Thursday, November 7, 2013

Adventure much lately?

I have been having domestic adventures of late. But I've not enjoyed the great outdoors much to my chagrin!

Adventures in the Domestic

I have extended closet doors, run electric wiring, installed switches and lights. Songbird has painted, patched, mudded, and painted some more. We even went to my parents place and helped them with home reno - we're getting pretty adept.
The last days of summer.
I brewed 8 cases of beer for the wedding, we created labels and boxed up all our wedding beer: White Blaze and Something Blue; and just to be confusing the two types of beer are Irish Red and Emma Brown.

 Songbird and I also recently put a contract on a house. Soon we become Virginians! Leesburg is mountain adjacent, winery adjacent, and closer to everything. Also: we'll have activities to do on the weekend close by! First Friday in Leesburg is really fun (we visited early).

I'm also very excited to be able to sport the Appalachian Trail Plates!

Halloween, that time of year when you procrastinate until two days before and steal the dogs costume to wear instead of taking the time, money, or effort to come up with something else.
Kaya wore it better

From where we'll be living we can stroll to downtown Leesburg in 1.5 miles, which I'm betting we will do regularly. We are a 20 minute drive to the AT crossing Rt 7 - so I'll be getting even more familiar with the Roller Coaster than the couple times I've done it or parts of it (like last year on my hike). Leesburg is a good jumping point to all of Virginia, Skyline Drive, Old Rag, Dolly Sods, and points south and north. Never again will we be faced with driving on 95 to go places, 81 is such a better way to go!

Work has been steady and I've learned quite a bit recently, but not done much traveling except locally. Cisco UCS, VMware, and NetApp is the name of the game lately.

Wedding planning is going great and we are anxiously awaiting next June for the good day that it's going to be and the honeymoon in Italy right afterwards! That will definitely be an adventure worth blogging about!!

That concludes this rather boring, but at the same time, from my perspective, busy/exciting/scary, period in my life! I'm hoping to do some things worthy of a travel adventure blog soon enough! Adventures in Leesburg, going to Orlando in November, and up to New Hampshire in December... all while working and moving in there too.
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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

New Hampshire: Harsh, Beautiful, and Wild

As some of you might know, I'm getting married! In just over a year I will be wed to the love of my life. We are getting married in New Hampshire right by Franconia Notch. With rugged mountains as our backdrop, spring-blooming wildflowers in the fore. The planning and preparation gives us an excuse to go north and a)visit her parents b)get some planning/preparation in c)go hiking in the White Mountains!

This last trip I took the following week off to hike while Songbird had to, unfortunately, come home to go back to work. Flip also took the week off and came up to hike with me. Songbird, departed, and Flip arrived late the following day. We woke to a rainy Tuesday morning; undeterred and set on backpacking, we packed our things donned our rain gear and got a ride from Songbird's dad, Jim, to the trailhead. We were dropped off at the beginning of the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail, a mile from the Cog Railroad at the base of Mount Washington. The rain had stopped, but the sky was steely grey and we knew this was only a break in the storm, not a passing of the storm. We were hopeful, though as the following days forecast sounded better.
We followed a soft rolling trail for the first couple miles, along a river and over wet roots and rocks. The forest smell of damp and leaf decay both pleasant and familiar. The trees dropped their wet tears down our backs as we hiked full of care-free joy towards the base of the mountain. The streams and rivers did not seem overly swollen from the last day and a half of rain, I wasn't sure if we had any water crossings, but was thankful all the same that they weren't in flood stage! The trail traced close to the banks of the river at some points.
 Soon, through a break in the trees, we saw where our path was to take us. The easy jaunt through the lowlands about to end. We began climbing stone stairs, and the rain started to fall softly again. I put on the hood of the Packa, but stayed unzipped to keep heat exhaustion at bay. As we ascend and the air got colder the coat came on and I stayed both dry and warm.
As we neared tree-line the conditions worsened, the rain picked up, and we had to cross the river a time or two. The river crossings were harrowing, and would have forced us to turn back had there been more water. On top of slick rocks a few yards from a waterfall that fell down the side of the tallest mountain in the northeast, the trail precariously crossed these slightly swollen waters. This could be deadly in worse conditions.
Up we climbed and clambered. The trail crossing steep slick rocks, the trees becoming stunted and gnarled. We were in the rain clouds now. The wind picked up and started to swirl, sometimes those raindrops sounded a bit... heavy, more like ice than water. The clouds blew back and snow fields were visible as the trees finally gave up.
Up and up more. The wind picking up, the rain blowing in, over, under. My glasses making everything a blur, and the clouds obscuring everything beyond a couple hundred feet anyway. But, even in these conditions and under this strain, beauty stood out. Tiny alpine flowers, surrounded by a carpet of green moss hung on and thrived. The disparity of the wind-swept landscape to the micro-communities that stood hidden in plain sight belied the strength of life, and the beauty in the small things.
Not knowing how much further to the top of this hill, we continued to strain upwards. And there! A roof line! A shelter from the storm, a place to shed wet raincoats, if only briefly: Lake of the Clouds AMC Hut. We stumbled around the corner, threw open the door and came in to applause of the guests riding out the storm inside the warm comfort. The Croo hostess said, "Are you checking in? We have spots available." My gut instinct after being mauled by the elements while pulling myself hand-over-hand up the side of a steep mountain was to say, "Why yes I am checking in. I would love nothing more than to pay $125 to sleep on a wooden bunk!" Instead, after making eye-contact with Flip, I said, "Give me a minute to decide." So we ordered a bowl of warm soup, sat at the table and unwound. We dripped a bit dryer and the memories and shock of the vicious wind and pelting rain faded. After consulting the map, our watches, and each other, we decided to push on. We also decided to save the summit of Washington for another day, this wouldn't be a good one to be up there.
I will not rant about the AMC. I can say that the oasis of calm and brief respite was welcomed. The prices were high, but the people were kind. We chose not to pay for the luxury, but the fact that the Huts exist enable those that would not otherwise be able to see the grandeur and beauty of the White Mountains to experience it in slight comfort.
We put back on our packs and braced ourselves for another onslaught. We were surprised and hesitantly elated that the rain had died down. We headed south on the Appalachian Trail towards Nauman Campsite ~4 miles distant. The wind blew fiercely and then calmed. The clouds seemed to be thinning, only over us though. Suddenly: SUN! BLUESKY! What a treat. We were able to walk on this ridge top, this spine-of-the-world, with a circle of clouds obscuring the far views, but allowing us some sun light and some views of the mountains we trod upon. We even captured a glimpse of the Washington Hotel surrounded by its golf course down in the valley below.

