Friday, November 15, 2013

Bakken Fail....Trucking accidents in North Dakota

The Bakken Oilfields, or the Bakken for short, is that crazy place up in North Dakota you hear about from time to time. The Bakken formation is actually a huge oil deposit the sits under the states of Montana, North Dakota, two Canadian Provinces, and even some of South Dakota. They kept doing ground surveys while I was up there and the amount of oil under all that land just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Before I left I was reading an article that they had found even more oil under the current formation. Eat your heart out Middle East!

I drove a truck while I was up there. I hauled miles of pipe, huge portable buildings and large tanks down those dusty and muddy roads of North Dakota. I learned real fast you have to have some respect for the road conditions up there, and the crappy roads too. One turn of your head and an inch of rift of the steering wheel and you are in the ditch faster than you can blink. You have to respect what you have on the back of your truck too, Those farm roads will loosen up your tie down straps in 500 feet or less.

The Spring thaw is almost a little worse than the winter driving conditions. The farm roads are mostly dirt and that crap when it starts to thaw is the slipperiest and most unpredictable stuff you could ever drive on. You may think you are driving straight down that slippery farm road, but the crown they put on that road will push you to the edge in a heartbeat.

You can't be in a hurry on these road. You can't be impatient on these roads, and you can't be a knucklehead on these roads. You will get tore up or dead just like that. It was a daily occurrence to see a truck like this or worse.
   This stuff is still happening today, and if you toss your truck in a ditch or burn it up it will end up on a happy place on Facebook.

I think it was sometime in the Summer of 2012 I discovered a Facebook page called Bakken Oilfield Fail of the Day. Some of the stuff you see on there are just over the top crazy. Some of it heartbreaking tragedy. The shear comedy of some of the pictures of modified vehicles and cows down in the flame pits on well sites is priceless.

This Page has a huge following. You can't do anything remotely odd or stupid up in the Bakken without the wheels or your truck sticking in the air showing up on that page. I would get texts with links to this page showing some truck that turned and ran over a stop light pole, or turned too early and the back end of his trailer is all twisted in the ditch, and I had passed that very accident on my travels.

I think my favorite is always the side dump trailers that dump on the soft shoulder of the road and the whole truck goes over the side. So much of this is preventable, but it is a fast paced environment and you lose focus on what these roads can do to you.

This web page probably does the Bakken a great service posting all this craziness, hopefully reminding many a driver to be careful up there! I must mention that the comments are probably the best part the site. Although sometimes crude, it is some of the best free comedy on the internet. On the tragedies you do see that most of these rough and tumble people truly have heart that shows in their comments.

While working up there I saw a great many beautiful thing, but the sharp contrast was always the accidents.
There is so much truck traffic up there that at times there were diesel fuel shortages. I talk to one guy at a fuel supply company and between him and one other guy they had pumped something like over 50 million gallons of fuel in a year.

Let me tell you what these roads can do. Eat you alive is the simple way to put it. I can remember driving down muddy roads and trying to steer away from the edge of the road  and just sliding straight towards it. You have to push in the clutch to get the back wheels from pushing you sideways in that slick crap.

I have just pulled my truck onto sites and my front wheels sink in to the ground up to the bumper and have to be pulled out with a loader. I have had mud so bad that I had to actually toss my truck into the ditch to keep it from going on it's side.

The first freeze is a great time of entertainment. Even the locals who have lived there all their lives are not immune from this fun. Family vans and station wagons on there roofs, Welders and Mechanics trucks with their tool scattered all over the middle of the road and their wheels pointing skyward. The roof of some poor Honda protruding out of one of North Dakotas ubiquitous Kettle Lakes. All of this because they don't slow down for the weather after spending a whole summer flying down these roads and forget the dangers of that Ice.

The way they make roads up there is ridiculous. On the dirt roads they heap earth up from the sides of the roads and pile it in the center making this huge slopes to either side of the road. I know they need this for water run off, but why so much?

I'm not sure what the ground has in it but there are so many places on the dirt and paved roads where there is these huge sags in the road. You can tell where they are from all the skid marks from the truckers drop down tag axles hitting the pavement. They can toss any vehicle around a great deal.

The paved roads up there are some of the skinniest pieces of crap you have ever seen. Some of them, the white edge line is painted on the pavement drop off. That pavement drop off can be a good 5" sometimes and can suck a truck off the road frighteningly fast.

God forbid you are driving a truck with walking beam suspension and the back end instead of the front wheels get sucked off the road. I was driving on a road in a fuel truck one time and had the back end get sucked off. It damn near sent us sideways. Thank the Lord there was no on coming traffic, when I got the truck straight again I was in the wrong lane. That type of heavy duty suspension kind of pivots some and in the right condition can really shift the back end of the truck to one side. You see those a lot on cement and dump trucks

Now the real horror story. Thank goodness Bakken fail wasn't around then or I would have been on it's page as a poster boy for FAIL.

I had only been there in North Dakota a little less than 4 months and was about to go home for the Holidays.
It was the day after my birthday. A couple of weeks after that first incident my partner was driving and the back wheels got sucked off the road. it caught the poor guy totally off guard. We were in a fuel truck with a half empty tank and when my partner tried to correct, it made the rear suspension pivot in the opposite direction and amplified the correction and caused an uncontrollable fishtail. It was over on the third swing sideways. The truck swung hard enough to the side that the truck rolled. I cannot tell you what a horrible feeling it is to be in something that large and it is rolling over to your side.

As we started to roll I leaned into the center of the cab and grabbed onto the steering wheel. That probably saved my life because my door flew open. It was sickening to feel the truck going over for a second time. We came to rest in a ditch next to an oil well pad. The truck was on its side and my poor partner was hurt and hanging from his seat belt. I got myself unbuckled and had to lift him with my back and legs enough to get him unbuckled. We exited the truck through the front windshield. I got my partner out and he laid down on the ground, pretty messed up from being smashed into the roof.  I got back up to turn off the key in the truck I didn't want a fire. My eye glasses were missing and I couldn't see real well.

I must have looked like a shock victim after that. I was trying to find my phone so I could call my boss but it wasn't in the truck or in the street where I wondered around squinting looking for it. My cheesy trak phone was still in my pant pocket so I had to call the only company number I had in it and tell them to get a crew out here because we created a mess.

We got taken by ambulance to the local Hospital. My poor partner who was laying on the ground as the ambulance arrived. He was asking me why he was so cold. I had to assure him it was ok because he was laying in some snow. He was out of work for a couple of weeks to heal after that.

I might as well tell you about the funny part of this accident. I get put in a hospital room and they are checking me over. The doctor comes in. He is a foreigner. Nice guy and all but he did something that shocked everybody in the especially me before he left the room. He was asking me if I had any pains and was checking me for broken bones. He looked over the lump on my head.

He is finishing up and says in broken English that I look ok and that should be ok. Next he grabs onto the fold in my pants right where my crotch is and says, "At least you didn't break this". The nurse gasps and looks over one of the paramedics and says, "Oh lord I can't believe he just did that".  I'm from California and have seen a few weird things from people in my life, and here I am in the middle of the bible belt and being shocked by this doctor.  I looked at the nurse and shook my head.

Not long after that my girlfriend calls. I answer and she asks "How I'm doing?" I'm thinking she just got ESP or someone may have called her, but wasn't sure. I questioningly asked her what she knew. She gets a little mad from my weird way of asking.

