Friday, March 25, 2022

Sunset Ridge Shop Build

 Well, it's going to happen....

A couple of years ago we bought our dream retirement home in the foothills. Its a nice house on 6 acres and sits at the top of a hill. The house is oriented lengthwise North-South with a back deck facing East and the front porch facing due West. 

One of our favorite things is to have coffee on the back deck and watch the sunrise and later to have a glass of wine on the front porch to watch the sunset....Hence the name Sunset Ridge.

Over the past 2 years, we've been working on the unfinished basement, clearing the property of manzanita and other overgrown vegetation and a ton of other small projects to make it what we want it to be.

Last year, we began the planning for a barn/shop on the lower pad below the house. At the time, it was just that. Looking at websites, playing with design software, imagining the look, feel and usage of the space, budgeting estimated costs, etc....pretty much just dreaming.

Well, this week that all changed from a dream to reality when I put the deposit down on our 32x30 metal barn building. 

It's going to be a bit of a process still as we have to wait on engineered plans, then submit to the county for permits, send to concrete contractors for bids and wait for all of the pieces to fall in to place. And while this is all very exciting, waiting has never been one of my strong suits....

Fasten your seatbelts folks, we're in for a bumpy ride......

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Trying to get back in the groove....

 So, here we go....

Its been several years since I've sat down to write and one of my goals this year has been to try to get back in the groove on a regular basis. It's both fun and cathartic and actually allows me to have a conversation with myself without doing it out loud. (People tend to frown on that)

Between now and August we'll be preparing to finish the renovation of our house in the foothills, finish clearing our land, build a metal barn, quit our jobs, sell our current house and move up the hill full time. Oh yeah, and I'll be having shoulder replacement surgery and we'll both still be working full time until the move....

I figure my life isn't really that interesting to anyone but me, but some of these projects and changes should provide good content and writing has always been a way for me to work through some of the stress that is sure to come with the changes.

Where are we currently? 

Well, we're both blessed with good, stable jobs and income which we recognize is not something everyone has. We own a nice home in the SF bay area and a nice home on 6 wooded acres up in the foothills. We're both active and in good health and have families that we actually love hanging out with. We're not young 30-something kids that have the energy to go all day and into the evening, but also not so old that we can't put in a full days work. (with the help of Tylenol of course)

So, since I'm big on lists here's my current one.  (I mean after all, what better way to see how much you're not getting done on a daily basis than to write everything down and not be able to check it off)

  • Build metal barn - Technically, its spec, order, prepare for and pay for metal barn installation. Although I think I could bumble my way through a concrete pad and assemble a metal building kit if I was not working full time and had several weeks to figure it out. Right now, its a matter of bandwidth and I have none.
    • Decide on size, design, color, doors, windows and a million other little details - CHECK
    • Get bids from various vendors, read reviews, check licenses, make decision - CHECK
    • Pay deposit - CHECK
    • Wait on plans for permits and begin qualifying concrete contractors to bid on pad - PENDING
    • Begin permit process
    • Finish clearing/grading pad area
    • Award/schedule concrete pad install
    • Schedule installation
  • Start going through/clearing out current house in preparation of move - ONGOING
  • Continue working with financial planner to see if we can afford to do what we've already decided to do (yes, we've got this a little backwards, but I think we're ok)
  • Itemize list of renovations/work to be done for foothill house to be completed
    • New flooring
    • Painting of exterior
    • Finish clearing of bottom portion of property
  • Work through surgery scheduling
  • Hire replacement at work and onboard/train
I'm sure there are lots of other things I haven't or can't think of right now, but this is a good start....we'll see how it the meantime, a couple of pics of the future home


Monday, April 18, 2016

I love Spring!!

Wow, what a great day Saturday turned out to be. They were saying highs in the 80's but with the weather people being wrong more often than they're right, who knew....Turns out they were right for a change.

