Snow Lake Trail

Snow Lake Trail

Last weekend, Justin, Dixie and I hiked the Snow Lake Trail in hopes of making it to Gem Lake. We didn’t make it to Gem Lake, for reasons below, but this hike was still awesome!

Growing up on the central coast of California, I don’t know what seasons are. The idea of hiking in the snow on a warm day (forecasted at 75 degrees) sounded like a really odd, but fascinating thing to me. Not to mention the promise of a gorgeous lake to picnic at. This was my top choice from the ideas that J made.

Snow Lake covered in snow
Snow Lake covered in snow

The beginning was the steepest, but it quickly leveled of and led into a very gradual incline the rest of the way. I’m not a huge fan of hills, but they’re usually pretty inevitable here and end up being totally worth it. The gradual incline was quite welcome and posed no discomfort for me! Even after the switchbacks started (just under 2mi in) the incline wasn’t bad at all.

The terrain itself was the challenging part..

There were snow chunks scattered throughout the whole trail, and some were much larger than others. It was definitely slippery, especially coming down hill. You kind of had to anticipate sliding down, which I thought was pretty fun! I only ended up with one butt slide, but a couple where I was able to anchor myself on the slope next to me to prevent a full crash n burn. I don’t think I did too bad, though I feel like I’ve got pretty good balance.

Justin and Dixie, snow on the trail
Justin and Dixie

There were a handful of places where the snow runoff crossed the trail and we had to stepping stone through them to avoid total foot submersion. Nothing crazy though. Still, totally glad for my waterproof hiking shoes! One of them, however, was pretty big and if you missed, you’d probably end up knee-deep in the cold water. I liked the water parts a lot, too. Something new to do, and the water was so clear and pretty, I just wanted to play in it! I world probably take that back if I tried to though.. It was probably freezing!

There were A LOT of rocks. The trail was really rocky. According to my step tracker, I must’ve taken many tiny steps because I ended up with way more steps per mile than I normally do… By a lot! I’m sure challenged my ankle integrity, and, unfortunately, had to keep my eyes on the ground in front of me.

Alpental trees and snow
The Alpental side

When I did look up, the view of the mountains opposite the one we were traversing was stunning! They were covered in snow and trees like something out of a ski or travel brochure! At one point, on the side of the one we were hiking, you could see four or five areas with water trickling down the huge rock cliff face.

Me holding a small snowman
Little snowman!!

There were also a few slope areas where you could trudge up and play in the snow a bit. I definitely got a kick out of those and even made a mini snowman.

At the summit, before the trail normally leads down to Snow Lake, there were slightly flatter areas you could play in the snow. It was still hilly so you couldn’t do too much, but Dixie and I tried to run around anyway. She did better than I did, but we both loved it.

From this point, the rest of the trail down was covered in snow, making it difficult to find the trail at all, let alone head down to the lake itself. It was super pretty anyway, even though it was frozen and covered in snow. I would have loved to make the trek, but safety first! Maybe if we had hiking poles. I’ve never used them, but I think I understand their purpose after this trail!

Melissa and Justin
Slightly blurry us!

This was definitely a moderate hike, and the things that made it challenging also made it fun for me! I’d like to make it to the lake sometime as well as continue on to Gem Lake. It was one of the most varied trails I’ve hiked and really beautiful everywhere. If only my DSLR wasn’t so bulky, I’d have loved to have it with me!

A California Girl On A Short Drive In The Midwest

The first leg of this trip began with a 12:50a redeye flight from SeaTac to Chicago O’Hare.

The airport at 10:30pm was the emptiest I’ve seen an airport. The security line was short, the terminals were peacefully quiet and empty and even Starbucks was closed.

I think the weirdest thing was brushing my teeth in the airport bathroom and having strangers coming in and out. It’s one of those things I’ve never really thought of. I have zero problem doing so around people I know, but strangers seeing me brush my teeth? Weird. Not uncomfortable, really, just weird.

