Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Bike and Hike

Yesterday we rode out in Carnation Valley.  It was a lovely day.  We're riding fairly slowly, we're both really out of shape.  However, it does have some advantages over riding with your head down.  We saw this.  It's a beaver lodge.  On the branch over the lodge is a heron. The camera couldn't really pick him out from so far away, but he's there, preening.  This is not stuff we'd notice on a training ride.  I am looking forward to the day when my butt will allow me to stay on the bike longer.  Thus far it has been a fairly painful reintroduction to the bicycle seat.

This afternoon we hiked.   Why is it that steep trail sections never look steep?  This stretch is a bear, but it looks totally unimpressive.

Here we are at a view point, on the Powerline Trail, on the way to Tradition Lake.  See?  We did climb a bit.

This is the completely underwhelming lake.  There's no access to it other than bushwhacking down a steep embankment.  We also learned today that the map at the kiosk in the parking lot bears no relationship to reality.  Trails are not where it says they are.

It was a good hike, the sun finally came out after a lengthy marine push, so it was all good.

We have rabbits that hang out in our side yard. The one on the right is a male.  The one foreground is a female.  He wants to mate really badly.  She is not interested.  He got close the other night, but then she kicked him in the head and went back to eating.

Tomorrow is bike day again.  Then it'll be off to the grocery store because we are once again out of food. 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Checking in on the Seattle Sea Wall

Today we drove in to Seattle to check on the progress of the sea wall replacement.  As you no doubt recall, we were last there in October of 2015.  On the way down to the water front, we walked by the market, where you could not stir the people with a stick.  There's a cruise ship in town.

Prior to descending the stairs down to the water front we observed the construction of a new condo.  I wonder how much the vapor from that stack annoys the neighbors.  We don't know what the building with the stack is, but it has been there forever.

It might be pleasant to own one of the units facing the water.  After the viaduct comes down, the noise level will drop.

The ground freezing equipment has moved north by a good bit.  The road and side walks north of the Seattle aquarium are now closed due to construction.  This is what happened for months to the businesses south of here.  It was difficult for the restaurants and shops, no one could get in or out.

This is the southern end which is completed up to Ivar's House of Clams.  See the glass panels in the sidewalk?  That's to provide light for the salmon returning to spawn.  If they have to swim into a dark area under a pier, it takes their eyes about 30 minutes to adjust.  This slows their rate of progress.  So, the new construction has tried to take the needs of the various sea creatures into account.

This is between Ivar's and the ferry terminal.  They're no longer freezing the ground to hold back water, but the sidewalks are not yet built.

Pretty much the same picture.  Look in the left, you can see the pedestrian bridge leading out of the terminal.  Look beyond the bridge to that odd looking building way out in the distance.  I need to go on fact finding mission to determine what that is.

It reminds me of this building, but it's in the other direction.  Looking at Google Earth, I don't think it's been built yet.  If you have nothing better to do, look at the layouts and prices.  The small one bedroom apartments do not appear to have a closet, but they start in the $300,000s.

Here we have a gigundo cruise ship.

We looped back through the market.  I noticed that this year Piroshky Piroshky has done a better job of crowd control.  It used to be that their line and the line for the original Starbucks would completely block the sidewalk.  As I wonder every year, why would you spend your precious vacation time standing in a huge line for a piroshky?  This is a complete and total mystery to me.

It was a good day.  The weather improved as the day progressed.  We spent about two hours on our feet.  Jim's foot felt good up until about 2 blocks away from the parking garage, so we're considering it to be a success.

Friday, June 24, 2016


It's amazing how many people on Twitter are referencing the REM song, "It's the End of the World as We Know It."  Apparently Scotland is considering another vote on leaving the UK because they wanted to stay in the EU.  Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has called for a border poll on a united Ireland, after the UK has voted to leave the EU. Support for the EU is considerably higher in Northern Ireland than the rest of the UK. Today has just felt weird with this much of an upheaval going on in the world.  Below are pictures liberated from Twitter on the subject.


So, we're living in interesting times.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A New to Us Trail System

We have walked by this trail head many times and have always wondered what was up there.  There are trails through the woods.

It's actually quite pleasant.  There is up, there is down.  We saw exactly two people.

All of the pink lines are hiking trails.  We started in the upper left hand corner of the map.  It would be nice to get a paper trail map since there is exactly zero signage once you leave the parking lot. 

This exceeded expectations.  Unlike so many trails in the area, it's not a green tunnel of over hanging trees and perpetual darkness.  Chiraco is just over run with people these days.  Parking has become very difficult.  So this is a good trail system to have, close to the RV park.

