South Korea

What a wonderful place. 
..there’s certainly more to be said here. Alas, I have not the energy. Lo siento.

 

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Fishing Loch Leven

We’d been planning our fishing trip with Jeff for some time and when the weekend finally came, Kira and I were excited to get out for what seems like our first backpacking of the ‘summer.’ Even though it snowed the night before we arrived, we were expecting a high pressure that would move the storms out of CA and leave us with some fine clear warm weather. So we drove out to the Eastern Sierras for some hiking and fishing.

Arriving late on Friday, we crashed at the North Lake campground that night. Organizing our things in the morning, we looked over each other’s pack and charged out in search of massive lazy hungry fish. Trodding up the steep rocky incline the promise of giant trout kept us going.

Our first stop, at Loch Leven was spectacularly fruitful. The Brook and Rainbow Trout bit almost every fly in the water and each was landed (then released). After some lunch we continued on toward our Piute Lake, though we were a bit late to get any decent fishing in there and and decided to hike out early in the pre-dawn morning on Sunday.  The terrain of the Sierras is spectacular, more so when coupled with a dusting of snow, but the rugged Sierras beneath a clear-sky canopy of stars on a moonless night takes the cake for awe-some and gorgeous.

The Hike’s Route/Map

We arrived down the hill shortly after setting out. Each of us took a quick nap in the car to let the sky warm up and the rest of the world wake up, then drove down to have a breakfast/lunch at Eric Shatt’s in Bishop. While mowing on a pastrami sandwich a familiar face walked in the door and began perusing the pineapple pull-apart cakes. I was, and still am, amazed that Megan and Tad ‘just happened’ to be in Bishop, at Shatt’s… some mysteries of the universe will likely never explain themselves.  We chatted with the Shimatas for a bit, then let them get to their lunch as we pushed on toward home.

After only a brief time in the car we pulled West to run some beer procurement errands before continuing up the hill to peruse the wonderous Devil’s Post Pile.  The monument is a tribute to an actual monument of nature. The Post Pile is a geologic feature comprised of columns of basalt (cooled lava) that fractured to almost pure perfection and were then naturally polished by massive ice-cubes. We walked the loop around the monument and then took time to notice the geologic formations elsewhere in the park. After a quick stop by the soda spring for a sip of bubble-water, we jumped back into the car and headed toward town when we suffered a radiator failure.  Confused, we stopped and let the engine cool, refilled the reservoir with a couple liters and set back up the hill.  A meare 20 meters from the top, the engine temp reached an unacceptable level and we pulled off again. This time we took naps and let the engine cool for two hours and then set out to find more water. Finding no spigot anyplace near, we bummed drinking water off the ranger at the gate and put in 4 liters then gingerly floated the car down into town in search of the first service station we could find. Pulling into such a place, I began to purchase a bottle of coolant, then recoiled and asked if they’d just fill it for me. Fortunately, with one look at the radiator cap the service man noticed it’s defunct nature and sold me half a gallon of coolant and a new cap which solved the problem.

Back in business, we drove down the hill to the 395 with caution and then put the vehicle back into full motion onto the Mono Basin. With plenty of daylight to burn, I pulled off and headed east on the 120 to explore another fascinating geologic formation of Eastern California, the Tufa of Mono Lake. Repeating that word every four minutes, Kira was sure to never forget it. A quick read of every sign in the park, another cleansing taste of mineral water, identification of each of the few species of plants, animals, and insects that thrive on The Lake, and a few photographs later we were back, heading West.

Reminded of my Geocaching companion, traveling with me, I pulled off at the nearest cache, The Tomb Of The Unknown Prospector, paid my respects and dropped my trackable at the accompanying cache. Then it was back on the road where we’d soon have Kira her prescribed milkshake.

We’d heard about the Mobile at the junction of 395 and 120 (toward Yosemite), so we stopped. Turns out they’ve got the most expensive fuel I’d seen all week ($5.69 for regular) and marginal food. But I imagine if we had been in the bush a little longer and hadn’t stopped at the Mammoth Brewery we’d be a little less critical. By the time we’d finished dinner I’d unofficially exhausted my allotment of daylight and we got back on the road.  However, I was eager to stretch my credit and pulled off to seek out one more geocache, to no avail in the moon-less night. Forfeiting my right to continue the weekend any longer, we were back on the road and headed home, only two more stops.

