Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Tree

For the second time in three years, we set up our (fake) Christmas tree complete with my shockingly large ornament collection. I also set up the Lionel Pennsylvania train that my parents gave us a few years ago. Note the beautiful stockings made by Grandma Savage!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Goose Creek Mountains Snowshoe Trip

It was Black Friday and I had no desire to do any shopping. The weather looked OK for hiking and after waking up at 6:30am I decided to head for the Goose Creek Mountains south of Twin Falls. Unsure about the snow conditions in the area (Magic Mountain Ski Area reported 6" of snow) I was hoping I could get close enough to my destination. The road into the mountains was snow covered but fortunately with decent tread from other vehicles having packed down the snow somewhat. The Escape made it up until the road started to get steep roughly 2.5 miles from Monument Peak - close enough!

My trip consisted of snowshoeing from the vehicle up to Monument Peak (both summits), then over to Trapper Peak, thence to Flatiron Mountain. Conditions were decent - temperatures in the 40s, overcast, with a light wind. Other than worrying about a lack of daylight, it was a pleasant day for snowshoeing on roads, ATV trails, and a little bit of cross-country terrain. Of course, most of the ridge tops were free of snow so I had to take the snowshoes off on several occasions. The area, normally known for being overrun with ATVs and snowmobiles, was actually pretty quiet. The only people I saw were woodcutters looking for Christmas trees!

Summiting all three peaks enabled me to reach my goal of climbing 25 peaks in 2009. Now I can be lazy for all of December :-)

Goose Creek Snowshoeing Pictures!

Trip statistics: 14 miles, 2600' elevation gain, 5.5 hours

Sunday, November 29, 2009

(American) Thanksgiving in Boise

For the fifth year in a row, our Thanksgiving dinner was at Gary and Bonnie's house. As always, Bonnie and her mother Frona did a great job with the dinner - turkey, stuffing, potatoes, sweet potatoes, asparagus, cranberries, and corn were all made and they were all quite delicious. Katie made dinner rolls which were also great for sating my craving for carbs. After dinner, we relaxed around the TV and watched Casino Royale which was airing on the Syfy Channel.

Thanksgiving is always a great time to reflect and focus on what we have. We're thankful for having each other in our lives, our awesome family, our good health, and our stable jobs in these rocky times. We are truly blessed!!


Dinner!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Squaw Butte Hike

I passed up the opportunity to climb The Box in the Pioneers due to weather concerns and lack of interest in a big climb. Since the weather looked good in the Owyhees, I chose Squaw Butte (not to be confused with another Squaw Butte), a reasonably short hike just an hour from home.

After one wrong turn, I made it to the trailhead at about 10:15am. Soon I was on my way up the peak... however I didn't check the map closely enough and started climbing the wrong ridge. Fortunately in this area it is very open and mistakes are easily corrected! The weather down low was very nice...sunny and with just enough breeze to keep me from feeling warm in my winter gear. Up on the summit it was quite windy and colder... I should've brought the balaclava! Needless to say, I didn't spend much time up there despite the great views of the surrounding area. I took a more direct route on the descent, making for a nice loop hike featuring both ridge walks and canyon terrain.

In summary, this was a perfect short Fall hike... I was home by 3:30pm and in time to watch prime time college football!

Squaw Butte Pictures!

Trip statistics: 9 miles, 2700' elevation gain, 3.75 hours

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sinker Butte Hike

For some needed exercise, I opted for a quick Sunday hike to Sinker Butte just south of Boise. It is a pleasant desert hike that starts at the Swan Falls Dam, and climbs out of the Snake River Canyon onto a small prominence on the expansive Snake River Plain. The hike is located within the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area (what a mouthful!) and as expected, raptors are plentiful in the area. This is a very short but enjoyable hike for the late Fall!

Sinker Butte Hike Pictures!

Trip statistics: 5 miles, 1250' elevation gain, 2 hours

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Texas Vacation

My parents planned a trip to Texas to visit the family there. Katie and I decided to join the trip since we don't get over there very often. We coordinated our flights so that we both arrived in Dallas at the same time on Saturday the 7th. This worked better than expected as we arrived at our designated meeting spot within a minute of each other!

While in town, we visited with all of our Texas family, some of whom I had not seen in 15+ years (and of course Katie had never met). Everyone was present for the family dinner at Spring Creek Barbeque to both catch up and enjoy the wonderful food! We also made time to tour the new $1.3 billion Cowboys Stadium which is certainly an impressive facility. We also enjoyed several fine meals at area restaurants such as Beto's, Chuy's, and BJ's.

While in Texas, we also visited my Mom's friend Kathy, who was formerly a teacher in the Clay County School District alongside Mom. Kathy had made the decision to retire in Texas to be close to her daughter so our trip provided an opportunity for them to catch up and for us to see her new house.

Sadly, the trip was not as long as it could have been due to limited vacation days. But it was great to see everyone and spend some time in the beautiful Fall weather in Texas!

Texas Pictures!
Mom's Texas Pictures!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Cervidae Peak Hike

Since I hadn't climbed a peak since August, it was high time to get back into the mountains. Being out of shape, I opted for Cervidae Peak, a short hike just outside of Boise which is popular with locals when the bigger peaks are snowbound. I had climbed the peak two previous times, in 2001 and 2008, each time by a different route. This time I chose yet another route since this peak offers countless variations with its open terrain. Also, this was the first time I climbed the peak when it was not under snow.

The hike was uneventful but the route I chose was quite steep, perhaps a little too steep given that I chose to wear trail running shoes. After some morning clouds, the day turned gorgeous with reasonably warm temperatures for November.

Cervidae Peak Pictures!

Trip statistics: 2.5 miles, 1.75 hours, 1800' elevation gain

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Boise Sightseeing & Other Happenings..

Happy Halloween everyone!

Last weekend the weather was nice so Katie and I took a little drive a did some sightseeing. Pictures below:

Boise Sightseeing Pictures!


Otherwise, things have been cruising along. My job has been busy with numerous projects, far more than our staff can reasonably tackle right now. The $3.4 billion smart grid stimulus package is expected to make things even more busy. At this point I'm a little worried whether we'll be able to keep up! Also, I've been having some ergonomic issues at work and decided to splurge on a fancy super adjustable office chair. Based on positive experience with the chair at Micron, I chose the Haworth Zody from a local purveyor of office furniture. It cost $600 but I'm confident it will be worth it! When you pay that much for a chair you get to choose the fabric pattern, color, and have a designer vet your choices. Sadly it won't be under my bum for another three weeks or so.

Katie's job has also been keeping her busy, but thankfully there haven't been any working Saturdays with her new position.

As I type we just got our first trick-or-treaters. Last year we only got 20 or so. Next weekend we're off to Texas for a mini-vacation to visit the Vickery family out there!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Turkey Day, eh?!

So, today is the official Canadian Thanksgiving, and we did it up right at the Vickery household! For all of our American readers, you may have always wondered why those crazy Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving at a different time than in the US...well, wonder no more! I've answered this question roughly 40 times in the past 5 days, so I'm basically a professional at this.
Canada doesn't have Plymouth Rock or the Mayflower to celebrate; our Thanksgiving is more of a celebration of the harvest, and since it gets colder earlier in Canada, the harvest is obviously earlier than it is south of the border. We eat the same food, and many of us watch football (both the American & Canadian versions!). It was really strange to me, when I first moved to the US, that Thanksgiving was only a month before Christmas...that's a lot of turkey in a month! So, there you have it...everything you've wanted to know about Canadian Thanksgiving.
Here in Boise, I cooked up a couple of turkey breast tenderloins with rosemary, and made some cranberry sauce from fresh berries (thanks for the recipe, Mom!). We also had Yukon Gold mashed potatoes. Of course I made sure to wish everyone at work a Happy Canadian Thanksgiving! Overall, it was a pretty low-key Thanksgiving - we didn't even get a day off, which is ridiculous in my opinion...I should be able to celebrate all Canadian AND American holidays!! (how great would that be?! I can dream)
This time last year, Mom, Dad, Dave & Greg were all here visiting for the long weekend, and we had a fabulous dinner with Bonnie & Gary. What a fun weekend that was - it was so great to have you all here - and what wonderful memories we have. Wish we could have been in Vancouver for this year's dinner, I'm sure it was excellent!

