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"Security is a false god," or running around the world as an FSO

Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

More of the Potomac…

Posted by quirksalight on August 7, 2009

Paddling from Thompson’s Boat Center, past Georgetown and back. Aug 1, 2009. A great day – nice, upper 80’s, partially cloudy. 🙂
Two hours on the water followed by a great burger at Five Guys… nice way to start off a Saturday.

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Posted in amusing, friends, fun, kayaking, Nature, outdoors, Sports, Washington DC | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Potomac river

Posted by quirksalight on July 28, 2009

I went kayaking again this past Sat, but from a different location on the Potomac river.
Starting at Fletcher’s Cove, I paddled up to the Little Falls, until I couldn’t go any further. Here’s some pictures of the trip.

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Kayaking

Posted by quirksalight on July 20, 2009

This past Sat was the first time I’ve been kayaking in a LONG time. Right at Fort Washington marina, we headed south on the Potomac and up Piscataway Creek for a guided nature tour. It turned out more just a guided tour and not so much on the nature bit, but was fun nevertheless.

A random bit of amusement happened, without me even knowing it. Turns out one of the “maybe” people had decided to come kayaking, and biked to the marina from DC. Unfortunately, he arrived a little late and snafus with the kayak rental staff prevented him from getting a kayak until we were already down near Piscataway Creek. So upon my return home, I find an e-mail with this photo:

with a commentary on the whole situation, including a summary of the conversation I was having with AW at the time. Highly amusing. I suppose JH will take a car instead of a bike next time. 🙂

Posted in adventure, amusing, ancedotes, commentary, friends, fun, Humor, Nature, outdoors, Sports, Washington DC | Leave a Comment »

Certified!

Posted by quirksalight on August 11, 2008

I did it! I completed my scuba open water certification this past weekend (Aug 10).
Four open water dives in the outer harbor of Geomun island, which is located an hour ferry ride south of the Southern coast of the Korean peninsula. This is pretty popular with divers, as there are three dive resorts on the island. There was plenty to see underwater, the visibility about 5 meters, and the water warm enough so I didn’t wear a full wet suit. Three dives on Sat and one on Sun morning.
Had a high level of anxiety going in my first dive… the salt water, currents, waves,… it took some getting used to. I had to stop and pause a couple times before heading in. Did some skill sets, then up. About 20 mins under.
Second dive went a lot more smoothly. Easier entry, much more comfortable in the water. My leg cramped up, which was a little ironic, as one of the skills we went over was how to remove a leg cramp. 😛 In fact, my instructor had more issues due to his BCD getting stuck in the “dump” position. These two dives, once in the water and looking around, was very neat. Lot of different types of kelp and seaweed, fishes, starfishes, sea urchins, so much to see and it was pretty colorful, from the bright green of the seaweed to the neon orange on the starfish.

We all had lunch, BCD got fixed, rested, then back in for the third dive of the day.
For this dive, we went to the otherside of the breakwall, the water was clear, and we were hoping to see different stuff. Got out, then felt a bit ill. Even though we had rested for almost three hours between the 2nd and 3rd dives, I think the amount of food I ate was bugging me. Feeling gassy, and a bit bloated, my instructor and I floated a bit until I had done a quite of bit of burping to feel ok enough to continue. This time, we used a line to descend, which was good, as the stomach issues heightened my anxiety. Went down, and practiced more skills, including the controlled emergency ascent (which is when you go up slowly, with only one breath) and the full mask flood. Both of which was really didn’t like. But that went well, much more than I had thought, and we then swam about, looking the marine life. Very cool. A bit less colorful than the first two dives, but I saw some huge fish. And three other people were diving with us on this one, and we got some underwater photos taken of us. 🙂

After 38 minutes, I was fine, and had a half a tank of air left when I couldn’t equalize the pressure in my left ear. After signaling to the group, my instructor and I slowly went up with me constantly trying to equalize the pressure in my ears. All of a sudden, I felt a sharp pop in my left ear, and things felt a little better. After we surfaced, it turned out that the other three people in our group were pretty low on air, so even if my ear wasn’t an issue, we would have surfaced pretty soon.

