Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Review: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Today, I got to see for the first time for me, Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" a the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts, in downtown San Jose.

The show started out a bit slow and boring, but really picked up in the second half. The costumes and sets were a bit amateurish, but many songs were quite memorable and enjoyable. I would not say that this is a favorite among Andrew Lloyd Webber's musicals - as I much prefer his other creations such as Phantom of the Opera.

According to Wikipedia:
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is a musical with lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The story is based on the "coat of many colors" story of Joseph from the Bible's Book of Genesis. This was the first Lloyd Webber and Rice musical to be performed publicly

Monday, May 26, 2014

Biking in Joseph D. Grant County Park

Today, I decided to try out mountain biking trail at the Joseph D. Grant County Park. When I arrived there, I parked at the parking lot on Hamilton Road, a few hundred feet past the park's entrance (near Grant Lake).

I shot a short video on my Gopro Hero 3 here of my ride from Halls Valley Road to Canada de Pala, and returning by Yerba Buena trail. Most of the video shows the flat and downhills sections (as the ascent is not entertaining to watch).

From there, I assembled my Specialized Ground Control mountain bike and started riding toward Halls Valley trail. The tail started out flat but it started to ascend slowly. There were a lot of bugs buzzing about and a lot of horse dung on the trail. I continued toward the junction with Canada de Pala trail. From there I took a right turn and stayed on Canada de Pala trail.

The trail flattened out here somewhat and the view of east San Jose was nice. Most of the trail has very little tree cover, so it gets hot very quickly. I was sweating a lot just to stay cool.

Most of the vegetation is starting to look rather burned out.

The ride down to the parking lot, along Yerba Buena trail was a lot of fun (after all the exertion getting up here). I only encountered one other mountain biker on the trail, so it's fairly secluded section of the park.

I saw plenty of road bikers on Hamilton Ave as this is a favorite section of the road, for a steep climb to the Lick Observatory.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Biking the Coastal Trail in Half Moon Bay

Friday, May 23, 2014

Today, instead of going to Lake Tahoe, we decided to visit Half Moon Bay instead. We have never been there before, so we were curious about the trails and beaches.

When we arrived at around 10:00am, I discovered that my Specialized Ground Control mountain bike's front tire was flat and it would not stay up. I decided to have it repaired at the local bike shop - Bike Works.
After my inner tube was replaced. we decided to park our car  there at bike to the shore, where we could take the coastal trail to Ritz-Carlton hotel.

The Coastal trail is fairly flat and runs south from Kelly Street toward Ritz-Carlton. About half of the trail is paved and the other half is unpaved. We enjoyed riding the trail. Along the way, we spotted 3-4 rabbits, and many birds. The trail is very scenic with many views on surrounding bluffs.

As we approached Ritz-Carlton, we ran into a beautiful golf course. Many golfers were out playing golf.

As we rode on trail,we saw many wildflowers blooming.

The Coastal trail runs by Ritz-Carlton and ends at the end of the Golf Course, at hole 17. The view are truly spectacular here. We turned around and rode back to our minivan, following the same Coastal road back.

After returning to our minivan, we drove to Flying Fish Bar & Grill for our needed lunch. We really liked the food there - especially the "Crabby Cheesy Bread".

My Salmon Tostada salad was also quite tasty.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Point Lobos State Reserve

After seeing the Living Social offer at Briarwood Inn in Carmel, we decided to take the plunge and give it a try. We enjoy visiting Carmel and this would give us some extra time to visit the beautiful Point Lobos State Reserve nearby.

Our room at Briarwood Inn was very nice and clean and was a good value for the price. It even had two queen beds, which we did not expect. After arriving late on Friday, we were quite tired and went early to bed.

May 10, 2014

On Saturday morning, we woke up and ate our breakfast. The breakfast was very basic - some bagels and muffins with oranges and apples. We are used to much better breakfasts and other B&Bs so this was a bit disappointing.

We changed into our hiking gear and drove 10 minutes south to the Point Lobos State Reserve. We were surprised at how busy it was already around 9:15am. We had to park at the next parking lot and walked on the shore for the scheduled 10:00am nature hike around Allan Memorial Grove.

