grandson mason

grandson mason

grandson jaxson

grandson jaxson

Sunday, July 31, 2011

16-31JUL11 - Monroe, WA (house construction continues)

After a relaxing week with the kids with nothing happening on the house construction (see proceeding BLOG entry), thinks have been going pretty “heavy” over the last two weeks:

15JUL (day 22 of construction) - septic system installation starts

18JUL (day 23) – septic, including electric controls, continues; insulation of vaulted ceiling in great room & insulation of exterior walls

19JUL (day 24) - insulation of floor

21JUL (day 25) - final power connected; garage floor poured; completed electric for septic system & pump house
22JUL (day 26) – Dan discovers that insulation in ceiling of great room not what we paid for, R11 insulation added to great room ceiling

25JUL (day 27) - water treatment system installed in pump house

28JUL (day 28) – drywall installed

29JUL (day 29) - drywall clean-up & paper floor; septic system tested; connected water to house; discovered furnace was broken which will delay completion of the drywall

30JUL (day 30) - drywall taping & “mudding”; furnace fixed

During this time we kept working on the pump house (including insulation, paint & roofing); along with continuous clean-up of the property (including planting Rhododendrons); insulating the garage ceiling; laying PVC piping for final electric hook-up to house; etc.

We did take a break on 27JUL to see “Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows – Part 2”. Dan decided that the local multi-plex was not good enough, even if they were showing the movie in 3D. No, he decided we needed drive to the Pacific Science Center at the Seattle Center to view the movie on a seven story Imax screen & 20,000 watts of gut wrenching surround sound. For more on the Seattle Center & its creation from the 1962 World’s Fair see the below BLOG entry.

When Dan was a kid the Pacific Science Center was one of Dan’s & his cousin’s favorite museums! The Science Center was created after the 62 World’s Fair in the building & grounds used for the USA pavilion. Even way back in the 60s it was based on interactive & hands on exhibits. We are not sure if was the first museum in the USA to take this approach, but it was definitely one of the earliest.

After the movie we had lunch at the Center House which used to house the world’s only (bubbleator). Center House was originally built in 1939 as the old Armory Building. It housed the 146th Field Artillery and its half-ton tanks. The basement of the Center House still has markings from the old firing range and an unfinished swimming pool intended for the recruits. In 1941, Duke Ellington played on stage for the University of Washington's Junior Prom.

Trivia – what was the bubbleator?

For the 1962 Worlds Fair, the Armory was reconfigured into the first vertical shopping mall, called the Food Circus. It just pre-dated Northgate Mall, which was the first indoor mall in the United States. In the early 1970’s, the Food Circus was renamed Center House after some minor renovations. In 1985, the Children's Museum moved into the first floor of the building and expanded their space in 1995, building a giant toy mountain for the newly created Kenneth and Maureen Alhadeff Exhibit Center. At the same time, Center House was renovated and reconfigured to emphasize public programming, such as signature events, free family entertainment, and cultural festivals. In December 2000, the Kennedy Center designated the Center House Stage as an Imagination Celebration National Site, only the fifth location in the nation to be designated. Today, over 3,000 free public performances occur in Center House each year.

Lunch was followed by a leisurely walk through the Center grounds to the International Fountain. The International Fountain is a mainstay from the World’s Fair, but was completely replaced and expanded in a $6.5 million project in 1995. As the centerpiece of the broad open space and lawn, it has been transformed from its early days of hard iron nozzles and surrounding sharp-edged, white rock. Now children can play in the fountain bowl and venture right up to the smooth silver dome. By day the fountain is a favorite lounging area and delight for young and old.

Friday, July 15, 2011

09-15JUL11 - Various, WA (vacation time w/the kids)

Saturday, 09JUL, we depart Kittitas & drove along beautiful Highway 410 over Cayuse & Chinook Passes to Packwood, WA, on the west side of Mt Rainier National Park. In previous BLOG entries about our return to WA state this year, we noted that western WA had one of the wettest winter/springs on record. This resulted in record snow levels in all of the mountain passes. So what? – you may ask. Well in WA state only two passes are kept open all year, I-90 at Snoqualmie Pass & US-2 at Stevens Pass. All others (Cayuse, Chinook, White, North Cascade, etc) are closed 01NOV hopefully to reopen before MAY. But because of the record snow many of these passes were still closed before the Fourth of July weekend! Needless to say this had very negative consequences on the economies of the towns along the effected highways who earn the majority of their income from tourists once the passes are open.

