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403. Monument Peak (07/10/04)

Hikers (20): Bunny, Carissa, Chester, Clive, David, Elaine, Eugene, George, Glen, Jeong, Jinglan, Mary YF, Matthew, Padraig, Patrick, Peter, Ross, Rus R, Sparky, Steve
Distance: 8 miles
Rating: 3 difficulty, 8 beauty
Park info: Ed R. Levin County Park in the Milpitas foothills

Write-up by Peter and Cal

Hmmmmm, what to say about this hike? There was not much special to report other than welcoming a couple of newbies, Clive and Mary. I just wanted to get it over with as soon as possible so I could get on with Bachelor Party later that evening.

1, 2, 3, ... INCH!

We climbed up to Monument Peak, had a rest and went back down again. End of hike.

And now as a special treat, we present Cal’s writeup of The Bachelor Party. Many of the juicy details have been removed to protect the innocent, or guilty.

“This is not just a bachelor party but an adventure!” exclaimed the voice from the back seat as we drove in “stealth mode” returning from San Francisco. But let’s start at the beginning and try to recount this event without breaching the Bachelor Party contract that Eugene had us commit to before the evening began.

It was Saturday, July 10th and it was Peter’s bachelor party. Eugene, who had arranged the whole thing, was directing the event with precision … well, at least he tried. I was to drive to Intel in the Cal Van (Church Van) and pick up Steve, Chester, Gregg, and Ram and then to Eugene’s to pick up Ross, Peter, Eugene, Padraig, and we would pick up Daryoush and Bob on the way. Rob would meet us in the city to round out the Dirty Dozen.

After arriving at Intel about 5 pm and meeting Chester, Gregg, and Ram, we waited for Steve for another half hour. Apparently Steve thought the pickup time was 7:30 and when called by Eugene didn’t believe we were waiting. Steve said he would meet us at the Buena Vista Cafe and apologized all night long. Little did we know that Mother Luck was watching over us.

After picking up a load at Eugene’s we proceeded up the peninsula like an airport van picking up the two other people. Everything was going as planned. We had some difficulty finding a place to park the big van. At the first garage, we hit the 6’4” sign hanging down and they were anxious for us to leave … even stopping traffic so we could back out! Peter thinks this is where we hurt the Van’s feelings causing the rest of the evening’s events. The second garage was just the right size but they were closing and were more than happy to help us back out again. As a last resort, we went to the gas station used on many of the City hikes and were able to secure a parking sport.

We walked to the Buena Vista Cafe, where Steve had been holding a table for over one hour (this driving stuff takes a long time), and had our fill of Irish coffee. There was much debate about walking to the restaurant or driving but we opted to drive.

It was on the way to the restaurant that I got the first inkling of potential doom. The van started up a little slow but I wasn’t overly concerned. We reached the Harris steak house and had a delicious dinner. There we had many stories and speeches and good times and food. During the dinner, Eugene presented Peter with the official Bachelor Party blow-up doll. He must have purchased the sample size for when it was inflated instead of being a voluptuous beauty, it was 3 1/2 feet tall ... about the size of an ugly midget. As part of his punishment, Peter was tethered to this thing for part of the night.

It was now time to go to a club for some entertainment. As I started the van, my heart began to sink. The slow start turned into almost a no start. But we got on the road and although the dash lights seemed a little dim we were off to strand Peter in the Castro. The best-laid plans often go astray and Peter was too smart (and sober) for this to work. Although Peter was blindfolded (and claimed it was being suffocating) we got to the Castro. This was when we had a hard time getting him out of the van. So we had to make like we were all getting out of the van. Once on the sidewalk, everyone got back into the van but unfortunately, Peter had taken off his blindfold at this point as wasn’t going to be left behind. Before the van door could be shut, Peter had pushed his way back in. Well, it was a nice try!

We headed off to the nightclub and the van dash lights were growing dimmer. We found a parking spot and as everyone piled out of the van I kept it running thinking that it may not start again. All agreed that we would deal with that problem when the time came so I shut off the van. Note to self: Don’t take any more advice from a bunch of drunks.

