Balm Boyette

Hand-held pano of one of the beginner trails at Balm Boyette Park. Medium [1024×260]. Large [1600×407]. Huge [2506×637]. Stitched with DoubleTake.
I haven’t been much for posting as of late because I’m working 11.5 hour days. But it’s the good kind of long days, you know, where you’re making progress the whole time. So yay for that.
I did manage to get out on the weekend, though, and went mountain biking with Haley through Balm Boyette Park, about an hour’s drive North and a little East of here. “Mountain biking?” says you, “in Florida?” Yep. I wouldn’t have thought so either had I not seen it myself. The SWAMP Club,, has created a nice set of trails through forested and saw-palm land. From their webpage:

Boyette Park is situated on 4,900 acres of upland scrub, located just south of Brandon. About a dozen lakes populate rolling grasslands at the far eastern end of the property, with the remainder being heavily covered with scrub-oak and pine.
On the east side of Boyette Road are 12 miles of beginner’s level two-track circling the dozen or so lakes. Several intermediate level single-track loops branch off this main two-track. These loops are cut through the woods and along the lakes, and consists of moderately strenuous, more technically difficult trails. There are some open sections where a rider can gain speed, but for the most part, the trail is tight, twisty and tough. Oh yeah, it’s also great fun.

And that it was. Advice to potential trailgoers: bring lots of water. It’s freaking hot out there.

Apple juice

Note to self: do not drink apple juice and forget about the glass.

Happy Earth Day

Click to enlarge
Yesterday was Earth Day. I took out my bike — a sadly uncommon occurance since I bought it. Here are the trip stats:
Distance: 12.4 km (7.69 miles)
Max. speed: 33.3 km/h (20.7 mph)
Avg speed: 14 km/h (8.7 mph)
Time: 59 mins, 7 secs
Avg temp: 32°C (89°F)
Air needed in tires: yes
Seat: really damn hard
‘Til now I’ve kind of been afraid it would be too hot to ride. Turns out it’s not all that bad.
I did a big loop around the 45-hole Bobby Jones public golf course. There’s actually some nice paths around the area. Fruitville has a ton of broken glass in the bike lane (at least, heading East from McIntosh), not to mention crazy drivers, so I was on the sidewalk for some of that part. Most of Honore is lacking any sort of bike lane.
Took the Ecological Footprint Quiz again – my total footprint was kind of large at 22 (national average is 24) – 4.9 planets required to sustain my current lifestyle. I pledge to try to improve that. How do you score?
[What and When Is Earth Day?] [Earth Day Canada] [Ecological Footprint Quiz]

On Columbus, Hurricane Wilma, Pumpkin Carving, 2005 UPA Club Championships

Well… so much has happened in the last week or so it’s all kind of piled up on top of each other.
Two Saturdays ago I went to the beach and dinner with Cam’s family; Sunday I spent with Hugo and Patrícia; Monday Hurricane Wilma did its thing (thankfully not here, though I should note some people not too far South of here lost power); Tuesday-Thursdayish I was blogless as was getting maintenance; Friday I was volunteering at the 2005 UPA Club Championships (to determine the best Ultimate Frisbee team in the United States and Canada); Friday night I spent at a pumpkin-carving party at Mankow’s in St. Pete; Saturday I volunteered 8am-7:00pm at the Club Championships again; Saturday night I spent at Darren’s with Cam, Patrícia and Melissa watching hockey (Leafs-Senators and Canucks-Avalanche); Sunday I was back out at the UPA Club Championships, this time arriving at the fields at 7:30 because the time change caught me off guard; I stayed until 7pm and headed over to Cam and Melissa’s with Nkosi and Patrícia for another pumpkin carving; I brought my already-carved pumpkin along for a little cleanup (Cam has pics up). Finally, last night I had Patrícia and Nkosi over for some Hallowe’en Buffy; we watched Fear, Itself and Hush, and threw in Doomed too. Oh, I miss those characters. (D’oh. The not-yet-released 7-season box set just went up $40 to $169.99. Watch, I’ll probably buy it anyway 🙂
And that brings you up-to-date. Hil and Bri are coming down to visit in 9 days — we’re planning on hitting the Keys — that is, if there is anything to hit. Research begins today.

