Sunday, December 21, 2008

Guffey Butte Hike

On Saturday, Dan and I went on a short hike to a little known butte near the Snake River, just outside of Boise. It was a little bit cold and snowy but still made for an enjoyable 2+ hour hike. Since I haven't been getting out much lately due to the snow, it was very nice to spend some time outdoors!

Guffey Butte Pictures!
Dan's Trip Report

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Goings on...

Nothing too eventful has been going on at the Vickery abode. Last weekend, I went hiking on Saturday and on Sunday we watched the movie Australia. We both liked the movie, which is a very watchable (if a little overly dramatic) historical epic. The Hollywood elements are a little overdone... but that's the movies I suppose!

This weekend we have mostly been doing Christmas shopping and getting cards and packages ready to mail. Yes, we do wait until the last minute! Hopefully once we get things mailed in the next day or two we'll have most of our work completed.

For those that haven't heard, we will be spending Christmas in Vancouver with the Shepherd clan. We will likely drive all night (cue the Celine Dion song) from Boise after I get off from work on the 23rd. Since I have a new job, I have little time off to use and thus we are forced into a compressed trip. Of course, if I had stayed at Micron, I'd be forced to take 2 or 3 weeks off for Christmas. Choices choices!

Boise did finally get some real winter weather this weekend. So far the winter has been mild but it looks like it will be snowy and icy for the next several days at least. Hopefully things warm up before our upcoming trip!

Our house on Sunday:


View down the street:

South Mountain Hike

Last weekend, Dan and I decided to take a hike up to South Mountain in the Owyhee Mountains south of Boise. Despite it being December, little snow had fallen in the mountains and this remote area was still accessible. Dan and I had an easy hike in surprisingly warm weather with very little snow. After visiting the lookout atop South Mountain, we made a quick ascent of nearby Peak 7757.

After our trip, we returned home and had a late lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant while watching the SEC Championship Game. Go Gators!

South Mountain Pictures!
Dan's Trip Report

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

American Thanksgiving Weekend

Katie and I both enjoyed our four-day weekend! Of course we wish they were more common!

On Thursday we went to Gary and Bonnie's for a most excellent turkey dinner. Bonnie's mother Frona was in town from Colorado, and we all enjoyed the fine meal prepared by the two of them. I think the biscuits were my favorite dish, but that's just the "carb addict" in me!

On Friday we did some "Black Friday" shopping. We were hoping to get pedestals for our front-loading washer and dryer, however we were informed that Sears discontinued the color used for our set. No dice! Disappointed, we either wisely or foolishly we went to the Verizon Wireless store to look at phones; we ended up walking out with each of us owning a fancy new phone: the LG Voyager. So far they've proven to be very nice despite some initial usability difficulties with the touchscreens. These phones allow web surfing which I'm still trying to figure out.

The rest of the weekend was generally uneventful. I watched some football and Tivo recordings. We talked about putting up Christmas decorations but decided to wait until next weekend. Katie has been doing some Christmas baking (an amazing variety of treats) so its definitely starting to feel like Christmas!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Weekend Happenings

Last week, I started my new job. Things are going very well and I'm very happy with the new environment. I'm still getting settled and I will likely author a more comprehensive post about the new gig some time in the next couple of weeks.

After my first day of work on the 18th, we went to see Quantum of Solace (since Katie hadn't seen it yet). Of course I was more than willing to see the flick a second time since I will never turn down the opportunity to watch a Bond flick (well, maybe A View to a Kill). We both enjoyed the flick but it made for a busy evening since we both had to be at work early the next day..

On Thursday, Katie went to the airport in the morning to fly up to Vancouver and receive her belated birthday present from her sister Megan. You might ask, what gift requires receipt in person? A ticket to the New Kids on the Block reunion concert at GM Place! For those that don't know, Megan and Katie were both rabid fans of this "boy band" in the late 80s and early 90s. My understanding is that each planned to marry members of the band and are thus fans for life. At any rate, Katie had a great time at the concert and also seeing everyone in Vancouver. Maybe I'll convince her to write a blog post about her mini-vacation??

