Finally! Mammoth Snow!

29 Jan

Last year we went snowboarding at Mammoth Mountain for the first time and conditions were pretty dire (though we still had fun).

Thankfully this year has been much better! The first few days of our trip were OK, but being between Christmas and New Years, were busier than I like. I am snow-curmudgeonly like Chuck – I only like to go on weekdays.

But then the storm hit! I think Mammoth got something like 3-4 feet of snow in as many days. It was cold, windy, and amazing – because everybody left. I’d board down without seeing a single other person, and it was snowing so hard that by the time back up to the top all my tracks had filled in.IMG_20160105_115338I think I took this photo on Day 2 of the storm and you can kind of see how heavily the snow is coming down. James is resentfully plodding through the snow because we had to unstrap to get to Chair 12 and it was really, really not worth skating there.

Cheer up Jamesy; it’s not so bad.
IMG_20160105_115326On an unrelated note, later that week he switched to skis.

Mike also joined us in Mammoth for a couple of days. On one of the days we were boarding together I was seduced by some pristine tree snow and was stuck for like … 20 minutes. I kept thinking I could rescue it without unstrapping, but finally just had to dig myself out and walk.
IMG_20160106_105207(When I took that photo I sent it to James. And he messaged back and was like “are you stuck? :(” Because he knows me. He knows I wouldn’t unstrap unless I had to)

Anyway, by that time Mike and I had gotten hopelessly split up so he went on without me and called it early. It was a shame though, because the second half of the day got so much better! Conditions got colder and windier and again, everyone went home! It was amazing having so much snow to (almost) myself. I kept telling myself just one more run, but giving in and going again.

The day after the storm was beautiful and clear. James headed out with me and I showed him some of the fun runs I’d found.
IMG_20160107_094657This was a comparatively tracked out bit but I don’t have a lot of action shots of James so I’m sticking with it!

They opened the backside and it was freaking glorious – about 3 storm days worth of untouched snow. There were huge lines at the gondola to get there, but it was worth it.
IMG_20160107_111002Each of those channels is at least knee height and you’d glide through them like butter. The steep terrain was easy – it was the flats where I had to worry because the couple of times I got stuck it was a bloody ordeal to get out.

So pretty! The trees looked like coral.
IMG_20160107_111844That yellow sign in the distance is a cliff warning. Welp, will be giving that a wide berth!
IMG_20160107_125052We were in Mammoth for 13 days and I boarded 11 of them. I was so exhausted by the end – both my feet had blisters and my legs were just not working anymore. I’m glad the storm was more towards the start of the trip. It played havoc with our inbound flights, but if I could time every trip for a storm I would be a very happy snow bunny!

Heading home. Going to miss that gorgeous view.
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A Christmas Coastal Trail Hike

19 Jan

This year for Christmas we were supposed to be at Mammoth with James’ family but our flight and replacement flight both got cancelled so we were stuck in San Francisco. Booooo!

Most of our friends were out of town, but luckily a few were going for a hike on Christmas Day so we were able to piggy back on their plans. We all headed up to Rodeo Beach in Marin.
IMG_20151225_135715It was a gorgeous day. We started along the lagoon (which you can see part of in the photo above) and headed to a dirt trail. It wasn’t steep steep but it was a long, unshaded uphill segment and we were pretty impressed by the cyclists that occasionally passed us.

Then we turned onto Wolf Ridge trail, which had beautiful hill views and was quite steep in parts. At what we think was the summit (or at least the turnaround point of the hike) there was some sort of army base with abandoned buildings and great views of the Pacific Ocean.

I saw this structure and said to James “you want to climb that don’t you?”

Of course he did.
IMG_20151225_130117And a rare behind the scenes glance at how the magic happens …
IMG_20151225_130152The rest of the hike was easy and just descending, though James has a bad knee so descents are actually the difficult part for him. I think it must have joined onto another hike because it suddenly got a lot more populated (though that could have been because it was later in the day – on the drive back to San Francisco we saw that outbound traffic was completely snarled).

The second half of the hike had a lot of stuff to explore.  There was this cool artillery thing.
IMG_20151225_134521And a couple of creepy abandoned buildings that I didn’t go into but James did, taking this photo for posterity.
IMG_20151225_131739 (1)And here I am holding everyone up with my wanderings.
IMG_20151225_133826The hike alternated between views of the headlands and, as we came to the end, the Pacific Ocean.
IMG_20151225_140419We spent some time here just chatting, snacking and watching the surfers.