Hurricane Wilma

A quick update on the whole Hurricane Wilma thing. Well, I made it home safely from Columbus, Ohio Friday night. Saturday was a lot of unpacking and food buying. Cam and Melissa invited me over for dinner, where I got to see Cam’s mom and grandma, which was cool — with Joe that made four generations in the same room, not something you see every day. After dinner we hit the hot tub, and I was going to call it a night, but Nkosi called and I ended up hitting a bar down on Siesta Key, Gilligans. Met up with Louis and his friend from LA, Andre, as well as Eric the Yellow Cab driver. It was Goodtimes, but I think I’ve got a little hearing loss (hopefully temporary). Note to self: bring earplugs next time. Soundtrack to and from the bar? Davin (or is it AFK? Or is it ariz0na?)’s new mix on Pacific Front Sessions — an excellent breaks set, which you can download here. After getting home, chatted with Mavis for a bit over MSN and finally hit the hay around 4.
Went for lunch today with Patricia and Hugo at the Philippi Creek Oyster Bar, which was good. I got the blackened Grouper sandwich with fries and a drink, tasty stuff. Afterwards we hit Starbucks, which was closing at 3pm, to re-open at 1pm the next day. Hugo had Patricia and I over for dinner (which was great), and we passed the time away looking at his pictures from China and Japan, and watching the Blue Collar Comedy tour (among other things). Of course we also flipped it to the local channels now and again to try and figure out what was going on with this storm, because apart from a little rain and the occasional gust, it sure wasn’t showing itself. But that’s all about to change. Earlier today we were told to expect winds tonight of up to 40mph; it’s been nowhere near that. But the real winds are supposed to come overnight, where’d they’re supposed to reach up to 60; if true, those will be the strongest winds to hit this area yet. I left Hugo’s around midnight; I walked around the parking lot outside my apartment trying to locate a spot which would minimize the chances of getting hit by a fallen tree branch; unfortunately I think everyone’s had the same idea and there really weren’t any good ones left. That’s okay: I think the Altima will be just fine where it is.
As far as work goes, the building will be closed until 1pm, after which we are expected to go back to work. That’s fine, because according the SNN (one of the local news channels) winds are expected to be highest around 9am, all the way up to noon, after which they drop off sharply. Will keep you updated as things progress, but basically, so far, all’s well.

The Perils of Hurricane Preparedness

See how the cupboard doors don’t line up in that second shot? And how the fan isn’t directly attached underneath? The irony here is I bought that water as part of my hurricane preparation — and it’s what wreaking havoc on my apartment.
Maintenance says they’ll be back to look at it in a couple days when it’s dried out.
PS – yes, I had server outage yesterday.

Jeanne: The Aftermath

Hurricane Jeanne was, at times exciting, at times terrifying. Living where we do, Cam, Melissa and I only caught the edge of it, and the winds only got up to about 45 mph sustained, with 60 mph gusts. Still, it was nothing to sneeze at… unless you’re the type to notice an increased pollen count. Jeanne was the biggest storm to come through Sarasota in recent collective memory. Click on the pool to view the damage in and around our apartment complex. Cam’s also got some good pictures and a writeup posted.
Also: I took a short video clip from my balcony, around noon yesterday. It’s about 14mb, and shows the storm, doing, well… stormy things. Wind gusting, rain pelting, trees bending, etc. 🙂

Jeanne update

Well, just got back from the NHL2005 party at Jeff’s — it was a ton of fun. Got my butt whooped, but it was still fun.. because technically speaking, getting beaten 4-0 by Jeff represented an improvement (don’t ask). Cam says he’s going to show me all the secrets tomorrow. Watch out Jeff!!
Anyhow, the lights were starting to get shaky on the way home from Jeff’s, and you could see the clouds moving in the counter-clockwise direction that’s characteristic of hurricane winds. I’m almost kind of surprised that the power didn’t go out at all while I was out (the microwave still has the right time). I expect it probably will soon. Jeanne has the potential to be the strongest hurricane this area has seen yet.
Here’s a couple more tracker pics. The first one is from 11am this morning, the second at 11pm this evening (2.5 hrs ago):

Jeanne, 11am Sat morning. Source: NOAA

Jeanne, 11pm Sat evening. Source: NOAA
Guess it’s time to clear out the valuables from the livingroom again. And put away the computer too. If I’m reading those tracks correctly I’ll be fully involved around 8am EST Sunday. Certainly one way to wake up.
By the way, if I don’t answer the phone tomorrow, don’t freak — I might be over at Cam and Melissa’s (family members will be getting an email with their number shortly).