Other than the celebration of a Canadian holiday, it's been pretty laid-back around here. We got a Wii system last weekend, and have been busy learning all about that - we just got Wii Fit Plus this past weekend, which is really cool - each person has their own character (called a Mii...haha), and you play a whole bunch of different games & do workouts along with a trainer, it's like an interactive video game. Wii Fit has aerobics, strength training, and yoga, along with lots of other things, and it tracks your weight loss & BMI changes. So far we're both really enjoying it, and getting some exercise to boot!

I hope everyone is having a great Monday/Thanksgiving Holiday!
Love,
Katie & Zach

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Manitoba!

Katie and I traveled to Manitoba on the 25th to attend her cousin Neil's wedding. For cost reasons we ended up flying into Fargo, ND, instead of Winnipeg, MB. Our flight was uneventful and Auntie Cathy was very gracious in driving down to pick us up at the airport - thank you Auntie Cathy! Dave rode down with Auntie Cathy and we all enjoyed lunch at BW3, did some shopping, then drove up to Miami, MB, where we would spend the night at Grandma's house.

On Saturday we had a nice leisurely morning in Miami and then headed up to Winnipeg for the wedding. The wedding itself was very well done and went off without a hitch. After the wedding, we headed to the hotel (the Winnipeg Radisson) for some pre-reception drinks and general partying. Since the hotel struggled to get our rooms ready, all of us had to crowd into one room - which made it all the more fun! The reception was great and included the standard activites: introduction of the married couple, good food, a few good stories, cake cutting, dancing, an open bar, and a midnight buffet. It also included a few non-standard features: injured breakdancing, a certain someone with ripped pants, chases around the ballroom, and lots of 90s music. In summary, it was a great time, right up there with any wedding I've attended!

Sunday we struggled to recover in the morning but made it to Uncle Gord and Auntie Cheryl's house for a nice brunch. After spending a few hours there, we said our goodbyes and headed to Stony Mountain to visit the Lucas family. We had a great dinner there and also got a chance to catch up with the family and play on the Wii. After dinner we returned to Miami where we spent our final night in the 204.

On Monday, we left Miami around 1pm and Auntie Cathy once again drove to Fargo to safely deliver us to the airport. The trip and flight were uneventful and put us in Boise just before 11pm. Of course we both had to work the next day... but the weekend was well worth it!

Congratulations Neil and Tara!!

Manitoba Pictures!

Friday, September 11, 2009

MVP Camping Trip #2

In 2007, we met our friends Sam & Joey Pilon, Karen and Shaun Mouton (all of Olympia) at the Crow Butte Park in south-central Washington. This trip, appropriately dubbed the MVP camping trip, was a great way to reconnect with old friends and made for an excellent weekend. Sadly, there was no such trip in 2008 but thanks to Facebook a 2009 edition was planned for Labor Day weekend. This trip also featured a new participant, Sam and Joey's 8 month old daughter Cecilia!

Due to last-minute planning of the trip, our camping choices were limited but we were able to secure two adjacent campsites at Memaloose State Park in Oregon, just outside of The Dalles. We had concerns that this would be a lackluster place due to it being one of the few unreserved sites left on Labor Day weekend (as of July). Upon arrival, we were quite impressed that our two sites were together, somewhat spaced from other sites, and wooded. The sites also had water and pretty good restroom ("washroom" for any Canadians reading this) access. The park does have some noise issues with a nearby rail line and freeway, however neither was disturbing enough to consider a major negative.

We had a great time meeting Cecilia, catching up, eating lots of food, drinking beer, taking it easy by the fire... all the usual camping traditions. Joey, Sam, and I took a brief hike down through some of the other areas of the park to check out the scenery. The Columbia Gorge is a fascinating place and is a great locale in which to spend a few nights outdoors! Before leaving we resolved to put together a 2010 edition of the trip.. possibly at Ohanapekosh Campground?

MVP Camping Trip #2 Pictures!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

McCleary Band @ The Idaho Botanical Garden

Uncle Gary's band The McCleary Band was playing at the Idaho Botanical Garden as part of the "Great Garden Escape" concert series. After leaving work and having a quick dinner at Subway, I got to the garden around 7:30pm. Katie was unable to attend as she was doing some baking in preparation for our upcoming camping trip.

Having never been to the garden before, I spent a little time checking out the various exhibits which turned out to be quite interesting. There is a large exhibit dedicated to the plants encountered by Lewis and Clark on their travels through various vegetation zones. Having seen many of the plants on hikes around Idaho, it was interesting to learn more about them. I think the Botanical Garden would be especially interesting to visit in the Spring and I definitely plan on going back when there is a little more daylight!

The McCleary Band was excellent as always and Gary was of course on fire. It was a good show that ended a little bit after 9pm in the darkness. The concert atmosphere was great and the entire event was very well put together by the Botanical Garden. They even had Highland Hollow beer on tap!

McCleary Band Pictures!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Diamond Peak Climb

Matt and I had a mutual interest in climbing Diamond Peak, Idaho's fourth highest peak. It is in eastern Idaho, meaning a long drive away. Thus we left Boise about 4:30pm on Friday the 28th. We ate dinner at Arco's Lost River Drive-In. The food was good and they were kind enough to serve fry sauce with the fries. After dinner we headed over to the Little Lost River Valley to find the trailhead and a camping site on the west side of the peak. By the time we turned off the highway it was already dark. After a navigational faux pas, we found the right road and made it up Badger Creek Canyon to a point where the road crosses an ATV bridge which is not suitable for larger vehicles. We were both tired and hit the hay not long after setting up camp.

In the morning we awoke at 6am and started heading up Badger Creek on a great ATV trail. Despite some high clouds the day was warm and pleasant. The canyon is beautiful and features a nice looking creek and many decaying cabins and adits from past mining activity. We were soon at the end of the ATV trail near the headwaters of Badger Creek. From here we hiked cross country up the canyon then up wooded slopes to a buttress leading to Diamond Peak's summit ridge. Gaining the summit ridge was a lot of work on some of the worst steep and loose talus I've ever experienced. Finally we crested the summit ridge, exhausted from slogging up nearly 2000' of terrible rock. The final push to the summit was tiring but uneventful and on much better terrain. It seems like my lungs don't work as well at 12000'+ as they used to!

The peak has a great 360 degree view, most of which was new to my eyes. The mostly uninhabited Little Lost River and Birch Creek Valleys sprawl beneath the peak along with the many summits flanking the said valleys. After spending roughly 45 minutes on top, we began our descent. This was highlighted by skiing roughly 2000' down the loose talus pile, by far the longest talus ski in which I've partaken. From there the hike out was long and punctuated only by us stopping to filter some delicious water from Badger Creek right below its spring source. Yum!

The day was much longer than we had expected and we were very happy to get back to the vehicle and begin the drive home. From the western edge of the Camas Prairie all the way home (90 minutes or so) we got a spectacular lightning show as we drove through the darkness!

Trip statistics: 11 miles, 5150' elevation gain, 11 hours

Diamond Peak Pictures!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Summer Vacation!

We are pleased to report that we had a most excellent summer vacation to Canada! We left our respective jobs around lunchtime on the 14th and began the drive to Bonners Ferry. This drive was uneventful except for us listening to some Spanish language CDs in a futile attempt to learn a new tongue. I think "embajada Americana" is about all either of us remember! After a quick dinner at Subway in the outskirts of Spokane, we arrived about 10pm at the Kootenai River Inn and after briefly surveying the casino we decided to retire for the night. I think our expectations were set too high in Las Vegas!

After a nice sleep at the hotel, we were intrigued to discover a farmer's market going on just across the highway near downtown. We checked it out and ended up with some delicious bagels, doughnuts, and kettle corn! It was a small farmer's market, but very well done. We didn't buy any of the excellent-looking produce since we couldn't take it across the border.

Our drive from Bonners Ferry to McDonald Creek Park was uneventful. The border lineup (Porthill, ID) consisted of about 2 cars and the questioning was similarly brief. We did get some rain along the way, which is always discouraging on a camping trip. Fortunately it had moved through the campground by the time we got there. We must've brought some good weather since we didn't get rained on once during our stay! The first night at the campground was pretty crazy as we had approximately 19 people at the site for dinner that night. From there, things slowly quieted down over the course of our stay.

Monday featured a memorial service for Ian, in which some of Ian's ashes were placed at the park and balloons were cast to the sky. It was of course a very sad ceremony but also one I found to be very appropriate given his love for camping at McDonald Creek. You are missed Ian!