The first was to assist a motorist with a flat – while this old prospector didn’t need my help, it seemed he appreciated the light and moreso, the conversation as he continued to talk even after the wheel was on, the truck off the jack, the tools stowed, and me back in the car.  The second was just West of Tracy where some midnight construction had begun, effectively killing the usefulness of the freeway.  After the cone-zone we were home within an hour and a half.

Surprisingly we only set out to go fishing.  I think we did alright.

First Official Business

The phone rings at 4:30 AM. Or did it?

This time is reserved for John, Kira knows that and she has to scratch my head or sing me songs to warm me up to opening my eyes. Kira’s in Santa Cruz until Friday, so there’s no one to warm me up this morning. My phone is down the ladder. I’m up the ladder. I have Not been vigilant in keeping the room spick and span. I’m aware that I’m about to learn a very good lesson with respect to clutter and cleanliness. Belt buckles are sharp and step ladders are sturdy. I get to satans glowing noise machine in time to see a 510 number just before it goes black. Now I’m curious and instinctively double tap the call button to redial. The phone is locked and I angrily smash the key pad to achieve normalcy, then repeat my double-tap forgetting that I’m about to interrupt someone at 4:30 AM. I’m a jerk.

The voice on the other end answers me by name before I say anything and I answer questions about my employment before understanding why and who I’m talking to. The engine begins to warm up and my cognitive abilities begin to sharpen (albit far from sharp). I repeat a couple of actions I’m to preform before the voice asks if I’m writing anything down. I fumble for something flat and something pointy and then proceed to request the information again, hang up, and run into the wall face first.

Now awake, I slip on my new blue pants, a toxic-orange shirt, and blue ball cap. Unaware of my assigned task beyond transporting myself down the hill, I collect my helmet & headlamp, GPS, first aid kit, jacket, and compass. As it turns out, all I needed was a ClifBar, fortunately I had two. I then activate my SAR-Scooter and race down the hill to meet the unknown 5 minutes away in Berkeley. My navigation is confirmed accurate by 10 police officers standing around and a SAR dog handler preparing her pal.

I’m not at an assisted living facility in Berkeley and I’m feeling good. Berkeley PD size me up based on, what I assume to be, the size of my mustache. They greet me as the SAR boss-man. I respond,

“My team should be here shortly, anyone else here?”

“Yes. Lt. ____ from your team with her K-9”

“Great. She’s the best at what she does.”

Fearing I may be found out for a rookie, I make small talk and then look busy fiddling with my scooter and pack. My scheme is found out once the real SAR Boss-man shows up. I am relieved.

We are giving a quick rundown on the situation, background, and our task. The story goes, an 86 y/o woman with dementia had escaped her maximum security senior facility sometime between an eight o’clock dinner and now, 5:00 AM. Holding a flier complete with a terrible DMV photograph and general description we set out.  The objective of the search this time around was a little more direct in that based on the subjects known last point of contact and some personal effects, we could set our k-9 team to the task of sniffing her out.

We set out following the highly trained 2-year old around Berkeley. About an hour in, with several miles under out belt, we consider the mileage one could achieve with an eight-hour handicap and ask our lead the probability of success at this rate. She winks at us, spins in a circle, and sits down. It was clear, to some, we’d be hard pressed to make any more effort useful. Fortunately, our hired driver was on the block with us running interference when we need to zig-zag across the boulevard. We signaled and piled into the truck, making our way back to ‘Command.’ Returning to the group we reconnoitered our findings and did one last evaluation of the building for information or signs. Nada.

As the day begins, our team debriefs and demobilizes. In all my haste I hadn’t bothered to lawfully secure parking and was relieved to find my scooter infraction free. I am up the hill and back in bed before any of the team is to the 580.  I fall back to sleep promising myself to clean the clutter and prepare my ‘SAR-ready pack.’

The subject was found healthy at 9:30 AM in North Oakland and I woke up at 2 PM to do as promised.

