Continuing from the previous post, I had just returned from Colorado Springs. Just in time for Pasadena Modeler’s Society’s annual model contest Valley Con. A couple of the TGG guys clad in our blue t-shirts attended this event. I had missed this show last year, and as a group, we needed some sort of representation at this event to at least pass out some flyers and get some face time among the other local model groups. A day after the show, I headed out to Miami, three days after getting back from Miami, I headed out to Chile with a end cap visit to Laredo Texas; and then there was the March build gathering for which I started up on Efreet Custom Conversion kit since Angel was working on an Efreet conversion kit.

Details and all that happy crap after the jump.

ValleyCon 2013

Model shows are always fun for about 1 or 2 hours. Then it just gets into a waiting game. Every now and then, a new entry is brought and something cool to check out shows up; but for the most part, after visiting some of the vendors, it gets kinda boring. Which is why having a group of friends to go with makes things a bit more bearable. But still, I did find myself at one point, upstairs sleeping on the long couches while waiting for the awards part of the event. Taking note of how most contests are run, TGG felt the need to immerse the attendees in different ways than just vendors and models on the tables. Currently, we’ve done live demos with hands on experience also showing selected episodes. I think we’ll continue along this path, and hopefully keep people from being bored as the competition continues. I think this is one of those things that sets us apart from various other shows of similar size. Ok, enough of the soap box. I usually leave these shows inspired to build. I get ideas from chatting with others and from looking at other people’s works. Below is a sampling of the kits that drew my attention.

Link to the Valleycon 2013 Gallery.

The following Tuesday, I flew out to Miami. Strange to go from 15-20°F to 88°F from one week to the other. Nothing too special, this was another quick trip, but with the flights my time on the ground was much shorter. I spent some time geocaching, but didn’t pick up anywhere near the amount I did the previous week. I also tried to get an earlier flight to LA, and managed to get back a few hours before I was previously scheduled. A little more time at home before heading out to Chile the following Saturday.

Back to Chile

My loyalty to American Airlines for the miles is horribly misguided. I could just as easily taken LAN which is an affiliate with AA and still earn miles, have direct flights, AND get a higher probability for class upgrades. But this lesson isn’t learned for a few days. Getting to to SNA, there are two flights out to DFW, mine was the second. The first has been delayed multiple times and the plane is actually on the ground, so I start to worry a little. My flight then gets delayed, problems with weather over Dallas; so after a few more delays, I walk over to the other flight and see if I can get on that since there was room and it was actually going to take off. I successfully swap flights, and board, about 4 hours after my original flight should have left. The next concern I have is that I’m going to miss my connection – but since the issue is at Dallas, there was still a possibility that the weather issues has my connecting flight grounded too.

I pass out and when we land, I bring up the phone and check the flight status, good news, it’s still on the ground, bad news, it’s scheduled to leave in less than half an hour. Getting off the plane, I quickly get over to the terminal with my flight to Chile. The area is fairly empty except for a few people dealing with the folks behind the gate counters. I check in, but something got mixed up and my original boarding pass is invalid, but the reissue me a new pass but a different seat. I head down the gangway and the plane is almost full, guess some of these folks have been waiting for several hours. Seeing that my original seat was still empty, I grab it and settled in for the overnight flight. Since I was originally supposed to get into Santiago in the morning, I now arrive at 2 PM local, and after going through customs and immigration and getting the rental, I arrived at my hotel around 4:00 PM, the hotel I’m staying at is close to the airport and in comparison to my previous trips, not in downtown Santiago, but the outskirts so we’re closer to the job site. My original plan to head to the site and start the install fell apart and I just went to the local super market Jumbo, to do my food shopping for the week. Avocados, sliced meats, breads, fresh fruits, and packs of water and lemon ice tea.

This is my third trip to Santiago for the same project. The previous trip in December wasn’t very successful, but this time around, things should go much smoother. The first day was spent loading the updates and I got that done in one day. Plans to test the system the following Tuesday fell through, so I was left with some free time around 3 PM, so I headed to San Cristobel to pick up some geocaches. From here I snapped some pictures here and there as I had previously done, but time, it’s summer. I wandered up to one of the geocaches and found that my cell reception crapped out, so using geocaching instincts, I wandered around the location and found the cache – which oddly enough, around the spot to where the cache was located, I got a sliver of reception. I dropped off a travel bug and signed the log. I spent the rest of the time relaxing in the area. Towards the onset of evening, the area gets VERY crowded with bicyclist and runners all over the fairly large hill in the center of Santiago. From my first trip to Santiago to now, the tallest building in Chile, Gran Torre Santiago was still in construction. With this trip, the building looks like it’s almost complete as it pierces the Santiago skyline. If I return to Chile in the future, I will make it a point to visit the top of this building.