Chris' wife was on call and I was all caught up on my chores around the house so we both had a free pass for the day.  We had decided to get a nice ride in instead of heading down to the Otter event. It was a pretty rough week at work and I decided dealing with a crowd was not how I wanted to spend my day off.

We rolled in to the Hunting Hollow entrance right about 9:30 and there were already a bunch of cars as well as a group of 4 on matching Ibis bikes that were headed out just before us.....we'd run in to them again a couple more times throughout the day.

I had ridden Coe many, many years ago on my rigid SS and all I remember was that it hurt....a lot. Today though, in a rare moment of good sense, I left the SS at home and brought the Vassago 1x10 with the front suspension.

The day started pretty much how I remember the last ride here starting.....with lots of up...we rode across the first of several creek crossings and immediately began climbing the Jim Donnelly trail which was a nice smooth singletrack that led us to the Steer Ridge trail towards Wilson Peak.

We met and passed several groups of hikers and I can totally understand the attraction for hiking here. The weather was perfect, the views were amazing and the wildflowers were out in abundance.

Eventually, after a short steep hike a bike section, we arrived at Wilson Peak. Here we ran in to the group of Ibis riders taking a break. they were either ahead of us the entire time or had come up another was as we never saw other cyclists on the trail, only hikers.

After enjoying a granola bar and some water, we headed out with no real clue where we were headed or how long it would take us to get back.(I love these kinds of rides)

After a long, steep, swoopy downhill that had my brakes howling (might be time for new pads) we ended up in the bottom of a canyon which necessitated a few more cross creek adventures. With no real idea where we were and only a general idea of where we needed to be, it was a nice time to again run in to the Ibis clan who it turns out actually knew the park really well.    Turns out we were exactly where we were...

The middle portion of the ride was in and out of canyons with awesome singletrack, beautiful flowers, some ponds and creek crossings. It was awesome.

Eventually we saw a sign that pointed us towards the Coyote Creek entrance which was another long steep downhill and again had my brakes squealing like stuck pig. (not that I've ever heard a stuck pig)

As we rolled in to the lot, we were both wishing we had found another way back to the truck. As much as I like a fast, mostly downhill ride back to the truck (and beers) I didn't want the singletrack to end just yet. Unfortunately, we missed whatever options there might have been and neither of us really wanted to climb back up the trail we had just come down. Besides, there was a brewery in our near future.

I can imagine that in a couple of weeks, these trails will be brutally hot, dusty dry and brown. I don't know if the creeks run year round, but I doubt it. I'm very glad though that I got to experience this park, at this particular time of year......There's always next year for Sea Otter....

Thursday, February 25, 2016

yet another dumb idea....

Among my group of friends, I'm actually pretty well known for dumb ideas...I tend to come up with some really awesome dumb ideas. Some of my friends have even stopped riding with me because they're so in awe of my ability to come up with said dumb ideas.....

The most recent dumb idea is to sign up for the Tahoe Trail MTB race in's a 62 mile race that takes place in the Sierras around Lake Tahoe and I'm both excited and nervous about this.

Now, granted, I've never ridden my mountain bike more than about 30 miles, I've never been in an "endurance race" and riding up at elevation usually leaves me weak, winded and fighting off delirium from the lack of oxygen....other than that, I'm not exactly sure why my friends think this is a dumb idea.....what could possibly go wrong?

In all seriousness though, I am a bit concerned about this. I'm actually in pretty good shape at this point in the year and I don't see any reason my fitness level won't continue to improve between now and July. I actually am a bit freaked out about a 62 mile mountain bike ride. I've done lots of centuries and metrics on my road bike and on the road, 62 miles would be a decent training ride.

On a mt bike though, at elevation and at race pace, the idea starts to get a little worrisome. The longest race I've ever done is Sea Otter which I think is just over 20 miles with about 2500ft of elevation gain. The thought of 62 miles with almost 8000ft of climbing is daunting to say the least.

