Catching up

Let’s see if I can’t get everyone caught up to speed.

August 2014 – I spend my last nights in Philipsburg, Montana. Fly back to Hermosa Beach and drive out to Boulder, Colorado. In my excitement (or insomnia that tends to strike before every momentous occasion) I sleep for 3 hours that night and depart L.A. at 3am, missing all traffic but forcing me to take a rest in the back of my car around 6am en route to Las Vegas. I make it to Parachute, CO that night following the same route I had taken a few years earlier when I had delivered a VW Cabrio from L.A. to (state abbreviation) LA. It had been 8 years since I had taken my first road trip in the same Hyundai Santa Fe (lovingly nicknamed the “SantaFe-go”) with good friends right out of high school in 2006.

The day after Parachute I somehow charmed my way into convincing the coolest cats in Boulder into allow me to rent a room in their apartment.

First stop in Colorado, the beer isle.

First stop in Colorado, the beer isle.

September – I begin a 10 week intensive program that will give me the tools to make web applications and transform me into a “web developer”. To be completely honest, when I signed up for this course I didn’t really even know what web development was, but after dealing with databases and the like at Project Vote Smart I knew that all this computer code and junk was where I wanted to be. It didn’t hurt that the job market is much kinder to those with experience in this industry, apparently a masters in “hitchhiking and vagabonding” doesn’t appear on too many job descriptions.

October – Eat, drink, sleep, and dream in code. No joke. My Halloween was spent connecting a non-relational database to the front-end of my application using Node.js… and a beer. I should take the time here to explain the difference between a website and a web application for those not in the know. When one visits a “website” they are usually viewing something on the www that’s comprised of static content. Think of a Wikipedia article, a story from the New York Times, or this blog post. A web application, on the other hand, is something that the user interacts with. In this category we find eBay, Amazon, Facebook, and many of the other services one usually must sign-in to. A website is “static” meaning the content usually does not change (you can comment on this blog post but for the most part you can’t interact with what I’ve written). A web application might have you posting a product, setting up a profile, or some other meaningful interconnection. This might require a database with a bit more vitality than that which serves a static website. This dealing with the “frontend” and “backend” of the web browser and server relationship makes web development as a “full stack developer” a bit more complicated and intricate than the “You’ve got mail!“ internet of 1995 (yes my History degree crops up here and there).

November – Finished my final project (a web application that would hypothetically connect up and coming craft breweries with the equipment they needed) and set out on the job market for the second time that year. As someone who has held a job no longer than a year point-five having graduated 4 years ago, this isn’t a new scenario.

How I spent my Halloween.

How I spent my Halloween.

December – Travel up to MT to pick up a few things from aunt Kris and uncle Ray then snowboard around a bit at Big Sky. A few former colleagues at PVS were able to borrow the Winnebago from the mayor of Philipsburg (yup, that’s called small town livin’) so we parked it in the lot and used it as HQ as we lived as ski-bums for a few days. The propane heater cut out about mid on our first night and gave me a good re-initiation to the Montana cold. The snow may have been sub-par, as it was across the entire Rockies this year, but at least it was no Sierra Nevada dirt patch (California, lo siento). A 15 hour trip through West Yellowstone, Pocatello, Little America, Rock Springs, and Laramie brought me back to my new home of Boulder. I landed a job at the end of the year. In a few words, the best way I can describe Human Design is a design and development agency that is contracted to create web-sites and applications.

Moon-set over Lone Peak.

Moon-set over Lone Peak.

Inside the camper.

Inside the camper.

Weber stovetop.

Weber stovetop.

Nothing starts a grill better than ether.

Nothing starts a grill better than ether.

