The Hoppy Okapi

Occasional posts about hiking and other stuff

Triathlon Training – How did this all happen? January 29, 2012

Filed under: triathlon — Amanda @ 17:43
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Triathletes storm the water in a mass swim start. Photo by Flickr user foleymo, used under Creative Common License.

Toward the end of last year, I decided that I should start participating in triathlons in 2012, with the goal of working up to a half-Ironman, or 70.3 distance in 2013. I’m not sure why the 70.3 distance is appealing – maybe because it’s a significant endurance event, but doesn’t seem too out of reach, and doesn’t require 6+ hours of biking (yes, I finally completed a century in 2011, but I’m still not sure if I ever want to do another one – that’s a long time in the saddle!). So 1.2 miles of swimming, 56 miles biking, and 13.1 miles running seemed perfectly reasonable – until  I thought about how I haven’t been swimming since my last year of college (more than 10 years ago!), and quit running 3 years ago because my knees were hurting all the time….eh, minor details, right?

So I asked one of the Spin instructors at my gym which local triathlons would be good for a beginner, and he recommended the Spring Sprint Triathlon in Mission Bay – easy (flat) course, short swim, calm water. So I signed up for that one – a 400 meter swim, 9 mile bike, and 3 mile run. And then I joined a triathlon team sponsored by our local bike shop, Moment Cycle Sport. Conveniently, Moment Cycle Sport is a sponsor of the San Diego Triathlon Classic, an Olympic distance tri that takes place in September – I have to be able to swim 1500 meters by September! And then when I was asking one about swimming at one of our tri team meetings, someone recommended the Monday-Wednesday Tri Club San Diego swim workouts…and that is the story of how I’ve managed to join two triathlon clubs, sign up for two triathlons, and commit myself to more swimming and running than I’ve ever done in my life – this should be fun!


Hiking Mt Woodson July 9, 2011

Filed under: hiking,outdoors,San Diego — Amanda @ 13:45
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In need of a quick hike to do as part of our Mt Whitney training, and wanting to hike something other than Iron Mountain, Chuck and I conquered Mt. Woodson in mid-June. The hike climbs about 1500 feet in 1.5 miles, so it’s a short but reasonably steep climb.

The trail is that way!

The trailhead is a couple miles north of the Iron Mountain trailhead on route 67, near the driveway of a fire station. There are helpful signs like the one above that point the way to the trail. After following a short path that parallels the highway, we turned onto the main trail up the mountain (basically a fire road, paved with varying degrees of smoothness), and started winding our way up.

Wildflowers along the trail

There were more wildflowers than I expected along the trail – maybe because I’m more used to hiking in the fall, when several months of dry heat have toasted all the plants, but I’m always surprised to see wildflowers surviving into June and July in the coastal desert areas.

Mt Woodson trail

Mt Woodson is very recognizable from the road, as a boulder-strewn mountain topped by a bank of antennas. The boulders are just as fun to see close-up, except when they look like they might crack and fall on you:

Cracked boulder hovering over the trail

One of the boulders is nearly cubic – evidence of cracks long since cleaved.

Boulder on Mt Woodson

Some of my favorite rocks are the ones with the honeycomb-like impressions (fossils or water features?):

Fun impressions in the rocks

After winding our way around the switchbacks (the last few feel the steepest!), we found ourselves at the summit amidst the antennae. After a quick stop at the top, we started back down, retracing the path back to the trailhead.

View of the summit from the trail


Happy Kitten Adoption Anniversary! October 9, 2010

Filed under: animals,kitties,San Diego — Amanda @ 4:00
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October 9th, 2010 marks the second anniversary of our kitten adoption adventure! This was the year of the CSA, when the cats got to investigate all the new vegetables that we brought home – they’re very aware of their environment, and have to inspect everything new that comes into the house, as the pictures below show:

To adopt cats or kittens and support a great local shelter in San Diego, visit, the organization that brought Athena and Zephyr into our home!


A Day at the Fair – Part Three: Pigeons! August 14, 2010

Filed under: animals,day trips,San Diego — Amanda @ 18:39
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After the Camel Dairy demo at the fair, we headed into the agriculture building to see what was going on there. A few ladies were spinning yarn from llama hair (and apparently trimming the llamas as the day went on):

This one's got a bald spot.

And then we saw the people carving a butter sculpture. It was a bit weird, actually…

butter sculptor in air-conditioned cage

And then we came across another of the wacky fair highlights – the pigeon collection! Who knew there were so many types of fancy pigeons? Not I…

white pigeon with ruffle

black pigeon with fan tail

brown and white pigeon with curly hair

this one dreams of being a peacock

Check out the foot-feathers on this one!

