We make holes in teeth!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Taiwan Day 19 - Snow-Capped Mountains and Flying Solo

Full picture set of the day here: Flickr set or slideshow.

As requested, I'll give a shout out to my cousin Bec. Today is her birthday. Happy birthday! I'll buy you dinner tonight as a special gift. You just gotta get here. Moving on to my own self-absorbed world...

For breakfast I ate food. Rubba dub dub, gimme some grub.

Nothing like this strange phenomenon called the "sun" and "sky" to help the motivation issue. I set out on the bike closer to 8:00 today because I was content to sit in the apartment and talk to Nat. Eventually I got out, with the plan to do about 2.5 hours. I saw some blue sky in the distance and decided my plan was to follow that blue thing that is so elusive here these days. I headed straight west but the blue was actually south, so I made a left and saw this in front of me for the better part of the first hour:

It's hard to see well, but those are snow-covered mountains looming in the distance. And that blue thing is called "sky". They are both really cool concepts and after riding a lot in the rain over the past week, this was a welcomed addition to the usual gray ceiling my days have. As I rode on, the mountains went in & out of the sunshine and alternately went from cool to awesome. There was 1 peak in particular that kept coming in & out of view, and it was sharp, steep wall of white. When the sun reflected on it a certain way it looked pretty unreal. The whole scene was pretty unreal, and certainly helped keep me pedaling today.

I took the closest bridge over ride to route 7 and stopped to take a pic there as well. The snow seemed to be fading a bit, and the temps were rising for sure. So I knew it wasn't going to last:

My plan was to shoot up route 7, then take the route 7 bridge back across the river then up the backside of that hill to the overlook where I took that awesome pic last week or 2 weeks ago. I was hoping the snow would last until then but I wasn't holding my breath. As I was climbing the hill to the overlook, suddenly these things were on the ground that sort of looked like the outline of telephone poles, trees, and bushes, as well as myself on the bike. They were dark and flat against the ground. After some searching I found that they are called "shadows" and are caused by this phenomenon known as the "sun". I was able to grab a pic of this thing in the sky today:

I got to the overlook, but as expected the snow was almost entirely gone. This must have been amazing in the morning when the sun rose. You can still see a little bit there but not much. I'm sure by late morning it was all gone:

I turned around and pounded out the rest of the ride to get home between 10:00-10:30, which is when I said I'd be back. I stopped to take 1 more picture. In the foreground are orange trees, and in the distance is what I refer to as Monkey Mountain, or at least something a bit north of where I was that day. The whole area was bathed in sunlight, and the climb up would have been awesome today. This is just what you get here, some days good, and some days bad. When you get a good one you need to take it in because you never know when you'll get another one.

Back to the house and I inhaled some food, showered up, and made my usual post-ride pot of tea. Nat went out to run some errands and grab some lunch, and I did some work and hung out with Julia. I like this new pure flex hour work routine. I know that most people like a standard routine where things are more or less laid out. But I actually prefer to just throw it all together however it works. When I get back to NJ I may try to keep the random work hour approach. Seems to work better for me and I think I'm more productive.

While mom was out Julia and I drew some pictures, which resulted in her getting some seriously messy hands. Showing off her hands and hiding:

I did some email work while Julia played on Nat's other phone, and enjoyed some of the view from my "office". This is what I was able to enjoy from my seat today:

Nat got back with some food for lunch plus some veggies. She put on rice before she left and brought home some veggies to cook. Crazy that this is a partly homemade lunch, since we eat out almost every meal. Now that we have the place to ourselves we can dial back the all-out, all-the-time eating and conserve some eating karma for the really good days.

After lunch, they both went out to get a backpack for Julia, and I put on the headphones and pounded out some more coding. When they got back, Nat brought me my afternoon coffee and I enjoyed it while we talked a bit. Calvin called shortly after, trying to get her to come up to Taipei tonight instead of tomorrow, which was her original plan. I was hoping to do some work early tomorrow, hang out and have a good (ie, "bad") breakfast, send them off on the bus, then take off for a long ride in the middle of the day, then return and finish off my work day.

Nat decided to go this afternoon instead, which is fine as it gives me tonight to do some work instead. I can always put in hours whenever I get to it, then ride when I want. Unfortunately, either way you slice it the weather report is at 70% rain, which is in that dreaded 70-90% realm. So I'm probably going to be wet tomorrow. Not sure where I'm going to go but I would like to get in 5 hours. I may set sail early anyway, just to get some hours in. Then if they stay 1 more night I'll work tomorrow night and maybe ride big again Thursday morning. Otherwise, the routine will be the same as usual.

I walked them to the bus station and found a bike shop right next to the stop. We asked about a pedal wrench and the guy only had a multi-tool that cost like $40, which is nuts. I have something like that, but unfortunately it's in NJ. My multi-tool here doesn't have the pedal wrench. I did buy a tube for a whopping $6, which is nuts since the stuff is made in this country. He told us that a mom & pop shop would have a cheapie version.

Back to the apartment and more coding. Nat texted me and told me when they got on the bus Julia asked how they would get off if the bus falls over. I'm glad the little munchkin is paying attention. Luckily, it didn't fall over and they made it to Taipei in 1 piece. Nat also said the driver was less aggressive so apparently we did have someone with a Death Wish yesterday.

The rest of the day was more or less uneventful. I worked most of the rest of the day, aside from a run out to get a scallion pancake next to the 7-11. I had seen the stand on the way back from the bus station and went back around 6:00. When I got home I put together a dinner of leftovers plus some duck that Nat's aunt had brought over. In all, a reasonably solid dinner. Here's the scallion pancake stand:

And the full spread shortly after:

Rest of the night was more coding, some National Geographic TV, and the last beer in the house. We'll need to go get some more soon, as in tomorrow. I can hold the fort for a few days by either skipping or going to 7-11 for some more McBeer. But eventually I'd like to make my way to Taipei 101 and hit the basement there, which has probably the best selection in all of Taiwan, or so I'm led to understand. We shall see.

Tomorrow I get to ride as long as I want. Naturally, it will be a monsoon.



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