Silverthorne is a Colorado mountain town located in ski country, but doesn’t fit the typical tourist image. It is mainly a residential town, with strip malls and car dealerships along the main strip. In mountain town charm, it is easily overshadowed by neighboring Frisco and Breckenridge. But this winter, we did have something interesting: an ice castle. Built by Brent Christensen, the Ice Castle moved from it’s previous home in Utah to Colorado for this winter. Due to the warm winter, it opened late, and got built up more and more throughout the season as it got colder and snowier. An early spring brought really warm temperatures so we wanted to visit it before it melted and closed. Continue reading Ice Castle
After 12 days in Lerici (with trips to Pisa, Cinque Terre, and Portovenere), we flew from Pisa to London. We planned to extend our stay for a little vacation + neighborhood hunting. Aman loves museums, I love good food, and Gen loves taking a break from the cold and snowy Rocky Mountain winters, so London is always a great vacation spot for us. And since we’ve been considering a move to London, we wanted to check out neighborhoods that we might want to live in.
We had been in Lerici for a week and on Saturday we visited Cinque Terre in gorgeous weather – the forecasted rain never materialized. Any hope of a repeat of the nice weather for our trip to Portovenere vanished the moment we woke up on Sunday morning. Thick gray clouds scudded low across the horizon and a steady rain fell from the sky, quite heavy at times. The forecast called for a possible break in the rain in the afternoon, so we decided to hang around Lerici in the morning and walk around in the rain. The rain didn’t really let up by the time we finished lunch, so we just decided to take our chances and go to Portvenere regardless.
After a week of work in Lerici, we arrived at the weekend ready for a break. Since we were so close, visiting Cinque Terre was the obvious option. We drove to the train station in La Spezia and bought tickets to Cinque Terre. Due to devastating rain and landslides in October, the villages were hurting (especially Vernazza), but they were still open to visitors. A quick 7-min train ride later, we alighted at Riomaggiore, the southern-most village of Cinque Terre. Rain had been forecast for the day, but it turned out quite sunny in the end.
We had arrived into Lerici on Saturday. On Sunday, we had to return to Pisa to pick up another colleague of ours who was coming from the Netherlands. Due to his early evening arrival, we took the opportunity to drive to Pisa in the afternoon to check out the sights. After one wrong turn getting onto the A12 highway which resulted in a 20-min drive in the wrong direction, we made it into Pisa. We found out that non-resident cars are not allowed in certain parts of Pisa, and were a bit concerned about finding parking. But due to it being the off season, we didn’t have to worry — we were able to park only a block away from the Piazza dei Miracoli, and off we went.
Work beckoned overseas again, this time to Italy. The development team I’d be working with was based in La Spezia, Italy, right next to Cinque Terre. Given that La Spezia is a large industrial town, the Italians told us to stay in the nearby town of Lerici for a better experience. Since personally we needed to check out London for neighborhoods we might want to live in, Gen and Aman came along as well. We spent 12 days in Lerici. I spent most of my time in La Spezia with colleagues during the day (a 20-min drive), while Gen and Aman explored Lerici.
I grew up in the tropics, and had never seen snow until I was almost 20. I disliked the cold gray winters of Iowa and Chicago. But that all changed once we moved to Colorado in 2003. Tried skiing once and was hooked. Skied a lot. Almost every weekend, from October through May. Averaged about 35 days per season at the beginning, increasing to about 50-60 days per season after that. Learned to carve. Learned to ski bumps. Learned to love powder, steeps, trees. Tore my ACL skiing in 2007; got it repaired and came back just as passionate as before. Moved to a ski town in 2007. Here are some shots from between 2003 and 2009.
After trying out some astrophotography with the Celestron NexStar 8SE, I hankered for something better. While the NexStar got me started, the alt-az mount isn’t really sufficient for long-exposure imaging, which is the key to capturing faint objects like galaxies and nebulae. So I invested in an AstroTech AT6-RC (a 6-inch Ritchey-Chretien) on an Orion Sirius EQ-G equatorial mount. Not top-of-the-line, but still a good setup that would last a while.
Since we left Chicago in 2003, it had been a long time since we’d visited downtown. We’d go to the Chicago area often to visit family, but we’d stay in the suburbs and due to the short visits, never come downtown. This Christmas 2011 we decided to change that and stayed downtown for 2 weeks, so we could get reacquainted with the city and visit our old haunts. Despite the gray and wet weather, we fell in love with the city once again.
After our quick Paris stop, we were off to Italy. We had wanted to go somewhere warm, and settled on the Amalfi coast. Then it was a matter of picking where along the Amalfi coast we would go. Given the scarce parking, we did not want to drive. We wanted to be someplace where we could just relax and walk around a lot; somewhere big enough to keep us interested (in terms of walking paths, restaurants, etc.) for a few days. We didn’t want to deal with the hustle and bustle of a big town (like Positano), but also didn’t want a really tiny place (like Atrani). In the end, the town of Amalfi seemed to fit the bill, so that’s where we went.