Everything seems slower at night when it’s quiet. Boarding felt slower, the waiting to taxi and take off felt much longer, but it really wasn’t.

Us on the plane
Plane faces

I had taken a 2hr nap after work and before making final preparations, and the sleepy was starting to kick back in. Perfect!
I was a tad worried when a little one was very clearly upset on the plane, but she had calmed down before takeoff. I don’t have children (yet..?) but I’m pretty sympathetic.. I felt bad for the parents who were probably getting all kinds of angry looks from travelers hoping to get some sleep on a 1am flight in which passengers lose two hours.
Foregoing the neck pillow purchasing, getting into a comfortable position that wasn’t going to destroy me was quite difficult. Luckily, this plane’s seats had those head wing thingies that you can position outward to lean on. They were very helpful, and I didn’t need any additional cushion. It was still uncomfortable, and sleep was difficult, but I got a bit. So yay :)
Landing at almost 7am on a weekday at O’Hare did not lend well to my hopes of seeing the actual city of Chicago. Our destination today is in Indiana so heading towards Chicago was not the best of ideas. That’s okay though; I was so sleepy anyway!
We grabbed something quick to eat and began the drive. A car nap stop was necessary, because safety. After seeing signs for a candy factory, a candy shop stop was also necessary.

Albanese Candy Factory sign
Albanese Candy Factory

Definitely necessary. From Albanese Confectionery, I picked up only a tiny bag of dark chocolate almonds, pretzel balls and amaretto pecans. And a bag of gummi bears. That tiny bag really should have been a medium. It’s taken so much willpower to not devour it’s delicious contents over the course of like five miles. A stop there on the way back out miiiiight just be a trip requirement.

So Indiana is flat. At least the part that I’ve just ridden through. It’s very green, which I love! I have this thing, however, likely due to growing up with the Santa Cruz Mountains or other tree-covered hills as a constant background nearly everywhere I looked.

I never noticed it until I traveled across the country. If I can’t see big level changes, the landscape automatically feels boring to me. No matter how gorgeous the immediate area is. It’s a silly thing, and I have to tell myself that it doesn’t make a place any less beautiful. Maybe it’s too much sky and not enough everything else? I dunno; It’s just a quirk of mine, I suppose.
Overall landscape aside, I’m awed by how much open space and land there is between each of the cute little houses!! It’s so cozy, adorable and refreshing to see after living in and around larger cities. AND I WANT ONE! OR ALL OF THEM!
I’ve always wanted a house that’s cute and mine. It doesn’t need to be huge at all. I figure I’ll be able to fill it with everything that makes it into a true home, regardless of size :) A girl can dream… And hopefully not be disappointed later in life, hah.

We’ve almost reached our first real destination now :)

A Really Quick Weekend in San Diego

Last weekend, I visited San Diego with the JBuddy (@rabbd). I guess I’ve been once, but that was for a few hours for dinner and walking at Belmont Park back in 2008. After this experience, those few hours pretty much don’t count anymore ;)

Airport Park ThingAfter landing, we found a little park thing right across the street from the airport that we were able to walk around and catch our first glimpse at a pretty sweet harbor view while we waited for the bus. Now, I haven’t been to *too* many airports to know whether or not this is a normal thing, but having a place like this to just walk across the street to was quite a treat for me.

For that Friday night, we chose to stay in a hostel just a bus ride away so we could jump right into San Diego things on Saturday, then high tail it to Carlsbad to spend time with my auntie and uncle. It was great to see them and spend some time with em! They made perfectly lovely hosts (Rusty, too!) Thank you!!!

Transportation was super easy and reasonably priced via bus, trolley and train! We walked a lot, too, but I have zero issue with that..yay!