"I'm asking about your head!" The day before on my birthday I had been hit in the hard hat by an overhead door. I had to inform her I was in the Hospital and that we had just been in a roll over accident in one of the trucks. She is such a good girlfriend. She got very concerned and almost started crying and I assured her I was just sore and that I was alright.

We were lucky that nothing worse than some bashed ribs and bumped heads was all we got. Since that day I have been a very cautious driver. That accident happened in about 5 seconds. You have to be on your guard up there.

Thank goodness no oncoming traffic was involved, and a hearty thanks to the people first on the scene.

Drivers if you are thinking of going to work in North Dakota beware! It can happen to you. Let's be careful out there. Be safe so we can all go home to our families.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Tagus Triangle...The Mystery and some fiction

After I started up in North Dakota, I started driving one of the vans into work for some extra money and some less sleep. As I have said before it was an 80 mile drive from Minot out to the oil fields. We would leave the yard at 5am and not get back until 7 or 8 pm sometimes. I would drive a van full of sleeping oil construction workers.

I can't tell you how hard it is to drive 14 people for 80 miles while they sleep.  I'm a sleep psychic, if there is someone sleeping in the car with me I can read their sleepy mind and want to sleep.  The power of 14 sleepy people is like Kryptonite on

I would have coffee with me and play something annoying on the radio, NPR to piss me off, or Coast to Coast to listen to all the UFO, Bigfoot, Chemtrail people talk about their hobbies. I saw some cool stuff out there on the prairie in the early mornings, a nice Lunar Eclipse one night, and the Aurora Borealis dipped way down south and we got a cool light show.  Kept and eye out for cows and other animals, snowy owls are cool if you can see them. But I never saw a UFO or Bigfoot...grin  Coast to Coast for those of you not familiar with late night radio is one of the most listened to late night radio shows in America. It focuses on mostly the paranormal and conspiracy with a sprinkling of normal stuff. It's topics can drive you nuts, but they can keep you awake while driving, with their madness.

There was a little anomaly that I notice one dark morning. I tend to watch the mile markers so I know where I am on road. Just outside of a town called  Berthold ND there is something out of whack with the mile markers.

But first I need to tell you about Tagus ND.  I think I have mentioned it in an earlier post. In Berthold there is a sign with the distance to the next town ahead.
That is the sign post up ahead we are entering the Tagus Zone.  I looked up Taugus ND on Google and it came up with some fun stuff.  It is mostly a ghost town, just a few residence left at this point. It is a destination on the sign above but there is no sign directing you after 9 miles.  Taugus has a spooky story to tell though.

Urban Legend has it that the old church had been used as a place of satanic worship and that there was a stairway to hell in the basement.  Read some of the comments on this site Ghost of North Dakota.  I guess the local kids liked going out there back in the 80's and there ghost stories ballooned into the urban legends that are today. It is unfortunate that vandals burned the Tagus Lutheran Church down.

I'm interested in ghost towns, I love going and seeing the old homes and buildings, nostalgia junkie I guess. Because we couldn't ever find Tagus, we started calling it the Tagus Triangle when we found this next anomaly.

There is a problem with the mile markers on Highway 2 west of Berthold ND.
 One night I had just passed this mile marker, and a tenth of a mile later my high beams where making the next mile marker glow green.  I though I must really tired for a mile to go that fast. When I saw the next mile marker number I knew I was really friggen tired.
But wait, I really hadn't gone that far in that amount of time.  The Strong Kum and Go coffee was working it's wonders on me. (yes there is a convenience store named Kum and Go, I started calling it the "unfortunately named Kum and Go" after I got there)
That night on the ride home I came over the rail road bridge, you can barely make it out on the left in the photo. I came to marker 117 and made note of  the odometer numbers and only 8 tenths of a mile went by when we hit the 120 marker....what the?

For the next couple of weeks any victim that sat shot gun with me got treated to the mile marker mystery.  It was very funny when a couple of months later I'm riding shotgun and the driver, a new guy, started telling me to watch the mile markers and he was telling me my

Another thing about this area is the ICBM's  There are hundreds of missile silos dotting the land scape of northwest North Dakota.  You are driving along and there is a road sign that says I-8 thru 11 that way, the missile numbers, and next to the road there is a fenced off area with all this surveillance equipment and the no trespassing signs.  Occasionally you will see a Military Humvee with a 50 caliber gun on the roof in front of these areas or on a hill nearby keeping an eye on a site from afar.

When they move one of these missiles they are all business.  Military Police and armed Humvees on the road in front and behind a convoy.  They burst onto the highway without stopping and you better get out of the way.  The local sheriff usually runs blocker for them.

With all that missile/ Air Force activity and the mile marker anomalies and my joke about it being the Tagus Triangle I came up with a tall story for my friend one night. They never change the mile markers to fix them because they are in the right place but the military has a secret base there and they have some sort of break in time and space there and we pass through it and don't even know it.  My friend laughed and said I should blog about that story and "spin my tale" as he put it.

Here is my tall tale.

The Tagus Triangle
We start out at five every morning from a yard in Minot ND, and we head 80 miles west out onto the prairie to go work in the oil fields. My friend and I stopped and got some coffee as we left our house and our snacks for the day. Yesterday had been a warm day, but this morning there was the first hint of chill in the fall air. It wouldn't be long now and the prairie of North Dakota would be covered in snow and ice for the next 6 months. We got in our van, today was my turn to drive, and we headed out of town.

Highway 2, the western part, starts in Michigan and follows the route of the Great Northern Railway all the way to Everett Washington. As you leave Minot you head north up a valley that follows the Souris and Des Lac rivers and then finally pops you out onto the prairie where you travel through rolling land of wheat, soy, flax, and rapeseed better known a Canola, oh and cattle.

This morning was like all the rest for us Minot based oil workers.  Hour and a half drive west work our butts off for 10 to 12 hours then and hour and a half drive east back to home for some quick sleep and repeat that the next day. It was cool this morning so I had to run the heater for the first time in months.  That dusty unused smell hung heavy in the air for a while as we headed west.  The sky was clear and the stars were brilliant. I turned on the radio as everybody usually is knocked out and starte their snores, farts and mumblings. No Country right now, Definite no on NPR that my friend always listens to, AM was what I needed, a talk show to keep my mind from getting highway hypnosis.  Coast to Coast AM was still on, what was the topic for today. They were talking about the Mayan Calendar and this guy was saying the coming Dec 2012 end date didn't mean that the world was ending.  Finally something with some sense on this show.

I drove on listening to the show, the gentleman giving some interesting information on Mayan culture and beliefs. His proper Spanish accent made him sound very credible. We were coming up on the town of Berthold ND, you had to slow down from 70 mph to 50 there, the company had installed these little satellite tracking box in all the vehicles. It tracked you by GPS and if you speed it rats you our by emailing your boss on his smart phone. I usually would slow down late and set the email off going in and out of Berthold to wake the boss up, it was 5am after all and he shouldn't be sitting in bed lounging. I always tell him it is a lag in the cruise control slowing down and speeding up the van. He hates that answer.

There was the sign for Tagus 9 miles ahead. Berthold was one of the companies way points, if the weather or some other condition warranted it we were to stop there and hold until it cleared or head back to Minot and not risk the trip. Blizzards and heavy rain were huge problems here in North Dakota and could strand motorist very easily.

This is where the day took an unexpected turn, literally. Outside of Berthold was a oil tank farm and a set of railroad tracks  that you crossed and after that the speed limit went back to 70 mph, then 4 miles down the road there was an overpass that went over more railroad tracks and it was an almost straight shot to Stanley ND where we sometimes stopped to get some grub for breakfast.

