07.30.03 When I was biking in to work this morning, I almost ran over a gigantic spider! I
thought it was a pine cone at first, that was how big it was. Turns out it was some freakishly large black and hairy spider.
Sort of looked like a black, mid sized tarantula. I know that they aren't around here, so it probably was some
sort of running spider like a wolf spider or whatever. It was big enough that I didn't want to run over it with my bike
in the event that it wouldn't be enough to kill it, and it could flip up onto me off the wheel, and reak some revenge upon me. Yikes.
07.26.03 This saturday I journeyed to
Sequoia National Park (offical state website). It's a little over 4 hours drive from Burbank.
Much of that drive is through the arid desert flatlands, up 5 past Bakersfield. It is quite bizarre to be driving in the super heat, where
it was too hot to even drive with the windows down, and see green pastures being watered, right next to dry, desert. The drive up into the
mountains near Sequoia is quite spectacular. Giant Forest is where I parked the car and commenced my hiking. I ended up hiking about 15 miles
through old growth forest. There are some nice trails and loops with placards of information. Sequoias are quite impressive with the
ability to grow for thousands of years (General Sherman is well over 2000 years old) and
withstand many fires. Their bark is porous and thus heat resistant. The sap is kept near the top of the trees, making the bottoms much
less flamable. They require soil to be just right: it needs to be ashy, not too deep, not too wet, and not too cold. Pretty picky trees,
but when the conditions are right, they flourish. While walking on the very first trail, a
sequoia fell! It was quite impressive and a little scary. The size of these monsters can not be described. Apparently they fall often
but not frequently enough to worry people. It was an impressive site, and I am glad that I was well away from it when it came down. Even
walking along the trails, you would hear the thud of football sized pinecones falling down from the tree. One of these missed me by about
three feet, hitting the ground a stride behind me. If you follow Soldiers trail, you eventually make your way to Moro rock. This gigantic outcropping of granite
can be seen from the valley below as you drive in. It's quite hard to miss.
The cool part is that they've carved stairs into the rock
so you can journey up to the very peak of it and have an astounding panoramic view of the Great Western Divide and surrounds. Here is a view
of Moro rock from the valley.
If you look at this photo with Moro rock in the midground, you can just make out people on the top of the rock.
On the way back from Moro rock, I passed the tunnel log
and headed back into
the forest. You slowly come upon hundreds of the giant trees, old pioneer cabins, and even cow pastures that now are just fern covered
valleys. Nearing the main trail, I happened upon 4 people all whistling and whooping. Pausing to understand why, I realized that there
was a bear about 100 yards off, in the woods.
They were trying to get his attention, but luckily he was resolutely ignoring them. I
didn't stay long to see them become a bear-y delicious snack and headed off to see General Sherman. General Sherman is the largest living monument
in the world, and largest tree (by volume) in the world. Why they measure by volume is beyond me. I saw many more impressive trees
in the deep forest, but I guess they are too far to walk to become major tourist traps. Eventually I wandered back to the car, ending
the 5 hr hike and drove on home. The sequoias are truly impressive, and it is well worth the visit.
07.23.03 It's been a while since I've had time to add more tales. Let's see. I have some photos developed,
and will be adding a second gallery page: PAGE 2 and PAGE 1 is still
there as well. On the page there are several trips:
In the Santi Monica mountains are the parks of
Paramount Ranch and Malibu Creek State Park. These are the
famous sites of filming for things such as M*A*S*H*, Planet of the Apes, etectera. There is an old western town at Paramount
Ranch that you can roam through. It's a little cheesy but kind of fun. The biking in Paramount Ranch isn't worth coming for.