On Tuesday, Auntie Margaret, Megan, Dave, and I went on a hike to Idaho Peak. The drive over to Sandon was a little bit long and the final stretch of Forest Service road was kind of wild on the steep, one lane road that leads to the trailhead. However once we were hiking we were rewarded with epic views and easily the best wildflower display I've seen anywhere. I was actually astonished with how many people were up on the peak... probably 25 other people at least, maybe more. The register had names from all over BC, the US, and especially Europe. I must say I do understand the appeal!

The rest of the trip was defined by relaxation, swimming, kayaking, checking out places in Nakusp, and my reading of one of Bill's favorite books, Expert F#. We also had two meals at the Mushroom Addition in Fauquier, which is the only restaurant I've encountered which serves a wild mushroom mix with their burgers. Highly recommended!

On Thursday (the 20th) we returned to Vancouver and on the way stopped at Helmut's in Vernon for some excellent bison pepperoni. I think I need to find a supply for that stuff closer to home because it's really good!

In Vancouver Katie visited with her friends and I went hiking to Mount Seymour, a popular local hiking destination. The hike was enjoyable but the views were sadly marred by clouds. At least I got to experience the views while snowshoeing up there in February 2006! Our dining experiences in town were pretty limited, consisting only of Panago Pizza (yum) and wings (not so great; the URL is false advertising).

The evening before we left, I noticed a tire on the Escape was looking pretty low. Sure enough, it was down to 15psi. I hit some kind of debris on the way up to Mt Seymour and that apparently damaged the tire. Fortunately with more air it was good to drive home. After getting back home, it turned out we needed to replace the tire (and thus the other three too). Annoying, but at least it didn't mar our otherwise excellent vacation!

Summer Vacation Pictures!
Idaho Peak Pictures!
Mount Seymour Pictures!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Anniversary Dinner

For our anniversary dinner we went for sushi at Fujiyama. We got an appetizer of Beef Negimaki and the Linda, Fuji Mountain, and Red Dragon sushi rolls.

The Fuji Mountain was the best tasting (ah, the magic of tempura):


Although the fire dragon was the most artfully presented:


Yay for five years of marriage!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

White Knobs Hike

After several days of crazy weather, conditions improved and Dan and I decided to climb the two highest peaks in the White Knob Mountains of eastern Idaho. It would be my first time hiking in this corner of Idaho. We left Boise just before 6am and headed out toward the Lost River Valley. By 9:30am we were at the trailhead after heading up the rough Alder Creek Road. The hike was very pleasurable up an old road (now an ATV trail) to the base of Redbird Mountain, our first objective. From here, easy but steep terrain leads to the top.

The recent moisture produced a lot of clouds, haze, and chilly weather. There was even a dusting of fresh snow on the ground! Still, it was great to take in the eastern Idaho views from a different perspective. After some time on top, we cruised over to Shelly Mountain, the highest point in the White Knobs. Views and terrain here were pretty similar - not surprising since the peak is only a half mile distant from Redbird Mountain.

From Shelly Mountain we made a leisurely descent back to the vehicle. From there it was back to Boise after stopping for dinner at Smash Hit Subs in Shoshone.

Trip statistics: 7.25 hours, 9 miles, 4300' elevation gain

White Knobs Hike Pictures!
Dan's Trip Report

Monday, August 10, 2009

Updates from the 208

Things are going pretty well with us. We've seen a number of movies in the past few weeks, including The Hangover, Public Enemies, Up, Funny People, and GI Joe. Public Enemies was probably the best of the bunch and GI Joe was probably the worst. Although the exoskeleton suits they wear in GI Joe are pretty cool. That's easily the most theater visits for us in one month ever!

Last weekend we watched GI Joe Friday night then proceeded to attend the Boise Beer Fest at Ann Morrison Park on Saturday. The festival was a great idea but it was very crowded... I'm thinking they got more attendees than they were expecting. For $20 you got six 12oz beers that you had to wait in line for... not the best deal ever but probably not the worst either. Katie got a really good huckleberry beer from Laughing Dog that was probably the best of show (at least that we tasted).

Katie's work is going pretty well overall. She likes her current job much more than the previous one, although there have been some rough patches as her department has taken over from the previous team in Los Angeles. My work is going well although it has been extremely busy - I've worked the past two Saturdays just to try to maintain adequate progress on all of my projects. A week ago we had a customer demo that required a lot of last minute work... fortunately it all came together and the customer was pleased. We're still waiting for them to show us the money though!

Wednesday is Katie and I's anniversary. It's hard to believe we're already at the five year mark! Since we both have to work (lack of time off) we'll probably just go out for a nice dinner somewhere.

Friday afternoon we leave for our long awaited summer camping trip. We plan on spending Friday night in Bonners Ferry before driving the rest of the way to Nakusp, BC, where we will spend the next five nights. We will finish our trip in Vancouver before heading home. Last year we needed the fleece jackets at night... hopefully it's not quite so cold this year!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Snowyside Peak Climb

Another weekend, another peak! On Sunday I went to climb Snowyside Peak, the Elmore County highpoint and a premier summit destination in the Sawtooths. The climb would be long so I left Boise at 4am and hit the trail just after 7am. Once I hit the trail, everything was going great except for the realization that I forgot my map. However I didn't expect this to be a problem since I had a pretty good mental picture of where I would be going.

I cruised up the trail and reached the gorgeous Alice Lake basin just before 10am. From there the trail steepens as it climbs the pass below Snowyside Peak. It was a little bit after 11am when I reached the pass. From there, I took the obvious ridge up toward the peak. As I got up higher, the terrain started to get difficult, much more so than I expected. As it turned out, due to my "maplesness" I ended up climbing the class 4 north ridge instead of the more gentle class 3 east ridge. I ended up wasting time backtracking trying to find a better route, but was forced to stick to the ridge and make a couple of airy moves to reach the summit just before 1pm.

Once on top, you get some of the greatest alpine views anywhere. There was a couple from Ketchum up there who had ascended from Alpine Lakes Basin. We talked for a bit, pointed out the various peaks, relaxed for a bit, then headed down. The descent was uneventful but took longer than I was hoping for, both due to the rocky north ridge and retracing the extensive flat approach hike through the forest. After taking a great afternoon break at Alice Lake, I made it back to the trailhead just after 6pm. A long but enjoyable day!

Trip statistics: 17 miles, 4300' elevation gain, 11 hours

Snowyside Peak Pictures!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mount Breitenbach Climb

I found out Matt (with whom I hiked Ironside Mountain) was interested in climbing a 12000'+ peak so after some discussion of alternatives, we decided to climb Mount Breitenbach in the Lost River Range. It would be my first 12000'+ peak in over 6 years. At the peak we would meet Mike who arrived from Idaho Falls.

We met Friday evening at about 7:30 and began the long drive to the Joe Fallini Campground on Mackay Reservoir. We arrived at 11:00pm and felt bad for disturbing the campground so late. We soon felt better because a diesel truck soon pulled in and the occupants proceeded to put up a tent, inflate an air mattress, walk their dogs, and put multiple small children to bed all after midnight. Gotta love campgrounds!

The stars in that area are amazing and are worth the trip all by themselves. Since it was clear and warm we slept without a tent... just our sleeping bags under a shade awning at the tent site. After fitful sleep we got up at 5:30am to prepare for the hike. By 6:40am we were at our "trailhead" and ready to start. Rather than try to find the correct road to the trailhead, we opted for a known spot about one half mile away. Since the roads can be terrible in this area, I'm pretty sure we saved the Escape some abuse by doing this!

The hike up Pete Creek was enjoyable and not too brushy. However it does require meandering a lot - we had to cross the creek approximately 17 times each way. Eventually the terrain opens up and you begin hiking up a giant talus gully that requires gaining over 2000' in elevation. Once on the summit ridge, the views were tremendous and made for some spectacular hiking to the top. We spent roughly 45 minutes on the summit taking in the views and checking out the extensive summit register.

The descent was a mix of fun talus skiing and less fun talus hiking. By the time we hiked down the creek my feet were aching and ready to get off the ground. As we approached the vehicle, we got sprinkled on which actually felt quite nice in the warm weather. From there it was back to Boise... after 3.5 hours of driving!

Six 12000' peaks down, only three to go!

Trip statistics: 4500' elevation gain, 8.5 miles, 10 hours car-to-car

Mount Breitenbach Pictures!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ruffneck Peak Hike

Saturday I decided some hiking was in order. I ended up choosing Ruffneck Peak since it had good highway access, has another peak (Langer Peak) within reach, and didn't require rising early. It was about 7:45am before I left the house... a little later than I had planned! After getting gas and getting stuck behind slow drivers it was 10:30am before I got to the trailhead.

