28 October, 2008


well kids, did the 800 some odd mile trip to texas. took the dog too. so instead of hauling butt non-stop for 13 hours and slamming red bulls, i chilled and stopped whenever mason needed to pee or to play on the various roadside playgrounds as well as to feed, water, and to make the dog go too. all in all it took about 16 hours. ouch. it was mind numbing but thank god i own a toyota and mentally didn't need to worry if it was going to implode or anything. the weather was exceptional for making such a long trip. i was worried about one particular mountain pass-raton pass in nm-and the general high altitude in colorado.
here's the road-side view of capulin volcano
i finally stopped at capulin volcano and rest assured it was worth all the five bucks i paid for the entrance fee. snapped some pretty cool shots. would love to ride my bike up there one day. there was a 10k race up and back down the volcano the day after we sightsaw. seems intense. no guardrails either. scary if you fall. could be fatal for both car and pedestrian.
here's the birds-eye atop the geographical anomaly...
after getting in late saturday evening; and, after mason and i eating like fiends; and, after not sleeping-in late we started our first official day of vacation on sunday. i've been a member of my hometown church in plano for forever. there, i met an old high school chum of mine. we hung out for years as close high school buds but now as forty somethings it's funny that we still appreciate each others' company. he married a friend of mine's wife after he passed away (what i'm trying to say is she's a widow). then i got to see another close high school friend, jimmy. jimmy and lisa are new parents and i like them a lot so it's always a treat hanging out with them and their daughter gianna. time is fleeting people. time also has a way of making people live larger (if you know what i mean). that's why i ride. coupled with my vanity i really don't want to let my body go. i regress, anyhoo it's no longer a cute, north texas town in the middle of nowhere with useful amenities; it's now home to major fortune 500 companies like frito-lay, jc penney's, and eds to name a few. and along with these bastions of capitalism come the cumulative, radiative infrastructure of progress like...streets! all the roads i would normally travel on are now arterial, multi lane, toll roads and as luck would have it, i'm coin less. my hometown has mutated into a non-descript aggregation of homogeneity replete with boredom, trophy husbands and wives, manicured residential areas, restaurant chains, malls, all made with infinite surface areas of concrete, glass, wood veneer, and shiny steel. thanks, but no thanks.
we went and visited some close friends of my parents and in fact she was responsible in helping to raise me when i was a toddler back in the philippines. she has cancer and we wanted to visit her to catch up and to be empathic because she's such a great spirit. also down in that neck of the woods was my alma mater, the university of texas at austin. i always wax nostalgic about that place; and, it was another opportunity to visit my cousin gerard aka gerry. after my dad and i hung out in austin we met gerry. here's a funny cycle of life episode that occurred to me: you know, my ulterior motive in doing this trip was for a chance for me and my son to bond (which we have and i'm karmically thankful and humbled); but what's also happened is my father and i got a chance to do some bonding as well. three generations of father-son bonding. very, very satisfying and meaningful as a son and father. when we were at my aunt's house, since she had company there already, i invited my dad to join me in austin. he did, and we chatted away like the way fathers and sons should. being in close quarters in the car and then taking a pedestrian tour of my beloved campus with me sharing the places i used to frequent: the commons, the six pack, the stadium, my freshman/sophomore halls...aww it was great! just me and him walking around shooting the shit. mason opted to stay with lola at aunty's house. i felt really confident and proud having him as my dad and we were just like two buds walking and talking away in a campus that's near and dear to my heart. i certainly hope that my mother and father's monies did not go in vain for my top tier educational degree and experience with our shared, ground level, walking tour o'austin machmoud-style.
the fountain shot with the infamous bell tower
we then met gerry for dessert and coffee at the flagship whole foods store and he said it's been a while since he hung out with aunty so we all caravaned for a late dinner at aunty's house. it was awesome! before we left we bought some fine, hand-made, quality cannellonis and two maredsous trappiste ales (one triple and a double) to compliment our dinner. when you're surrounded by family and presented with a fine dinner and exquisite beverages to wash down said food-it...is...sublime. it was also an almost perfect day weather-wise. the only thing missing was my children and my lovely wife. the moment was still near perfect. whatever part of the brain that's responsible for joy and happiness was kicking out the appropriate hormones in excess. we spent the night at aunty's house too.
in the morning i cooked breakfast which was breakfast burritos with the filling of hash browns mixed in scrambled eggs. aunty's husband, chuck, also owns an '05 corvette zo6 where he gave me a joy ride. to ride shotgun in a 505 horse powered beast is always fulfilling for a car lover such as myself. wow.
the rest of the day was spent fighting dallas rush hour traffic to get back in a decent time. it was also my mom's birthday so i bought halloween themed cupcakes and made stir-fry for celebratory purposes. guess what we washed down the dinner with...maredsous!
the high alcohol content made my dad take a nap; when he napped and my mom did some work-related errands, mason, ruby, and i walked down to the playground where we commenced to bond and took play-making to the next level.
my mom and dad and their largess went clothes shopping for my family. i am thankful for such gracious parents and i certainly hope when my kids are in college or are parents themselves, i can reciprocate likewise. so as a sign of my thankfulness i made another vegetarian dinner of creamy walnut pasta without the nuts. if you're a philistine (not a beer snob), you'd probably know no better and would drink trappiste ale in a generic pint glass; but if you're a beer snob (like me!) you'd instead, partake of this nectar in a wide-mouthed goblet or a chalice.
this helps retain the fruitiness, maltiness, and alleviate the carbonation of this divine beverage constructed under the supervision of holy men wearing robes, living in monasteries speaking mostly flemish. amen.
since my folks dig my breakfast burrito concoction, i made this again for our last breakfast before my trip back home. today was the day i pack our stuff for my return trip. instead of doing the 800 mile trip in one day, i'ma break it up into two and spend the night 'round the halfway mark in a small town called dumas, texas. pretty podunky, filled with price gouging hotels.
we head out at six in the morning and once in new mexico with the sun just poking through, it broadcasts this flat light onto the grass sitting above the volcanic base layer. just straight roads, with mt dora in the background and dormant grass all around. kinda surreal so i play some surreal music: sufjan stevens' enjoy your rabbit.at raton pass, since i'm westbound, i arrive with the sun just poking through the mountains. it made a scenic little vista...i arrive with time to spare to take a nap and head off with sweet melissa and mason to our daughters' halloween festivities at their school. phew! what a break it has been! i'm making plans to road trip again in may...