James has long arms so is always on selfie duty.
IMG_20151225_132537And strong legs and core so also on piggyback duty.
IMG_20151225_132653(Why do my teeth look so … golden?)

Then afterwards we had dinner and played games until 3am. It was a really nice day with friends and it totally saved us from having the most depressing Christmas ever. Like seriously, we didn’t even have any food in the house.

Last year we wouldn’t have been able to do something so last minute for Christmas and I feel really fortunate that we made some really great friends in 2015. I still prefer Seattle as a city but I love, love, love our friends here.

Google Holiday Party: Under the Sea (Unda da Sea! Unda da Sea!)

13 Jan

This year the Christmas party was held at one of the event venues along the SF pier. We found our friends almost immediately which was great, since last year everyone kept wandering around and missing each other. We claimed a couple of big tables and just kept refilling it with food and booze. Because we’re pro.

A lot of stuff was the same as last year’s party, like the green screen photos:googleholiday002Cheesy but fun! They had props this year too.googleholiday001They also had the same casino games that they did last year. We played a little bit but it’s hard to keep interested without money involved. They seemed quite popular though.

And also like last year they had booze tasting (bourbon this year instead of scotch), cigars and a dance floor.

One thing they had this year that I don’t think they did last year was a game area with ping pong tables, shuffleboards, billiards, foosball, corn holes, and even a fishing simulator.
IMG_20151219_192743(In the background you can also see one of like, seven open bars that night)

And here are some freshly shucked oysters! You can bet we kept coming back.
IMG_20151219_194018You could also put on 3D glasses and walk through this colourful corridor. The line was non-existent which was nice because it was kind of meh.
IMG_20151219_200821No wait, apparently I found it amazing. IMG_20151219_200932Also the food was great! I mean, I mainly had oysters but I did sample stuff from the other buffets. Later they packed up the buffets (though they kept the taco stations open) and brought out a dessert bar with little cakes, mini root beer floats and teeny tiny cones of spiced popcorn. Heaven!

Last year there were more things to do at the venue itself (aircraft simulators, multiple ship tours, photo ops inside jets, etc). I think that’s why they had more performers and acrobats this year, to keep everyone entertained. But this year I had more fun since we got to hang out with our friends. =D

PS – I’m not sure this link will work, but check out James’ colleague’s photo album. You can see us in a couple of photos and he did a much better job getting photos of the food and entertainment. Probably because he wasn’t stuffing himself with oysters all night.IMG_20151219_193831

(No regrets)

 

Yes We Cancun!

9 Dec

A couple of months ago James and I went to Cancun to attend Luke and Madeleine’s wedding. We went for a week, which was perfect – enough time to catch up with friends but not long enough to get bored of the resort (which was so lovely – just look at it!).

01

image from Valentin Imperial Maya

This was really different from our usual holidays; normally I like to be a bit more active, and spend months researching the best things to do. But since it was a resort and the main reason we were going was for the wedding (and seeing our friends!) I was happy to just go with the flow this time.

The most exciting part for me was that it was all-inclusive. You know how I pig out whenever I visit James at work? Yeah, I went nuts. I had 10 cocktails the first day. We arrived in the afternoon so it wasn’t even a full day.
IMG_20151030_185119
James: (when taking the photo) Try looking a little less drunk.

A lot of stuff happened that first day though. For instance, Quincy got stuck in the women’s bathroom (the door jammed) and the guys had to sneak in and help her out.
IMG_20151030_231932Also James found a cat.
IMG_20151030_184209And he found another one a couple of days later. Finding vacation cats is like his lame superpower.
IMG_20151101_132929
No James! That’s not a cat!
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We were really excited by the coatis. We saw them wandering around the grounds but this is the best photo James got of them:
IMG_20151030_182051We found out later from Mike that if you rustle a bag of chips you can get this photo:
IMG_20151105_075427
I kind of cheated with this photo, because this is Pancho and he lived at the outdoor buffet restaurant.
IMG_20151101_131648He looks happy because he’s basically the coati equivalent of a billionaire; the waiters fed him a lot. I know this because whenever you said his name he would perk up, turn his head and then look disappointed.

It was such a weird experience being able to order without paying. We could get room service whenever we wanted and raided our room’s mini fridge.

