II

Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II

The Bad

First off, as I said before, I’d been using my various Samsung Galaxy phones for my main photo taking projects for years now. It took me longer to get use to using a camera again. The screen on this machine was less than a third of the size of the screen on my phone. I wasn’t use to such a small screen and it took me longer to acclimate than I thought it would, but after a couple of days of use, it got better.

The thing I hated the most – the optical zoom. I knew going in that it only had 3X optical zoom and I thought that would be fine – hell, my phone doesn’t have an optical zoom at all! My previous cameras, both Nikon Coolpix, had 10X-18X optical zoom. 3X was just too little for me. I found that while I wasn’t needing huge zoom capabilities, I wasn’t getting the shots I wanted. It was killing me.

The Return

I ended up using my phone as my camera for a lot of my trip to Singapore. I did use my new camera quite a bit, but wasn’t sold that the pictures would be what I wanted, so I took additional photos with my phone – just to be sure I wasn’t disappointed. So, since I bought this camera on Amazon, I logged, and filed a return. Dropping the camera off at my office’s UPS drop, it was out of my hair and my refund was credited to my credit card (and my gift cards replenish) just two days later.

I still want a real camera, but I think I know what I want and don’t want a little better now. I’m going to still try for a point and shoot camera, but this time with a larger optical zoom – hopefully my next incarnation will keep all the great things I loved about the Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II.

How critical is an optical zoom for you? Any additional suggestions on cameras I should try out?

Inn at 2nd and C – Eureka, California

Working our way up the west coast, we needed a place to call home for a couple days of hiking in the Redwood State and National Park.  We chose Eureka because of it’s central location, abundance of restaurants and quite honestly, it was on the way.

There were no Starwood Properties in Eureka, so we opted to stay at a local hotel.  We quickly discovered that the Inn at 2nd and C would be a great fit for us.  The name, is also the address – located in the heart of downtown Eureka, just a few blocks from the channel and within easy walking distance to restaurants and shops.

The Property

We checked in late in the afternoon.  The parking lot had a couple spaces available and we unloaded our suitcases from the car.  A very bubbly woman working reception greeted us as we entered.  While very friendly, she was the model of efficiency.  I think she had other things she wanted to work on, which was great for us – you all know how I hate the hours long welcome discussion while checking in.  Just give me the three minute basics, my keys and point me towards the elevator.

We were on the third floor of this beautiful 19th Century Hotel. Built by Finnish immigrants in 1886, this property had been partially updated recently.  The furnishings were still period, but didn’t show obvious signs of wear.  It’s awful to go into a beautifully restored old property like this and find that the furniture hasn’t been updated since the doors opened – broken down chairs, threadbare sofas, smoke filled curtains – none of that was found here.

We booked a suite that went for $209/night.  While not the cheapest room in town, it was really worth it.  The rooms were large, clean and the rate included breakfast.

Standard Room at the Inn

Standard King Room

Standard Furnishing at the Inn

Furnishings Standard Room

Standard Double Room at the Inn

Standard Room Double Beds

Common area at the Inn

Common space sofa

Hall Decor at the Inn

Hall Decor

Breakfast Beverages at the Inn

Breakfast Beverage Station

The ballroom at the Inn

The ballroom

There is also a bar at this hotel – Phatsy Kline’s Parlor Lounge.  Of course, I popped down for a quick drink – or two – upon arrival.  Our first night in town there was an all female folk trio playing.  It was a little awkward, as they started at 18h30 and I was the only one there.  The sound of one man clapping doesn’t really bring down the house.  I really enjoyed the band – Belles of the Levee, check them out!

Local band in the lounge

Belles of the Levee performance

Cocktails in the Lounge

Cocktailng with shoes that match the chairs.

 

Do you love cats?  Well, then you’ll love the Inn and Phatsy Kline’s.  No there aren’t house cats that you can rent, but there is a definite cat theme, with lots of art, animals and even board games.

Yawning Cat in a Eureka Hotel

Quite the painting

Decor at the Lounge

Phatsy Kline’s Decor

Board Games

Board games in Phatsy Kline’s

When you are making your way through the north coast of California, do yourself a favor and spend the night at the Inn on Second and C, and stop off for a drink or three at Phatsy Kline’s.  They were just serving wine and beer during my visit, but had already crafted a bunch of gin cocktails and were waiting for their full liquor license.  There were at least four restaurants we wanted to try within walking distance. Since we were only in town two nights, we had plenty of restaurants to choose from.

Have you stayed here before?  Do these classic boutique hotels interest you at all, or would you prefer to stay at a national property?

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My Language Study Plan: September 2018

I really enjoy studying languages and I do think they come a bit easier to me than they do to others.  I’ve studied Spanish in High School for three years, German in College for two years and have been studying French as an adult for a few years now.  I’m not fluent in any of these languages, but when I find myself surrounded by these languages, it starts to click again.  I get re-energized on language study after spending a couple days surrounded by another language.

Part of my language study plan - reading a newspaper

Grabbing Le Monde at the airport is a solid part of my language study plan.

I’ve taken a few months off from my official French Language Study, and I’ve decided to start it up again.  I’m going to take a basic French Literature class in September.  We’ll be reading and discussing Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Le Petit Prince.  I’m going to make September my French Language month.

In addition to this class, I’ve got these additional items on my list to push my French brain:

  • Read the entire Le Monde, that I picked up while in Singapore
  • Watch 7 Jour Sur La Planete (a 30 minute world news show in French with French subtitles) each week
  • Use Duolingo four times a week

My goal for September, obviously isn’t to be fluent in the month, but just get back into the swing of things.

Do you set language goals for yourself?  What recommendations do you have for me to make it through September and beyond?

Singapore: By the Numbers

Regular readers know that I had a quick trip to Singapore – returning home last Monday.  This was indeed a whirlwind trip.  My better half was in Singapore for work and since I had never been and always wanted to go, I found a way to make it work.  I’ll have much more details notes coming soon, but here are the high level numbers and stats.

  • Airlines Flown: 3
  • Flights Taken: 5
  • United Miles Redeemed: 180,000
  • Miles Flown: 20,288
  • Hours in the Air: 44
  • Time in Singapore: 68 hours
  • Time in Vienna: 15 hours
  • Airport Lounges: 6
  • Hotels Nights: 4
  • Hotels Stayed: 3
  • Cities Explored: 2
  • Meals Eaten: 6
  • Restaurants Dined: 1 (everything else was Street Food / Hawker Stalls)
  • Cocktails / Wine / Champagne Consumed: Countless
My Route to the Singapore for the weekend

My route to Singapore

It was a quick trip, but with more hours on the ground than in the air, which is always a key metric for a trip like this.  That being said, spending 44 hours flying (excluding layovers) in some great business class products isn’t too bad of a way to spend a the dog days of summer.

Give me your honest opinion – would you go to Singapore for just 68 hours?  Does the fact that it cost nothing (other than points and time) change your opinion?  What’s the longest you’ve traveled for the shortest stay?