Friday, August 31, 2007

The Road to Knee-covery

After giving myself about a week to rest up, I gave my left knee and ankle another whirl on the tennis courts today, and they felt pretty good as I wasn't even thinking about them as I moved around. Thanks again to MrMonk, Orca, and Tochi for taking the load off my back at McGregor and putting up with my grumpiness that day when I turned my ankle on the trip down. Hopefully I won't run into any more accidents in Veg Out III (T-118 days!!!).

Thursday, August 30, 2007

McGregor Recap Part 3

Since Tochi covered most of the details of what happened in the climb up and down McGregor, I'll sort of my take of what was happening. When we woke up on the 20th for the climb up, I felt pretty rested and ready for the climb. Up till this point, the weight of my pack hadn't really bothered me at all since we've been walking on mostly level ground. And before the trip, I had weighed my pack with about 70% of what I would be carrying, which included the 3 person tent, sleeping bag, and some spare clothes, and it came out to be at around 28 lbs. So I figured hey, it'll be a tough climb up, but with some time and effort, we'll make it up eventually.

The first 1000 ft or so up to Coon Lake didn't seem too bad. MrMonk sprinted up ahead followed closely by Tochi, and I was about 7 to 10 feet behind being followed by Orca. I felt a bit winded at first, but I figured my body would adjust along the way as the trail wasn't too steep.

The next 2000 feet or so however were a killer. With the inclines getting steeper and the number of switchbacks increasing, my quad muscles felt the burn of each step, and eventually I let Orca pass me as each step began to felt heavier and heavier. It reminded me of the time when I took the swim test at Cornell, which I slowly did, but I was so spent afterwards that I was almost crawling to the locker room because my legs were exhausted from kicking. Tochi took notice and dropped back to share his water and encourage me on.

Slowly but surely at around 3000 or 4000 feet, my quad pains eventually died down, but they were replaced by a sharp pain along a tendon that runs on the side of the knee, which felt like they were being stabbed by a knife >.< So now every step I took I had to grimace a bit >.< The pack weight combined with the extra incline had began to take its toll on my knees...

Somehow I managed to get myself to the top, and I probably should have stopped there. While MrMonk and Tochi set up some semblance of a camp, Orca wandered further up the summit to do some scouting, and I tried following for a bit since I was a bit worried of her going up alone, but the steep rocky steps were too much for me. Fortunately she came back without harm.

At this point, I was hoping that some rest would do me some good, but with the rain coming down during the night and the ground being so cold inside the tent, it was hard to get some good rest in and have my joints loosen up a bit.

When we started our trek down the next morning, it was pretty much pitch dark, and I was sort of on the edge of sleep and consciousness, which caused me to stumble about 3 times and resulted in miscellaneous cuts on my left leg. The 4th time I slipped on a branch and felt the sharp pain in my left ankle >.< OMFG, I was thinking come on...I've already slowed the climb up McGregor yesterday, and right now I'm up 6000 ft in the mountains, the early shuttle we want to catch is 4 hours away from leaving, and I have to deal with a golf ball-sized left ankle now -_-

After I got myself back on my feet, my compassionate friends (or maybe they were too tired to be mad at me) asking if there was anything they could help me carry. I was sort of stubborn at first and didn't want to give in because 1) I didn't want Mt. McGregor to get the best of me and 2) I really hate making things burdensome for others because I screwed up somewhere. But since I already violated rule #2, I gave in, and Tochi, Orca, and MrMonk divided up the stuff in my pack, with MrMonk taking the tent, Tochi taking some miscellaneous camping gear, and Orca taking some of my backup clothes and the infamous box of wet wipes. With the increased weight of his pack, MrMonk decided to speed up his descent since he felt he would be less tired that way. Tochi also lended me his hiking poles to help me down the hill.

Now at this point, you might be thinking well, you're making a downhill descent, so even though you have a turned ankle and maybe some overworked knee tendons, that has to be easier right? I figured that might be the case too, but the downhill descent I think proved to be more painful than the trek up because you have to bend and extend your legs to catch yourself as you "fall", and since there was more knee bending involved, there was more pain involved -_- And I think Tochi's poles were hindering me a bit because for some reason, I felt like I was using way too much energy utilizing them to balance myself as if I were using crutches. Tochi and Orca were able to stop and take pictures at miscellaneous times during the trek down while I continued ahead, and even though there were points where I thought I had gone ahead too far (I would look back and not be able to see them), about 30 seconds later, they would be right behind me again, so I was pretty much moving at a snail's pace.