Point Loma Hostel

The only other hostels I’ve been to were different places throughout Europe. Maybe it was the summer heat and mosquitoes in Italy that has me biased, but the one in Point Loma was awesomely clean, super adorable, staff and volunteers were involved and it had a full kitchen for guest use. And DIY pancakes for breakfast. You guessed it! Mine had an excess amount of chocolate chips :D

I love hostels because of the total diversity of the other guests. Anyone you talk to is most likely from some distant place, doing some crazy thing and have awesome stories. Conversations over spaghetti dinner, once again, had me itching to run off and visit every possible place I can. The prospect of travel always feels so out of reach, but when I think about it, I realize I have been to quite a few places. Many of them earlier this year. Perhaps now I’ve realized that my visits aren’t at the depth that I’d like them to be.

Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens at Liberty Station

On Friday night, we walked down to Stone. It was located in one of the restored barracks buildings at Liberty Station.

It was a lot larger than I expected, and there were so many hidden areas and wings that you don’t see at first. I love that :)

But Liberty Station was just awesome to walk around! They were beautifully renovated, but it still had the unified feel to it. There were large grassy areas, too. It was nearly 11pm and the sprinklers were on. Warm, San Diego weather…sprinklers. You bet we ran through a bunch of them!

There was also a building for the Commander! That night, I was Commander Mew Shepard so it was only appropriate that I take a photo.

Commander

It was a pretty neat place to see and I wish I had more time (and light) to wander more

Petco Park

I like baseball. I also really like that baseball stadiums have those little unique things about them. I’d always seen the Western Metal Supply Co. building seating area when the Giants played down in San Diego.
Petco Park
Without knowing anything else about the park, we wandered over to see if there was a tour or something that would allow us to see the inside of the park. Turns out, that wasn’t even necessary! There’s a little area that’s open each day called Park at the Park where, on non-game days, you can just wander on up to the back fence of the park, no ticket required! There are some seats and even sand over there! It had a perfect view of the Western Metal Supply Co. portion. And look, there’s meee!

Of course we also visited Tony Gywnn Plaza and took some fun photos with the statue.

Tony Gwynn statue

Coronado / Star Park / beach!!

Coronado appeared very well-kept and upscale. Easily million-dollar homes. BUT THEY WERE SO PRETTY!!! The shops around were the same. It felt quaint, except new at the same time.

Star ParkStar Park was actually a stumble as we were walking from a bus stop to the beach by the Hotel del Coronado. The park itself was surrounded by a circular street, Star Park Circle, and it had a few streets branching off. Yep, like a star. See it on Google Maps.

At its center was a star with a flagpole and plaques for each branch of the U.S. Military. That was really great to see :)

Only later, I had found that L. Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz had lived on Star Park Circle!

Distracted by heat and the prospect of jumping in the ocean, we kinda skipped The Del and headed straight for the water! It’d been a good while since I splashed around in the ocean, and it was just as fun as I remember. It wasn’t as warm as I was expecting, but it was definitely do-able (obviously). We could have been more post-water prepared, but it was warm enough that being a little wet didn’t really matter in any way other than my skirt having a giant wet spot on the butt for a few hours ;)

Birch Aquarium at Scripps (UCSD)

Now, the only other aquariums I’ve been to are the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey and the Steinhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.

In comparison, Birch Aquarium was pretty small, but it had all kinds of fun things like a giant octopus and lots of seahorses. There were leopard sharks! I love leopard sharks. (And San Jose Sharks) Though it wasn’t a leopard shark, I was rescued from a shark that day, as depicted here. My hero *Insert emoji smiley with heart eyes* (haha)SharkRescue

The cafe located right outside was surprisingly really good and the view out the back of the aquarium was just stunning! This photo doesn’t do it as much justice as I’d like it to.

Check out that view!

Since it was the first full weekend of the month, admission was free by showing our Bank of America cards. It was still worth way more than free! More info on the BofA Museums on Us program. Unfortunately, the Museum of Photographic Arts was closed for renovation during our visit. That was my top choice of the three, but you can’t beat free, even if it’s your second choice!

