Thursday, June 16, 2016

Saratoga, California and Jackson Hole, Wyoming June 2016

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All Pictures and Video at the bottom

Off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz. Not sure where that came from, I am actually off to Saratoga, California. Double "A" is graduating high school and we are off to help her enjoy the celebration. Early morning direct flight, uneventful, took less than 2 minutes to clear security.

We are staying at the Cupertino Inn, right off the 280 in Cupertino. Once we landed on the left coast we grabbed some lunch at Island Burgers. The service and food were adequate, if you are looking for a good easy meal at a sit down restaurant you can't go wrong, but you won't be bragging about the experience.

After lunch it was off to Target to get Double "A" her graduation present or should I say presents. To
many items to list, but one worth mentioning, a box of extra large Condoms... I meant to say, the extra large box of condoms. I will get to the condoms later.

Once the shopping was done we checked into the hotel. What a great place at a reasonable price $149.00 a night on a holiday weekend (Memorial Weekend). The room had a nice size living room as well as a very specious bedroom. The only negative and it was a small negative, the bathroom had been upgraded recently, but the shower seemed a little dated.

The rooms were built with a center courtyard that had a beautiful pool and sitting area. As well as full breakfast included with the room, each night there was a happy hour with free drinks and food and some type of entertainment. Tonight being Friday, it was Karaoke Night. Unfortunately we would be heading to the Baccalaureate Mass so no Karaoke for us.

Double "A" was graduating from San Francis Holly Cross High all girls school. Though it was an all girls school, it was coeducational. I know very confusing, but just down the street was an all boys school that was also coeducational. Remember this is California they do things a little different.

Mass was great, two items to point out - One the Homily, the priest did a great job of instilling a sense that is was now time to give back and not be self-absorbed. He also made everybody welcome no matter your religion or lack there of, he invited everybody up for the cookie (communion) , it was nice for those that had not been confirmed, we did not feel out of place.

It had been a long day so we retired back to the Hotel.

Saturday is graduation day, though Saint Francis is a high school it does have a $37,000,000 endowment. Yes, count the zeros! So the campus is much more like an ivy league university than a high school. The athletic facilities are top notch, including the football stadium which is where the graduation took place. The faculty speakers were some what dry and boring, but the student speakers did a great job of energizing their graduating class. Luckily for us, Double "A" has a last name early in the alphabet, she was called early, so we ducked out after she received her diploma. It was nearing
100 degrees and there was no shade.

As we walk through the parking lot it was easy to see we were in Silicon Valley, a Porsche was the poor mans car surrounded by Ferraris and Lamborghinis.

Back at Double "A"'s house was a party that went all afternoon. The good news, when Double "A" opened our presents she had no idea what condoms were. At least from a parents perspective that was good news. At least I think it is good news!

Sunday we had a few events to cover, first an easy run as there was a race coming up ( more on that later) and we were tapering. After the run, and of course, a shower it was off to the Quilt and Textile Museum in downtown San Jose. Come on, if you are in San Jose how can use miss this.

As we drove through the city we saw many people dressed in costume. We later found out FanimeCon was going on. What is FanimeCon, you might ask? Click here to find out.

We had lunch at Original Joe's nothing original about it except maybe how high the prices were for poor quality food with poor service to match. Avoid Original Joe's at all costs.

Later in the day we went to House Family Vineyards. The House Family Vineyards resides in the foothills of Silicon Valley. While the wines were nice the views are fantastic. You could see most of the valley. If you are in the area this is a must visit spot.

Grand Tetons

Today we are flying from San Francisco to Jackson Hole via Salt Lake City. The flight does not depart until the late afternoon so I decided to go down memory lane. Forty five years ago I lived in
Silicon Valley, I thought it was time to revisit my old homes. Yes we lived in two different homes during this time. I remembered the street names but not the addresses. The first one was tough we lived in the middle of the block, I narrowed it down to a few house but am not sure which it was. The second house was easy as our house was one house from the corner so I found that house rather quickly. Not much had changed, just some landscaping. Well there was another big change, back in the early 70's these houses were worth maybe $25,000.00. Now they are worth an even million each, kind of crazy.

Once we arrived in Jackson Hole we picked up our rental car and arrived at our hotel at 10:30PM. Our plan was to order room service, we had not eaten since lunch. We are staying at the Hotel Terra. This hotel has a great reputation with a price tag to match. Check in was a great disappointment.