We started descending into the woods again, back into the damp. Was it raining again or was that just dripping from the trees? Maybe a bit of both. On our descent we spotted a lynx flash across the trail and then we peered at each other before she gracefully disappeared into the thick sub-alpine woods. We arrived at the next Hut and the hostess ignored us as we walked in, continuing to cut up pieces of paper with her Swiss Army knife. There must not have been any room or other reservations coming in that evening so the pleasantries could be dispensed with. I enquired if this is where we checked in for the adjacent campsite. No, there is a specific campsite host in a tent. We walked over to the campsite and spoke with Dillon, the campsite host. He said he'd never stayed in a Hut, but they were real nice, they even let him come over the night before and hangout since they only had two guests. So the AMC hires a completely different host that must sleep in a tent, literally 50 feet from the Hut. That makes such little sense that I am boggled. We asked if it might be alright if we went up there to prepare our dinner out of the rain instead of inside our tent. He had no idea, he didn't really talk to them, but it might be worth asking. They did have a lot of guests though. Rather than being looked down upon like the homeless tent campers begging for scraps we prepared our meal at the tent.

The next day dawned not bright but rainy. It had began raining in earnest over night and continued unrelenting as we broke camp as quickly as possible, trying to keep as much of our gear as dry as possible. We hiked out into the rainy morning with hopes it would stop any second now. The forecast said, "Chance of Showers" this day and "Chance of Showers" for the following 2 days. There was no chance, it rained continuously. At times it slowed, but then picked up. The bogs seemed to mirror our wet mood.

 Crossing over Webster Cliffs and bookended mountains we were blown about. As we descended Webster we got quiet. Thirty minutes of inner thoughts, just struggling not to fall down the rain-soaked rocks and slabs we both said what we were thinking, "Why are we doing this?". We are seeing no views, we are not enjoying any of this, we are endangering our bodies unnecessarily. We both knew if we continued on to the next Hut and began setting up a wet saturated tent and peeling off wet socks and shaking out wet rain coats, that we would not be able to resist the Sirens call. We would pay the $125, or $500 if they asked it of us, to stay in the Hut. The forecast for the following day was the same as this day, so would we wake to more pattering rain? Another all day slog through puddles and down wet rocks.

We each fell on several occasions. I wasn't hiking the AT anymore. I wasn't doing this to prove something. I was doing this for enjoyment. And my saturation level surpassed my enjoyment! We decided we would go back to Lovetts Inn, we would dry off and we would day hike the following day, rain or shine. Having a dry place to go to makes all the difference in the world. When I hiked the AT and there were days like that, I often found a way to be in a dry room. A wet miserable day drove me to Great Barrington to pay $250 for a bad room.
We finished our tumbles down Webster Cliffs (there might be nice views, but I can't tell you that for a fact!) and came to Crawford Notch. I had no cell service, which I knew was going to happen from previous research in the area. It had been raining too hard up top to get the phone out or take the pack off. I knew there was a shuttle service, and hoped there would be one coming soon. Otherwise a 4 mile walk up the road to the Highlands Lodge was in store for us. But I was completely prepared for that, It's happened before! The shuttle schedule had a shuttle visiting this spot twice daily. One of those times in 30 minutes! How fortunate. Of course, in typical AMC fashion, those four miles was going to cost us $10 each! But we paid. And we got to the Taj of Huts. More like one of the resort areas in the Shenandoah. Outside people played bocce ball in the rain, knowing a warm shower was only a few feet away. We used the 4G service to call Jim and he drove the 20 minutes over to pick the up the drowned hikers.
That night we celebrated! Alive and warm! A semi-successful hike. Under the circumstance we made the right call. The Whites will wait. The day will come that they will be enjoyed, not slogged through.
The following day we decided to hike the crown jewel of the White Mountains: Mount Lafayette and Franconia Ridge. The day began sunny and nearly cloud-free. What?! Same exact forecast as the preceding day. If I've learned anything it is to completely ignore the forecast for this region of the world, because it's wrong. This valley might have a totally different weather than that one. We packed up our gear and drove over to the bottom of the Old Carriage Trail, we made the steep climb up Lafayette, rock scrambling up steps and rock faces. Our light day packs enabling us to bound up the mountain, light on our feet and energetic. Views became apparent behind us and we could see for miles. What a difference a day makes. Clouds rolled in but stayed far aloft, leaving our views unscathed. In a short amount of time we came upon Greenleaf Hut. A very nicely situated hut nestled on the shoulder below the treeline of Lafayette by a mountain tarn.