I got moving on the trail around 10:40am and quickly made progress. The trail starts in an old burn area; shortly before exiting the burn area I headed straight up the ridge toward Langer Peak. This was kind of a grunt but encountered no obstacles. From the top of the ridge it was an easy ridge walk over Point 9052' and on to Langer Peak.

Langer Peak had a very interesting summit register; it was initially placed in 1983 by the wife of deceased Charley Langer on the 40th anniversary of his death. The register, besides being over 25 years old, was signed by many family members and other visitors to the peak. I was the first to sign it since 2007. After enjoying the summit, I decided to head straight down the west face of Langer Peak toward Langer Lake. This made for a direct route but required negotiating some steep and loose terrain in trail running shoes. After getting through the obnoxious part, it was once again a pleasant hike through the forest toward Langer Lake. On the way I encountered a gorgeous meadow which highlights the beauty of the area.

Langer Lake, on top of being a gorgeous lake, has great views of both Ruffneck and Langer Peak. I spent a little bit of time relaxing but had to keep moving due to both mosquitos and time. From the lake it is a direct and pleasant hike up to the Ruffneck Lookout. As expected, the peak has excellent views in all directions which were fortunately not impaired by the high clouds hanging around. The lookout was fully stocked with supplies and appeared to be occupied but nobody was home. Perhaps the lookout went out for a day hike?

The hike out was uneventful. I did stop at Langer Lake and pump some lake water to enjoy and take home to Katie. Nothing beats alpine lake water!

After getting home I discovered a straggler... a tick had decided to latch on to my side for a nice bloody meal. Katie was kind enough to remove it.. hopefully I'm not now a carrier of some kind of horrid disease!

Trip statistics: 10.5 miles, 4200' elevation gain, 6 hours

Ruffneck Peak Pictures!

Katie's "On the road again..."

After we got home from our long weekend getaway to Vegas, it was back to the daily grind (booo!). Monday was my last day at my old job; Tuesday began the adventure of my new position as Sales Support for the Los Angeles area. After 2.5 years in the Documentation department, having learned all I could & having been frustrated by management issues, it was high time for a change, and I was especially excited to find out a couple of weeks ago that my new position would begin with a business trip to LA!

Having never been to LA (or on a business trip for that matter!), I was very excited to head down there, especially since it was on the company's dime! My travelling companions consisted of my new supervisor, along with 2 other team members; the 4 of us come from non-sales backgrounds, and therefore needed some training in the basics. One other team member travelled on his own to Seattle for training, as he'll be covering the Pacific Northwest region. We left Boise on Tuesday morning, landed in LA after a 2 hour flight (uneventful but loud, since the plane was a little puddlejumper with propellors, and we happened to be sitting right behind them!).

We spent our days in Torrance (the area of LA where NYK's sales office is located) training and learning the accounts we'll be covering. I expected that this might be a little awkward, since we were being trained by the people we'll be replacing, but they were all very nice & extremely helpful. Luckily there was no animosity! On the first evening (Tuesday), we were taken out for dinner to the Yard House by our supervisor's boss and the Vice President of Sales for all of North America. This was an intimidating prospect, but they're both very nice, very genuine people, and the VP of Sales was very interested in learning about us and what we thought of all the changes taking place. This restaurant was right on the Long Beach Marina, so we had a beautiful view, and the food was amazing. They're also home of the World's Largest Beer List, which WAS ridiculously long! I abstained from beer, but was blown away by the sheer volume of choices...Zach & I will have to go to this restaurant if we ever get to LA/Long Beach. I had the Ahi Crunchy Salad, which was very yummy...I figured I should take advantage of the fresh seafood while in LA!

The next night, after a solid day of traning, we were taken out for dinner by one of the area Sales Reps, to Panama Joe's. Similar to the night before, I knew I wanted more fresh seafood, so I had their "world-famous" grilled fish tacos, which were amazing. The fish was Mahi-Mahi, and it was perfectly cooked. The combination of fresh flour tortillas, grilled fish, cabbage slaw & lemony guacamole was excellent; this is another place I would definitely recommend if anyone's in the LA area looking for fresh Mexican food.

We flew back to Boise on Thursday night, full of ridiculous amounts of information! It was a great trip, but after a long weekend in Vegas, a day of recovery and whirlwind trip to LA, it was definitely nice to be home! I wish we'd had a chance to do more sight-seeing in LA & Long Beach, but at least we got out for some good meals and good company. Plus, I bonded with my new team members and my (very cool) supervisor - she's maybe a few years older than me, and very nice. Plus, she doesn't believe in micro-managing, which is a refreshing change!
I'm very excited about this new position, and am 100% certain that I made the right decision in applying for and accepting it. I was so burnt out in my old position and knew that it wasn't going anywhere and wouldn't be getting any less annoying, so I really think it was high time for a change. I'm definitely nervous about how "visible" all this will be, since many people in corporate positions will be watching to see how this transition from LA to Boise unfolds, but I'm confident that our team brings a lot of diverse knowledge & differing perspectives to the table and I have no doubt that we'll be able to handle it!
Sorry for the ridiculously long post! I guess I had a lot to report on! Have a great week!
Love,
Katie

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Charleston Peak Hike

While in Las Vegas, I planned to take a day and climb nearby Charleston Peak, the 34th most prominent peak in North America with over 8200' of topological prominence. On Saturday (Independence Day), I got up at 5am and began the trek to the small town of Mt. Charleston, roughly 45 minutes outside of town.

The hike starts out brisk and steep as you climb out of Kyle Canyon and on to the top of the Mount Charleston massif. On the way up you get some cool views of the cliffs the trail is bypassing. Once up on the ridge, I made the quick side trip up to Griffith Peak and enjoyed the views. After a brief break, I continued the long ridgewalk over the Charleston Peak - which was actually a gorgeous hike through subalpine and eventually alpine terrain. The hike was longer than I expected, but fortunately I was wearing my new trail running shoes which were super comfortable. No barking dogs today!

On top, the weather was perfect - a light breeze and temperatures in the 70s. The views were great, unfortunately though they were hazy in the direction of Las Vegas. I chatted with a couple of Las Vegas locals on top and we appeared to be some of the first people to summit for the day. On the way down, there were lots of others making the ascent - probably 25 people at least. You don't see that in Idaho! Well, I guess you do on Borah Peak...

I made it back to the hotel around mid-afternoon; not bad, but I was hoping to be a little faster. At least Katie had plenty of entertainment options available! Another fine summer hike completed!

Trip statistics: 15 miles, 4700' elevation gain, 8 hours

Charleston Peak Pictures!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Vegas Baby

Since it had been almost 7 years since we last visited Las Vegas, we decided to use the long weekend to make a return trip. We booked a flight on Southwest and a room at the MGM Grand. We decided on this particular hotel as it seemed to have the best combination of price, location, quality, and food options. Our room was in the West Wing part of the hotel which we found out actually dates from 1974. Despite being smaller than we expected, the room was nice and decorated with a modernist theme. Our scenic view consisted of the expansive casino roof. The good thing about the West Wing is that it is pretty close to the casino floor unlike some of the more far flung parts of the MGM Grand.

While we were getting our rental car, the person at the desk said they were having a special on Mustangs and I could upgrade from a Chevy Cobalt to a Mustang for $10 a day. Of course I couldn't resist...


Thursday evening we arrived and cruised the casino well into the morning. Katie didn't do so well but I was having some luck making money on the slots... I was up roughly $75 at one point (pretty huge for us low rollers!).

Friday I woke up feeling the effects of too many beers! However I eventually recovered enough for us to take the monorail and get lunch at the Mesa Grill, the Bobby Flay restaurant at Caesar's Palace. I had the chile relleno, which was easily the best relleno I've ever eaten. It was also very artfully presented:


Katie had the pork sandwich which was also very good. We decided to try a dessert which was a strawberry/gooseberry shortcake dish that was really good but not heavy like so many desserts. We both enjoyed the food here and highly recommend it!


Friday afternoon we spent checking out the various casinos on the strip and blowing a little bit of money at each of them. By this point neither of us had any luck with the machines. After a lot of walking, we decided to figure out our dinner plan. We decided upon Shibuya, the Japanese restaurant at MGM Grand. This was also a good choice - the shrimp tempura was possibly the best tasting fried food I've ever eaten. The sushi was also excellent; my favorite was the basic spicy tuna roll but the yellow fin tuna and eel rolls were also good. For dessert we had a lychee cake and ice cream dessert, it was also excellent. A bonus was that this restaurant carried Hitachino beers - my first experience with Japanese microbrews. I had the espresso stout and Katie had the ginger beer; both were great!

