Friday, May 31, 2013

Weekend Preview

The game plan is set.  Saturday I shall awaken early in order to bike to Bremerton.  Once there I shall load my carcass and bike onto the ferry and make way to Seattle.  I've a pretty good idea of an urban route to get me to Everett.

As previously advertised, I'm going to attend the Gear Up Expo.  I'm looking forward to checking out the gear and adventure providing vendors wares.  I'm also looking forward to some of the speakers.

One of the speakers is Jim Whittaker.  Jim is the first American to scale Mt. Everest. He's a former CEO of REI.  He's sailed across the Pacific with his wife and two sons.  In short, a dude I'd really like to meet and hang out with.  I'm sure he's great stories.

When I'm done Expo-ing, I'll make my way back to Seattle, ferry up, and ride the remaining distance home.  I've got Sunday plans, too.

Sunday early-ish I'm meeting a co-worker at his new home.  He's doing some remodeling before he moves in.  He wants to relocate a supporting column and install some door headers.  I'll take some measurements and do some engineering calculations.  I'll let him know where moving the column is OK and what size and how many wood pieces to use as headers.  Free of charge of course!  Well, he'll probably owe me beers.

Once done I'm going to make my way back to Mt. Rainier National Park.  I'm taking better foot ware and my camera with a fully charged battery.  There's trails to be explored.

Looking on a map I think I've found a nice loop hike.  It would probably require an overnight in the woods to complete.  I intend to scout it a bit to see if my assumption is close to correct.  If so, I'd like to give this a whirl the weekend after this coming.  That weekend will be my three day weekend.  I've been itching to spend some time in the woods and camp.  REI just delivered my new water purifier and Big Agnes Q-Core sleeping pad.  There's gear to be tested!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Long Weekend Recap

This past weekend was a longer one for me.  I had my usual every-other-Friday off followed by the Memorial Day Monday off.  A nice break.

Camera error (OK, operator error) has me with a lack of photographic evidence.  You'll just have to take my word on everything.

Friday was a bit damp but not damp enough to depress the spirits of me and the visitor.  We made our way east and a bit south to take in some of Mt. Rainier National Park.  Given the damp, the mountain proper did not make an appearance.  However, other fun things were had.

I started the visit by purchasing the $80 annual pass that gets me into all National Parks and Recreation areas.  From there it was a short drive to a parking area and a hike of Kautz Creek Trail.  The trail begins very near Kautz Creek and heads generally north in direction and up in elevation.

The Kautz Creek trail ends in the Mirror Lakes area and not too far south of the South Tahoma Glacier.  However, we did not make it that far.  I'm guess about two miles into the hike we started to see snow.  A bit farther and the trail began to get slick.  A bit farther still and it was time to turn around.  We did not want to slip, fall, and damage our persons in our inappropriate for snow travel shoes.

Post hike it was up to the Paradise Visitor Center.  The Center was closed but the Inn was open.  Wine was the ticket.  The closer to Paradise we drove, the more snow we saw.  At road terminus it was several feet deep on either side of the road.  It was snowing as we made our way inside.

Departing Paradise the car thermometer registered 34 degrees.  By the time we left the Park heading back to here it read 58 degrees.

Saturday was biking day.  Since is was to be rainy pretty much all day in pretty much all areas, we elected to drive north to Sequim, WA and ride the Olympic Discovery Trail.  This section of the trail is in the rain shadow.  So - no rain!

Sunday and Monday were spent sleeping in some.  I struggle with "sleeping in."  I typically get up at 4:30 AM.  So, sleeping in to, say, 7:00 AM is a feat.  The other portions of each day were spent in, and around, the Seattle area.

Saturday evening we did manage to sample some of Bitterroot's (Google it - I'm too lazy as I type this to fetch the link for you) finest barbecue food.  In addition to great food, their whiskey menu has numbers (different types/brands) in the hundreds.  I needed to drive so I only sampled a couple and over much time.

I do believe I have a handful of pictures taken with the crappy camera phone.  I'll see if I can't get them posted on here sometime soon.

Coming up this weekend is the Gear Up Expo ( in Everett.  The game plan is to put my carcass and a bike on the ferry at Bremerton and take it to Seattle.  From there I'll ride the 35 miles, or so, to Everett and the Expo.  I'm thinking Surly Big Dummy so I have capacity to haul if I end up buying some gear.  I will do better on the camera end so I'll have pictures to post.  You sit on the edge of your seat and hold your breath.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Schedule

I don't remember where I was or what I was doing, but I picked up a brochure titled, "Your Guide to All Things Beer in Washington."  In it are 201 listings of various beer brewers - either a brewery proper of a brew pub.