After mile marker 120 the road starts to turn to make the hook to go up over the overpass. This morning there was something different about the turn. The dash on the van flashed ever so slightly and the cruise control had turned itself off. There was also a weird sensation the went over my body. A huge rush of absolute tiredness.

I was guiding the van around this curve that was a little sharper than normal and all of the sudden there was a lot of street lights overhead and I was coming up to a gate and guard shack. There was red lights and blue strobes flashing. I had the foggy view of what looked like the gate to a military installation.  There was a guard standing at the curb next to the shack he had his pistol out and pointing down and one hand out to halt me. He was talking on what looked like a microphone on a headset.

I had this hard urge to stop and I pressed the brake and held it there. We stopped.  The automatic locks popped up and the door was opened and the guard reached in and put the van in park, I tried to move my right arm to help him but I couldn't.

I could hear him talking, I guess on his headset, "the driver is still responsive, we may have to have him wiped".  That voice where have I heard it before, it was very familiar, like the hint of a voice that had grown up from a younger voice. I literally had to force my head to turn to look at the guards face. When I did that he looked very surprised and his eyes went wide with recognition. I knew this kid, well he was a good looking young man now.

"Ryan is that you?" I got the words out and my mind was starting to clear a little. It was just like fighting heavy road fatigue and you had to will yourself to stay awake. I knew Ryan Gamble pretty well, he was a once pudgy but starting to grow Boy Scout in my sons Troop over 5 years ago. He had camped with us in my son and I's tent a couple of times on outings. We helped him on his Eagle Scout Project, a very nice Forest Service help project that got him some good recognition in our local papers. After that he joined the Air Force with a lot of adventure ahead of him. He was tall and trim now, I was proud to see what he had become and that made it easier to make the fatigue go away.

"Mr Larsen!"
"Good to see you son, look at you, I'm very happy to see you"
I turned to introduce my friend to Ryan but he was out cold sleeping, I turned and looked behind me and the whole crew in the van was out cold too. It dawned on me right then that I was probably not suppose to be where ever I was right now. I turned back to Ryan he was talking into his headset.
"Captain I know the man at the gate sir, he is coming more awake by the minute, I can't explain it, he is not making any moves to exit the vehicle, I doubt if he will"
Ryan looked at me and held his hand up. "Mr Larsen please do not exit the vehicle"
I looked at him as he was about to close the door on me. "I shouldn't be here should I Ryan" I asked mildly.
The door closed and he shook his head no, at me.

I unwittingly rolled down the window, and caught more of his conversation with the captain at the other end of his radio. "Yes captain it is from the same company, you better get those tech people up here to fix this GPS device." there was a pause, "Yes Captain he is awake, he is being cooperative, but we will need to wipe him"
That is the second time he has said "wipe him". I was sure that he was not talking about my nose or my backside.
Ryan held his hand to his ear as if listening, "copy tech team en route, I will have the driver exit the vehicle for the wiping procedure".
I was looking around, maybe not the best idea considering where I might be. I could see something shimmering beyond the gate. It hid what was really behind the gate so someone that stumbled into this place wouldn't see much, but that little, for lack of a better term, porthole we had just come through would be enough to set anybody's curiosity on overdrive. What ever hid this place was way advanced stuff it must hide something pretty damn special.

A cylinder started coming out of the ground across the roadway from the gate. It had a door and it slid open and several armed men and some tech looking guys popped out the door. Ryan came back to the door and opened it.

"Please step out of the vehicle Mr Larsen"
"I hope I haven't got you into some trouble Ryan, I wouldn't want that to happen".
"Everything will be fine Mr Larsen we will fix a few things to correct this stupid problem and then.."
Ryan hesitated. "You and your crew will be on your way to work"

I nodded at him in understanding. I'm sure I still looked a little wide eyed. One of the tech guys came and put a laptop on the drivers seat, another tech opened the passenger door and pointed a strange gun looking device at the dash right over the motor compartment and some LED lights lit up on the gun.  The Tech with the laptop taped a key and said, "there is the code and frequency". He entered something into his keyboard then hit the enter key saying "sent". The guns LED's blinked and then turned green and the techs pulled out of the van and left for the door they came from. I hadn't notice but the armed men had stood on either side of Ryan and I.
Ryan nodded to the armed man behind me and he opened a door on the back of the guard shack. Ryan Guided me to the door. It was a small cubical with a chair and some sort of apparatus that I had to step around to sit down.

"Ryan this wipe you keep talking about will it hurt?"
"There is two parts to it Mr Larsen, one is the sleep inducer and then the image replacer"
"Ok Ryan which one hurts, you have walked around it son"
"I always liked you Mr Larsen, I'll give it to you straight.  The sleep inducer will hurt if you fight it, the image replacer will flash some images to replace the ones you have of your time here, the science on how it works I do not know. Some people show a flash of pain when the bright lights flash but it is gone in an instant"
"Thank you Ryan," I paused. "Do me a favor son, check on me in a few weeks and see how I'm doing. Surprise me at store or something. I live in Minot, will you do that for me?"
"I will see what I can do, you will be ok, our government has it's secrets but it is not in the business of doing harm to it's citizens, you know me sir, I wouldn't be here doing this if it would hurt you."
"Exactly what I thought son, thank you, you take care."
"Thank you sir, sit here and look and focus on this light"

I did as I was told. The wave of exhaustion hit me again, I let it happen. There was a flash that hit my eyes, it did hurt, I felt myself jerk, I was floating and then that horrible noise and feeling as you hit the side rumble strips on the side of the road, something like and echo voiced something in my head, The van just died guide it off the highway, stop put in park and try to start it"

That's what I was doing, I could see it, we were just before the over crossing and I guided the van to a stop on the side of the road. My friend woke up in the seat next to me. "What happened?"
"Van died" I told him. I had it in park and tried to start it, it came to life and I put it in gear and we headed off to work. As I pulled back on to the highway I looked back over my shoulder looking back towards where we came from. "That was so totally weird"
"What my friend asked"
"I don't know" I looked at the dash, "The dash blinked and the cruise control shut off and the van died"
I shook my head.
My friend switch position and mentioned I need to write up the issue and give it to the mechanic shop so they could look at it, and he was back asleep.
"It is probably just the type of crap that happens in the Tagus Triangle" I chuckled.
"Tagus Triangle" he mumbled and chuckled
We made it to the shop, my boss was mad that we were ten minutes late, I handed him the report to inspect the van and told him it had died outside of Berthold.  I wasn't sure how it could have made us that late.

I was at Walmart a couple of weeks later and a young man came up to me. He was lean and tall and had a military hair cut. I smiled. "Ryan is that you!?"
"Yes Mr Larsen what the hell are you doing way up here in North Dakota?"
"Working in the oil Fields, money is good"
"I'm stationed up at Minot Air Force Base" Ryan smiled and then asked "how are you doing?"
"I'm doing great, maybe eating too well" tapping my belly, "but doing well"
"Mr Larsen give me your phone number and we can go get a meal or something when we have some time"
We exchanged numbers. I'm so friggin stupid I should have not kidded with him. I gathered him in a fatherly hug telling him I was proud of him and then whispered. "I think that bright light gave me a tumor" I could feel him sag right there in my arms.
"Mr Larsen your sense of humor is failing you right now"
I knew by the look on his face how badly I had screwed up. "Are they listening" I asked
Ryan nodded his head. "I have vouched for you Mr Larsen don't make me regret it"
"I was just kidding Ryan, anyways what is there to tell, and I'm sure that is the way they want it"
Ryan screwed up his face and nodded again

I spent over a month with some heavy weight military brass telling them I wasn't a threat, I even talked to the inventor of the mind wipe/image replacer to find out what went wrong. They told me they would tell everyone I was crazy if I got to talking. They were all very discrete in their dealings with me and I got a few meal out of them. I got out of one General that kept a watch on me that our companies GPS tracking devices under the dash of our vans was triggering the porthole to open, and that they had finally reprogrammed all of them to get them to stop. I'm not sure how that porthole works or what that cloaking field is that covers that hidden base, but it is fantastic to think about. I guess none of our other drivers knew they had made that turn into the Tagus Triangle.