While checking in, along with other guest, we found out there was no food options within 30 minutes of the hotel except the two $5.00 granola bars in the room. Being tired we decided to just go to our room hungry. This issue could of been handled much better if on the pre check in email we received a few days before which bragged about the great services at the hotel, they simple mentioned there were no food services at the hotel after 8:00 pm.

We were given our key and instructed to take the elevator to our room. Since our room number started with a five we assumed we would take the elevator to the 5th floor. Once there we could not find our room after walking the floor twice. We returned to the lobby to explain there was no room with our number and no signs explaining the layout of the floor. The clerk just laughed and said " you need to go to the third floor and take the sky bridge to the west wing and then take another set of elevators to the 5th floor" she then again chuckled. We suggested signs in the elevator, which she replied there were signs and asked someone to show us the way. This person showed us in the elevator the sign which shows the sky bridge is on the third floor, we showed him how on the same sign it says the suites are on the 5th floor. He went silent. 45 minutes after we arrived we finally reached our room very hungry. If it was not a 30 minute drive back to town we would of left and found another hotel. Not what I would expect from a hotel with such a great reputation and for the prices they charge. I hope things get better.

Today we plan to do a hike but first and much more important was finding a place for breakfast. We
thought breakfast was first, only to find our first chore was to figure out how to get out of the hotel. We went back to the elevator and try to hit lobby the button would not light so we hit G for ground which was below L for Lobby.

When we reached ground we found out we were in the basement. Luckily there was a maintenance guy working and he led us through a maze of stars and hallways to help us exit the hotel, sure glad this was not a fire drill.

Looks like Jackson Hole is living up to the same quality of service we got last time we were here. I was here in September 2008, yep 8 years ago. The guide we had was of the same quality as the Hotel Terra.

We decided to have breakfast at E. Leaven Food Company, I think we have a black cloud hanging over our heads as E. Leaven Food Company was equal to Hotel Terra except they had food, if you call it that.

Off to the park Grand Teton National Park that is, we decided to do a hike to Amphitheater Lake, the hike was listed as 4.8 miles one way and an elevation gain of over 3,000 feet. We thought this would be a nice challenge. The hike made up for all the bad service we had received so far. What a gorgeous day, it started out a nice crisp 45 degrees and warmed up to 70 degrees. Not a cloud in the ski. The Tetons were to our west as we slowly climbed from 6,000 feet to well over 8,000 feet. The hike was challenging but enjoyable the views spectacular. As we continued our hike, several times we ran into hikers hiking down with complete sets of skis on their packs. We later realized they had hiked up early in the day to the top of the peak and then skied the snow line down as far as they could, hiking the rest to the bottom. Kind of crazy when there are perfectly good ski lifts.

At a little over 8,000 feet we ran into a good bit of snow, we still had about 2 miles to go. We decided
to head back down as the snow was a little slippery and we really did not have the proper equipment.

After the hike we headed into town to check on renting Mountain Bikes for the next day. We stopped at Teton Mountain Bike Tours. Dave the owner has a great reputation. So far he is living up to the reputation. He got us all outfitted and helped us pick out a route. Now as long as the bikes are ready tomorrow we will be good.

Next food, and we still needed real food. We stopped at Cafe Genevieve It looks like our luck has changed, first Dave, now Cafe Genevieve, the service was great and the food even better. You can not go wrong at Cafe Genevieve.

After our great meal we walked around downtown Jackson, most of the shops were there for the tourist industry, though one nice touch was there were more local establishments than national changes.

As we walked back to the car we ran into another great find a little cafe called Happy Being Juicery. A vegan cafe that served breakfast, lunch, smoothies, and desserts.

After a few vegan desserts we headed back to the Hotel Terra for another challenge of trying to find the shortest route to our room. We made it, yes we still had to take two elevators.

Off to bed as we plan to get up early to take some photos of the sunrise.

The photos were a bust, while the sunrise was beautiful, we hoped the sun would color the snow on
the Grand Tetons which did not happen. We headed back to get some more sleep as we would later do a mountain bike ride.

At noon we picked up the mountain bikes we had rented from Teton Mountain Bike Tours. Dave was a delight to deal with. He got us all set up and on our way quickly. We would be biking through town to the Cache Creek Trail. The Cache Creek Trail, is part dirt road and part single track. As we rode the grade had a slight elevation gain to it. At 6,400 feet we could feel the climb in our lungs. At 3 miles we crossed the creek and turned on to Game Creek Trail. This trail started with a huge climb which we choose to do a hike a bike as Dave would say. This climb was about a mile long and as steep as could be. Maybe on our own bikes we could of rode it, but not on rentals.