The trails are either hay fields, wide open, or next to impossible. There were several great views making the day fun, but
it quickly became insanely hot [over 40 celcius]. I headed up the trail according to my guide book that should take me out to
the road to the north. After finding the trail to be unbikeable, I carried my bike up the mountain, assuming that maybe the trail
on the opposite side down to the road would be better. It wasn't. I carried my bike down the mountain too. Talk about a lot
of hard walking. Following the road, to get into MCSP, I went by a trout fishing picnic area. Two ponds stocked with trout that
families pay to catch with old cane poles. It was interesting to watch as I ate my powerbar. I continued on the road towards
MCSP, and stopped to empty my shoe of pebbles near a road sign. I noticed that there was a big black spider in the U shape metal
of the road sign's post. Upon closer examination, I realized it was not only a Black Widow, but a big fat huge Black Widow that
was probably pregnant it was so fat!
Chalk up another sighting of poisonous creatures! Yikes! The biking in MCSP is a little open,
but it's was a lot of fun with the scenery. There was a challenging section through an old creekbed that is basically hundreds
of yards of river rock and boulders to pick your way through. I'm sure glad my shocks are top of the line. :)
One to Big Bear's mountain
at the beginning of July. That was quite interesting. The mountain top is above 7,000 ft in elevation, and you litterally
spend an hour driving up the mountain from below 1,000 ft elevation. The drive is a flurry of switchbacks and curves and is
the trip is worth it just for the drive up. After stopping in at a local bike shop for directions, I made it to the trails.
The Fall Classic route is the one I opted for. The views
are great, the countryside is really nice. It's feels quite like Algoquin park. There is one really fun single track, 1E01
at the junction of 2N08 and 1E01 [No, that's not a typo. Strange naming convention for trails, hey?] if you ever make it out
to Big Bear. A lot of the trails are soft or sand covered, so overall the biking could have been a lot better. Oh well, it
was a good day despite that.
Speaking of poisonous spiders, there are apparently only 2 found in California that pose a serious threat to humans. The
Black Widow and the Brown Recluse Spider
. Although typically not fatal,
recluse spider bites have nasty effects. The interesting
part of all of this is that I have spotted a Black Widow up close and personal on a biking trip. It wasn't in the deep wilds
of some trail, but on a well traveled road through a small town on a street sign. The brown recluse spider, well, I've
killed 3 in my apartment in Burbank! Scary. My spider stories don't stop there though. One of the rental cars I have had
while being out here was a convertible Mustang. The clerk was in a hurry and it was the easiest one to get out of the lot, so that's
how I ended up driving it. The gross part was that as I was driving home from the rental place, a huge fat hairy spider came
running out of the dash. It was loony size and ugly. I was freaked out, but it had disappeared down the front of the dash, and
there was little I could do. I parked the car in my garage, bought a can of Raid, and doused down the dashboard. The next morning
I was leaving for my bike trip to Paramount ranch, but there was no dead spider. I needed to air out the car from the Raid, so I
decided to lower the roof. As I reached up to lower the sunvisor in order to free the roof latch, the fat ugly beast came flying
down. He landed on my thigh with a thud and luckily was a bit dazed. Before he could skitter up into my shorts, I managed to somehow
open the door and lurch my leg enough out of the door for him to fly into the driveway. I quickly jumped out of the car and finished
the job. That was the biggest freaking spider I've had on me yet, and let me tell you, it makes you not want to have a convertible!
After doing some internet research, I've identified the spider from the car. It's a Bold Jumper spider.
06.27.03 Check out this cool link: Drag the skeleton!.
Today while walking back from working out in the morning before work, I passed by one of the trees on my street. There, at
head level was a big fat squirrel, pointing towards the ground, and staring at me with his beady little black eyes. He was a
big one, grey and brownish-yellow, with a mean look in his sharp little stare. Weird thing was, he was perfectly motionless
the entire time I walked right by him. I passed within a foot of him, and still he didn't move. It was so bizarre that I
wasn't sure if he was actually real or not, perhaps due to my post-morning workout stupor. He kind of freaked me out when he
let out a evil little chattering noise at me and then came buzzing down towards my feet. I jumped, he ran under and kept on
his merry way. Weirdness. The day before I had seen a squirrel on my bike ride. It couldn't have been the same one, but
they breed tough in California. This one was eating the road kill of another squirrel. Blech.
