Monday, April 17, 2017

First Adventure Of The Year!

I'm not sure how long ago I stumbled across the Digital Photography School ( ), a free web site that has an amazing amount of material that covers almost any kind of photography that you might be interested in (and for every level of expertise), but it's been years, and I'm still downloading articles that keep expanding my knowledge of my relatively new passion.  I've had cameras all my Life, and for years, I carried a nice Pentax with me, camping and traveling.  Somewhere between 2003-5, I picked up my first digital camera and was happy with that until 2010, when one of my best friends, a pro photographer, sold me his Sony A100 and a kit lens, which I used for a few months, and then bought a nice lens, which completely blew me away with it's color and sharpness, and then I was truly screwed!  Man, I used to think that being involved in music was expensive, but it doesn't hold a candle to being involved in the world of photography!

So, I'm now 7 years, 2 cameras and and 4 lenses down (up?) the line from there, and looking for different scenery than we have here, in and around Tacoma.  Most, if not all of you are well aware of how much I love my place here, and how reluctant I am to leave it for other spaces, but the trip that I made down to Arizona in 2014 to visit my best friend of almost 50 years, changed all that.  We hit Zion and The Grand Canyon, and my feet seemed to have picked up a permanent "itch", so after a brief detour through the "Land of Cancer" (not much to photograph), I headed up the Al-Can Highway with my bro-in-law and sister last summer, and back for another visit to Nova Scotia in October.

Now, DPS isn't the only photography resource I use, and I noticed that the name, James Brandon, kept popping up here and there, connected to his absolutely gorgeous photos, and well written articles from Sony, and I found his web site ( ).  It had a link to his workshop lineup, and in September, with some misgivings (money, time of year, time away from The Beach, someone to watch my 4 4-legged "anchors"), I signed up for a 5 day workshop in Banff, Yoho & Jasper National Parks from April 6-11.

Decision time: fly or drive?  Well, since almost no airlines are letting you do free carry ons now, and I had 3 bags of stuff, along with the ticket, the decision was easy, so I left here in the Outback on a Tuesday morning.  Mapquest told me it was a little over an 11 hour drive; heads up: don't believe Mapquest!  Not only was their timeline a bit short, but the directions were wrong; "Adventure Time"!  Most of you are close enough friends that you know I may be one of the last remaining people on earth who doesn't have a smart phone, but stopping and talking to a couple of cops got me back on the right track, and I spent Tuesday night in Kamloops, B.C., and I got into Banff a day early, about 6:30, Wednesday evening.

Good thing, 'cause I was going to go walk around the town and shoot some photos on Thursday morning, but as I pulled on my boots and went to tie them, one of the laces broke (Quigley-luck strikes again!).  "No big deal!" you say?  Tell you what: you haven't looked for boot laces in Banff!  You'd think that in a recreational area like that, everyone would handle bootlaces, but it took me about 10 stores to find them, and when I did, the owner informed me that he has to buy them from Europe!  I couldn't resist; I asked him if he'd heard of this new thing called the internet, and he gave me the stinkeye, and then started laughing, and launched into a 5 minute story about the struggles of locating a source.  No REI up there, I guess. . .

I met James and the other 3 guys in the lobby of the Rundlestone Lodge at 5, and we headed out for dinner before going out for some evening shooting, and it may have taken about a half hour before we were all talking and laughing like old friends.  Besides photography, I had at least 2 things in common with everybody.

James is amazing; he's 31 years old (everybody else was up there in . . . ummmm. . . "middle age [?]" with me 🙄), and besides being an incredible photographer, he also plays guitar, practices jiu jitsu a few times a week, is a husband and father of 2, runs these workshops, is working on 2 instructional videos for LightRoom and PhotoShop, writes articles for a couple of companies, and, oh yeah, also has his private pilot's license.  It makes me believe that time runs much slower for the young'uns!  And on top of that, he's a nice guy, and very personable (Hey, don't let this all go to your head, James!)

So, after dinner, we headed out to Lake Minnewanka, and at around 7:30, I got this one; not much color in the sky, for which I chided James (c'mon, you all know me!), but still beautiful. 

(Don't ask; I can't, for the life of me, get the next one to "center"!)

