Ironclad Guarantee...

Delicious. We went back to Tacos Por Favor the other night. I have had some requests for more pictures of said food...so here you go ST!

Nicole and I found alternate modes of transportation on the way home. I'm totally going to win with my race car...which by the way I could barely get out of!

Yesterday Nicole and I picked out and bought her luggage for Thailand. We didn't have a "proper" set since we always just travel with backpacks small enough for overhead carry on. Three months working in a foreign country warrants a little more space in the baggage area.

Warning...here comes my version of a rant. After selecting the luggage at the unnamed store, I found two dress shirts to try on. When I went to the dressing room the attendant informed me that I would need to go elsewhere to get the security tags removed. Okay, so I went to customer service and waited in line. When I finally got to the front and asked if the tags could be removed so that I could try the shirts on, the conversation went a little something like this:

"You want to try on both these shirts?"
"Yes, I do."
"They're the same size."
"Yes, I know."
"I can only take the tag off one at a time since it's the same size."
"Yes, if you want to try two on, you have to come back to get the other tag removed."
(What?) Now for the visual of the shirts. One was all black with a subtle line pattern and the other was light blue with pin stripes. Ah yes, besides being totally different colors and styles they were also made by different companies or people or whoever that designed the shirts. Am I alone in thinking this is a weird policy? It wasn't a rack of $500 shirts, it was two shirts that were on sale. The shirts happen to be the same size...because well, I know my shirt size. How about that? And so I walked away in disbelief with two shirts...one with a security tag, and one that had been released under my careful watch to be tried on in the dressing room...maybe even purchased...if they let me.

It was the blue shirt that got the tag removed. It fit good. I bought it. I never tried on the second shirt. I'm not a big fan of shopping in the first place, and when it becomes that big a challenge and frustration forget it. Rant complete.

If you are still reading this post after that, I had an awesome customer service experience at Patagonia. No sarcasm involved there. The story in brief - last year Nicole got me a great pair of running shorts at a fantastic discount. Shortly after wearing them, stitching around one of the pockets came a little unraveled. No big deal and nothing that affected performance or was going to get worse. She went to return them for me and they told her that new styles of these shorts would be out in the spring and that we could get a store credit for the return now, or keep wearing them until the new shorts came out, then get them replaced. What?

Yes, true to their word, after 6 months and at least 500 trail miles in the shorts, Patagonia replaced the shorts no questions asked. They call it their Ironclad guarantee. I call it building great customer relationships. This is not uncommon among serious companies in the outdoor industry. REI is another amazing example of a satisfaction guarantee being a real thing, not a tactic with no substance to get you to buy stuff. Bravo.

I break in the shorts tomorrow. I am excited. Strange? Maybe.


ADZPCTKO trip report

*If you don't already know the news, check out the previous post for word about Nicole's summer opportunity in Thailand!

Nicole and I spent an awesome weekend just outside Campo, CA. Campo is located just a few miles north of the Mexico border. We were there for the 11th annual ADZPCTKO...that is, the Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kick Off. Basically this is a gathering of cool people who have hiked the PCT, are thru-hiker wannabies, or are setting off to hike the trail this year.

The Pacific Crest Trail is a 2650 mile footpath extending from Mexico to Canada. The trail travels through California, Oregon, and Washington state covering everything from desert terrain to 13,000 ft snow covered mountain passes. Each year around 300 people attempt to make the journey, with about half succeeding. Fun fact: fewer people have thru-hiked the PCT than have climbed Mt. Everest.

It was great to reconnect with the trail community. We met up with Figgy and Stitch who I knew from the 2007 hike of the Appalachian Trail. Other AT friends Clearwater, Chuck Norris, and Tigger were also in attendance and hiked the PCT in 2008.

Pictured below in front of the PCT XPRS with Nicole and I are Walt, Pat, Stitch, and Figgy. Walt and Pat are amazing AT trail angels from Waynesboro, VA who drove across the country to attend the kickoff before flying to Hawaii for more adventures. Walt hiked the PCT in 2003 and Pat drove the PCT XPRS meeting Walt at road crossings and supporting his journey.

Below is a close up shot showing part of the trail marker indicating...well as it says...the southern terminus of the PCT. The wall that you see behind it is the US/Mexico border. Another trail marker similar to this one marks the northern terminus of the PCT in Manning Park on the US/Canada border.

That way to Canada...

Parting shot - Saturday morning our crew went for a nice hike southbound on the PCT.