Stay tuned for more adventures. This weekend is planned to be quite an adventurous one with Meghan in town. We're going
all over the place: In Pasadena The Gamble House,
Huntington Gardens Musem, Norton Simon Museum/Gallery, and dinner at
a great little italian restaurant that apparently is a chain. We're also headed for
The Getty Center/Art gallery and gardens, then a road trip to either
Santa Barbara or maybe catalina island or possibly
laguna beach. As well, Monday we are for sure going to the
San Diego Zoo. It's pretty exciting. DreamWorks is also having an employee screening of Sinbad
on sat morning, and we've got discounted tickets to see Finding Nemo. Pretty busy.
Plus, with another 3 days of holidays coming next week, a trip to try out Big Bear's mountain
biking scene is lined up. :)
06.21.03 I rented a car for another moutain biking adventure. :) Pictures to follow, they need developing
still. First I will have to finish the camera though, so it may be a bit. Anyway, off in the cheap little rental
car down to a hidden away little state park by Malibu, off of the Coral Canyon Road. [
trail info here]. Recommended by my friend, this was a great experience. Just outside of Malibu, the second road in
fact, you hang a left away from the ocean and proceed up the mountain on a skinny, twisting little road that takes you
up 3/4 of the way to the top, where it ends in gravel at 1600 ft up. There I stopped to admire the fact that I was in
the clouds and despite the grin from the drive up, I smiled even more at the views. It is absolutely stunning, and
watching the clouds roll over the crests is breathtaking. The trail is a fun little single track slated with a higher
challenge level [according to my handy "Santa Monica Mountains: Mountain Biking the Coast Range" guide book] than it
should have. It was pure fun, bouncing over smooth rocks that remind you of Moab, through little creeks and forests, down,
down, down to canyon floor and then back up and over a peak, all along the "Backbone Trail". Check out some of the flowers
I saw: Flowers of the Backbone Trail
It was a great time. You can loop up some fireroads that are more just bulldozed paths called "motorcades", but don't let the name
deceive you. They are a bulldozed path of sand and grit that is almost impossible to bike up with the grade they climb,
and I was forced to trudge up most of them. Apparently bike tires sink into ankle deep sand. :( By the time I got to
the top, more clouds were rolling by me and a pair of red tail hawks circled on past. I stopped to take pictures of some
more vistas, and then bounced on down to the car. I had been going for only 3 hours, so I started into a second loop. Shortly
after starting, I snapped a cleat from my egg beater pedals [Crank Bros] and sadly I was forced
to turn back. Stopped off at my favourite bike store on the way home though. :) [SuperGo]
It was a pretty darn good Saturday. :)
05.28.03 It's been busy at DreamWorks, as can be expected. I just completed work on rigging a starfish,
Check out some of the newer thumbnails I've
been painting in Gimp, a super basic painting package on the computer in my Gallery.
These images have nothing to do with work at DreamWorks, but they're fun nevertheless. I try to squeeze out a new
one every once in a while, so check back often. :) The weather today was another carbon copy of the last week,
high 80's to low 90's [28-33 Celcius] but thankfully it is dry heat. I went for a bike ride today at lunch time,
and was sweating like a pig. It really saps the strength out of you and the water too. Guess I will have to stick
to morning rides. This weekend on a trip to Ottawa, I managed to tour the
NRC's wind tunnel.
Ottawa's Open Doors weekend that was running. The basic concept is to have a variety of normally off limit
buildings open to the public with free tours. So we treked over to the windtunnel and toured around. It was
pretty darn impressive. They even let us fly kites inside. :)
05.14.03 While playing baseball with the DreamWorks softball team [which is actually slo-pitch according
to my Canadian roots] I managed to stop a fast groundball brilliantly. It hit a rock right before skipping into
my glove, and instead shot straight up into my face. THUD! I garnered a broken nose and after being whisked to the
hospital, nose swelling and spouting blood, I emerged with 4 stitches. Apparently a softball isn't all that soft.