We ate lunch here and let our sweaty backs dry before gaining more elevation and a lower temperature. The last mile was a few thousand steps, above treeline, the views are amazing, the hard granite wall rising above to envelope the sky in front. We reached the summit and had panoramic views all around us. A valley that looks untouched by the influence of man, the road in the Notch a thread hardly visible. Franconia Ridge looked like a shark fin breaching the waters of a green ocean, our path evident down the ridgeline. This bit of trail is on many of the best hikes lists, and again and again showcased in Backpacker Magazine. I agree with this. This was an amazing hike. Views draw your eyes up and outward from yourself. Consciousness expands with the views. There are other places like this on the AT, but the others aren't so accessible. Saddleback Range in Maine is as good, if not better. Katahdin is similar as well as Avery Peak also in Maine. Big Hump and Little Hump in Tennessee is incredible, but in a different way.

We traversed the Ridge and began down the Falling Waters Trail. Uneventful and easy descent over rocks and down stairs lead to an unexpected series of waterfalls. Of course, with a name like "Falling Waters" I assumed there would be waterfalls, but I wasn't expecting as nice or spectacular of falls. We crossed and recrossed the river multiple times, avoiding wet feet - barely! A very spectacular ending to an awesome 7 mile hike. After the falls the trail leveled out and we quickly made our way back to the car.

Songbird called and told me she had to hide from a tornado while at work. She came home to the majority of the big old maple in the backyard no longer standing. The house was not damaged fortunately, but the trees were a mess. I made the call that I needed to come home and clean this mess up before heading back to work, so we had to leave a day early from the New Hampshire adventure. We've a score to settle NH, I'm GOING to enjoy every bit of trails you've got to offer!!
Kaya is impressed, as am I!!

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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Gear Talk - Three Categories

I was on a plane going to Puerto Rico reading Backpacker magazine and it got me thinking about gear again. They are a mag to promote and sell gear, some of their reviews are succinct and ring true, while others are very obviously paid promo bordering on propaganda!
The following concerns my experience, my own personal rules and what works best for me. Of course I've said things before and changed drastically once I find something better or more suitable, so this is an ever evolving line of reasoning, but at this point it is fairly well refined due to experience and variety.

Less is more. The less I have the better the trip. I can honestly say I've never thought to myself, “I should've brought that piece of gear”; this, of course, excludes gear I've forgotten to bring (not having an eating utensil  or TP is a drag)! And many times that I go backpacking I think, “I haven't used this, why am I carrying it”. There are three categories of gear. The Sleep System includes tarp, hammock, pad, and sleeping blanket. The Kitchen includes stove, cooking system, water bottles, and food. Lastly, the Weather Protection includes clothing and rain gear. I don’t include the pack as it is just a pack.

All of the above gear with five days of food fit into the Osprey Talon 44L pack. That is considered just above a day pack size. I have found it to be more than adequate even for winter gear. I would like to eventually try out one of the UL frameless packs with integrated padding/ground pad, just seems like a marvelous option and perfect for the hammock as an insulation barrier not as padding (since padding isn’t needed in the hammock). Why 75+L packs exist, I can only fathom. There are such a small case of use scenarios and so many more weekend backpackers there should be way more options for Lite, UL, and SUL than there are in stores (REI, I’m looking at you).

As I’ve said probably way too much before, hammocks are the way to go when solo. I can understand a tent when: on the west coast, when hiking as a couple and you want some privacy, and (as is the case for me next week) hiking in the White Mountains. And those aren’t really good reasons, all the draw-backs of tents are still experienced, just un-avoidable. Sleeping on the ground sucks. Puddles form, roots and rocks emerge, hills and flats both have disadvantages. To all those still crawling on the ground, go get a Byers Hammock with mosquito net a lite weight tarp and spend a few nights in a hammock. If you don’t like it return it. But there’s a good chance you’ll be returning the tent or the bivy instead. My hammock weighs less than a pound, my tarp weighs less than a pound and I’m way more comfortable and actually DRY when it pours for 12 hours. I just can’t advocate enough for this.

I always thought going cold was crazy, but I’m leaning more and more that way. I’ll need to go out a few more times and try it out. Though not like last time where I went with others that DID have stoves. That’s just called mooching… which is a really great way to go UL, but not satisfying at all. Currently, and throughout my AT thru I carried an MSR PocketRocket, 8oz of fuel, and an 20oz capacity aluminum cup for boiling water. That amount of fuel would last me 2 weeks minimum with hot meals every night and coffee every morning. I saw many other hikers that used Heet and alcohol stoves - they supposedly save a few ounces but the fuel is no more easily found and bought than the Iso-pro canisters used for the Pocket Rocket. The few ounces saved is lost however in that a heat shield is absolutely necessary, you must be very exacting on how much fuel you're going to use to cook with - you must let it burn out on its own so you can't pour the unused fuel back and you might not get a boil with what you've got and need to start over. Also they tend to explode. A lot. There is no flame regulation, it is all on or all off, simmering is impossible.And the last drawback, as if the exploding and loss of eyebrows weren't enough, they tend to blacken your pot, so it either needs to be cleaned thoroughly, put in a bag, or it gets carbon all over. The idea of turning a soda can into a stove is neat, but in reality I would advise against it!

