Friday, May 09, 2008

Playing hooky

Originally uploaded by b3nj1
Karen and I took today Friday off! We read that the whale watching was especially good this year after a couple of lean years, so we thought we'd check it out.

We headed out on Thursday night for dinner at Casanova in Carmel. On the way, our new Garmin Nuvi 660 GPS gave us creative directions. It came with an introductory subscription to FM traffic updates. Since 101 was a bit backed-up, the GPS thought we'd benefit from taking every exit ramp and then immediately re-entering the highway. We opted to rough it traveling at the speed limit in the carpool lane. :-)

Before dinner, we had some drinks at Hog's Breath Inn in Carmel. Then we walked over to Casanova. We ate there on our honeymoon last September and loved the place! It came highly recommended by a foodie friend of mine, Roman. It was still great, but not as fabulous as last time. The spinach gnocci was so freakin' good! Karen's rack of lamb was seasoned well, but a little over-cooked. I got the seafood linguine which was a bit bland and also over-cooked. For dessert, the warm chocolate cake was very tasty.

Friday morning, we went down to Monterey's Fisherman's Wharf for a whale watching tour with Monterey Bay Whale Watch. We had checked the weather before leaving San Jose, and knew to expect cloudy and cold weather. We had four-five layers on, but six would have been nice. Burrr..

We saw three clusters of whales. The second group was a mom and calf along with two other adults. They did some synchronized dives for us!

I snapped a bunch of pictures, but had some trouble with the lighting. I used my Canon 40D with an Canon EF 70-300mm lens. I set the camera to shutter priority at 1/500s in hopes to minimize motion blur. I think I should have gone a bit faster, and also set the ISO to ~800 instead of auto to coax the meter to pick smaller apertures. I think that would have given more forgiving focus. Most shots are not sharp :( We'll just have to go back!

While on the topic of gadgets... A little while ago, I got a compact GPS logger so I could geo-tag my pictures. I got the Holux M-241. It's the size (and spitting image of) a film canister, and it is really good at locking to the satellites. (The thing locks from the middle of our house!) I just fire it up and put it in my pocket. So, all the photos have their location attached, and you can see them on a map in flickr.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Our New Pets

No, we didn't get a dog...or a cat...not yet anyway. :) For now, we've adopted a couple backyard pets - Mr and Mrs Dove and Ralph the Squirrel. Of course we have names for our pets! I think it's the same set of doves who were around last year. They recently returned and built a nest in one of the eaves. When we first noticed the nest, Benjamin tried to get rid of it by knocking down all the branches. Can you believe that?! I felt bad, all that hard work those two birds put into building their home was shattered. The doves were persistent though and they rebuilt their nest in the same spot (and I made Benjamin leave it). The only creepy thing is that Mrs. Dove likes to peer into our bathroom window when she's sitting up there.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Sunday Hike

We went hiking this afternoon at the Arastradero Open Preserve in Palo Alto. It was an easy trek with some great views, a cute little lake and fun photo opps for Benjamin and his big camera. I always forget how close we are to nature despite living in such suburban sprawl. We saw various birds (woodpecker, quails, red winged black bird), butterflies and lizards. There are supposed to be fields of wildflowers but I think we were too late in the year! Here are a few National Geographic-esque pictures Benjamin took: