September 04, 2006

Burning Man 2006

Burning Man 2006 Gallery LinkBurning Man 2006 - my third annual pilgrimage to the Black Rock Desert. This time, I managed to get my tickets the first day they went on sale.

Daryl, Stefan and I were riding our rented van, a major innovation compared to last year's truck. Instead of staying over in Reno, we were fortunate enough to be invited by Jim to spend the night in Truckee, my other temporary home town besides Black Rock City.

After some last minute shopping (mostly groceries, water and parts for our evaporation pond) we left Truckee for Black Rock City early Wednesday afternoon.

Our arrival back home was not pleasant. In the very second of Stefan taking his turn at the virgin bell one of the nastiest dust storms I had experienced so far hit the city. For the following hour we tried to find a spot to camp in a permanent whiteout. Next year we're getting theme camp placement, I'm serious...

After a nice mellow party night (mostly spent at the Serpent Mother, the Message out of the Future and meeting the mayors at Illumination Village) we got the rest of the camp set up, just in time for Michi and Larry's arrival.

Thursday night was our first complete Esplanade stroll, right after spotting the Space Cowboys unimog at the Lotus club. It's good to get off your bike and experience all of BRC's hottest strip. We ended the night at the Opulent Temple.

Friday began with a real highlight. The night before Jim had offered to take us up in his airplane for a scenic tour at 5000 ft. It was more than exciting to see the city from that perspective (check out the photos in the gallery). Later in the day, Michi and I crashed the Critical Tits after party.

Friday night was all about fire - we took a little sunset bike ride and were (by complete coincidence) asked by the Ascension Tribe to help maintain the 2BLEVE perimeter. We had experienced their Thursday night shot while pedaling away from the temple and decided it was worth to spend half an hour to see the spectacle again from the front row. What followed was ten times bigger as the day before and simply unBLEVEable. Witnessing exploding 300 ft fuel jets from closeby is a magic yet humbling experience.

We thought we had already missed the fireworks choreography designed to be the icing on the Serpent Mother cake. Fortunately, the show started playa time, so we were able to enjoy a beautiful pyrotechnic symphony that was set off by El Diablo.

After worshipping Bassnectar at the Connexxus Cathredal we were captured by the Big Round Cubatron for the first time.

Posted by Uli at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

April 06, 2006

Snotel 6 Ski Cabin - Trip #10, March 31 - April 03 2006

What a memorable weekend. Saturday I had my best April ski day ever. Monday, I took a day off and did the California Duathlon - Skiing Kirkwood and Surfing Santa Cruz all in one day.

My trip started difficult Friday night. I-80 was closed until well after midnight. Fortunately I had a key to Val & Jack's place in Davis.

Saturday was nothing short of epic. April 1st and fluffy powder at Squaw. No joke. Tom and I were tearing it up. Spent most of the day at KT-22 (GS Bowl), Headwall (North Bowl) and Silverado.

Monday: Even Tahoe's highest base (elevation 8,000 ft) doesn't save the day at Kirkwood. There was a foot of fresh snow, but extremely wet. Sierra Cement at its worst. I had two runs off of Cornice Express. When I arrived for my third, the last one of the high altitude lifts was closed. By 2:30 p.m. I decided to hit Highway 88 home. Just in time for the second low tide of the day. I was dreaming of a day like that ever since. Cowell's was huge. I got five rides in before it was too dark to see. Let's forget about water quality right after a storm...


Update Statistics, now four months into this season:

Year
Alpine
Heavenly
Kirkwood
Mammoth
Mt. Rose
Northstar
Squaw
Sugarbowl
Others
Total
2003/2004
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
3
4
2004/2005
1
0
1
0
1
5
3
1
0
12
2005/2006
2
0
1
0
2
6
9
1
0
21

Posted by Uli at 12:02 AM | Comments (0)

February 05, 2006

Snotel 6 Ski Cabin - Trip #6, February 03-05 2006

Tahoe 2006 Gallery LinkWith Tom in the Chutes at Mt. Rose.