Concerning camp cooking, dirty dishes are extremely over rated! If at all possible dirty dishes should never exist, and if they happen to, swishing water and drinking the food remnants should be the absolute extent of it. Most of my dinners on the trail were in boil bags and eaten directly from them. Coffee in the morning is really the reason I’ve not gone completely cold and ditched the stove, I enjoy warm morning coffee more than a hot dinner! I found the best things to “cook” were pre-cooked rices, couscous, mashed potatoes, ramen noodles and Backpacker Pantry meals (an expensive luxury). All these meals needed only heated water. I would add a protein, beef jerky, salami, tuna and maybe a bouillon cube for flavor and salt. A raw onion is worth carrying I found to add variety to dinner and lunch. To go cold I would just double what was for lunch and be done with it. Lunch consisted of bagels, wraps, and flat bread stuffed with peanut butter, tuna, onion, crasins, fruit snacks, cheese, beef jerky, pepperoni, and whatever else was in my pack! Lunch was by far my favorite meal of the day – easy cheesy. Oh and a bag of salty snack, like Cheezit, was perfect to munch on throughout the day. Breakfast was bagels cream cheese (easily lasted 4 or 5 days even in July) and then cereal bars, protein bars, and a protein shake. I should add, on a thru hike you aren’t eating enough calories. You can’t. I had to supplement with powdered shakes: carnation Instant Breakfast, Slimfast, AND GNC weight-gain 9000. Having one with every meal was what it took for me to break even and stop losing weight. Obviously on weekend or even week-long trips this is totally unneeded. Referencing back to BackPacker Magazine, they have cuisine options, normally consisting of doing stuff at home and bringing it along. It fills pages, and I guess some people might go down that path. The rest of us (especially thru-hikers) need to walk into a grocery store or even a gas station and be able to get enough food to hike for 5 days. It’s easy once you pick your way carefully through the really really empty calorie junk food and find some gems.

Weather Protection
Protecting yourself from the elements includes clothing and poncho. One must carefully consider the worst case scenario and pack for that. While hiking the AT I was able to get away with the clothes I had on, a base-layer long sleeve shirt, an extra pair of socks, and rain gear (JUST the Packa, rain pants are beyond useless). This was only in the summer, at the bookends of the trip I had a down vest to wear in camp, a fuzzy hat, and a wind-breaker. I never felt in need of more, I was never hypothermic or even close. The Packa is the best rain gear on the market and, like hammocking, I won’t shut up about! The Packa covers both pack and body, like a large poncho except it has pit-zips, a zipper down the front, a flap on the back to sit on, a pocket, and a brim on the hood. The really expensive rain gear on the market is all but useless. If a summer shower threatens you must drop your backpack, pull out your rain jacket, pull out your rain pants, struggle into them as the rain looms and the thunder rumbles, lastly you put on the pack cover and re-don the pack. You begin hiking again and immediately start sweating profusely. Turns out the storm passes and doesn’t drop a drip. You stop to take off the rain jacket and rain pants because you are dying of heat exhaustion, you sweated enough that had it rained and you had put no rain protection on you may have been drier! After putting the rain jacket and pants away the sky unexpected opens up anyway. Cheers to misery! Hope you like it.

With the Packa you put it on as a pack cover in the morning (in the summer with afternoon storms, it’s just a given). As you hike thunder rumbles and it looks like rain. Without breaking stride you pull the sleeves and hood out but don’t put them on yet. They hang like a cape around you making you feel totally bad-ass, like Strider (before you came to know him as Aragorn) from Fellowship of the Ring. Oh, the storm passed without shedding a tear? I’m still comfy and still hiking along. What’s that, it decided to rain anyway? The hood and sleeves are on and zipped in seconds, again without breaking stride. There’s no reason that this isn’t the de facto standard except people just don’t know about it!
Wearing the Packa in theHighlands

I’ve nothing to say about boots except for, “Find what fits you best”. If you’re getting blisters, change them out. If you’re getting shin splints or planar faceitous try high support inserts. I know people that hiked thousands of miles in Dollar Store sneakers, and I was quite comfortable in BackPacker Mag Editors Choice Salewa boots too – it’s all about preference. (as a side note, my Salewas lasted from Springer to Delaware Water Gap and I miss them).

I have also wasted money on pointless items that seemed like good ideas. REI is full of that stuff. Some of the things that stand out that are crap for Long Distance Hiking include: collapsible buckets, water filtration pumps, UV light Steripen, Crocs, Platypus water bladders, contact lens, solar chargers, TENTS, binoculars, Nalgen bottles, toilette trowels, extendable hot dog forks, a change of clothes “town clothing”, and a full length sleeping pad. There are stories, experiences, and reasoning behind each of those. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Creating a Virtual Distributed Switch on vSphere 5.1

I was working last week and had to work through the steps to make a vDS in vCenter. I went through the steps like the system was a live production system though only the virtualized vCenter server was on the 2 server datacenter.