We then headed back outside for an afternoon snack – deep-fried s’mores, which were fun to try although the execution could have been better, I think  – the chocolate seemed to be just syrup instead of real melted chocolate bars. They were definitely as messy as the real thing though, and I’m already planning to try the deep-fried Klondike Bars next year.

deep-friend s'mores

Final deep-fried snack stop complete, we wandered over to the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge arena, were we watched dogs (and their humans) compete in a slalom run and a trick-frisbee routine:


Good catch!

After the champion dogs were named, we found our way back to our little school-bus shuttle and headed home – a good day at the fair!


A Day at the Fair – Part One June 20, 2010

Filed under: animals,day trips,San Diego — Amanda @ 14:27
Tags: , , , ,

San Diego County Fair 2010

After years(!) of thinking, “Hmmm, we should go to the fair sometime”, and then managing to miss it despite the almost month-long engagement, I finally got to spend a day at the San Diego county fair.   One of the keys to the trip was transportation – freeway traffic approaching Del Mar during the fair is usually NOT FUN, so I looked at our transit and off-site parking options, and decided to use the satellite parking at Torrey Pines high school and take a shuttle bus to the fair. Other than learning how uncomfortable it is to ride in a school bus as an adult, this was a good option – it had the benefit of being free, compared with $10 parking at the fair or $12 for a transit pass, and the shuttles were running every 15-20 minutes, so the schedule was more flexible than transit.

Once we arrived at the fair, it was time for our mid-morning snacks! There was a wide variety of food to choose from – grilled turkey legs and deep-fried everything seemed particularly popular. Chuck chose a cinnamon roll for his morning snack, which I went for the fried cheese curds. This led to the serendipitous discovery of fried cheese curds dipped in cream cheese frosting – surprisingly delicious!

Our mid-morning snack

After our snack, we were energized for a morning of animal-watching. First stop was the pig racing arena, where cute little piglets raced around a track in hopes of winning an oreo cookie prize (in reality, I think the prize was getting back to their comfy indoor pens, as several winners ran straight into their trailer and left the cookie for the runners-up!). There was also a cute “swimming pig”, who was coaxed to jump into a tank of water and then swam to the other side, or maybe bounced – he looked like a skipping stone going over the water.

Cute little piglet about to go swimming

After the pigs, our next priority destination was the camel dairy demonstration, but we had some time to kill…so we visited the pygmy goats! The fair is just full of cute animals (I’m pretty sure the cats would love to have both piglets AND pygmy goats as companion animals…well, Zephyr would like it; Athena would just hide under the bed.)

grey goat

Baby goats!

Another cute goat!

There was also a sheep shearing demonstration going on – the sheep had very very long (and soft!) wool:

A little more off the top...

Rastafarian sheep

We also saw some cows:


Including a really big one – see how small the people are in comparison?

Giant monster cow!

After our foray through the livestock barn it was time to head to the infield. During horse races this is accomplished by taking a tunnel under the track, but for the fair they constructed a temporary bridge, so we got to go over.

The track is fast and the turf is firm!

We had a few minutes to walk around the gardening exhibits (giant swiss chard and squash, lots of herbs, etc), the horse exhibit, and the beekeeping tent.

Miniature horse

And then it was time for the main event…the Camel Milking demonstration! (To be continued…)


Bikes and BBQ May 2, 2010

Grand Prix Racers

Chuck and I ushered in the month of May with bikes! I read about the Barrio Logan Grand Prix a few weeks ago and thought it would be fun to watch, and we had a Groupon for Lil Piggy’s BBQ in Coronado, so we decided to bike to the Grand Prix in the morning, then continue on the Bayshore Bikeway over to Coronado. We checked the race schedule the night before and discovered that the men’s pro race was starting at 1:30 pm, so we decided to head back to the Grand Prix after lunch as well.

We woke up bright and early on Saturday morning, biked south on Harbor Drive for about two miles, and got to the race course shortly after the start of the first race – the riders were already speeding around the corners as we approached closed-off streets.

Chuck stands along the course

Before we got to the race, we weren’t quite sure how the whole thing worked, but we quickly figured out the important parts. The race course was a very curvy .8 miles with two main loops, and each race ran for a set length of time. An announcement was made for the last five laps, and then the real race to the finish began.We walked around the course to a few different vantage points – it was impressive to see the riders flying  through the curves.