Urban Growth and More Traffic

We're back in Issaquah.  The main topic of discussion here is THE TRAFFIC.  Apparently in the last year it has increased exponentially.  We see it, since we're gone and then we're back.  Below I have excerpted some of the main points of this article on the Seattle PI.
The Downtown Seattle Association's Mid-Year Development Guide found that -- on average -- one construction project has broken ground every week since the beginning of the year.
Sixty-five buildings are under construction right now, according to the report. That's the most buildings at one time since the DSA began tracking it in 2005.
Many have called the rise in housing costs in Seattle a crisis, with average rents pushing beyond $1,700 for one-bedroom units, and the median home price soaring above $589,000, according to Redfin figures.
Downtown has seen a boom in residents, with 30 percent more people living downtown than in 2000, according to the DSA's report. The 3,600 residential units completed last year was record-setting, but may be easily dwarfed if current projects stay on track, the report read.
But the report also found that 14 million square feet of office space is in the pipeline.

As I always point out, none of this development has been matched by an increase in the number of roads for these people to drive on.  As Bertha the boring machine marches on (successfully this time) eventually highway 99 will lose 30 percent of its carrying capacity when converted to a tunnel.   Those displaced drivers will divert to the already grid locked I5.
Jim's son and family are departing the area.  Traffic and housing prices have just gotten to be too much.  We come here to see them, and our fleet of dentists and doctors.  I may work harder to get all of our medical tourism done in one month and then go elsewhere.
Elsewhere..... that is the question.  Traveling in the summer is such a pain in the patooty. An ideal solution would be three stays of one month each, each within a day's drive.  Guess it's time to haul out the atlas.

There has been fun.  The COs had us over for dinner on Friday. It was, without a doubt, the best pork roast ever.  They are also baking their own bread, and they're doing an excellent job with it.  Isn't that a lovely setting?

Sunday we did our 5k walk.  I think 5k sounds better than 3 miles.  As we turned on to the main street in Issaquah we discovered a large car show.  I'll show you two of the many cars.
This is a 1939 Ford.  It's really pretty.  Note the suicide doors.

A Chrysler Imperial, from 1960.  It's a big boat of a vehicle.  One could take up residence in the trunk.

This is the cool thing, the seats swivel.  Look at how nice the interior is.  The work done on this and other cars was just beautiful.

Sunday we had dinner with Jim's son and family.  It's utterly amazing how much children change in a year. Taller, stronger, more verbal. 
Yesterday we went to Bellevue Square, our local upscale shopping venue, looking for a kiosk to buy a case for my phone.  Apparently kiosks are too down market for the mall.  Guess we'll have to try South Center.  My new HTC One is slippery and I am very concerned about dropping it.  Anyway, this is Chick Fil A and it continues to be a traffic hazard.  When we left, cars were sitting out in the street, with people waiting to get in there to eat terrible food.  It must have improved some, because the police are no longer there directing traffic.

Our other big news is that Jim has received his first Social Security check.  He'll be 70 next month.  I'm not sure where all of the time went.  We still have to print out the IRS rules on Required Minimum Distributions from the 401(k).  We'll be reading those out loud to each other, to increase comprehension.  The consequences for not doing that correctly are dire.
Posting may be light while we're here.  We've seen it, walked it, ridden it and blogged it all.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Traffic and Weather

Originally we had planned to leave Astoria on Thursday morning and head for Issaquah.  Instead, we turned south back toward Harrisburg.  This is why.  At some point while in Harrisburg the first time, the Prevent Freeze switch was turned to winterize.  It has a tiny green light, and in bright sunshine it's virtually impossible to see.  The switch opens the valve on the antifreeze reservoir.  On the way to Astoria, we had the water pump on.  The pump spent a fair amount of time sucking air out of the reservoir, and then burned up.  We replaced the water pump and turned off the switch.  It's old, it's tired, it died and the valve remained open.  We needed to have a functioning water pump, so back we went.

We stayed at the Premier RV Resort in Coburg.  This time we were closer to the freeway.  I think I'm rethinking my position on Premier.  The freeway noise is just deafening and it's a fairly expensive RV park.  We may be going back to Life Northwest. It's not a great park, but it's a lot cheaper and more quiet.
Our last night at Premier we had really good afternoon sun on the fish pond.

Which was followed by a really good sunset.

The upshot of returning to Harrisburg was that we drove to Issaquah on Friday.  Note to self, never again.  Traffic on I5 basically stopped south of Olympia.  It was just a gruesome drive.  Here we are in Tacoma.  See the traffic on the left?  That extended for miles.

Our traffic thinned out north of Hwy 18, but the poor south bounders were still in it.  The cars on the overpass merging onto I5 are backed up for miles as well. Traffic is becoming terrible all of the time,

It's forecast to hit 120 degrees in Phoenix, due to another massive high pressure system.  Meanwhile, in the Seattle metro area, we're having wind and thunderstorms and four, count them four, funnel clouds over the area.  This never happens!