The steps aren't linear, and there needs to be a little more polishing on the wizard on VMware's part. For posterity I'd like to toss this out there for anyone that might be struggling with the process.

Virtual Distributed Switch Configuration

Scope: This document will explain the process of installing a virtual distributed switch in a vCenter 5.1 infrastructure environment. This document will then go on to explain how to convert from a Standard switch environment to a Distributed Switch environment on a live production network.
-          vCenter installed
-          2 NICs per switch (for live migration)
-          vLAN and IP information

S    Site Setup:
k      The site has 4 Standard Virtual Switches: Management, Storage, Data, and vMotion. The Storage Standard Switch has two vmk connections to enable fail-over for software iSCSI. I left the Management on a Standard Virtual Switch and migrated all others.

      I used this YouTube video to understand the concepts of the Virtual Distributed Switch:

1.       Steps to create a Virtual Distributed Switch:
a.       Navigate to Inventory/Networking
b.      Right-click on the DataCenter where the vDS is to be created
c.       Use the latest version available. Next.
d.      General Properties
                                                              i.      Name the switch
                                                            ii.      Add the number of Uplink ports (think each of these as the number of physical ports each ESXi host has – 6 for the example below)
                                                          iii.      Next
e.      Toggle to ‘add hosts later’
f.        Next and Finish
g.   Right click on the newly created vDS and edit setting.
h.   To the right of the 'Number of Uplinks' there is a 'Rename Uplinks' click
i.   Rename the Uplinks Storage1 and Storage 2, Data 1 and data 2, vmotion 1 and vmotion 2. This ensures that the correct dvuplinks are paired to the correct port groups.
Process to Migrate switching from Standard Switching to Distributed Switching on a live environment with no down-time:
1.       For vMotion (both NICs at once no current vmotion operations)
a.       Navigate to Inventory/Networking
b.      Create a vmotion Distributed Port Group by:
                                                              i.      Right click the Distributed Switch and Add a New port Group
c.       Right Click on vmotion and ‘Edit Settings’
d.      Click ‘Teaming and Failover’
e.      Move all Uplinks to ‘Unused’ except vmotion1 and vmtion2
f.        ok
g.       Navigate to Inventory/Networking, right click vDS and ‘Manage Hosts’
h.      Check which ESX server you want to move NICs from. Next
i.        Click on the 2 vMotion NICs Next
j.        Migrate the vMotion vmk to the correct port group Next
k.       Next
l.        Finish
m.    Navigate to Inventory/Host and Clusters Configuration, Networking, Distributed Swtich
n.      Click ‘Manage Physical NICs…’
o.      Remove them from the dvuplink if they are incorrect and place them appropriately
p.   Ok
2.       For Data (one NIC at a time already connected)
a.       Navigate to Inventory/Networking
b.      Create a Data Distributed Port Group by:
                                                              i.      Right click the Distributed Switch and Add a New port Group
c.       Right Click on Data and ‘Edit Settings’
d.      Click ‘Teaming and Failover’
e.      Move all Uplinks to ‘Unused’ except Data1 and Data2
f.        ok
g.       Navigate to Inventory/Networking, right click vDS and ‘Manage Hosts’
h.      Check which ESX server you want to move the NIC from. Next
i.        Click on the second NIC Next
j.        Migrate nothing Next
k.       Next
l.        Finish
m.    Navigate to Inventory/Host and Clusters Configuration, Networking, Distributed Switch
n.      Click ‘Manage Physical NICs…’
o.      Remove it from the dvuplink if it is incorrect and place it appropriately
p.      Navigate to Inventory/Host and Clusters Configuration
q.      Navigate to the virtual machine
r.        Click ‘Edit Setting’
s.       Edit the NIC to point to the dv switch. Ok.
t.        Navigate to Inventory/Networking, right click vDS and ‘Manage Hosts’
u.      Check which ESX server you want to move the NIC from. Next
v.       Click on the first NIC Next
w.     Migrate nothing Next
x.       Next
y.       Finish
z.       Navigate to Inventory/Host and Clusters Configuration, Networking, Distributed Swtich
aa.   Click ‘Manage Physical NICs…’
bb.  Remove them from the dvuplink where if it is incorrect and place it appropriately
3.       For iSCSI software adapter with fail-over (one NIC at a time already connected)
a.       Navigate to Inventory/Networking
b.      Create two Distributed Port Groups, Storage1 and a Storage2
                                                              i.      Right click the Distributed Switch and Add a New port Group for each
c.       Right Click on Storage1 and ‘Edit Settings’
d.      Click ‘Teaming and Failover’
e.      Move all Uplinks to ‘Unused’ except Storage1
f.   Repeat steps c -e on Storage2        
g.       Navigate to Inventory/Host and Clusters ESXi host Configuration/Storage Adapters
h.      Right click on vmhba32 iSCSI Software adapter and Properties…
i.        Navigate to the ‘Network Configuration’ Tab and remove one of the Storage Port Binding Storage2
j.        Navigate to Inventory/Host and Clusters ESXi host Configuration /Networking/vSphere Standard Switch
k.       Under Properties of the Storage switch remove the Storage 2 NIC from ‘Network Adapters’
l.        Navigate to Inventory/Networking
m.    Right click the Distributed Switch and ‘Manage Hosts’
n.      Check the one you’ll be working with Next
o.      Select the physical adapter for Storage2 that you just unassigned Next
p.      Pick the vmk that was attached to the Storage2, use the drop down list to pick the Storage2 Destination Port Group. Next
q.      Next
r.        Finish
s.       Navigate to Inventory/Host and Clusters Configuration, Networking, Distributed Switch
t.        Click ‘Manage Physical NICs…’
u.      Remove it from the dvuplink if it is incorrect and place it appropriately
v.       Navigate to Inventory/Host and Clusters ESXi host Configuration/Storage Adapters
w.     Right click on vmhba32 iSCSI Software adapter and Properties…
x.       Navigate to the ‘Network Configuration’ Tab and add the Storage2 to Storage Port Binding – ensure it is ‘Compliant’. Ok to re-scan