At some point on the way down Orca proclaimed "we're halfway down McGregor!", and I think we had about 4 or so hours to make it to the second shuttle to go back to the pier, so I figured hey, we might be in ok shape. An hour later, I asked on our progress, and Orca says that we hadn't moved that much elevation-wise (maybe 300 or 400 feet, and we had a total of 3000 or so to go) since the paths had started to level off in terms of steepness -_- So things weren't looking too good...

At this point, I finally decided "screw it, I'm gonna start walking/crawling/rolling/whatever down this hill as fast as I can" as held the poles in one hand, locked my knees so that they wouldn't bend to cause any pain, and keened in my vision on where to step so I wouldn't fall down. I had entered Super Saiyan mode, and I probably looked like a dual peg-legged pirate walking down the trails, and I probably aggravated my ankle a couple of times stepping on some lose rocks, and I might have even stepped on some small frogs along the way, but I didn't care, because I was gonna make sure that Tochi and Orca got to the shuttle in time. Fortunately, Tochi and Orca noticed my speed increase and followed down as well, and to make a long story short, we made it down with about an hour or so to spare :) After zoning out of Super Saiyan mode, I was dead tired and basically slept most of the ferry trip back. Fortunately my left leg was still in one piece.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

McGreggor Recap 2: August 19th

August 19th: We woke up at 7:00 am (I think) and started packing for the ferry trip by the Lady of the Lake, which has a fast and a slow ferry, but we opted for the fast one. On the ride over, there were several jet-skiers following along, so I tried to take some action pictures with my S3, and some of them actually came out pretty well (thank goodness for image stability!)

Two hours later we arrived at Stehekin, and after getting the camping pass at the visitor's center, we were off to the world renowned Stehekin bakery for some lunch (chicken pockets and roast beef sandwiches for teh win)! They only take cash here, so remember to bring your greenbacks if you decide to drop in and eat.

After lunch, we set off on our trek again and ran into what was the Stehekin School, which you could enter and see what classes were like back in the day. It was complete with desks, old books, and even a film strip projector!

The next major visual attraction was Rainbow Falls. You had to take a rocky path off the main road to reach it, but the fall itself was quite spectacular, and it's pretty amazing how clear the water was. MrMonk and Orca were all over the place trying to get good pictures of the falls.

And since I was along with 3 geocachers, we had to go find a geocache, which was on a path next to a grassy airfield. I didn't take any good pictures from the hunt, but I bet Tochi'll have some good pictures of the find.

After finding the cache, we headed back the main road to wait for a shuttle which took us to the nearby campsite. After we set up our tents and got a campfire going, we cooked up some camping food for the first time, which basically involved boiling water and pouring it into the package and sit for about 10 minutes, kinda like instant raman noodles. We cooked up some teriyaki Beef, mac and cheese, and some beef stew, and I was quite surprised how tasty the camping food was.

Note that to this point, I really haven't been bothered by the weight of my pack since we've been walking on virtually level ground for most of the trip. However, this'll change the next day...

McGreggor Recap 1: August 17th-18th

If you haven't heard me recap what happened with the McGreggor trip with me, Tochi, Orca, and MrMonk, I would first say that probably everything that could have gone wrong on the trip probably did end up going wrong. I'll try to be as detailed with the recap as possible, but if Tochi, Orca, or MrMonk see anything blatantly wrong, please feel free to correct me.

August 17th: Fortunately for me, my trip to the west coast was pretty uneventful. I had a connecting flight to Seattle from Dallas, and the only hiccup on the trip was having to wait on the Dallas runway for about half an hour because a bunch of planes were rushing in to takeoff because of an approaching thunderstorm. However, my plane did eventually lift off and managed to avoid the storm. When I got to Seattle about 10 minutes later than the projected arrival time, I tried calling Orca since all of our flights were scheduled to arrive within 5 minutes of each other, and I got her voicemail. But I figured well, maybe her flight still hasn't touched down yet, so I proceeded to pick up my luggage and call MrMonk. When MrMonk picked me up at the pickup area, he gave me the quick rundown that Tochi was stuck in Vancouver due to a luggage packing mishap, and Orca somehow ended up in Las Vegas due to a thunderstorm in Newark messing up her flight schedule. Tochi wouldn't be able to get a flight to Seattle till the next morning, and Orca had either a flight into Seattle at 2 am or 4 am the next day. In the meantime, MrMonk and I had a quick bite to eat at the Purple Dot, and we retired to his hut for some quick shuteye at around 11 pm.