The next morning found us at Vermillion Lakes at about 6:15 (groan) . . .

And at about 6:45 the light show started:

And an hour later, the color had gone back to a dark blue sky.  Timing is everything!

4:30 p.m. found us at Morrant's Curve, waiting for the train and I fumbled this one, and almost missed it; I asked James for an "instant replay", but he told me it wasn't available on this channel.  The next shot (not pictured here) had  only the cars of the train;  I guess I'll have to go back. . .

From here, we wandered up to Lake Louise, and for some reason, I didn't take many shots; maybe it was because the lake was covered in snow and people, but the background was pretty nice:

The third morning found us (6:40, yet again!) looking at the reflections of the 3 Sisters and Mount Lawrence Grassi, in the lake at Canmore:

That morning, I managed to sleep through 2 alarms, and woke up with about 15-20 minutes to get down to the car, and I seriously thought about going down and telling them to just go without me, but luckily I put that thought away, and hauled butt.  Anyway, when the sun broke over the mountains, a few minutes after the picture above:

This was a day packed full of beauty, and we were out most of the day.  I'm pretty sure that this was the day that James introduced me to the music of Monte Montgomery  ( ), a finger picker extraordinaire.  Here we are, driving down the road, surrounded by the majesty of the mountains, and I'm already in awe of my surroundings, and then this incredible music attacks my aural senses, and honestly, folks, I was completely overwhelmed; it literally reduced me to giggles!  Thanks, so much, James!

From here we moved onto Emerald Lake, which was completely frozen over and covered about 6" deep in snow, and we walked over to the avalanche fields (observed from a safe distance, although we were all hoping we'd witness one!) on a cleared path.  Then it was back to Lake Louise, and we wrapped up the day at Bow River, looking up at Castle Mountain, at about 7 o'clock.

The next morning found us back at Vermillion Lakes (anybody getting the idea that this was a favorite place to start our days?), which is only about 15-20 minutes outside of Banff, and made it handy to get back to town for breakfast.

After lunch, we drove out to Johnson Canyon, and about 2/3 of the way there, it started to snow hard enough that we considered heading back out, but decided to keep going, and we hiked back into the canyon, and it was one of the highlights of the workshop, at least for me!  This was at about 5 p.m.:

And as you can tell, the light wasn't so hot, because of this:

And, no, those are not spots on my camera lens!  😄 A bit closer, and through a very short tunnel through the rocks, afforded us this beautiful view:

And another orientation. . .

The last full day, at Two Jack Lake (bet you're happy to hear we're almost at the end, eh?  Oops; too much time with Canadians this last year!) blessed us with what, for me, was one of the most beautiful pictures I think that I've ever shot:

The alpinglow is hitting the back side of Mt. Rundle, and once again, you can see we were out there at the crack of 0:dark:30.  On the way back to breakfast, we pulled over at a wide spot in the road to get this:

And then we were off to Jasper National Park, where we got out and hiked back into the woods a ways,  into Mistaya Canyon.  It might have only been a quarter mile back or so, and would have been very easy to miss:

The last night, James took us up to the Norquay Overlook, for a last look at Banff; man, it got a bit nippy, and  hungry (!) and we barely made it into the restaurant before the kitchen closed at 11, but again, it was well worth it.  (I've got to work on the "night photography".)

The last morning found us back downstream from Two Jack and Minnewanka for a shot of (Doogie MacLean paraphrased) "the marching mountains' majesty":

Breakfast was the official "end" of the shoot.  We got back to the lodge at about 9, and I jumped into the shower.  I figured that I had one more night reserved, and thought that I'd get a head start on my packing, so I could get an early start the next morning and maybe make it home in 1 day.  I also wanted to go out and get some shots of the town, because no matter which direction you looked, there was a beautiful view.  At approximately 11:30, there was a knock on the door, and I opened it to find a kind of confused looking "room cleaner", who said, "Ummm. . . haven't you checked out yet?" (11 a.m. checkout!), and I answered, "Well, I think that I'm booked in for one more day."  He snagged his phone and called downstairs, and after minute, said, "The manager is going to call you in a minute or two." and left.