Posted by Uli at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

January 28, 2006

Snotel 6 Ski Cabin - Trip #5, January 27-28 2006

Matt and I went up to the cabin to get a day at Northstar in - trying to get back in time for the night's party in San Francisco. Easier said than done. We arrived at Daren & Jason's at midnight.

Update Statistics, now two months into this season:

Year
Alpine
Heavenly
Kirkwood
Mammoth
Mt. Rose
Northstar
Squaw
Sugarbowl
Others
Total
2003/2004
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
3
4
2004/2005
1
0
1
0
1
5
3
1
0
12
2005/2006
2
0
0
0
0
2
4
1
0
9

Posted by Uli at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

December 11, 2005

Snotel 6 Ski Cabin - Trip #2, December 09-11 2005

I met with Peggy and Daren in San Francisco to carpool. We had dinner and then enjoyed an easy drive to Truckee. Northstar was the area of choice on Saturday. Lots of people, given that only a few lifts were open. Snow was OK, but not great. Hey, it's still early in the season. Here's hoping for some serious snow storm. If there's not a massive dump soon, we might have to sacrifice a goat or what not.

Scott came up Saturday afternoon. Together, we challenged the firewood stacking world record. See results here. We had a nice hot tub session and a relaxing evening. I went to bed after a bad defeat in Scrabble and a movie. Rock'n'Roll.

Sunday, Scott and I opted for skiing Alpine meadows. Only Chair Six gave us access to higher altitudes with good snow, the bottom was a tad icy. Still, we managed to get some fun rides in. Keyhole among others.

Back to SF after a late lunch.

New Every sport needs statistics, so here's mine:

Year
Alpine Heavenly
Kirkwood
Mammoth
Mt. Rose
Northstar
Squaw
Sugarbowl
Others
Total
2003/2004
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
3
4
2004/2005
1
0
1
0
1
5
3
1
0
12
2005/2006
1
0
0
0
0
1
1
0
0
3

Posted by Uli at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

December 05, 2005

Snotel 6 Ski Cabin - Trip #1, December 02-05 2005

Yes! The 05/06 ski season started early - we managed to rent a place from early December through late April. The first storms came through just days before our opening weekend.

I skipped dessert at my company's holiday party to catch a ride with Portia. Weather forecast promised an easy drive, nevertheless on the last 20 miles, a snow storm popped up out of nowhere. Chain control once again.

Saturday was Tom's birthday. Opening day at Squaw - the perfect setting for a powderful celebration. There wasn't too much snow over all, but the quality was good. We got discounted tickets and the lines were short (at least at Shirley Lake, where we spent most of the day).

In the evening, Melissa had prepared an amazing crab dinner for us. The following party culminated in the first axe throwing contest of the season. Needless to say, Birthday Boy won.

After bacon & eggs and bloody maries as hangover cure, we headed back to the city Sunday noon.

Posted by Uli at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

September 06, 2005

Burning Man 2005

Burning Man 2005 Gallery LinkFinally... end of August once again. Just a few days left until Labor Day.
What does that mean? Time to head out to the Nevada desert and come home to Black Rock City.

As you can read in last year's article, I was quite excited about my first visit. So it didn't take me a long time to decide that I want to come back in 2005. I bought some tickets the second day after they went on sale...

Our trip started Wednesday night with the drive to Reno. Tori, Daryl and I met Beth there. After having a "real" shower for the last time and filling up our provisions, we left for the Playa on Thursday. Jeff was hitching a ride with us.
Setting up camp was a bit more involved this year. Since late April, I had felt the strong urge to build one particular thing. The four of us constructed a shade structure. The roof was made of 200 large trash bag bubbles attached to fish net, creating a cloudy sea constantly moving in the wind. Check out the images in the gallery.

Friday night, we saw Soul in the Machine performing. After a hypnotic hour of live electronica, I found out that "Passage" was my favorite 2005 art installation.