Another thing prevalent in South America are the dogs. Some dogs are being cared for, while most are just strays. I have seen security guards shoo away dogs as their main occupation while standing in front of mall entrances.

Since we were not able to test the day prior, we spent all day Wednesday testing the system. It’s an incident detect software installed in the tunnels at Lo Prado and Zapata along route 68. We successfully complete the tests at both locations. Feeling pretty good, we head into town and celebrate at a nice Peruvian seafood restaurant with beers, amazing ceviche, and a chicken dish that reminded me of your standard Hong Kong style restaurant Portuguese Chicken dish. Food was great and the schedule for the following day didn’t have us starting until 4 PM.

Since I don’t have to be at the job site until 4 PM; so once I get up in the morning, I head back into downtown Santiago and walk the center area that splits Americo Vespucio. The path is about 3 miles long in one direction. I started at one end and did a loop to one end and back. There are several geocaches along the route but a majority of them are missing, so I picked up about two out of 11 in the area. The path is dirt for runners and bicyclist. Along the way there are some fountains, sculptures, playground equipment, as well as exercise equipment such as an exercise bike. Also all along the way are these underground bunkers that hold supplies and tools for the ground’s keepers.

I finish my morning/early afternoon hike and return to the hotel, shower and head back out to the job site to do the training sessions for the system. The training session lasted a little over an hour and we were done with our day. The next day we were schedule to train the system administrators for the system and do a final meeting with the customer. My coworker and I headed out to the mall I hit up for my supplies earlier in the week and had dinner there. We met back up in the morning and I spent my time training the system administrators. We had a final meeting with the customer around 3PM and the business end of the trip concludes.

Done with work, I headed back to downtown to check out Cerro Santa Lucia and Castillo Hidalgo. The castle is built on the top of the hill and surrounded by cannons. The steps up to the top of the castle are narrow and quite steep and just added to the beauty of the place.

I was trying to stay late enough so that I could snap some pictures of the city as the sky darkened and evening grew. I stayed until the grounds keepers kicked everyone out of the park. There was an event at the Castle so people were dressed up for a Friday evening dinner. I snapped a few more pictures before heading out and finding a popcorn stand on the street. I continued to wander the area.

While wandering and finishing my little bag of sweet kettle corn, I stumbled upon a little French bar and cafe called “Les Assassins”, complete with assassin mascot adorning the front of the cafe. I just had to stop in and eat. I ordered the national drink, a Pisco Sour, and had the abalone in cream sauce which lacked salt, but wasn’t too bad. Granted, the attraction for me was the name of the restaurant above everything else so a fairly decent meal was just bonus.

Done with my evening, I headed back to the hotel to get some rest. Originally planning on heading out to Valparaiso to check out the coast Saturday, I ended up just sleeping until the middle of the afternoon, recovering from the lack of sleep over the week. Original plans out of the window, I did some laundry and just hung out at the hotel with my PS3 and Battle Operation. I did take a little trip back out near the job site to find a geocashe that is hidden in the hills above Lo Prado. Getting up the hill, I see three guys, a car, and some bikes. The car and bikes take off at the same time, and I head towards the cache. I find it but the area just smell of garbage – as for what ever reason, there is garbage strewn everywhere. Getting back to my car, I see that the car and bicyclist are back. I head down the hill and the car follows. Apparently, the three guys were taking turns driving the bikes up the hill to ride down it. I got a nice little chuckle, laziness to ride up the hill, so use a car for the hard part. The rest of the evening was spent near the hotel. It nice to have a day to recover.

The following morning, I packed up and headed back to downtown Santiago, to Cerro Santa Lucia, as there was a cache that I missed when I was there Friday, I was too busy taking pictures and enjoying the area that I forgot to check for near by caches. Finding the cache and snapping a few pictures of the area in daylight.