Once at the top of the climb we had a three mile down hill of single track. What a beautiful area and fantastic ride. We ran into a few other bikers but for the most part we had the trail to ourselves.

Once at the bottom / trail head for Game Creek Trail we had an 8 miles ride back on a paved trail. This trail paralleled the highway, but with the Tetons in the distance and the separate bike path it was still a beautiful ride.

After returning the bikes we decided to get smoothies at Happy Being Juicery and a late lunch at Cafe Genevieve. Yes we are creatures of habit
or maybe we just stuck with a sure thing.

We headed back to the hotel to do a little reading at the roof top lounge and watch the sunset before a great nights sleep.

Today more of our team arrives. What team you might ask? The Full Moon Running Club of course! As you may remember last year our running club ran the Zion National Park Half Marathon, this year we decided to run the Grand Tetons National Park Half Marathon.

With more people joining us we gladly checked out of the Hotel Terra. We had booked a 4 bedroom condo through Rendezvous Mountain Rentals. They were fantastic, check in was set for
4:00 PM but they gladly let us check in at 9:30 AM. After checking in Margarite went for a Swim while I did the shopping for the group. One of our team members was also celebrating her 25th birthday so I ordered a birthday cake for our post race celebration dinner.

Our team and when they would be arriving. Scott Merkel and "T.C. Elliott" would be flying into Idaho Falls and then driving to Jackson Hole sometime this afternoon. Gary Nolan, would be arriving via Jackson Hole airport later this evening. Red, would be arriving tomorrow afternoon via Jackson Hole. Ross and Sue would be diving up tomorrow afternoon via Denver, though they will not be running they will be our support team.

Scott Merkel and "T.C. Elliott" arrived about 5:00 PM. We heard from Gary Nolan and due to weather he got stuck in Dallas and hopefully would be able to hop on Red's flight Friday and arrive with her.

The good news "T.C. Elliott" arrived healthy just recovering from a very bad cold, bad news Scott Merkel now had the bad cold and looked and sounded awful. We decided to just eat in, "T.C. Elliott" pumped Scott Merkel full of codeine and off to bed he went.

In the morning we decided to tour Grand Teton National Park by car have a picnic lunch and then pick up Red and Gary Nolan at the airport.

The park is beautiful, a true valley with the Snake River crawling through it. Fresh lakes are spread
throughout the park most formed by dams on the Snake River as well as the snow melt from the mountains. Though the weather was unseasonable sunny and hot there was still much snow throughout the park.

We stopped a Redny Lake to enjoyed our picnic lunch. What a beautiful view.

After lunch we headed to the airport to pick up Red and Gary Nolan.

It was late afternoon so we decided to walk around downtown Jackson, Wyoming. Margarite and I were the only ones that had been before so we thought a little exploration was in order.

A great little town, nice mix of rustic cowboy town and high end tourist town. The town is very bike and pedestrian friendly making it very easy to walk and explore. The main down town is only a few blocks square with a town square park in the center.

We stopped at Moo's Gourmet Ice Cream. It is huckleberry season so we had to have huckleberry ice cream. The line to get the ice cream was long well outside the shop, well worth it.

It was now time to head over to the race expo to pick up our race bibs and get the skinny on the race. After the expo we all headed back to the condo. Our pre race meal would be a pasta dinner and we needed to get that started. Ross and Sue would be arriving shortly.

The race starts at 6:30 AM we need to be at the race start close to 5:45 AM we were less than a 20 minute drive to the race start, but with limited parking we needed to arrive early. The temperature at the race start would be 45 degrees, but would rise quickly to the low 60's before the race was over.

Ross and Sue agreed to be at mile 3 to grab any clothes we might want to discard once we warmed up.

It was 6:30 AM and we were ready to go! The only problem the race director wasn't. With the limited parking, many runners were still not at the race, they had to drive to the over flow parking at Teton Village and take the shuttle bus to the start.

6:40 AM the race was off. As we left the parking lot we made a sharp right turn on the roadway toward Wilson. At this point the road was nice and wide given the runners time to spread out as the course would eventually end up on a narrow bike path before return to a wider road.

My plan was to start out slow and then pick up the pace at 6,100 feet, oxygen was a precious commodity, I wanted to conserve it. Gary Nolan and I decided an 8:30 pace should work fine for the first mile. Red felt that might be a bit fast for her, Margarite was running her own race and "T.C. Elliott" was also running her own race. Scott Merkel called in sick.