Carlsbad Village

I just have to say that Carlsbad Village area is extremely adorable and a great place to wander around!! Coyote Bar & Grill pretty much had live music at the three times we wandered past it.

The village area is a ~10 minute walk to the beach, too. We watched the sunset here and it was soooo gorgeous! We only played in the water a little before dinner time. By this time, the trip was in its wind-down mode and I can’t think of a more relaxing place to spend that outside time.

Carlsbad

What I Did Before PAX (Omega Story Part 2 of 4)

In Omega Story Part 1, I described my experience finding out I had been randomly selected for the PAX Prime 2014 Omegathon.

These are the things I did before heading out to Seattle:

As the weeks passed, I grew more and more anxious for the game list for this year’s competition. There was nothing I could practice to help hone skills for like every game ever because the games for each round were not announced.

It was the best advice from everyone on the forums and in the Facebook group to NOT stress about the games or practicing or anticipating. Knowing a thing or two about stress and how awful it is for a person, I took this advice to heart.

So what if I didn’t win? Being chosen is already a win. The absolute last thing that I wanted to do was ruin PAX for myself, despite its overall awesomenss. Stress could easily do this and I was determined to prevent it.

Again, there was literally NOTHING I could do to prepare until I had the game list. So I just kept doing what I was doing. Regular life, regular PAXcitement building, with the addition of Omegacitement!

-Insert more weeks here-

The Release of the Game List

It was about 2.5 weeks before PAX and the games were announced…

  • Round 1: Get Bit. A card/tabletop game where your strategy depends on what you think the other players are doing.
  • Round 2: Towerfall. A fast-paced 4-player close-quarters side-scroller where you shoot each other with arrows and jump on their heads.
  • Round 3: Super Avalanche 2. Blocks fall from the sky and stack upon one another. Jump on top of them, don’t get smooched, watch out because the lava is rising from below.
  • Round 4: JS Joust. Keep your motion controller as still as possible while physically engaging your opponents to make them wiggle theirs.
  • Round 5: Mario Kart: Double-Dash. Super Mario themed kart racing. Set traps for opponents, get boosts for yourself, don’t fall off the map.
  • Final Round: A mystery until the final two Omeganauts are on the stage! :O

Honestly? I had only heard of JS Joust and Mario Kart, but only played Mario Kart. I did some preliminary research on all of the games and I was most worried about Towerfall and Super Avalanche 2. Yes. Worried. Something I did NOT want to do.

This is what I decided on: It’s impossible to master any of these games, let alone five of them, within two weeks. The attainable was basic familiarity with the gameplay, and a feel for what is expected in each game.

I shifted my focus to Get Bit. This is the only game I was guaranteed to play. Jusin (@rabbd) bought it for me as an early berfday gift (taaank you!!) so we could train a bit! It’s a cute game with a silly concept. Simple rules, but the strategy was dependent on your opponents, even the number of opponents could change it all.

I purchased Towerfall on Steam, but to my dismay, found that it was not an online game so I could only practice with single players and stationary dummy enemies. Even still, Youtube videos and this single player was enough to achieve the level of proficiency I set for myself.

For Super Avalanche 2, I used the browser-based Super Avalanche demo available at the developer’s website. The controls were difficult on a keyboard. Over time, I’ve become more of a console gamer rather than PC (don’t even start. I know.) I had heard rumor that, generally, controllers were used, so I hoped for this.

JS Joust was something I did not have the means to practice. It was a Playstation Move game. I’m not even sure I know anyone with a PS and Move controllers. My PAX friends from Prime 2013 John (@pandaradox) and Noah (@Pojo_King) had talked about the game last year, so I asked them for advice. Practice with a full glass of water! What I didn’t have was a feel for the sensitivity, and this what made me nervous.

Mario Kart? The only one I already knew how to play. I didn’t even begin to think about practicing it. And I didn’t play it at all. Oooops.