At this point, I'm frantically throwing my stuff in the bags, and 5 minutes later, I popped by the desk, where they told me that, indeed, my assumption of another night at the inn was wrong, and graciously offered to extend the reservation.  At this point though, half my stuff was in the car, and I opted to hit the road, and I didn't even have time to tell the "James Gang", "Adios!"  I turned left onto Highway 1, and 9 1/2 hours later, checked into an Econolodge in Bellingham.  I briefly flirted with the idea of continuing on to Salmon Beach, and decided that would be pretty foolish, considering I had been up since 5 a.m., and was running on between 4 and 5 hours of sleep since the start of the workshop.  The next morning I started out on the last leg of the trip at about 9, and was home by noon.

All of my previous "expeditions" had been, in usual Quigley-style, improvised; where ever I was, whenever I was, that's what I shot.  I have no idea of how much time James put into preparing for this workshop; I do know that he and his "partner in crime", Mike, were up there in the winter to scout things out, so as not to be wasting time looking for places to shoot.  He seamlessly transported us from one gorgeous site to another, and I simply can't imagine a more organized workshop.  I fully intend to accompany him again, and we plan on making my Iceland dream a reality in the next year or two.  And on my own shoots, I think that I've learned that preparation is probably more than half of what makes a good photographer, so researching places will be a new endeavor!  And, again, thanks, James, for yet another valuable lesson!

Thanks for hanging in here with me; I hope you enjoyed the photos, and feel free to leave comments and/or critiques.  I feel as though I'm in about the 4th grade in the School of Photography, and hope I have enough time left to make it through high school, or maybe even college, before embarking on the "final adventure"!  

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The 6th Web Based. . .

"Occasionally" Annual Salmon Beach Bulletin

Congratulations, folks; we've made it through yet another year and another election cycle!  Other than saying that it's been one of the most entertaining campaigns I've ever witnessed, I hope that we'll never see another like it, and no more politics will be included in this issue of The  Bulletin!
This has been a great year, although it started with me struggling to bring all the photos I had since I first got to Salmon Beach, from a Mac program called, "Aperture", which Apple decided to quit supporting, over into another program called, "Lightroom".  I thought it was going to be fairly simple, but it actually wound up being almost a 6 month long procedure, since there was no way to bring over any changes I had made to them. . . Done, and now in the rear view mirror!
In February, I almost pulled the trigger on purchasing a photo tour (limit of 6 people) to Iceland, and then noticed that the first day would be spent purchasing cold weather clothing for extended periods of -15•F, whereupon I quickly readjusted my sights on a spring or fall tour, when it’s available.  Yeah, yeah. . . I know. . . “What a wuss!”  I mean, really?  Laying out a huge amount of money for good clothing that I might use for 3-5 days?  I don’t think so!
In May, I had a scare that I wanted to share with you guys, that may save you a little heartbreak.  I’d been noticing that both Sia & Kydai (the "new" kittens) had been scratching around their necks and ears, so after breakfast, I broke out the Hartz Flea & Tick spray for Cats and gave them each a couple of squirts around the back of their heads, and then kind of rubbed it around, under their chins, where they couldn’t lick it, and up between their ears. About 10 minutes later, I looked over at Kydai, and intermittently, her head would give an extended “tremor” (kind of like Parkinson’s), and then it would stop, but she was acting kind of weird, so I snagged her and wiped her off with a wet sponge, but figured that it might be smart to call my vet. I talked to the receptionist and told her what was going on, and she put me on hold for about 45 seconds, came back on and told me to wash her off and get her to the emergency vet’s, post haste; "This is serious!"  5 minutes later we were on our way up the stairs.  I got there, walked up to the desk and told the receptionist why we were there, and she grabbed the PA mike and said, “Triage; main desk!”, and about a minute later they whisked the cat into the back room . Long story short, she’s OK, but we were in there for about an hour and a half before they called me in to talk to the Doc. She said that Kydai seemed fine, but I should take her home and give her a bath in Dawn (dish soap), and then watch her closely for the tremors to return, or even a seizure.  Home & into the sink, and bless her little heart, she was actually very good, although she didn’t appreciate the bath, the towel, or the hair dryer, but had no problem eating a big lunch, afterwards.  The vet said that they have had an awful lot of problems with the Hartz products, and she didn’t understand why it’s still on the market, and, of course, offered up some expensive options, which I will be checking out, ‘cause we aren’t risking this, again. The other cats had no problems with it, at all, but the vet got to keep the remainder of the bottle!