Gary Nolan went out like a bat out of hell, for some stupid reason I followed, I knew we were going fast when at half a mile we could still see Margarite just a 100 meters ahead of us. Gary Nolan slowly pulled ahead of me maintaining about a 25 meter lead, I assumed Red was a good bit behind us based on her reluctance to run an 8:30 pace.

As we reach the one mile mark we made another right turn onto a small local road, the runners had thinned out, which was perfect as our next right was up a few hundred meters and would take us onto the bike path. The temperature was perfect sun shining, no wind, the conditions could not be better. I crossed the first mile marker at a time of 7:42 and a heart rate of 151. While the time was significantly faster than plan, my heart rate said I was not over exerting myself, so I decided to go with it. I would later find out this was a big

The next mile was relatively flat, we were running into the rising sun approaching the Snake River. There was some juggling for position but the crowds had thinned enough not to cause any stress. I could no longer see Margarite, but Gary Nolan was still about 25 meters ahead, I assumed Red was a good bit behind as she had planned to go out much slower than my current pace though so did I. I crossed the two mile mark at a pace of 7:45 and a heart race of 164. Sure my heart rate was rising, but nothing to stress about. Mentally I was concerned, was I going to run out of gas / oxygen but physically I felt great.

As we continued past mile two we approached the Snake River where we used the pedestrian bridge to cross. I knew either Ross or Sue would be at the other end waiting to grab anything we wanted to
discard. I almost always run races with a small camera, you never know when you might want to take a picture. As we were crossing the pedestrian bridge the camera that only weighs a few ounces felt as if it had gained several pounds like I was running with a lead brick in my hand. As I left the bridge I saw Sue and handed her the camera, which now weighed 10 pounds. What a relief, but I also came to the realization that the camera felt heavy because my arm muscles were not getting enough oxygen. As I crossed mile 3 my time was 7:54 and my heart rate had climbed to 166 though my time had slowed 12 seconds and my heart rate had climbed 15 beats per minute, I was still way ahead of my original planed pace. I did not like the strategy of starting out fast and slowing down, I rather start out slow and speed up a technique known as negative splitting a race, where each mile you get faster. My heavy arms were still weighing on me, could I keep up this pace. Only time would tell!

As we exited the bridge we made a sharp right turn and then after about 200 meters we made a sharp
left turn. We were now running parallel to the roadway away from Wilson toward Jackson. The bike path made another sharp right into a tunnel that went under the roadway as we exited the tunnel we made a sharp left again running parallel to the roadway but on the other side. There was a slight incline where I was passed by a guy pushing a stroller and the baby was singing. This is when I knew I was in trouble. Sure I passed the stroller back, but not because I accelerated, the stroller or should I say the runner eventually slowed more than I did.

We continued on the path for several hundred meter until we made a sharp left and entered another tunnel that would again take us under the roadway. As we entered the tunnel there was a steep grade only about 2 meters in length but it knocked the wind out of my sails or should I say wind out of my lungs. After the tunnel we made another sharp right and we were back running parallel to the roadway.

The course now had a few miles of slight down hills, though downhill, it did not seem to help any. I hit mile 4 at a time of 8:18 I had slowed quite a bit, my heart rate stayed about the same at 165..

Mile 5 continued downhill and we crossed the mile marker at a pace of 8:35 still slower yet my heart rate was steady at 166. At this point Red who I thought was a good bit behind me, caught up to me. We were now running together. This was a big help.

We continued following the same roadway, still a slight downhill and crossed miles 6 at a pace of 8:18 and a heart rate of 168 only a slight increase.

About half way through mile 7 we made a left turn onto Spring Gulch Road. We had driven this road
the day before and I thought it was flat when in reality it had a slight up hill grade to it. We would be on this road for a little over 6.5 miles to the finish line. The positive, we were running toward the Grand Teton Mountains thus the view was gorgeous.

We crossed mile 7 at a pace of 8:20 and a heart rate of 170. The slight incline, going out to fast, and lack of oxygen were taking it's toll. I could tell Red was much stronger and told her to go ahead. She said she was fine and knew she was going to easily beat her goal of 2 hours at this pace.

Mile 8 was tough, I worked hard to stay with Red, our pace 8:23 my heart rate 171 everything was feeling heavy. I had to slow down, which allowed Red to pick it up. After mile 3 I could no longer see Gary Nolan, but assumed with the speed he went out I might be gaining on him, I would later find out I was wrong, WAY WRONG!