I have dinner with Ryan from time to time and he got me on the base one time to see the flight line of B-52's they have there at Minot Air Force Base, but we don't talk about what he really does. I don't think he knows what he really does and what is happening on that base. I'm proud of him though, I told the General I was proud of him.

On another morning as I passed by with the same van load of sleepy passengers and listening to Coast to Coast AM. The guest was talking about Area 51 and how there was a hidden UFO base there, he sounded ridiculous. I looked at the spot after mile marker 120 where I thought the porthole might be. I could go on Coast to Coast and tell them how I saw a top secret guard shack that is hidden on several square miles of North Dakota property and that the GPS in the van opened the porthole...where is it?...I don't know, you can't see it. What is on the base, I don't know you can't see it. No one would believe me!. 
The End

I hope you enjoyed the story...grin

Friday, August 30, 2013

Anacortes Washington...another romance of boats

My work has had me doing a lot of work up north.  The week of 8/19 I went up to Port Angeles Wa. to work for a company my work sub contracts with from time to time.  We worked on a new boiler at the paper mill in town. It was an interesting process to get the boiler ready to start up. I had no idea you did this elaborate process to keep the boiler in good shape.  We used a lot of water in this thing. It held 20,000 gallons. One of my duties while filling this monster was to go to the top of the boiler, 7 stories up to the top of the structure it was in. It was 142 steps to the top.

I think I mentioned that I have a new aversion to heights in an earlier post.  I'll be damned if that it is going to get the best of me though, I grab my lunch bag and head up the stairs. Normally a building like this would be covered with aluminum siding but they haven't installed it yet. It was wide open to the elements, a little unsettling because the floors on each level is open grating, meaning you can see right through it to the bottom.

I was acclimating to the heights by looking out at the view when I noticed 3 cruise ships coming into view.
Port Angeles is a port town on the northern tip of Washington States Olympic Peninsula and is on a body of water know as the Straights of Juan de Fuca. The Straights are the entrance to the Puget Sound area where Seattle is, and it separates the US and Canada.  It was quite a sight to see.  These 3 fancy cruise ships zig zagging through the channel.
I had to steady myself to get this shot. You can just barely make out the 3rd one on the right, it was coming nose on to the camera so could barely make it out.  As you can see the port is a nice sheltered harbor, and that tower out on the end of that point in a US Coast Guard Airbase.

That Morning I morning after breakfast I took a walk around town and went down to the boat docks. I found a nice sail boat with my daughters name on the back.
 I posted it on Facebook for her, telling her I found her boat there in Port Angeles. I was there for 5 days working a night shift and trying to sleep during the day.  The Gentleman I was working and I would eat breakfast in the Hotel Restaurant, they had a nice breakfast buffet that would allow me to stick to my low carb diet. As I was walking out of the restaurant I notice a framed picture on the wall and took a picture of it.
Yes that is the Kalakala I have blogged about her before. She is everywhere. A waitress told me that there was a mural on the side of a building there in town that the picture is based on. So I went out to find it on the last day there.
 This mural is awesome, I love how the kids are all on the dock watching her come in.  Near the end of her Ferry days the Kalakala took cars and passengers from Port Angeles to Victoria BC, Canada.
I wish someone that had some cash would rescue her, I just can't seem to get the right Lotto Numbers to do it myself.
I was reading that the Kalakala was the first civilian ship installed with radar. She holds License #001.

On the last day at the paper mill we had an awesome sunrise. I didn't get the shot I wanted, the earlier colors were much better, but it took me a few minutes to break away from our task to get the shot.
There is some ripples in the water were a small tidal basin outflows into the harbor. The Harbor Seals love playing in it.  There are actually 3 seals in this
Here is one of them. They like to watch you as you watch them.

We finished there in Port Angeles and drove back home.  Then last Monday they sent me back up there to pick up some pipe that needed to be transported, now we are talking! I hauled miles and miles of pipe while in North Dakota. I picked it up and drove it back to our base down in Kelso. I was suppose to take it to one of our other shops way up north in a town north of Bellingham Wa. The next day the plan changed and I was to take it to one of the Refineries in Anacortes. I left very early in the morning to beat the Seattle traffic, Seattle has the suckiest highway system I have every seen, I have driven the 91 freeway in So Cal so I know!  As a matter of fact I was sent up to Bellingham to pick up one of my companies many trucks and got stuck in 2 hour to go 30 miles traffic in Seattle because of a big accident on the 5 freeway. Funny thing is the other day as I passed through Seattle at the start of rush hour and a news report on the radio said a study had Seattle has some of the worst drivers in the country and as the news item ended there was a small pick-up spun out and on the wall, and a patrolman hitting the smoke under the hood with a fire extinguisher...sigh

I had a little time after I dropped off the pipe and I wanted to do a few things in Anacortes.  I wanted to see where the house was that I lived in when I was very young.  My brother and I ended up there when I was about 5, my mother was very sick and dying at the time so we were sent up to my aunt and uncles there in Anacortes. I also wanted to see where the Enchantress sat while she was in the Fidalgo Bay on the east side of Anacortes

I Googled Anacortes and found out how it got it's name. It is the consolidation of a woman's name, Anna Curtis, the wife of one of the earlier settlers there. It was hoped when they incorporated the town that it would be the terminus of the Transcontinental Railroad, nothing works out as planned. I have not been in this town in 45 years so my memory of it was nill.

I remember where the house was and how to get there though, I think I have always been aware of my surroundings.  It was the fun memories of playing with my cousins when we were up there that probably stuck the location in my head. The house overlooked a small bay with an Island across the water. It was kind of up on a hill. I had looked it up once on google earth but so much had changed. I headed into town and when I hit the northern end I made a right and headed to a point on the northeast corner of the town. Then I looked for a house that sat in the right location. 45 years is a long time and many of the houses are new in the area.  I remember small cottages in this area but now there is a lot more modern dwellings there. I spun down the street where I thought it should be and came to a house that was in the right position. The little bay was hardly there now filled in for a ship yard and such. The vacant area that I remember to the west of the house had a barrier of trees now and some industrial stuff there now.

The house though, it sat right where it needed to be and I was hoping really hard that it was the house because it was my favorite kind of house, a Craftsman, it was all shingled up and looking awesome. I could be wrong though the house may not even exist anymore.

I remember that bay though. One time a bunch of logs were brought into that bay and my uncle told us kids to stay away from those logs. I'm sure this was more like and invitation to two troublesome 5 year olds like my cousin and I. First chance we got we were down on those logs. As would be expected we got out pretty far on those logs and one of the logs moved and in goes my poor cousin.  He went in up to his waist and he and I had a hell of a time getting him back on the log. I don't think my aunt and uncle found out. I'm not sure, but I think we snuck back in the house and got him some new pants. My uncle would have skinned us alive if he had found out, we were two times lucky on that log adventure.