Burn night was great. The Man exploded in fireworks and flames raged, but he held up extremely well. Even after the supporting structure which had been the Funhouse collapsed.
Once the Man had lost his struggle, we spent time at the truly mindbending Inner Mind all the way out at the trash fence. We played with SoLA and warmed ourselves up in the body of the Angel of the Apocalypse. The Angel truly became the heart of Black Rock City once the Man was gone.
Later, I spent time at the 2:00 dance clubs, met some friends and experienced Satan's Calliope for the first time.

Burning Man 2005 Gallery LinkSunday is always a more sombre and introspective day. A strong contrast to the wild party atmosphere of the burn night.
This year's Sunday though had a very special touch to it. News about the catastrophy in New Orleans had finally spread throughout the city. The burner community started to find ways of helping the victims in the south. Early afternoon, all radio stations announced that Joan Baez was attending Burning Man and offered a fundraiser concert at the Temples of Dreams.
We hopped on our bikes and witnessed a very moving non-faith/inter-faith ceremony held by Rev. Billy from The Church of Stop Shopping. He was accompanied by a jazz band and Joan Baez singing "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" and "Amazing Grace" through a bull horn. Then, volunteers walked around with empty water bottles and asked for donations.
Sunday culminated with the remarkable temple burn, ending the existence of the Temples of Dreams.
Later that night, I spent time listening to a classic-electronic trip hop trio performing at the Passage installation. Between the many dust storms, I enjoyed Pyrokinetics' Pendulums of Fire. Finally, I found my way to the burn of the clock tower (see the image above).

Exodus went smooth this year. It took us less than two hours to leave the city limits. Leaving later on Monday was definitely a plus. So the lesson is to build even more stuff next year to make the breakdown take longer.
Every stop on the way home to Santa Cruz involved meeting other burners. Nothing is easier to tell whether or not a car and its passengers just spent a week in the desert.

Posted by Uli at 11:26 PM | Comments (0)

August 13, 2005

National Parks August 2005 - Yellowstone Day 1

Yellowstone 2005 Gallery LinkI left Idaho Falls in the morning, the drive to West Yellowstone went smooth. At a little bit more than two hours, it is shorter than you'd think. Plus, with every mile, the landscape becomes more impressive.

I entered Yellowstone NP at noon sharp. In case you haven't been there yet - this park stinks. Literally. An odor of sulfur and related chemical compounds is always with you. Having strong affection for fireworks, I didn't mind that though.

After a picknick at Beryl Spring and a visit to Artists Paintpots (a very nice start), it was time for the first highlight of the trip...

Norris Geyser Basin. Norris has it all, from the wide open Porcelain Basin to the hidden-in-the-woods Back Basin. In terms of geo-thermal features, it is the currently most active area in the park.

One important thing to mention is that while National Parks usually are great to relax, you have to be careful not to be affected by geyser eruption stress. Those pesky things just wait for you to turn around, then they go off. Running after the family with walky-talkies didn't help me, I missed the Echinus Geyser by a minute. From that point on, I decided to take it a bit easier.

On the way to Old Faithful inn, I stopped at Lower Geyser basin. After having seen deer throughout the day, I decided (vegetarians excuse me) to have Elk medaillons for dinner. Walking the meal off with a stroll, I witnessed my first Old Faithful eruption - at night.

Posted by Uli at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

August 12, 2005

National Parks August 2005 - Salt Lake City to Yellowstone

SLC to Yellowstone Gallery LinkTake me down to the paradise city
Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty...

I doubt that Salt Lake City was what Axl had in mind when he wrote those lyrics. But it sure does fit well - in some really strange way. Just when the desert turns in to a high mountain range, the city seems to appear out of nowhere. Very neat, very tidy.
After I picked up my rental car, I stopped briefly at the State Capitol and Temple Square. After two hours, I decided it was time to take I-15 North towards Idaho Falls.

While looking at the map during planning the trip, I saw what small detour a stop in Preston, Idaho would be. Awesome.
Before you do the same and risk an underwhelming visit, let me assure you: there's really nothing going on. Still, it was nice to get this first hand experience.

