Sunday, November 27, 2011


We hosted Thanksgiving again this year, although our numbers were down a little from some years.  That does make the whole thing a bit more manageable, since we can all fit around one table and we don't need quite so large a turkey.   We had a 19 lb bird for 11 people this year -- which would have worked better if the proportion of dark meat had been higher!

We rarely entertain, so Thanksgiving is our annual opportunity to actually host something.  It's an excuse to clean the house. It's my annual deadline for wrapping up house projects.  And I'm finally figuring out how turkeys are put together - although I still make a mess of taking it apart.

I think we can call the kitchen officially done, after a year and a half (more actually) of cabinets and floors and paint and appliances.  I finished a shoji shade for the south window and installed it Thursday morning after the bird went into the oven.  And I just finished the pot-hanging rack over the stove a few days earlier.  For years we have said that the only reason we really needed a dishwasher was Thanksgiving.  And this year  we finally had one.  What a great idea!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Denny Creek

A sunny, brisk Sunday morning and fresh snow in the mountains, and M grading papers all day, so I headed for the foothills hoping to catch sun reflecting off of ice on the edges of Franklin Falls or on the waterfalls up Denny Creek.  But the road got snowier and snowier and by the time I realized I should turn back, it was awfully hard to figure out how to do so without getting stuck.  The Denny Creek road (old highway 202) was beautiful in the  snow, but just as I approached the top (about to pass beneath the westbound lanes of I-90 near the summit), the snow got too thick and icy and I slid to a stop, high-centered between deep ruts.

All I could think was that M would see this as just one more of my excuses to replace my 235,000 mile Outback with a new one.  If I could have just gotten 50 more feet, I could have parked it beneath the overpass for the winter.  I called AAA, but realized they might be of limited use up here.  What could have been a very long and complicated day was saved by three guys in two jeeps that showed up before AAA could even find me.  They ignored my pleas of gross stupidity and clearly thought that getting stuck in the snow was what made a day like this fun!  They put their jeeps to work, pulled me to solid ground, where I could finally get the chains on and turn the car around.  So I could head back down.  I had realized that there was no way I could make the last 400 feet up to the Alpental Road, but with the jeeps standing by and chains on the rear wheels, I could probably make it back the way I came up.

It was a very pretty drive back down and I even made it back to town to see most of the Seahawks game.  The adventure cost me a breakfast sandwich and a burger on the way back down, but no expensive tow back to the city.  It looks like I did break a torsion bar, but maybe that's just a down payment on the new car.

Speaking of breaking things, these pictures were taken with my new SX150, which replaces the SX130 that I filled up with salt water a week ago Friday (Whidbey Storm).  I wonder what expensive thing I'll break next week?

Monday, October 31, 2011

English Bay

Vancouver's West End is one of the densest residential neighborhoods on the west coast - although in the last twenty years some of the city's other districts may have pulled ahead.  There's a remarkable combination of old and new, of houses and apartment buildings, of tree-lined streets and commercial strips.  And then there's English Bay and Stanley Park.

I took a quick lunchtime walk down to the Hotel Sylvia and the beach.  I bought a latte at Delaney's and sat on a bench in the rain.  It was very pleasant and very different than those summer weekends when we've stayed at the Sylvia and watched the fireworks with 300,000 other people.

Previous posts:  English Bay 2008, English Bay 2006

West Vancouver

We've come up to Vancouver many times over the years, but I'd never seen much of West Vancouver - except looking across from Stanley Park or looking down from the Lion's Gate Bridge.  What a great place for a late afternoon walk and a sunset.  I took the bus from downtown to Dundarave, then walked back to Ambleside Park before catching the bus back for the rest of the poster session.

As usual, there is a slightly more shoreline-oriented version of the Vancouver trip over at Gravel Beach.

False Creek

The conference took up most of the days, but there was still time to get away now and then.  I guess ultimately I'd still rather walk and ponder a shoreline, than talk it to death in a downtown hotel.
We actually had a planned field trip Monday afternoon to the Olympic Village site on False Creek, but I also made a point of walking down to the water in Yaletown a couple of other times during the meeting - one of them for sunrise, one at lunchtime.  There are lots of interesting stories and lessons about urban estuaries, coastal management, public access, and shoreline development here, but there are also just lots of cool things to look at.


