Monthly Archives: December 2015

A Weekend Trip to London

I arrived back in France on June 3rd and was immediately pleased with the transformation that had taken place. Gone were the grey skies and cold, clammy weather, replaced with the gorgeous European summer. Donna was doing great at INSEAD, having hit an awesome stride with school, new friends and the French lifestyle. One of her new friends whom I hadn’t met is an Englishman named Jim Sellars.   I arrived back on a Wednesday and by Friday we were on the “Chunnel” train from Paris to London to visit Jim and his wife, Rebecca.

 

Our stay was short but sweet. First off, a big thanks to Jim and Rebecca, who kindly put us up in their London apartment. I’d like to be able to say where in London Jim and Rebecca live, but unfortunately my understanding of London geography remains anemic as every time I visit I experience various awesome places I feel like the Tube rides leave my actual comprehension of where I am in the city disjointed and confused.   At any rate, when we visited, Rebecca was 6+ months pregnant and as I write this Jim is the proud father of a 4-month boy, and future captain of England’s rugby team, named Harry. Donna and I can’t wait to meet him!

 

The first evening Donna and I went to see a play, probably the only theatrical production I’d happily subject myself to: The Book of Mormon. Donna had received the play tickets from her INSEAD friends as a collective birthday gift and we loved the show. It was hilarious and reached went far beyond the edge of political correctness. Ironically, after the play, I observed Mormon missionaries in London recruiting outside the playhouse; I thought, “how smart”, get ‘em while they’re probably more curious about Mormonism than ever before!

 

The next day Jim and Rebecca gave us cruise-y tour around London. We brunched (Donna had her first Scotch egg and thought it was pretty good), visited Hyde Park, the Natural History museum, and had a couple of pints at one of Jim’s favorite pubs. We finished the day with a nice dinner at a restaurant Rebecca recommended.

 

The following day was similar with Jim and Rebecca kindly continuing to be gracious hosts for us. I think we hit a brunch spot and then walked to some other cool London locations. Then that evening Donna and I visited a friend and former work colleague who had recently moved to London with his wife and 3 kids. Dan BBQed meat and Kate, Dan’s wife, kindly prepared awesome fixings for a North American style meal (I say North American because Dan is actually Canadian). It was great to catch up with Dan and to get to know his whacky kids a little bit better.

 

And just like that the short trip was over. We were back on the Chunnel train the next morning where Donna needed to attend some classes. We often forget the real reason for the sabbatical is school, ha!

Note: I didn’t take many photos on the trip, but here a some of the few I did take.

Walking over the river Thames. You can see Big Ben off to the right.

Walking over the river Thames. You can see Big Ben off to the right.

Big Ben closer up

Big Ben closer up

Brits are huge fans of British history and especially the monarchy. This is one of England's most revered monarchs, King Albert.

Brits are huge fans of British history and especially the monarchy. This is one of England’s most revered monarchs, King Albert.

Cruising through the "wilds" of London in Camden

Cruising through the “wilds” of London in Camden. You can see Jim in the background, one of the only photos I took of him, and Rebecca is behind Jim.

Donna and I at Hampstead Heath, one of the highest points in London

Donna and I at Hampstead Heath, one of the highest points in London

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Two and a Half Weeks in California

I left France in late March and headed back to San Francisco. I had a return ticket to France ~8 weeks later, set to arrive at the beginning of June back in Paris. Originally my plan was to spend a week in SF, then 2 weeks with Brant in Chile, then back to SF, then another surf trip to Mexico or Central America, then back to SF and then finally return to Paris. But, as you saw in my previous posts, I ended up spending 6 weeks in Chile & Rapa Nui instead of 2 weeks, and so when I finally came back to San Francisco I only had a little over a week before I needed to head off to France. Nonetheless, in the couple of weeks that I spent in Cali bookending my trip to South America, I managed some fun trips that are Radical Sabbatical worthy.