At the end of July, I got another "CFZ" (Cancer Free Zone) designation from the docs at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, and a week later, on my birthday, I joined my sister and brother-in-law, and we headed north on the Al-Can Highway, for a 2 week road trip.  It was a lot of fun, and, as you might expect from your friend, highly fueled by massive amounts of caffeine, which kept my mouth running more than usual, keeping Elaine and Chuck amused and in good spirits, which was my intention! 

On the 4th day, we stopped in Ft. Nelson, B.C. about 2 p.m., checked into the Super 8 and then went to a little “museum” (the first of 3 "diamonds" on the trip) where we spent a couple of hours; an unbelievable amount of stuff, from ancient telephone and switchboards, gas pumps, tools, radios, pictures, and clothing, to a HUGE 16 cylinder diesel engine (outside!) that developed over 4500 hp @ 350 revs/minute, and was probably 30’ long, and maybe 12-16’ high, and BC still has 5 of them in storage to use in emergencies, to generate power.  They had a garage, kept up by a grizzled 84 yr. old dude who hand cranked a 1 cylinder 1909 Bush car; I didn’t know such a thing ever existed!  The garage was stuffed with maybe 25 beautiful old cars, motorcycles, chain saws, and walls full of old license plates, shelves full of oil cans. . .  That crusty old guy keeps every single powered machine in there running!  Friggin’ unbelievable! 

The car in front of him is a 1908 McLaughlin Buick that he drove from Ft. Nelson to Whitehorse, Yukon and back (1180 miles!) in 2008.

Speaking of Whitehorse. . .Whitehorse is. . . ummmm. . . "rustic", to say the least; the buildings here are basically rectangular blocks, with absolutely no redeeming qualities; God, it sucked, but the surrounding country was beautiful, if a bit redundant.  BIG country, but after awhile, boring!  We saw black bears, bison and a few mountain goats, and what may have been a baby moose; not sure, but he was small and far away.

The next day we headed off to Dawson City, and as some of you know, my bro-in-law is kind of a quiet guy, so to keep the atmosphere in the car “light”, I had been supercharging myself in the morning before we hit the road, and continuing through the day, with massive amounts of caffeine, which, of course resorts in a horrendous case of motor-mouth, and releases my sometimes “odd” sense of humor, which worked as planned.  Well, this day, the plan went slightly awry, when about 15 minutes out of Whitehorse, we entered a thick cloud bank which lasted long enough for the first hit of coffee to fade, and I found myself nodding out, leaving the car in silence.  I kept trying to dig myself out, with very little success, and finally asked Chuck to pull over at the next gas station, so I could fill my rather large Starbucks insulated cup, realizing that the gas stations brew really strong coffee for the truck drivers and long distance travelers (hmmmm. . . sounds like a great title for a Moody Blues album!).  Anyway, I’m working on getting that down, and, of course one can't talk and drink at the same time, so. . . I hear Chuck ask my sister to hand him the new disc that he just got.  I kind of expect to be subjected to some country or western, the 2 types of music that he seems to enjoy, but . . . No; much to my horror, I hear the bass drone of a BAGPIPE!  I had either forgotten, or, more likely, repressed the fact that he studied and played bag pipes for 10-15 years, and I swear, on my honor, that CD had only 1 whiny, wheezy sounding song that lasted about 35 minutes, at the end of which time I swore my ears were bleeding.  OMG, folks, I was biting my tongue not to say anything; I kept telling myself that maybe that’s how he felt about my music, and was just getting a little payback, but I can’t ever remember playing the stuff I like when he was around!  So, the song ends (OK, maybe there was more than 1 track on the disc, but you couldn’t prove it by me!), and I’m just starting to breathe a big sigh of relief, when my sis asks, from the back seat, do you want another, and he shrugs and quietly says, “Nah”, where upon, I relax after having immediately tightened up, like being hit with about 220 volts of electricity, in anticipation of even more agony.

