Friday, August 31, 2018

Go Big or Stay Home

This 5th wheel is currently in the RV park.  We think it's 44 feet long.  It’s made by Space Craft.  They’re a custom manufacturer that sells directly to the consumer.


They’re using this to tow it.


Notice that the tow vehicle has a sleeper cab.


You really have to want to tow something this big.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

More Life in the GPNW and a Tiny Politics

Greetings Earthlings!  How go the things in your part of the world?  Things are better here.  A strong southerly wind yesterday cleaned out the atmosphere and brought us a very pleasant air mass.


We’re in to the fruiting season.  The sidewalks in Issaquah are covered in apples that have dropped to the ground.  The geese love them and are there en masse to eat apples.  Next door to us we have a pear tree that is dropping fruit.  I think racoons are eating them.  There is poop that is not rabbit poop, but looks like it could be an appropriate size for raccoons.


The sun angle is dropping, so the woods are getting more light in than when it was over head.  It’s nice to have the additional light.


This I do not understand.  It hasn’t rained, there have been no wind storms, and yet the trees fall over on to the trail.  Why does this happen?


The bumper sticker on this car made us laugh.


Today we drove into Bellevue to return to the Macy’s Labor Day weekend sale.  When we took off in the RV, we did not keep any bed linens and now we need some.  The mark downs are substantial.  Anyway, there was a loud Boom! and the air was full of dust in front of us.  Look on the right side of the truck, the tire exploded.  Something is wrong with the axle, as well.  Also observe the car in the oncoming lane.  It’s a Maserati.  I think I would rather have a mini van - more cargo space.


A close up of the blown tire.  It really was a spectacular noise and raising of dust.


Isn’t that pretty?  That building always looks so nice against a cloudy sky.


Meanwhile, our president is accusing Lester Holt (NBC) of “faking” his interview.  What the man is now trying to sell is that any coverage of him that is not favorable is fake.  If there are tapes or recordings, they’ve been altered.  This is not good, he’s getting more Orwellian by the day.  Today’s twitter feed is just littered with delusional crap; it started just after four in the morning.

Apparently he’s going to be dispatched to Camp David for the weekend.  I guess the optics of flying to play golf while Senator McCain is buried are too awful, even for him.  WAPO wrote an interesting article about the planning of it all.
By the weekend, when virtually all of official Washington — Democrats and Republicans alike — gathers at the National Cathedral for a nationally televised farewell, Mr. Trump is expected to have retreated to Camp David, where White House aides hope he will contain his anger at the attention being lavished on Mr. McCain.
Is that not tragic?  A sitting president was told to not attend a senator’s funeral. 

Friday, August 24, 2018

Road Trip to Bellingham

Monday we drove up to Bellingham.  The purpose was two-fold.  We're tired of Issaquah, and it's been hot and smoky and suboptimal.  So we thought how about summering in Bellingham instead?  The reviews of the RV parks in Bellingham are not good, so we decided we should go look.  Then we thought, if the RV parks are terrible, how about buying a condo up there?  It's cooler, but it's also closer to the BC fires.  A road trip was in order.  One could stay in an RV park while looking at real estate.

About the RV parks.  There is a KOA in Lynden.  It's incredibly expensive, like $1,000 a month for water and electric.  There are many trees. There are many children and there are many campfires.  It's a great place for a family to go to get away from it all for awhile, but it would drive me crazy.  The drive from Bellingham to Lynden is painful, narrow roads and low speeds.  Lynden is a small town, it reminds me of the 1950's. The KOA was a definite non-starter.

However, the school children were very cute.  This is how they keep them together crossing the street.

Then we went out to look at the Cedars RV Park in Ferndale.  There were fewer trees and it didn't look too bad.   Access to Interstate 5 is good.  It would be a contender if someone wanted to stay in the area.  This is historic downtown Ferndale.  They have a really good Thai restaurant.

The final viewing was the Bellingham RV Park.  It's really unattractive, out by the airport.  However, if one wanted to stay close to Bellingham while looking at real estate, this would be the most convenient.

For this trip we stayed at an AirBNB.  It was very nice, and it was a good spot to be.  This is the landmark for when it's time to turn off the alley to access the parking.