After a quick break for dinner in Pocatello, the day ended in my hotel room in Idaho Falls. And no, the falls are not worth the trip. The fact that you can get inexpensive, yet good quality accomodation on the way to Yellowstone is much more appealing.

Posted by Uli at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

April 17, 2005

Bear Haus Ski Cabin - Trip #4, April 14-17 2005

Ski Cabin Tahoe 2005 Gallery LinkEnd of an Era - our epic season ending party weekend. I took off early and spent Thursday night in Jackson, on the way to Kirkwood. Jackson is conveniently located alongside Highway 88 and makes a great stopover on the way. The drive from Jackson to Kirkwood is one of the most beautiful ones in the Sierra Nevada.

Kirkwood on Friday was brilliant. Hardly anyone there, no clouds in the sky, warm weather combined with decent snow conditions. It took me roughly two hours to get to the cabin in the evening.

Saturday, I skied Squaw with Scott and Jan. Craziness all day. After a barbecue dinner and the first rounds of dancing, the 2nd annual Night Snow Golf Tournament took place. I think it must have been Lovisa who managed to win.

Sunday marked my last day in this years cabin, and the first on which I didn't make it to the slopes. Shame on me, but the night before took its toll.

Posted by Uli at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2005

Bear Haus Ski Cabin - Trip #2, March 15-21 2005

After weeks without any day off, I decided to free up 5 days to catch up with life in the snow. For the first two nights, Zee and Jack came along as guests.

We spent Wednesday in Sqaw. After they had left Thursday morning, I checked out Alpine Meadows. Friday was Sugarbowl. Saturday and Sunday, I joined the rest of the cabin crowd for North Star.

Sunday night, we want to leave. No way, I-80 is a parking lot. Oh well, a 6th night, even if it's short. Good that the cabin is "always on".

Here's the ski cabin exodus schedule for Monday:
04:00 a.m. Wake up call
04:30 a.m. Putting on chains, digging through 3 feet of fresh snow to cut a trench through the driveway
05:00 Train's leaving - an exciting trip over Donner Pass.
11:00 a.m. - back in the office, ready for more work.

Posted by Uli at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2005

Las Vegas & Death Valley February 26-27

Las Vegas & Death Valley 2005 Gallery LinkBy now, I'd say my twice a year visit to Las Vegas has become a tradition. If you visited this website before, you might know the story by now. If not, check out the articles below (Las Vegas & Zion and Las Vegas & Lake Tahoe)...

Through missing my flight Friday night, I shortened the third trip in this series in a quite unpleasant way. Whatever, let's forget about the odyssey - I made it in time for Saturday morning and our planned trip to Death Valley National Park.

Death valley was really special this time and completely different from my August 2003 visit. It was hard to get into the valley, a series of rainstorms had washed away a number of streets. We eventually made it and were rewarded by an unusual, yet fascinating view of this normally extremely arid place. A sizeable lake had formed in the center of the valley, and towards the southern exit, all kinds of wildflowers were in full bloom.

Saturday night demands a spiffy location to hang out, and I must say we found it. The image shows the view we had from a balcony while partying at the Risqué de Paris. Risqué is Paris Las Vegas' ultra lounge.

Posted by Uli at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

January 30, 2005

Bear Haus Ski Cabin - Trip #1, January 28-30 2005

Ski Cabin Tahoe 2005 Gallery LinkMy 2003/2004 winter was not exactly a disaster, especially given that I moved across the atlantic ocean. But with a total of four ski days only it was not what I would call a great season either.

In 2005 however, the year started very promising. I became a member of the Bear Haus ski cabin in Tahoe Donner. Wahoo, permanent lodging close to several world class ski areas, shared with a crowd of 13 other people that are as nuts about skiing or snowboarding as I am. Plus guests on top of that.

The lease started in January, and by the end of the month I was finally dragged up to the lake by Peggy, Daren and Matt. I will not tell you that having dinner in San Francisco before heading out on I-80 is a great thing to do, as by the time you leave traffic already dies down. If I did that, then you'd clog up the road later next time...

