¿Por qué mi café está frío?

"Why is my coffee cold?"

I pour a fresh cup of hot java, take a sip, then set it aside for a few minutes.  The next time I take a sip, there's a noticeable drop in the coffee temp.  I'm a fast coffee drinker normally, so I was at a loss until someone explained what was happening.  

At higher elevations, water starts to boil at lower temperatures.  This is due to the decrease in atmospheric pressure the higher you are in the world.  At sea level, water boils at 212°F.   But at 7500 ft, it boils at 198°F.   Water starts to boil for me at 195°F, since I'm a little higher at 9100 ft.  So with cooking you have to compensate for the lower boiling temp by increasing your cooking time and not the cooking temp.  You can't increase water's boiling temperature, unless you use a pressure cooker.  So if you try increase cooking temps, you'll just boil away water faster and dry out what's being cooked.  I noticed this cooking with chicken.  The meat dried out quickly and I should have covered the dish in the oven to retain the moisture.

So my high altitude coffee never gets as hot as it could if made at sea level, thus it will reaches room temperature faster than a sea-level coffee since it's coming down from it's boiling point of 195 vs sea level's 212.

Speaking of coffee, I'd like to end with a nice graphic from Coffee for Less.

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¿Como se llama?

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 Camino Antiquo a Nayon

This magnificent view overlooks the back of my neighborhood and the city valley below.  You can see the steep inclines leading up to the apartments.  While breathtaking to look at, it's also breathtaking to walk.  My endurance is slowly increasing as I get use to the high altitude that comes with living in Quito. (9350ft)  I'm getting use to the small hills around my building, but this climb usually requires a minute break just prior to reaching the peak.

One of the first phrases I've gotten use to asking is "¿Como se llama?", since I regularly run into dog walkers.  Lucia has already tallied up friends' names such as, Alberto, Luna, Fidel, Ella, Pepo, and Corky.  All them vary in breeds from German shepherds, Siberian huskies, basset hounds, golden retrievers, schnauzers, shih tzus, and Yorkshire terriers.  The dog park is now a daily stop in Lucia's routine.

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With all the dog walking at a higher elevation, my appetite hasn't quite caught up with the calories I need.  But I've gotten use to forced snacking through out the day and drinking more water to help me adjust.  Some of the popular supermarket chains in the city are SuperMaxi and MegaMaxi.  Since I'm still waiting for my car to arrive, I use a taxi for my weekly shopping.  The taxi rates are surprisingly cheap, usually costing $2 for a one way trip to the store.  A nice tip for the driver helps me get the bags to my apartment door.

Supermaxi

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A selection from this weekend's SuperMaxi trip

While it's nice eating familiar name brands (Snickers!), it comes with a higher cost due to obvious import fees.  Fortunately, I've always liked trying local products since it's cheaper and tastes (usually) just as good if not better.

I've been working on my Spanish more now that I'm here.  It definitely helps when you're trying to see more of the city and what it has to offer.  Everyone's been extremely patient and tend to help me as I practice.  I think I called my dad a potato once when I didn't accent papa (papá) correctly.  Sorry Dad, I'll just say padré next time..  

¡Hasta luego!


Departure of state

 

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My new neighborhood


No, I didn't leave the Department of State, but I did leave Virginia for my next assignment overseas.  I've arrived in Quito, Ecuador and started the next chapter in my life.  Adapting to change is a prerequisite for working in the Foreign Service.  The last time I left the country, all I had to contend with was packing up an apartment and getting on a plane.  This time, I had to sort through a full house, prepare the property to be a rental and arrange travel for my faithful companion Lucia.

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"For the record, I was not consulted on this."

I've been in Quito for two weeks now and I'm getting use to my surroundings. My apartment is in a beautiful neighborhood and overlooks an amazing vista.  There's a postage stamp-sized park just outside my apartment building and another larger park for dogs just a few blocks away.  This park is Parque Lomas de Monteserrín.  Lucia adjusted quickly as the newest diplomat to the park, she's always ready to go off leash and play with her new acquaintances.  

As I mentioned, the view from my balcony overlooks the valley and on a clear day you can see several volcanos. From my patio I believe my view is of Cotopaxi, Antisana and Cayambe.  I'll add more photos once i have clearer pics.

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My patio view

That's all for now.  I'll be posting more in the future now that I'm back online.

 

 

   

 


Front Royal motorcycle ride

The showers of May have passed.  But by last weekend, the heat of summer had slipped into Virginia.  But not before I took my Harley 48 out Saturday morning for a long ride.  I've been wanting to see how it handles on the open road besides the 30 minute commute it takes every weekday.  It didn't disappoint.

After topping off my 2.2gal peanut gas tank, I left town on interstate 66.  It was mid morning, temps around the 80s, with a bit of wind in the air, just enough to keep me cool in my new mesh jacket and textile/mesh pants.  My destination - Front Royal, VA, about 60 miles from my starting point.  Most of it would be on 66.  

The ride on 66 was excellent.  Traffic westbound was light to medium.  The bike felt great and sounded great.  With the 48, your posture is different than if you're using ape hanger handlebars or on a crotch rocket.  The handlebar is short and straight, the seat sits low, forcing you to lean forward, and causing your boot heels to angle about 45 degrees from the road. In my opinion, the 48 is similar in looks to a bobber style bike, with the exception to the fenders, seat, smaller tank and a few other features.

Cycle styles

48 classic
Harley Davidson Sportster 48

As you can imagine, the 48 is not very comfortable for long rides.  This forced posture will take it's toll on the back and shoulders.  But for my ride, I felt fine by the time I turned off 66 and rode the rest of the 5 miles or so to Front Royal.  My gas indicator light had yet to come on, so I kept riding towards Flint Hill after passing through FR.  At 65 mi the light had yet to come on.  I pulled over to check Gas Buddy for the nearest pit stop.  FR was about 5 miles back but Flint Hill was southbound about 4 miles away.  The indicator light came on as soon as I started rolling again, so the highway miles were definitely an improvement to my city miles per gallon.  In Flint, I had used 1.4gal out of the 2.2 tank and traveling 70 miles.  So I could have pushed it for another 20 miles (90 mi total) or so before it would start to chug along.  Normally, I'm running to the gas station when it hits 60 miles with mostly city driving or I'll end up pushing the bike by the time it hits 70.  I made a mental note to get a gas canister that I could throw in my side bag for the next ride.

I made it back to Front Royal and stopped by Soul Mountain Grill & Cafe to get lunch.  Great service with a simple but pleasant atmosphere. I had a Soul Burger with a couple sides that didn't break the bank.

FR SM1

Soul Mountain Burger meal
Soul Mountain Burger meal

After lunch I walked around the small historic city center and checked out some of the shops.  The whole time I was in town, you could see and hear different biker groups passing through.  

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FR park

The ride back home was just as nice except for a little congestion around the 495 beltway.  Aside from a little fatigue in the hands and my back, it was a great ride.  I'll see how I do on a longer one next time.  

Total miles round trip = 130mi