Eel and yellow fin tuna sushi:

Cake with lychee filling, lychee, and ice cream:


Saturday I got up early to hike Charleston Peak (more on that in a separate blog post). Katie slept in a little later and lolled about the casino continuing her bad luck streak. She did grab lunch at 'wichcraft, a sandwich place at the MGM Grand. Katie says her turkey and balsamic sando was amazing and it certainly looks it:


I got back to the hotel in the afternoon and found out my bet on Serena Williams winning Wimbledon paid off. Finally something paid off - that and the fact that I refrained from the temptation to bet on Andy Roddick winning the Men's. For dinner we decided to try the Wolfgang Puck Bar and Grill in the MGM Grand. I had a pizza (always great after a long hike) and Katie had the BBQ ribs special. Both were good but more of the "average good" than the "memorable good" that characterized the previous three restaurants described.

After dinner we headed over to the Rio to watch the Penn & Teller show. While we were waiting I noticed the World Series of Poker was being held so I had to check that out. The conference center was absolutely packed with people, both players and spectators. The scene consisted of entire ballrooms filled with hundreds of poker tables and the requisite number of players. ESPN had a camera setup for the featured tables, presumably where the famous players were. Because of the horde of people, I didn't get anywhere near the feature tables. Just the sight of all of it was enough of a sight...

Penn & Teller put on an entertaining show. Their show gets addresses political and religious topics, which is something I wasn't expecting. Evidently they are well known for that sort of thing. It was my first time seeing a real "magic" show and I definitely enjoyed it; it's definitely not the sort of stuff you can easily figure out from being in the audience. Typically they perform a trick, explain how it is done, then apply some kind of unexplained twist that leaves you wondering.

Sunday morning we did some last minute gambling before heading to the airport. Before getting there, we grabbed lunch at the legendary In-N-Out Burger. It is actually a very good fast food style hamburger. Our flight home was uneventful but unfortunately paved the way for a return to work and the real world. Katie at least could look forward to her trip to LA which will hopefully be blogged soon!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Salmon River Mountains Hike

Last Saturday, as I was returning from Smiley Mountain Dan started texting me about going on a Sunday hike. I had planned to sleep in and take it easy, but the trip sounded interesting and eventually I agreed to go. Of course, it helped that Katie said she didn't mind being a hiking widow this weekend :-)

We left Boise early Sunday morning and got to the trailhead just after 9am. By 9:20 we were on our way. We made good time on the steep road that leads high up the slopes of Mt Jordan. At about 11:45am we summited Mt Jordan and took in the spectacular views of most of Idaho's central mountains. After spending some time on the summit, we headed over to The General, our second objective for the day. We made it over there around 1:20pm and once again got to enjoy tremendous views.

Our hike out was highlighted by us finding a game trail that allowed us to avoid re-climbing Mt Jordan. After getting back to the truck, we each downed a beer and headed to the Mountain Village Inn in Stanley for dinner. I think I ate my chicken burger in about five minutes - it was exactly what I needed!

Trip statistics: 8 miles, 3500', 7 hours

Salmon River Mountains Hike Pictures!
Dan's Trip Report

Corporate Buyout

Less than two weeks ago, Telemetric (my employer) had an all-staff meeting scheduled on short notice which included catered Goodwood BBQ. This was all highly unusual and many of us had suspicions that something was up. Sure enough, the meeting was hosted by two executives and a HR guy from Sensus, the company we learned was purchasing Telemetric.

Today the deal became official so I can safely blog about it. I am now a Sensus employee! Sensus is a large company (over 100x larger in revenue than Telemetric), one of whose divisions involves wireless water and gas metering. They were looking to get into power distribution (Telemetric's expertise) since that gives them a more complete product line to offer utilities. Rather than build their own business to compete with Telemetric, they opted to buy us.

Of course we're all a little wary about now being part of a big company with headquarters far away. Despite not getting huge buyout checks allowing us to retire early, it seems like this will be a good thing for all of us. The benefits and holidays are much better, plus we benefit from having much stronger financial backing. We all got to keep our jobs and we'll also be staying in Boise. We have an existing partnership with Sensus and they've been great to work with and overall they seem like they will be a good corporate parent.

For the immediate future, things will be pretty much the same as they have been but with a different company issuing the paychecks. At any rate, it seems like a pretty good outcome and I'm happy with it!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Smiley Mountain Hike

The weather for the weekend was looking good so I decided to climb Smiley Mountain, a peak I have long planned to visit. A little birdy told me that John Platt was also interested so we made plans and met at 4:15am to begin the drive. Other than a detour due to US-93 being closed between Richfield and Carey, we had an uneventful trip.

Since this has been a wet and cool Spring in Idaho, everything was unusally green and beautiful. The lakes were all full and the streams running high; together all of this made for a great drive. We got to the trailhead around 8:30am and were off around 8:45am. Iron Bog Creek was running high so we had to take off our shoes and wade across. Once past there, we ascended the ridge and partook in the best ridgewalk of my hiking career.

John recently attempted Denali and kept a brisk pace, which was very successful in keeping me pushing upwards. We made the summit in just over 3 hours, taking in the tremendous summit vistas. Unfortunately our time on top was cut short due to some questionable looking clouds building (which turned out to be harmless). But we were far above treeline and caution was definitely in order.

Our descent was also very enjoyable as we cruised down the ridge. On the way home, John pioneered a shortcut over Fish Creek Summit which saved an hour on our return trip. The only negative of the whole day was that I forgot my camera (only the second time I've done that). A trip report can be seen at John's web site:

Smiley Mountain Trip Report

Trip statistics: 8.25 miles, 4300', just over 6 hours

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ironside Mountain Hike

Early in the week, I made plans with Matt Durrant to climb Galena Peak in the Boulder Mountains. Rob Ronald also joined the trip. However, as the weekend approached the forecast for Idaho looked bad for the fourth straight weekend. On Friday we identified some probable good weather in Oregon and decided to head over there to hike Ironside Mountain.

After meeting at 4:30am, we headed west and were at the start of the hike just after 7:00am. I parked conservatively because I'd heard some concerning information about the road. The reality is that we probably could have driven to within a half mile of the summit instead of 5 miles away like we did. None of us were bothered by this though - I personally was happy to get the exercise!

The weather was better than we expected; partly cloudy and dry. We made great progress along the road - in fact, we were confined to the road due to private property postings all along the way. So much for taking shortcuts! We made it to the summit at 10am and had great 360° views of an unfamiliar Oregon landscape. There were a few clouds hanging around but they brought no precipitation and were seemingly just there to add some visual interest.

In summary, this was a great Spring hike - fitting for the last day of Spring. I got to meet two new hiking partners as well. Yet another fine day in the mountains!

Trip statistics: 10 miles, 3000' gain, 6 hours (including 1 hour spent on the summit)

Ironside Mountain Pictures!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Birdland

Auntie Margaret and Uncle Barry got us a "seed wreath" style bird feeder for Christmas. Since this area is pretty barren and birdless during the winter we didn't put it out until April. After we put it out it seemed to attract minimal interest for a couple of weeks. Some time in May it started to get attention and within a few days it went from half eaten to gone. We didn't actually see too many birds around it so we weren't sure if birds consumed it or if it suffered some other fate. Being at work all day sometimes obscures what's really going on with the bird feeder...

Based on the apparent growing interest, two weeks ago we decided to visit the local Wild Birds Unlimited and buy a "regular" bird feeder and some seed. We put it out, filled it with seed, and saw a few birds show up. However, when we were both home from work the next day, the seed was completely eaten but very few birds were around. This also seemed rather odd but we decided to refill the bird feeder for the next day. By the time we got home the seed was again gone but there was a half-dozen of birds hanging around eating the spillage from the feeder. At this point it was pretty clear the bird feeder was a hit!

Since then, the bird count has increased and it is not uncommon to see 12-15 birds hanging around at any one time (as long as there is food, of course...). I've really been amazed at the number of birds we've seen - it is motivation to get a birding book! The red-winged blackbird is the most distinctive bird we see, but we also see wrens, pigeons, and other birds we can't properly describe.

As a side effect, we now have a thick bed of sprouts beneath the bird feeder. Another landscaping challenge!