The late Friday evening had erupted in a spontaneous welcome party, so getting up Saturday morning wasn't entirely free of headaches. Regardless, the crowd starting moving for a day in the trees of North Star. The powder was magnificent and made for a great ride.
Ski Cabin Tahoe 2005 Gallery Link
For dinner, we had steaks - from the propane barbecue on the deck. After this delicious meal, we continued where the party had stopped the evening before.

Sunday, most of the team was defunct. Except for Matt and me, we decided to spend a half day at Squaw Valley. I was excited as this was my first visit to the 1960 Winter Olympics site. As far as the terrain is concerned, this ski area has more to offer for skiers than most of the other north shore areas. The Sunday afternoon at Squaw was great since most weekend visitors had already left in the afternoon.

Stay tuned for more ski cabin fun to come soon...

Posted by Uli at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

November 27, 2004

Thanksgiving Weekend 2004 - California State Parks

Año Nuevo & Garrapata 2004 Gallery LinkFor some strange reason, there were two state parks located close by my home town Santa Cruz that I hadn't explored yet.

I finally got the chance to see Año Nuevo State Reserve the day after Thanksgiving.

Saturday, Marc and I visited Garrapata State Park.

Garrapata is a hidden gem, located between Carmel and Big Sur. A great destination if you want the Big Sur experience and don't want to drive all the way.

On the way back, we stopped at Point Lobos State Reserve, one of the most beautiful pieces of land on the central coast. My third time in Point Lobos and I'm still not bored by it.

The dinner in Monterey was the worthy finale of the day.

Posted by Uli at 09:56 PM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2004

Las Vegas & Zion October 22-24

Las Vegas & Zion October 2004 Gallery LinkMy second trip to Sin City in 2004 (see Las Vegas & Lake Tahoe February 27-29 for an article on the first one). Once again to meet my friend Christian who travels to Vegas twice a year as tour guide.

I flew in Friday night, conveniently after work...

Spent the the night dancing at the Club Rio and with drinks at the iBAR afterwards. Went to bed 4:45 in the morning.

Three hours later - wake up call. Zion is just 2.5 hours away and one of my favorite National Parks. It is very tempting to see the park in beginning fall color. We hit the road at 9:00 in the morning, reaching Springdale (the gateway to Zion) at 11:30.
Upper Emerald Pool
By the time we had parked at the Visitors Center, it was too late unfortunately to repeat my last year's hike up to Angels Landing. The Emerald Pools trail was a great alternative though. Have a look at the image on the left to see what I mean.

Steep walls everywhere. We finished our Zion visit with a stop at the Court of the Patriarchs and the Visitors Center.

This is what I like most about trips to Las Vegas. Combining a stay in the most artificial and fake city of the world with some of the most beautiful nature you can imagine. All in one day.

After dinner, a little nap and a shower it was time for more clubbing: this time, the destination was the Voodoo Lounge. The view over the Las Vegas Strip from the 51st floor is nothing but spectacular.

Sunday, after another very short night more Vegas - super market shopping, a stroll on the strip (the self parking lot at the Bellagio makes a great starting point) and a late lunch at Caesar's Palace. Then the flight back to San Jose - delayed as always.

I want to give Las Vegas' Mc Carran airport props. This article was mostly written using a free guest login to their WiFi network.
 
 

Posted by Uli at 06:41 PM | Comments (0)

September 06, 2004

Burning Man 2004

Gallery LinkWhat is Burning Man?
I won't even try to explain since that would fall too short anyway.

Surf the web and find out for yourself.

Well, maybe I'll try a little bit.

Imagine 35,000 people gathering in a remote desert area in Nevada to try something different. They start with building a city that exists for just one week - Black Rock City. Then they get creative, wild, artistic, pyromanic and much more.

Those who know me a bit longer than others know that I was fascinated by fire ever since. How is it possible then that 2004 was my first year at Burning Man? I don't know. I grew up in Europe, and while the event on the playa becomes more popular with Europeans every year, I had to visit California to find out about it. That happened in 2000, and since then I guess I had no excuse any more. Oh well, I finally made it, so who cares...