August 18th: MrMonk woke up I'm guessing at around 3:30 to 4 am to pick up Orca and didn't return till about 5 am. MrMonk immediately jumped back into bed to catch some extra shuteye in anticipation to picking up Tochi, and I was conscious at around 5:15 am but couldn't get back to sleep, so I went to talk with Orca for a bit about her flight adventures. At around 5:45 am, I went back to my room to do some packing while Orca could get some shuteye, but I didn't get too much done and retired back to bed as well. Later in the morning after I woke up, Orca was teaching me some features of the Canon S3 (she has a Canon S2 which has almost identical features) when Tochi and MrMonk finally arrived back. After some deliberation, we would drive out to Chelan but camp for the night so that we could catch the ferry across Lake Chelan to get to Stehekin the next morning. And in the meantime, we ate some lunch at a nice pancake place and did some sightseeing around Kirkland where Tochi took this nice duck picture. The location of Orca's luggage however was still unknown, and we were about to go out and do some shopping in the afternoon with her when she got a call from the airport at around 4:30 pm saying her luggage had arrived! Another trip to the airport and about an hour later, we were all packed and ready to head out to Chelan. Our first stop along the way was at Leavenworth, where we could get some dinner and the geocachers could pick up a virtual cache from the Leavenworth web cam. I had to call and disturb TheDragOnfruitS during his BF2 session, but he managed to capture the picture for us :)

After obtaining the webcam picture, Team McGreggor sat down for some dinner at King Ludwig's Restaurant where we got King Ludwig's Family Style Platter for Four. After the filling dinner and some last hour photo shooting and geocaching, we headed off to find a national park to set up camp. Unfortuantely, this took waaaay longer than expected because a lot of the parks in the area either didn't have campgrounds or it was too late enter the park. And at around 1 am, we were starting to get worried whether we'd find a place at all to sleep tonight. But alas! There was an RV park nearby, and after an exchange of words by MrMonk and the guard at the RV park, we had found our campground for the night.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Spending spree....

August so far has been a month of electronic upgrades and purchases. About 2 weeks ago, the hard drive in my 700m unexpectedly bit the dust, resorting to loud clicking when I tried to boot up. A quick trip to Microcenter resulted in a shiny new 80 gig hard drive which is a lot quieter than the one I had before, and it might have even improved my laptop's battery life if my battery wasn't so old.

The next minor upgrade was adding another 512 megs of ram for the desktop. I recently discovered that being an ECE student at OSU gives you access to an MSDN account, which allowed me to download a copy of Vista Business edition for free, so I figured hey, might as well give it a try and see how it works. So my desktop is dual booting XP and Vista at the moment. So far, Vista has worked pretty well given how old my desktop is (about 3 years), but it ate up roughly half of my gig of ram after bootup, so I figured investing in some extra memory would help in the long run since I'll eventually migrate fully to Vista. I'm still running games in XP, but David's been fully converting his desktop to Vista, and he hasn't had too much trouble running his games (note that his system is running 2 gigs of ram at the moment). As much as people might complaint about the visual changes, Vista looks a lot cleaner and modern, and the better visuals aren't at the cost of user interface speed. Vista does a lot of prefetching into memory in anticipating what programs you use, and I've found that after bootup, starting programs I use like MSN Messenger and Matlab are pretty quick and don't peg the hard drive that much. Another noticeable thing is that internet download speeds are BLAZING compared to XP as you can see here.

The two things that were sort of bothersome are UAC and general file management speed. UAC is sort of the operating system's way of asking "Are you sure you want to do this..." when you're interacting with your computer. So if any rogue program decides to install itself on your computer, UAC will raise a flag beforehand so you'll be able to stop it. Although I don't mind it too much for installing programs, it seems to come up a lot when I'm moving files from place to place. As for the general file management speed, it's been pretty well documented that Vista for some reason stalls a bit when it comes to file manipulation. There've been 2 hot fixes posted recently that are said to fix some performance and reliability issues, but I've found that they keep my PC from shutting down properly, so I'll be waiting for Service Pack 1.

The last and most recent purchase (as of 2 hours ago) was a new Canon S3 digital camera. You might be wondering "wait...didn't Kung find a Sony camera a while ago?", and yes a Sony camera did fall into my hands, but I think it fell out of my pocket as I was riding this on the way down. Hopefully I'll be taking care of this camera more than the last two I lost this year.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

So you wanna be a Guitar Hero?

Looks like there're be a lot of fret mashing as people try to figure out this Dragonforce song. Whoever's playing this song in the video must be a robot...

Friday, August 3, 2007