I remember vividly a smell from around that neighborhood. It was the most wonderful smell I have ever encountered.  To this day I'm not even sure what I smelled. We were all playing around on the hills riding tricycles and large Tonka trucks down the hills and my aunt had warned us not to go up to far so as not to disturb the neighbors or something like that. It was a wonderful sunny day and that smell came wafting through the air. It was someone baking. I can almost smell it now. I smelled something like that smell later in life and someone told me it was Irish Shortbread.  I think they use Almond extract in that and that very well maybe the smell.  I remember going to school there for a short time and I remember the phone call from my dad when my mom passed away. I didn't understand at that age, but I remember the sadness in my aunt as she hung up the phone.

 I remember a boat my uncle used to own and we went out on a couple of times. My uncle tried to teach us to fish but I think Hyper-active me was not listing all that well and almost hooked my cousin by mistake. We still had fun...grin

We were a large family while I was up there and it was fond memories I have of being there. I sure hope it was that Craftsman...grin

Not too long ago I was looking at Anacortes on Google Earth and found some pictures posted there of this poor dilapidated Tugboat that had sunk in Fidalgo Bay. Her name was the Enchantress.

She was 120 foot Army Tug and due to some shady dealings the owner had set her adrift and she got hung up on the old wharf pilings you see around her and she took on water and was stuck there.
Thank you for the photo.

The Enchantress became kind of a fixture there inspiring people to photograph and paint her with Mt. Baker and the Cascades in the background. Thank you blog for the photo.
The are the pictures you can find on Google images.  I like the Eagles on the mast on this photo.

She was unfortunately a "Menace to Navigation" according to the Coast Guard and she was scheduled for demolition and removal.  That brought out some of the local artist to try and save her.  She is rather enchanting I must say. She technically wasn't going anywhere hung up on those pilings so it probably wouldn't have been to bad to leave her there. The fight to save her failed and she was demolished early 2010 or there abouts.

I would have loved to have a few pictures of her myself. I didn't find where she sat so I headed back. I have one more boat story though. A few miles south of Anacortes is the town of La Conner Wa. There is a boat there that I have loved looking at for years. She has her own web site even. MV Argosy.

She was sold to a couple that has it moored there. So I went down to take a picture of her. The Argosy.
The early morning gloomy light didn't help this picture. I took some pics a few months ago, a day after that I-5 bridge collapsed up in Mount Vernon Wa.

This boat when it was made never looked like this, she at one time blew up and sank but her hull was raised and reused to make what you see now, It is an interesting story follow the link above.
The first time I took a picture of this boat a gentleman on the boat started looking at me through some binoculars. I waved to him but he didn't wave back.  Where this picture was take is in a log storage area, they float logs down the channel then haul them on land then truck them from there to the mills.
I rolled onto the lot and a guy was sitting right were I was going to take a picture. I rolled up to him to make sure it was ok for me to be there and that I only wanted to take a picture of a boat. He seemed a little humored by my statement and said sure and drove

I want to own a boat someday and live on it until I can't be on it anymore. I want to travel from Alaska down to the Panama Canal and then search what the east coast has to offer. It is a big dream but I tentatively have the cute girlfriend sold on the idea. I keep looking for the right boat...someday!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Trip home!...journey, adventure, car trouble

On the 19th of July we loaded up my stuff in the back of the 1992 Lincoln Town Car that I had left up in Minot ND.  I had put 2 new tires on the front and checked the fluids. We were ready! We hit the road in the morning and after about 11 hours made it to Livingston MT. We spent the night at a nice hotel and got a nice start and headed down through Yellowstone National Park and enjoyed the geysers and other Geological/Volcanic sights and then set off to Pocatello ID to go to the grave of my great grand father to get some pictures for my Ancestry dot come account. We spent the night at another nice hotel and got up and headed for the Cemetery. It was easy to find the grave site and get the pictures. We then fueled up and headed home. It was a great trip you should see all the pictures!

Yes we were ready. We started out early and started west.  I stopped and took some pictures for a blog posting I will do later and stopped in Tioga ND to show the cute girlfriend where I use to work. The car was running fine and all was good. We even stopped to take a scary picture for a friend.
This is a Man Camp in Williston ND, called Black Gold a friend of ours did his Intern-ship here. We posted it on Facebook and said "BOO"!  Well here Greg...BOO

The car. It is a 1992 Lincoln Town Car. It had 236,000 miles on the ODO when we left Minot. I packed the trunk and the back seat with most of the stuff I had accumulated in a year and a half of living in North Dakota. Some of it I had to disassemble to make it all fit.  After my mom's death my dad had given me this car because he didn't need two cars now. My good friend in North Dakota described the car best, "A large comfortable couch on four wheels".  My dad not to long ago had put a new motor and trans in the car and it was still running great. It has some age related issues but is still a nice car.

We were heading to Livingston MT to spend a night at the Comfort Inn there and go to Yellowstone the next morning, but the vacation gods and the adventure gods seamed to be in chaos or something. All was going well when all of the sudden the car dies going up this hill about 10 miles from Miles City MT.  I pop the hood and check things over and wonder if I have some bad gas because the car started right up a few minutes later. We drive on to Miles City and get some fuel and I throw in some fuel injector cleaner and some fuel additive thinking I let the car sit most of the winter on a half empty tank and I had some junk in it.

A note here, the car has a worn out part in the steering column which causes the starter switch to only partially engage, so the car doesn't always start on the first turn of the key.

We hit the road again and the car dies again. We are on the side of the road and it is over 90 outside.
It had died just as we passed a rest stop, so I get her running again and back it down into the rest stop to see if I could find the fuel filter on this boat, because it was acting like it was clogging up.  I text my brother because he had a Mercury Product similar to this car and I figure he might know where the filter was.  I couldn't find the filter and the brother was not returning the text.  We drove on and it died again, this time near an off ramp so I pulled down it. This is the sign half way down the ramp.
  I post this picture on Facebook and said this was not the off ramp to break down on in the middle of no where MT.  This is the picture cute girlfriend took of me for her Facebook.
Hang Dawg!...No Rocket Science Jokes Please!

I start looking up on my phone where the nearest Auto Parts Store is...thank goodness for smart phones and thank goodness that there was phone service with data.  I get a call from my brother and he gets me in the right direction for the fuel filter. We get to talking and I do the rhetorical question "why does this have to happen out here in BFE".  He of course answers the rhetorical question with a question.  "You know what kind of car you are driving don't you?"

He just had to remind me. For a little bit, if all you Ford fans can move by this section.

Yes Lincoln is part of the Ford Corporation, and us Chevy fans know very well what Ford stands for.
Is not it

In my experience it more often turns out to be..


I know the Ford Motor Company has been around for 100 years, and there are a lot of people that have had marvelous luck with their products.  I'm not one of them.

My friend in Minot called me not long after that in answer to my text to him on our current condition. I asked him again why he likes Fords. He laughed.

Well I called a local parts store to see if they could bring a fuel filter out, they said they couldn't but gave me the phone number to a guy that could. The number was to American Tow in Hysham MT, I talked to a nice gentleman there and he agreed that he could come out and even put the filter on for me. About 40 minutes later he arrived and went to work on the filter, he removed the filter and blew through it. No junk came out and it was not very restricted.  This is actually the bad news.

The gentleman's name was Wes and he is the owner of American Tow. He was rather familiar with the problem and described it for me. He said that the fuel pump in these vehicles get old and can't take the heat and either starts vapor locking or running low pressure in the heat and the motor finally starves for fuel.