Daryl and I planned the trip really late in the game. If you want to go, plan early - tickets are much cheaper and you actually can prepare some interesting contribution. Burning Man is all about giving, therefore making a contribution is very important. Besides contributing, preparation is everything. Burning Man is not only inspiring, fun, spiritual and fascinating, it is also hot, cold, dry, dusty and dangerous. Don't forget your hat, goggles and dust mask. Oh, and a bike. You need a Burning Man Bike. Because the city covers more than five square miles, and walking from one end to the other takes hours. This doesn't mean bringing your latest-and-greatest mountain bike. It would be toast afterwards. You want to get a beater and decorate it as crazy as you can.

As we were both busy, we chose to go the second half only, Friday through Monday. I flew into Reno Friday morning, Daryl picked me up at the airport. He had everything prepared and stuffed into a Jeep. After stocking up on a few essential things (such as 15 gallons of water), we headed out to the desert. The afternoon went by setting up our tents and shade structure. Later, I visited my friend Arena, she was camping with The Tribe Of The Chattering Monks.
davidbesttemple_sm.jpg
Saturday night is the night of the burn. The Man's existence ends in a firework setting him on fire. The scenery is surrounded by ten thousands cheering and whistling.

Sunday is very different. Camps start to break down and all the burn-night-only visitors leave early. Sunday night is the silent highlight of the week: David Best burns the installation he and his 70 person crew built over months: This year it was called the Temple of Stars. Stretching out a quarter mile wide and 100 feet tall. An unreal experience.
The crowd is almost as large as Saturday night, but 15 minutes before the burn, the entire playa goes silent. The atmosphere becomes sombre and celebratory at the same time. Once the temple burn is over, everone knows that this was it. Time to prepare for the way home.

After four days of intense experience, we left the already half-way deconstructed Black Rock City. That is first we tried to leave. Since Highway 447 from Black Rock Desert to I-80 was built for a fraction of Burning Man's traffic, we had to queue three and a half hours to leave the playa.
Finally, Daryl dropped me off in Reno and I flew back to San Jose. Went to bed with body paint on...

Posted by Uli at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

February 29, 2004

Las Vegas & Lake Tahoe February 27-29

Valley of Fire GalleryThe magic triangle: party, hiking and skiing - all in just one weekend.

Friday after work the tour starts with flying to Las Vegas. I meet my buddy Christian at the Rio.

Saturday, we explore Valley of Fire State Park, conveniently located just 55 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

Sunday early in the morning, I move on to Reno. After picking up a rental car, I hit the slopes in North Star at 11:00 am.

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August 08, 2003

South-Western Loop - Zion National Park

Zion 2003 Gallery LinkA complete day in Zion, probably the most impressive National Park in the whole southwest.

I woke up with a bad headache, but from there things really started to get better...

My choice for the planned day hike falls on the first part of West Rim Trail leading to Scout Lookout.
Angels Landing, the trail that goes up further from Scout Lookout, seems out of reach. Why? Because of my fear of heights.

Lunch break at Scout Lookout. Time to enjoy the sandwich I brought up from the Zion Lodge. The Castle Dome Cafe is to recommend for a simple meal. Except for the fact that it is closed after season. In that case, you'll have to stick with crackers.

I feel adventurous. The images of the Angels Landing trail I saw at the Visitors Center where somewhat scary, but even more fascinating. I decided to go for it.

The Zion visit ends with the Canyon Overlook Trail and a brief stop at the Checkerboard Mesa.

Reaching the base camp for the weekend in Kanab. If you want mediocre dinner, eat at the cowboy-styled diner at the southern end of Kanab.

Posted by Uli at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

August 07, 2003

South-Western Loop - Las Vegas to Zion

Enough civilisation for now, leaving Las Vegas for Zion National Park.

A slight detour allows for visiting the Hoover Dam, a miracle of modern engineering.

