A Physicist and Artist try to make it in Silicon Valley

A Physicist and Artist try to make it in Silicon Valley
In which a couple tries to thrive creatively and intellectually on and offline

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Glorious Road Day 1: A triathlon and the Sierras

A view of the Sierras on Tioga Road in Yosemite
My husband and I just came back from our cross-country road trip yesterday! We saw and did so much that there is no way that I can put it in one post, so I'm going to be writing about it all week.

On Saturday, June 12th, we left for a road trip to Colorado, where my Mother-in-law was getting married. That morning, I did my first triathlon. The Silicon Valley Sprint Triathlon is 500 yards swimming, 10 miles biking, and a 5k run on Lake Almaden in Southern San Jose. It's considered a fairly mild sprint triathlon. I had been training for the past 4 months, and as someone who couldn't even run a mile before we moved here, it was a lot of work.

The open swim was pretty scary. It was me and about 30 other women in my age group treading water until the horn sounded. The water was pretty cold, and impossible to see in because of algae and churned up sand. My vision is pretty bad, and without my glasses, I couldn't see the buoys. Once the horn went off, I did my best to keep up with the other swimmers, getting kicked in the stomach a few times. At one point, the water was shallow, so we had to get up and run along the sand bar. After I reached the finish, I had done 500 yards in 10 minutes, 5 minutes less than my best time in practice. The adrenaline, fear, and cold water really kept me moving!
The 10 mile bike route was pretty basic, although we had a monster trek up the mountain where most of us got off our bikes and walked them up. The trip downhill was just as intense, and the brakes on my vintage Peugeot squealed the whole way down.The run was absolutely the most frustrating part. I have allergies big time, and the pollen, dust and winds caused my lungs to spasm. So unfortunately, I had to walk a lot of the 5k. I ran whenever I could, but in order to avoid an asthma attack, I had to go pretty slow. I almost cried at first, I was so disappointed. But after the initial shock, I became very stubborn, and told myself, "I don't care if I have to walk this whole thing, I'm finishing dammit!" Overall, it was a great experience and I would totally recommend it to others.
We got back in the car after I was finished and went home to pack up. For a ten day rode trip in various climates, we had to pack carefully, and be able to pack wedding clothes and toiletries. I spent all week packing everything we needed. We also had to worry about bears, which meant putting anything remotely smelly in airtight containers.

Our route on Day 1 was through Yosemite on Tioga Road, which had just been opened the previous week. It is a beautiful route to take in the summer, as it avoids the touristy areas. We stopped in Tuolumne Grove for a short hike to look at the sequoias, and came up to find a doe grazing right in the parking lot. Driving through upper Yosemite is beautiful, and the area past Tuolumne Meadows is virtually deserted this time of year, so we had a wonderful time.
The Tuolumne GroveA Waterfall on Tioga Road
We continued down the Eastern side of the Sierras to Inyo National Forest, where we camped at Lone Pine Campground. It was amazing! We reserved a walk-in site that was right at the base of the Whitney Portal, where hikers enter to climb Mt Whitney.The View from our tentThe creek by our campsite
They had running water and vault toilets, and on a Saturday night we had the entire walk-in area to ourselves (the RV/pop up area was packed). There was a creek running right next to us, and they had two bear boxes conveniently placed in our site. We set up in the waning light, and woke up the next morning to the gorgeous vista of the Sierras with Mt Whitney at the center.
A view of Mount Whitney
Tomorrow: Day 2 and 3: Zion National Park!

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