Since I was home alone until Sunday evening, I watched some guy movies and (of course) football. I finally fired up the Netflix "watch instantly" feature and found it to be an excellent way to watch movies due to having recently acquired a wide-screen LCD monitor. Since it's hard for more than one person to watch something on the computer monitor, it's perfect for fare which I know Katie would hate :-) Movies watched:
  • Revolution OS (a documentary about the Linux operating system which definitely appealed to the computer nerd in me)
  • Helvetica (a suprisingly interesting documentary about the litle-known world of typesetting and its crowing achievement, the Helvetica font)
  • Snakes on a Plane (a very average action/horror movie punctuated by four absolutely hilarious scenes)
  • Solaris (a cerebral sci-fi movie which I found to be very interesting despite dragging at times)
Today was a pretty typical day at work for both of us. The good news is that after two more days, we have a four day Thanksgiving weekend!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Florida Pictures!

The pictures from our Florida trip are below. If you want to know more about where they were taken, the prior two blog posts hopefully cover all the details. Enjoy!

Florida Vacation Pictures!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

More From the 904

On Thursday, my parents and I visited the town of Fernandina Beach and the historic Fort Clinch. We drove up A1A through Ponte Vedra Beach, Jacksonville Beach, and Mayport. Once arriving in Fernandina, we ate a nice lunch at the Marina Seafood Restaurant before doing a little sightseeing. Afterwards, we took a leisurely tour of the fort. We took the scenic road home along the river and stopped at The Loop for dinner. An action-packed day!

On Friday the three of us and Susan watched a matinee showing of Quantum of Solace. We all liked the flick; I personally found it great in its use of action, locations, and supporting cast. I find Daniel Craig's hard-edged Bond to be more realistic but a big departure from most of the previous actors' version of the character. It seems like the sense of humor from past Bond films is missing, but it almost seems like that is intentional on the part of the directors.

After watching the movie, we went to the Mandarin Ale House where I ate way too much food and required several hours of recovery. After this gorging, we had a relaxing afternoon and evening at the house. In the evening, we all went outside to watch Space Shuttle Endeavor launch. Due to clouds, we could only really see a blurry orange plume from the exhaust. But it is always fun to watch the night launches which are clearly visible even though they take place 125 miles away.

Today was a pretty slow day; we had a lunch at Larry's and stopped by the Penzey's Spices store where I filled orders for various interested parties. Hopefully it will all fit in my suitcase! After shopping, we made a quick drive-by of the Paxon Lounge, a venue where my Uncle Gary once entertained crowds with his virtuosic guitar stylings. The rest of the day was consumed by football watching, including the Gators beating down the Gamecocks. Go Gators!

Tomorrow I catch a flight at 6:10am to begin my cross-country trek to Boise. The five-hour flight from Cincinnatti to Seattle should be pretty miserable. Hopefully I make it home with my sanity intact, since I'll need it when I begin my new job on Monday!


Mom and Dad at Fernandina


Fort Clinch seen from its parapet


Amelia Island Lighthouse seen from Fort Clinch State Park


Launch of Space Shuttle Endeavor, seen just outside the Vickery abode

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Update from the 904

So far the trip to Florida has been awesome. Here's a brief recap of the goings-on...

We arrived late Saturday and had a nice pizza dinner at Al's Pizza, a hometown favorite. On Sunday, Dad and I helped my Mom's friend Susan set up her new computer. After the task was a completed, a nice dinner at the local Italian restaurant Enza's was enjoyed by all. My dish of choice, the grouper parmigiana, was most excellent. The restaurant was packed, an unusual circumstance in this era of economic retrenchment.

On Monday we all embarked on our trip to the Gainesville/Ocala area. We had a lunch at David's BBQ in Gainesville, a locally popular purveyor of pulled pork sandwiches and other great fare. After that, we went to the UF bookstore where I got some Gator gear and my Dad purchased some cut-rate student priced software. We did some more sightseeing and shopping in Gainesville before heading to Ocala.

In Ocala, we had dinner at the Roadhouse Grill and stayed the night at the Comfort Suites. While perusing the tourist pamphlets we made a grim discovery: our tourist destination of choice, Silver Springs, is no longer open on weekdays! We thus had to change plans; on Tuesday we stopped for pictures of painted horses in Ocala before proceeding to the Appleton Museum of Art. This actually was a very interesting museum with a variety of art. My Mom was excited to find netsukes on display as she is a collector of that particular art form. While no collector myself, I personally found the African collection the most fascinating. After departing the museum and eating lunch at Steak n Shake, we began the return trip home. A sightseeing stop at Flagler Beach made a nice conclusion to the trip. Dinner was at Larry's Giant Subs, another local business steeped in the legend of successful franchising.