23 October, 2008


well kids, i'ma head to texas this weekend. it's my fall break (unfortunately my daughters don't have this as we're in different school districts), and i'm rounding up mason and ruby for this shin-dig. 13 hours and 800 or so miles later and voila-i'm in plano, tx. original hometown o' lance armstrong and me (one's a famous cyclist-i'll let you chew on that one). no bikes for this go 'round. just quality hang time with folks and friends. i'll make some quality vegetarian dinners, washed down with some manner of siraz-cab blend or some trappist, unfiltered ales. quality hang time with my boy too. i'll bring my running shoes and do a road trip to my alma mater-the university of texas at austin (who is currently ranked number 1 on the a.p. poles). i'll probably purchase some paraphernalia at the bookstore because my texas fanfare is running a wee bit low. i'll probably stop at waterloo records and pick up some hillcountry esoterica and see what uniquely texas stuff lance's bike store's waiting for me to discover as well. i'ma shutterbug up a storm taking pictures of my beloved campus and some of the my old haunts like the congress street bridge, towne lake, zilker, pease, and hyde parks. i'll probably be shocked by the urban sprawl that's typical of landmark destinations of fine living like austin. on the way down i'm going to stop at the capulin volcano to check that out. hopefully i'll get to see an old homeboy who's also a singer songwriter-colin boyd-play one evening. ite den.

19 October, 2008

Part 2, Indian Summer Weekend

melissa, mason, and maricel went to the pumpkin patch today with our long time friend allison and her children. no husbands on this outing, just the the girls and their kids. i offered to watch mason because he can be such a handful but melissa wanted him to go with them. so instead, i got my maura. maura and i had a date! me and my sweetie! we began the day with a swim at the rec center. we went down the slide at least a million times. on her way down i'd pass/drop her the ball when her chute and her giggly-self was directly below me. she'd do likewise to me on my way down. every now and again we'd do some tandem sliding. the momentum of two hominids sliding down the chute as one made for extra, super-sized giggle sessions. once we got chilled from walking out of the water to climb back up the slide, we'd jump into the hot tub.
man, you gotta love the hot tub. since we originated from the sea, there's always that innate comforting, therapeutic feeling of hot water completely surrounding you, welcoming you especially when you point the parts that ail you directly on the jet. it's such a deep, calming feeling on your muscles. maura and i were soaking up all the hydrotherapy goodness right down to each individual carbon-based cell. then we'd go back into the pool and play around again. up the slide, down the slide, laugh, catch the ball and repeat until hypoglycemic.
another luxuriating, time independent thing i like to do is to completely dry off via our sun's radiative qualities. no towels, just full-on u.v.a, u.v.b, and u.v.c electromagnetic waves irradiating and reigning down on my body (along with some errant neutrinos). so out we go onto the patio which overlooks a giant pond which, in turn's, surrounded by manicured landscaping. there were all manner of pedestrians/cyclists doing loops like stricken wildebeests around the pond dressed in cold weather gear and here we were sitting out on the deck. maura was cold though, so when she could no longer stand the windchill, we went back inside, sat by a window and finished our evaporative drying.
after dinner (which i made), at bedtime maura said, daddy, i had a beautiful day. yup wee maura, me too...

ps i swear, at times kids can be singularly self-defeating but on the flipside they are the reason for parents to strive to become better individuals and by doing so (in)directly imparting themselves (literally and figuratively) onto their chilluns...