Jim reacquainted himself with match light charcoal.  The AirBNB had an oven large enough to roast an ox in.  The stocking of the kitchen was just amazing.  Pots!  Pans!  Two methods to make coffee!

This is the flavor of historic Fairhaven, which is south of Bellingham by about two miles.  It's a totally cute and foo-foo area.  It's become fairly expensive.  Many condos are going up.

This is a major downside to the Bellingham area, and everything north near the water.  Trains.  The engineers are not afraid to use the horns, either.  This is the Amtrak station down by the Alaska Ferry terminal.  BNSF runs a lot of freight on these tracks as well - all night.

Check this out, look closely at the rear wheels of the trailer.  He took the tires off so they wouldn't interfere with the truck's tires.  I'm not sure what problem was solved here, but it's a novel approach to RVing.

Update to post:  Suzanne sent me this photo she took at Gilbert Ray last April.  You can see it better here.

We did a fair amount of walking in Bellingham.  The air was vile, as you can see.

Attractive orange glow on the water.

The land slopes steeply up from the water.  There are many houses perched on the side of the hill.  These people are having their front yard regraded and terraced.  At the bottom of the picture out of frame is a new five foot retaining wall.  They have a stop work order, the project was not permitted.  So that's bad.  We're also wondering how they get the Bobcat out of the yard once it's done digging.  Do they crane it out or what?

This was taken in historic downtown Bellingham.  It reminds me a lot of Pioneer Square.  Western Washington University is there (across the street from the AirBnB) and the population of potential shoppers greatly increases during the school year.

Georgia Pacific used to have a pulp and paper mill along the water front.  Happy are we that they are gone, the stench is unbearable.  They are no longer there, and the land is now under cleanup and development for parks and open space.  This is part of the old plant.   You can read more about the project here if you're interested.

 This held acid that was used in the production of tissue paper.  It's a very cool structure.

Here we have Whatcom Falls - which is a lovely urban oasis of trees and water.

Tuesday we toured every single available condo in our price range in the Bellingham area.  We liked one that had a view of the water, but it faced west and did not have air conditioning. There were a couple of potential 55+ neighborhoods in the burbs that did have a/c and were in good shape.  However, we have decided that Bellingham is not for us.  It's fairly small.  There are no uphill hikes in the area, most walking would be urban.  They do have a rails to trails conversion, but it's just not that many miles.  So, the search for summer accommodations continues.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Bad Air

The air quality in Seattle is just abysmal.  I read an article this morning that said it’s worse in Seattle than it was in Beijing before China cut down on the use of coal.  Oddly enough, our president thinks that burning coal is a good idea.  There doesn’t seem to be any end to this, the extended fire season becoming the new normal.

seattle bad air 2
seatle bad air

And there was this.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Doing Time in Bellevue

It's been a Bellevue kind of week.  Wednesday we took the truck in to Bellevue Chevrolet for an oil change and to check the battery.  Good thing, the battery was on its lips.  I hate it when a vehicle won't start, it just makes me crazy.

While we were waiting to get the truck back we walked through Bellevue and looked at stuff.  These are sunflowers in front of Trader Joe's.  A huge building was built to house a Home Goods, REI and a Trader Joe's.  It's the worst looking Home Goods I have ever seen.  The one in Tucson is neat and orderly, like items are grouped together and prices are clearly marked.  The Bellevue store looks like bored teenagers with a "what ever" attitude just piled stuff randomly on the shelves.  It was so visually distracting we had to leave.  The REI, on the other hand, is a thing of beauty.  They gave up their space in Redmond to move there.  It's a big store with a huge shoe department.  We tried on shoes, but my feet would not approve anything.

This is a bridge across the freeway.  That wood structure is for the light rail that is being built.  It will go into a tunnel and emerge somewhere near the Bellevue Transit Center.  I'm not sure we're going to live long enough to see it finished.  Look at the color of the sky - there was a lot of smoke from the fires.

Bellevue is landscaped within an inch of its life.  There are planters with mass plantings everywhere.  We stopped for food and then hung out for a little bit in a trendy looking office building's first floor.  They had some decent furniture, unlike the place where we had a nosh.  Bad furniture, loud music; I guess they are discouraging people from setting up their offices there.