At the breakfast buffets they would make omelettes to order, and there was a fajita station at the lunch buffet, which is basically what I had every day because they were amazing. James also made many visits to the breakfast crepe lady.
IMG_20151102_095918This is the baked Alaska from the fancy French restaurant we went to on (I think) our second night there.
IMG_20151031_194828Guy in the orange top is so jelly. You know he’s totally going to order one.

And here is the hibachi grill that we went to for Madeleine’s hens night.
IMG_20151101_214212

I have two cups of sake in front of me: one hot and one cold. Also some sushi.

IMG_20151101_213020I think my favourite restaurant experience was actually the last night. We went to the Mexican restaurant and the food was great! We also had the best waiter – he was so funny and took great care of James when he found out he was lactose intolerant. Here he is preparing my fajitas:
IMG_20151105_225359We had 10 people so our group was split in half. We sent tequila shots to the other table, because why not! Jenny had the idea to make three of them tequila and one water and when they drank them we could hear Quincy say “I don’t think mine was anything!”

Other than gorging ourselves we also went to the beach a lot. My favourite thing to do was feed the fish. They would leap out of the water to snatch bread from your fingers!
IMG_20151031_110049Even when James went back in the water later (breadless) the fish swarmed him.

James: Noo they recognise my brightly coloured shorts!
IMG_20151104_090353The breeze from the ocean made the beach one of the least humid places to hang out and the umbrella chairs were quite coveted.

The regular umbrella chairs weren’t good enough for James; he decided to take the lifeguard’s spot.
IMG_20151031_121032Plus of course there was booze service. I think we had some big tippers in our group because sometimes the waiter would just bring us impromptu tequila shots.

The pool was also popular because it wasn’t sandy, was faster to get to,  and had two swim up bars.
IMG_20151031_162903Mike had a fancy suite with a pool right next to it, so sometimes we’d swim at his pool then order a crapload of room service (quesadillas and burgers and nachos, oh my!) and booze.

Of course, you can only hang out at the pool and beach so much. So here’s James at one of the shooting activities with a (BB?) gun in one hand, margarita in the other.
IMG_20151102_111824We also went snorkeling one day, which was kind of meh because it had been raining and the visibility was poor, but it was cheap and I was going a bit stir crazy. We also tried some hookah that was in the cigar bar at the resort. Verdict: interesting, but not for us.

After the wedding we did a big group trip which was super fun. First we went to the Tulum ruins:
IMG_20151105_152206James at one of the temples (I want to say it’s the God of Winds temple?) with our ponchos in his pockets:
IMG_20151105_151356Afterwards we had lunch and drove ATVs through the jungle to get to a bunch of hidden cenotes (cave pools).
IMG_20151105_180604Then we ATV’d to a cave that we had to zipline into, which was really fun. The only slight bummer was that we started late in the afternoon so by the time we hit the cenotes it was dark outside and starting to get a bit cold. Luckily the life jackets kept us warm enough as we snorkeled around in the cave. It was pretty eerie and we had to be careful not to snag ourselves on the rock formations.

And here we are at dinner: homemade tamales!
IMG_20151105_194056The all-inclusive format really worked well for a group trip since we could just eat and drink and hang out. It was so great to see all of our Seattle friends and I’m looking forward to the next wedding (which a little birdie told me might be in Bali next year!).

Googleween 2015 (Say it Out Loud – It Rhymes)

11 Nov

Yarrrr! This year’s Halloween party was pirate themed!

Alex drove me and Helen down to Mountain View so we could have lunch before the party. We met up with Anne Marie and her husband Ken, James’ coworker Nick and also Will from our Monday board gaming group.

This year we wore costumes!
12190544_10156241749280038_755498155_oCat and Ivo discussing me via email a couple of days after:

Cat: Did you see the Googleween photos on Kaye’s FB page? Is she the shark? ROFL
Ivo: OMG I think it MIGHT be Kaye in the shark costume!
Cat: She looks so happy!

There was lots to eat and drink and we spent most of the time wandering around looking at the different attractions. Like last year, everything (or most things) were based around the theme.

There were various carnival-like games, where you had to knock over bottles or race boats using water guns. Here I am on the ring toss:
IMG_20151029_153207We also got to “walk the plank” (a.k.a fight each other with foam swords over a squishy blue pit). IMG_20151029_154517-2I won! I know James let me win because it’s funnier that way, but it was still satisfying.

