I picked up a car Friday morning. Dodge Neon, from Enterprise. Enterprise was great to rent from so I think I'll be dumping Budget. Enterprise, for example, has customer service, which Budget does not. And cars. Enterprise has cars, which Budget frequently does not. It's a longer walk in the morning to pick up, but walking's good. When I drop it off tomorrow I'm thinking of running back home (in the exercise running sense). Combine two things into one!
Friday night, dinner with a friend from UW and one of his friends. [...] Wait, I've written some of this before. Oh, well. Let me fast-forward some.
Late Friday night I plan my weekend car fun. I want to drive into the foothills to see if they really are green and not brown, like they are in August. South and West seem like good choices, but I notice a curious little road head east. Following it on the map I see Joseph D. Grant county park. Cool, I'll take a drive to a county park. That's in the hills and should be exciting. I look for another map book, find the road, and then find that there's something even more exciting on the other side of the park: Lick Observatory. I like telescopes, and I'm all for driving, so it's settled: come Saturday morning, I head along this road to the observatory. I should be back in time for a planned get-together with friends.
I pack things (water, snack bars) and hit the road. US-101 south through San Jose. Looking at a map book while screaming along a freeway in California is not easy nor recommended. I manage to determine which exit I want without incident. Funny enough, the way to get to the Observatory is: 101 to the Alum Rock exit. Drive along Alum Rock for 30 miles. You're there. It's the same road, albeit with different names along the way, all the way from San Jose. Handy.
The most fun part about this road is its shape. It follows the contour of the hills while climbing the 4600 feet to the top of the peak. Which means that it's really windy. I have some pictures that aren't online yet (I'll post when they are) that show this. But, suffice it to say, I took about an hour to drive 22 miles and I perhaps less speed-cautious than most. My favorite turns were the ones that were as tight as a U-turn normally, but also involved going up at an 8% grade. The road is apparently a favorite among cyclists. The observatory has washrooms, water, a snack machine, and some expectation that cyclists show up on a regular basis.
The Lick Observatory is neat. I'll save more details about it for later, perhaps once pictures are up.
On the way up I stopped to help a cyclist find out what happened to his buddy. Cyclist #1 was way ahead when I passed #2, whom I noticed was walking. #1 flagged me down and asked about #2, and was a bit worried he was walking. I offered to (and did) drive back to #2 to check on him. He was fine but had cramps. Back to #1, who decided to ride back to meet #2. I should point out, of course, that the reason #1 didn't really want to ride back in the first place (presumably) was not the distance (1 mi) but the elevation change (several hundred feet).
Dinner, games, Dance Dance Revolution, and ice cream at friends. Fun.
I need some ski kit for later in the month; in particular, I'd like a waterproof jacket and pants. I find REI 12 miles away and drive. I mean, that's the point of the car. 8) I like the Marmot kit but it's the wrong size. Another REI, 8 miles the other side of my apt., has other sizes. I drive there, but decide it's just not what I want. The REI in Saratoga also is really short on friendly service staff. At the REI in San Carlos and Tukwila, WA, I was greeted by someone friendly. Saratoga, I had to hunt down someone. Hrm. Anyway, the moral is to shop for ski gear in November, when all the stores are still stocking things, not in January, when they're thinking of spring exerecise gear. In the end I bought a Pacific Trails jacket from a Sportmart Express (ie, clearance center) near my apt. It's a nice rainproof jacket. Still no rainproof pants, but I may just forgo them.
I bump into my friend W-H at Sportmart. We join up for dinner in Cupertino. Tasty. We stop by Golfland on the way back. They have DDR games in their arcade. I saw two amazing people, early 20s, rock through 12-feet songs. I didn't know that some levels used both stages! I liked the Scottish jig song. The DDR craze has also spread to other things. There's DDR drums, DDR piano, DDR guitar, etc. Amazing. W-H says he asked Sega when DDR maracas, available now in Japan, would be available in the US. Sega said play testing had gone badly; Americans apparently were too violent with the maracas when they lost.
Then, back to the office to try to scare up some gaming. Found a third and played Settlers of Catan. W-H one (we play to 13 with 3 players) but I and the 3rd player each had 11 points. A fun game.
Okay, that's it for me. Gotta get to sleep so I can return the car early tomorrow morning. All before the water main is flushed.