Packwood is just down the road from Ashford, WA, where we explored Mr Rainier National Park from last year (see below BLOG entry). After setting up camp Dan & the kids headed into the Park, leaving Corrie to recuperate from the long drive. Upon arriving at the National Park Dan realized that visiting Mt Rainier on a summer weekend may not be the smartest thing to do. He decided to skip many of the sites we visited last year & head straight to the Paradise Visitor Center; hoping to beat everyone else to the most popular spot in the Park. The whole way up to Paradise Dan & the kids kept passing signs stating – “no parking at Paradise, park here & take shuttle busses”. Dan being Dan, ignored the signs & promptly found the only empty parking spot at Paradise! Although it was enjoyable to view Paradise Lodge, Box Canyon, & Grove of the Patriarchs; the crowds were too large & detracted from the experience.

Sunday we were up early to head to Crystal Mountain Ski Area. Thanks to the record snow this year, Crystal Mountain was also breaking records with skiing into the middle of July! For many years in the 70s Dan & his friends skied every chance they got, even night skiing several times a week. Crystal Mountain took a little effort to get to being on the backside of Mt Rainier, but it was their favorite. So to be a part of history Dan decided to get back on skis for the first time in fifteen years; while Joe opted for snowboarding. While the boys were skiing the ladies explored the few shops at the base of the mountain, & also drove to the Sunrise Visitor Center back in the National Park. A little after noon the boys were beat & called it a day. The ladies rejoined the boys at the Summit Lodge, where we all sat outside & enjoyed the view of four of WA’s five volcanoes. Then it was back to the RV to rest & recuperate all afternoon until dinner. This RV park had nifty way to sell firewood; for $5 they delivered the firewood to your RV site along with a metal tub to burn it in, & then come by in the morning to clean up! So after dinner it was a family campfire with S’mores for dessert.

Monday, 11JUL, we headed to Copalis Beach, WA; which entailed more scenic driving along highway US 12. After setting up camp we head to the beach for a walk. Then it was off to Ocean Shores for a drive on the beach. The beach entry points for cars have big signs warning how easy it is to get stuck in the sand, & not to call the police for a stuck car – call a tow truck company (especially if the tide is coming in & your car may become flooded!). Even on our short drive we saw two cars get stuck & the police drive right by without offering assistance. Safely making it off the beach we headed into the town of Ocean Shores for a little shopping at Sharkys “tourist” store; followed by a visit to a seafood market for fresh crab, clams & oysters. Dinner was fresh crab & BBQ oysters topped w/butter & parmesan cheese, & then back to the beach to view the sunset.

Tuesday around lunch time we decided to explore the towns of Aberdeen & Hoquiam; of course Dan had a list of eccentric sites to photograph, including brand new memorial to Kurt Cobain front man for the band Nirvana & supposed starter of the “Grunge” music movement. Cobain was from Aberdeen & apparently spent large amounts of time hanging out under a bridge on the Wishkah River. Unfortunately it appears that he couldn’t handle the fame & committed suicide. Just this APR the city dedicated a small memorial to Cobain next to the bridge, & we saw evidence that people from all over the world have already visited & left messages to Cobain.

Then we walked around the central part of both towns. Aberdeen’s, & the twin city of Hoquiam’s, economy are based on fishing & timber have be in recession since the late 70s & things haven’t gotten any better. Aberdeen has stars of fame for residents embedded in the sidewalk that have made a mark beyond Aberdeen (like Cobain; & John Elway NFL quarterback, Douglas Osheroff Nobel recipient, etc). Dan made the connection between the stars in the sidewalk & the “artwork” fences around nearby trees. Each tree is surrounded by a metal fence made of art that upon closer examination was always based on a “theme”. For example, John Elway’s star is next to a tree & the fence has many items representing football. Another tree was surrounded by a fence with many sword fighting scenes, & it turns out that the individual commemorated in the nearby star was an Olympic fencer from Aberdeen & trained many movie stars for sword fighting scenes. Also the town of Aberdeen has interesting surrealistic “animals” & “plants” decorating electric boxes. Lastly Dan discovered an alley way that was covered in some very interesting graffiti.