Mile 9 was painful at a pace of 8:59 and a heart rate of 170. The slowing of the pace kept my heart rate steady. The road surface changed from paved to gravel, it was hard to find a flat area, it was mostly washboard. This continued until the last mile.

Mile 10 was only slightly faster at a pace of 8:53 and a heart rate of 167. I was now walking every water stop. I was cooked. The road surface was killing me.

Mile 11 and 12 respectfully pace 9:24 and 8:57 heart rates 168 and 168. Yes there was a long water stop during mile 11.

Ross rode back on his bike and rode with me for mile 13 which I had a pace of 8:49 and a heart rate of 173. With only a tenth of a mile to go we turned left into the golf club and crossed the finish line with a time of 1 hour 50 minutes and 58 seconds. Giving me an average pace of 8:29. Before the race I told myself I should be happy if I can average better than an 8:30 pace at this altitude. So I guess I am happy with my time, but I am not happy with how I ran the race!

Margarite won the women's masters division (women over 40) with a time of 1:36:39 breaking the course record by more than 7 minutes Red got third for her age group with a time of 1:47:31 crushing
her goal time of 2 hours Gary Nolan got 7th in his age group with a time of 1:44:06 maintaining that fast pace he went out at. "T.C. Elliott" finish at a time of 3:07. Not bad considering she had not been able to train.

A great time was had by all and a big thanks to Sue and Ross for their support.

After the awards ceremony we headed back to the condo to have lunch and clean up. We had arranged a white water rafting trip on the Snake River for the afternoon. The trip was through Dave Hansen Whitewater. We would be doing the one hour white water rafting trip. The largest rapid would be at most a class three. While Margarite and I had been on the Snake River before in Idaho, Hells Canyon where the rapids are class 5, with having just run a half marathon and many of our team member being a little skittish we knew this would be perfect.

Our guide Cameroon B. was fantastic giving us great information about the river while guiding the raft just perfect to keep the trip thrilling but not overwhelming. With all the snow melt the river was running fast and high. Many people think that makes for a tougher ride but in reality the ride is smoother if you can have a smooth white water ride, the high water covers the rocks that cause the tougher rapids.

One unique rapid we pass through that I had never seen before our guide called the endless surf wave. The rapid formed a wave that surfers can surf with out moving. It was very cool to watch as we approached the rapid.

We had a great dinner back at the house where we celebrated our results of the run and Red's
birthday. It had been a long day and we all hit the sacks hard and fast.

Ross and Sue went for an early mountain bike ride up Teton Pass. The rest of us (excluding Gary Nolan went for a hike), we decided to do the hike we had done earlier in the week except take the cut off toward Granite Canyon.

The hike was perfect we saw several black bears even though they were brown they are called black bears. We could not continue to the end of the trail as there was still a good bit of snow covering the last half mile of trail and without ice axes we were not comfortable crossing the snow.

The reason Gary Nolan hung back he was going to do the same Mountain Bike ride Margarite and I had done earlier in the week. Cache Creek Trail to Game Creek Trail he was just waiting for Ross and Sue as they wanted to join him. We later found out rather than use a map and trail markers they used a GPS and got totally lost and never found Game Creek Trail. It was getting real hot so they were happy to call it a day and arrived at the condo shortly after we returned. All was good.

Being our last night together we decided to go out on the town. Diner was at the Silver Dollar which is a restaurant at the Famous Wort Hotel though the hotel and restaurant have won many awards I would describe it as an over priced tourist trap with so, so quality food. To put it simply Scott Merkel and "T.C. Elliott" each ordered a hamburger which cost about $20.00 and they were so bad they each only ate half.

After dinner we stopped by the Trio which is a lovely restaurant run by a friend of Red's named Erin. We had drinks and dessert at the Trio, we enjoyed the s'mores and key lime ice cream cake both were
out of this world. Maybe this is where we should of had dinner.

After dessert we headed over to the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. This is a historic tourist bar that locals still hang out at. We did some people watching before heading home as we would all be going our separate ways tomorrow.

Video - Grand Tetons / Snake River Hiking, Mountain Biking, Running, White Water Rafting, even Surfing, all in under 5 minutes!!

That is it from Jackson Hole


Pictures - Grand Tetons

Pictures - Saratoga

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Jackson's food redeemed itself a few days later, and we found a much better $20 burger:

MacPhails - all fresh, all local ingredients (including home-made ketchup and fresh-ground bison).