We crossed our fingers and hoped it was just the filter. Thanked Wes, told him I would make him famous on my world famous Adventure Blog and hit the road.  We made it about 20 miles before it died again. Now knowing that it was a heat issue we would just let the car cool down and it would drive for another 10 miles or so. This was not good on a 90 plus degree day.  Cute girlfriend was slowly melting and not very patient with our predicament.  We needed to make it to Billings and hopefully find a shop that can work on the car.
It was still 40 miles away.  We drove for a while the car died we let it cool off. Repeat.  Finally it died near an off ramp that said it had services.  We let the pump cool down and got off the freeway.  We made our way down to this small community gas station and pulled in and got some cool drinks. There was no mechanic shop nearby.  There was a car wash there though and the cute girlfriend had the idea of washing the car down to cool it off. I did one better and totally hosed down the fuel tank to cool it off.

The fuel pump. Ford/Lincoln/Mercury in their infinite wisdom had designed the only fuel pump that is immersed in a tank of gas that can get hot. Pump surrounded by nice cooling gas, but then surround the tank with all the heat from the motor and the huge exhaust system and add to that 100 degrees baking upward from the road.  No forethought here. The cooling off was a good trick. We rolled on to Billings without a hick-up. Once in Billings I assessed that we were not going to make Livingston tonight. This sucked because I had ordered on Priceline dot Com a nice Hotel room for us. From there we were going to launch into Yellowstone for some site seeing. Cute girlfriend wanted to see the Old Faithful Lodge, well she wanted to stay there but the prices were through the roof on that gig.

I call the hotel there and  told them of our predicament and the lady at the front desk generously cancelled my reservation and gave me the number to their Hotel branch in Billings.  The people at the Comfort Inn were very nice to deal with and very helpful, and as always it is a nice room and they have a breakfast for you in the morning.

I water down the tank again in town and head for the Billings Comfort Inn. We get a room and pile into it and turn on the air conditioning. I call the Comfort Inn back in the town of Livingston to find out what the process is to get my money transferred back to my account.  She finds out I booked from Priceline and said it was up to them to get the money back from them...sigh  She gave me the cancellation number and I called Priceline.

I get a nice lady on the phone and she tells me that I have to pay a cancellation fee. I'm ok with this they offered a service and it is not their fault I'm having car troubles.  When she tells me how much the fee is my long trip heat stroked mind went into shock. I patiently asked for her supervisor. I explained my situation to her. I told her that I had been using Priceline dot Com since they started business and I don't mind paying a little fee to recoup their cost in this deal but not almost all my money. She called the Comfort Inn back in Livingston and seemed to get it all straightened out and refunded me all my money.
Kudos to Priceline for helping me out.  For a second there I thought I was going to have to take down Capt. Kirk to get some money from them...whew!.   All is well and I'm Happy to promote Priceline dot Com. I have received some awesome deals on flights and hotels over the years.

We were getting hungry. On the way to the Hotel we had noticed a Southern California Fast Food Staple, Del Taco!  It was within walking distance of our room.  We hadn't had Del Taco in ages so I walked over and got us some. 

I spend some time before bed looking up my Auto Repair options in Billings MT.  Found a Sears Auto Center not to far from the Hotel.  We got up around 8 and had some breakfast in the lobby and packed up and headed to Sears.  Luck was not with us once again.  Sears does not do much car work anymore. The guy there suggest a place way down the street. Oh I forgot to tell you it is Saturday to make things worse.
We go down to this other shop and the guy said he could do the job but he probably couldn't do it that day because he was a man short and people were already in ahead of me. Strike Two!

I was in a daze. What was plan B?  Press on and do the water the tank thing for the next 600 miles. Get stuck here until Monday, a very bad option for cute girlfriend she need to be at work then.  We ended back up near the Hotel and I saw a Ford Dealership.  They had one of those Quick Lane Express Lube Centers there. I can not tell you how expensive hourly rates at the dealers are.  They could do it and we found and available part nearby. They said worst case would be that they could have it done by 5pm, if all went well earlier.

Poor Cute Girlfriend is seeing us getting home later and later and is getting a little worried. I set her up in the customer lounge with the Laptop and get her on the Ford WiFi. It worked great!

I paced back and forth waiting for the car to go in. A slot opened up and the part arrived and the job actually went better than planned. Usually you have to pull the tank down to get at these fuel pumps.
The guy running the shop was actually a good technician and had done one of these not too long ago. He moved some things out of the way and with a little arm stretching was able to get the pump in. The Adventure gods where maybe showing pity on use.  We were out by noon. Almost 500 bucks too...sigh

Cute girlfriend had seen a Cracker Barrel near the freeway and wanted to stop because she had never been in one. We looked over the great bunch of Americana in their gift shop and almost bought some Red Solo Cup string lights. Time to hit the road

I tell the Lincoln that there will be no more trouble for the rest of the trip and we make for I-90 west. It is warm again and the AC is not blowing as cold as she should. We make it to Livingston ok, although the car did a couple of quiet hick-ups just to keep me worried. I'm thinking I can charge the AC and get us some cool air in the car, but all the auto parts stores are closed in Livingston.  There was a Yellowstone area Gift shop next to the gas station we stopped at, and cute girlfriend got some things.

We pressed on to Bozeman MT. I sweated when we pulled into town. I had already broke down here one time and I didn't want it to happen again. I saw a Walmart from the freeway and thought I could get what I needed to charge the cars AC there. This is and old car so I would need some new style AC charging adapters to make this work. I buy what I need and get under the hood and Ford Fails again.  There is only Lincoln Serviceable stuff here and while I was trying see what was wrong with the adapters I let the last of the freon out.  Kind of like Lucy pulling the football out from under Charlie Brown...AAAH!

I had to take all the stuff back in and get my money back.  It is about 6pm and we are once again hot and tired. Cute girlfriend suggest we just stop here and call it a day, I suggest we try to shoot for Butte MT to make some miles today and start driving in that direction hot and miserable and dejected. I start doing the  math after I see a miles to Butte sign. We would get there real late and I just wasn't up to it so we stopped at the next town west of Bozeman and pulled into a Super 8 Motel. We get our gear in and go to a restaurant that was suggested at the front desk.  Fail!! Restaurant Closed for some festival back in Bozeman!

Serendipity! we go off in search of place to eat and hoping we don't have to go to the truck stop.  We spin into the old part of this town and right by the railroad tracks we find a sign that says BBQ.  It is in some old rail side storage type building with a dirt parking lot.  This BBQ was the best thing that had happened so far on this return adventure. It lightened our spirits some.  The food was good and I even got one of their Micro Brews to take with me back to the Hotel room. I drank my beer and cute girlfriend use the hotel hot tube for a few minutes. We went to bed.

We got up early and had what Super 8 calls their breakfast. Once frozen hard boiled eggs and cereals and coffee.  We pull out of the driveway and the car slips into neutral for a second. I know what this is. This poor old car has a leak in one of the cooling lines. I can see the oil coming out from under the car in small dots but never can find where it comes from. I stop and get some trans fluid and top it off and hit the I-90 again. I got us up to 75 and we stayed that way most of the way to Butte.

We had seen some signs and picked up a brochure for a candy store in some town west of Butte somewhere called Phillipsburg. I finally see a sign for it and there is a rest stop at the off ramp to this place.  I ask the cute girlfriend if she would like to go there. We needed to do something fun on this trip from hell.

She agreed. After using the rest stop we turned left onto this Montana Scenic Byway heading towards Phillipsburg. We haven't gone a mile when a sign saying "Opportunity" with an arrow pointing to the right passes us.  Cute girlfriend says "now that is a sign we should take a picture of" naturally there is no where to turn around to go get it. I used one from the web though.

