Monday, February 7, 2011

Weekend Overload

I have to admit that Traci and I were naively thinking we'd have more time to do nothing on weekends once we moved here to the Bay Area.  We were wrong!  We have fewer friends locally than we did in Orlando, but somehow we still manage to book almost every waking moment of our weekends with something.  This weekend was no different.

Friday night, Joshua came over and I made steaks for dinner.  Traci made her first foray into brown rice cooking, the difficulty of which was exacerbated by our brand new stove which is as hot as one thousand suns (it turned out deliciously though, so her reign as queen of rice continues).  I broiled the NY Strips in the oven and I think I got the temperature just about right for all our steaks (they were huge and I got a great deal on them at Safeway thanks to an online coupon for new users!).  After Dinner, Joshua and Traci worked on adjusting their Magic: The Gathering decks with an infusion of new and better cards and then we played a game while waiting for Emily to join us after her rehearsal with the symphony.  Emily got there, heated up and ate her dinner, then worked on her deck while we three played another game (Traci's new deck is whipping all our asses btw).  Once we had finished that game though, it had somehow become 1AM so we had no time to try out Emily's deck as we were all exhausted.

Saturday morning I made a delicious (if I do say so myself) steak, Gorgonzola, and mushroom egg scramble for breakfast.  After digesting a bit, Traci and I took the dogs for a long walk to the cleaner's near the apartment to drop off my work shirts.  Dexter seems to forget everything he learned about walking the week before, making the beginning of each walk super annoying.  Gotta get the Gentle Leader on him again now that he's getting regular walks so perhaps he'll be less of a spaz.  We got back from our walk and were able to chill out for a bit with nothing else planned till the afternoon.

That afternoon, I drove to Joshua's place to pick him up for my first California gun club experience!  Weekends are the only time I get to drive my car now which is good since it means I rarely have to gas up and don't put too many miles on Quinn, but bad because I miss driving.  It definitely makes me appreciate my time with her more though.  The road to the range is an awesome driving experience and I was very happy to be able to drive it (but I'm pretty sure I made Joshua nervous) and happier still to be able to open 'er up a bit on the Interstate on the way there.  We drove to the Chabot Gun Club which is a good 35 minute drive from Fremont up the side of a mountain with lots of beautiful trees including redwoods.  The GPS was confused as it often is in mountains so when it said we'd reached our destination, there was nothing but roads around so we continued.  We saw a sign for a park, but it did not mention the gun club so we kept on trucking.  About 10 miles later we saw another sign and entrance to a park so we decided to stop in.  We found the ranger's residence and a little farther on the office, but there was no one there.  We wandered around and I took some pictures of the nature there.

We were just about to leave when the ranger showed up.  We told him what we were up to (shooting range) and he was ecstatic to talk to us about it and give us directions.  He told us that the first entrance we had seen was the right one, but that it's not labeled as the location for the gun club ("probably because they don't like gun owners").  He even saved me a trip up the road to the public restroom by letting me use the one in the office which was nice.  We got back on the road going back the direction we came from and eventually found the place.  On our way there, one of the group of motorcyclists that we had seen zooming up and down the twisty, switchback-laden road came up behind us.  I was able to pull off into a turn out, allowing them to pass as their vehicles are much faster and more well suited to those roads, I figured they would like to be able to go faster.  I was right.  They all zipped passed with a short horn honk of thanks for getting out of their way.

When we got closer to the range and off the main road, I was able to get a couple of pictures (which don't do it justice) of the area around the park and range.

We finally got to the range and it was a really beautiful outdoor setting.  They have several different ranges of varying lengths for rifles and pistols.  We opted for the 15 ft. pistol range.  We paid the range fee which included one big target per lane (you can put up other targets over the big one, but NO SILHOUETTES! i.e. those things that look like a bad guy pointing a gun at you and that sort of thing).  There was a guy hanging out in this big windowed air traffic controller looking booth on high so he could see all of the ranges at once and make sure everyone was following the rules.  It was very well thought out and executed.  He (the range master) calls a cease fire, everyone has to unload their weapons and leave them on the deck and walk away.  Then a guy assigned to each range (one for pistol one for rifle) walks through and makes sure everything is safe, then the guy in the tower tells you it's safe to go check, replace, or set your target (there are no automated wires that bring your target back to you).  You then go down range and take care of your target and head back behind the safety line to wait for the all clear.  Once the on hand range guys give the signal that everyone is clear on both pistol and rifle ranges, the air traffic controller give the ok to start shooting for another 15 minutes.  Joshua and I shared targets so we can't be 100% sure who was most accurate but we did know for certain that we're both more accurate with the .38 than the .45.  We had a great time, burned through some ammo, saw Sam Elliot's twin mustachioed brother along with his son who was um... how shall I say this?  "Challenged" is probably good (inbred seems likely, but challenged is nicer).  Another rule was NO PICTURES but I hadn't read that when I snapped these shots of the range and of Joshua lining up his first shot.

A great Saturday which was to be followed up with a great Saturday night!

The symphony was great.  I really enjoyed hearing live orchestral music and was surprised at how much I enjoyed the first piece they played.  Emily had described it to us as an example of "Atonal" music which sounds dreadful if you're not familiar.  It was stunning.  Three movements that were so varied and filled with unexpected crescendos that they were unlike what you would normally think of as "classical".  Very enjoyable.  The Gershwin was definitely familiar and it was amazing to hear Rhapsody in Blue performed live.  Being in the front row meant we could see lots of feet and were right underneath the piano for Rhapsody.  Excellent performance.

Here is a short video of part of the performance (the sound is good and I apologize for the foot, butt, and crotch shots):

Sunday it was time for the Super Bowl party we were invited to by some other friends who live in the area (see Traci's blog post for the explanation).  We played a little poker, but since it was 1 coin for 1 chip, it didn't last long and I found it hard to bet appropriately.  We will definitely have to plan a tournament style game at some point so I might last longer than 5 minutes <insert sexual innuendo here>.  The best part of the party however, was reconnecting with our friends.  It was so amazing to see Mat and Christina again after all these years.  We also got to meet their mom (who was absolutely lovely) and Christina's husband, Jay who seems like a great guy.  I am looking forward to future good times with them.  I think that Jay and I will have plenty to talk about (he's from Alabama and has a nice long streak of mischievous good ol' boy) and I imagine we'll have some trouble to get into.  Their house is really great.  I absolutely love the layout, lots of different levels and big sliding glass/screen windows all around the house and a great man cave in the garage.  You can also see the bay from their front porch balcony.

Lights from the Balcony
Mat & his mom live near Yosemite Valley and informed us that it's about 3 1/2 hours away.  They also said that April is the best time to visit and that they can give us the skinny on where to stay (a cabin likely in the next "big" town), where to go, and what to do.  They live about 40 minutes from the actual valley which would definitely be on our schedule whenever we visit.

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that despite our best efforts at planning some "stay at home time" for some weekends, we'll probably have far too many amazing event offers to really let that happen too often.  Oh well, the better to blog about, right (if I can keep my eyes open)!?

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