A Ford Focus is a lot like a Dodge Neon, except not as sporty, fun, or cute. [Heh, I could think of the same analogy between various pairs of people I know.] The one I had this weekend was red, with Calif. tags 4XJW165; it had about 13,000 miles on it, IIRC. It has good acceleration at low speeds, and adequate acceleration at freeway speeds, but it surely didn't feel like a turbo-charged 4-cyl or a mighty V6. But, hey, it's a compact car. It did 82mph just fine; I didn't ask it anything faster. For handling, it's pretty good. Power steering is great. It did fine on the hair-pin turns I took on my drive on Sunday. The steering wheel isn't positioned well wrt the pedals and the driver's seat, though. At least, not positioned well for someone of my proportions. Hanging on to the wheel at 5 and 7 o'clock, my elbows would tire out. I wish the steering column were longer. *shrug* The highlight of the car was the stereo: it was easy to figure out and had some good sound. Oh, and the car had A/C. Very handy as I'm sitting in slow US-101 traffic in the bright sun.
So, enough about the car. Now, about what I did with it...
Saturday morning I ran in the Human Race. I did the 10K and finished with a time of 43:25. My friend Karl says it's an impressive time, and I'm more and more inclined to agree. It's a 7min/mile pace, which isn't anywhere near what I used to run in my hey-day. But, OTOH, I ran only once in the last month, and most of my hey-day races were 5Ks. So, a 7min/mi pace is pretty good. I was happy about it. It was also neat that the course was along most of the same paths I and others from work take during our evening runs. The one lowlight about the race was that, being held in the morning, there were some really dense clouds of teeny tiny gnats. By the time I finished I was peppered on my arms and face with these little black spots. Ew! Oh, well. That's what the long shower after the race was for.
The rest of Saturday was running errands. I bought some dark brown "men's casual" shoes, so I wouldn't look like a stupid American tourist when I go to Hungary this week. [Well, at least my Asics running shoes won't give me away anymore.] Other random things from Costco, Target, etc. A handful of the supplies I bought when I first moved in are finally out. I should be good for another 8 months now.
Sunday, I called my Mom to say Happy Mother's Day. Then I drove out to the Henry W. Coe State Park intending to walk around a little and take some pictures of wildflowers. I took CA-85 to US-101, where I was met with a big mound of traffic. Seems that US-101 is constricted to just two lanes for a while, and there's a big backup because of it. Once free of the constriction everyone returned to their normal cruising speeds. The road leading up to the park starts it Hollister, which is just north of Gilroy.
It seems like most parks in the Bay Area are at the ends of long windy roads. The drive to the Lick Observatory (which I few months ago) was 20-odd miles of turns, and heading to the Henry W. Coe park was 10 miles of turns and 1.5-lane roads. I'm so glad I opted for the car upgrade to get power steering. Anyway, I eventually reached the park, but had to leave the car in overflow parking (they'd had a Mother's Day thing at the park earlier in the day, which filled the normal lot). A half-mile walk to the actual visitor's center. The visitor's center is just a little cabin-like place, with some interpretive bits about Coe and ranching in the area. Nothing too exciting, as far as I could tell. The rangers were recommending to folks various trails to take and I eavesdropped a bit. I asked about going along one particular trail and the ranger suggested a nice loop, which would end up at about 4.5 miles. Well, I did have a couple of bottles of water, some granola bars, my camera, and no where else to go. Why not? Plus, I'm wearing my "men's casual" shoes, so what better way to try them out? Out I go. To make a long story short, I return about 2.5 hours later. It was a nice loop, and I saw lots of nice wildflowers (although Frog Lake, my northern terminus, was really unpleasant looking and stagnant). I aim to put the pics online this evening, but we'll see how long I last awake. 8)
So, after having returned from the hike, I pick up a few more maps (including the USGS quadrangle map for Santa Clara County) and head back down the road. Going down was faster than going up, but 25 mph never felt scarier than when going back and forth along the contour and down through a valley. I was much happier once there was a yellow median line on the road again.
The trip rounded out with lunch/dinner at Carl's Jr. in Hollister, then sitting in more construction traffic along US-101 heading back home. A few final errands to run with the car in the evening, and I was back at my apartment by around 6pm. Cartoons, cleaning up, and doing laundry filled the rest of my evening, and now I'm writing this entry. 8)
I think I'm pretty well set for my Hungary trip, although I have a measure of angst building up in the back of my mind; I'm sure I'm going to forget something important. I have my plane tickets, and I have a hotel room booked in Budapest. I know that I want to visit Eger at some point, and there are other things to do in Budapest. I don't know how I'll carve up my time, but I'll work on that in the next day or two. And, play some of it by ear, too. My biggest concern in the next couple of days is polishing off the changes I've recently made to the server I shepherd, and rolling them out before I head out. I'd like to push them Monday night or Tuesday morning, so I'll have plenty of time to debug should something go wrong. I may have a few late nights ahead of me. But, hey, then I'll be gone for a week and a half, so a few late nights isn't much of a price to pay.
Anyway, that's it for my weekend.