Did I mention that my sister was in the back seat?  Did I mention that she is suffering from some hearing loss, no doubt as a result of listening to Chuck practice his pipes(!)?  A hand appears over the console between the 2 front seats, holding a CD, and Chuck ejects the symphony of pain and replaces it with this disc, and while I'm scrambling for my ear plugs, which I use while on the bike (not really; I'm slightly exaggerating here), from the speakers comes the sound of Irish fiddle and penny whistles, of which I'm also not overly fond, but compared to what I had been listening to for the last little while, was almost a salve to the soul!  And there is a girl vocalist with a decent voice, contralto, which I don't find at all objectionable, especially because when she is singing, the fiddle and penny whistle aren't!

Now, back in the day when we (some of us, that is!) were buying albums, that sometimes the artists might not have enough good material to fill an album, so they would record what we unkindly referred to as "filler", right?  Well, somewhere toward the end of this album, there is an acappella piece, about 2 1/2 minutes long, whose lyrics go, "Beer, beer, beer beer, beautiful beer, how we love drinking beer, beer, beer , beer. . ." ad infinitum.  Now, you guys all know that I have not always treated my mind. . . ummmmm. . . "gently", but honest, it only took me one listening to memorize the lyrics; I was sooooo proud of myself!

Dawson City is a small town, to say the least, where the only paved road is the one running through town, to a ferry, which takes you across a river to "The Road To The Top Of The World", which would be closing for winter, the week after we were there.  It's 79 miles of unpaved road, but they keep it in very good shape; we saw a couple of different road graders working on it in different places.  The Dawson City seems to be a ghost town in the making, and here's my favorite photo from there, which will give you the flavor of the town:

 In Fairbanks, a week after we started, we visited the Foutainhead Car Museum ( Fountainhead Museum Video ), which, for me, was another of the 3 "diamonds".  I spent a solid 2 1/2 hours shooting ancient cars that are all in world class conditioon, some of which aqre the only ones still in existence.  Although it is only about 12/6 the size of the LeMay Auto Museum in Tacoma, it is even more impressive.  The cars are all original, and they all get driven at least once a year.  The last hour was spent talking to the manager, to whom I copped to slipping inside the ropes to take some shots I couldn't have gotten without doing so.  He grinned and said that they were aware of that, but they saw what I was doing, and knew I wasn't "up to anything".  He then told me that the ropes werre wired with cameras, as a security measure, and that there were also some other active security precautions.  He asked me to come on back into the garage, where they were working on a couple of beautiful old cars, and I finished off the second camera battery back there.  He gave me his card and asked me to stay in touch; I was honored! 

This is the engine compartment of a 1917 Owen Magnetic; what a beautiful piece of machinery.  Now, walk out to your car and compare the incredible beauty of this engine to what's under your hood!  Kind of makes you long for the day when "Made in America" meant craftsmanship and quality!

This is a 1918 Biddle; incredible.  Just look at the shine on this baby!

And the last is a 1906 Pope Toledo; dang, what can I say?  Maintaining this monster actually bankrupted the second owner, who wound up selling it to the railroad, who turned it into a "rail car"!

The next day, we were off to Denali National Park, and were greeted with this sign, as we pulled into the motel parking lot:

 The funny thing was that everyone I talked to before the trip, warned me about how bad the mosquitoes were, and I went prepared with an 8 oz. bottle of 98% pure Deet, and we didn't see a single mosquito, the whole trip!  The folks told us we missed mosquito season by about 10 days; shoulda been a musician, with timing like that!

And speaking of signs:

Really; they need a sign to tell you that?  And I thought drivers around here were goofy!

Denali, where we spent 3 days, was the 3rd "diamond"; what a beautiful area!  According to the weather forecast, it was supposed to keep on raining, but the day after we arrived, it stopped, and the sun came out for the next 3 days.  30 miles is, if I remember correctly, as far as you can drive in; you're welcome to hike or bicycle beyond that point, but we elected to take the bus, which will take you 90 miles in to where there is a "roadhouse", and it was definitely wonderful, albeit a bit frustrating, because I kept wanting to stop and get some shots, but, alas, no getting off the bus, and although our driver would stop if somebody yelled, "Stop!", she did have to maintain some sort of schedule.  We got there at a perfect time, as they had had about a month of rain, and Denali herself had only been "on display" 3 times in all that time:

A photo just doesn't do justice to the majesty of this gorgeous mountain, but I still feel pretty lucky to have been able to score these; the photos were taken about 20 minutes and 10 miles apart.  The mountain is so big that she creates her own weather systems: 20,300 feet high; about a third taller than Mt. Rainier!