y.       Repeat from Step G – X to Storage1 to ensure no down time of storage
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Here There and Everywhere sometimes describes my thought stream.

We all define ourselves by what we do.

It takes a lifetime to really find out everything about ourselves.  And as we progress we pick up habits and hobbies that define who we are. These change as we mature and grow.

When I'm not hiking, backpacking, traveling, and working I have actually begun to do some constructive activities. Not so long ago, when I had downtime I would try to fill it with something just to fill it - either television or video games or reading - all the activities that produce nothing (granted they can produce something personal, education or dexterity, perhaps). Recently though, since being in my first truly meaningful relationship (all others before were like watching TV or playing video games, sometimes entertaining and occasionally educational but time wasters for all intents and purposes!) I have begun growing and doing meaningful activities.

It began with no longer renting. My fiance owns her house. There are things to be done, to improve the house and things to do to keep the house running. Mowing the lawn, fixing a leak, re-running out of code wiring, changing a light switch. There's also the big projects that are gratifying too - assisting with putting in a closet, renovating the kitchen, laying hardwood. The sum of these things is pride. Pride in the work that it took, pride in knowing we're capable, and pride in the improving house around us. The chores of mowing the lawn, putting mulch in the flower beds, planting flowers and trees are all gratifying too. Pulling up to a house knowing the time spent to make it look the way it does is very personally gratifying.

So now in my downtime, I'm not just trying to fill the space until the next event. I am trying to be a producer of things, no longer just a consumer of things.


I began brewing my own beer. I am producing something (for me to consume, true). And it's nice to be able to make something and then enjoy the fruits of your labor and time waiting on it to be ready. I've only brewed 7 batches so I'm still very "young" in the process, but I like the process, I like the beer I've made so far, and I love sharing it with others.
The process is relaxing and habitual; wash the bottles, sanitize the equipment, brew the beer, move the the secondary, bottle, cross-your-fingers, wait.

We've wanted a garden. But it's always been, "Next year". This year I was going to turn the soil and begin conditioning it for next. Start a compost pile this year so it will be ready "next year".
So I went to Lowes to get chicken wire to make a compost bin and ended up getting enough to enclose the garden as well. One thing lead to another and I'd made a garden!

I've tried to go as organic as possible. Next year it will be with my own compost. This year was more an experiment to see if we would enjoy doing it, and would stick with it throughout the summer. Again, I'm producing to consume. We've got tomatoes, potatoes, tomatillos, jalapenos, blueberries, and onions. Not bad for such a small plot! We'll see what survives.

 What began as just an empty sloping piece of yard...

... soon became something I think I can be proud of and find some happiness in.

I went to Texas last week and so was gone for five days. The spring rains fell often and Cara didn't need to manually water our vegies. It was nice to see that everything had survived a week and had very much flourished too! Our thumbs are turning green-ish.

As I just mentioned I went to Texas for the week, I didn't get to see much except that Dallas and surrounding area has new construction everywhere, miles and miles and miles of it. And considering the road system they are prepared for more.
I did get a chance to go to a private park (couldn't find a state park anywhere) and take a stroll. After seeing nothing but new houses in developments I really couldn't get a feel for what Texas was supposed to look like. Everything was manicured lawns, stone and brick fences, and house after same-looking house. At Hidden Cove Park I glimpsed what the state was supposed to look like. The smells were wonderful, wild flower and grass, spring, and warmth. The park had a backpacking loop with remote camping. I would have liked to spent the night under the stars in Texas. As it was I had time enough to enjoy the bird-song, the nodding wild flowers, and the warm breeze but not much more.

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Massanutten South

Tortuga, Flip, and I hiked a couple days in the Massanutten Range. We started just west of Luray and hiked back via Sticklers Knob. All-in-all a good weekend. Perfect weather, with nice day time temps and good chilly nights. I think all of us learned things this weekend, as at least I know I do everytime I go for a hike. Tortuga, as you might know, is an inexperienced backpacker. He went to REI and got a bunch of gear and this was a test of himself and of his gear.
I was testing out an upgraded sleep system, using the hammock and just a down backpacking blanket. I figured the worst that could happen is I'd shiver all night, if it got really bad I'd either move the hammock to the ground for insulation or start a fire and huddle by that. No rain was being called for so I didn't think I'd be in hypothermic danger no matter the case.