And just like that, it was time to fly up to Seattle with Justin and get our PAX on.

How I Became a PAX Prime 2014 Omeganaut (Omega Story Part 1 of 4)

This year, I was one of the 19 chosen in the random draw to be an Omeganaut at PAX Prime 2014. This is my story. In four parts!

I had only purchased PAX badges twice before, but I recognized that the Omegathon opt-in was different this year in that it simply didn’t exist in the badge-buying checkout. Instead, a Google form went out later to opt into random draw.

Of course I was interested! I filled out the form accordingly.

-Insert some number of weeks here-

*Wake up from nap*
*Play on phone while still in bed*
*Receive phone call from blocked number*
*Shrug* “Hello?”

Lo and behold, Robert Khoo (@rkhoo) from Penny Arcade was on the phone. After verifying that he was talking to me, Melissa, he asked, “Are you awake?” To which I responded, “Haha… I think so?” Random. He proceeded to remind me that I like sleep. Turns out, in the when’s-the-best-time-to-contact-you? box, I had written late afternoon because “I like sleep.” Well, yep, I do!

After a series of questions, one of which being something along the lines of “Do you want to be an Omeganaut?” …. UM OF COURSE THE ANSWER IS YES!!

Was I actually awake? Was I dreaming? Did I wake up from my nap only to be still dreaming? You know, Inception style.

Even with that uncertainty, I messaged my game and PAX friends and told the internet what had just happened.

I was met with overwhelming congratulations and support!! Through all of the excitement, it still hadn’t sunk in what being an Omeganaut really meant in full.

To my delight, I received the congratulating and informatory email from Angela (SmallLady) a few hours later. It was real, and I was awake.

Let the gaming…BEGIN!

[EDIT: Part 2 is up n ready.]

Fun Fact: Turtles Eat Kix

Yes, the cereal.

Today at Golden Gate Park, there were tons of turtles in one of the corners of Stow Lake. I easily counted 30 in my general vicinity, and spotted tons more a short distance away.

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Assortment of animals

And baby duckies. Have I ever mentioned I love baby duckies? Well, I freakin love baby duckies!!

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BABY DUCKIES!!!!!!!!!! And a turtle :)

Needless to say, I had a blast watching the lil critters here! Speaking of little critters, there was a small family next to us at this spot, and the little human critters seemed to be throwing an endless supply of Kix cereal into the water.

The ducks and geese loved it. More surprisingly, the turtles were chompin’ on the Kix! I found this to be pretty hilarious!

So I took a video:

[jwplayer mediaid=”2638″]
Turtles eating Kix

So…That’s that!

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Nom.

A Very Interesting Day at the Ballpark

I meant to type about this game some time ago, but I didn’t. That’s also normal. But oh well! This is just storytime with no real life lessons or opinions. Just an entertaining day at the ballpark!

So about two weeks back, I went to the SF Giants game and planned to meet my friend Matt (@iWaffles) there. Since he was running late, I left his ticket at Will Call (best feature ever) and wandered inside to our bleacher seats.

1. In our seats were a pair of girls who, apparently, didn’t understand the difference between 0 and 00. The difference is the presence of another 0 (or not). Playing the matching game, these designate two separate rows. Not that hard, right? They actually had the better seats, apologized and promptly moved down. Cool. Nice girls. We chatted a bit.

2. I picked this game specifically because it was against the Diamondbacks. I’m a fan of a player on that team because of an encounter at a game during the previous season in which we exchanged words and he threw me a ball. It went like this:

Montero warming up in the outfield.
My friend Bobby and I hanging out in the bleachers just watching.
Montero faces our direction to retrieve the ball
Me: Can I have a ball!?!
Montero: (Jokingly) NO!! *Proceeds to warm up, almost pegging a kid walking onto the field with a class to sing the national anthem*
A few more tosses occur
Montero: (In our direction) Hey!! *Throws me the ball from CF*

Bam. Fan made. I was so excited!!

