Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Weather!

We awoke this morning to rain.  Cells came marching through, with rain drumming on the roof, then easing, then dumping again.  The slide toppers were full of water.  Later, it cleared up.  Look at that sky!  There is my beloved washing the black gunk off the roof.

Jim started out just to do the roof.  As I knew it would, it turned into a total washing of the bus.  I, being the perfect spouse, took up the squeegee to dry the bus.  It was still a glorious day.

Not FIVE MINUTES after I finished with the squeegee, the weather rolled in and it's pouring again.

Other than this, it was a slow day.  We had planned to grill hamburgers for dinner, but given how hard it's raining, there may be a menu substitution.
I found this on the web today, I thought it was an amusing play on "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."

 That's it!  This is all I have.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Continuing Saga of the Feet

Our stay in the GPNW is closing in on being complete.  That, of course, means that I STILL do not have a foot solution.  We took a longish walk up the hill to try the new hiking orthotics in the hiking boots.  They are very painful.  The left one had to come out after about 45 minutes. The 2012 version, while not perfect, is much less terrible than 2013.  I always want to tackle the young women I see wearing nose picker heels and show them my surgery scars and explain to them how bad life becomes when your feet turn on you.  I never wore those shoes, by the way, I'm just genetically gifted with rotten feet.
Anyway, on the way back down the big hill we saw two large birds flying over a retention pond.  It's a terrible picture, but the brown and white mass lower right in the photo is a baby bald eagle.

Last Thursday it was back to see Dr. Lewis.   Cortisone for everyone!  Jim is getting injected on the bottom of the foot.  He developed a fibroma that was very prominent and painful to walk on.  It has responded beautifully to being stabbed and is now gone.   I got stabbed in the top of the foot as well.  It's beginning to look as if the neuroma may be between the 2nd and 3rd toes.

Today we drove up to Arlington.  It's about 50 miles from here.  This is the lab where they make the orthotics.  They unglued my left one and gave me a handful of metatarsal pads to place and see if I can improve my foot pain.  I left them there, they are going to take the heat gun to them all and lower the arches a little bit.  They are too high on the fascia insertion points and that hurts both feet.  The woman working the desk there was quite knowledgeable on where things hurt and why.  We're picking them up tomorrow at 3:00 which will put us in some of the worst rush hour traffic on the planet returning home.  This is the lab.

It's a fairly good sized industrial park.  I do not know what this does, but it's big and there are many control wheels.

At one point this factory received and delivered stuff by the rail car load.

So, I will be purchasing another Dremel tool.  The poron pads the lab uses are too thick to be comfortable, so I will be re-opening my podiatric clinic out on the picnic table.  I was hoping not to be owning the shaping and placement of met pads, but it appears that I will doing just that.
This is the current foot status.  I'm keeping a record of this for me, so I do apologize for a less than interesting post.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Ribfest 2013

Last night we attended the social event of the season:  Ribfest!  We missed it last year because we were in Italy.  The COs make mass quantities of ribs with Dave's special rub as well as an assortment of sides.  This year's stand out menu item was the green beans. Really good.  Since it's a cowboy themed event, guests are encouraged to dress with a western motif.  Best outfit winners win valuable prizes, this year stick horses were awarded.  In 2011 Kim and Jim won.
Here are two excellent contestants for the best costume award.  The lady on the right would go on to take best female contestant.

The Brenings are on the left, with Jeff the rodeo clown on the right.  I admire people who are willing to go out in public like that.

Here is Dave cutting up the ribs.  It's quite the job, cooking 14 slabs of ribs, deploying them and keeping them hot.

This year was particularly fun.  We saw many friends with whom we used to work, and it was great catching up with them.  It's just amazing how much the children grow when you're not around.

It was a great party.  Thank you Vicki and Dave.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

More Ospreys

Today we rode out to Marymoor and back.  Jim's somewhat congested (is there anything sadder than a sick man?) so it was not a fast ride.  It was a gorgeous day.  This has been the best summer I can remember ever
We were coming back down the East Lake Sammamish trail when we heard more Ospreys hollering.  This is a cell tower.  Look at the size of the nest, they build with sticks and they make huge nests, to which they return year after year.  In the wild, they can live as long as 25 years. They also build on electrical towers, when can result in electrocution.  Cell towers and channel buoys are their safest building sites. 