This morning Katie and I woke up at 4:15am to make a trip to the airport. Katie had to leave today because she could not get enough leave to take the entire week off. She was able to catch her flight at 6:40am and begin the long, cramped, and tortuous journey back to Idaho. I proceeded to drive home and snooze! After waking from my slumber, I went on a brief run and performed consulting services as part of the Vickery family computer upgrade. We had lunch at Barnacle Bill's a St. Augustine haunt famed for it's datil pepper sauce, among other things. I got the gator tail with Minorcan chowder, both of which were awesome. I also got some of the "Dat'l Do It" hot sauce at the request of Katie's brother Dave... so if you're reading this Dave, be on the lookout for it!

The consulting is going well; the Vickery computing environment mostly modernized. Tomorrow we will head up to Fernandina Beach and Ft. Clinch for some sightseeing.

A few pictures:


Katie, Zach, Ron, and Jan at the Ocala town square; the painted horse is behind us

Mom, Katie, and Dad at the Appleton Museum

Katie at Flagler Beach

[*] For those curious, "The 904" is gangster-speak for the Jacksonville area. Since I'm wont to watch Gangland on the History Channel, this makes it appropriate for me to write and speak in such a manner. Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Area_code_904

Friday, November 7, 2008

New Job!

Two years ago, I decided to accept a position as a software engineer with Micron in Boise. The company was doing well, hiring, paying generously, and offering relocation to Boise. It seemed like a good financial move and it has proved to be one. However, roughly 8 months after my start date, the company decided its IS (information systems) costs were too high and decided to outsource as much of its IS department as possible. This was slightly problematic because my relocation assistance included a two year commitment for which the penalty was full reimbursement. In other words, I was stuck if they chose to keep me!

It turned out they went with a 50% headcount reduction, with all of that being workers and none of it being management. Even though management created the cost problem, they certainly weren't the ones to be held accountable! For some unknown reason, my position was retained. In February and March, I had to record training sessions to teach the replacement workers how to do my job. By early May, my team had went from 14 employees to 4 (of which I was the only remaining software developer). Once my team was gone and my job duties outsourced, nobody seemed to know what I should be doing. It was at this time that I realized that November 6, 2008, would be an important date - it was the date my relocation commitment expired!

Once I had no team and sat adrift in a sea of vacant cubes, I ended up working on low priority projects by myself for roughly 4 months, until the work ran out. After that, I was left with a bunch of idle time waiting for management to reconfigure themselves so they could tell me what to do. Lots of great web surfing was accomplished during these days. There's nothing like having a meaningless job in a stink-pit post-apocalyptic cube farm downwind from the sugar beet processing plant!

In October, after approximately six months of me performing useless work, the management team decided I should work on their business intelligence systems, an area in which I have had no training or experience. But they had gotten rid of all of the previous developers and I was twiddling my thumbs, so I guess it made a good fit (in the Micron sort of way). Fortunately by this time I had starting interviewing elsewhere!

I had two leads but only one made an offer: Telemetric. I was very impressed by this company during my interview and they seemed very interested in bringing me on board. The company is doing well and the position seems well suited to my skills and desired career path. I start as a senior software engineer on November 17th.

Today, one day after my relocation commitment expired, I had the pleasure of informing management that my time of needlessly consuming company money was over. They have tight budget reduction goals to hit, you know! Anyway, I put in my notice at about 9:30am and was out the door just after 12pm! Woohoo! Freedom!

But before my career path continues on its meandering journey, one thing remains.... Vacation! To Florida!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Weekend Summary

Katie and I have had a pretty quiet weekend. On Friday, Katie got home early and finished carving pumpkins. We set them out in the evening and had roughly 20 trick-or-treaters show up, the last arriving at about 8:45pm.

The weekend promised to be rainy and we made no real plans. On Saturday, I put out Fall fertilizer to take advantage of the coming rains, which did indeed arrive later in the day. After that was done, we went to Applebee's to use the $10 gift certificate we got due to Katie complaining about the vacuum being used during our last visit. We then went to the local movie-plex to watch the comedy Zack and Miri which was pretty funny in the low-brow kind of way. After that, we went home so I could watch the Gators beat up on Bulldogs on TV.

On Sunday, we met Gary and Bonnie for breakfast/lunch at Addie's in downtown Boise. After that we went grocery shopping at the local Fred Meyer. Katie spent the rest of the evening reading and baking while I proceeded to watch football and Tivo recordings.

