Tuesday, April 26, 2011

CenCal Tag Run Saturday 04/23/11

Another lovely day for a tag run! Not too hot, not too cold - pretty much perfect weather. 

Here I am capturing the old tag in Fiddletown, CA:

Fiddletown is an interesting and quiet historic little town located in Amador county. Founded in 1849 it is California Historic Landmark #35. One of the VP's at a semiconductor company I formerly worked at has a little winery (Morse Wines & Il Gioiello Winery) located in Fiddletown. I would have liked to be able to stop by there to do some tasting... 

After grabbing the tag, I headed down Hwy 49 towards Jamestown, where I had planned to set the tag at an old historic jail house. Along the way I came upon the Butte Store and later decided to use it as the new tag instead.

I had the gopro running for part of the ride down Hwy 49 but I have not edited it as yet. I will do it one of these days soon and add it here. I stopped a couple of other places along the way to snap some photos. 

The welcome to Calaveras County marker:

Here's the Altaville School House in Angels Camp... I almost used it as the new tag:

I decided to stop at the 'Bucks in Angels Camp and upload the tag pictures. Then I made my way back towards home via Hwy 4, stopping to snap this picture for a coworker we all call Farmington (he's from there):

I arrived back in town around 4:30 or so, just in time to stop at Petsmart to pick up some cat litter... Back to reality :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

GoPro Hero HD

Okay... Begin rant... 

A few months ago I drank the GoPro koolaid and picked up a Motorsports GoPro Hero HD. I think I at least got it on sale or on a 'tax free' sale - I hope so anyway. I have to dig out the receipt. I will be even more unhappy if I paid the full price of $299! 

The GoPro takes very nice, high quality, great looking pictures and videos. That is the reason I decided to buy one - well that and all the reviews from happy customers that I read.

Unfortunately, the user interface is not so nice. I have spent the last few months trying to get the camera to work. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. It acts like it is working and then when you go to review the video there isn't one. It has left me high and dry with no video several times now. So far the success rate has only been around 30% and I am just about done with it.

I have the instructions just about memorized word for word now. I have verified that the SDHC media is compatible. And I have read their FAQ about troubleshooting problems. I have been about driving myself nuts thinking that I have been doing something wrong...

On the way to the RTE last Sunday I took the Uvas Dam route to Hwy 152 to Watsonville and then Hwy 1 to Moss Landing. I had the camera mounted and running - at least the blinky light said it was... Then after lunch we rode up to Fremont Peak and I had the camera going again. I was really excited to get home and review the footage. Well, there was no video at all of the Uvas Dam ride. WTF??? I did however get some video of the Fremont Peak ride - except... it stopped just before we actually go to the peak because the stinking battery ran out!

I was so upset that I started boxing it up to sell which most likely will be at a big loss... Then I started thinking about how it isn't right to offload it on some poor unsuspecting person and I decided to go back to the GoPro website one more time to see if I could find any known problems like the ones I am having. While I was hunting around there I saw that there was an available firmware update so I downloaded and installed it.

So far I have successfully gotten video 2 times out of 2 attempts. It is still too early to say that the problems are fixed though. It needs to work flawlessly every time I use it for a while before I will believe that it is fixed. If it leaves me empty handed again, I will be done with it.

If I had to do it over, I would pass on the GoPro. There are cheaper cameras that are easier to use out there, with better (longer) battery life, and I would gladly give up a little picture quality to have one that isn't a total PITA.

Alrighty... Rant over. I feel better now :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Parkfield RTE 04/10/11

I got an early start leaving home at around 8:30am and headed down Hwy 101 stopping on the way in King City for a coffee and to gas up. I pulled off the road again in San Miguel to start the gopro to see if I could get the ride from there to Parkfield. It was actually a success! Here it is!

I arrived in Parkfield a few minutes early giving me time to walk around and take a few pictures:

A tribute in memory of the Yokut indians who were the first to settle in the area:

These are markers that illustrate the movement on the San Andreas fault line, showing a total of 12.4' between 1931 and 1995 when the markers were erected. The annual rate of movement is listed at ~2.33":

This time the Parkfield Water Company fountain was working:

Soon enough the others began to arrive. First in was Ted from Arroyo Grande:

Shortly afterwards Bob and Bonnie:

Next up Mike the Squirrel Hunter (I smooshed a poor squirrel on the way out in his honor):

Here's David from Salinas:

David checks out Ted's lowered pegs:

L to R: Bob, Bonnie, ??? (sorry I'm terrible with names), and Jerry:

Here's one with Ted (far left):

Bob's best attempt at a Mellow wave:

L to R: Jennifer, Mike, Dan, Jean-Michele, and David:

Thinking of the Moonshine Moonburgers everyone enjoyed at the Moonshine Lunch Run on Saturday, I had the grass fed beef Parkfield burger:

Followed up with the BEST cherry cobbler I have EVER had:

Bob had to try out the hammock...