In the world of Seattle metro area RV parks, there is now one less place to stay.  The county has purchased the Snoqualmie River RV park.  It's the one out in Fall City.  It wasn't great, but now there is one less place to park in the area.  There are a lot of permanent residents who are going to have to find a new place to live.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Lewis and Clark Golf and RV Park

While we were in Astoria, we stayed at the Lewis and Clark Golf and RV Park.  It's not a large park and it is just delightful.  Many of their sites are pull ins, so that you face the golf course.  We were in site A10, which I think is the only site with a tree obstructing the view.  It was, however, a lovely tree.

Some interior roads are paved, some roads are gravel, sites are gravel.  We had to level a little bit, but nothing extreme.  Power is good.  We did not use the laundry, but learned that there are two washers.  No data on the rest rooms and showers.  Water pressure is on the low side, but it's not really bad.  There are no pesky overhanging trees to block the satellite.  Verizon generally had 2 to 3 bars of 4G.  Park wifi is slow but tolerable.  We used it for watching videos so we didn't burn through a bunch of bandwidth.

This is a lovely park.  Owners and staff are extremely pleasant and take the time to tell you where the local attractions can be found.  We would absolutely come back here again.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Laundry in Astoria

It was wet this morning.  Since it has been so damp, the bath towels won't dry anymore.  So, it was time to do laundry.  The RV park has laundry, but only two washers.  We had at least four loads, so it was off to the laundromat with us.
The is the Astoria Dry Cleaners, with attached laundromat.  It's nice.  There are front loaders, big dryers and staff on site.  It was the most efficient use of time.   So if you're in the area with dirty clothes, this is a good place to go.

After laundry, there was a trip to Fred Meyer.  If you're not from the northwest, it's like a  super Target.  The one in Astoria is the biggest and nicest we have seen to date.  It's definitely destination shopping.  Kidding, just kidding.  Astoria is surprising, they have Costco and the huge Fred Meyer.  If they had Trader Joe's it would be perfect.

Then there was more rain.  And then there was this.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Fort Columbia

The weather today was spectacular.  It was windy, but the sun was out and the skies were blue.  We went to Fort Columbia.  It has been there since 1904.  There are still gun emplacements and bunkers.  The concrete bunkers look really good for their age.

The buildings are in really good shape as well.  This is the commander's house.  Above it and to the left (highest up the hill) was the doctor's house.  The fort was so isolated that they had to have onsite coverage.  Although only two chimneys are visible in the picture, he had three.  It was a very nice hacienda, which would be warm in winter.

When sitting on his front porch, the commander could look out to sea and observe Cape Disappointment and the light house. 

We were there to hike.  If you go up the hill to the right of the commander's house, there is a trail.  While we were looking at the fort, we were lamenting the fact that we had not brought jackets.  The wind was just vicious.  If we'd had them, we would have taken them on the hike, which would have been bad.  Once in the trees, we were sheltered from the wind and it was very pleasant.  We did the left side of the loop first.  It starts out wide, and then becomes very narrow and overgrown.

These flowers are everywhere.  They frequently fall down because their heads are too big.

This was taken along the trail.  See the white line in the water?  That's the dreaded bar, the Graveyard of the Pacific.

More floral beauty.  The insides of each bell have very cool markings.

An impediment along the trail.  Notice the moss and the narrowness of the trail.  At this point it was no longer passable by ATV.


The right hand side of the loop is a wide path.  It's also very steep, but is easy walking.

After hiking we continued in to Ilwaco because we were starving.  As is so often the way, we went and expended a bunch of calories on an uphill slog and then blew it immediately afterwards.  We went to the Portside Cafe.  It's locally owned and operated.

We both had the hand spanked hamburgers on butter brushed and grilled hamburger buns.  We were good and did not get the cheese.  Jim got the potato salad which was very good.  I got the fries which were average.  If you go, ask for extra napkins, you will need them.

We went back into Cape Disappointment State Park and drove up to the north jetty.  It's pretty out there.

See the big rocks?  That's what makes up the jetty.  Big giant rocks.  In the background you can see the light house.  

The north and south jetties were begun in 1895 and took thirty years to build.  A rail line was constructed to carry basalt rocks that had been barged out to the work area.  The rail cars could dump to either side, and were used to build up the jetties.  It took years for the jetties to stabilize the area and narrow the channel.  After the jetties were complete, the river was essentially narrowed. This increased flow rate and resulted in sand being washed out of the river.  It collected on the north side of the north jetty.  Over 1,000 acres of new land formed over the following 30 years.

There is an article in the Astorian about this.  I have screen scraped the best two pictures of the jetty construction. 

It's amazing to me how unafraid people of that era were in regards to altering their environments.  If they weren't building jetties, they were hosing the hills of Seattle into Elliot Bay.  No Environmental Impact Statements needed here.