But also included is Thee Event Calendar!!!

Since May is about over I'll speak briefly about the number of beer type events left in 2013.  There are 24.  Some of the ones listed are:

Washington Brewers Festival - June 14 - 16

International Beer Festival - July 5 - 7

2nd Annual Vancouver (WA not BC) - August 9 - 11

Tacoma Craft Beer Festival - September 7

9th Annual Oktoberfest NW - October 4  - 6

Brewgrass Festival! - November 6 - 7

Winter Beer Festival - December 6 - 7

Those are a few of the 24.  I sort of picked one per month at random.  Now the rest of 2013 is getting really full!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Recently I suggested I might taking a sailing class the second and third weekend in June.  After contacting and talking with the school, I've determined this class isn't the best one for me.

The class is more geared for directing students to racing.  In addition, the class is built around crews of two in the boats sharing duties.

I may, or may not, be interested in racing sailboats.  What I'm more interested in, at this point, is learning to sail - solo.  So, I've elected to pass on this particular class.  I've still my eyes open for a better class more suited to my needs.

If I really get the itch, I've decided to find a boat and take it out for some "on-the-job-water" experience.  I can always take a canoe paddle with and drop the sails and paddle back if I can't figure it out.  YouTube videos and books has been my "training" so far.  If I don't capsize, I'll probably be OK.

Though my sailing education is up in the air (and not in the water), my other boating aspirations are not.  I've decided my winter project will be building a 'yak.  Pygmy Boats, out of Port Townsend, WA, sells kits.

Pygmy Boats use the "stitch and glue" method to construct their kits.  The boats get glassed inside and out leaving a nice clear wood look.  They've kayaks in all shapes and sizes, a canoe plan, and a small row boat plan,  You can see all the models HERE.

A nice thing about Pygmy Boats is you can try any and all models out on the water.  They'll allow you to paddle around the marina to get a feel for their products.

Pygmy says, and dudes I know who've built a Pygmy, it will take 80 to 100 hours to complete the boat.  That will be a nice way to pass the winter monsoon season here.  I'm looking forward to the process as much as having and using the finished product.

In other news, with Memorial Day Monday, I've a four-day weekend this coming.  I've visitors coming.  The weather looks like it will cooperate at least some.  The time off will be nice.  Being outside enjoying will be even better.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Relative Tourist

The second half of last week and all through the weekend I had my maternal and paternal relatives on hand.  It was very nice to see them.  When they were here, the things we did were pretty much tourist.

We met up with my cousin and his wife and made our way to Mt. Rainier National Park.  When you see the pictures below (click on them to make them bigger), you'll notice no pictures of Mt. Rainier proper.  It was cloudy/rainy the day we visited so the mountain was not out.  However, there were sites to be seen.

We pulled into a parking area that was labelled "Grove of the Patriarchs."  It has some big-ass Douglas Firs and other species there.  We picked a short 1.3 mile out and back trail to explore.

The trail was quite wide, not too steep, not too rooty or rocky, and was a nice leg-stretcher for the car-bound lot.

To give you a perspective, the I am over six feet tall and could walk under any portion of the (below) downed tree over the trail.

We came upon this cool pedestrian suspension bridge over a VERY cold snow runoff fed river. The sign at the foot of the bridge suggested one person at a time.  We complied.

The next day we were off to points north of here.  We made a stop at the Naval Underwater Warfare Museum.  There were torpedoes.

Funky flying missile bomb torpedo things.

Diving apparatus of all sorts.

And some deep sea diving vessels of strange proportion and shape.

The theme for the visit was "ride the ferries everywhere."  This was no exception.  We departed Port Townsend for Whidbey Island.  My maternal relative was a Navy kid.  Her paternal relative was a Naval Aviator stationed at Whidbey Island in the early 1950's.  She lived on Whidbey for most of 3rd grade and hadn't been back since they moved to Pensacola, FL.

After adequately viewing the Island we were back on the ferry.  As we were heading from Whidbey back to Port Townsend we saw three of the below cruise ships.  My guess is they were departing from Seattle bound for Alaska.

The below chick and dude rode bikes on the ferry.  She played banjo and he played mandolin.  They were pretty OK and played all during the crossing taking tips in the banjo case.

It was a nice, albeit short, visit by the relatives.  As I type this they are on their way back to the Midwest via Amtrak - their preferred mode of transportation.

This coming weekend I've more Midwesterners visiting.  Friday is my every-other-Friday-off and Monday is a Memorial Day.  A nifty four day weekend!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Dance Card Filling

Last night I spent a little time penciling in activities for upcoming weekends.  Things are getting full sort of quickly.