This beautiful little lake was about 3 miles from the roadhouse:

As we were leaving the park, we were going over a bridge over a dry streambed, and the bus stopped for us to be able to get this shot (the moma & her cubs were about 40 feet away):

What a thrill, made even more so when we talked to some folks back at the motel who had been on a bus the day before, and they hadn't seen either the mountain or any bears.  We saw 7 of them, but this was by far the closest view.

The next day was another beautifully clear day, and, since I was not able to take up Uncle Sam on his generous offer to "see the world", back in the late '60's-early 70's, I had been debating whether or not I wanted to lay out the money for a 2 1/2 hour helicopter ride up onto the glacier, but finally decided that I'd probably never be back up here, so why pass up a once in a lifetime shot.  I'm sure that it wasn't as exciting as the one that Uncle Sam may have provided back then, but it was definitely worth it!

The people in Alaska are well aware of the consequences of "global warming", as the glaciers truly are shrinking, and the weather changes are also affecting the behavior of the animals.  Like most people though, they seem divided on whether or not there is anything that can be done about it, and whether or not mankind has anything to do with it.

In October, I returned to Halifax again, with the idea of heading north on the Cabot Trail.  Unfortunately, my timing on this trip was not quite what it should have been; I landed the day after the tail end of Hurricane Mathew blew out, devastating the north end of Nova Scotia, and making the trip impossible.  I should have known, after the way that the trip started out, that it was destined to be not quite what I had hoped.  I got to Sea-Tac Airport about 4 a.m. for the 6 a.m. flight, and going through customs, I forgot to pull the change out of my pocket, so, of course, the TSA asked me to correct that, which I did.  But, when I went through the scanner, something set it off, and darned if they didn't have me "assume the position" against the wall (another first for "the kid"!), and patted me down, finding that I had forgotten my guitar picks in the tiny side pocket of my jeans!  Then, when they ran the hand scanner over me, damned if I didn't test positive for the residue of some type of explosive, so my hands and arms got wiped down; "Quigley, the terrorist"!  Anyway, they finally sent me on my way, and the rest of the flight was fine.

The week that I spent there had great weather, and the foliage was putting on a brilliant display:

This old power station was built in 1935, and I gather from the metal roof that it is still functional:

Since our plans for going north had been scuttled, we spent the time doing day long "outings" around the area and had a lot of fun, although I'm sorry to have missed the chance to explore the north end.

Returning, I had a 3 hour layover in Toronto, and damned if I didn't almost miss my connection!  That friggin' place is huge, and I would have been alright, but I didn't realize that American customs was there instead of Sea-Tac, so I wound up running the last 300 yards (my best OJ impression!), and everybody in the airport heard my name announced on the P.A.  Last one on, they closed the door behind me, and we were in the air 5 minutes later.

So, back home, I've settled in for the rest of the year, braced for winter, and a good thing, as we just had a stretch of 3 days that the temps didn't get above 30•; apologies to you in the mid-west and the east coast!  I realize that you probably consider me a wuss, but I do live out here where we have "civilized" weather.

Well, you're probably wondering if I'm ever going to wind this up, so I will.  I wish you all a  MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!  No matter what the coming year holds for us, remember:





Sunday, December 20, 2015

The 5th Web Based. . .

"Occasionally" Annual Salmon Beach Bulletin

I've got to tell you, my friends, that this is the first year of my life that every day has been better than the one before, no matter what "niggling little things" may have gone wrong that particular day!  (If you don't know why already, just look at the previous post, a fairly short one right below this one, before continuing on.)   Hopefully, I will not have another year like last 4 months of 2014, and the first 8 months of this year, but it's nice to have gotten through it, without having lost anything of value, except the time, and with everything steadily improving, I couldn't ask for more.  So, enough of that and on to some of the things that have made this year so wonderful!