Another line of children walked by for the national anthem this time, too, and I think he was careful to not endanger any ;)

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Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks #26

This time, I yelled and jumped up and down. But alas, he did not even look over. It was still worth a try!

3. A couple comes up to their seats and finds the girls from (1) in them. Usher Man steps in and discovered that they’re, once again, in the wrong seats. Correct row, correct seat numbers…Wrong section. Sigh.

4. The previous day, I put some concert tickets up for sale on Craigslist because I couldn’t make the show. It was between missing a second week of softball or Bon Jovi. To be a team player, I picked softball. One of the offers was from someone who lived in Millbrae. Coincidentally, I was headed that direction for the game. Even more coincidentally, that person was also going to the game. So I meet Craigslist -dude-number-1 at the top of the section to close the deal. Of course, that’s when my friend arrives at the seats. Brb Craigslist? He probably didn’t even believe me..

5. Rowdy Dude to my upper left was trying to get his friend’s attention while on the phone. To do so, he just stuck his middle finger way up, and told friend to look for it. Smoooooth. Usher Man had a talk with him about rude gestures, language and how this is a family establishment. Way to go, Usher Man! It was hilariously quiet while he was getting reprimanded. Then he went off to mock Usher Man by repeating the things he wasn’t allowed to do. STFU.

6. Two girls sat in the row in front of us, and one clearly had had too much to drink. She kept yelling at random players, leaned so far over the wall that you could probably tap her and she’d fall over, Usher Man had to ask her to sit down repeatedly, and she tried to make friends with a 5 year old boy sitting next to them.

7. Rowdy Dude’s (5) friends managed to find and visit him later in the game. As they hugged, I took lady friend’s ass to the head. Just what I’ve always wanted. Later, she picked up and started eating my hours-old garlic fries leftovers I had placed on the bench next to me. I let her chomp and share em for a bit as I thought about how entertaining this entire game experience was. She mentioned something about the fries, and I turned to her and said, “don’t worry, I’m not sick or anything” and smiled. She had such a horrified look on her face, I wish I had been able to snap a photo of that moment. She hardly said much the rest of the game.

8. When we tied it up in the 9th, Drunk Girl (6) claimed to be the Giants’ lucky charm because they’d never lost at a game she was at. We lost the game in the 11th. I laughed to myself. A lot.

9. Throughout the game, I had been in contact with another person who was looking to purchase my second pair of Bon Jovi tickets. Essentially, our living and current locations were swapped. He was near where I live, watching the Sharks game on TV, and I was near where he lived, watching the Giants game. The second Craigslist deal took place after midnight in the parking lot of a Jack in the Box. Probably not the safest of circumstances, but just added to the entertaining awkwardness of the evening.

This concludes the story of the random things that happened outside of the baseball game itself. It was probably the most entertaining baseball experience I’ve had!

Being A Spy in San Francisco

On LivingSocial, my sister found a deal for Foxhound’s Urban Spy Adventure where you’re split into two teams to complete/destruct missions taking place over San Francisco.

This is easily one of the most entertaining things I’ve done! I mean, how often do you get to be a spy and shoot at each other and go on missions and coordinate over walkie-talkies?! Unless you do it professionally or are a total creep, you probably don’t do it very often.

Bag-gun
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Scope view of Claudia aiming her bag gun. Yes, that’s a red dot sight on her.

There are three missions total, and each have a time limit of one hour.

When you’re ready to begin each mission, the defensive team is briefed, strategizes and gets a 10min head start while the offensive team is briefed. You’re on offense when you must do/get something from the pickup point, and successfully bring it to the drop off. The defensive team tries to prevent this from happening.

The whole adventure was very well organized, and our group leader, Shannon, had all of the answers we need. Even gave us snacks and water!