I was so tired! Good thing that my last dive was the next day. 7am in the morning. Ugh…
But it was back to the place where I did my first two dives, and the morning was completely different. The water was slightly cooler, a bit choppier. But the marine was too. There were schools of fish just hanging out in the water, and I saw a starfish eating a sea urchin! So cool. I wished I had an underwater camera to capture that. There was an old concrete object that had become a place for mussels, huge ones! We ate one, and it was so much better than the ones I had eaten at the raw bar. It was also a treat as we got to see some pretty neat fish as they swarmed to eat the remains of the mussel we had eaten. I saw a box fish, and it was so oddly square, it was surreal.

Now, I’m about to leave to head to Jeju Island for a week’s vacation. I just may go scuba diving there. 🙂

Posted in adventure, ancedotes, fun, Korea, Nature, outdoors, Sports, travel | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Mylar foam blankets rock my world

Posted by quirksalight on July 15, 2008

This past Saturday, I went to Deok-Jeok-do (the “-do” suffix means “island”) for a nice day at the beach with a couple friends. However, as you can see here:
Bridge

Mother Nature did not take kindly to this idea, as it was raining about 99% of the entire day. (For more Murphy’s law humor, it was lovely on Sunday. [sigh])

The trip was nearly called off, but one of us was about to leave the country pretty soon, and I was in the mood for an adventure. Which, it was, and a highly amusing one, that involved heading to an island with a very rough idea of what we were going to do and how to do it. We knew we were going to take the 9:30am ferry to the island, and the 4:10pm ferry back. The goal was to hit the beach. Even though it was raining, we were still going to head to the beach. And swim. And cavort like a bunch of fools. 🙂

We get to Seopori beach, and even in the misty rain, it’s beautiful. However, the water was rather shallow. We’re in the water at high tide, and we had to walk out meters and meters for the water to be waist level. And it was COLD. We’re in the water, and the rain felt like warm pinpricks along our skin, in contrast to the chilly water. Getting out and standing in the rain was actually warmer!

We’ve got some ridiculous memories of this quickie jaunt, including a very long dithering by two of us on whether we should wear our shirt over our bikinis into the water due to the cultural sensitivities of the locals, ultra fresh sashimi, and a live reproduction of a scene straight out of Hitchcock’s “The Birds”.

And the mylar? It was intended to be a light blanket to sit on at the beach, but it became an all-purpose weathershield for our gear and our bodies. The water just rolled off it, whatever side you had it. One of my best uses of 2,000 won.

More pics here: Image hosted by Webshots.com
by pictures of Deok-Jeok-do

Posted in adventure, amusing, ancedotes, beach, Humor, Incheon, Korea, Nature, outdoors, travel | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Bugs from the netherworld

Posted by quirksalight on June 17, 2008

Or at least their handiwork. This is 4 days after I got bit.

Posted in Incheon, Nature | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

First weekend away

Posted by quirksalight on April 22, 2008

I’ve been in Korea for two months now and last weekend was the first time I left the Incheon/Seoul area since I arrived. Which is understandable, as there is so much to do here as it is. But, I want to see the rest of the country too.

This past weekend, I was in Gyeongsnagbuk-do, the middle eastern province of Korea. Several of us were getting together at Yeongju, a small city on the northern edge of the province. And when I mean small, I mean that it’s the size of Reykjavik, Iceland, which is small enough to walk across in 30 minutes.