Anthony and I met up after a half day of work. I arrived at his place close to Alexandria. He showed me his gear as he packed his new backpack. We weighed in, he at 35lbs and I at 17lbs. Obviously his pack weight needed some refinement! But as this was a learning trip, learning by doing is very important. I had given him advice on what to bring and what not to bring, I'd given him a pack list and coached him through the purchases he had made at REI. He was adamant about some things, and thought I was being silly on others.

Flip and I are a good balance. Flip also carries a light-weight pack, but he also carries damn useful things like a saw and a good camp kitchen; where-as I break sticks and eat out of a cup. I self-sump and he carries a rag to wash his dishes. I carry a gallon zip lock and he carries a collapsible Platy or two for extra water. Each of our methods are 100% correct... for us. So with this mentorship Tortuga can see two sides and decide for himself.

T and I got in the car and drove out towards Luray via 66 thru Front Royal and south on 340. We stopped at the grocery store and picked up some snacks prior to heading to the parking lot. We started hiking right at 5pm. Plenty of daylight left this time of year to make a couple miles from the road and find or make a campsite and wait for Flip (arriving a bit later).

We ascend the forest road Massanutten Connector trail, talking and enjoying the day. We talked of gear and other trails we'd like to do in the future, of our lives and wives (in his case) and future wives (in my case). The sun slanted golden beams on the Trail before us, the trees still barren of leaves, but springs pulse quickening around us. We kept our eyes open for a likely spot but saw none for awhile, up over a hill and down a steep descent took us to the sound of water in a valley and the Massanutten Trail going East and West from where we stood. Since Flip would likely be coming in in the dark I wanted a campsite on the connector trail, we turned and re-ascended the steep hillside (only about 100 yards) and dropped packs. I wanted to search the semi-level area around to find a nice camping spot. Tortugas' first stealth site!

Hammocks hold a great advantage. Had we tents, we would've been out of luck, we would've had to range further or walk miles more to find a site. I found 4 trees to hang 3 hammock. I cut some small scrubby sticks that were in the way and cleared back a spot for a campfire. I tried to follow Leave No Trace principles, and when we left the next morning, there was no trace, so much so that on our way back I asked T where we'd camped as we hiked past and he had no idea. It could be because he is incredibly un-observant in the woods (we're working on that), or maybe I've mad LNT skillz.

Tortuga did a great job hanging his own hammock for the first time and putting the tarp over it. He gathered firewood and made his first fire. He broke out his camp chair and lounged comfortable. Camp chair?! Ok, so there's 1.5 lbs of that 35. I did say one comfort item. Mine is a 5oz pillow. But to each their own.

We sat around a nice campfire, listening to the woods, able to see the lights down in the valley, able to see the dark mass of Sticklers Knob hulking above us. We slipped some whiskey and waited for Flip. Flip did show up soon enough and we pitched in a hand to help set up his hammock in the dark. Our three hammock shared one tree and spoked out to three others.

After a bit more whiskey passing, cigar sharing, and chatting we called it a night and T went to hang for the premier time. I slept a bit on the chilly side, but I wasn't uncomfortable. Considering the temps dipped into the high 20's, I am absolutely thrilled about removing a pound from my pack by trading in the sleeping bag for the blanket!


We all awoke early, the sun was up, but not upon us. The warming rays still on the hillside far above us. I packed quickly with numb fingers and feet. Tortuga saying he couldn't feel his feet and that they were very very painful .Yup, so are ours buddy, just a joy of hiking in the cold. Best way to warm up? Get packed and start hiking! The sun finally enlivening us, we tossed on the packs, made sure the fire from the evening before was nothing but a memory, hide our existence and started hiking.

Back at the intersection of the Massanutten Trail we headed left, west and the start of the loop we were taking this weekend. Immediately we began ascending a large pile of rocks, otherwise known as a mountain. Tortuga started sweating. Wasn't he just frozen a minute ago? Oh yeah, the best way to get warm is to walk! We gained elevation on this gorgeous morning, the valley opening like a flower behind us, all it's secrets exposed. Still above us was Sticklers Knob, imagine the view from that lofty place!

Once up top we followed the ridge, views to both sides, and sights south to Waterfall Mountain and way across the valley, Shenandoah. Shenandoah with it's easy access roads, paved trails that always go down hill, and snack bars. I imagined the tourists already having paid their $25 entrance fee driving down the Skyline drive commenting on the view so easily achieved. I liked our view better. We worked for it. Some of us harder than others!

We continued and crossed over a gravel road. I thought we would dip down again, but we did not. We only ascended gently to the other ridgeline. As we hooked back north we came to an overlook. This open place looked west, over Shenandoah Valley. There snaked Rt 81. There, the tops of those mountains, is where West Virginia began. Peeking through a far pass, could that be Dolly Sods? Probably a bit too far to see.

After the picture opportunity was done we continued on. Four miles of ridge-top walking, first to the west then up and over to the east then back again. This up and down frustrated Tortuga. I've learned to not fight the Trail. It always wins. the trail traces to the west or east to (a) avoid a cliff (b) show you something cool (c) go the harder of the two ways so you don't get bored and complacent.