Swarm!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Another Exciting Installment of "Vickery World" News

Yes, that's right folks, it's time for Katie's 2nd blog post ever! I like to keep you waiting :-)

First things first - As of Thursday, I am officially 30+1. I had a great birthday (even though I had to work!), and then Zach & I went to a great sushi place here in Boise (yes, that's right, I said the words "great sushi" and "Boise" in the same sentence!). The restaurant is called Fujiyama, and we ended up getting an assortment of sushi rolls & a couple of pieces of salmon & spicy scallop sashimi, along with an appetizer of gyoza (potstickers, I guess, would be an equivalent). All of it was very good, and we enjoyed every bite! For a restaurant serving mostly seafood-based dishes, and being in such a dry, land-locked state, this restaurant had very good quality sushi - we were pleasantly surprised! After dinner we came back to the house & I opened all my wonderful & thoughtful presents & cards from everyone - so very generous of all of you! Thank you! Don't worry, Grandma, this is not the only thank you anyone will get from me! ;-) It was a great birthday, full of lots of love & good wishes...what more could a girl ask for?!

In other news, I got a new job today! It's still with the same company (NYK Line), but it's in a different department. As of July 7th, I will officially be a Sales Support Specialist for the West Coast of the US. It's a pretty exciting move for me, since a lot of this job will be completely new, but basically I'll be one of a team of Sales Support people, working with the Sales Reps (who go out to the customers & sign/extend service contracts), and our Corporate office to make sure the service contracts are filed correctly & to take care of fixing anything that is incorrectly filed. I've spent the last 1 1/2 years working as a Revenue Analyst, which required me to work closely with interpreting & applying the shipper's service contracts, in order to add rates & charges to bills, so now I'll be working on the other side of things - actually filing & following up on the service contracts.
The team I'm joining is made up of 6 other people from different departments within our office, so it will be interesting for us all to come at this position with such varied knowledge and experience in the shipping industry. I'm really excited about the move, mostly because I was getting very frustrated with the job I have been doing, as it's gotten pretty monotonous & downright annoying! This is a very welcome change!

Zach is planning a hike tomorrow, with a couple of guys, so as long as the weather in Eastern Oregon holds up alright, he should have a pretty nice trip. I'm planning on running errands & getting some reading done. On Sunday, we'll be heading over to Gary & Bonnie's for a barbeque, to celebrate Father's Day for Gary & also my birthday. It'll be a wonderful time with great food and company!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Long Weekend Recap

We had a nice, relaxing, and uneventful Memorial Day weekend. Friday night we got some grub at Rudy's before heading to the movie theater to watch Terminator: Salvation. We both enjoyed the movie - it was good with great action scenes, but the story and overall vibe are definitely not up to the standard of T2 which in my opinion is the best action movie ever made. Of course I like movies about quasi-sentient robots since they provoke metaphysical questions about humanity and possible future directions of human existence. But I digress...

Saturday we mostly ran errands; in particular we stopped at MacLife so I could look at the Macs since I suspect that might be my next computer purchase. It'll essentially be a choice between an iMac or a Wintel machine running Windows 7 (once that comes out). But it's good to have choices, right? Katie also got a haircut which she was happy with!

Sunday we had breakfast with Gary and Bonnie at Moon's Kitchen Cafe. I had the breakfast combo which included one of the biggest pancakes I've ever eaten (and I didn't even finish). Afterwards we did some grocery shopping too - another action-packed day!

Nothing too exciting occurred on Monday... mostly things like TiVo watching, reading, house cleaning, and mowing. Of course Tuesday was back to work but fortunately for only four days!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Updates

Other than the previously blogged hikes, there hasn't been too much going on with us. We've seen movies for three straight weeks: State of Play, Fast & Furious, and Star Trek. We both enjoyed all of them - personally I found Star Trek the best and Fast & Furious the least memorable. Maybe we'll go see Wolverine this week?

I did start tweeting last week. It is arguably pointless but anyone that wants to know minute details of our lives can check that out.

Also, the Shepherds in Vancouver are fundraising for the Relay for Life in memory of Ian. Their team name is Flock of Sheep. Donations are of course welcome!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Two Peaks, One Weekend

The weather in Boise has finally turned nice with highs in the 70s, lows in the 40s, and lots of daylight. Dan suggested we go for a hike on Saturday. We were constrained to an afternoon hike due to commitments with his daughter's softball team. We met at the softball field just before 1pm and headed out. Destination: Slacks Mountain in the Owyhees. Neither one of us were sure what to expect since we hadn't been to the area before. Of course the standard concerns apply in the Owyhees: ATVs, dirt bikes, private property, armed patrols, mining, overgrazing, etc.

On the way up we nearly collided with an out-of-control ATV before meeting with an Owyhee County Sheriff's Deputy who explained that the road over New York Summit was snowbound but we could get to within a mile or so of it. Perfect! We can get close enough to the peak without having lots of ATV through traffic in the area. Of course, the ATVs were still all over the place despite the snow situation.

We parked where the road became snowbound and started hiking at about 2:45pm. The going was easy and we enjoyed this surprisingly wet and forested area of the Owyhees. We made it to the summit around 5:30pm and enjoyed the expansive views of the Owyhees. It was actually quiet up there - always a pleasant surprise in this area! We soon headed back down at made it to the car just before 8pm. Due to the time, we scrapped our plan to make a quick ascent of nearby Bald Mountain.

On Sunday I decided to use the kayak again and ascend Grape Mountain. While unloading the kayak, I noticed a hole in the rubber outer hull. This was likely caused by having to drag it up 100' of rocky beach last time due to low water. I figured I might as well press on, so I got everything together and hit the water. Of course it became apparent immediately that things were not going well. The kayak was steering terribly, my bum was wet, and there was quickly a half inch or so of water in the bottom of the interior. As the melody from that Gordon Lightfoot song started to go through my head, I decided to turn around. While deflating the kayak, I managed to suck sand into the air pump which disabled it and of course added insult to injury. Despite this humiliating defeat, the kayak will be repaired and I will be back!

I couldn't simply go home after this fiasco; I had to bag a peak. I chose Shaw Mountain, a peak which was on the way home and not too big of a hike. Being a Grand Slam Peak, it was on my list for a Spring ascent anyway. It was also the first Idaho peak I climbed in May 2001 and therefore a sentimental favorite. I climbed from the Highland Valley Road and made an uneventful ascent up the road to the summit. This peak is best climbed before May 1st though because after that the road is open to vehicles, of which I saw quite a few. I always enjoy the view of Boise from this peak despite the typical haze.

Slacks Mountain Pictures! (Dan's Trip Report)
Shaw Mountain Pictures!

Trip stats:
Slacks Mountain: 10 miles, 2000' gain, 5 hours
Shaw Mountain: 10.6 miles, 2500' gain, 3.5 hours

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Kepros Mountain Kayak/Hike

On Sunday I enjoyed the gorgeous weather and partook in my first Spring hike up nearby Kepros Mountain. Rather than hike this peak in the usual manner (which I have done twice before), I decided to use my inflatable kayak to approach it from a nearby marina. Rather than a long hike from the south, I instead would experience a shorter (but steeper) hike along the peak's northwest ridge.

I slept in a little bit and didn't begin paddling until just after noon. The kayak portion went smoothly and after leaving the kayak on the shore I began the ascent of Kepros Mountain. Despite feeling a little out of shape during the ascent, I made steady progress and reached the summit around 2:25pm. This peak really does have a great 360° view of the mountains surrounding Boise! After the usual summit rituals I sent Katie a text message from the summit and then descended. The descent was uneventful and I returned to the marina just after 4pm.

This was really an ideal Spring hike; great weather, a "dual sport" ascent, some intensity (but not too much), good views, and the ability to see a new aspect of a familiar peak. Another kayak/hike to nearby Grape Mountain is planned!

Trip statistics: 1.25 miles kayaked, 5.5 miles hiked, 2500' gain, 4 hours.

Kepros Mountain Pictures!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Updates

Last Tuesday, I drove back up to Vancouver to attend Ian's memorial service. Driving conditions were good and I traveled the 643 miles in approximately 10 hours and 35 minutes, a new record. The only real highlight of this trip was lunch at the Fatburger in Issaquah.

The service on Wednesday was very well done and concluded with a bagpiper playing 'Amazing Grace'. Approximately 330 people attended the service and the reception hall was completely filled with people. I got to meet many new members of the extended family, many of whom had been waiting a long time to meet Katie's husband! How many names I remember is of course questionable...

After dinner with the family on Wednesday we got up early Thursday to drive home. This drive was also uneventful and only took 10 hours and 50 minutes. Friday was back to work.. of course we were both ready for the weekend before we even showed up!

