Jell-o.

We have a new addition to our small company. His name is Oscar. His mom is really good at making jello. Here it is.

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We only had a serrated knife..

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Some people believed it to a colored carnation flower inside but it’s jello injected into set jello.

Reminds me of art glass, but you can eat this. White is leche (milk) and the rest was a bit like mild blueberry.

UC Santa Cruz Arboretum

Last weekend I celebrated my and my birthday (April Fool’s) and my mother’s upcoming birthday with a fun weekend in Santa Cruz.

Lately, I’ve been riding in Wilder Ranch, so I’ve noticed all the wildflowers, poppies, and wild irises flourishing on the hillsides. I thought, “This is the perfect and BEST time to visit the UC Arboretum.” I’ve never been there but my mom and her long-time boyfriend have only once, but on a dreary, non-blooming part of the year.

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(irises along the hills in Wilder Ranch)

Let me say, wow! I really found it fascinating and much bigger than I imagined. There are large patches of area dedicated to California, Australia, and Tasmania. I cannot vouch for the latter two in terms of authenticity, but I did finally see a real eucalyptus that was meant for making furniture vs the ones Californians erroneously planted that bore food for koalas and burn like crazy. (oops)

Here are some quick pics:

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flannel bush

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Many varieties of Banksia.

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I see where Dr. Seuss gets his inspiration…

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Super succulents!

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Many colorful blooming protea.

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There are so many plants that hummingbirds love, there’s a walkway dedicated to these little high velocity creatures! I couldn’t capture any with my camera-phone but you can imagine the blurry tries…

http://arboretum.ucsc.edu/

Planning without Google..

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Do you see the little reservoir? Remember that because we will be there the next day. :)
I take google mapping for granted. I like using Strava to plan rides. I totally didn’t think about how if I didn’t have access to Google maps, how challenging it would be to find a mountain trail. Silly me.

The roads up Moganshan lead up to a top peak area where hotels, stone buildings, restaurants and beautiful siteseeing spots lie. Once we dropped down to town, the area becomes more residential, less touristy, but with so much renovation and building, new roads sort of just appear!  Not to mention roads can also disappear with erosion.

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A picturesque old villa that is a living reminder up Moganshan’s foreigner occupied area. Residents of Shanghai could escape the hot summer months in these cool bamboo forest hills.

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Nice spot for a photo.. there’s something satisfying about riding an hour and coming upon this picturesque pond. There’s also something sort of funny about a bus load of people getting dropped off in the same spot to take their photos and then get back on a bus. (I earned my shot!)

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This is a hill we had to climb. I ended up strapping my bike to my backpack and walking up the hill. It was about 25-30% grade.

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I’m enamored by these fluffy foxtail bamboo groves. Apparently, here, there is a bamboo variety that grows a meter per day.

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Cool baby bamboo salad with soy beans and sliced peppers. Don’t mistake this for bamboo shoot, no, these are the tenderest bamboo new growth, freshly harvested that morning.

We ended up getting off track because some very kind women told us a shortcut to get to the hill, even though we were seeking the long way. Some nice Germans rode by and righted us back on track. Gotta love cycling in other countries! Biking bonds us all!

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This map woul’ve been great when we first started. :( wahhhh. It’s like how would we have found this map of we didn’t get lost first? I don’t read Chinese, by the way.

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Gotta go by the reservoir, now. Yes, this is a trail connector.

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Long story short, we spent about 3 hours going in a little circle the wrong way, but ended up back at our hotel. Thankfully, we could order a hot meal with veggies, rice and some soup (because they are awesome!)

We didn’t want to rest too long and we contemplated having the driver pick us up, but we decided to muster up our energy and make the journey back via road. The only thing that was bad was we would either have to take the 15 mile extra way via road the way we came, or… Take the same 30% grade steep climb for the short mile up and that keeps the ride shorter. We opted short and painful!

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10 miles, 2400 feet of elevation gain.
Ate lunch back where we started. Did I need to carry my backpack full of clothes and shoes? It was suppose to be a one way trip. :) one habit I’ve learned while bicycling is unless I have to hurry, I save energy for when I make mistakes or get lost. And always pack enough water and food. Even if you don’t bonk, your riding buddy might!

Off we go after a bite..

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It’s very offputting to see your track miss the mark by a mile.. it’s like seeing double. That’s China firewall for you.

Here’s to hoping someone else needing a little guidance on their ride can see this map and try to avoid getting lost. Life’s an adventure, right?! We were prepared to do a one-way 40 km journey, but instead cut it short die to some missteps. We had a blast, non the less and were so happy to enjoy the new experience.

Jet Lagging

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Taipei101

I just got back to California from a bike show in Taipei. Meetings upon meetings, here are some pics of the city on my day off.

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Wall Near Peace Park

Nature takes over..

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The city of the scooter.

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Barista rock stars. I knew the Taiwanese took tea seriously, so when they decided coffee was delicious, they took that to the next level, too! The barista’s station is front and center next to the sushi chef station. (Cafe de Riz, Da’ an District, Taipei)

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Riding the MRT to the show every morning. One of my favorite things to do is to commute like a local.

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Dumplings with a side of noodles and a cold salad of seaweed and tofu @Taipei underground mall.

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I had to enjoy a Pisco sour for an aperitif at Pico Pico! (Da’an)

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The ceviche with sweet potato was my favorite dish. :)

I’ll see you again someday, Taipei!

Home

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This is where I live: A little hidden chaparral Eden atop a mountain. The locals here are adamant about retaining their autonomy from the city proper and to some extent, are indicative of a lost way of living in this enclave south of Silicon Valley. A retreat for post dot com, cyber space software start-ups, the majority of new bloods are the types that will still tend crops and skin pigs, not unlike those who built hones before them.

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