How to Prepare

  • Bring water! You’ll be moving pretty quickly, and depending on the weather, you may need more water more often.
  • Sunscreen is also a good idea.
    Wear shoes you’re comfortable in for hours at a time.
  • Bring some cash! You ARE allowed to make use of public transit and taxi cabs. Who knows? You might also want to buy a snack while you’re out there.
  • Don’t wear conspicuous clothing. People will be looking for you ;)
  • Be ready to walk A LOT (unless you plan to use public transit often). It’s SF. There are hills everywhere. Phew!
  • As always, plan to have fun!! Whether you win or lose a mission, it’s all about the adventure!

SPOILER ALERT!!!! My entire debrief is below, including the start/pickup/drop off locations that we had, plus some cool hiding spots. You get all the location info at the beginning of each mission, so it may not be *too* bad a spoiler. Read at your own risk!

——————-

Upon arrival to Union Square, our first mini-mission had already begun. It was described in our registration confirmation email. Once we found our director man, we were briefed and got to choose our teams. There were 7 of us, and two other separate pairs of people. We split ourselves among the two pairs who wanted to stay with their partners, and then received our equipment:

  • Walkie-talkies
  • Rear-view sunglasses
  • Monocular scope
  • Messenger bag with built in laser gun (coolest thing ever)

It was a battle against the Cuban vs Chinese intelligence. My team was contracted by the Chinese to find the Cuban mole.

Mission #1:

Start: Union Square
Pickup: Geary and Kearny
Drop-off: The corner of the park on Clay and Kearny

We were on the offensive, so the Cubans had a 10min head start while we planned out attack. We sent some further south to come up on the pickup site without being seen. My partner, Nikki, and I stationed ourselves between the pickup and drop off to hopefully pick off some of the other team.

We found the radio frequency of the other team..they didn’t exactly cover it when setting up ;) Nikki was running the comm recon, and I relayed it to the rest of our team. We also managed to snipe from the 2nd level of a corner Chipotle and take down two of the Cuban agents.

Retrieving the pickup was the more difficult task since it was rather in the open. With support, Aimee managed to take the surveillance without issue.
The roundabout way that our courier and partner took was unguarded as they made their way with ease to the drop off.

Chinese: 1
Cubans: 0

Mission #2

Start: Clay and Walter U Lum (at the park)
Pickup: City Lights Bookstore
Dropoff: Coit Tower

The Cubans took the offensive position and it was up to us to disrupt their objectives. We left an agent in the safe zone to spy on them to check their routes. After our 10min head start, three of us were stationed at the pickup while two were on their way to the drop off to lie in wait in case the courier made it past our defenses.

The basic direction of the other team was determined by our tailing agent and we waited quietly at our posts until they approached. They were not together.

We managed to hit a few of them as they tried to make the pickup and courier handoffs. There was a full-on firefight across the street outside the bookstore. My location was still secret when fellow agent Aimee was under heavy fire. I had her run across the street, holding shield, to draw fire while I took out the unsuspecting opposition. Another of the Cuban team managed to gun down Aimee not long after as they got kicked out of a hiding spot in a store.

The Cubans still managed to make a handoff as their health dwindled. Brad (Chinese) and April (Cuban) had an unfortunate run-in at the nearby Wells Fargo and Brad didn’t make it out alive.
Another handoff had taken place, but we didn’t see who or where. Luckily, Nikki and Kara (stationed at the drop off) were monitoring and relaying comm.

I managed to scope out April from across the street. We had quite a shoot out that resulted in us running across intersections and down the streets of Chinatown, and a standoff with a truck between us. I knew I’d hit her hard. She took off running and I had tried to follow. My pockets decided to empty themselves onto the sidewalk so I had to stop and pick up the contents. I had lost her.

Using the intel over comm, I tried to pick up her trail, but to no avail. I then retreated to the drop off point at Coit Tower, taking the steepest route by accident.