But the biggest thing was the attitude towards foreigners. I guess I’m used to Incheon and Seoul, where seeing a foreigner isn’t TOO unusual. But during the entire weekend, it was a total spectacle when we were walking around. Several English speakers, and all but one blatantly non-Korean. In one of the smaller towns, kids would literally stop biking to stare while saying, “way-gook, way-gook,” which means “foreigner, foreigner”. Weird…

We hit a lot of spots on Saturday, which was our main activity day, as we all arrived late on Friday, and had to leave on Sunday. So, first was Danyang, to see the Gosu cave. Completely different experience than in the US… here, you have to touch the sides of the cave, as the walkway is completely wrapped around it. I am a pretty short person, and I was bending over and twisting my body to get around the passages. Totally felt bad for my friend, who’s 6’4. Poor guy was almost crawling in some places. 😛 It was also a vertical and horizontal walkway…we went up several hundred meters (yes, that many stairs) in a live cave, which means the ambient humidity was at 96%.
At the cave, there were vendors (of course) and several of them were selling amethyst jewelry so cheap! It turns out that they (and other semi-precious stones) are mined in this province. Hence, cheap. Look – pretty earrings and a little charm for my phone!

We stayed in Danyang for lunch – it was catfish stew, Korean style. The hostess took one look at us and had this “OMG” smile, and looked so relieved when I replied back to her in Korean. The food was delicious, as it came straight out of the fish tank outside. :p And no, we did not pick out the fish, though it was an option. Danyang was beautiful – the waterfront was gorgeous under the afternoon sun. I can’t wait to be back here after the rains arrive.
Next, we went to Punggi. This is a small town, and not used to tourists. Hence, we got a lot of stares and comments in Korean. The reason to visit here is the hot spring nearby and the ginseng market. The ginseng market was HUGE. I have never seen so many stores and stalls with ginseng, which is one of the main commodities from this region. We bought some tea and ginseng candy and headed off to the spa via taxi.

The taxi driver, Mr Jang, was a rather brusque man, but got us to the spa. When we got out, I decided to take his card just in case we needed it. Definitely a good idea. Because we walked in, and realized that it wasn’t really a spa, but one of the Korean baths that was built over a hot spring. Not what I expected or wanted. The guys left the decision to stay or go to me, and I decided that it was best to leave, as I also didn’t want to get all clean and then re-dress in my sweaty clothes. So I called Mr. Jang and asked him to take us to the Heuibang trailhead at the base of Mt. Sobaek.

I think he may have thought we were a little nuts heading to the trail this late in the day, but we were only planning to go up to the Heuibang waterfall, which is about 2 km up the trail, and we should make it up there in little over an hour. This was a tough hike. The trail was full of large granite rocks, and it wasn’t walking up as much as scrambling over rocks. At least for me. Others with longer legs did not have as much difficulty as I. :p
But it was worth it. Achy body and all – it was a beautiful waterfall, and the scenery up and down was excellent.
The way down was faster, but also in some ways, more difficult do to rocks. I am going to invest in a good hiking pole if I am going to continue to do this. (which I am) We get to the trailhead, only to find out we missed the bus by 10 mins. The next one would get there in about 75 minutes. ARGH! So out comes the card to call Mr. Jang for the third taxi ride today. There was another woman waiting there for the same bus, so I offered her a ride with us, which she gladly accepted, as she wasn’t looking forward to waiting either.
And that was our Saturday. 🙂
Image hosted by Webshots.com
pictures here

Posted in adventure, amusing, ancedotes, Food, hiking, Humor, Korea, Korean, Nature, outdoors, travel, traveling | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

MLK weekend and the Catskills

Posted by quirksalight on February 2, 2008

After living in NY for a couple of years, I never had the chance to explore the Catskills or Adirondacks until AFTER I moved out of the state. 😛
Pictures here

This past Martin Luther King (MLK) weekend, a bunch of friends from college and I went up to Kinkykill (that’s the name of the house and lands) for the weekend. Some of us hadn’t seen each other in close to a year, so it was a great to see everyone, especially since I found out that I’m leaving the US for a year.
9 people, 4 cars, 3 dogs, and a whole mess of food. It was supposed to snow all weekend, so perfect for winter sports of all kinds. Skiing, snowboarding, nordic skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding were on on the “to do” list. Unfortunately, the forecasted snow never arrived, so the nordic skiing and snowshoeing got canceled, as there wasn’t enough snow on the ground. But there was plenty enough for the cars to get stuck halfway up the long driveway to the house. Out of the 4 cars, only the SUV made it to the house. And good thing; it would have sucked to haul the luggage, gear, and food up from the field where the cars were left at near midnight on Friday night.
Heated by two wood burning stoves, it was a cozy place partway up a mountain.

