grandson mason

grandson mason

grandson jaxson

grandson jaxson

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

26-29SEP08 - Monroe, WA

Upon Dan’s return from his business trips we directed our attention to clearing & cleaning our property in Sultan. We had had some trees removed and we needed to clean up all the debris left over. In addition we finished closing-in the small barn so that we could store tractor out of the weather when we finally head south once the NW rains start. At the same time we were able to sell our Ford Ranger and now have only one excess vehicle left to get rid of.

Our intentions were to completely clean the property so that we had a clean slate for building some sort of RV garage/apartment next spring. Unfortunately Dan Sr’s health had been deteriorating over the last few months; so we have decided to stop work and quickly head back to Texas.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

13-25SEP08 - Everett, WA (and dry lake & red stick)

The Saturday after the Pig Roast was a small Memorial Gathering for Uncle Bob Harris who had succumbed to cancer. Many of the maternal relatives we had seen at the roast were again together for this bitter, sweet, occasion. Although it was good to see Aunt Madeline and cousins Stephanie & husband Ron, Sheila & husband Mike, and Robbie; we wish the circumstances could have been different. The last we had seen Uncle Bob was almost exactly one year ago on a previous RV trip to Washington, see our BLOG for 07-11SEP07.

Uncle Bob was one of the Greatest Generation having served in the 10th Mountain Division during WWII. After the war he was a life long avid skier. In fact, he and his wife Madeline, were Ski Patrollers at one of Dan’s favorite ski areas, Stevens Pass, for decades. Fortunately, they were never on duty when Dan had his run-ins with the Ski Patrol.

Although the reason for the get together was sad, it was a beautiful day with fond remembrances of his life along with continually video photos from his entire life playing on the TV. At the end there were several champagne toasts to the many good things he accomplished.

First thing Sunday morning Dan departed for Playas (aka Dry Lake), NM, on business. Playas was a true company town built from scratch by Phelps Dodge in the 70s. Turns out Phelps Dodge built a brand new copper smelting plant in the middle of the NM desert, and the town of Playas was created to house the workers. The town had everything needed – medical clinic, school, two churches, fire house, bar, bowling alley, community center, houses, etc. To Dan it was very similar to most military bases he has seen.

When the price of copper plummeted in the 90s, Phelps Dodge closed the smelter, kicked everyone out and walked away. Eventually the state acquired the property and created a branch of New Mexico Tech University called Energetic Materials Research & Testing Center. Dan can’t tell you all that they do here, but he can tell you they blow up things. We’re talking C4 plastic explosive, and his favorite hundreds of pounds of ammonium nitrate!
Unfortunately there are no accommodations in Playas. So Dan had to stay in Deming, NM, 70 miles away! Some of you may recognize that we had been in Deming previously; for others see our BLOG for 25/26OCT07. While in Deming Dan discovered a very unique restaurant called the Adobe Deli. The Deli is ten miles out of town and is in a cinder block school building that is probably 40 years old. The school was small with maybe four class rooms and small gym/multi purpose room the size of a half court basketball court. The bar and restaurant occupy the gym, and they serve the biggest and best steaks, along with fresh Maine lobster. The prices are not cheap but the food and atmosphere are worth it.

Dan returned for one day Sunday, 21SEP08, and then departed for another business trip to Baton Rouge (aka Red Stick), LA, that Monday. The good thing about this trip was that Dan was able to take time to visit our daughter Rebecca and husband Raymond Pitre in Houma, LA. Although Baton Rouge is well inland from the Gulf of Mexico, the effects of hurricane Gustav were very evident. Although Gustav was only a category two by the time it passed over Baton Rouge, the direction of the winds and the sustained velocity made it one of the most powerful the city ever experienced. There was no flooding but a tremendous amount of roof damage and thousands of oaks toppled over. Just reaffirms our decision to sell our house and get away from the Gulf of Mexico. Dan returned Thursday and hopefully that is it for business trips for the year.

Friday, September 12, 2008

31AUG-12SEP08 - Monroe, WA

We arrived back at the Monroe Fairgrounds on the last day of August just in time for last two days of the Evergreen State Fair. This meant that all the RV facilities at the fairgrounds were full, but luckily Corrie had made a reservation. The bad thing was that the “powers that be” had a ridiculous policy that no one (including RV’ers) could leave the fairgrounds in their vehicles without paying to park upon return! That meant should we decide to go shopping or to a restaurant, we had to pony-up $7 for each re-entry! Finding this to be unacceptable Corrie went off to do battle with the powers that be. We can’t tell you how, but once again she was able to solve the issue, even if it meant the rules were bent (if not broken).

We chose to return to the fairgrounds, rather than the Peters, so we could be closer to our property in Sultan. We needed to be closer because we needed to be their almost daily. First we needed to make the barn weather tight so we could store our recently purchased Ferguson tractor in it; and also to check on the progress of the removal of some trees. Dan noted that early in the morning our property was home to five or six deer; and there were small tracks and scat indicating a small bear was around somewhere.

On Friday we stopped by the Peters to help set up for “The Pig Roast” to be held on Saturday 06SEP. The Pig Roast was started by cousin Steve Kiesel sometime in the 80s, and was held almost annually usually right before or after Labor Day weekend. When Steve & Bonnie left the Seattle area to live on the east side of the Cascade Mountains in Kittitas, cousin Paul took on the tremendous amount of work (not to mention cost) necessary to continue the tradition.

We assisted in setting up tables, awnings and tents, and a general clean-up of the yard. But the main item Paul needed assistance with was preparing the 150 pound pig to go on the spit, so it could be slow smoked/BBQ’d in the homemade smoker. Since this is a family show, we won’t go into the anatomical details of driving a six foot spit through the pig; then driving steel rods through its spine; and then wrapping the whole thing in chicken wire.

The next day at the roast was a gathering of Dan’s cousins & nieces & nephews from his mother’s side of the family; neighborhood friends of the Peters; and Shannon & Paul’s coworkers. Not to mention all the second & third cousins. Since we hadn’t been to a Pig Roast in about 15 years, there was a lot of catching up to do. Sadly, all the Harris cousins (Dan’s mom other sister) were not there, since uncle Bob Harris had recently passed away. Dan’s middle brother, Shawn, showed up briefly on his way to work. Maybe next time, youngest brother Gary will make it.

Later in the week we headed into Seattle for another field trip. Our first stop was a part of Seattle called Capitol Hill. This was the location of Dan’s paternal grand parent’s (Fred & Jean Ryan) house. The Ryan grandkids and many other cousins spent a many a sleep over here, roaming the local area (especially Volunteer Park) during the day. We also roamed the main commercial street of Capitol Hill, Broadway, where we discovered the Seattle Museum of Mysteries. This is a very small museum the size of two living rooms and contains mostly books on Paranormal Science, and for strange reason an Oxygen Bar. In general it devotes itself to “mysteries” centered on the Pacific NW; for example Big Foot, or DB Cooper the skyjacker.
From Capitol Hill we headed over to a Seattle neighborhood called Ballard. As you cross over the Ballard Bridge into Ballard there is a small brick building with a sign that advertises Mike’s Chili Parlor & Tavern. In all the times Dan has passed this sign, he never stopped into sample the chili; a situation he planned on correcting this time. As we crossed the bridge we could not see the building or the sign. Even so Dan exited the main road and circled the block. Turns out the Tavern is still there but is surrounded by a large building being constructed so as to block the view from the bridge. Apparently the owner of the Tavern was asked to sell his property but declined. The chili had a layer of grease on top, the onions were strong & watery; and the cheese was cheese “food” not real cheese; all-in-all a perfect Tavern chili. They even had a spot at the end of the bar labeled “The Office” just in case you needed to tell someone – you were still at the office.

From Mike’s we headed to the Archie McPhee Catalog Store. This store is one of the biggest collections of gag & novelty items we have ever seen! Not only does it have the standard items like whoopee cushions, itching powder, plastic vomit, etc, but other things like Nihilist breath mints (ie they have no flavor). In addition they have some items that you wonder why they carry them and who would buy them – radiation meters, old vacuum tubes, cooling fans for computers, etc?