 

Rob Fan’s Bachelor Party

My friend Rob was to be married in the summer and it was time for a bachelor party trip to Park City as soon as I got back to SF. I flew with Rob and Roger Neel, Rob’s friend who became my friend the previous year on a backcountry ski trip to Iceland.   We met up with Grant and started the trip off with a guided day of exploring the backcountry behind Alta. Our guide took us on a few runs, the best of which was has us riding various couloirs in the Wolverine Cirque. A few inches of fresh pow had fallen the night before in the Wasatch which made the turns nice and buttery – we all considered this rather fortunate considering the 2014/15 ski season in the western half of the USA had been pretty miserable and we were already in April when we showed up.

The rest of the trip proceeded as it should have. All the guys met up and we cruised the mountain as a big troop. We drank copious good beer, ate good steak meals together, told stories and laughed much.

I had to sneak into 1st class to take this photo of The Bachelor & Roger

I had to sneak into 1st class to take this photo of The Bachelor & Roger

Leaving the gorgeous Bay Area

Leaving the gorgeous Bay Area for Utah

In Utah you can only buy 3.2% or lower beer... unless you go to the microbrew source for dinner. We loaded up.

In Utah you can only buy 3.2% or lower beer… unless you go to the microbrew source for dinner. We loaded up.

Backcountry skiing the Wasatch. We got a lucky dusting of fresh snow to make things a better than average (for that year)

Backcountry skiing the Wasatch. We got a lucky dusting of fresh snow the night before to make things a little better than average (for that year)

Rob and Grant repelled into a sweet couloir in the Wolverine Cirque

Rob and Grant repelled into a sweet couloir in the Wolverine Cirque

2 weeks in Cali-15

The start of the couloir was hairy.

Good times with the boys. It was bluebird for the 2 days we skied Park City.

Good times with the boys. It was bluebird for the 2 days we skied Park City.

Below is a video of Rob, Roger, Grant and myself skiing during the bachelor party:

 

Sailing Joyous

Of course I had to take Joyous for a few cruises while I was in town. Thanks to a website called BoatBound, which is like an AirBnB for boats, I was able to do this and make money at the same time by captaining 2 charter cruises. For each of a Saturday and a Sunday I was paid ~$400 to take groups of young San Franciscans – probably tech workers – out on the Bay doing what I would’ve been doing anyway. They enjoyed their time and I got good reviews.

Just another Golden Gate photo op

Just another Golden Gate photo op on Joyous

Chris demonstrating how to cruise on the bow

Chris demonstrating how to cruise on the bow

Charter group #1 leaving the dock after a successful cruise

Charter group #1 leaving the dock after a successful cruise

Charter group #2 styling on the way back to Pier 39

Charter group #2 styling on the way back to Pier 39

A guest of my slip

A guest of my slip

 

Abalone Diving and Spearfishing in Sonoma

I managed to get out to the Sonoma coast with my friends Todd and Theo for a weekend camping trip of abalone diving and spearfishing. On the first day we checked out a new spot, plenty of abalone there, and then on the second day we went to our usual haunt and found more. The highlight was that I shot my first lingcod, which rang in at a barely legal 24”. Todd had a BBQ the next day and I made fish tacos with one of the fillets and then the following day my friend Stephanie made sashimi out of the second filet. Without a doubt lingcod is the tastiest shoreline fish in NorCal waters and the only kind I want to hunt with a speargun up here.

My first lingcod. A barely legal 24"

My first lingcod. A barely legal 24″

I also got a few abalone. One was much bigger than the other two; here seen with the lingcod filets

I also got a few abalone. One was much bigger than the other two; here seen with the lingcod filets

The shell of the bigger abalone was particular round and beautiful

The shell of the bigger abalone was particular round and beautiful. I gave the abalone meat and the shell to my friend Stephanie who undoubtably made something delicious from it

Grilled lingcod

Grilled lingcod

Oh my tasty fish taco, with Todd and his cousin Brent coming inc for a closeup

Oh my tasty fish taco, with Todd and his cousin Brent coming inc for a closeup

 

