Sunday, January 24, 2016

Santa Clara Paintball

It's been many years since I played Paintball (last time in Sacramento) and I was eager to try it out again in San Jose. I remember how much fun it was (but painful when getting hit by paintballs).

I saw that LivingSocial was offering an enticing proposition for Santa Clara Paintball ($17 admission for up to 4 players, paintballs are extra).

As Alex was eager to try out Paintball, we decided to head there around noon. Since it rained the day before, I was hoping the Santa Clara facility would be drier by noon.

Here is a GoPro video of my last session:

When we arrived, we filled out all of the forms on iPads, and then proceeded to purchase two packs of 500 paintballs  (one pack for each of us). A pack of 500 paintballs was sold for $20 + tax. We picked up the marker (that's what the gun is called) and waited for the safety check.

Then, we went to try out luck at Field 1 (Box Maze).

Alex thought it would be easy and that he would not get tagged/splashed. He found out fairly quickly that it's not that easy to hit the opponent. A lot of crouching, crawling, and hiding is called for to get into a good position. Being Rambo is a sure way to get shot.

We had very large teams, with over a dozen players per team. It was quite easy to get hit and both Alex and I got splattered a few times. Alex got hit in the leg once and sat out one game.

We played for almost two hours; we started at around 2:00pm and finished at 4:00pm. The 500 rounds of paintballs lasted us almost two hours!

We had a good time but didn't like the many puddles at the facility; the recent rains have made the paintball facility a bit muddy (and filthy in places). I would have preferred it cleaner.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Review: OdysseO Cavalia

I have recently had the pleasure of seeing the OdyseeO Cavalia show in San Francisco. This equestrian show is very similar to Cirque du Soleil productions. The horses and riders do various stunts throughout the show.

There are 60+ horses used in the show, ranging in age from 4 to 17 years old. In addition to horsemanship, there are a few other stuntmen who perform various acrobatic tricks.

I liked most of the acrobatic performances (I'd say even more than the equestrian ones).

We had a fun time at the show. It's certainly worth seeing.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Snowboarding Kirkwood

Kirkwood has always been one of my favorite Lake Tahoe ski resort (from the times that I lived in Sacramento). Since moving to the San Jose / San Francisco Bay Area, I have not snowboarded or skied there (Kirkwood being too far away). Kirkwood is ideal for advanced/expert skiers and and snowboarders and doesn't usually feel crowded like other resorts (like Sierra-at-Tahoe, Squaw, or Heavenly).

With the large recent snow fall, I was eager to try out Kirkwood, after 13 years of absence. What has changed? Is it still uncrowded? Is the food still lousy?

Driving to Kirkwood from San Jose can be a pain (4 hours), so I thought about trying the  Bay Area Skibus. However, I was a bit concerned by the many poor reviews of the ski bus on Yelp. One reviewer suggested that I try the NorCal Snowboarders meetup.

The idea behind the NorCal Snowboarders meet-up is that a bunch of members get together to share the ride to the resort, while paying the driver $45 for the cost of transportation.

To prepare for the trip, I had my Ride 162 Berzerker snowboard freshly waxed at the local REI and purchased a new Smith Holt helmet from the nearby Any Mountain store. REI was out of large sized helmets.

I had to wake up at 3:15am on Sunday, January 10, in order to arrive on tome, to the designated 4:15am meet-up spot in Milpitas. Thankfully, everyone was on time and the drive to Kirkwood proved uneventful. There was snow on the road, so I was thankful that our Subaru had four wheel drive.

We arrived at around 8:00am, a bit ahead of Kirkwood's opening time of 8:30am. Since we were the first group of 4 to arrive, and the other snowboarders (68 in total) have not yet arrived, I went to get my official ticket at the ticket booth. I pre-purchased my ticket online for $89 (at $10 savings).

The weather was great - it was 28 degrees Fahrenheit with no wind. The sun was out most of the day with some patches of clouds. The snow was packed powder - not the fresh powder I was seeking, but it was still quite nice. I was hoping that the promised 4" of fresh powder would be there for me but the snow storms did not cooperate.

I started out on Chairlift 6 "The Cornice Express", looking for patches of powder. I found powder mostly in the trees but not on main runs which were groomed. I snowboarded down "Zachary", "Monte Wolfe", and "Lost "Cabin".

Here is a GoPro 4 Silver video I shot going down the first run in the morning:

These were all black diamond runs.

After a couple runs down, I tried Chairlift 10 "The Wall" lift to the double black diamond runs. The Wall is a  steep double black diamond run with logs of moguls. It was not too difficult to do on  snowboard, but would be troublesome on skis.

At around 11:30am, I met up for lunch with the NorCal snowboarding group at the pre-arranged 7800 Bar & Grill.

The 7800 Bar & Grill was fully packed, and it took a while to order and receive food. I had a "Tower Burger" with fries with hot chocolate. The Angus-beef burger tasted pretty good but expensive.

After lunch, I went back to skiing more in the trees (to get some more access to powder). I snowboarded non-stop until 3:10pm, when I got tired and decided to stop by the lodge to eat my snack.

I was able to record many of my runs on GoPro 4 Silver helmet cam. It will take me a while to edit all of the recorded videos into a coherent movie.

Kirkwood's long runs are mostly black diamond, so the mountain is geared toward intermediate to expert riders. Most of the green runs are very short.

Around 4:00pm, we decided to had back home (as everyone was tired). The drive home was slower, due to all of the returning traffic.