18 October, 2008

Part 1, Indian Summer Weekend

the harbingers of fall-our aspens changing!even though it's the 18th of october, the highs today hit 68°. weather-wise, it was a gorgeous day. it started with my maura's soccer game today. her team lost, but before she lost, here she is busting a move with a righteous and precision placed corner kick.after that i went down the hill to go for a ride with christopher. another friend of mine was supposed to go riding with us, but he has the knack of skipping out on scheduled rides (his excuse-or not-this time was that his starter's busted. toyota starters rarely ever break). the denver marathon's also this sunday. so it's best we rode today starting in denver rather than tomorrow. chris was under the weather so we limited the ride to three hours. he showed me a new route out near arvada. i took some pictures up on top of the reservoir for a different perspective of our fair, capital city: denver. the clouds obscuring some of sunlight lent the picture an almost sepia-like quality. can you see the grouping of high risers (aka denver) in the distant background?my riding time nowadays is limited to one day a week-if i can even manage that! i've even resorted to riding my rollers at night because i'm no longer getting in any rides during the weekday. sad isn't it? the rollers square off my tires and put this aluminum looking patina on their surfaces. i can now, start off on my rollers without a chair or a wall to right myself. i just get the drive side pedal at the 12 o'clock position, put my right foot over the speedplay cleat and push off and quickly get my other foot on. then once i'm smoothly pedaling, i slam my foot onto the pedals and listen/feel for the audio reinforcement-a loud thwack!-that tells me i'm in. not a great start for establishing off-season base mileage.
on the ride we both talked about our non-racing campaign: like how much we loved just riding hard, long miles when we were out from school in the summer and how much work interferes with our riding. chris is going to graduate with a masters in mechanical engineering this year. that's pretty cool. he's planning a little celebration in december for when that occurs with all his buds-including his ex-girly girl. here he is climbing up the reservoir which he jokingly calls l'alpe d'rez. it was a very picturesque little loop, indeed.i stoppped several times to snap away. great ride, even with chris hacking away from the residual phlegm that's malingering in his lungs from his latest round of cold/flu infections. he sounded like a human trying to pass a rather large furrball. yummy. for my ride home, i borrowed chris' best of journey cd. hmmm. after two songs the novelty wore off and i said okay, enough. i belive my radio played journey non-stop in the early eighties. funny. later that evening i witnessed the number 1 football-TEXAS-team in our lovely nation put the smackdown on the 11th ranked upstarts wanting to force an upset. didn't happen. we put up fifty some odd points, texas pulled colt mccoy (so as to avoid injuries), and the second stringers came on, that's when it was okay for melissa to switch to watching her video. great day kids...

11 October, 2008

texas beat ou!!!!!

wow! it's almost like christmas for me (and yes, my wife and i wife actually got our undergraduate degrees there thank you very much)...
click here for espn's take on it.