And so the conversation went like this:

“Another email address John?”
“Yeah, pretty fancy eh?”
“But what’s this business all about? Did you buy another domain in a half-baked social-manipulation money-making scheme?”
“Well, kind of. I suppose it’s called government. Unfortunately, someone already beat me to the punch and the market is saturated.”
“Is that suppose to be some kind of political statement?”
“Yeah, I suppose.. forget it.”
“Okay.. But seriously, what’s the deal? I call, I write, nothing. What are you up to? I mean it is raining every day after all. You can’t be all that busy with bees and gardening.”
“Well, since it started raining and, you’re right, the bees are tucked away for the winter and the flowers are all soggy, so I’m trying out this new thing.”
“Oh? What’s that? Is it some kind of martial art?” (with skepticism)
“Noo” (understanding the reason behind the skepticism.. after all, I wouldn’t put it past myself to learn to disable a 280 pound man with a shotgun)
“Well…”
“I started working.”
“No! Get out.”
“Seriously”
“Seriously?”
“Seriously.”
“No I mean.. regularly?”
“Yeah.. well 4 days a week to start, but eight-thirty to five-p.”
“Doing what? Are you pushing?”
“Well, I suppose you could say that.”
“Really? Cause I’ve been looking.. and prices aren’t so good after they found those grows up in the Sierras last week…”
“NO. But kind of.”
“Well, what then?”
“I got a badge though.”
“Ooooh you’re a cop? Do part-time cops get a shotgun?”
“No and I assume so”
“No what?”
“I’m not a part-time cop.”
“Oh, that’s too bad.”
“Yeah.. only because that means I don’t get a shotgun.”
“I know. Bummer.”
“Serious bummer.”
“What were we talking about?”
“Drugs.”
“Oh yeah.”
“So here’s the scoop.”
“Give it to me”
“I work on the Nth floor of a building in downtown Oakland, __ Broad__ to be exact.”
“Go on.”
“And I use my badge to get into the office, otherwise Tony has to open the door for me. Nice guy.”
“Sounds like it.”
“Right? I only started showing up last week. This is day five? yeah, day five.”
“Sweet.”
“Yeah. So I’m working for the, ready for this?”
“Yes. – Well, hold on a sec I’m chewing an apple… makes it harder to hear.”
“Totally.”
“Okay, ready.”
“The Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD) Division of Communicable Diseases Control and Prevention (DCDCP).”
“So the ACPHDDCDCP?”
“Exactly”
“That’s a solid acronym.”
“You’re telling me, but that’s not all.”
“No?”
“Nope. Within the ACPHDDCDCP I’m in the Emergency Preparedness and Bioterrorisim Unit (EPB)”
“So you’re telling me if I were to write you a postcard it would go to John M___, C/O ACPHDDCDCPEPB, # Broad___, Oakland CA?”
“Uh.. kind of. Don’t forget the Nth floor in there someplace.”
“So, John Mizell, C/O ACPHDDCDCPEPB, Nth floor, # Broad__, Oakland CA?”
“I guess. Though I haven’t really checked that out. So I don’t think I’d waste a stamp on it.”
“Yeah.. cause with twenty-eight cents I could buy some dirt off a third-grader.”
“Exactly. Then plant a tree in that dirt.”
“I don’t think I’d get enough dirt.”
“Well, maybe enough to just wet it’s whistle.”
“Wet it’s whistle for twenty-five seconds?”
“Sure, why not?”
“I’d rather see how far I could huck it off the W-hotel’s balcony in Minneapolis.”
“Minnesota?”
“Yeah. You been?”
“I was just there. Not a bad town.”
“I know, right?”
“Nice sculpture garden.”
“I liked the wind chimes in the trees.”
“Those were cool.”
“So, going to work now. Right on.”
“Yeah, it’s all right. Gotta wake up early.”
“Like ten-thirty?”
“Naw, real person time, seven-fifteen.”
“Bummer.”
“Such is life. Good news is it’s right next to the BART station.”
“Nice.”
“Yep.”
“Yep.”
“Anyway, that’s why I’ve been slacking on el-communication-es”
“No worries. Once you’re settled into your new routine, you’ll learn to slack and spend eighty-percent of your day emailing friends.”
“Maybe. My current job is to ‘stream-line’ their processes’ so I can’t imagine being inefficient as I’m asking the office to become More efficient.”
“Wait, aren’t you the guy who was pushing hammocks as a way to become more efficient?”
“Maybe.”
“I see.”
“Hmm… You make a good point.”
“That’s because it is your point.”
“I make a good point.”
“Touche”
“Seriously though, I’ll get you my real address so you can send letters. I work in Bioterrorism after all.”
“Haha.. don’t tempt me.”
“Yeah, you’re right. Send letters to Kira full of sand. She’ll decode the ingredients for you.”
“Sweet. Now That sounds like a challenge.”
“Oh, it is.”
“Done.”
“Good.”
“Good.”
“Good.”
“Okay.”
“Anyway, time to get back to it.”
“Do it.”
“Right. Adios.”
“Peace out.”
*click.

(Or something like that.)