Group shot after lunch:

Too soon it was time to think of heading home... I decided to follow the Salinas bunch up the backroad to Hwy 25 to Hollister and I was rewarded with an excellent ride - such a nice change from the monotony of the freeway. This time of year the hills are all green and the flowers are in bloom. Just beautiful. I'm still kicking myself for not have the gopro running for this part of the ride.

CenCal Tag Run Saturday 04/09/11

It was another beautiful day for a ride. I caught a snooze after getting off shift at 6:30am, then hit the road around 11:15am or so. I had planned to be on the road at 10:00am but I had some alarm clock setting problems...

Here's where I captured the CenCal Tag in Sebastopol:

You can't see it but off to the right of Gigolo and toward the back of the field is a little nursery called California Carnivores. Which helps to explain the silly giant man eating plant thingy sitting in the field by the highway. It was a good tag though, interesting and unusual. Just how I like them.

Then I set it in downtown Petaluma:

The traffic in Petaluma was stinky. I had to circle the block a couple of times and finally just pulled up in the red zone to snap the picture. It seemed like all the idiots were out in force looking for parking spaces and blocking everyone else from being able to get around them. 

On the way home I didn't want to go the same route so I took 116 to 37 to Vallejo, then 80 to Hercules where I stopped to have a cup of coffee and upload the tag pictures. I had the gopro camera going and got a nice video of that part of the ride, I just need to edit it a bit before uploading it. 

After coffee I hit the road again, taking 4 to 680. I saw the sign for Sunol and jumped off thinking I could get a little ride on Niles Canyon with the gopro going. Unfortunately, due to operator error I did not get a video but I had a nice ride.

Trip total: ~222 miles

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

CenCal & NorCal Tag Run 04/02/11-04/03/11

Finally we got a nice break in the rain! So Saturday morning Rudy, Gordon, & I set off to move and leap-frog the CenCal and NorCal Tags, stop in Redding for the night at Rudy's uncles farm, and then return home at our leisure on Sunday via whatever route struck our fancy.

The first stop was so Gordon could capture the existing CenCal Tag on Patterson Pass. It was windy and cold, a great place for a wind farm.

Next stop was Vacaville where Gordon set the new tag at the Vacaville Museum, which I captured immediately afterwards.

On to Winters where I set the new tag location at Rotary Park Gazebo and then Rudy captured it...

From Winters we headed up I5 to Hwy 16 and made a stop at Cache Creek Casino for Rudy to set the new tag location, Gordon to make his $20 donation, and for a little coffee break. Sorry, I didn't take any pictures...

This is where we should have found a Starbucks or McDonalds with free wi-fi so that we could upload the tag pictures... but alas, even after being "bruced" out of the tag a few times before, did we stop? Of course not!

After our break was over we continued on Hwy 16 to Hwy 20 to Williams, then back on I5 to Willows where Gordon captured the NorCal tag.

The guys wanted to go check out the raceway so off we went to Thunderhill where Gordon set the new tag location, which I then captured.

A few miles north on I5 I set the new tag location at Library Park and Rudy captured it.

It was time to hit the slab again and get to the farm in Redding in time for dinner. We arrived in Redding at about 6:00pm and decided to stop at the 'Bucks to upload the pictures and have a last cup of coffee.

Unfortunately, we were "bruced" AGAIN on the CenCal tag... It seems that Jeff uploaded his tag pictures  just 10 minutes before we logged on. Maybe this time we will learn! Fortunately, the NorCal tag was still untouched so all was not lost, and Gordon & I uploaded and posted our NorCal tag pictures.

Then we all headed to the farm for the night where we all had fun visiting with Rudy's uncle, aunt, and cousins until the wee hours of the morning. The next morning after coffee and muffins and a bit more visiting we were once again on the road, this time the destination was the final NorCal tag location to be set by Rudy at the Sundial Bridge before making our way home.

On the way home we jumped off of I5 at Williams and headed west on Hwy 20 to Clearlake and then made our way south on Hwy 29 through Napa. It was a beautiful day to be riding and I had intended to be able to post a video of the highlights of the ride but my GoPro camera did not work properly, which is a bummer but not the end of the world.

Trip total: ~614 miles