Sunday, July 20, 2014

Party on Whidbey Island

Saturday we took the ferry over to Whidbey Island.  Friends of ours had a party.  On the way across, the ferry had a person overboard drill.  The ferry stopped and the rigid inflatable was launched.  Then one of the passengers tossed a life ring in to the water for the imaginary person who needed to be rescued.  They got the whole exercise done very quickly.  This is good to know because that water is very cold.

Photo credit:  Dave Carlson

When we got to Clinton, they hauled the inflatable and the crew back up onto the ferry.

Jeff and Barb live on 20 acres on Whidbey.

They have built a beautiful home there.  Jeff did much of the work himself.  It's a steel framed house.  Cooling is provided by geothermal tubing that goes out under their soccer field.  The floors are really cool, they're stained concrete.

On a clear day you could see the water and distant mountains.  However, this is the GPNW.

It was a great party, and we enjoyed ourselves very much.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Walking in Seattle

A front pushed in overnight, bringing clouds, much cooler air and some wind.  We decided to do our annual walk through Seattle to see what we would see.  Traffic-geddon starts Friday evening so today was a good day for it.

This is a Starbucks at Pike Place Market.

This is the line to get into that Starbucks.  This is Seattle.  There is coffee everywhere.  Why would you stand in line for an over roasted, over priced coffee?  People are so interesting.

Also down by Pike Place Market is Taxi Dogs.  They are really good.  We were weak, we didn't even split a dog, we both ate the whole thing and loved it.   Tonight we're back on the healthy eating.

There is something for everyone in Seattle.

We walked up to the Seattle Art Museum Sculpture Park.  I think this fountain is new, or at least I haven't seen it before.

The statue of Echo arrived last year.  Echo is from Greek mythology.  Wikipedia tells us:  Sometimes the old and beautiful nymph Echo would distract and amuse Zeus' wife, Hera, with long and entertaining stories while Zeus took advantage of the moment to ravish the other mountain nymphs. When Hera discovered the trickery, she was so annoyed she punished the talkative Echo by taking away her voice, except in foolish repetition of another's shouted words. Thus, all Echo could do was repeat the voice of another.

I like this Calder, it looks predatory.

The name of this installation is Adjacent, Against, Upon.  Look behind it at the pedestrian bridge.  This is new.  It's really cool, it gets people over the railroad tracks.

Here we have more 737 fuselages bound for the Renton plant as seen from the bridge.

A bulk transport ship is tied up receiving grain.  The tall white building is a grain elevator. There has been talk among the arts community about projecting images onto the building to make it more attractive.  What has not been mentioned is who would pay.  I personally like seeing a working waterfront, but some people who are moving into the city don't like to see evidence of Seattle's shipping industry.

This is happening everywhere downtown.  Jim and I kept asking each other "was that here before?"  Generally the answer was no.

Do you ever wonder what window washers think about all day?

It was a good walk. I like to think we walked off that hotdog.


Have I mentioned that traffic in this area is frequently terrible?  Pretty sure I have. It's about to get worse for a week, starting Friday the 18th.
There are two floating bridges that cross Lake Washington.  Seattle is on the west side and the Bellevue/Issaquah/Renton smallish megalopolis is on the east side.  Most people don't live where they work; we've noticed in recent years that traffic on I90 is terrible in both directions.  It used to have the pattern of bad west bound in the morning and then bad east bound in the evening.  Now there is no good time to go anywhere.  520, which is the northern bridge is now a toll bridge; tolling will pay for its replacement.  After the contractors sank the first I90 bridge inadvertently, 520 became the most senior bridge. It has limited carrying capacity with only four lanes, none of which are HOV lanes.
See the section of I90 between Mercer Island and Bellevue?  WSDOT is closing 3 out 4 lanes on that section of bridge for a week.  DOT is projecting 10 mile backups on I90.  This will clog up 405 in both directions as people drive around the lake, or as people head north up to 520.

Jim and I plan to spend that week either heading for the far eastern reaches of the area, walking, or riding our bikes. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Doctors and a Trip to the Cemetery

We were up and out early for physicals with blood work this morning.  Afterwards we were starving having had no food or coffee, so we went over to the re-invented part of Renton called The Landing.  Renton is one of the two major manufacturing sites in Washington for Boeing.  Over the last few years, Boeing has shrunk their foot print in Renton drastically.  Developers swooped in on all of that vacated land and built an enormous retail and residential complex. 

The plant continues to build 737s at a blistering pace across the street.  They have two moving lines in order to support the production rate.  That green thing is a fuselage just in from Wichita.  They come in via a train.

Another one of the hangars on the plant.

Since we were south, and the day was sort of shot we decided to go on out to Mt. Tahoma National Cemetery.  My Dad and both of Jim's parents are out there.  Tahoma was the name given to Mt. Rainier by the First People.  The northern europeans renamed it.
This is where Jim's parents are.

The view from the cemetery.  It's pretty stunning when the mountain is out.

It was a low key sort of day, but we have two items taken off the list of things which need to be done.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Porch Fire in the RV Park

We went out to run a few errands this afternoon.  We weren't gone for more than 90 minutes.  When we returned we saw two fire engines and a flat bed tow truck in the street in front of the RV park.

Being the gawkers that we are, we of course had to walk over to see what happened.  There were four fire trucks and a battalion chief.  They were ready for anything, I like to see that kind of a response.  Any fire around this much propane and flammable interiors can become very bad very fast.

Somehow, the porch was set on fire.

He'll probably have to have the door replaced and that side of the RV re-skinned.  The awning is toast.