Other than this, I have nothing of interest to offer.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The John Wayne Trail

Today was aggravating - beyond aggravating, actually.  The original plan had been to drive out to Hyak (a ski area), and then ride the John Wayne trail out through the Snoqualmie Tunnel.  The tunnel is two miles long and we thought it would provide some good data on whether we had enough lights for the tunnels we'll be riding in Idaho.  As Jim was about to put the $10 parking fee in the machine, a utilities worker pulled up and told him the tunnel was closed due to dump truck traffic. Well, poop.  We then decided to drive out to Easton because there's a tunnel there, as well.  It should have been a relatively quick drive, but nooooooooooooo.
First, I must digress.  Remember Dennis from Ireland?  He was riding to Boston, and in Washington, much of a cross state bike tour must be done on I90.  There are not a lot of side roads.  What we did not know when we sent him on his way, was how much construction there was out by Lake Keechelus.  Bikes are being detoured off the freeway.  We think they're being detoured on to the John Wayne trail.  See the old railroad grade across the lake?  I hope he didn't have to ride on gravel all the way to Easton.

Construction sheds along the highway.

A giant pile of rock.  Crews are blasting away the hill side.

Anyway, it took us an hour to go about 15 miles from Hyak to Easton.  This is what was impeding our progress.  Traffic went down to one lane and it just took forever.

So after all the suffering in the truck in traffic, this is the pitiful tunnel we rode through.  I have a helmet mounted light, which is good.  It lights where I'm looking, hopefully it will be bright enough for the long tunnels. We did not obtain much data from this short structure.
After a short ride on the trail, we drove out to Cle Elum. Jim wanted to look at a bed and breakfast.  The main building was constructed out of the old bunk house for the defunct Milwaukee Railroad.  They went under in 1980.  The Milwaukee was a huge payroll for Cle Elum.

Out back there are four cabooses in which one could also sleep.

This is the old Cle Elum station.  It's now a barbeque place and it smelled absolutely wonderful.

This is on the way back down the hill into Issaquah.  In the right lane is a snow shed.  That will eventually be demolished as part of the I90 construction.  Jim and I remarked that we may not live long enough to see this completed.

More scenery.

So that was today, mass time in the truck and not that much time on the bike.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Rain and Then Not Rain

Thursday was just gruesome!  It rained all day. Jim had gone north to visit a friend of his from high school.  I stayed behind to run errands.  One errand was to nip out to the outlet mall for a couple of items.  North Bend is higher than we are and their weather tends to be worse.  It was worse all the way out there.

This was taken in the Issaquah QFC parking lot about 4 in the afternoon.  That's Squak Mountain, you just can't see it because the clouds are stuck on the trees.  This is why we don't live here anymore.  This is pretty much what you see day in and day out nine months of the year.

Friday, however, was a complete turn around from the previous day.  We rode the bikes out to Marymoor Park.  These are Ospreys sitting on a light standard.  They were fairly vocal.  We're wondering if they're recently fledged but still wanting to be fed, or if they were just hanging out.
It was a good ride except for the flat Jim got from glass on the road.  Would it ever occur to you to throw a glass bottle into a bike lane, or anywhere else for that matter?  I do not know what is wrong with people.

This morning we walked over to the farmer's market in Issaquah.  It's the first time we have been since 2011, and it has really grown.  The local population has embraced local produce.
They have the heirloom varieties.

Beets, there are a lot of beets.

This is later on in the day.  Blue skies, white puffy clouds.

Tomorrow begins the 14 day countdown until we leave.  I am ready.  The traffic and the crowding are starting to wear on me a little.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Back to Fremont

This morning we discovered a screw sticking through the sole of Jim's hiking boot.  When they were resoled, someone used too long of a screw.  Fortunately, it had not put a hole in his foot, but we decided it would probably be better to have it taken out.  This required returning to Fremont to see Dave Page the Cobbler.  It's not that far, but the route runs through the Mercer Mess, an area of traffic nightmares hitherto unknown to modern man, recently made worse by attempts to fix it, resulting in closed streets, coned off lanes and general mayhem.  It's a trying drive.  After Mr. Page replaced the offending screw, we walked around Fremont for a bit.  It's a determinedly quirky part of Seattle.
This is the bridge, after being raised to let the red sailboat through.

A store selling steel commuter bicycles.  That's an ancient Schwin out in front.

I have no idea.  After looking at their website, I think it might have something to do with juicing pot so you can cook with it.