January – Started on a real production website, RacingExtinction.com and it went live. Was given a hash name. This was my first real delve back into the 9 to 5 since March of the year prior and it ended up being more than 8 hours a day on the norm. The difference here is that I loved every bit  of it and was mentally engaged from then moment I got to the office. The coolest thing about launching a website is when I can tell a friend “hey, go to ‘something’.com and check out the navigation bar on the top. See how it all fits onto the screen no matter what device you’re viewing it from? Yea, that took me x number of days to get that working”. Work at Human Design let me showcase my newfound skills front and center on pretty high profile site. The fact we were pulling some pretty late nights didn’t phase me at all.

February – Work, hashing, work. Really nothing to note about this month other than the fact Boulder recorded temperatures literally 110 degrees warmer than my last February in Montana. Jacqueline and Zach also came to town but I don’t think they agreed with my feelings on the weather front.

March – Work was consumed by bug fixes with Racing Extinction and at the end of the month HD simply ran out of tasks for me to do. Once again I found myself in a similar position I had been in a year before, jobless, but at least not homeless.

April – As I am prone to do and now with some free time, I went on a hut trip with my roommate, Gia, into the Elk Range outside of Aspen. As the lone snowboarder on the trip, I couldn’t simply shuffle my skiis up the mountain and had to trudge, like I always had, in my Bogs mucking boots to the hut. On the outside of my pack I loaded my snowboard boots, snowshoes, and snowboard… along with a few bags of salad that I didn’t want to get smashed between the 2 25ouncers of child, a six-pack, and a liter of whiskey I had inside. Altogether, the 45-50 lbs of crap I was lugging up was better suited for a much more hardy experience than I was expecting. The hut was no hut, but a full blown cabin stocked with firewood, cooking utensils, two stoves, and a covered walkway to the outhouse. The views… just take a look at the pictures. I had a pretty good time hiking around the area checking out the abandoned mine road. The better part of my self-preservation instinct (yes it exists), told me not to cross a part of the road that had been clearly avalanche hewn. I spent a good part of the afternoon hucking air on the kicker that was set up just above the hut. Riding out the next morning proved to be difficult. As a snowboarder, the board must be either on a heel or toe edge lest one be dug into the snow, causing a serious case of problems. With a still considerably heavy pack up on me (even after finishing the chaladas, beers, and 1/2 the whiskey), I was riding down and the momentum of my strapped companion caused me to catch a toe edge and pitch me forward straight onto my chest. I was down for a good minute after getting the wind knocked out of me and gingerly scooted down the rest of the way. It wasn’t until that afternoon that breathing and certain torso movments has me wincing in pain. For the next three weeks I’d thought I broke a rib.

Can you tell which one I am?

Can you tell which one I am?

But there was no time to rest as I had the Hash House Harrier Phoenix Red Dress Run to partake in the next weekend. For those not in the know, a red dress run is a hashing event that comemorates the gusto of a daring hasher http://www.reddressruns.org/?page_id=2 Needless to say, the party in Phoenix was one I will only half forget. Noteible memories are all the Boulder hashers (with their altitude advantage) absolutely running the rest of the participants to the back of the pack. Even though my chest was in probably the worst state it’s ever been, I couldn’t resist running.

Fun stuff.

Fun stuff.

The next week Mom and Dad visited and Colorado finally got some snow. In fact, picking them up from the airport was a bit of a nervewracking experience as the skies opened up. While they were here, there was much brewery visiting and food tasting to be had. Once my parents were gone, I was finally able to start looking for work again in full force and amazingly, it seemed to fall in my lap. When I was let go at Human Design, my roommates and I had been hosting a couchsurfer, Amy. She told me of a friend that had just happened to move to Boulder and worked in the web development industry. I was able to meet up with Nick and start working for him before the end of April. I’m still amazed at the luck and rapidity in which I was able to find new work.

May – Not much to say about this month other than the fact that my parents are now tuition free and can travel the world without fretting the specter of college fees. Oh, and congrats on Jacq being the most successful post-college Peha to date.