Thank you for the image.
Just when we think that Opportunity has passed us by another town sign comes up.

Thank you Allen Russell.
I hoped this was a good sign for our little excursion.
We went through another town Anaconda and started up into the hills and passed a few inviting lakes and finally made it to Phillipsburg. We took a walk around this old Montana mining town. Old brick buildings from the late 1800's and landed at our destination. The Sweet Palace. It was a very sinful place for people with sweet tooth's and having just made our minds up to start the low carb

It had tons of hard candy and a big taffy puller in the window.  There was a guy up front running a very antique taffy wrapping machine. That was fun to watch. Cute girlfriend bought some fudge and got me some dark chocolate with cashews in it. It was a fun stop.

We make it back to I-90 and start the trek home again. We stop in Missoula MT for gas and a bite to eat.
It is here that the final nail in the hell that is this trip hit. Cute girlfriend can't find her debit card. I call the Sweet Palace.  They have the card.  That card is where all the money is right now.  I use my smart phone to move some cash out of savings to get us home. I had them mail her card to the house and a few days later it showed up thank goodness.

We trudge on and finally pass over a high mountain pass and drop into Idaho. The panhandle of Idaho is filled with old Mining towns from the 1800's and just before the Washington state line you pass by beautiful lake Coeur d'alene and then plop into Spokane WA.

The GPS was giving me a route after Spokane that took us all the way to the outskirts of Seattle and slipped us back through Tacoma. I had it in my head that if we went down the southern route almost the way we came up by train and stay on the Washington side I would probably save a few miles and it would be a hell of a lot cooler.

When you hit the Columbia River you can take the freeway on the Oregon side or take highway 14 on the Washington side. We had been riding in a 90 degree car most of the afternoon so I figured when we started seeing pine trees it would cool off.

I like this route it is very scenic and you get to pass by Stonehenge. You also get to go by the place that Sam Hill Built. Yes that Sam Hill.  Stonehenge is a replica of the original and is a War Memorial, I haven't seen it yet but I hope too.  Stonehenge is also at a place called Mary Hill and there is a place that Sam Hill built and is now an Art Museum and they both over look the Columbia River.

Cute girlfriend has some bad memories from this area so she was not enjoying that part of the trip.  She was impressed on how much had changed since she was last through. It was evening and we were almost home so we didn't stop. Someday I want to do some things in that Columbia River Gorge. I can't wait.

We made it home around 7pm and sat down and breathed a sigh of relief.  Not the best time spent off.
I now have a nice Lincoln Town Car for sale....look for it on Craig's List

Friday, August 9, 2013

My Kids came up for a visit

The last week of July my children drove up from Southern California to visit.  It was kind of a last hurrah before my son heads off to College in Texas. They pulled an all nighter and got up here on the morning of the 30th with temptations in their hands.

They had made two stops on the way up.  One at Rosa Maria's, probably my all time favorite Mexican Food establishments.
Home of the Garbage Burrito, that just means it has everything in it....grin  My son says they will ship Burritos to you if you by a few at a time.  I haven't messaged them to find out how yet, but I will someday.
I know someone that is in Australia that would probably want to do this....grin  The Kids know I love the Extra Large Chile Relleno Burrito so they got one for me and a bag of there Tortillas. To me it is the Tortillas that make the food the best.  One problem!  Those burritos are not as good 24 hours later...sigh
Any time anyone in our family goes to Rosa's we take a picture of the place or our burrito with our smart phones and text it to our friends and family to make them jealous....yes we are evil

The also stopped in Portland OR. to get these!
This place is very eclectic, and not your average donut joint.  They have been on several of those restaurant shows and on the Food Network. They are kind of famous for their Bacon Maple Bar, yes that is a maple bar with a strip of bacon on it. It is actually very good, They also have Voodoo Doll Donut, kind of a bar type donut shaped into a person with chocolate icing on it, with an icing face and a stick pretzel in it's chest.
Here is Voodoo Doughnuts web site. You can see the Voodoo Doll Donut on the first page of the site.

They have another donut I love, the Mexican Hot Chocolate donut.  It is a chocolate cake donut coated in sugar and in the sugar is a fine red pepper that gives it a kick of heat. The flavor is awesome. My son and I went there the last time he was up. That was the time we found out that you can not make a Left Turn in old downtown Portland, considering the political climate in that city is was a little funny to  We did a lot of right turns to make that left. Voodoo Doughnuts has lines that stretch out the door during that day, it is a funny place.

So the kids walked in the front door with these treasures.  One slight problem, we had started the Low Carb Diet the week before, after our trip to Minot ND.  There were thousand of grams of carbs in those donuts and burrito.  Cute Girlfriend was strong and stood off the beckoning of the pink box. The low carb diet starts you out with watching your carbohydrate intake. So we are limiting our selves 20 grams or less carbs a day. Just one of those donuts or those tortillas would over shoot your carb goal by a wide margin.  I had to have just one of those Mexican Hot Chocolate donuts and I ate the Chile Relleno Burrito. I can not tell you how that donut was on my hyperactive system after over a week of no sugar. I got the  The burrito was high in fiber so I may have saved myself some with that.

The nice thing about this Low Carb Diet is that if you over shoot your target you just get back where you were in the diet and press on.  The object of the diet is for your body to stop using carbs as the energy source and burn Ketones derived from stored fat or protien. I have been kind of interested in this ketone based diet when I heard that people have been using it to treat cancer.

I guess the cancer cell is surrounded by glucose and if you have none going in you, like carbs it starves out the cancer cell.  Also they have been using this Ketogenic Diet for people that have seizures. When people with Epilepsy use this diet their seizures stop or are lessened dramatically. Follow the the link it is interesting.

I know sugar is not my friend, it works weirdly in my system, so I have always watched how much I have put in me. Alas donuts are a weakness and I could not turn down the burrito. Even with that I have lost over 12 lbs watching my carbs, Cute Girlfriend has lost over 10 lbs and we are starting to notice our cloths fitting looser.
Soon we will be able to see where we can add some carbs to keep the weight loss going but be able to have a wider variety in our menu. We are having a good time on this diet, cooking a lot more instead of going out to eat.  Looking at labels a lot to know what we are eating.  We may start a cheat night once or twice a month so we can enjoy things like a good pizza or donut.  It just shows you that too much of a good thing is usually bad for you. Moderation! Thank goodness Whiskey has no carbs....just a sip though!

The kids were tired when they arrived with their plunder.  We talked for a while. They didn't really want to sleep this early so they could sleep through the night.  I gave them a fishing rod and they cast the line in to the river for a while. My daughter found it relaxing.

They finally took some naps and we made plans to go to Seattle for the next day.  Cute Girlfriend bought us some tickets to go up the Space Needle, and see some glass artist called Chihuly.  My son wanted to stop off at the original Starbucks and do some basic site seeing.

We didn't get a great start north to Seattle, which is fine, morning traffic through Olympia, Tacoma and Seattle is a huge pain in the butt. We went to the world famous Pike Place Market on that street was the first Starbucks. Both Pike Place Market and the Starbucks was packed full of people. There were flower stalls, seafood stalls, spice stalls, I know we just scratched the surface of that place. It was way too busy to see anything. There was a park next to the Market and it over looked the Puget Sound. I got a picture of the kids with the Sound behind them.
Next stop was the Space Needle. It is probably one of the most iconic towers in the world. Any picture of Seattle is not complete without the Space Needle in it. The Space Needle was built for the 1962 Worlds Fair and at one time it was the tallest structure west of the Mississippi. 1962 let's see how old was I then...oh yes 6 months old!  Damn that thing is as old as I  I remember as a kid going up to the restaurant with my parents.  The restaurant is one of those tower types that spins around as you eat. One revolution in one hour.