As it turned out, my adversary had only one health point left. She had ran about 4 blocks, caught a cab to the tower, but was only minutes late as time had expired. Another victory for us!

Chinese: 2
Cubans: 1

Mission #3

Start: Coit Tower
Pickup: Leavenworth and Lombard
Drop off: Fountain at Ghirardelli Square

The roles had swapped again, and we were on offense while the Cubans were on defense. This time, we split into two different cabs, then Brad and I on foot to go around and flank the pickup. The plan was to have him run the last leg and distract the other team with the rest of us.

This would have been great, had we not got lost. We managed to wander off the grid and pick up the trail later.

Meanwhile, Kara grabbed the item, handed it off to Aimee in the moving cab, who made it safely to Ghirardelli Square. After being shot at while in the cab, health was low upon arrival.

After attempting to wait for Brad for cover, time was running too low so she took it upon herself to shield and run right for the drop off… And made it!!!! A great decision to bring home the win.

Needless to say, runners Brad and myself were pretty worthless this mission. We later heard that our non-existence had the other team guessing. That works, right??

Chinese: 3
Cubans: 0

Missions accomplished.

My First Hang Gliding (Lesson) Adventure

I have some sort of obsession with wanting to fly. Like jump up in the air and start soaring like a bird! Hang gliding has always been on my flight-related to-do list, and today I finally got a little taste of it. As expected, this taste left me wanting more.

A few months back, a few friends and I found a sweet Groupon for a hang gliding lesson and planned our date well in advance. The time to fly was finally upon us!

Keep in mind this was a lesson, not a totally dare-devil flying-above-cliffs tandem ride..Maybe I’ll have to do that sometime, too ;)

When we got up to the hill we’d be learning on, and there was a surprising amount of wind in comparison to the pick-up gate a half a mile away. Cool.

Our first task was to, as a team, assemble the glider according to the verbal instructions from our instructor. It was a very strategic project. He explained it very well, and soon enough, my friends and I had put together the glider we’d be flying on. We all did a safety check, too. I think it was great to get that experience so we could really learn what it would be like if we were to take up the sport on our own some day.

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After getting harnessed and geared up, it was learning time! We had to learn the proper running form and then practice a few times. Practice running you say? Yep. It’s different, and it makes sense! We ran maybe 50 feet total for practice. Thank goodness it was that little because I’m really bad at running..shhh.

For the rest of the day, we took turns learning how to lift the glider, snap ourselves on, run with it, walking landings, how to “hold” on, steer a little, and wheel it back up the hill (not as hard as you may think!). At first it was a little nerve wracking, but with good instructors like we had, they give you all the information you need to be successful. So listen to the experts!!

Remember! It was only a lesson, and we did it by ourselves. Each of us only got a maximum vertical distance of about 5-7 feet off the ground, but wow, it was an exhilarating 5-7 feet each time! A lot of the thrill was in the accomplishment. The “holy shit, I’m actually flying!” part and knowing that I was in charge of the glider.

I freakin love flying. I need to do this again!!

Tips

  • Wear sunscreen! You’ll be out there a while. Even if it’s cool and windy, you’ll want sun protectant.
  • Wear clothes you can move in and that you’re okay getting dirty.
  • Bring a long sleeve or light jacket. It got cold. I got really cold waiting my turn in the wind!
  • Wear comfortable shoes you can run in. They don’t have to be running shoes per se, but they need to stay on your feet when you’re up there.
  • Bring water and snacks! Again, you’ll be out there for 4+ hours. You will get hungry and want to stay hydrated.
  • Be ready to listen carefully and learn. As much fun as you’ll have, you’ll need to take it seriously
  • TRUST THE GLIDER! Physics doesn’t lie! Some things may seem counterintuitive, but trust in your instructors..they’ve been doing this for a long time
  • Tip your instructors! Don’t forget to bring a little bit of cash to show your appreciation for the patience they had with you ;)
  • And have fun!!!