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June –  Started this month with the Trans Catalina Trail. I can say that it’s kind of a breakthrough with my perception of the island. To the date I had not explored much more than Avalon and a few other harbors along the same stretch of the island. In comparison to the hikes I’ve done in the Rockies, it ain’t much, but when one considers it to be just outside of the LA metropolis it’s not a bad showing. I did some ultralight packing and just had dried food, sleeping pad, bag, and booze for the two nights before I met the rest of the family in Two Harbors. There were times when it seemed a bit like Disneyland as I walked down a road just to have a jeep tour come up behind me, “And to your left folks you’ll see one of our Trans Catalina Island Hikers who frequent this migration route this time of year. Be sure to keep your appendages inside the vehicle, they are known to bite.” While such interactions may have detracted a bit from the wild feel of the hike, the leg between Little Harbor and Two Harbors was admittedly pretty damn scenic and going 0 to 2000 ft in any scenario is still a good workout. While my portion of the TCT hike had terminated at Two Harbors and I spent the next few days boozing it up with the family, I took a few scoutings around the fire-breaks of Two Harbors and it more than whetted my appetite to complete all 36 miles of the trail, I had only completed 26.

Catalina Island fox.

Catalina Island fox.

Entering the Bison cage.

Entering the Bison cage.

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Typical camp setup.

Typical camp setup.

Still love that ocean.

Still love that ocean.

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Little harbor.

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Crepiscular rays.

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Looking east.

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Calf workout.

July – Every year, the Boulder Hash House Harriers have a campout out in the hills. In typical hasher fashion it’s also supplemented by about 3 kegs of beer. I and 3 others were in charge of scouting out a spot a few weeks before. We arrived pretty late on a Saturday and most of the prime sites were taken, forcing us to some of the more rougher roads. We came across a lake of a puddle and the conversation went something like this:

Passenger riding shotgun, “Do you think we should get out and check?”

Me, “Nah, I think we’ll be alright”

We charged into the puddle only to realize it was much deeper than expected. I opened my door only to close it immediately as water rushed in and the buddy sitting behind me jumped out the window. Three of us jumped out behind the car and one feathered the throttle as we pushed it out. That car has been stuck in more elements than I can count on one hand and the fact that it still runs is clearly a positive nod towards Hyundai’s engineering.

That car doesn't deserve such punishment.

That car doesn’t deserve such punishment.

A few weeks later at the campout I decided to arrive in the only appropriate manner I could, via hiking. While the campsite was only about 50 miles away from Boulder as the crow flies, it was a 3 1/2 hour drive due to the fact that the mountains were impassible by car. My strategy was to get a head start and hike over the pass and spend the night at an alpine lake the first day and walk/ hitchhike to the campground the next. I started very early Thursday morning to beat the thunderstorms on the pass, it was such a race that I hiked-ran the trail from 10k to 12.5k feet and 5 miles in 2 hours. I camped at Crater lake that night with a few other groups around while I tried to avoid them and enjoy my brew. The next morning was a quick 7 miles out and another short walk until I was able to pick up a few rides with my thumb to the highway that the campout was located near. In all it was a 27 mile walk and I gladly eased my aches with a few pints from the kegs that the hashers provided. It was a lovely weekend with the hashers filled with plenty of the usual craziness that accompanies that group.

Clouds atop the pass.

Clouds atop the pass.

Panorama from Pawnee Pass.

Panorama from Pawnee Pass.

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The next week my buddy and former roommate from college, John, and his girlfriend visited. Between the beer tasting and other explorations we managed to fit in a bike ride. It’s nice to have friends that visit, it’s been a while since I’ve lived in a place where they can reach me.

The end of July I was hit with a call from Human Design to help them work on version 2 of the racingextinction.com project and all told, logged about 110 hours in a 12 day stretch. As hard as some of the days can be (I worked from 9 to 2am on launch day), it’s amazing what can be produced in such a short time frame.

I’ll soon update with the most recent road trip to Montana and Idaho.

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