I guess the most important thing is that for the 3rd time this year, I have just been awarded a "Cancer Free Zone" designation!  And, after waiting for over a year, my taste buds have mostly returned, allowing me to really enjoy the Thanksgiving meal which I missed last year, and I'm joyfully anticipating the upcoming Christmas feast.  All 3 of my oncologists said that the taste buds that are still MIA should return to the fold in the next 6 months or so, so I still have a bit to look forward to, when it comes to my health.  "You don't miss the water 'til the well runs dry."

At the end of April, I had a visit from couple of “kids” from Pennsylvania, one of whom is the child of “ex-students” who became friends, and moved to Salmon Beach for a couple of years back in ’73/4. In 1980, after our wedding, Laurie and I rode the 450 cc Suzuki motorcycle down to Chula Vista, California (right by the Mexican border), to visit them.  That ride was what convinced me I needed a bigger bike (the 750 cc Yamaha Seca), which I bought a year later, and kept until buying the “new” bike, a 1300 cc Yamaha FJR, back in ’08.  Can’t get much bigger or faster (0-60 in 2.6 seconds, although I have not done that!), so I figure that this will probably be my last bike!  Anyway, his folks have remained my friends, and Ian and I have developed our own friendship, and this is the second time he’s been out to see me, although the main motivation for his trip out here was Phil Lesh’s (bass player for the Grateful Dead) 76th birthday party; both of these kids are died-in-the-wool “Deadheads”, which, I have to admit I do not understand, although I do enjoy the Dead’s music.  They stayed with me for a few days, and the highlight of the visit was a hike on Mt. Rainier, up towards Paradise; I was surprised and pleased,  that I could keep up with these guys, whose legs were practically as long as I am tall!
That outboard is now history, as that was the 8th time that I’d been out in the boat since getting it repaired, and only once  did I not have to row home.  Luckily, this time, I had a pair of soft leather gloves with me that prevented me from getting blisters, and Angel didn’t seem the least bit upset by the inconvenience.  3 days later, as I was walking up the hill, I ran into a neighbor who bought a new boat this year, and had 2007 15 hp 2 stroke Evinrude  (the last year that they made them), that he was willing to part with, so again, what could have been a real bummer, wound up being no big deal!  However, I do seem to have picked up an aversion to taking the boat out, as I have not yet worked up the nerve to head out for a prolonged trip!  Luckily, I still have enough dry wood to get me through this winter, although, because of the air pollution which is getting worse around here, so far, I'm getting along with the heated floor in the kitchen and baths, as my main heat source.  

At the start of May, I was on the phone one day, and noticed that the white "shears" that cover the stained glass window upstairs, seemed to be discolored, so I got up and walked over to take a closer look, and lo and behold, I discovered that it was "New Roof Time"; oh joy!  The curtains were water stained, as was the wall above it, so it was obvious that the roof was leaking.  In all that had gone on, the previous year, I had forgotten that back in '92, when I did it the last time, that I figured that it would need redoing, just about now, and although I could do it myself, I thought it would probably take me most of the summer to get 10 squares of 3-tab (50 bundles @ 75 lbs. apiece!) down the hill and up on the roof, and then install it, and decided that it would be worth it to have a good, reputable company do it for me!  Luckily, there was no structural damage, so the roof itself didn't need repair.

While I was talking to the roofing guy, going over the colors and materials they had to offer, I spotted a metal roof, and decided to go for that.  There was no "tear off" to deal with, and a month later, they got started on a Thursday morning, and were done, the following Monday night.  

So, on to the next little project, which was to refill the wood supply for the wood stove, which was over half-empty, since little was done last year, in the aftermath of the diagnosis.  Since the motor hadn't been run for about 2 years, somewhere in the throttle linkage, something had frozen up, and I took it in to be "tuned up", and when I got it back, it seemed to run fine, so I popped it back onto the boat, and after 5 minutes of it idling while tied up to a piling, I took off toward the south end of The Beach at a sedate pace, and, turning around and running with the tide, I headed toward the north end.  Almost there, the motor just stopped!  So, I broke out the oars, and it only took me 20 minutes of rowing against the tide, and a nice blister on the little finger of my right hand to get back home.  My neighbor brought over his gas tank, with new gas, and it fired right up and ran fine for about 20 minutes, so I figured that the gas with ethanol, had separated, and my motor got a big gulp of water.