Helicopter Flying with Luke

I decided to squeeze 4-day trip to Southern California in for my time back in California. I drove down to Huntington Beach and spent a little time with Mom and Dennis. Then I met up with Luke, a friend who I met when he became a roommate at the Beach House in SF. After graduating from San Francisco State University in 2012 Luke moved to Long Beach to pursue a career as a helicopter pilot. At this point he is a basic instructor to new students and was licensed to take me up in a R22 Beta gasoline powered helicopter. We cruised from Long Beach along the coast and then over the Santa Monica Mountains to an airport in Ventura, and then back. Luke even let me take the controls of the helicopter and I was flying it for a while and I only got us into one unsafe decent one time before Luke deftly took the controls and corrected my mistake. We also cruised directly over LAX, which Luke assured me was counter intuitively very safe. It was pretty amazing to be in such a small craft flying around. I’m stoked for Luke and his future career, his job is going to be pretty sweet!

Luke gassing up the bird

Luke gassing up the bird

Selfie while flying a helicopter!

Selfie while flying a helicopter!

Cruising over the industrial area of Long Beach.

Cruising over the industrial area of Long Beach.

Ahh, we made it to the beach and did some low altitude flying

Ahh, we made it to the coast and did some low altitude flying

Malibu point looking mighty fine from the air

Malibu point looking mighty fine from the air

The Santa Monica "mountains"

The Santa Monica Mountains

Dropping into the agricultural Oxnard flats

Dropping into the agricultural Oxnard flats

Cruising home directly over LAX

Cruising home directly over LAX

Suburbia

Suburbia

 

San Diego

I made it as far south as San Diego. I stayed with Brant and we surfed a fun session at Bird Rock in La Jolla. James Holmblad cruised out as well and I was happy to get the opportunity to ask him to be a groomsman in person. I also met with a surfboard shaper Chris Diercks and order up 2 custom surfboards that I thought would treat me well for the inevitable trip to Indonesia the coming fall.

Surfing the retrofish at South Birdrock

Surfing the retrofish at South Birdrock

A trip back to San Diego is not complete without visiting Zibby!

A trip back to San Diego is not complete without visiting Zibby!

2 weeks in Cali-36

Zibby being evil. It was good to see Alex and his girlfriend Kayla.

 

Countless fun was had on my return – really reinforcing to me how great California is! I’ll let the photos and captions do the rest of the talking…

I ran into Danny Hess just after visiting 3 surf shops looking for a good 6'8" to buy for my trip to Chile. He told me he had one board -- exactly a 6'8" -- for sale from a recent batch. It is the "Banjo" model, and this is Danny (who is 6'4") holding his dog, Banjo, while posing next to the board

I ran into Danny Hess just after visiting 3 surf shops looking for a good 6’8″ to buy for my trip to Chile. He told me he had one board — exactly a 6’8″ — for sale from a recent batch. It is the “Banjo” model, and this is Danny (who is 6’4″ himself) holding his dog, Banjo, while posing next to the board

Some decent surf at OB while I visited. Rare form for the middle of spring

Some decent surf at OB while I visited. Rare form for the middle of spring

I got to see Babar

I got to see Babar

And Raja

And Raja

After 3 months in France I was REALLY craving a proper burrito. La Playa delivered.

After 3 months in France I was REALLY craving a proper burrito. La Playa delivered.

On a random night The Simpkin Project was playing in Oakland so Bruce, Chris and I went to the show!

On a random night The Simpkin Project was playing in Oakland so Bruce, Chris and I went to the show!

I had a fun session at good ol' Huntington Beach Pier one afternoon while visiting Mom & Dennis

I had a fun session at good ol’ Huntington Beach Pier one afternoon while visiting Mom & Dennis

I visited the Davis family one evening in San Francisco and was amazed to see how much it seemed that Katya had grown!

I visited the Davis family one evening in San Francisco and was amazed to see how much it seemed that Katya had grown!

Beating Dave Simpkin in a doubles round of frisbee golf and winning $2 felt pretty good!

Beating Dave Simpkin in a doubles round of frisbee golf and winning $2 felt pretty good!

Categories: California, Huntington Beach, San Diego, San Francisco | 1 Comment

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