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So, maybe I’ll start using this again, maybe.  I’ve got a new phone that let’s me do this on the go, and I’ve been inspired by the PCT thru hikers that are online (somehow) even when they’re 500 miles down the trail.  So maybe I can fit this in somehow too. Maybe I’ll even make a habit out of it too. Maybe.

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flickr again

I haven’t used my flickr account in a long time. I’ve collected a lot of photos since then, and have put a lot up on my picasa account, but you can’t quite highlight things the same way on picasa as you can on flickr. So, just a heads up, you’ll probably see some things come by from there!

Picasa: here.
Flickr: here.

Enjoy!

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Fillmore Glen Hiking Trip

We interrupt our programming already in progress for this special report.

I organized a hiking trip to Fillmore Glen for the PGSO yesterday.  We had five hikers including myself, a good turn out considering that it snowed on the drive down and sleeted on us during the hike!  I’m of a divided mind on “bad” weather: hiking in the beautiful summer weather is wonderful and comfortable, but hiking in bad weather shows you the place in a totally different character. Actually I love inclement weather!

A quick aside on hiking in bad weather: as an undergrad I went on a geology lab field trip along WSR-542 to Mt. Baker.  The weather was miserable!  It was raining heavily, and windy.  Being a total nutter, I was dressed in heavy wool pants, a waterproof parka and dry boots, so I stayed pretty comfortable despite this.  With all the rain there were waterfalls and cascades coming off all parts of the mountain around the Bagley Lakes region, and the drifting clouds were ethereal.  I was cozy enough in my gear to be able to notice and really appreciate this; it’s a memory that has stuck with me.  Since then I’ve been all for going hiking in any weather, as long as it’s safe enough.  I expect many of my classmates have a completely different recollection: one of being wet and miserable.

With the weather forecast calling for a greater than half chance of rain, and being in the 40′s in the region, I offered to change dates.  Enough people thought this weekend was okay, so we went.  I had hoped to hike the main gorge trail.  Unfortunately it was completely closed for the winter.  It will probably open up next weekend, I should have checked!  Anyway its completely paved and staired, so it would have been “hiking”, not hiking.  The South and North Rim trails were open.  We headed for the south one first, ending up making a loop out of it. These trails weren’t paved, and kind of steep in sections while we were climbing up from the gorge bottom to the plateau above, about 450 feet.

A couple of things I noticed on the trip: it was really nice to be out hiking in the woods.  It snowed on us, and later it sleeted.  The precipitation wasn’t too bad really, it probably would have been harder to enjoy if it had rained.  I brought my jet boil and made tea for everyone about halfway around the loop.

From Fillmore Glen Hiking Trip

I really enjoyed seeing the different geology: I’m used to seeing volcanic rocks like basalt be the dominant exposure when out in the woods. This was all sedimentary rock, and it tended to break into sheets and be square. It lent the place a very constructed feel with all the square edges, like stacked bricks. It was quite beautiful.

From Fillmore Glen Hiking Trip

Some parts of the trail are quite mossy, and the forest floor was thoroughly covered with last fall’s leaves. It was a very peaceful place. We saw only a couple of other hikers.

Unfortunately the batteries in my regular camera failed me after the first few photos, so all I’ve got are these iPhone pics. They’re much better than the ones I would have gotten with my old cell phone, but Collin’s will be great with his DSLR! You can find the rest of my photos here, and I’ll keep putting up photos I get from others.

From Fillmore Glen Hiking Trip
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Gex, France and hiking in the Jura

It’s about time I wrote something that was pure fun!  One of the fun things that I really wanted to do while in France was go hiking.  I have just bought a pair of hiking boots, which I broke in around Syracuse, but hadn’t actually taken on a hiking trip yet.  The inaugural hiking trip is in the Jura!  Wow, that’s pretty special.  I guess I’m going to tell this in my traditional play-by-play style.  Sorry!

We got on the bus to Gex around lunch time.  We had packed a few things, but not everything, we still needed bread.  As we were getting ready, we both were thinking “oh no! we’re going to be eating cheese and chocolate for lunch, we don’t have any bread.”  But then we realized, with forehead slaps, that we are in France.  There are patisseries everywhere!  So when we got to Gex, we walked over to the tourist office, picked up a local map and walked around the town.

Gex is a hilly town.

Gex is on the edge of the Jura, actually part way up the side from the plain below.  So I guess it doesn’t really have hills, its on the side of one, so everything is either up the hill or down the hill.  Anyway, we walked from the bus stop at the bottom of the hill to the church at the top of the hill.  Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures of the church.  It’s kind of boring anyway.  I’m not sure of the history, but I’m sure the reformation is why the church is so plain.  I did take a picture of the Alps though!

The Alps from Gex

Then we walked around a bit more and found a patisserie that was charging 92$, I mean 0.92 euro for a baguette.  And on out of town we went.  We didn’t get too far up the slope of the Jura, but it was a lovely hike.  Here are a few more photos.

A trail in the Jura

The first section of the trail really reminded me a lot of the forest in the Pacific Northwest.  The forest floor is covered with moss and lichen and ferns.  The trees are a mix of conifers and deciduous, close enough that I felt very much at home.

A mountain stream in the Jura

We popped out of the forest onto a paved road, which we followed for a while.  There was a small woodland interpretive center, with a big man carved out of wood.  It startled Ali quite a bit when she first saw it.  It wasn’t open for the public, too early in the season.  We followed the road a bit more, along the stream we had been hearing and following pretty much the whole way.  We lunched on our delicious loaf of bread, some cheese and chocolate for desert.  We drank most of our water.  We also found the side stream that we took joins the bigger stream, which we posed next to above.  I don’t know the names of any of the creeks we walked along.  There were more trails we could have explored, and will in the future, it’s so easy to get to from our apartment!  There are some canyons and small waterfalls that I definitely want to get a better look at next time.