Saturday I decided it was time to mow the yard for the first time this year; always a bittersweet moment since it heralds the beginning of warm weather but also the beginning of a chore that will be with me until October or so. The weather has finally gotten warm which is most appreciated since the Spring weather up until recently has been lacking in that department. Sometime soon we will see about a patio cover and perhaps do a little rework of our sad looking flower beds. Saturday night we ate dinner with Gary and Bonnie at the Ruby River Steak House. I had a buffalo burger which was good and the 25oz Sam Adams Summer Ale really hit the spot!

Sunday I managed to get out for my first Spring hike (the subject of a future blog post). Other than that, we had a quiet day. Katie did make yummy pork chops for dinner!

Not much is planned for this week. I've set a goal to bike to work at least once sometime this week; we'll see if it actually happens!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Rest In Peace Ian Shepherd

Katie and I both traveled to Vancouver on short notice last week to say our goodbyes to Katie's father Ian. After a very brief battle with pancreatic cancer, Ian passed away peacefully on April 2nd. Always enjoyable to be around, he was an all-around great man who taught me so much in a short time about such varied things as BC camping, verbal circumlocution, scotch drinking, and Canadian politics. You will be missed very much Ian!

Ian's memorial service will be held on April 15th at the Kerrisdale Presbyterian Church.

A few photos of Ian from the Vickery photo archive.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hockey Game



As the lack of recent blog posts attest, there hasn't been much going on with us. Yesterday we decided to go to an Idaho Steelheads hockey game since their season is almost over and we haven't been to one in two years. We ended up with second row seats and got a good view of the Steelheads defeating the Ontario Reign 3-0. The Steelheads are indeed wearing pink jerseys in the picture; this was part of a fundraiser for breast cancer treatment at the St. Luke's Tumor Institute. Before the game we had dinner at the Bitter Creek Ale House and of course I had to get a couple of beers, this time the Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout and the Sockeye Hell Diver. At the game I had a Long Hammer IPA which is surprisingly good for an arena offering.

Over the past month we've pretty much been working in between weekends. My job status is pretty much unchanged but Katie has been moved further into the world of outsourcing, which she isn't very fond of. We've watched a couple of movies recently, including The International and Watchmen. The International was a good action/thriller and Watchmen was entertaining despite being surprisingly graphic.

This weekend I will be attending the Boise Code Camp for a little bit of professional development. We might also check out the Idaho Fry Company which is opening this weekend. Maybe it will be comparable to Belgian Fries in Vancouver?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Getting old...

I had a pleasant 30th birthday despite not being very excited about the occasion. I spent the bulk of the day at work and that was uneventful. However it was much better than last year when I had to spend the day training replacement workers. That was probably actually my worst birthday ever.

Katie and I had a nice dinner at the Bitter Creek Ale House. I got the stout battered trout and chips which were excellent. In addition, I chugged a couple of glasses of my new favorite beer, the nitrogen charged Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout. I also tried the Dogfather and Black Butte XX Porter, neither of which were as good but still worthy.

Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes and gifts!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Alert the media! It's Katie's first blog post!

So, now that this blog has aged like a fine wine, I figured it was time for me to actually post on here. Zach has been amazing at keeping everyone in the loop, muuuuuuch better than I could ever do (obviously!). Given that my work environment is currently in in state of upheaval, I thought that would make an exciting first post!
So, here we go! I apologize in advance for the length & the rambling tone!

Zach mentioned in a previous post that all of the temporary people in my department were being let go, for cost-cutting reasons, and that by the end of February, all temps employed by all NYK offices in North American would be gone. We just found out on Monday that the final day had been pushed up, and that all temps will in fact be gone by this Friday! This will be a huge blow to our department, since it's basically 50% temps, 50% full time employees...by Monday morning, 8 people will be doing the work of 16. The idea of this is a tiny bit more manageable right now, given the fact that the shipping industry is quite slow, and our workload has decreased considerably over the last couple of months, but when the volume picks up again, this could prove problematic!

As background, and in seemingly unrelated news, our department has had 5 extra bodies helping us with our workload since October, in the form of NYK employees from our office in Manila, Phillipines. When they arrived, we were simply told that they would be helping us with production, since, at the time, we were slammed with work, and it was cheaper to bring employees from overseas to stay in hotels than it was to hire more temps locally. More on this development shortly...

Yesterday (Tuesday) the full-timers were pulled into a meeting with our management team & their boss. We were told that, due to the state of the economy, NYK would be outsourcing the documentation process (document creation & rate application) to the Manila Documentation team...some of whom have been helping us out since October. Additionally, the Regional Documentation offices in Chicago & Vancouver will be closing in May, leaving the Boise Documentation center (or centre, for our Canadian readers!) and the Toronto Documentation centre as the only Doc centers in North America. Apparently NYK is the last carrier (shipping company) to outsource the Documentation aspect of the process. Our job descriptions will be changing completely, and my understanding is that our main purpose will be liasing between the customers and the Manila Doc team.

So, the times, they are a-changing! This is the 2nd job I have had where my job has been outsources (when we lived in Tumwater, the medical billing company I worked for outsourced my job to India). I have definitely been lucky, since I haven't actually lost my job either time, I've just been "repositioned" to something different. In this particular situation, the outsourcers are at least of the same company, and are used to working with the same programs and procedures...hopefully this will make the transition a little smoother than Zach's experience with Micron.

I have yet to be told exactly what my new position will be, and will update when I find out. It's been a crazy couple of days, and I'm sure the next couple of months will be interesting (to say the least), but I'm just glad to be able to say that I have a job. In this economy, that's definitely something to be very thankful for! As Zach said, when I told him of the latest developments, "I guess we're the new American model - a two income household with both jobs having been outsourced in the span of a year". Sad but true...and like I said, at least we've both been lucky enough to keep our jobs (or find new, better ones, in Zach's case).

Well, after that lovely, uplifting blog post, I'm sure you'd all like me to never post again! My apologies for the length of the post...I'm not known for my conciseness! I will try very hard to be a more active blogger & help keep everyone informed.

I think that's about all the news to report from here!
Love,
Katie

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Squaw Butte Hike

The weather was supposed to be decent this weekend so I figured I would try to go on a solo hike somewhere close to home. I settled on Squaw Butte, a peak I climbed in 2003. I had never hiked its east side, so this choice even allowed seeing some new terrain. Of course I didn't read the weather reports well enough because on the drive over there it became apparent the peak was shrouded in fog. I didn't bring a map either because I figured I could see the peak from the road and easily find my way. Fortunately someone else was hiking the peak that day also, so I parked by his rig and just started hiking uphill.

From the drive over, it seemed clear that I would probably break out of the fog once I got high enough. Sure enough, that's what happened (right as I was starting to wonder if I was anywhere near the peak...). I ascended the southeast rib, the intended route which is popular due to class 3 rock climbing options it provides. I generally avoided the rock, though it was solid and made the route a little less boring. The entire ascent was uneventful, although up high it was rather slippery because above the clouds it was warm and the melting snow had turned much of the ground into mud.

The lookout on Squaw Butte isn't actually the highest point. The highest point (about 20' higher) is over two miles away on the ridge. Because I got such a late start (leaving the vehicle at about 11:40am) going over there was out of the question. I descended via a different ridge which was both less slippery and less rocky than the one used for ascent.

Despite being good exercise, this wasn't a very rewarding hike because much of the ground was muddy, the terrain was totally torn up by cow grazing, and the peak itself is covered in radio towers. I'm probably developing brain cancer as we speak!

Trip stats: 4.1 miles, 4.5 hours, 2200' gain

Squaw Butte Pictures!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Career Related Ramblings

Since a couple of people have asked for it, this post is a more detailed explanation of my current job - what the company does, what I do there, and what it's like working there.

In November 2008 I resigned as a software engineer at Micron Technology to take a position as a software engineer at Telemetric Corporation. Telemetric's business model is based around selling equipment and services to help utility companies wirelessly monitor equipment in power distribution networks. Because the company's products use the celluar network, they allow remote monitoring of substation equipment without the need for on-site personnel or physical communication lines. These products align the with the current smart grid initiatives, which are intended to make the power grid more fault tolerant, adaptable, and more easily managed.

Once a distribution system is equipped with Telemetric devices, a utility can manage intelligent electronic devices in their distribution network remotely. This means configuration changes can be initiated from the utility's control center rather than requiring a truck be sent out to a remote substation. A monitoring system called a SCADA System can be used to continuously monitor and control devices in the field over the wireless network. Alternately, Telemetric maintains a website for those customers who do not have a SCADA system so they too can monitor and control their devices in the field.