In summary, it was a nice, quiet weekend. One more week of work before our trip to Florida!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

West Mountains Hike

I've been trying to burn up some time off at work. Since the weather was looking good I took Wednesday off and went hiking in the West Mountains above Cascade. The objectives of the day were four peaks: Granite Mountain, Snowbank Mountain, Collier Peak, and the Gem County highpoint. The first two peaks only required getting out of the car, however the latter two required some hiking. Fortunately this area is relatively flat and open, allowing for some fast-paced hiking. This is a good thing because I got a much later start than I was intending. After quickly touching the first two summits, I hit the trail around 11:30am headed toward Collier Peak.

Soon I was atop Collier Peak, which has a great view of the Round Valley and Cascade. After taking in the vistas, I began the long but quick hike over to the Gem County highpoint. There were numerous photo opportunities along the way, of which I had to take advantage. Despite my dawdling, I made it to the Gem County highpoint at about 2:15pm. From there, I took in the scenery and began the trek back to the car, which took about 2 hours.

This was my first hike in this part of Idaho and I left very impressed! The terrain is very gentle and the views are spectacular. Unfortunately on this day some controlled burns limited the visibility to the west; about the only negative thing I can say!

Trip statistics: 5 hours, 11.5 miles, 2900' elevation

West Mountains Hike Pictures!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Star Hope Canyon Hike

Once again Dan and I decided to take advantage of the gorgeous Fall weather and use his company's condo as a base camp for a trip to the Pioneer Mountains. This week we met up with brothers John and Tom Platt who joined us for the adventure. In the evening on Saturday, we ate a quick take-out dinner from the Snow Bunny in Hailey and watched Penn State beat Ohio State.

On Sunday, we got moving about 6am and made the long drive from Hailey to Star Hope Canyon in Copper Basin. It was about 8:15am before we hit the trail. We hiked above the remains of the Star Hope Mine and up to the ridge where we would proceed to visit four summits. The weather was gorgeous for the entire day and aside from one section of class 3 climbing, the entire ridge was easy hiking.

After a tiring but enjoyable hike, we happily reached the truck and broke out the beers. After some celebration, we began the long drive back to Hailey where we refueled at the Sun Valley Brewing Company before finishing the trip back to Boise.

Trip stats: approximately 7.25 hours, 7.5 miles, and about 4100' of elevation gain.

Star Hope Canyon Pictures!
Dan's Trip Report
John's Trip Report

Monday, October 20, 2008

Pioneer Mountains Hike

The Fall weather once again turned pleasant, so it was time for another trip to the mountains. Dan was able to rent his company's condo in Hailey so we setup a hike where we'd drive up Saturday night and hike early Sunday morning. We drove over there on Saturday evening and met fellow hikers Art and John. The four of us stayed in the condo and watched some football and SNL before retiring.

We got moving about 7am and after some breakfast, hit the trail a little bit after 8am. It was a gorgeous morning hiking up Paymaster Gulch toward our objective, Paymaster Peak. Along the way we met John's daughter Mariel who was staying at her boyfriend Eric's rustic cabin high in the mountains. The six of us (plus Eric's dog Sweetie) hiked from there to the summit to take in the beautiful views under ideal conditions. On the way down, the weather started to move in but we were down well ahead of any precipitation.

Another great Fall hike! Trip stats: Just over 6 hours, 7.4 miles, and about 3300' of elevation gain.

Pioneer Mountains Hike Pictures!
Dan's Trip Report
John's Trip Report

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Diploma!

As many of you know, I finished my Master's Degree back in August, right before our camping trip. However, that graduation was only electronic because the actual diplomas aren't mailed out until nearly three months later. Today, mine finally arrived in the mail, thus making it official!


Next task: frame it and hang it along with our other diplomas. Go Gators!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Canadian Thanksgiving!

Liz and Ian drove from Vancouver on Wednesday for a Canadian Thanksgiving Day* visit. On Saturday evening, Greg and Dave arrived via airplane. Despite the unseasonably cold weather (see previous post), everyone had a great time.

On Sunday, Liz and Katie prepared and excellent Thanksgiving dinner. During this time, the guys (myself included) were relegated to watching football games. In addition to the Shepherd family, my Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Gary were in attendance. The dinner included all of the traditional courses: turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, gravy, carrots, green beans, stuffing, and dinner rolls (courtesy of Bonnie). Liz made excellent apple pie for dessert as well. As you can see, everyone is having a great time! For reference, the picture includes (in clockwise order) Bonnie, Gary, Katie, Ian, Greg, Dave, and Liz.