After have a good time at the club, we wandered back to the van about 2:30am. I hopped into the van and turned the key … nothing. By this time everyone was tired and just wanted to go home. Eugene called Steve on the cell phone (he had driven by himself, remember) to come and give us a jump. Padraig tried to convince three girls walking down the street to give us a jump but even his Irish charm had no effect as they glanced at this motley crew milling around the dark parking lot. I debated about calling AAA but Steve finely arrived. Yea Steve! We hooked up the jumpers and started the van. Everyone piled in and off we went. The dash lights were even fainter then before but the van was running.

As we chugged down route 101, everyone had their fingers crossed. I tried the turn signals but there wasn’t enough battery power to make them work. Peter said “Don’t press your luck”. I’m sure that Daryoush was thinking “How did I ever get mixed up with this bunch of losers?” But he was lucky since he was getting dropped off first. The road to his house was dark, really dark. We passed a police car that flashed his lights to tell us that our headlights were bad -- like we didn’t know. The headlights at this point were not much better that two nightlights. We dropped him off and on the way back it was so dark that I went into a driveway instead of the road. This didn’t help passenger confidence.

Back on 101 again without getting stopped by the local police for driving in “stealth mode” as Rob called it, we came across a drunken driver swerving in the lane. “Better give him plenty of room since we were running without much visible lights -- stealth mode”. The talk in the back was getting technical. Could the problem be the battery, generator or something else? If it was the battery, eventually the power would be depleted and there wouldn’t be enough energy to spark the engine. Well, right on queue, the van started to misfire and we exited the highway.

Ah, a true INCH adventure! Miles from home, a van with a dying battery and 3:30am. Happy Bachelor’s Party, Peter!! After some consultation, we decided to take the surface streets since the van seem to like the 35-40 miles per hour speed better and if it conked out we wouldn’t be in the middle of 101. We finally make it to Ram and Bob’s area in Menlo Park. They piled out and had that look on their faces of one being in a lifeboat as they watched the Titanic sink. Eugene stuck his flashlight in the van front grill (it gave more light than the headlights) but we decided to remove it since it would detract from our “Officer, we had no idea our headlights were weak” story. Ram thought we couldn’t sell the story that we happen to accidentally run into a flashlight that got stuck in our grill.

All we needed to do is to make it to Eugene’s house since Ross had his van there and we could all find a way home. After more consultation, we decided to take Middlefield Road to Eugene’s. More potential for cops, but what the heck. We got to the intersection of Middlefield Road and Old Middlefield Road and made a left onto Old Middlefield Road by mistake. As I started to make the U-turn, the van finally gave up the ghost and we coasted to the side of the road next to a hydrant. We pushed the van to a more suitable location. Two and a half miles from Eugene’s – damn, so close!

If you are an INCH group what do you do? Right, hike. So at 5 am, Eugene, Peter, Padraig, Rob, Ross, Chester, Gregg, and I started hiking down Middlefield Road. After a mile the sky starting to lighten (I think it’s called sunrise), Chester called Carissa to pick us up. At the two-mile point, Carissa arrived and took Eugene and Ross off to get more vehicles. The rest of us waited at the corner of Middlefield and Shoreline for help to arrive. Carissa took Rob and myself to South San Jose while Ross took everyone else to their respective locations. Padraig thanked me for driving, but I believe the requirement is to drive 100% of the way and not have the passengers walk the last two miles.

I want to thank everyone involved including Ross and Carissa for bailing us out. As Peter kept saying, I love this van, you never know what to expect -- it keeps you on your toes.

Epilog: After arriving home I drove back to the van and removed the battery and brought to home for charging. Got to sleep about 7 am. Eugene called about 11 am and Kathy, Eugene and myself met at the van about 1 pm. Eugene quickly spotted a loose drive belt -- the root cause of the condition. We tightened the belt, put in the battery and it started right up. Eugene checked the voltage and the alternator was charging correctly. The van is now ready for our next adventure -- any takers?

Clive's 1st leaf
Mary YF's 1st leaf
Padraig's 40th leaf

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