I was actually thinking that being in my mid-50s I might have a decent chance of finishing in the middle of the pack for my age group. Unfortunately, in looking at last year's results, in my age group, it looks like the top 5 finishers were all right at or under 5 hours. (Dave Wiens happens to be in my age group...ugh!)

Just to be clear, I don't have any delusions about finishing on (or anywhere near) the podium. I don't have the kind of time and resources to train for that level of competition. (and I'm old and fat)
I do though, hope to finish respectably and am determined to avoid any of the time cutoffs.
This, combined with the fact that I tend to be a tad bit obsessive has really got me freaked out about this event.

I've never been good at failure. As a matter of fact, I'm somewhat insecure and so afraid of failure, that I tend not to try things that may end up either in failure or with me looking like an idiot.

Now that I've admitted that, I can tell you that emotionally, this race is kind of a big deal for me. Not only have I registered to do it, I've told a lot of people that I've registered to do it. So many people in fact, that bailing is not an option and not finishing would force me to explain my failure over and over again.

So, the goal now is to start actually training for this race and try not to die while I'm at it....what could possibly go wrong...

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Take one grandkid, add a ropes course, some mountains and a lake...

My first grandson turned 9 this year....but I was in Hawaii riding my bike up a volcano when it happened.
So, in an effort to make amends for my missing this very special occasion (and my inability to manage my calendar) I told him we'd head to Tahoe for a "boy's weekend".

I picked him up from school on Friday and after gassing up the car and stocking up on skittles, sour patch kids and vitamin water, we got on the road.....with a hundred bazillion other people trying to get out of the bay area. Eventually (5 hours) we arrived in Tahoe City at my sister's house to begin our weekend.

Saturday morning dawned clear and warm and after breakfast (and coffee) Maureen, the little guy and I headed over to the ropes course at Granlibakken where they got him situated, harnessed, trained and ready to go....I wasn't sure how this was all going to play out. I've seen him sometime respond to new things fearfully and at other times with reckless abandon.

I'm never sure what triggers which it that some days he's confident and others he's not? Is it how I present the different events to him? Or do some things just scare him and others do not?
I'm not sure.  Last year for instance I took him skiing. In the morning, before his group lesson he and I went up the lift and started coming down. Immediately, there were words like "I can't, it's scary, what if...." Another time I took him on a bike ride with some pretty decent uphills and downhills and he went at it with no fear and a devil may care attitude....

Not sure which version of the kid I would get and knowing that Maureen had paid good money for him to do this, I went to great lengths to emphasize the fun and minimize the risk....but when I saw how high up the ropes were, and how fearful a couple of the other kids were, I planned for the worst. As I, in my head, began making backup plans and trying to come up with good arguments about how not scary this was, he clipped his harness to the first obstacle and was 20 feet off the ground before I knew what was going on. Ok, so that answers that question....

For the next 2 hours, he climbed, ran, walked, and zip-lined his way around the property trying new variations and ever more death defying ways to complete each one point the instructor told him to try to do the zip-line upside down and he spent the entire ride down the line trying to flip himself head over heals....gutsy, crazy, kid.

After the ropes course, we ate the lunch we had packed, drove down the road and parked to begin our next adventure. We would ride our bikes down the bike path to Squaw Valley and back. A 10 mile ride on the bike path is no big deal for anyone that rides, but for a 9 year old on a 20" bmx bike, it's a pretty big accomplishment. Of course, as you'd expect, there was a stop at the River Ranch bar for a root beer and some play time in the river to break things up.....we are on vacation after all.
Maureen had left us at the ropes course to go play in a tennis tournament she had previously committed to so we got back to the house before she did and relaxed for a bit watching football with my brother in law. It wasn't long before she got home though and she wanted to take Caleb to the tennis courts for a lesson. Wait, you want me to lay on the couch and watch football while you continue to wear out my grandson....OK!