The coolest part of the whole experience was the double black eyes, rendering me into a little racoon.
05.04.03 This weekend I journeyed down the coast past Malibu to a park called
Pt. Mugu State Park, home of some great mountain biking, including Big Sycamore Trail
(For any of these images, click to enlarge)
I parked the rental car along the highway, at point mugu
along the coast, and headed into the park on my bicycle. The place is absolutely amazing. Super quiet, well groomed rolling trail, and hardly
anybody around. What could be better. It felt like a warm fall day for Ontario, not bad for early May.
Soon enough I came to a trail sign sporting "Overlook Trail". Sounded promising enough. The trail wasn't too technical,
but it sure went up a huge hill. Up and up, I went. Passing by poppies and wildflowers, lizards and small vole like mammals,
even a rattle snake. The rattle snake was in the bushes, I heard him and didn't stop to investigate. Best not to stop
and bother a rattler whilst climbing on a steep angle over loose gravel. Well, despite being completely out of breathe,
and searching for a lower gear that didn't exist on numerous occassions, I made it to the top. Of course, it was only the
pseudo top and I soon realized I had another 20 minutes of climbing to do. That didn't stop me from taking in the spectacular
scenery, with orange poppies blooming and a great view of the ocean. After an hour, yes, literally an hour, I made it
to the top of the mountain. Wow. Now I know why people call it mountain biking. Now I know what the real draw is. The
only thing better than the view and the new wildlife (I saw 5 lizards and that vole-ish thing),
was the ride DOWN! 20 minutes
of (safely ;) bouncing fun down the mountain. As I came down, I remember looking down, being blown away by how high I had
climbed. When I was at the bottom, I looked up to be blown away by how far down I had come. It was really really staggering. Hard
to describe, you simply have to be there to realize it. Take for instance this photo with the poppies. I litterally climbed that
same hill from the beach down below, and then twice as high as it. Astounding.
I had bounced on down over rock gardens and ruts, for 20 minutes, after being completely dog tired at the top. Funny thing
was now there was a whack of adrenaline pumping through me and I wasn't tired any more. So I continued along the old road
through the canyon, following a dried up river bed for another hour. It was one of the best bike rides I've ever had. Here are
some of the views from the top, and from mid way up:
On the way home, Meghan called me. While pulling over to talk on the cel safely, I spotted my first wild
seal! I know, I know,
laugh at me if you will, but I was excited! I'd never seen a seal in the wild before. Sure on documentaries, and
one or two at the zoo, but these guys were playing out amongst the kelp and the waves. Very cool. A great day to wind
down the day. I stayed to watch them as the sun lingered over the horizon, and finally headed on home.
Please note, my film is yet to be developed, these images are courtesy of a search view google images
Some sites with images: http://www.mybikesite.com/socal/trails/sycamore.htm
04.29.03 I stumbled upon this website a while ago, but it is still very much worth a look:
the GALLERIE ABOMINATE: The worst cg ever produced. It's
quite funny, even if somewhat harsh. Here's a cool site:
1 Pixel Per Meter. It's a site of different sized objects side by side at scale. Kind of cool. Can you tell
they keep me busy at work, no time to update this. Ah well, more to come...
04.25.03 The University of Waterloo is putting together a write up on my
"cool job" since they think that is what it is.
Link. Lots of rah-rah Waterloo in that, but still flattering for them to do so. I've been
warned to watch out for rattler snakes out here on the bike trails.
One person described the tracks as seeing
a track left by someone putting a texas sized graperfruit
into a sock and dragging it through the dirt. damn, that
is one big snake! So far I haven't seen any, but I'll let you know... As you can tell, I'm still trying
to get used to putting "interesting" stuff on to a web page. It's bound to improve.
04.23.03 Not a whole heck of a lot to say for the first day. I'm tired, it's 9.22pm and it's time I
head out on my bike for home. Stay tuned though, there'll be more to come.
04.23.03 Initial creation of this page.