Amtrak Cascades

On the trip from Seattle to Vancouver, it's important to be on the left side of the train, since that's where the water is.  Wander down to the cafe car for coffee while the train inches through Everett, since the switchyard scenery isn't as interesting.  Ideally, plan your trip for a season when the sun has already risen while you roll along the Sound between Seattle and Everett -- it was pretty gray on this trip until we got north of Marysville.

Don't miss Shipwreck Point between Edmonds and Mukilteo (not in these pictures), Rock Point Oyster along Chuckanut Drive, or the white rock in White Rock, BC.  Look for eagles near Crescent Beach - not many today.

It takes four hours or more on the train, less than three in the car (even if border is slow), but the train is just plain more relaxing.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sculpture Park

The forecast was cold and rainy with snow lines in the mountains threatening to drop to below 4500', so I gave up on thoughts to go backpacking this weekend and decided to work on the kitchen instead.  But Saturday afternoon, the painting was getting awfully frustrating, all the more so because the sun was shining.

I fled the house without a clear plan, but somehow I ended up on the waterfront for a wonderful hour and half in which I completely forgot about patching plaster and rinsing paint brushes.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lake Louise

Years ago I looked into the cost of staying at the Chateau Lake Louise - just out of curiosity.

As we always do, we settled for a space in the big parking lot and walked to the lake to watch everyone taking pictures of their friends.  It was hazy - in part due to the big controlled burn to the west that we passed an hour or so later - and the sun was in our faces, but it was still spectacular.  We settled for coffee and ice cream back down in the village at the bottom of the hill, before turning the car towards Seattle.

Icefields Parkway

I've rarely met a road I didn't enjoy driving - except maybe I-5 through Lynnwood - but I've rarely found a drive I enjoy more than this spectacular highway between Jasper and Banff.  It only takes a few hours, if you're in a hurry, but what a shame if you can't stop for the glaciers, the waterfalls, the views, or the occasional elk or bear.  There's something about this highway's intimate relationship with the landscape that I love. Even this day, when the glare of the sun made both driving and photography challenging, was incredible. I got to ride it on my bike back in high school (with my family carrying all my gear in the car) - this trip I found myself wanting to do that again sometime.

Monday, September 12, 2011


As a child, the answer for me to the question, "what is your favorite place?", was always Jasper.  I think maybe it's still the answer to that question!

Thanks to M's remarkable bargain hunting instincts, we are staying at the Jasper Park Lodge!  Which provides a nice deck with great views where I can drink my beer and get horribly sentimental.

Maybe it's all the family camping trips growing up.  Maybe it was Granny staying here at the lodge while the rest of us camped at Snaring River (which we visited this morning).  Maybe it was coming to Jasper with J&R to celebrate Mom and Dad's 50th Anniversary.  Maybe it was driving up here the summer of 1982 when I lived in Minot.  Or driving up with Michele a few years later on a whim on a three day weekend from Seattle.

20 years ago this summer, Michele and I came to the Canadian Rockies on our honeymoon.  Now we're traveling here on our own again.  An awful lot has happened in between.  And today was D's first day of classes!


We made it to Edmonton late Saturday afternoon.  We checked into the Matrix Hotel on the southwest side of downtown. I'm sure it would normally have been way out of our reach, but I had found a really good deal on Expedia before we left.

We drove across the river (the North Saskatchewan) to Old Strathcona and Whyte Avenue, which was bustling on Saturday evening.  We ate at Da-De-O.  Cajun Food.  In Edmonton.  Alberta?  It was really good.  The sweet potato fries were great.  The deep-fried pickles with the sweet chili dipping sauce were even better!

Whyte Avenue was clearly a big deal in Edmonton.  But after dinner we checked out another big deal - the West Edmonton Mall.  After all, we've already been to the Mall of America on this trip.  And WEM is even bigger.  A full blown amusement park.  A water park.  Something like 800 stores.  We didn't spend much.  I bought a pair of reading glasses at the dollar store.  I'd left mine in the car and I couldn't read the tiny print on the mall map without help.  And we played black-light mini golf.  Which set us back $12 or so.  Then we went home.