Starting today, I've relatives coming in via Amtrak from the Midwest.  They'll be here through Sunday.  There won't be much bikin', but, there's very likely going to be a trip to Mt. Rainier National Park!

The following weekend is a four day weekend for me.  I've my usual every-other-Friday off and Monday will be Memorial Day.  More Midwesterners are due in that Thursday evening and through the longer weekend.

The very first weekend in June is the Gear Up gear expo in Everett.  This will take up quite a bit of either that Saturday or Sunday.  I am scheming riding bike to this event.  A ferry crossing shall be part of this grand tour.

Then, the following Friday evening, all day Saturday, and most all day Sunday, and again the following weekend with those same days with times are very probably going to be tied up with sailing school.  I found a school that isn't too expensive and that I should learn a lot about sailing from.  I haven't pulled the trigger yet, but am thinking I will.

On the other hand, there's going to be some organized mountain bike goings on a Duthie Hill the second weekend in June.  Decisions, decisions.....

Monday, May 13, 2013

Vashon Island / Gig Harbor Beer Festival Ride

This past Saturday a co-worker and I lit out on a round-about tour of the area.  I've interjected commentary with what went down intermixed with the pictures.  If you click on them (the pictures that is), they do get bigger - so there you go.  There's a link to the whole set down below there somewhere.  You'll find it if you look.

The day started out bright and early with a ten mile ride from where I live to the Southworth ferry dock.  I took back roads to not deal with traffic and see areas of where I live I've not before.

I met the co-worker at the dock.  We had some minutes before the ferry was due in.

There was a nice view of the Olympic Mountains from the dock.

Our aim, to start out, was Vashon Island.  Vashon Island was a short ten minute ferry ride from the Southworth dock.  Vashon is a bit different from Bainbridge Island.  Bainbridge has more of the upper crush, rich people who work in Seattle, types.  Though they are very nice and it's a bike friendly place to ride, it is quite expensive to live there and it is more hoity toity.  Vashon, on the other hand, attracts a different crowd.  The people are also very nice but a more, for lack of a better term, like hippies.  They are very earthy.  It is also quite expensive to live on Vashon.  But it has more of an artists hangout feel to it.

Vashon Island locals?

If you are like me, there is nothing you'd rather do on Mother's Day than to take Mom on a tour of chicken coops.

Not too far into the Vashon Island portion of the day's ride we came upon Vashon Island Coffee.   It is a coffee shop, a store of sorts, and also a coffee roaster.

After some of Vashon Island coffee's finest, we back-tracked to the Farmer's Market.  Though I didn't upload the pictures to this post, there was a portable wood fired pizza oven there and also live music.  Now that's my kind of Farmer's Market!

We departed the Farmer's Market in search of the bike grown into a tree.  The tree was quite old and the bike about eight feet above the ground.  We did not gather any local knowledge regarding the who, what, when, or why.  I'm guessing it was a bike placed a bit off the ground in a tree or leaned up against and then forgotten.  Either way, or even some other way, it's grown in there now.

This is a typical Vashon Island road.  There were quite smooth.  There's one main road that runs north and south that had quite a bit of traffic on it.  As soon as we left that road, we had the road we choose pretty much to ourselves.

When we reach the southern end of the island we hopped a separate ferry to Point Defiance Park.  Again, about a ten minute ferry ride.  We spotted this handmade kayak.  This is one pretty much like the one I'll likely build over the winter monsoon season.

We left Point Defiance and made our way through Tacoma and to the Tacoma Narrows.  We needed to ride the bridge to get to Gig Harbor and the beer festival.  On the left hand side of the bridge on the left below, there's a very wide pedestrian/bike path.

Once we rolled into Gig Harbor, we opted to food up.  Wood fired pizza was the choice.  After leaving no crumb uneaten, we made our way to the Beer Festival.  The place was packed and they were turning away those who didn't buy tickets beforehand online.  Co-worker learned this the hard way.  There were 18 different brewers with a total of 41 beers to choose from, and with the lone exception from Oregon, all were from Washington.  And, all are small that don't ship nationally, breweries.  Upon check in I was issued my 5.5 ounce capacity, genuine plastic, cup and eight tokens.  

Knowing we still had twenty miles to bike, I limited my samples to seven.  Still, I was pretty buzzed on the high-test beer and opted to sit and the shade a long while before we started for home.

Following the water we happened upon the place below.  Though I've never seen Deadliest Catch TV show, I've heard of it.  Supposedly, and according to the co-worker, the Lisa Marie is one of the boats that's been included on the show.