If anyone is interested I can post a follow up about ADZPCTKO with more pictures, thoughts about some of the events/films that occurred, a description of the worst campsite ever, weather report, etc. Let me know in the comments, and pose questions if you feel so inclined. Thanks.

Bye for now.


I Know What You're Doing This Summer...

Big news for the Chans - specifically for my wonderful and talented wife.

As some of you may already know, Nicole was awarded a fellowship this summer through her graduate program at Art Center College of Design. She will be designing a web campaign to promote awareness about the problem with violence against women in Asia. It is a three month long project...working for the United Nations! Oh yeah, did I forget to mention, she will be working from Bangkok, Thailand!

The work she will be doing directly relates to the kind of human rights issues that her graduate thesis will be based on.

While I won't be able to spend all three months with her in Thailand, I will be visiting. Will the puppies and I miss her? You bet, but an opportunity this amazing is impossible to pass up! That's it in brief.

Join me in congratulating Nicole!


Link Up with Earth Day...

Happy Earth Day.
Don't save all of your tree hugging efforts for only one day a year. Contribute just a little bit of time and energy on a regular basis and the planet will thank you. I will thank you too. It's easy...

1. Check out blogs that are green and fuzzy. Well maybe not fuzzy.
2. Recycle. Seriously it's not that hard and does make a difference. E-waste is a big problem.
3. Use "friendly" products for cleaning your house and yourself.
4. Use public transportation when possible, compost, change a light bulb, etc, etc, etc.
5. Make your own list and share it with others.

So anyway, you don't have to live in a shack off the grid, but with minimal effort you can do good things.

"The mountains are calling and I must go." -
John Muir


Santa Monica, CA 90405

Brief Santa Monica update...

We've been having a great time in sunny CA with S&E. It's been really hot the past couple days, they'll be going back East with tans. On with the update...

Below are bikes lined up as far as the eye can see on Main Street near Ocean Park Blvd. These are people who rode down to check out the Farmers Market and to walk around Main Street. Nice. The guy in the orange vest is one of the bike valets.

Next picture below...what the heck is that? Well, it's a walking tree, but not an Ent.

See him in the middle walking across he street? He's a street performer often seen on the boardwalk in Venice, here on Main Street in Santa Monica, and occasionally on 3rd Street.

Speaking of 3rd Street. I have mentioned the band Seis Cuerdas previously. I am mentioning them again. We checked them out Saturday evening. This isn't our video, but you get the idea. They are awesome.

S&E are out for an anniversary dinner right now. Nicole and I are going to finish up watching Frida. And with that...I'm out.


Tacos Por Favor...

I had the day off work today. What a great day of eating and hanging out with Nicole.

The morning was spent helping her tweak and make final adjustments to a website project for finals. After that we headed out into the windy yet sunny day that it was. The first stop was the dog park with Benton and Roxy. Next we checked out a deli with excellent sandwiches. We were very pleased with the results of the visit! We brought the sandwiches home and enjoyed a couple episodes of Flight of the Conchords. Good humor.

Before we knew it, it was time to eat again. That's a shame. We figured we would check out another new food place near the house. Enter "Tacos Por Favor". Wow. Great choice. The photo below is my meal, Nicole's is not pictured, but was also delicious.

Now for some digestion. Tomorrow S + E come to visit! We pick them up at LAX in the evening. It'll be great to see friends from the East coast and share the great weather.

Good day to you all.


Twist and Tell...

Nicole showed my this site a while back. It's pretty cool. Just another example of the social web.


Life at 5200'

I'm back. What's that? You didn't know I was gone? I went for an overnight hike on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). We just live too close not to take advantage of the awesome trails and mountains.

I just did the calculation of what I consumed in the 24 hour period that I was out. It came in at just over 6000 calories. This does not include the 800 calorie "snack" I smashed immediately upon returning home...or the dinner with Nicole 3 hours after that. Yikes, maybe I should track my consumption during the week sometime.

Anywho, on with the trip report. Upon Stitch's recommendation I was heading up to Mt. Pacifico. Shortly after leaving the car it started to hail. It was only going to get worse since my camp would be at around 7100'.

About 7 miles in, lightning came through the clouds and huge booming thunder surrounded me. It gets a crazy effect rumbling through the different sets of mountains. The hail picked up as well and I decided being exposed on a ridge during this storm was not a good place to be. I headed back down about 3 miles to where I had last seen a good water source - and some decent trees for the hammock to hang. Before long the hail turned into big wet flakes of snow.