On Monday, we took a few family photos in our backyard. Here is the Shepherd family, including the Shepherd family dog Cassie!


From the Vickery and Shepherd families, we wish everyone a happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

[*]: For those readers unfamiliar with the difference, Canadian Thanksgiving is an entirely different holiday from American Thanksgiving and occurs on the second Monday in October. The Shepherd family custom is for the dinner to occur on the prior Sunday.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Snow!

Katie's parents, Liz and Ian, arrived from Vancouver on Wednesday evening. It would appear they brought some Canadian weather with them because Boise received its first snow of the season today! This is actually the earliest Fall snow on record in Boise; in a normal year we don't get any snow until mid-to-late November. Officially the area received 1.7" of snow, but I think it was closer to an inch at the Vickery estate:

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Smoky Mountains Hike

Last weekend I went on a solo hike in the Smoky Mountains of Idaho, just above the ski resort of Sun Valley. It was a gorgeous, warm fall day with lots of peace and quiet. The only downside was the lack of wildlife. Total trip time was about 6 hours covering 7 miles and 3500' of gain.

Smoky Mountains Hike Pictures!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

New Dining Room Table

Some of you have been clamoring for pictures of our dining room table. They are finally available!

Some background: Back in April, Katie and I decided to take a weekend trip to Salt Lake City (about a 4.5 hour drive from Boise). The purpose of this trip was threefold: get out of the house, do some sightseeing and shop at the Ikea for furniture. Specifically, we were interested in finding a dining room table since our current one is a "hand-me-down" that can seat no more than 4 people. We found a nice table and purchased it (assembly required of course - this is Ikea we're talking about!). However the assembly project progressed slowly due to my time commitments with school, general procrastination, and some demoralizing mishaps encountered during the assembly of one of the chairs.

Alas, we finally finished the "dining room table assembly project" this past Tuesday. Below are pictures of the table (yes, we went for bold colors!):


Also, here are some other pictures from our trip:

Salt Lake City Trip Pictures!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Weekend Summary

It seems Fall has officially arrived here in Boise. The weather has cooled significantly and we got some rain for the first time in two months. Alas, no hiking this weekend!

On Saturday, Katie and I indulged and got the 'all you can eat' chicken fingers at Applebee's. That was pretty much our only food of the day! We also saw the movie 'Burn After Reading'. It is a dark comedy and Katie and I both enjoyed it.

Today we met Gary for lunch at Cracker Barrel. Bonnie was out of town visiting her Mom in Colorado so it was just the three of us. After that we did our weekly grocery shopping and I watched some football and mowed the lawn.

One final note: we made more progress assembling our mythical dining room table, so we will probably be ready to announce its completion soon!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Blue Mountains Hike

Last weekend I set out on a solo hike to the Blue Mountains of Oregon. It was a long hike, approximately 8.5 hours, 4500', and 14 miles. However the scenery was tremendous and I saw nine mountain goats on the trip!

Blue Mountains Pictures!

Strawberry Mountain Hike

A couple of weeks ago, Dan (ex co-worker and friend) and I went hiking in the mountains of eastern Oregon. It was a good day hike and a good chance to catch up on things. Below are the pictures:

Strawberry Mountain Pictures!
Dan's Trip Report

Monday, September 15, 2008

Summer Vacation Pictures

It's been over a month but we've finally gotten the pictures from our summer vacation online. To recap, our itinerary was:
  • Camping one night at Heyburn State Park near Plummer, ID (no pictures from here)
  • Camping three nights at McDonald Creek Provincial Park near Nakusp, BC (all pictures are from this time)
  • Spending the remaining time at the Shepherd household in Vancouver (no pictures)
The majority of the pictures are from when I took a hike up Saddle Back Mountain. This peak is very near to the campground and has a nice trail to the top. The peak features an abandoned fire lookout and postcard views. Enjoy!

Summer Vacation 2008 Pictures!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hi everyone!

Since Katie and I are known to be poor at keeping everyone up-to-date, we are starting this blog to more regularly share our many exciting life experiences with our families and friends. Vacations, trips, daily happenings will all be presented in their glorious detail. Watch for lots of pictures too!

Welcome to our blog, and rest assured, there will be much more content in the immediate future!