Saturday, we mainly stayed around the house. Most of us were up until 3am, so it was a late morning, and brunch was a great frittata, made by Jess. It was a beautiful day, as seen here:
View from the house
We took advantage of it by sledding down the hill, down the driveway, falling into ditches and through bushes.
Checking out Woodstock, dinner at the house, games and s’mores rounded out the night.
Sunday, two of us had to leave early after brunch. 😦 Five of us went tubing and proceeded to make the most of our two hour ticket in a rather biting wind. Great fun, but OMG, I was very glad to thaw out after. Dinner at the gypsy wolf cantina, and then chasing down a radio station to hear what happened in the Giants v. Cowboys playoff game, as the restaurant kicked us out with less than two minutes left in the game!!!
Monday – wrapping up, closing up the house, and more than a spot of car trouble. Stuck cars, blown engines, dead batteries… ay-ya-ya…

Posted in adventure, amusing, ancedotes, friends, fun, holidays, Nature, New York, outdoors, Penn, vacation | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Taking advantage of the weather

Posted by quirksalight on January 13, 2008

This past week, it’s been unseasonable warm in the Washington DC Metro area. So on Saturday (on the last day of the unseasonably warm weather) I decided to go biking on the Mount Vernon Trail.
Running along the Potomac River from Theodore Roosevelt Island to Mount Vernon (George Washington’s estate), it’s 18 miles long in length, 36 miles round trip. I decided to do a 15 mile round trip, from Belle Haven Marina to Mount Vernon and back. Partially due to starting late (it was 2:15pm when I started, and sundown was at 5pm), and partially due to being out of practice.

Of course, I chose the section with the hills. The last 2-3 miles were pretty hilly (“rolling hills” my butt!) capped with a steep climb at the very end, right before the parking lot at Mount Vernon. UGH! But in this region, you get a great view of Fort Washington across the Potomac River, as seen here:
Fort Washington

But heading back was awesome! Those painful miles were just whizzing by on the way back to the Marina. 🙂
Even though it was unseasonably warm (mid-high 50 F), I was wearing three layers on top and two on the bottom. Still, it was a bit chilly, especially coming back. Combined with the dryness of the air, I ended up getting windburn in my trachea and on my face. That was a new one… I’m hacking up dead epithelial cells for a couple hours due to windburn. 😛

Posted in Alexandria, amusing, bicycling, biking, DC, health, Nature, outdoors, winter | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Trying the trails…

Posted by quirksalight on November 5, 2007

As my knee held up on Saturday’s road ride, the next test was to see how it held up on the trails. Listed as a beginner-intermediate level single track trail, I decided to go to Wakefield Park and Lake Accotink trails (they are interconnected by a gravel path). I completed the Lake trail and the trails by the parking lot at Wakefield Park, including getting a bit lost and confused heading back to Wakefield from the Lake trail. (to the nice biker who gave me directions at Danbury Forest, much thanks!)
Most of the information for riding in the Northern Virginia area I found on the MORE (Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts) website.

And it wasn’t too bad. Definitely out of shape, with a “holy crap” comment escaping my mouth when I saw the uphill climb by the dam at Lake Accotink. No, I did not make it up; it was rather steep and my knee told me very specifically that it wasn’t going to happen.
Speaking of the knee, the distance is just endurance – I’m lacking it due to not riding for almost two months. But the biggie is the climbs. Small changes in elevation is ok, but as it gets steeper and longer, the pain levels rise in an exponential fashion.
FYI – padded chamois biking pants rock!

Posted in biking, cartilage, cartilage damage, health, knee, mountain biking, Nature, outdoors, pain, patellar subluxation, single-track, Sports, trail, trail riding, VA | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »