Saturday, July 23, 2011

Adventure Night

In my last post, I told the story of "Adventure Day 2010", and the sequel - "Adventure Day 2011". Well I'm home alone again this week, so yesterday at work I decided to have "Adventure Night". When I got home from work, I grabbed the telescope, my camera, a sweater, some food and jumped in the truck for "Adventure Night 2011"! I drove straight to Shaver Lake, pretty adventurous huh?

Wow! the water was right up to the top of the dam -

I clicked a quick pic, then jumped back in the truck to continue "the adventure". I went straight up the hill to Huntington Lake. The sun was getting pretty low by this time.

I was almost out of time. You see, the goal was to make it to the vista point above Kaiser pass before the sun went down. So I took a couple of quick snaps of Huntington and then jumped back in the truck to race to the top!

Kaiser pass is 9,100 feet above sea level. Once you get there, you can turn right off the paved road and head up a "Jeep trail" for two more miles, to a lookout point with an excellent view of the "Crest of the Sierras", a portion of the "Great Western Divide". You can see Edison Lake from there, and you have a pretty good view of the entire sky.

This is the first thing you see when you round the last turn and drive out into the opening at the top -

It's July in Central California, so the air-quality is not very spectacular. Hence the hazy appearance to the pictures. I made it to the top just in time to see the alpine-glow on the peaks, which is one of my favorite things. For the next 15 minutes, I ran around looking for some good shots. The poor air-quality didn't help, but it did add a lot of orange to the pictures. Here's the sun, just as it was going down -

I brought along my tripod, and a remote shutter release for the camera. I've never made any long-exposure pics of the night sky, and that was part of the "adventure"!

I was surprised at how they came out -

I've seen how photographers will shine a flashlight on objects in the foreground while making a long exposure, so of course I had to give that a try -

You know, it gets pretty cold above 9,000 feet, even in California in July. So I packed it in at 11:00 and headed back down to warm, cozy Fresno. Adventure night was pretty fun. Maybe I'll do that again in 2012.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Adventure Day - 2011

Last year on July 29th (2010), Tracy and Nick were out of town, so I got up early and went on a little road-trip. I went to the top of Fremont Peak, then to Pacific Grove where I biked around for a while. Then I went North through San Francisco, over the Golden Gate bridge, and ended up in Petaluma. I had fun posting pictures on Facebook throughout the day, and I started referring to it as 'Adventure Day'. So I thought I would have another 'Adventure Day' this year. Here are a few pictures from the first Adventure Day last year -

I stopped along Highway 99 to take this shot of the sun rise -

This was a little foot bridge on the trail to the top of Fremont Peak -

This was the vista I enjoyed when I arrived in Monterey -

Foggy in San Francisco, as usual -

This year's Adventure Day was hiking to the top of Yosemite Falls. Nick came along, and we had a nice little hike. Here's an HDR Panorama I took from Yosemite Point, which is a vista point about a mile past the top of Yosemite Falls. You'll want to click on the picture to open the full sized image -

It was pretty hazy that day, but there were some nice clouds that came along in the afternoon. Here is another HDR picture I took on the way back down -

Monday, February 14, 2011

Is There a Cure for Arthritis? Perhaps Sometimes!

I’ve had back problems most of my life, but for the most part, they were relatively minor and would go away after a few days, or after visiting a Chiropractor. But as of last November, I suddenly had much more than a back problem. I had an arthritis ‘flare-up’ unlike anything I’ve ever had. I realize now that I’d been dealing with the problem for over a year already. In April 2009, I began to have problems with the metatarsal joints in my right foot (diagnosed as metatarsalgia, which can be caused by arthritis). It was probably around that same time or before that I was experiencing pain in my right hand, and began to have seborrheic dermatitis on my scalp. Just before the arthritis flare-up in November I began to have pain in my left foot metatarsal joints, just like the right foot. I was also having new pain in my right foot which was diagnosed as plantars fasciitis. I had obvious swelling in the balls of both of my feet, and my right wrist. My neck was ‘out’ making it very difficult to turn my head from side-to-side. I also realized that for about the last year and an a half I had pain in my sternum every time I coughed, and especially when I sneezed.

As I fought with this new major flare-up of what appeared to be arthritis, I was really wondering why all of this would be going on. I am only 47 years old, and live a relatively healthy life style. The podiatrist gave me custom orthotics, stretching and icing instructions, but none of that seemed to help, and I couldn’t help but wonder why I should have to do all this stretching and icing just to feel normal when I had no injury or other apparent problem to rehabilitate from. I never had to do these special therapeutic things for the previous 47 years of my life, and I couldn’t believe that my body was falling apart from age that quickly!

My primary MD suggested that it was probably just arthritis I was experiencing brought on my colder weather or something that may have changed in my life-style. I was exercising regularly in the Summer, and then slowed down with the exercise in the Fall, and he thought something like that might have brought the new arthritis on. That just didn’t make sense to me.

Blood tests revealed that I had a significant amount of inflammation going on (no duh), but the rheumatoid markers were not showing up, which was of course good news. I was taking one naproxen twice a day, and that allowed me to function, but still with pain. The most pain I experienced was walking into work from the car each morning. I was getting desperate to find out the cause instead of just treating symptoms (which was all the doctors seemed to want to do).

My research revealed that arthritis and seborrheic dermatitis can both be related to an auto-immune system problem. Was it a coincidence that I had both of these things going on, and they started around the same time?

During the last two weeks, I began to suspect that I was having a reaction to some kind of food. This idea was based on Internet research, so I began to cut out various types of food. I cut out, or significantly reduced the consumption of –
• Sugar
• Caffeine
• Citrus
• Salt
• Red meat
• Dairy products
• Additives
• Corn
• Flour
• Soy
• Nuts

Last Tuesday (2/8/2009) I received a book I ordered called “Conquering Arthritis, What Doctors Don’t Tell You Because They Don’t Know” by Barbara Allan. I found the book while doing arthritis research online, and there were quite a few positive reviews on it. One reviewer explained that the book and ‘cure’ would only work for someone with reactive arthritis, not someone with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. I figured I didn’t have much to lose; at this point I was open to all suggestions.

I began reading the book on Wednesday and by Thursday night I decided to do exactly what Barbara Allan prescribed – a juice fast designed to determine if the problem was related to a “food sensitivity” or not.

It’s Monday night right now and the last ‘normal’ meal I’ve eaten was last Thursday night. I already had organic carrot juice in the refrigerator, which was one item she recommended drinking during the juice fast, so I was ready to start on Friday morning. I didn’t follow her prescription 100% - I didn’t do the enema. And I didn’t go buy a juicing machine to make my own organic juice with carrots, cabbage and celery. I just stuck to the store-bought carrot juice, and that’s all I had for 3 days. By this morning, I estimated that the pain in my feet and hands was 80 to 90% gone. I could see the swelling in my left foot had decreased. Hallelujah – I have a food sensitivity! At least, that appears to be part of the problem.

Today I had an apple and carrot juice for breakfast and lunch. So far, so good. Barbara Allan suggests that you only introduce one new food every 24 to 36 hours when you break your fast. That is because the symptoms may not reappear right away, and you won’t know which food you are sensitive to if you’ve had more than one new food item in the last 24 to 36 hours. I broke that rule by having yogurt for dinner tonight. The problem with that will be, if I seem to be having more pain tomorrow, then I won’t know if it was the apples or the yogurt. But I decided I would take the risk, especially because I was getting tired of carrot juice and I didn’t want to eat an apple and drink carrot juice for every meal today. The apples, yogurt and carrot juice are all organic, so there should be fewer chemicals that would cause a reaction, helping me to know if my sensitivity is specific to apples (or yogurt) rather than sensitivity to pesticides.

I plan on having oatmeal for breakfast tomorrow morning to test oats. If that causes no reaction, and I don’t feel worse from the apples or yogurt, then that will be 4 food items on my ‘safe’ list!