06 October, 2008


well kids, got back last night kinda late due to a traffic fatality (not ours, but some other unfortunate soul) on eastbound vail pass that shut the highway down for a couple of hours. being ever the closet schadenfreuden i took a picture the results. it wasn't grisly or anything, it's just the twisted remains of a tractor-trailer rig (okay, i guess that implies the potential for awful carnage was there) on a flat-bed trailer.
this accident was caused by a rogue, cold-weather front that dumped snow and its accompanying rapid, exponential lowering of the coefficient of friction with tires and road surfaces they roll over. hmmm.
the trip was awesome although we were wondering (me mostly) whether the weather was willing or wanton (how'd y'all like that for alliteration?). there was supposed to be a front moving in mid-day saturday for moab bringing with itself a 70% chance of thunderstorms. same thing for sunday-yesterday. we went for it...
weather permitting, our goal on paper was to link both the atv sovereign trail with the bikes only sovereign and punctuating it with an ascent up klondike bluffs trail. didn't work. we only finished the first out-and-back, bikes-only sovereign. let me preface it with, the group for this iteration of moab was the homey trinity plus two. can't change the name because this is the (hard)core trinity o'love and testosterone-fest. the plus two were larry (not the cable guy but our colleague and geeky brother) and jeff (an i.t. kinda guy). larry's not a cyclist but he's up for anything new and was down for hiking when we went biking. jeff's a pretty fit marathoning kinda guy. larry went for a hummer tour (get your mind out of the gutter) and the rest of us did sovereign. we were rolling nicely-with the exception of jeff's chain breaking and a quick re-route of the chain through the pulleys-through the singletrack. dodging obstacles, climbing rock abutments with the names of our knees on them, and sandy switchbacks pretty good. we all took turns pulling up front and everybody was showing the requisite allegorical chest poundings a la technical proficiency (i kinda sucked, i guess), tempo, fluidity...etc. for public displays of cycling manhood and validation. here we are clearing a rock obstacle. i just can't quite get the timing down so you see everybody's rear end...
me (shot by billy who apparently can time shots)...
here's billy showing the novices how to clear a man-sized rock
on the way back i blasted an uphill move and put a gap on me brahs. unbeknownst to me, jeff flatted. while ahead i took a slight detour (it all lead to the same place), and kevin remained faithful to our original out-and-back path which lead to a divergence of the trinity plus one. another group of two cyclists said that our bud kevin yin'd instead of yang'd at the fork in the trail. so we head back to what we thought was the split they ambiguously described to find him. we figured out that he couldn't have taken this way back but by this time the rain was pouring. out in the eastern side of utah bordering the western side of colorado there's this nasty clay-sand mixture that turns into cement when water's added. it gums up the bottom bracket cluster, the high-end of our gear cluster, and our pedals and cleats. we figured kevin's-being the sentient being that he is-headed back to the truck. so we kick it to get out of the rain. we're climbing over nasty, moonrock when dry can cause technical difficulties, now slick as snot. as billy said, it adds another dimension [to mountain biking]. specifically, it added a non-sucky dimension in that it was cold (therefore time to fatigue was delayed), you had to finesse the obstacles (as opposed to getting to ramming speed and hittin' it!), you had to anticipate everything just a little bit quicker, and braking time was effectively reduced (forget about emergency stopping). it was an audio-visual-kinesthetic challenge that was mentally and physically taxing as well as rewarding, because rain riding in technical terrain heightens your senses-thus making this particular experience sensational. sho'nuff we meet kevin on the trail and it's full speed ahead back to billy's truck. close to the truck, billy mis-times his jump and turns on his afterburners early. before he fades he puts a nice four-car gap on us but i close the gap and eventually i'm gluing up solo to his wheel. i surge towards the imaginary finish line. at the end, it's me, billy, jeff, and lanternrouging is our boy kev. we get into the truck and it's like we had one of those therapeutic mud baths except we kept our clothes on and rode our bikes. so we sat on some tarps inside billy's truck on the way back into moab with his heater cranked!. from there we hosed off our bikes and ourselves at poison spider bikes. we were wet and shivering from the cold (but our bikes were clean!). quite a sight to see. needless to say we were hypoglycemic and starvin' marvins...
our soppin' wet selves go into city market where we proceed to buy our salad bar lunch by the pound! oh man it's a glorious sight to behold quite a delectable smorgasboard o' vegetarian friendly options! we eat at the hotel. change. then proceed to hang in the hot tub during a relaxing rain. it's a nice temperature treat: hot mostly with cold rain bouncing off your noggin'.
that evening after eating we walk into town to walk off the meal. jeff cap'd on free wi-fi at the hotel across the street to get something for work finished. we're walking in the dark with nary a streetlight talkin' the evening away. we stop at an indie bookseller where we imbibe in espresso type drinks from a fairly competent barrista who coincidentally used to live not that far from where i currently reside. small world no? we walk back, enjoying each other's company and the slight chill in the air...in no time it's nighty-night time...
we figured we had a very little window to ride between the rain so we woke up earlier than usual to go ride slickrock. billy decided to go hiking with larry in arches so it was jeff, kev, and myself at slickrock. we all took turns up front again but it was also my opportunity to do some more action shots. as it turns out, my batteries were dying so my chances to take choice actions shots were pretty much nil. if you look carefully at this one, a motocrosser biffed it trying to get up a semi-steep hill.
here's the homehill stretch of jeff and kev above the fields of moab.
there's a protracted climb out of slickrock where jeff and i decided to dice it up. oh, by the way, the weather has broke and it's gorgeous. i took on a climb and he attacked at a brief uphill. we both gassed it fighting for pole position for the cattle guard which was our imaginary finish line and the exit from slickrock. we were both fighting for the same line (it's discontinuous white lines painted in the rock for direction's sake). i cheated by taking the hypotenuse, whereas he properly took the right angle approach being the good white-line follower that he is. needless to say i reached the cattle guard first with my hypotenusing ways. at the parking lot we regrouped and descended the slickrock area to meet billy and larry at poison spider bike shop. on the way home, we eat at a dominos pizza joint and we inhale large pizzas and submarine sandwiches. yup. it was a glorious weekend minus the traffic incident at vail pass. i am currently suffering from PTVB- post traumatic vacation blues.