After the lesson, we had a nice dinner and with Caleb being completely thrashed and worn out, we called it a day...more adventures were in store for Sunday.
Sunday we woke to another perfect summer day in Tahoe (unfortunately it's October and we need rain) it was sunny with blue skies and warm temperatures. Today, my friend Min was running the Lake Tahoe marathon which was to be her last marathon in celebration of her 50th birthday. (I've never seen the need to run my first marathon so needing to close the loop and run my last has never happened)

Her husband Chris dropped her off at the start then came and met up with Caleb and I. The plan was to drive to south shore where the finish line was, unload our bikes and ride backwards till we met up with her.

Chris though, had a surprise for Caleb. He had brought his kayak so we stopped at Sand Harbor and he got to go kayaking, play in the water and catch crawdads before we continued on to south shore.

After finding the finish line we unloaded our bikes and began to ride the route backwards. We had gone back to mile 22 before we saw her....the really crazy part is that she was still smiling. We decided to ride back towards the finish and intercept her along the way but somehow we got behind her when we thought we were in front of her so when we finally hooked up again, she had already finished.
After lunch at a local brewery, where Caleb had a rootbeer, we got on the road and headed down the hill and back to reality. Pretty sure he lasted at least 10 minutes before he crashed out and slept most of the way home.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Not Riding In Tahoe....

I was in Tahoe this past weekend with my friend Diane and I purposely did not bring my bike.....I know...weird....right?
I was actually up there to hike...yes, I said it. I went to the mountains with the purpose of hiking and not biking.....(there would still be beer involved if that's any consolation)

The hike we were planning was from Fallen Leaf Lake to the top of Mt Tallac and to be completely honest, I was a little worried about it. I'm not much of a hiker and although I have been riding regularly for the past few months and I walk a ton at work, the act of hiking 6 miles up a mountain had me a bit freaked out. I really don't like doing stuff I'm not good at which causes me anxiety and stress.....Dumb right? Something that should be fun being stressful....just the way I'm wired....

We started fairly early and as we got ready in the parking lot to begin, I took some solace in the fact that I at least looked the part of a hiker. (there were other "hikers" there so I had a pretty good frame of reference)
I had on boots that were made for hiking, good wool socks, actual hiking poles and a camelbak stuffed with food and water. As I always say on the bike, if you're not fast, you should at least look the part and it appears that the mantra translates to hiking as well.

As we left the parking area, the trail meanders along for a ways allowing my legs (and lungs) to warm up. It wasn't long though, before the trail went up and it pretty much continued going up for the next 6 miles. And, as you can probably imagine, when you go up for 6 miles, you gain this case almost 3500ft of elevation.

The trail was in good condition and well marked and provided amazing views along the way. If I hadn't been suffering from oxygen deprivation, I might even have enjoyed those views....
In all seriousness though, it really is a beautiful hike.

As we were nearing what I had been promised was our rest stop, Gilmore Lake, we met a guy that exclaimed his joy at seeing us....turns out he was lost. Well, technically, he wasn't lost, he just didn't know how to get from where he was to where he was supposed to be meeting his brother. (Velma Lakes)
After a few minutes comparing his map with ours, and figuring out where he needed to go, he headed out and we made the last few steps to Lake Gilmore which is an amazingly beautiful lake.
(In this pic you can see how crystal clear the water is and that the moon is still out)

We rested, ate rice krispy treats and finished off the small thermos of coffee we had brought with us. I was enjoying the break and the scenery and was actually starting to think that maybe this hike wasn't so bad after all. We had done 4 miles, I was still vertical and surprisingly I felt good.....right up to the point where Diane said, now we start going up"....wait...what???? we've been going up for 4 miles already, what is she talking about????

Well, I found out soon enough. The last 2 miles from Lake Gilmore to the summit feels like its straight up.  It's funny that one of the websites I found describes it as an easy and steady 1300 ft climb.

I stopped a few times on the last section, just to take pictures of course, not because I was dying, and the views behind us were incredible.

When you reach the top, the last several hundred yards are a scramble around and over large loose boulders. Surprisingly, there were quite a few people up and there and we arrived to the final strains of someone singing happy birthday to one of their group.....turns out he was celebrating his 70th birthday with the hike.....yes, I felt lame and weak and like a baby for all the complaining that was going on in my head.