After logging the cache, I headed out towards the coastal Cities of Valparaiso and Vino Del Mar. I get there and find a quick cache as my first stop, taking in a great view of both cities along the coast. I get the general feeling of being in Palos Verdes over looking San Pedro, except in Spanish.

Trying to find another cache, there were too many people around the area so I wandered into the restaurant that was right near the cache, Oda Pacifico. Apparently, I arrived just before the lunch crowd, there were several tables already reserved. I had an excellent view. Ordered a Dark Kuntsman beer, bread with four little condiments, king crab rolled in puff pastry and baked with an excellent relish, and a main course of king crab ravioli with a mango cream sauce. An amazing lunch, I will definitely return here if I come back to Chile. A excellent last meal in Chile.

I drove down to the coast and took a few pictures before making my way back to Santiago to catch my flight home.

As I’m driving, my driver’s side rear tire blows out so I pull over along the side of the highway to check and swap out the tire. When I pulled over, I noticed that there was a chubby guy walking up the nearby off ramp with an umbrella. I didn’t pay much attention as I’ve seen a good number of folks walking along the highways with umbrellas; most likely on their way to work or something. I open up the trunk and find a full sized spare. Good, I don’t have to worry about driving the 90 or so kilometers back to Santiago on a little doughnut mini spare. I pull the jack out and start raising the rear of the car when I hear the passenger door slam. Already knowing that Mr Chubby has probably taken something out of the car. I stand up and the fat bastard is quickly walking back the way he came, oddly holding on to his umbrella. I run after the lard ball and get in front of him to see his sausage like fingers holding on to my backpack. I quickly snatch my backpack from him and raise my right arm which is wielding the metal rod part of the jack and scream, “WHAT THE FUCK?!?” at the guy. He squeaks out a frightened half scream and quickly shouts every apology in every language his knows and while stepping back from me nearly walks into the on coming traffic. His umbrella flips inside out from the air pressure of vehicles coming down the highway, and screams again, and then runs off down the way he originally came as fast as his feet could carry the fat bastard. I laugh my ass off at the situation, put the backpack into the car, check that the keys are in my pocket, then lock the doors before returning to the tire change.

While changing the tire, I consciously check if fatty returns. And while I’m getting close to finishing, a guy in a pick up truck pulls off into the shoulder in front of me and hand signals to me if I need help. I give him the thumbs up that I’m ok, and get the same acknowledgement and a wave good bye, and he takes off. So a little balance to good and evil within a span of ten minutes. I’m done swapping out the tires and settle back in and get ready to drive off and the Chilean police arrive and pull up behind me. They ask what problem I have and I infer that I had a flat tire. They checked my license and registration and waved me off. Makes me wonder how much more different things could have been if I had actually assaulted chubs with the umbrella, or vice versa. With enough excitement, I headed back to town and wandered around a mall before returning to the airport and settling in for my flight to Dallas.

Link to the Santiago Chile Gallery.

Straight from Dallas, I head to Laredo Texas, and from there, get my rental and head to the next job site. Apparently the rental company thinks the compact sized car equates to a Chevy Suburban; old adage everything is bigger in Texas crosses my mind. I get done with work and it’s about 6pm local. I find a quick geocache and head to the airport to see if I can get an earlier flight out. A day earlier, I would have to pay some fees so it’s cheaper for me to just spend the night and then try to get out earlier the next day. At the hotel, the damn TVs have their external inputs blocked so no Battle Operation for me. I crash out fairly early as I’ve had a fairly long day with the red eye and working. The following day, I’m able to grab an earlier flight to Dallas. In Dallas, I get on the second fight out and get back to home several hours earlier than I had been scheduled which made for a nice end to the four job site trips.

The weekend saw the March build gathering and not having much motivation for my ν project. Seeing Angel with the Efreet conversion kit, I broke out the Efreet Custom conversion I had. A little time was spent figuring out what kit to use as the base MG frame. I was afraid that I would have to go out and pick up a new Zaku. But further inspection shows that it used the Gouf frame. I had an old hand painted Gouf Custom built well over 15 years ago that I had cannibalized for use in various projects. Finding enough of the frame that the conversion require, I set to sanding and putting the kit together with sticky tack. Drinking with the folks and building the Efreet Custom rounds out this post. Next post will focus on the Efreet Custom build so far. Stay tuned!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.