We had a nice nature walk around the park, mostly in the most wooded section of the park, starting at the Cypress Grove trail.

We had a beautiful walk on the trail, marveling at the beautiful Monterey Cypress pines and other trees.

We saw a few birds, wildflowers, and sea otters. Other people have spotted humpback whales but I did not see any spouts.

Some wildflowers were in bloom.

In the bay below, we spotted a sea otter. It was quite windy and the ocean was rough. There was a lot of white spray in the surf below.

The trails through the Alan Memorial Grove are mostly covered by Monterey pines.

Some trees are covered by rust colored lichens and algae. These organisms don't hurt the trees but do give them that rust colored look. Algae don't normally grow on tree, but they do here at Point Lobos because of the highly humid air that arrives from the Pacific Ocean.

Point Lobos used to be occupied by native Americans, and there are remnants of seashells of all sorts that were discarded by the natives (sort of a native garbage dump).

We enjoyed our walk around Alan Memorial Grove in Point Lobos and hope to be back again, soon.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Biking in the Almaden Quicksilver County Park

Today, I decided to try mountain biking at my nearby Almaden Quicksilver County Park, in south San Jose.

The entrance to the park is pictured below.

I started at the Mockingbird Hill entrance (the Northern side of the park) and took the Virl O Norton Trail, heading east toward Hacienda trail. Norton Trail is very steep in places and I had to walk my bike a couple of times.

I shot a Gopro video here of my Almaden Quicksilver County Park ride:

The Norton trail eventually runs into Hacienda trail. Although there are a lot of trails, few allow bicycles, so it makes it easy to navigate.

From Hacienda trail, I proceeded toward Randolph trail. There are many beautiful overlooks of surrounding valley.

At the end of the Randolph trail is a beautiful overlook of the Guadalupe reservoir. Even though we had lots of rainfall in San Jose, the reservoir looked mostly empty.

After the reservoir, the Randolph trail gets fairly steep for a few miles. I was huffing and puffing the whole way up.

It took me about 2.5 hours to bike the whole way around the park. It was nice, and I especially appreciated the trees that give a lot of shade on these trails.

None of the trails were very technical (no jumping rocks), so it is a nice beginner trail, except for some steep sections.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Biking in Santa Teresa County Park

Today I decided to try mountain biking at Santa Teresa County Park in San Jose. The park is located nearby and I was surprised to learn that I have never been there.

I got up early in the morning and researched all of the trails. There are a lot of different trails at Santa Teresa and it's easy to get lost. I followed the recommendations posted by MTB Project.

Starting at the North end of Santa Teresa County park, near Joice Bernal Ranch, I parked my van and started riding on Joice trail. Once on the trail, I took a left to get onto Norred trail. I didn't expect Joice to be so steep. The ascent was quite hard  Fortunately, it did not last long and I was quickly on Norred trail, which is far more level.

I shot a video on my Gopro for parts of the ride here:

Once the Norred trail ended, I switched onto Mines trail. Mines trail is partially paved but it was still very steep in places and I had to do the walk of shame. Mines runs past the Santa Teresa's parking lot, where there is a Y intersection.

I took the left on went on a steep climb up Hidden Springs trail, followed by Coyote Peak trai. These were both very steep trails, but they eventually led me to the famous Rocky Ridge trail.

This is the very top of Santa Teresa and affords beautiful view of surrounding valleys.

Rocky Ridge is quite rocky and requires some technical riding skills. There lots of rocks to jump over. A full suspension mountain bike is really necessary here, to deal with all of the jarring.

After Rocky Ridge ended, I continued back onto Mine Road, heading North/West toward Bernal Hill Loop.  After the loop, I took Joice trail back to the parking lot.

This was a fun ride with some very steep ascents, beautiful scenery, and a few joggers.

I really enjoyed the trail despite all of the hugging and puffing on some of the steep ascents. Given that there are so many trails here (some unmarked), a map is really necessary.