The four miles done, we came to a knob another 1/2 mile up the trail (an out and back). Despite Tortugas protestations Flip and I ran up with our packs thinking it would be a good lunch spot. And it was. Very pleasant in the sun to let our socks and feet dry out and snack on all our goodies. We chatted about the things people chat about while on a,mountain top and enjoyed the company of each other.

After lunch, down down down and the sun sank lower. We finally got to a water source flowing out of a spring and I gladly filled up. I could tell I was a bit behind on my water consumption as I'd been nursing the last 1/2 liter for a couple hours. We gave T lessons in wood lore, or at least tried to. We asked him, "Which way does the trail go?", "Are you sure?", "How can you tell?". We tried to impart to him the ways of not getting lost. Not just following blazes on trees but where it looked like more people had traveled, and why. I went on to explain why we were getting water from this small spring trickle rather than the larger creek in the valley floor. And much to my chagrin, but unsurprisingly, the diaper I said I'd found next to larger, close to road, water sources was there as we passed by the picnic area by the road. A good illustration to my point.

We began the slow ascent of the far ridge after the picnic area, climbing a rocky crumbly trail. Tortuga mentioned that we had trod every kind of trail he could think of. Muddy, rocky, sandy, flat, steep. Not my intention, but it works to teach! The afternoon wore on and still we climbed; not steeply and not a difficult trail, but Tortuga was weary. Flip and I hiking ahead and then waiting for Mr. Slow-and-Steady to catch up. To the top of the ridge and immediately we dropped over the other side. At the top T definitely didn't want to see what the overlook 1/2 mile off trail looked like and so we descended. At the bottom a sign pointed towards a camp site. Not knowing the area or where the next water source or clear-of-brush area might be we called it a day and went about making camp.

On his own, T set up his gear like an old pro. We each concerned ourselves with our own stuff and soon had a bivouac surrounding the fire pit. The fire pit had nice stone lounge chairs around it which negated the need for T's chair. He still stubbornly used it because he'd carried it all that way. He allowed Flip and I to peruse and tear down his ruck. We gave him helpful suggestions and some minor sh!t for his more fanciful carryings! The extendable hotdog forks, the snow baskets for his hiking poles, and fabric pouch that covered his water pouch, and the extra battery, cell phone charger, Android and iPhone charging cable gave us a clue as to why his pack was heavy. Flip and I are strong hikers anyway, add in a pack that was half his weight and it is completely understandable why we weren't sore or exhausted. We energetically gathered firewood and scampered around. I hope T will take our advice and sift through his pack some more!

We finished all our booze. We ate 3 dinners. We enjoyed a raging fire in the company of friends. The evening grew dark and we roasted marshmallows, T using his extend-o sticks, I a green branch. I have to admit, knowing the company I kept this trip (Flip) I brought no stove. I brought no uncooked food. I brought no cup. I was the light-weight moocher. I had enough food to not cook. I could have very easily "survived" without a hot dinner. But I also knew the preeminent trail chef in our midst would have plenty for all! I ate well and carried none. The rule is know the company you keep.


The night was warmer. I slept with more clothes and a hot rock from the fire, both unneeded but it's good practice. We did our morning routine of packing. Tortuga lamented about relaxing in camp in the morning, he is backpacking with the wrong guys for that! We had some miles to go and some sights to see along the way. And lunch in Front Royal.

Tortuga took his first crap in the woods.

Again we explained to him why you had to go as far from water as possible, how to dig the hole, and how to bury it. All this is intuitive to people that have pooed in the woods since we were kids - not so much to a nearly 30 year old that has not.

The trail on this side was terrible. We followed the creek toward its source, a Bobcat had been used to grade the trail leaving it a muddy mess. The condition was terrible. I'm not sure who or why this was done, but nothing done would've been much better! A few miles and complaints drifting on the wind from behind we made it to the top of the ridge and the end of the Bobcat destruction. Here lay the beginning of the ridge to Sticklers Knob. We dropped packs and Tortuga decided to stay behind. Flip and I both tried to coerce him into coming, but gracefully bowed out from the side quest.

Flip and I love side quests. They make our trips. We grabbed a few snacks and jogged down the unofficial trail to the Knob. At times rocky, but easy to follow, we made our way peering at the views to the east and west. We found several good campsites, each better than the last. And the last really was amazing. A small 2 person tent would fit and that is all. The firepit on top of a cliff and truly spectacular view of the valley and the Shenandoah Mountains to the east. A few tenths beyond we scrambled up to the Knob. We got sweeping 360 views and we even found a Geocache! Experience points gained, side quest done, we headed back so T wouldn't feel abandoned and we could explain to him on why he should've come with us.

Our packs lay in the trail. No sign of a Tortuga in any direction. We guessed he must've got impatient and started heading back towards the car. We hoped. Ten minutes later he must have remembered and scratched his initials and an arrow into the dirt. Confirmation that a pack of raptors hadn't carried him off was good. After a bit we caught up with our quarry and he explained he wanted to test his skills. He survived and was happy for it.

The next few miles were all down hill, side slabbing up above a stream before crossing and re-crossing it to get back to the Massanutten Connector Trail that lead back to our cars and civilization. Hours after getting home Tortuga (now Anthony again) sent me a picture of a pile of stuff he wouldn't be carrying next time! The man learns! He's no longer a noob and will not treat him as such. The lessons are over and now he makes his own calls on what to carry and what not to carry. No longer an amatuer he must make his own way.

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