Near the end of our hike

After this, we just wound our way back into town, mostly along the paved mountain road.  On the way into town we found some animals at a farm, and couldn’t resist taking photos!

Ali loves animals!

When we got back to town we really wanted some ice cream, and probably could have found it too.  But we were too tired to face the language barrier, and it was getting a little cold now that we weren’t huffing and puffing up or down the side of a mountain.  So we walked over to the bus stop.  The locals were starting to collect, which usually indicates that the arrival of a bus is imminent.  We would have been waiting a while if we’d gotten that ice cream!

Walking back into Gex

Bonus!  Here is a map!

Elevation profile of our hike: up 600 feet, down 600 feet!

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what’s next

As you can probably guess, I’m writing the easier blog posts first.  This is mainly because I’m sooo busy these days that I don’t have much time to think about the ones that I want to put a little more effort into.  I’ll make some time…

So, what have I got coming up?  Well, right now I’m down on Long Island because I have an appointment at the French Consulate to apply for my long stay visa!  That’s Monday morning.  I was just watching the news and I hear that it’s going to rain cats and dogs on Monday, a storm coming all the way up from Missouri!  There might be flooding!  I just hope that the LIRR train can get me into Manhattan, and that the subway tunnels don’t flood.  Hey, I’m just a small town kid going to the big city, I don’t know what happens around here!  Anyway, if I get to the consulate door on time, I don’t care what else happens after that.  If I don’t get back to Syracuse until Wednesday, that’s fine.

Speaking of Wednesday, I have a doctor appointment Wednesday afternoon in Geneva, NY.  Not Geneva, Switzerland, a city I was recently in.  Then on Thursday I have another doctor appointment up in Baldwinsville, NY.  Don’t worry, there isn’t anything wrong with me.  I had some inflammation around my eye and so I  have a follow up after its gone away.

During all of this, I have a lot of homework to do, and lab work to do, etc.  Waa waa, grad student waaa, etc.

So when I get back to ‘Cuse on Monday night, I’ve got to start really packing the apartment and selling extra furniture that we’re not gonna store.  And I’ve got to mail off my Swiss visa application.

Next weekend I’m going to my cousins for Easter.  The following weekend probably coming back to NYC to collect my French visa (they make you come in person or someone you know can bring your passport).  Just a quick trip.  Can’t really afford any more time that what is necessary.  Plus I’d rather do fun things with Ali next time we can both go.

One of the two weekends after that I’m leading a hiking trip for the physics grad students.  That should be a lot of fun, and I’m really looking forward to it!  Something else to write about!

Then, then!  Ali is back and we’re really packing and storing and getting ready for me to move over there.  The semester is about over at the very beginning of May.  My sister and her husband are coming the second weekend of May to get my car and drive it all the way back across the country.

It’s no wonder that my usual very good balance between work and living is a totally thrown out the window this semester.  Worse than ever before.  Oh well.

I think that’s far enough into the future for now.  I’m about out of breath anyway…

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living vs visiting, and our apartment

The day before I left for Geneva, two weeks ago today, I had barely thought of what I would do while I was there.  Clearly this wasn’t a vacation.  This would be the first time I’d seen Alessandra (live, in person!) in over a month.  That pretty much sums up my expectations.

Luckily for us it’s easy to make such a visit into much more than that.  Ali had moved into our new apartment just the weekend before I arrived, and so there was lots of setting up to do.  The trip, quite happily, turned out to be more like living there than just going for a visit, and that is one of the things that made it so special.

Looks like we just moved in, huh?

We did a number of fun things (hiking, seeing the old city in Geneva, going to market), which I’ll talk more about later.  But we also did a bunch of important moving/couple things like buying clothes hangers and getting the internet set up.  We lounged around while watching the paralympics, in French.  It was great!  I went to work at CERN and got my ID badge and office keys and worked in my new office.  We rode the bus a lot.

Even though it was just an eleven day visit, I participated in enough chores and actually accomplished things in French (“un baguette, s’il vous plait”, I didn’t speak any French last week!), that I felt more like I was living there than just visiting.  And I definitely wasn’t vacationing!

A couple of more photos from the neighborhood:

The Jura from our front yard.

The Main Drag, Rue de Gex, in Maconnex, France.

I miss turning on the tv to a whole different language, heck, I don’t even turn on the tv here.  There must have been terror in my eyes when I went to ask the bus driver “deux pour Cornovan, s’il vous plait”, and I kind of miss that too.  It was adventure in everyday life.  I’m very excited to be going back in about two months!

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Spring Break in Geneva

Some of you may know that Alessandra and I are doing the long distance thing for the spring semester.  She is at CERN and I am at SU.  Our plan was (and still is, but in a completely different form!) for me to move to CERN in May for the rest of her stay there.  For reasons that I won’t go into here, that is still happening, and even better than we could have imagined!

The topic today is a brief overview of the posts that I will be making over the next couple of weeks.

Before Ali moved, we bought a plane ticket for me to come over during spring break.  This is one of the smartest and best things we did!  I just got back yesterday from the trip, and it was really great.  What I want to talk about in the near future is this:

I think either tonight or sometime later this week, you will find a post of one of those topics up here in this space.  I’ll try to do one a week.

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