Sunday, April 19, 2009

Guemes Island

I dropped D at Skagit River Park for Spring Reign (Ultimate Frisbee Extravaganza) and then headed for Anacortes and caught the ferry around 10. I brought my bike, since I had learned the night before that the regular ferry was out of servce this week, so no cars. Maybe that explains why there was so little traffic on the island on a Saturday -- or maybe it's always like this! I covered most of the paved roads, walked around Clark Point, walked out to Demopolis Marsh (Peach Preserve), and explored Yellow Bluffs north of Kelly Point. A little hazy - so Baker was visible, but not photogenic - but what a great 5 hours! More photos over at Gravel Beach.

San Juan Island

Somewhere between the long hours in the hearing room and the long hours on email in the evening, I managed to get out and enjoy the nice weather. I could be stuck in a worse place.

Nisqually Refuge

I didn't get out of meetings in Lacey until almost 5, and the prospect of northbound traffic and late afternoon sun convinced me that this was a good day to go for a walk.  I wasn't going to make it home for dinner anyway.  The five mile dike trail at the Refuge will close in a few weeks to make way for the restoration of the tides - which is a good thing, but which will eliminate this classic hike.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Road Trip Redux

I've tried recreating our Nashville trip using Google Maps. Clicking here, or map above, should take you to Google maps, where you can zoom in and link to earlier blog posts.

Thursday, April 09, 2009


Four years ago when D and I flew from Nashville to Chicago after SuperNationals, United Airlines cancelled our flight, and we spent the day in the Nashville Airport, with the tickets to that afternoon's Cubs game sitting in my pocket unused. Boy, was I pissed!

This year, United kept to their schedule, but all we got was a four hour layover at O'Hare. Long enough to be bored silly, but not long enough to dare leave the airport for a trip into town for good pizza.

Another Nationals over. Next year is in Columbus - I wonder if we'll be going?


The tournament wrapped up Sunday evening and the players started heading off on buses and airplanes for New York, Arizona, Florida, and 40-odd other states. Some of the players (ours, for example) stayed up until 3am playing bughouse in the hotel hallways. No big trophies, but the three musketeers all walked away with 4.5 wins out of 7 in the championship section.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Cumberland River

After D began the last round, I dropped M at the airport and then spent an hour or two exploring a little bit.

Opryland - the resort, the mall, and the Grand Old Opry - are located about 6 miles upstream of downtown Nashville. Just downstream of the Gaylord complex there's a new pedestrian bridge that links the bike trail on the right bank to Two Rivers Park. The suspension bridge provides great views of the river and one is only barely aware of the Briley Parkway or Opryland. You can see the General Jackson paddlewheeler moored upstream, which adds a historic effect to the image.

Nashville Waterfront

Nashville is built on a low bluff along the west bank of the Cumberland River. Like so many old river cities, the waterfront is been fixed up and turned back into something positive. The Shelby Street Bridge has been turned over to foot traffic and provides great views of both downtown and of the renovated east side of the river, where the East Side Machine Works used to be. Too bad D wasn't along to appreciate the LP stadium where the Titans play. The cool red sculpture along shoreline is Alice Aycock's Ghost Ballet.


Saturday, we left the guys to their games and headed into Nashville for lunch. We had barbecue at Jack's and then wandered around downtown and the waterfront in sunshine. The ATT tower dominates the skyline and contrasts with the older buildings along Broadway and the Ryman Auditorium (the Grand Old Opry, before 1974, when it moved out to Opryland). As you approach the river, the honky tonks give way to more generic tourist spots like Hard Rock Cafe, the Old Spaghetti Factory, and Hooters.

D and I skipped Graceland when we drove through Memphis, so I was glad to have another chance to see Elvis.

Friday, April 03, 2009


D and I arrived yesterday evening after driving hours through severe thunderstorm and flash flood warnings. At least by the time we got to the hotel, the tornado warnings had been relaxed and they had let folks back into the atriums (atria?) - of which this place has several big ones. I might worry as much about big hail stones as about twisters.

The Gaylord Opryland is a huge hotel - maybe one of the biggest in the world that isn't a casino. It's sort of a grown up Disneyland - no rides, but lots of waterfalls and shrubbery and overpriced stores. Sort of like really big cruise ship that ran aground on the Cumberland River.

We were here four years ago and must have raved so much about this mega-bubble that M decided to come out and join us this time. Bad weather screwed up her connection, so she spent last night in a Ramada near Dallas, but she arrived on a morning flight around lunchtime today.

The main event began this afternoon and right now over 5000 players from all over the country, of all skills and grades, are in the second of their seven rounds.

Thursday, April 02, 2009


We didn't spend much time in Memphis -- long enough to confirm that Mud Island and the River walk wouldn't be open for the season for another week. We drove around a little, glanced down Beale Street, and I walked down to the river in a couple of places, but then we headed off for Nashville, and one hell of a rainstorm.


We headed out of St. Louis with the commuters returning to their southern suburbs, but cut back to the Mississippi at Cape Girardeau and headed down to Cairo, Illinois. We arrived at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers at dusk. Both Cairo and the park where the rivers meet were awfully ragged, but I was still pretty impressed by the geographic significance of the place. Not sure D was, but at least I got him out of the car for a few minutes.

Gateway Arch

I left St. Louis with a new admiration for the elegance and symbolism of the Arch. It really is a very impressive, and completely different, monument. The design is incredibly simple and it does seem to have a timeless quality. After having just visited 1000-year old Cahokia across the river, one wonders if this structure might still be standing many centuries from now? And what people might make of it?

Getting to the top is an adventure in itself - sort of a slow moving amusement park ride. The tram is a small train of 8 cars, each holding five people in a windowless and very sci-fi gondola. It had to be built to fit into the tapering triangular structure and to accommodate a constantly changing slope. The top is not an observation deck as much as an attempt to squeeze a little public space into a complex and tight engineering structure. But the views are both spectacular and unique - unlike conventional skyscrapers and the more typical urban tourist needles, you are suspended above empty space.