Men's Cat 5 race

Lining up for the Masters Race

We stayed for the first three races in the morning, the men’s category five, masters, and category four races. I thought it was funny that the music changed from Chariots of Fire-style inspirational music during the Cat 5 race to Oldies for the Masters start, even though the guys in the Masters race were probably too young to remember most of the Oldies from their original release. I also liked how the winners of the races were each given a bag of tortillas in addition to their trophies – where else but Barrio Logan does that happen?

After the Cat 4 race we cast a wistful glance toward La Dona, a tempting Mexican restaurant right near the race course, then rejoined the Bayshore Bikeway and made our way to Coronado. The ride is a mostly flat 20 miles, and the biggest challenge was the wind – with the bay on one side and the ocean on the other, there’s no natural wind break, and it felt like we were battling a headwind pretty much the whole way to Coronado. We reached the Ferry Landing shops and made our way to Lil Piggy BBQ for some pulled pork sandwiches. I was impressed by the beer selection and the tenderness of the pulled pork, and intrigued by their array of sauces – a standard sweet sauce, a spicy BBQ sauce with bold red chile flavor, and , and a honey-mustard style sauce. I think we’ll definitely be repeat customers!


After lunch we bought our tickets for the ferry back to downtown San Diego – biking the 20 miles back along the bay wouldn’t be much fun after a big BBQ lunch! I took in the view while we waited for the ferry:

Waiting for the ferry

Coronado Bridge from the ferry landing

Ships at North Island Naval Station

After the ferry ride (I didn’t get TOO seasick, although I felt a little woozy while we were waiting at the dock), we retraced our early morning path to the races. We got back in time to watch a few of the kids’ rides – only a one or two half-laps each, but it looked like they were having fun! The crowd had grown since the early morning hours, and there were a good number of people on hand to watch the Pro/Cat1/2 race.

The announcer's stand

Lining up for the Pro race

They were fast! This was the longest race, at 75 minutes, and there were several lead changes and breakaways and chases, including a big breakaway that just barely got caught right at the finish line – it was pretty amazing to see all that happen as the race unfolded over the successive laps of the course. I also had fun playing with the multi-shot mode on my camera, both at high ISO to capture the riders in more detail, and then at low ISO to get a blurred image effect:

Close to the Action!

High-speed racers, low-speed ISO

We had a lot of fun at the race! I think Chuck wants to get in on the local racing action after watching the Grand Prix. I think it might be fun too, but I’d need to upgrade both my speed and bike handling skills – otherwise I’d go crashing into the hay bales!


Zoo Babies! August 8, 2009

The San Diego Zoo has some exiting babies these days. A new panda cub was born earlier this week, and while it won’t be on exhibit for a few months, I’ve been keeping an eye on the Panda Cam to try to catch a glimpse – I think I’ve seen it twice so far.

There’s also a two-month old okapi named Sekele who IS on exhibit, so I went to the zoo last week to bask in the baby-okapi-cuteness. Sekele was prancing around the exhibit a bit and trailing his mom as she walked around to the food stations, and I got a good view of them at the acacia hanger nearest to the viewing area.

Sekele near the back of the enclosure

Sekele near the back of the enclosure

Baby okapi hiding in mom's shadow

Baby okapi hiding in mom's shadow

Big stretch to get the acacia

Big stretch to get the acacia

Heading to the back again - check out those stripes!

Heading to the back again - check out those stripes!

This Red River Hog isn’t a zoo baby, but he’s still cute enough for a picture!

Red River Hog

Red River Hog

Across from the Red River Hog, the monkeys and otters are always crowd favorites. As I walked by last weekend, the young monkeys were playing with their biscuits near the water’s edge…

Young mokeys playing with biscuits

Young monkeys playing with biscuits

And one biscuit was stolen by an otter, who sratched it against the wall…

Otter playing with stolen biscuit

Otter playing with stolen biscuit

Some other zoo babies I saw last week were the meerkats, in the exhibit near the kopje. According to the zoo blog, these meerkats were recently moved over from the old Elephant Mesa exhibit – it sounds like quite a hassle to move 16 meerkats!

Digging - it's what meerkats do!

Digging - it's what meerkats do!

Baby meerkat on the run

Baby meerkat about to run

Partners in Crime

Partners in Crime

I also saw two baby giraffes – there was quite a line for giraffe feeding when I walked by, but the babys must be too short to reach over the wall on that section, so they were off at the other end of the exhibit by themselves.

Cuddly baby giraffe! I think he was watching me.

Cuddly baby giraffe! I think he was watching me.

This one was slightly older, but still cute!

This one was slightly older, but still cute!



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