After returning to the RV Dan & Joe took off for a driving tour of the beach towns of Seabrook, Pacific Beach, Moclips & Taholah (Quinault Indian Reservation). Seabrook is a 2003 planned beach community that appears to be modeled on the award winning planned beach community in Seaside, FL (see our 11JAN09 BLOG), but not nearly as well done. On their return they did a little more beach driving, & stopped to view & photo some of the “political” signs of Craig Heiller. It appears he has some ongoing “feud” w ith almost everyone in the county & local gov’t. You can check out his website below but be warned – he minces no words!!! While driving on one of the beaches Joe & Dan discovered the only private airport in the USA where small planes can land on an oceanside beach (when the tide is out!). Dinner was fresh steamed butter clams; & although we thought we had more than enough, they quickly disappeared. That night Corrie & Dan headed for the Quinault Beach Resort & Casino to support the local Tribal economy.

Wednesday morning we made the long drive back to Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe, WA. Thursday morning Dan & Joe headed to property to do some work but were chased away by heavy rain; meanwhile the ladies headed to the town of Snohomish to explore. That evening was an excellent “farewell” dinner at Ivar’s seafood restaurant in Mukilteo (or as Corrie always says – McIvars). Friday was spent finishing packing for the kids return to Louisiana, the return of the pop-up trailer, & then off to airport where thankfully the kids were able to board their flight with no problems this year.

Another great time together, that was too short, & it will take us at least a week to recover from!

Friday, July 8, 2011

01-08JUL11 - Monroe & Kittitas, WA

As we did in our last three BLOGs we start with the latest on the construction of our house on our property outside of Sultan, WA:

On the 4th of July(!) the siding crew showed up; & spent two days siding the house with Hardie cement board & installing 3 exterior doors. Meanwhile Corrie bought a refrigerator & a dishwasher.

On 05JUL two guys show up and spend an hour spray foaming all the holes drilled in the framing for ventilation, plumbing & electric; plus around the windows & doors.

Meanwhile we spent the beautiful days of 01-05JUL at the property while Dan built a pump house to contain the future water treatment system; & Corrie spent her time moving soil with the tractor to fill in low spots & spraying to kill non-native blackberries. As we have done the last two summers we flew our kids, Rebecca & Joseph, in on 06JUL to join us for a week. First stop after their arrival was the under construction house, where each kid wanted to know which bedroom was theirs? The contractor has agreed not to work on our house while the kids are in town; lets hope he lives up to his word!

On Thursday, 07JUL, we all headed to cousin Steve’s & Bonnie’s in Kittitas, WA. Soon after our arrival Steve’s oldest sister, Kathie, showed up with her mother-in-law, Marge (for more on these two fine ladies, see the below BLOG link). We had an excellent afternoon & evening reminiscing about family memories. In addition Steve BBQ’d elk, deer & & Copper River salmon from Alaska. When Dan lived in Seattle he never heard of Copper River salmon. Somehow it has obtained the reputation as the best of all wild caught salmon. The end result is that the first fish of the season is flown direct to Seattle on Air Alaska, & the pilot of the plane is shown on all the local news stepping off the plane & holding the prized fish! It was very good salmon, but we are not sure what all the hoopla is all about. The day was capped by delicious root beer floats.

The next day Dan & Joe took off with cousin Steve to go fourwheeling through the surrounding hills, while Rebecca & Corrie headed into Ellensburg & Kittitas to explore. The rest of the day was spent relaxing. Steve decided that he would spend the rest of the afternoon rebuilding a gear box on some piece of farm machinery used to harvest hay. Dan & Joe assisted by standing around looking & asking dumb questions like – what’s this do? Once again we were treated to some excellent BBQ, along with fresh corn from the local farm stand. We were going to finish with root beer floats once again, but everyone seemed to have eaten a little too much in the last two days?