A Wet Hike, Cold Spring Trail

When it rains, many people seek shelter. One certainly wouldn’t think of hiking up a steep mountain in the rain.

Well, a friend of mine and I decided to brave the latest winter storm swinging through Santa Barbara and go for a hike. Equally distant from both of us is the Cold Spring Trail, located along Mountain Drive in the foothills above Montecito. Even in dry conditions, our route climbs 1,300 feet over 1.6 miles and culminates at a man made stone BBQ. A BBQ? Yes.

We threw on our rain gear and headed up, up and up passing brown geckos, creeks and burn areas as we went. Tangerine Falls were not as impressive as previously, but given the dry conditions as of late, we were surprised to see as much water falling as we did.

Passing Tangerine and proceeding up the conditions became wetter and colder. The canyon behind the falls is remarkably untouched and presented some of the best hiking scenery I’ve had in a while.

At the trail end stands a wonderfully built BBQ hearth from stone situated under a tree. I can only imagine how it got there, but fear the chaos that would occur if a fire was ever lit in its hearth.

After regrouping, putting on dry clothes and noticing a size-able increase in the rainfall, we headed back down. The muscles that weren’t sore yet, quickly found themselves put to use as we descended 1,300 feet.

With many creek crossings, we had plenty of chances to practice our rock hopping skills. Crossing a creek relies on a few things: 1) how well you balance, 2) how well you can leverage momentum, 3) the distance of the crossing, and 4) the shape of the rock. So, it is no wonder that I got my feet a tad wet, slipping a few times and dunking my foot in the cold water. Even my friend was challenged at one particular crossing where the rocks were pointed, spaced apart, and he launched poorly off the shore.

Arriving back at the trail head, I was disappointed to see someone had put a road across the trail. 🙂 It was such an awesome hike and I was happy to see the rain had kept the fair weather hikers at bay. We live in such a beautiful place, we should always enjoy it, wet or dry.

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Designing An iPhone App

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As I expand my business model, reaching out to my mobile users is hugely important. While some CEO’s might hire an expensive consultant or purchase expensive software, this CEO is old school. Using pen, paper and ruler I sketched out an 8-page iPhone app for my online fitness log.

While I am sure a lot of our world focuses on technology to make life more efficient, it’s the pieces that start on the napkin that are most intriguing. To capture something from the mind and turn it into a real thing is a process that takes time and a team of talented people. But it’s the old school tech that really makes it happen.

I wonder how many of my iPhone users realize that what they are using today got a low tech start?

Mazda3 – The Companion, The Car

Mazda3 – The Companion, The Car

The bond between a driver and their car can be so tight, words can not describe it.  When shopping for a car, we typically look at the functional side (what type & size), then we look at ownership experience (reliability), and then its the image that it projects (the styling and accessories).   The goal is to find the right combination of the three that triggers an emotion that makes just gotta have it!   It might take time to develop this emotion and the buying decision might even take on function above everything else.

My most recent car purchase was certainly a grand combination of functionality, ownership experience and image.   Pulling into the Mazda dealership in my stripped down 2001 Ford Focus, with hand crank windows, hubcaps, and nothing more than a/c and a cassette player, and seeing the Mazda3, it was love at first sight.  In fact, it was the beginning to something so fabulous, I grin every time I think about my car.

While I had admired the Mazda3 in automotive magazines like Car and Driver and Motor Trend for years, I never really thought I would own one.  My Focus, as boring as it was, was a good functional car that got me from home to work in relative cheapness.  It never left me stranded, it never required a serious repair during the first 60,000 miles and it was comfortable for a stripper.

The Car

Then came the day I took it in for service to complain about a strange noise coming from the front end.  It wasn’t long before I got the call from the service adviser asking if I was okay with a $1800 bill to replace the bearings, shocks, and front brakes.  I baulked.  The car had nearly 80,000 miles on it and was starting to show its age; maybe it was time to think about that Mazda3.  The one that all of the automotive journalists raved about, called it “their daily driver of choice” and photographed speeding around the race track in all of its glory.  That one.

Sleek styling makes this car a winner.

After speaking with the sales guy and taking a test drive, I wanted one.  What impressed me the most was the quiet interior, the throttle response, and the versatility of the 5-door with folding rear seats.  I thought I could fit a lot in the back of my Focus, but this thing could even get the kitchen sink in.   It was a Galaxy Grey one with black interior.  The car looked like it was racing around a race track just sitting there.  After stepping out of the driver’s seat after the test drive, I couldn’t get the Mazda tagline out of my head ‘zoom-zoom’ the voice kept whispering. “Geez, Mazda!  you guys are good!” I said to myself in response.

It took less than 30 minutes to clear the financial department, sign the title of the Ford over and drive off in my new zoom-zoom Mazda3. The emotional tie between driver and car had only just begun.

The Companion

Over the past three years, it is safe to say that I consider my Mazda3 more than my best friend, it is my life companion.  From road trips where it happily zips along to windy back roads where it pretends to be a kid in the candy store, the Mazda is ready and willing for all kinds of adventures.  It also swallows everything I can image in to put in it.  As a triathlete it can swallow my bike, wetsuit, and the rest of my gear with ease.  When a friend and I went up to the Santa Ynez valley for a lengthy bike ride, it swallowed both of our road bikes (sitting up), all of our gear, and even had room left over for a few cases of wine.  Wow.

Two bikes, lots of gear and room for two cases of wine!

The ride is smooth, yet sporty. The dash is readable and modern.  The dash says “hello” to me whenever I turn the car on.  The six disc in dash CD-changer keeps me entertained when not using the auxiliary jack with my iPhone.  With cup holders galore and a seriously large glove box and center console, it is easy to lose stuff in the storage.

The only thing not to like about it is the fuel economy.  The Mazda3 can be quite thirsty at times going up hills and cruising at high speed.   Even with hyper-miling, I have been unable to get the lifetime fuel economy beyond the 24.8 mpg average.  But with so much else to enjoy, it is hard to really hold this against this car.  Heck, gas is still far cheaper than what they pay in Europe, right?

The Brand

After 40,000 miles, I have yet to witness even a hicup.  My zoom-zoom Mazda3 has been such a great car, I can hardly imagine driving anything else.  With maintenance costs comparable (so far) to the Ford, the Mazda3 has been cheaper than expected to operate.  My experience so far has turned into a huge fan of Mazda and this is coming from a guy that tries really hard not to get sucked into the “brand” thing.  But Mazda’s brand is irresistible.

I expect to have many, many more zoom-zoom moments with my Mazda3.  The 2008 vintage sitting in the driveway is just getting broken in and will be the best companion for years to come.  The emotional bond will only get better.