The views from the summit are amazing. To the northwest you see the entirety of the Tahoe valley, and back to the west you see the Desolation Wilderness, several other peaks and the myriad of sparkling blue lakes that dot the wilderness area.

We found a spot out of the wind, which was blowing cold and strong at the top, and ate the sandwiches and snacks that Diane had brought along for us. As good as a nap would have been, there wasn't a flat spot to be found and the wind was cold enough to motivate us to begin our descent.

You would assume that hiking down a mountain would be easier and faster than hiking up, but that wasn't the case. The steps, loose rock and my old knees kept our pace down and required constant attention to avoid falling. The hiking poles were a huge benefit and saved me from embarrassment and possible injury on more than one occasion.

The wind kept up and the weather had cooled to the point that we had our jackets on most of the way down and with the Aspen in full color, you could tell that Autumn had arrived in the Sierras.

As we finally got to the bottom and back to our car, we had yet another Autumn celebration to look forward to....we were headed to the Oktoberfest celebration being held over at Camp Richardson....brats and beer after a long hike....what could be better?

Monday, September 28, 2015

Lost most of the day....and loving it.

The last Saturday in's officially Autumn and the weather should be cooler but this past week has been warm....Right now, early on Saturday, it's nice and cool, but I can tell it's going to be warm later. The "experts" call this Indian Summer ...perfect weather for a ride is what I call it.

We started at the dam at Lexington Reservoir and headed out. Diane, yes, I have my very own tour guide, knows the route and although I've ridden some of the roads before, I have only a general idea of where we're headed and how we'll get there.....which is perfect, I have no place to be and all day to get there.

We start out riding around the reservoir and up Old Santa Cruz Hwy which is a great, low traffic road up through the's a perfect way for my legs to wake up and the morning coffee to kick in and do it's magic.

The next segment is down Summit Rd to Soquel San Jose Rd which is a little slice of bicycle nirvana. It's approximately 10 miles of smooth, fast downhill which at this time of the day has very little traffic. I'm sure as the day goes on, the traffic will increase, but for now it's bicycle heaven that is only interrupted by our decision to stop and regroup at Casalegno's Market. This is a cool old country market that is always good for fresh coffee and a cookie. Today though, we decided to pass on the treats and continue the downhill goodness in to Soquel.

From Soquel, we headed south through Aptos before heading back inland through Day Valley and in to Corralitos where we stopped for lunch. Day Valley is a nice, lightly traveled road. (although it's actually a climb and not a valley) It was at this point that I became officially lost and thankful for someone who actually knew where we were supposed to be headed.

Corralitos is a little 4 way intersection that is anchored on one side by the Corralitos Market and Sausage Company and on the other by a great little park with a covered picnic area. Evidently, the market is known for their fresh made smoked sausage which are served on Gayles Bakery hot dog rolls. I had the venison sausage and a side of fresh berry pie from the nearby Gizdich Ranch (if you've never been, this too should be on your must-visit list) Both the sausage and the pie pretty much rocked my world.

Once we had devoured our lunch, we remounted the bikes and began to make our way up Eureka Canyon for what was to be about a 12 mile climb. This eventually turns into Highland Rd and brings you back up to Summit Rd where we once again stopped, this time for drinks, at the Summit Grocery Store another cool little market.
From here it's a short grind up Summit Rd, which was much busier than it had been earlier that morning, and back to Old Santa Cruz Hwy. which provides a nice long, shaded, downhill back to the reservoir.

The last section back to the truck was probably the least fun. It's a rolling up and down (mostly up) with some short steep sections in the full sun. As we were coming up on 60 miles for the day, these really did a number on my legs...there may even have been some whining involved.  Eventually though, we made it back to the truck, piled in and headed out in search of cold, adult beverages...

Total for the day, 60 miles, 5900ft of climbing - mapmyride route