When we got there I posted this pic on Facebook.
Captioned it...Guess where I am.

We had tickets to see this Artist named Chihuly.  He is a Glass Sculptor, and they included a trip up to the Observation deck of the Space Needle. We stood in line for a short bit for the ride to the top. There is a guy who searches bags at one point as you enter.  Kind of silly attempt at security.

As we were standing in line to be loaded into the elevators I started to get a little Acrophobia. I can not tell you how weird it feels to get that. In my youth I had no problems with heights other than that weird feeling you get when you first look down.  I use to repel down rock face, climb tall things, but now there is something wrong.  I'm pretty sure it is caused by that roll over accident I had during the first few months I was in North Dakota, I will blog about that later. Since then fears have been amplified and it is hard to do heights and such.  I told the kids about it, but I would face the fear even though it makes parts of me feel funny.

The Elevator is large box with lots of windows. An attendant goes with you, and stands at the door and does a perfectly timed speech to entertain you on the 41 second ride to the observation deck.  Even typing about it here makes me feel  You are traveling about 10mph on the way up and when the upper decks block out the view suddenly it is a little startling.  The Observation deck has an inner and outer section. I'll be damned if I don't go out to that edge and look down, this sudden fear of heights kind of pisses me off.  My brain better get use to it, I'm going to the edge every time!  Gulp.

I took another picture of the kids again facing the Sound, this time with better views of Bainbridge Island and the Olympic mountains in the distance.
My son was telling me why he doesn't smile while I snapped the shot....TEENAGERS!
Here is one of Lake Union to the north east of the Needle.
Somewhere down there is that floating house they used in "Sleepless in Seattle"
The Olympics again.
I bet on a clear day this view is awesome.
I can't go with out taking a picture of Craftsman Homes.
Tons of them just north of the Needle...grin

We rode the elevator down and guess where it drops you off....THE GIFT SHOP!  Have to get some Space Needle coffee cups or something.
Right next to the Space Needle is a place called the Chihuly Garden and Glass.  Chihuly is a glass blower and sculptor and he has a display and Garden there. The Sculptures are bright and colorful. My daughter loved them and took tons of pictures.  My phone was low on battery so I only grabbed a few picture. There was this one room where the ceiling was all these different colored and style bowls and shapes with light over them. It was called the "Persian Ceiling" or something like that. Pictures wouldn't do it justice.
I did want a picture of this.
It was the wood with it's patterns.
 Getting the Space Needle with this sculpture in the foreground was cool.
My daughter took some pictures there also.

 The outdoor sculptures were nicer I thought.
I'm not getting it at all, but my daughter liked it a lot...grin
This next shot I liked for the reflection, it was a great idea, a couple of people behind her copied her shot...good job daughter.
She just needed to camouflage herself in the pic to only the Space Needle showed up in the reflection and this shot would have been perfect!  Her is the daughters version of the Needle with the sculpture.
  I like her shot much better than mine.
While going up the elevator I saw something down on the ground I thought we should stop and see on the way back to the car.
A Labyrinth. The daughter and I walked the whole thing, while my son hip hopped his way to the center. When we got half way done I challenged my son to see if he could catch us by walking the path real fast, before we got to the center and he almost caught us.  I was trying to get to his competitive nature, he thought I was just using this race thing to get him to walk the  If you want interesting reading on Labyrinths her is a link.  I'm sure it might be a little unsettling for the atheist hippy to turn around while walking  his or her meditation Labyrinth and see that a person with their Rosary is walking the Labyrinth for the exact same reason right behind  Interesting what Labyrinths have been used for in the past.

On the way out of Seattle I wanted to stop somewhere I have needed to stop at for a long time. My moms memorial site. My birth mother died in 1967 of Hotchkins, sadly something curable today. It was the perfect time to go there and introduce my kids to her. I was 5 when she died so my memories of her are few. I remember odd things like how she made peanut butter cookies pressing them with a fork to get a hashed pattern on them. How when I got under foot while she was cleaning she would tell me to get out of her dirt. She would give my brother and I cooking pot lids to use as steering wheels when we pretended we where driving my dad's race car.  I remember going to medical treatments with her when she was sick.  She was a very loving lady.
She is here with her brother and her parents.
It is a beautiful nitch they are in.
We visited for a bit and cleaned some pine needles off the markers. Then we headed south to have diner with my aunt, my mother's sister. She had some pictures of my mother to show the kids to put a face to the name. We had a nice dinner and chat with my aunt before started for home.

The next day we went to the beach. Coming from California and saying you are going to Long Beach, which is basically part of L.A. and home of the Queen Mary is a lot different than the Long Beach here in Washington. This Long Beach you can actually take your car out on it and drive on it. Long Beach WA is just like most small town tourist beach towns. There is a Free Museum in town disguised as a curios shop that has a taxidermy enhance mummy of what is called Alligator man.

Getting onto the hard packed sand of the beach is tricky so the tow cable I bought as we left home came in handy instantly. My son's little SUV is front wheel drive and dug in fast on the approach to the hard packed sand. I tried to pull out a big pick up that had got stuck but I started to dig in too so that didn't work.
We drove up the beach and found a place to park.
It was slightly over cast, but there was a good breeze and the tide was out.
We had the grand kids with us.
It is a very Long Beach.
You can drive for miles. There is 3 things that make this beach famous, one that you can drive on it, two Razor Clam Season, from October to May, depending on clam estimates, you will see tons of people out on the beach with clamming shovels and pales in hand getting these tasty large clams. I have had them they are very good. Three is flying kites. Cute Girlfriend bought some Angry Bird kites and one Bad Piggy kite before we came down.
The Grand Daughter that got the Piggy Kite got the longest string spool so we could not get her with our Angry Bird kites...grin

The breeze let up a couple of times and the kites started dropping, but it was a good time.
My son flew one for a while.
 I know...the boy will smile for the Cute Girlfriend but not his dad...TEENAGERS!
I went out on the sand bar in front of us and built a crude sand castle as a tide marker.
Cute Girlfriend caught me in the act...I stole the last few pictures from her Facebook pictures.
I didn't put much heart into it, I have made better, but it was mainly a tidal gauge for us. When the tide came up to that point it was time to pack up and leave. I wasn't the only one playing in the sand.
The youngest granddaughter and my daughter made a crab made of sand, yes that is a sand crab. They had a great time there in between the cars. Cars go a little fast here on the beach so you have to watch out for the little ones.

Well the water made it to the gauge and we packed it all up and started to leave, my son left his parking break on when he started to leave and dug himself in some again, so we got out the tow strap.  I told him to get a good run at the soft sand at the entrance to the beach.  He did a good job and bounced through it.

Cute Girlfriend treated us to some go-carts before we left Long Beach.
We had a great time.
Grand Daughter.

I lapped the kids once and then my son wanted to race and I let him pass me...I drove flat out right behind him getting the cart to drift around the sharp turns, but we had to come in when I was just about to get  Cute Girlfriend tried to get pictures of me on the cart but I was going too

I had to go to work the next day, and the kids had to head back.  They made it home safe. It was a great visit. I will be down to visit them soon I hope. Cute girlfriend has reminded me that I owe her a trip to Disneyland...grin