Bike up Rampart Range

Balancing Rock - About 100' from where Rampart Range Road Begins

Uphill - Both Ways

Not for Low Clearance Vehicles

Plaque For Rampart Range Road

Blooming wild Cactus

GOG Rocks

View across Southern Part of GOG, to downtown Colorado Springs

Leaving behind GOG

View North East over a Fence

Shooting Range 2 Miles

Cracked Rocks

Pikes Peak - From Rampart Range Road

Made it to the Gun Range - right about 8,000'

Microwave and Cell Tower along The Road

Unusual view of the Scar

Rocks and Strata on the side of the Road

Cheyenne Mountain Through the Rocks

GOG - The Jogger is Closer Than She Appears

GOG Tour in Progress

I want to hike up Pikes Peak again this summer. This time I want to do it from the Barr Trail side. A much longer hike.

So I decided to start with a bike ride. I had gone for an hour bike ride around my neighborhood a couple of weeks ago. And while there are some hills in the area, it is obviously not as much of a challenge compared to hiking up a 14,000' mountain.

I want to do some training hiking up the scar. But I read they were closing at least some of the hiking in Glen Erye on the weekend. So I wanted a bike challenge.

I chose to bike up Rampart Range Road. I'd driven it once. It took a while to drive, especially since I didn't have a high clearance vehicle.

I remembered it being a lot uphill. It was different on a bike. I realized that it was all uphill except for about 2 spots where about 1/20 of a mile wasn't uphill. So it was a big work out.

I didn't know how far I would get. I had driven as far as the gun range. I didn't know if I could make it that far.

I drove down through the Garden of the Gods to where Rampart Range Road starts. I parked right near balancing rock - near the south exit to Garden of the Gods. It was about 6380' altitude according to my GPS.

I stopped a number of times to take pictures. I also pulled over just about every time a car passed. If I was off to the side, the driver didn't have to worry about my swerving in front of them. And I could keep and eye on the drivers. I was pleasantly surprise by all the friendly people. Many people waved - including a bunch of much younger people. Nice :)

It was a cloudy day. It looked like the rain might come down at some point. I figured it wouldn't take me long to get down if things started looking real threatening. But the rain mostly passed to the south. For about 5 minutes I was misted on. But the lighting stay far away. So I kept going. And going.

My legs were cramping up as I got higher and higher. But I could hear the gun range. I figured that was a good spot to aim for. It was a good workout. The gun range turns out just a few feet below 8,000'. So I rode a short distance further to pass 8,000'.

The GPS said I had gone 4.6 miles. But it missed most of the switchbacks. The GPS I have needs to be kept horizontal to keep a lock. That doesn't happen when it is in my pants pocket. But I figured out to put in my pick shirt back pocket for the ride down.

I think it took about 2 hours to go up. I figured it would take a lot less time to get down. I was able to let my myself go pretty fast going down. But it still took a long time. The washboard of the road made it hard to go too fast. And it was a real workout of different muscles fighting the road on the way down. It took about a half hour to get down.

The GPS seemed to have kept a good lock on the way down. It said I broke 24mph. Ooops - the road speed limit was 20! ;-) LOL

It says I traveled 11.4 miles at the end. Subtracting from the beginning - that means it was 6.8 linear miles down. That means 6.8 miles up over 1,500' vertical when I went up. Over 13.5 miles. That will do to start. I figured I'd be really tired and sore the day after. I'm a little more sore today, but not too bad.

I hope the weather is nice enough to hike up the scar later this week.


Sunset Picture This Evening

Sunset Picture This Evening

Leaving Olive Garden at Chapel Hills


Notebook PC Problems

I noticed about Tuesday morning that my laptop was making odd crackling noises. I thought I was hearing things. But when I went to use it Tuesday evening, it was acting very oddly. Then I noticed it wasn't making any sound at all.

This was not good.