The Shoreline of Lake Mead is the backdrop for getting to Interstate 15, the road to Utah.

Reaching Springdale, UT, the town at the gate of Zion after a 3 hour drive. I take a first little trip through the park after booking a nice room at the Driftwood Lodge. The day ends with a delicious dinner, local rainbow trout.

Posted by Uli at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

August 06, 2003

South-Western Loop - Santa Cruz to Las Vegas

Yesterday was dedicated to more work. I finally wrapped up and hit the road at 8 p.m., reaching Bakersfield after 3.5 hours of driving. Don't try to stop in Bakersfield for anything else than sleeping, you'd waste your time.

Wednesday, August 6 - back in holiday mode, finally.

Heading north towards Death Valley National Park. I stop in Lone Pine at the intersection of Highway 395 and 136 to take a brief look at the highest mountains in the contiguous 48 states. Mt. Whitney is the top of the Sierra Nevada with 14494 feet.

Then Death Valley in the height of the summer, yay! Leaving the car is like holding your head under an industry strength blow dryer. The car industry uses one of the hottest spots on earth to test heat resistance. A camouflaged van with Detroit license plates proves that fact.

I'm reaching the visitor center in the late afternoon. At 5 p.m., the thermometer still shows 114 degrees. This is wild. Before leaving, a hike in Golden Canyon features colorful rocks and dramatic desert views.

Now heading towards Las Vegas, NV. The gambling paradise is well booked this night. No luck at the Luxor. However, after searching for a while, the MGM Grand offers a suite in the newly renovated Grand Tower at $100.

My first night in Vegas, and I don't play a single cent...

Posted by Uli at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

August 03, 2003

South-Western Loop - Highway 1 North

Sunday requires a route change, I need to get back to the office to finish some work. On the bright side, this is the opportunity to finally do the complete trip on Highway 1 from LA to Santa Cruz, something I always wanted to do.

Traffic is great until LA - then, all hell breaks loose. I get caught in one non-stop congestion from downtown LA to Santa Barbara. Yikes. Never do this on a Sunday, OK?

I'm skipping the stop in Santa Barbara to make up for lost time, although the city is reportedly a very nice one. Just northwest of Santa Barbara, that's where Highway 101 is most beautiful. Highway 154 through the mountains is a shortcut that offers the same magnificent views, it requires about the same time. I'm stopping in Pismo Beach to say goodbye to SoCal.

Now on Highway 1, one of the world's prettiest roads. If you can choose the direction, do it from North to South. Otherwise all the turnouts will be on the left side, the reason being that you drive on the cliffs high above the ocean for most of the time.

After 12 hours, I made it back in Santa Cruz for the night. Tomorrow is going to be a holiday break and a normal work day.

Posted by Uli at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

August 02, 2003

South-Western Loop - Joshua Tree National Park

Moving on to the desert, entering Joshua Tree National Park at 29 Palms. Joshua Tree features the cacti that gave the park its name (and many others) in a world of granite rocks.

I'm staying over in Palm Desert close to Palm Springs, where Dinner waits in a nice mexican restaurant. I enjoy the hotel pool afterwards, it is still a whopping 92 degrees outside - several hours after sunset.

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August 01, 2003

South-Western Loop - San Diego

Starting the trip in San Diego. Since it is post-SIGGRAPH, Daryl is still around. We're driving up north on the coastal highway to Del Mar. A day at the races...

Del Mar racing club hosts the Four o' Clock Friday to attract a new crowd. $5 general admission, including a concert. Ziggy Marley enters the stage for a magnificent Reggae session after the horse races. We drive back to San Diego afterwards for a Persian cuisine dinner. Afterwards, I pick up my rental car and spend another night on San Diego's hotel circle.

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March 10, 2001

Chamonix 2001

After 1997 and 1999, this was the third trip to my favorite skiing area: the Valley of Chamonix. The team members this time were Tobi, Rossi, Chris and Thomas. Check out the album in the image gallery.

Posted by Uli at 03:19 AM | Comments (0)