We've spent hours trying to plot a course from Rapid City, SD to the south and west.  It's so interesting to look at a park receiving a 7/8/7 (out of 10) rating from Trailer Life, and then reading reviews on and the opening line is "This is a really scary park."  Looking at reviews along I80 across the bottom of Wyoming, it appears that tough economic times are forcing many people to take up residence in parks, and that maintenance is being deferred.  So, now we're thinking we'll go straight down the eastern side of Colorado towards Pueblo instead.  Trip planning is so tedious.  To all of you who take the time to review RV parks, thank you.
The feet situation continues to deteriorate.  Round two of the orthotics arrived from the lab.  They're different, they're perhaps marginally better, but urban walking for more than a mile or so is still off the table.  Things have been stable for 3 or 4 years, I do not understand why my left foot has up and decided to plague me this way.  It's very mysterious and very depressing.
Other than this, maties, I have zippity doo-dah all to report.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Two Days on the Issaquah Preston Trail

We have had an action packed two days - filled with me overestimating my capacity to hike and bike.  Yesterday we decided we would walk.  We headed up the Issaquah-Preston trail.  We ended up walking 6 miles which was more than my soft little feet were happy about.  We need to start toughening those babies up before going north in September.
A creek along the trail.

More of the trail.

We saw these two this morning when we returned on our mountain bikes.

We lived here for decades.  In all of that time we were unaware of the Issaquah-Preston trail, and the Preston-Snoqualmie trail.  The I-P trail is dirt and pavement, it goes in to Preston at I90 exit 22, where it hooks up with the P-S trail.  The P-S trail is paved with the exception of the switchbacks.   Both trails are rails to trails conversions.
There used to be a trestle over what is now the Preston-Fall City road.  The trestle is long gone, and this is what was put in place to get bikes up the hill.  Switchbacks!  The turns get tighter the farther up the hill you go.  We've driven by this hundreds of times, going out to Fall City to ride, and I have always wondered why it was there, now I know.

The Preston Snoqualmie trail heads off into the hinterlands on the old rail right of way.  Much of it is in the trees.  We did see this rather imposing gate right off the trail.  What, we wondered was behind that facade?

This!  It's a giant house with a giant courtyard plunked out there in the middle of the trees.  We always wonder about people's real estate choices.  It would drive me crazy to be surrounded by that many trees.  However, each to their own.

Finally, this is the scenic viewpoint of Snoqualmie Falls where the trail dead ends.  Can you see the falls?  We couldn't either.

It was a good ride.  If you're in the Issaquah area, it's a really fun trail.  I think it would best be done on a hybrid with slightly wide tires.  There's too much dirt for a road bike, but from the RV park it's 24 miles round trip, which is a little bit much for paved trail riding on a mountain bike.   If you drive out to exit 22, and pick up the trail there, it's all paved.  Or you can start at the end of the dirt section, I'm just not sure where you would park.
Are you watching the Louis Vuitton cup?  If you get NBCSports it's worth watching.  The boats are just scary fast.  NBC collaborated with Stan Honey and they have done a terrific job with the graphics, showing where the boats are relative to the course boundaries, what the current is doing and who is in dirty air.  It's pretty cool.  Click on this link and check it out.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Inexorable March of Time

I can not believe it's August 10.  Like the sands in the hour glass, so go the days of our lives;  too quickly!  We know we're leaving at the end of the month and going to Idaho for four days, we know we must be in South Dakota for driver's licenses prior to the end of September, but the rest is really not known.  I'm experiencing an extreme case of ennui when it comes to plotting a route, reading multiple reviews of RV parks, figuring out mileage, determining how much up down there is, which determines how far we can really go in one day and all of that.  Yes, I know, first world problems.
We continue to have summer.  It did rain last night, and may continue doing so, but all in all it's not been a typical gloomy GPNW season.  Here are a couple of flower shots for you.

I've been experiencing some pain in my left ear (the one with the perforated ear drum) so I went to an ENT to see what it was doing.  It's not doing anything, which is good.  It's puzzling.  The original surgeon refers to the hole as tiny, and tells me it was not there when I left the operating room and that it's not worth fixing.  A surgeon I saw in 2010 when I was thinking about trying a second surgery put in his notes that it's 20% of my ear drum.  Yesterday's ENT estimated it at 30 to 40% of the ear drum's surface.  One wonders if all of these guys are bad at math.  Given his perception of the size of the hole, he was fairly strong in his opinion that it needs to be closed.  This is what I hate about medicine.  I have insufficient and conflicting data and yet I am supposed to decide.  He then suggested I could have a hearing aid post drilled into my skull behind my ear to improve my hearing if I don't have the hole fixed.  That's one of the creepiest things I have heard of.  I've decided to do nothing.  People on my left will just have to talk louder.