The engineering team has two main groups, a hardware group (which designs and builds the devices) and a smaller software team which maintains the software side (SCADA integration code and the web applications which allow remote monitoring and control). I'm in the software group; my main project to date have been writing software to automatically test the devices. I suspect that my future projects will include website enhancements and possibly also enhancements to the code used for SCADA integration.

So far, it has been a positive change for my career. The work has been interesting and Telemetric is a well-run profitable company with good people. With the economy being what it is, it's hard to feel too comfortable with any job but right now things seem to be as stable as they can be.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Snowshoeing in Wyoming

Since the break in the winter weather continued, Dan and I made another snowshoe trip, this time to the big mountains of the Jackson area. Dan had planned this trip for a long time and it finally came together with the good weather, good road conditions, and schedules.

We left Boise Friday afternoon and made the 6 hour drive to Jackson, stopping for dinner at an Arctic Circle in Idaho Falls. We spent the night at the Jackson Hole Lodge, a decent and reasonably priced motel in town. Saturday morning we got up early and caught the morning light hitting the Tetons. Continuing up the road, we saw moose and buffalo on our way up to Togwotee Pass, the start of the snowshoeing trip.

Brooks Mountain was the first peak on the docket. From the highway, we were able to follow a skier's trail for the first mile or more; when it stopped we had to venture across some questionable terrain before making it into the basin below the peak. From there it was easy going up to the summit ridge and eventually the summit. The summit itself looked steep and forbidding from far away but was actually pretty easy snowshoeing once we got up there. Temperatures were pretty mild (for January at least), probably in the 20s with a little bit of wind. Of course the summit views were astounding and easily some of the best I've seen anywhere. The mountains of Wyoming are a special place!

After making our way down we checked out the National Elk Refuge north of Jackson. Dinner was at the Snake River Brewing Company's brewpub. The place was packed with skiers quaffing beers after a day on the slopes. Their Hawaiian pizza was pretty good, but the Zonker Stout was even better.

On Sunday we ascended Mt. Glory in the morning. This peak is very popular with backcountry skiers; so popular there is hard packed boot path all the way from the highway to the peak. It was a little weird being the only snowshoers; everyone probably thought we were weirdos but of course I'm used to that! The views from up top were impressive but not as spectacular as Brooks Mountain. We made a quick snowshoe descent and were on the road around 11am to begin the long drive back to Boise.

Trip stats:
  • Brooks Mountain (5 miles, 6 hours, 2000' gain)
  • Mt. Glory (2 miles, 2.5 hours, 1750' gain)
Wyoming Snowshoeing Pictures
Dan's Trip Report

Monday, January 12, 2009

Nevada Snowshoe Trip

The stormy weather pattern finally abated and was replaced with sunny skies and mild temperatures. Despite an ongoing cold, I agreed to join Dan on a snowshoe trip to Ellen D Mountain in northern Nevada. It was close enough to Tabletop Mountain that we could visit both on our trip. We left early Saturday morning (about 6:30am) from Boise and headed over.

The peak is accessed from the mining town of Contact, Nevada. This is basically a ghost town but still has some activity from the operating Enexco Copper Mine. We ran into some bulldozers on the way in and they were doing a drill move which would be tying up the road. Fortunately we didn't need to follow the stretch of road they were utilizing for said operation.

At about 9:45am we got going heading up an unplowed road. Eventually we cut over to the main summit road and followed it all the way up. The temperatures were pretty mild but the wind was pretty chilling, especially near the top where it was strong and continuous. Of course my congested sinuses didn't like this a whole lot! My constant sniffling and sinus pain was the only blight on the day.

Due to the conditions, we didn't spend too long on top. We made a leisurely descent and also made a side trip to nearby Tabletop Mountain. We made it back to the truck shortly thereafter and made our way to Jackpot where we spent the night.

Trip statistics: 6 hours, 7.1 miles, 2700' gain.

Nevada Snowshoe Pictures!
Dan's Trip Report

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Weekend Update

Both Katie and I have been suffering from some kind of cold; Katie seems to have gotten it first and then passed it on to me. It's the kind that involves a sore throat and lots of congestion. Katie has gotten over hers but I'm still fighting mine. Hopefully it will clear out within the next couple of days. It's mostly an annoyance but has forced us to stimulate the economy with Kleenex and Tylenol Sinus purchases!

We watched a few movies over the past few weeks: Slumdog Millionaire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Valkyrie. I would say that "Benjamin Button" was my favorite; it is themed on the idea that time is the destroyer of everything and I find that to always be a powerful motif. That movie mixes things up a little by having someone age backwards, which of course inverts the typical life experience.

Friday night we had a nice dinner at the Cottonwood Grille as part of Telemetric's annual holiday dinner. Katie got to meet some of my coworkers and we both got to meet their various family members. Of course we both got treated to a good meal as well! It was a well done corporate event; no cheesy party games or requirements to pay your own way.

Despite my ongoing cold, I went snowshoeing on Saturday with Dan (pictures and trip report forthcoming). We had a great trip, although the cold and wind didn't play that well with my runny nose and sinus pain. We spent the night in Jackpot, Nevada, one of those Nevada border towns in the middle of nowhere that cater to people in other states wanting to gamble. Some of Dan's coworkers were partying down there so we met up with them, hit the buffet for copious amounts of food, then went to their suite to watch the NFL playoffs over a few drinks. Dan went on to play a little poker but I was too tired and went to bed early.

We returned to Boise around mid-day Sunday and Katie and I had a quiet afternoon and evening together. I'll probably have to go to bed early again since this cold isn't moving out as fast as I'd hoped.

This upcoming weekend Dan and I may make another snowshoeing trip to Jackson, Wyoming, if the weather holds. While this frequency of trips may seem excessive, this time of year is Dan's only reprieve from coaching his daughter's softball. Thus we tend to put these trips together when the weather turns nice.

The weather in Boise (and really all of southern Idaho) has turned rather pleasant, almost spring-like. Most of the valley snow has melted and the nice weather is expected to last through the week. Can't complain about that!

One final update. Katie got a rude announcement Friday; NYK Line is laying off all temporary workers within the next month or so. Like everyone else, the shipping industry is seeing the effects of the global recession. Their office uses a lot of them so they will be way short on manpower pretty soon. If the official word is to be believed, Katie's job is not in any immediate danger. However their office has been training some people from Manila, Phillippines, which sounds an awfully lot like a "globalization" (aka outsourcing) initiative to me.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Christmas and New Years

For Christmas, we visited the Shepherd family in Vancouver. For financial reasons, we opted for a driving trip. We left around 1pm on December 23rd, which happened to be perfect timing between northwest snowstorms which have been very common this winter. We had a uneventful trip on dry roads the whole way. We stopped for dinner in Yakima, which was kind of amusing as they were out of pretty much everything. I think it took us four tries to find something on the menu they actually had in stock. Nonetheless, we made it to Vancouver around 11:30pm. As we were arriving in town, the snow started falling.

When we woke up on Christmas Eve, there was over a foot of fresh snow on the ground (see pictures below). Needless to say, this complicated Christmas Eve plans since the roads around town were treacherous and pretty much required a high-clearance, preferably 4wd vehicle. We managed to get the Escape stuck in snow at one point! Despite the conditions, we had a nice lunch with Dave and managed to do a little last-minute shopping.

For Christmas Eve we went to the Shepherd family church, the Kerrisdale Presbyterian Church, for their Christmas Eve service. It is a very nice church and the service was very well done. Afterwards, we finished wrapping Christmas presents and quaffed a few tasty beverages.

On Christmas Day, the snow continued to fall. Despite this, we had a morning family brunch followed by present opening. Later in the evening we had a family Christmas Day dinner. On Boxing Day (aka December 26th), the snow resumed, dropping another foot or so. We had a pretty quiet day followed by another family dinner. Our ability to do much was pretty limited though due to the huge amount of snow around.

Due to questionable road conditions, we determined we needed to leave Saturday the 27th to ensure plenty of time to make it home for work on Monday. So we left Saturday afternoon after a nice lunch at Wing Nuts. Just parking at the restaurant was an ordeal due to the huge amount of snow around.. up to 3 feet in places. It was unreal!

Our drive home was fortunately uneventful as we again managed to sneak between storms. We spent the night at a Holiday Inn Express in Richland, roughly halfway between Vancouver and Boise.

We both had a fairly quiet New Year's Eve. We had a few drinks and watched a movie. Does that make us boring??

Christmas in Vancouver Pictures!