I got some more clues to the problem as the evening went on. Sometimes I would hear a crackling noise from the speakers. Sometimes Palm hotsync would complain about a port not being available. As the infrared port was in the same area as the sound plugs, it make me think it might be in the same area. When I pressed or flexed the PC on the left-front area, I was able to make the crackling noises appear and go away. If I pressed in with the earphones, sometimes I could hear that the microphone was working.

This suggested to me that the sound chip was having power problems. So I took a bunch of screws off the back of the laptop. I couldn't get to the area where the problem seemed to be. So I put the screws back in and put off the project for another day.

Yes, I was a little nervous about opening up an expensive laptop. But it was past warranty. And I knew it could cost a huge amount to fix.

So Saturday afternoon I tried again. I took me about an hour to figure out the key to opening up the laptop. You have to pop off the plastic plate above the keyboard, and removed the keyboard to be able to really get at the guts of the computer.

I finally popped off the sound board from the mother board.

It looked like there was this little column that just sat on the mother board from the sounds board. This did not sound like it would work too well. Then I noticed that the column looked like it had a split down the middle. Eventually I got the apart. It was a plug and socket combination. And it seems that socket had disconnected from the motherboard.

It looked like it had about 20-30 connections on each side - in about 1/2 inch long device. So it was time for magnification. I used my Swiss army magnifier to look at the solder joints. They looked like they were 'cold' solder joints - not clean enough or not hot enough when attached. Or it could just have been heat and stress. The board is above the hard drive area, so that could have added to heating and cooling cycles that may have made the solder develop stress fractures.

So, could I fix this? Something that took me 10 minutes to try to line up with a magnifying glass? The other choice was to be charged for a new mother board and labor. $400-$800 in my estimation.

I've read online about people using toaster ovens to make solder connections like these for circuits. I've been designing a robot circuit using surface mount parts like this - although not as closely spaced as this was. But I had another idea for soldering the robot circuits - using a heat stripping gun.

The first thing I learned about using a heat stripping gun, is that it wants to blow away the device you are trying to solder. So that made it more challenging.

So some may thing I'm crazy - I've got an expensive notebook PC in parts, using a heat paint-stripping gun on the motherboard.

But it looked like it was holding.

But could I remember how to put it together? Would it work when I did? At least boot up?

Well - I managed to get it together well - only a couple of screws left over - and one piece of plastic.

And it booted!!

And the sound worked!!!!

It might a little crackling noise right at the beginning - but it is working! Whew!


Colorado Ren Fest

Went to the Ren Fest today. We didn't have a long time there. We sandwiched the visit between lunch and getting one of my boys off to a dinner/birthday/sleepover.

I've had an unhappy experience in the past at a Ren Fest, so I don't love going to them. And spending money after money there can be depressing. But I was determined not to let it get me down this time. And I didn't.

I debated going up the climbing wall. I think I might even have had a shot at ringing the bell. But I decided not to go up a wall this time.

We had to leave before the joust. This was disappointing to some in our crew. I offered to take my son to his friend's birthday, and come back. But I was not taken up on that offer.


Cucumber Sushi in home-made Tortilla Wraps

Cucumber Sushi in home-made Tortilla Wraps

I was feeling oddly creative for dinner tonight. I started with cooking rice. I was thinking about veggie sushi. But we didn't have some of the ingredients: no sushi vinegar, no wraps and no wasabi. Well the kids wouldn't miss the wasabi, so that was ok.
But what to wrap it with? Perhaps a thin dough? So I made a thin dough, with soy sauce in it for color and flavor. I rolled the dough thin and cooked them one at a time in a small non-stick frying pan. A couple turned out too brittle, but most of them worked well.
I made 'sushi' vinegar by mixing sugar, water, white vinegar and a tiny dash of salad vinegar. I also added a little salt to bring out the sweetness. I probably could have used a dash less sugar. But overall it came out okay. My eldest liked them a lot. My little guys mostly ate just the cucumber.


Vader Reads Your Mind

Play Burger King's Darth Vader 20 questions The Sith Sense

It took some time, but 'he' guessed I was thinking of Shampoo!

Thanks to Anna Banana!