A fire alarm guy was testing the fire alarms in an abandoned church.  He neglected to inform the fire department of said activity.  They came rolling up with lights and sirens.  We watched him come running out, waving his arms.  After a brief chat, they put their stuff away and left.

More construction.  I feel bad for the people in the low rise that will be having their sunlight cut off by the new tall building that's going up.  Bellevue is rapidly developing lightless canyons.

More light rail.  The building with the curved roof is the Cadillac dealer.  They will be having tracks running over their parking lot.

Wednesday was a trip to the dermatologist (also in Bellevue) for Jim.  The dermo dude did not spare the liquid nitrogen.  Jim looks, as always, like he was attacked by a cheese grater.

My feet have been worse as of late.  Yesterday Jim had to come get me on the three mile loop.  I was limping with both feet, it was just sad.  I have a new pair of really ugly shoes, that have decreased the pain in my toes, but seem to have shifted pain elsewhere.  I was afraid to set out on a long walk today with Jim, because then there would not have been anyone to pick me up.  So we went back to Bellevue for urban walking.  Worse case, I could sit down with a coffee and he could go get the truck.  It was better today than yesterday.  It's always something with the feet.

Even more light rail.  This is running along Bellevue way.  Someday it will connect to Isaaquah, but not for 23 years.  That's not a typo - twenty three years!

So that's been this week.  Feet and liquid nitrogen.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Tourists in Seattle

Yesterday Jim and Gayle took the ferry from Bainbridge Island to spend the day with us.  It's been awhile since we saw them in the flesh, and it was really good to see them.  We walked around and looked at stuff.  This is an old building in Pioneer Square.  If I were a better tour guide would remember the name of the building, but I'm not!
It's the old part of Seattle, first founded in 1852; full of Romanesque Revival architecture. 

This is the historic pergola.  It's been knocked down twice by lost truck drivers failing to make the corner.  They always put it back up, which is good.

The fuschias look good.  I'm surprised they'll tolerate this much direct sun, but clearly they are happy where they are.

The absolute cuteness of Pioneer Square is currently being marred by an enormous road project.  They are replacing water mains and all of the streets are ripped up.  I feel bad for the merchants.  The area has been recovering from a bad economy and a fair amount of street crime.  Now, it's really difficult to drive through.

Then it was down the waterfront towards the sculpture garden.  This is a BNSF double track main.  It has its own tunnel under Seattle further south from here.  Look in the back and you can see the "It's in the PI" sign.  That was one of our two local newspapers.  They discontinued the paper edition and went completely digital.  Print journalism is a tough environment.

My favorite sculpture, Calder's Eagle.  Many of the pieces just do not speak to me.

After leaving the art, we hoofed it through Belltown and noticed this. A tiki bar!

It's the oldest Tiki bar in Belltown.  Belltown is not very big.  It's a small subset of the city with a lot of bars and restaurants.

After the Pike Place Market, which I have photographed many times, we kept walking.  This is a Bartels drugstore.  They will fill your growlers.  How often do you see that in a drugstore?  You can also get them filled at the ferry dock, which was really surprising.  The ferry dock doesn't sell food anymore, but you can get your growler on.

Still walking.  This is the Seattle library.  It's such an odd building.

It was a fun day and we really enjoyed the company.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Life and Death and Fire

For some reason, the spiders insist on building their webs on the vehicles.  This is on the pickup truck.  If you look carefully, you can see how he’s wrapped up his victim.  We left him alone most of the day, hoping he’d finish up his meal before we had to pull the web down and go to Costco.  The Issaquah Costco now has self check out.  I never thought I would see that.  Very few people are using them, so it really speeded up departure.


It took awhile, but we’re getting smoke from forest fires.  We had been considering a trip to the Olympic Peninsula, but it’s now on fire.  So, trip postponed.  The forest service was ordering people out of the Hamma Hamma valley, it’s bad and getting worse.


KOMO TV put up a gallery of fire photos.  Currently there are 97 active fires in the US.




Other than this paltry offering – I got nothing!