So that's what's happening in our neck of the woods.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Farmer's Market, Housing and Track Racing

The Seattle heat wave continues unabated.  It's difficult for the inhabitants because very few people have air conditioning, because it's "never hot here."  Hah!  Our last summer here as residents in 2007 it was 103 several days. 
Saturday morning we walked over to the Farmer's Market.  It's a good market, there is more produce than there are crafts.  There are also food stalls which smelled wonderful, but we did not partake.

Look at the beets.  This is the only place we buy them because they are so expensive in grocery store.  Here they are $2 for a bunch of four.  Jim likes them, I have not yet acquired a taste for them.  I associate them with school lunches when they were sliced with something that left ridges.

From the Carnation Valley.

It was good. We remembered to take a shopping bag which was very helpful.  By the time we got back, it was really hot and humid; all clothing from that trip went into the laundry basket.

This is one of the dogs in the site next to us.  They have two boxers, both of whom spend a lot of time on the dashboard.  The other one is very mellow, this one is a barker and he paws frantically at the windows.  I wonder if he bites.

This is part of why traffic continues to get worse.  This is the Grand Ridge development which is east of Issaquah where we are.  I think there are 5,000 new homes up there.  They started building in 2006 or so.  While they have put in all of these homes, there are no new roads to support them. 

It's a Traditional Neighborhood Development which is new housing on previously undeveloped land.  They deliberately mix single family with multi-family housing in close proximity. 

We looked at a 2900 square foot home with four bedrooms for $725,000.  It was a nice house, but it has no yard and no privacy.  Your bedroom looks directly into the neighbors'.  It's actually more crowded feeling than an RV park.

These houses are in the at least $1.5M range.

And then there is this.  This is single family.  It is the most ostentatious and unattractive house I've seen in awhile.

We were up and out early today to ride.  We did the loop around Lake Sammamish again.  We stopped for a nosh at Marymoor park.  They were racing!  These are Washington State Track Championships.

These are masters racers.  They click in to their pedals with someone holding them up.  The first lap is slow while they engage in strategy with each other on the track.

Here they are on the back field riding fairly high on the track.  After the first lap they jockey for position some more, and then someone will jump and start the sprint.  These are the fast twitch muscle people.

I am riding well this summer.  The vacation in Europe on the very heavy hybrid bikes was a training camp for me.  Two weeks of pushing those things up and down the hills made me stronger.  My climbing is much better now, and I'm not suffering the way I did for almost all of 2013.  Life is much better with some muscle and cardio.  Riding is now fun again.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Road Trip to Oregon and a Walk in Bellevue

Remember, in my last post, I made the comment it's always something?  It is always something.  While we were in Europe one of the maintenance items we had done was the replacement of the black and grey holding tank gate valves.  A few days after arriving in Issaquah we noticed an odor.  Those of you that RV already know where this is going.  There was leakage underneath the black gate valve.  Mercifully, it was not a lot, but any is not good.  So Monday afternoon we launched back to Harrisburg.  It was late in the day, we didn't get there until 8:30, but it gave the shop all day Tuesday to work on us.

It turned out to be a really good decision.  We needed a grease fitting, called a zerk, for the steering column.  It was totally and completely dry and needed grease.  Anyway, we ended up going to a fasteners place, a rubber place, a bearing place and motion and flow control place to find a zerk that would fit into our non-standard opening.  Erik filled the column with grease, and the steering is now noticeably improved.  The gate valve issue was a pinched gasket.  It's fixed.  We also learned why our dash air conditioner starts out blowing through the floor vents and then switches to the dash vents.  There's a vacuum generator that's failing - it's original equipment, it's tired.  We'll have to deal with this at some point.  We also had a new starter solenoid installed (also original equipment) so I'm pretty happy about that.   We headed back to Issaquah Thursday morning, traffic was not horrendous through Portland.  Yay!

We stayed at River Life RV Resort (formerly known as River Bend).  You just have to love these people.  The resort has been bought by a church, they plan to expand the main building to they can have more space for church stuff.  They're digging up the pavement in front of the office.  There are construction fences blocking off the turn that RVs need to make to get in to the pull throughs.  We had to back into our site.  Do you think they're offering a discount? No. Do they mention this state of affairs when you call for a reservation?  No.  Do they always act like they're really full on the phone?  Yes.  Are they full?  No.

The oil life on the truck was down to 4%, so we took it in to Bellevue Chevrolet today.  They are a good dealership.  They're nice and they get it done when they say they will.  We set out on foot to pass the time.  This is Bellevue.  It used to be an also ran to Seattle, but no more.  One of the cool things about Bellevue is their tall buildings are not boring.  They do need to work on increasing pedestrian safety.  We waited for a walk sign, and when the light went green, the car to our left jack rabbited into the cross walk.  We knew she would do it, and thus were ready to yell at her and scare her and her passenger.  They jumped; it was gratifying.  Walking around here is dangerous, there seems to be a complete lack of awareness that people do walk and it's bad to run over them.

This is as seen from the overpass over 405. 

The Bravern, very high dollar shopping.

Check this out.  See the touch screen top left in the picture?  That's for the $4,000 coffee maker.  The thing on the right is a coffee cup warmer, so your cup is always at the perfect temperature to receive the nectar from the brewing system.


Look how the buildings, especially the one on the left, sort of blend on the sky. They're very interesting to look at.

So we are now back and settled in to summer in Issaquah.  It's supposed to hit 92 this weekend, which is really atypical for this area.  Saturday morning 10,000 or so bicyclists will head out from Seattle and ride to Portland, OR.  They are going to have a hot ride.