Kim and Jim left the park today.  They are heading east and then south.  This is the downside to the RV, everybody leaves.  Eventually they come back, which is good.  We will miss them.

So this is my accounting of our days in the GPNW.  Twenty more days and there will be something new to see and photograph.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Return of Summer

Greetings Earthlings!  Summer has returned to the GPNW with a vengeance.  Bike rides are perfumed with a heady mix of fermenting blackberries, smooshed cherries and rotting apples.  It's a veritable cornucopia of fruit on the roads these days.
This is out in Carnation Valley.  The sunflowers are IN!

The always beautiful Sikes Lake.

The lake is full of minnows.  There is also a 14 inch (or so) bass down there, tending to his babies.  Unfortunately, the camera could not pick him up.

We rode Sunday and Monday.  I'm riding faster, but my stamina is still not back.  It's probably going to take awhile to return.
This is a bridge over I90.  Peaceful protest was in place against Mr. Reichert.  He used to be a sheriff in King County, WA.  Now he is a congressman.  He's fairly far to the right in his politics.

Today and tomorrow have contained doctor visits.  Today was botox in the shoulders and neck, tomorrow will be cortisone in the foot.  I am really not looking forward to the cortisone.  Something bad is happening in my left foot. It's probably a Morton's Neuroma.  Based on past experience with the right foot, there is zero chance that I'll be having surgery to fix it.
That's it!  That's all I have to report.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Past Week in Review - It's Always Something

It has been since last Sunday since I posted.  Have you missed me?  It's been a week.  As I previously mentioned, we took the RV out to Cascade Diesel in North Bend to get the dash air fixed.  They needed to obtain a crimping tool, so we would have to go back the following Wednesday.  Returning to the RV park, things were fine.  THEN, while backing into our site things took a turn.  Normally the engine and transmission temperatures never exceed 190.  We were seeing 230 on both on the Aladdin system.  Worse, the check engine and check transmission lights were on.  Bad, very bad. We parked, turned it off, looked at each other and said as one, WTH?!?
So we fretted and stewed about this pretty much all week.  It's the not knowing.  Is it bad telemetry?  Was it really that hot?  Why are the idiot lights on?  What will happen the next time we drive it?  We ended up doing the worst case scenario exercise that Dr. Phil made Oprah do when the Texas Cattlemen were suing her for slander. 

What is the worst thing that could happen? 
  • It could catch fire and burn to the ground.  Couldn't do much about that, so we made sure the bike shoes were in the truck before leaving again and that we both had our wedding rings on.  In retrospect, passports and spare glasses might have been good.
What's the second worst thing? 
  • We have to be towed.  Based on two websites we found (here and here), and talking to Monaco, this is what we learned about our bus.  Your bus may be different.  The drive shaft must be removed to prevent transmission damage.  Before removing the drive shaft, you must mark the drive shaft and the universal joint into which it inserts with a paint pen to ensure the drive shaft is reinstalled in the correct orientation, because they are balanced.  So, one should have a paint pen on board.  Michael's sells them.
In the end, nothing happened.  We drove to Cascade, they fixed the dash air and replaced the brake shoes.  There is no more groaning when in reverse.  All temperatures were normal, and no idiot lights came on.  At this point, we don't know what happened last week.

Thursday we got up, and the passenger side outboard rear dual was flat.  It's always something!  We called Les Schwab, a local tire outfit, and they were here within 30 minutes.  The tire was fine.  The tech thought it was either a failed valve stem, or the valve stem extensions that make putting air in the rear duals so nice and easy.  Apparently those extension hoses have a habit of failing, and when they do so, it's often in spectacular fashion.  So we had them taken off.  The inner dual was down to 80 psi, instead of its normal 105 psi.  It could have been the hoses failing, or not.  We considered having new valve extension hoses put back on the tires, but after talking to the Les Schwab store manager who was adamant in his opinion that they're the work of the devil, we're leaving them off.  We bought a big honking air compressor so we can see to our own tire pressure in the future, instead.  

Friday it rained all day.  Gruesome!

And finally, a photo for you all.  This is Tyler enjoying Jim's truck.  He's 14 months old now, and is almost running.

It's Seafair Weekend in Seattle.  After the best July in 124 years, August has started out wet, cool and cloudy.  We're hoping it's temporary and that summer will return.