The picture above was taken from under the hammock tarp as I was finishing setting up camp. It does not look like much, but it was wet cold sleet. A couple degrees colder would have been much better as everything would be solid.

I was happy to be set up and relax a bit. After filling up my water supply there wasn't much to do but eat, read, and get as warm and dry as possible. I accomplished all of these tasks.

The night went really well. I had packed more clothes than I wanted to but ended up using it all and stayed warm comfortable in the hammock. Note the green "underquilt" in the next photo. This awesome piece of gear was courtesy of P. Dawg during the AT hike. Hanging in the air while sleeping robs you of your heat from below. You can use a ground pad inside, but I find the underquilt to be much more comfortable. Note that the rainfall overnight melted most of the snow.

About this next picture. Um, biggest pine cone ever. It was bigger than my foot, and points sharp as knives!

Parting shot...my lonely pack with snow covered mountains in the distance.
Questions? Comments?


Sunny Day Real Estate...

Sunny Day whaaa? They aren't for everyone, but they were good.

Andrew Thompson did indeed finish the Barkley Marathons this year. That makes him about the 9th person of 700 to finish this crazy race. He did it in 57:37. That's 57 hours and 37 minutes, less than 2 and a half hours from the cutoff. Insane. And yet, so cool. He was the only person to make it to loop 4 (and 5). On the final loop he faced rain, sleet, and snow. I still say it's cool. Great job Andrew.

I have a few days off work in the next couple weeks and plan to head up into Angeles National Forest for an overnight backpacking trip. Should be good...might be wet. It's supposed to rain a bit the next few days.

Next week we have a couple of friends from the East coast coming to stay with us. Everything weather wise should be cleared up by then. We're sure to share some good meals and good times!

Nicole is plowing through her final projects of the semester. It's been a ton of work and I'm proud of her for everything she is doing. No one ever said grad school was easy, but wow!

I got up into the mountains for a run after work today and plan to go again tomorrow. It's hard going so short, but I want to build up a good base and just as importantly stay injury free.

In other news, Benton got a bath today. Observe the poor quality, low resolution photo.

That is all.


The Barkley what?

So what to talk about today? How about running? Weird huh? I put in about 10 miles this weekend. 266.0 down, 734.0 to go on the Trail to 1000 My legs felt good, but I could tell the depth wasn't there. I'm cool with that considering what I put them through, and especially since a year ago my running resume consisted of a couple of road 10k's. A couple, as in two.

Nicole has been incredibly busy with school projects and is getting ready to wrap up the first year of her graduate program. Still, she feels pretty good from last weeks run. Perhaps not quite 100%, but still she was able to get in a couple of gym workouts this week.

Okay, a little more about running...but not me running. I may have posted a few months back about the Barkley Marathons. I am bringing it up again now because it is happening as I type. Well it's happening for Andrew Thompson anyway. I think everyone else missed the cut off.

Washington Post article from 2007

History in brief of Barkley..

"The Barkley is considered one of the toughest 100 mile races in the world. It has 52,900 feet of climb (and 52,900 feet of descent), more than any other 100 mile race"

"Since the race began in 1986, only 7 runners out of about 650 have finished within the 60 hour cutoff."

"In 2008 Flyin' Brian Robinson set a course record of 55:42. He was the first person to hike the 3 major N-S U.S. trails in a single calendar year: Appalachian, Continental Divide, and Pacific Crest, 7400 miles in 300 days."

Yeah, that's right, the course record is less than five minutes from disqualification. Wow.


Two Years Running...

Oops, this originally posted with only a title.

Yesterday Nicole and I celebrated two awesome years of marriage. We decided to go to an old favorite place in the LA area for dinner, Killer Shrimp. We had not been there since moving out here last year. When I called to see how late they were going to be open, there was no answer. When I double checked the phone number I discovered from several online posts that both locations had actually closed some time ago. Booo.

The good news is that it took less than 5 seconds for us to decide to get delicious sushi instead. It was in fact delicious and we had a great evening.

We show love and appreciation for one another every day. It's a great way to live. I highly recommend it.

It feels like I have not run in weeks, when in fact it has only been since Sunday. I take that as a good recovery sign. I should be good to go for a light run Saturday and Sunday. There is life in these legs.

Lastly, thanks to Evan for his comment on my last post. Check out his blog for details about last weeks 50k run, since he is the guy who set the course record.