From there is was a tour of back roads to Port Orchard.  There were a few roller hills but nothing too difficult for my alcohol addled self to handle.  I acquired a very slight sunburn but had a great time exploring Vashon Island and attending the beer festival.  Supposedly, we're getting into festival season - beer and otherwise.  I'm looking forward to discovering them and turning them into bike events, too.  Riding to a festival is the way to go.

All the pictures from the day are HERE.  Check 'em out.  There's 97, I think.

I'm not sure what's up next.  Family is visiting from Thee Olde Country starting Wednesday and departing Sunday.  I'm sure we'll be touring the area but not on bikes.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Bikes and Beer

This coming Saturday, as in tomorrow, I'm meeting a co-worker for a roadie type ride.  Thee game plan is to hop thee ferry for Vashon Island, ride around there for a bit and partake in some pastries and coffee, before departing by ferry once again for Seattle.

From there we'll make our way back to here via back roads and thee Tacoma Narrows Bridge.  I've wanted to bike that bridge since I moved here.

On thee way back to here there's going to be a stop in Gig Harbor for Thee Gig Harbor Beer Festival.

Thee beer festival doesn't start until noon or 1 PM or something and runs until 6 PM.  We're planning on an early morning ferry crossing/ride so we should be able to get some decent mileage.  Prior to beering up, we'll find a nice local establishment to feed.

In other news, I've been researching sailing schools.  I've found one that runs Friday evenings, all day Saturday and all day Sunday for two consecutive weekends.  It's not very expensive and should be fun and educational.

Since I live in primo sailing world, it would sort of be a shame not to learn to do this.

In other, other news, I'm also thinking of building a kayak.  If that goes well, perhaps I might segue into building a small sailboat.  I'm good with my hands and enjoy woodworking projects.  I'm going to need a shop of sorts, though.....

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Grand Ridge to Duthie Hill and Back - Again

This is the post with lots of pictures.  Click on them and they get bigger.  Links to the entire set of each day are in here somewhere.

This past Saturday I drove to Issaquah and hit the Grand Ridge Trail.

Over the hills and through the woods.....

Crossing wood bridges.....

Fjording boardwalks aplenty.....

Switching from this way to that way....

Until I arrived at Duthie Hill.....

There were dual slalom courses to brave.....

Camel humps, ahhhh, humping.....

And ancient maps to decipher.....

At some places the trail got skinny.....

And under the bridge trolls to be thwarted.....

Lions - apparently, Tigers - no, Bears - yep, them too.

And then it was time to drive home.  Look!  The mountain is out!

I crossed The Narrows to finally arrive home.

It was a great ride.  The trails were in excellent condition.  It was a great temptation to stay at the mountain biker's Disney World that is Duthie Hill.  But, I'd another ride lined up for Sunday.  Saturday's pictures are HERE.

Sunday a co-worker and I loaded up bikes and headed for North Bend, WA.  The game plan was to ride two rails-to-trails, trails ending up at the three mile (it might be two mile) long tunnel at Snoqualmie Pass.

First up was taking the Snoqualmie Valley Trail to Rattlesnake Lake....

This river was fairly wide and looked like a ton of fun in a kayak.

It was very slightly uphill most all the way to the lake.  Rattlesnakes spotted - zero.

After the requisite pictures we hopped on the John Wayne Pioneer Trail bound for....

The Snoqualmie tunnel.....

On mountain bikes, of course!

We saw a lot of waterfalls created by snow melt.  When we approached this one, the air temperature was easily 15 degrees cooler.  It was like standing in front of a window air conditioner.

There were about 20 climbers doing their thing, aided by.....

Those on belay.

The John Wayne Pioneer trail generally follows I-90.  In some spots you could see the poor bastards stuck in there cars.  We poor bastards had to listen to the road noise.

There were several old train trestles to go over.

As we rode we got closer and closer to snow.....

And then we started to see it by the side of the trail.

And then on the trail.....

Until it blocked the trail.  My co-worker hiked up the trail about 200 yards beyond where the bikes were stopped.  He found a sign that said the tunnel was 1.6 miles farther along.

We'd been going up in elevation until that point.  Turning around our speed easily tripled (or more) as we bombed back to Rattlesnake Lake and then North Bend.  I'd been craving fish tacos all day and we found them at the North Bend Bar and Grill.  They were an appetizer item.  I had two orders. And beer.  Of course.

I'm thinking about going back this coming weekend.  Instead of the Ellsworth, I'm thinking I might ride the Surly Moonlander.  Yes, it will be some work horsing it up the grade.  However, when the trail becomes snowbound, I can keep riding to the tunnel.  Anyway, all the pictures from this past Sunday are HERE.