There were many shark sightings throughout the day. Here I am with my cake pop friends (also note how beautifully my dead seal is highlighted by the sun):
IMG_20151029_155240Here I am with my inflatable buddies:
IMG_20151029_150421They were actually part of a bouncy castle obstacle course that James and I competed against each other in. James won, but in all fairness the shark costume was really hampering me.

Here I am finishing like .. a minute after he did (it was a short course – a minute was a long time!).
IMG_20151029_150524There was also a writer who would write a short verse about whatever topic you wanted, and then put it in a souvenir bottle (message in a bottle!).
IMG_20151029_151811I asked for my bottle verse to be about a shark who didn’t want to be eaten:
IMG_20151111_154908

We had our photo taken with a snake (also with a parrot, but the snake was cooler).
IMG_20151029_172416They also had face painting and some mermaids who would put sparkly ribbons in your hair, but as an apex predator I didn’t need any of that.

We left just before it officially closed but I felt like I had a pretty good sampling of the party. There was also a scavenger hunt  where you had to get your photo taken at various locations to win a mystery prize but I was content just floating around.

I had a much better time than last year since I knew a lot more people. Also I wasn’t desperately homesick – that definitely helped.

Helen and Zoltan dropped us back in the city which was nice. As soon as we got home we had to pack for a week long trip to Cancun to see Luke and Madeleine get married. But more on that next time. =)

Cat Musings From James

20 Sep

James: Would you go to a cat convention?
Me: What?! No! What would there even be at a cat convention?
James: Lots of things. New catnip technologies. New laser pointer technologies. Combination catnip and laser pointers. Information about cat food. Cat food trends, like raw meat in little boxes. See? There’s a lot of scope.
Me: 
James: (still thinking) Scratching post trends …

A Gorgeous Long Weekend at Lake Tahoe

14 Sep

A couple of months back James and I headed to Lake Tahoe with Chris and Daphne and some of their friends. We headed down early Friday and came back on Sunday.

On the way to Tahoe we stopped off in Fairfield for the Jelly Belly factory tour. It was waaay busier than expected and we waited about an hour in line! Most of the line was out of view, and by the time we realised we thought we might as well stick it out. Other people I’ve talked to have said they waited just 15 minutes so maybe we went on an unusually busy day.

There was a Jelly Belly art room which was pretty cool (also they gave us hats).
IMG_20150807_120418We got to see part of the factory where they make Jelly Bellies. Although it was nice and clean seeing it all was fairly off-putting. Jelly Bellies are pretty unappetising in their incomplete form and the air smelled weird … like tasty chemicals.

We sampled some colourless and chalky Green Apple flavoured Jelly Bellies. Then later on, some Very Cherry Jelly Bellies with some colouring added (but not the hard outer shell).IMG_20150807_123717Mmm … powdery.

We also got a lot of sample bags at the end. The tour was enjoyable but not worth the hour long wait – and by the time we left the line was even longer! I feel a bit tight complaining though, given that the tour was free. It’s definitely worth doing if the line is short but if it’s extended into the cafeteria I wouldn’t bother.

The next day we did part of the Rubicon hike around the lake which, according to the guidebook we read, is considered the area’s signature hike. We left early in the morning which was a good call because the tiny parking lot was already starting to fill up.

James has never met a rock he didn’t want to climb, so here he is at the trailhead. IMG_20150808_090751The hike started off with a pretty prolonged descent which was a bummer because it meant it would end with a pretty prolonged ascent! Most of it was in the forest which was very pretty and shady.
IMG_20150808_094209Though obviously the main attraction was Lake Tahoe to our right.
IMG_20150808_102634There were also little beaches that you could go hang out at which was really nice. It was a seriously gorgeous hike.
IMG_20150808_102726There were lots of little ups and downs which kept things interesting.
IMG_20150808_103059And here is James daintily hopping over some water.
IMG_20150808_103754We didn’t go around the whole lake and just turned back when we were ready. It started getting much warmer and busier and by the time we reached the parking lot it was completely full, with cars parked all along the road’s shoulder. The guy who took our spot said he had been waiting for half an hour!

Later in the afternoon we hired a boat to take out onto Lake Tahoe. It was crowded and hot at the boat rental places but glorious once we got out onto the lake.
20150808_170034
The sky was much hazier than it was that morning but still beautiful.

Here is a group shot!
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After a packed Saturday we had a very laid back Sunday morning before we drove back to the city.

It was our first time in Tahoe and I can definitely see why it’s such a popular area. We have several groups of friends who want to go back in the winter for the snow, so that will be super fun!

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