The next day, on my way to work, I bought a new plastic gas tank, fuel line and some fresh gas and was off to the races. . . NOT!  The following morning, I got up early and had the boat in the water by 10, and at 10:10 I was rowing back home, again!  As I was approaching the end of The Beach, on my way out, all of a sudden, the motor just went. . . "uuuuunnnnh!", and came to a stop.  I squeezed the priming bulb and couldn’t get any pressure, so I looked back and thought that the hose just hadn’t made a good connection, and went back to push it back on, and discovered that it had just broken off at the stem. . .  Out came the oars again, and I got home and put the other new connector on, but since I bought them both at the same time, it occurred to me that it they may have been made out of a bad batch of plastic, so, after running around for another 15 minutes out front, I pulled the boat back up onto the deck until I could go get another couple of fittings, which I will carry with me, after this. And, of course, there wouldn't be favorable tides for wood gathering for another 3 weeks or so. . .

Much to my amazement, I really wasn’t that upset; I was still riding the crest of the wave that appeared the first time that my doc labeled me a “Cancer Free Zone”; every problem that has popped up in my life since then, has been pretty minor, in the grand scheme of things, and very easy to deal with! Even finding out that I was going to have to start filing quarterly reports to Uncle Sam, along with a check, and having to write a fairly large check that I still owed from 2014.  A couple of years ago, that might have sent me into a blue funk from which I might still be recovering!  Like we used to say, "Don't sweat the small stuff!"

After my second "clean" report, I celebrated by buying a new full-frame Sony A99 camera, that's absolutely wonderful; cameras seem to be kind of like guitars; one just isn't enough!

In July, I hired my god-son to give me a hand on finishing up the "3 Year Project" (deck replacement) that I started . . .oh, maybe 15 years ago (don't want to rush into things!), and it looks great!  Of course, we ran into another "little niggler" which would have thrown me a few years ago.  During those intervening years between the start and the end of this project, Trex quit making the material I had been using, and not only does the new stuff look different, it's almost half the thickness that it used to be!  To get a material that even came close to matching the older deck, I had to lay out about half again what I thought it would cost.  No big deal. . .

At the end of August, riding high on my rapidly improving health, the completion of the deck, and a new roof, I once again turned my attention to filling the wood shed, so on a Friday morning, at about 7, I headed out in the boat again.  And, once again, suffered a small “setback”, when my outboard motor had a “coronary”. and I had to row back, again!  It was kind of ironic, as I had gone quite a ways from home, looking for logs (my only reason for going out in the boat!), and didn’t find any, so at least I didn’t have to lose any “booty”.  But I had just finished. . . well, I was in the middle of the thought, “This has been a great day, even if I didn’t find any firewood, because the motor has been working just . . . “, and there was an incredibly loud, “CRACK!” and the motor stopped, and smoke was boiling out of the cowling.  I was so shocked at the timing, that I almost burst out laughing!  So, an hour and a half and 3 miles of rowing later, I pulled up to the house. It could have been much worse, as the tide, which was, of course, going against me, was extremely slow running, and the temp here was only about 70•.  

In October, my friends from Paso Robles, Ca., who's wedding inspired my trip south in the spring of '14, visited for a couple of days, and we had a great time.  Up to Mt. Rainier again, but no hiking this time!  We took a "wrong turn", and after about 20 miles did a U-turn to get back to the right road home, but things like that are what make adventures fun, and it was a beautiful day, so "all's well. .  ."  

A couple of weeks ago, after my 3rd "CFZ" designation, I    celebrated, again, by treating myself to a 16-35mm wide angle lens for the new camera, that I had been lusting after for the last 2 years, and while I was out with it the first day, discovered this beautiful old hand water pump in one of Tacoma's parks.  I don't know why I like this pic so much, but I do.  And, to top it all off, this was about the last truly beautiful day that we've had for a couple of weeks, so I keep coming back to it to see the sunlight!

By now, you must all be thinking, "Sheesh!  How long is he going to keep going?", so, let me wrap it up by wishing you all a "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!", and add this little reminder by my favorite cartoonist, Berkeley Breathed, of "Bloom County" and "Outland" fame:


 And, this, to bid, "Adieu" to 2015!