02 October 2018

Artist Point Day 2

The morning of Day 2 I headed back to Artist Point.  I left the hotel around 8:30 and arrived about 10.

The parking lot was already 1/2 full.  I pulled my boots on, grabbed my pack and camera and headed to the other side of the parking lot.  There were two trail heads there.  One going left and the other going straight.  I noticed everyone ahead of me was going straight so I went left.

After walking thru pine trees for 10 minutes, it opened up to this:

A little further along the trail I took another shot:

A bit further we came to a crossroad:

I went left.

Mount Shuksan

Mount Baker in the distance.  View from Ptarmigan Ridge.

Looking back on the trail.

 The clouds were starting to roll in and I thought I felt a drop.  I decided to turn back.  When I was about halfway back to the parking lot, I turned around and took another picture.

You can see the clouds coming in are now getting darker.

When I got to the parking lot, I noticed a couple in wedding attire.  A photographer was taking their picture.  The clouds were getting darker so I went to my truck.  I lowered my tailgate, pulled out my folding chair, and relaxed with a bottle of water.  A bus with wedding guests pulled up and the rain began to fall.  That's life!  I tossed my chair back into my truck, climbed in, and headed back to the hotel. 

Artist Point

Anytime I see a place on the map titled, "Artist Point", I put it on my list of places to visit.  It probably indicates a great view. 

In all the years that I have lived in Washington State, I have never been to Mount Baker.  On top of Mount Baker, at the very end of the highway is Artist Point.  As this summer drifted past, I kept thinking that it was time to go.  Partly because I wanted to take scenic pictures but mostly to go where I have never gone before.

The wife got tied up with some meetings and other events one week so I decided it was time for a short road trip.  So I packed my gear and headed out the door alone.  I generally don't mind going places alone.  I just turn on the radio, adjust my speed, set the cruise control and let the miles roll away.  I often find it nice to be just cruising with no mindless chatter interrupting my thoughts.  The wife understands that and I appreciate her all the more.

So on Day 1, I rolled north to Bellingham.  I stopped at the Costco for gas and then headed to the Holiday Inn to check in.  It's become quite a joke between the wife and I about how we plan our road trips around the locations of Holiday Inns and Costco gas stations.

I checked in at the front desk at 1:30 but the rooms weren't ready.  So I asked for a room assignment and would return later.  The front desk was very pleasant, gave me my keys, and welcomed me to Bellingham. I then headed back out the door, got into my truck, and headed for Mount Baker.

From the hotel, I got back on to I-5 heading South.  I got off at the very next exit for Hwy 542.

Hwy 542 quickly turns into a single lane highway.  Traffic is light so I didn't mind it at all.  The sun was starting to get lower and the light was changing to golden hues.  I quickly passed thru small towns like Deming, Kendall, Maple Falls, Warnick and Glacier.

90 minutes after leaving the hotel I was driving past the Mount Baker ski area.  I was just minutes away from Artist Point.  I made my first stop.

This is a picture of Mount Shuksan from Picture Lake.

5 minutes later I was at Artist Point.  The sun was barely over the distant mountain but I still had a lot of light.  I spotted a hiking trail leading off from the parking lot, grabbed my camera and pack and wandered off.

Day 1 was winding down.  It was time to head back to the hotel.
Medical procedures are dominating my future planning.   Nothing serious at this time but it seems that I'm going from one event to the next.  I guess it will only get worse as I get older.  I'm getting tired of seeing the docs.

17 September 2018

September in Washington State

I think September is one of the best months in Washington State.  Now I have to admit that it does have some sentimental value as I moved here in September 1982 from my home state of Hawaii.  I never thought I could live anywhere else but in Hawaii because who would leave Paradise? 

I came here with US Army orders in hand and thought I would be here for 3 years before returning to Honolulu.  36 years later and here I remain.  It was a major turning point in my life and one I'm forever grateful to have.

September is cool but not cold.  Night temperatures do fall into the 50s which make for great sleeping weather.  During the day, it gets up to the upper 60s/lower 70s.  Most days are sunny and dry.  Very pleasant!

Hunting season kicks off next month!  It will start off with deer season before transitioning to razor clams.  When the weather really starts getting wet and cold, I'll start venturing out for waterfowl. 

I have to say again that I find it very amusing that a lot of family and friends that chastised me many years ago for joining the Army National Guard are now telling me that I am so lucky I did it.  40 years ago, they were telling me that I was dumb for doing it and that it was the worst decision I had ever made.  Now if you listen to them, it sounds like I won the lottery.  In a way, I'm kind of offended because they make it sound like all the benefits of retiring from the military just fell on me out of the blue.  They don't acknowledge the years of dangerous work, low pay, long hours, sacrificed weekends, and long deployments.

The wife was just reminding me about one commander I had.  He always showed up for work at 0500 (5 am) and didn't go home until 1800 (6 pm).  He would always walk the area first thing in the morning and before he went home at night to see which cars were there.  He would then comment to all about who was dedicated to the work and who wasn't.  He then made veiled comments about how it will impact your efficiency report.  Was it any surprise that he was divorced and lived alone?  I remember those days well.  People would take vacation time but still come in to work.  But since they were on vacation, they would only work 8 hours instead of 11.  Crazy....

Anyway, life is good and I'm happy.  I'm fortunate. 

28 August 2018

Thanos is right...

04 August 2018

Angry people

I have to say that I am very saddened by all the hatred being spewed forth.  No one seems to be capable of calm, honest discussion.  As soon as someone disagrees or favors the other side, they are immediately labelled a "troll" or other name.  It just goes downhill from there and everyone leaves angrier and more ignorant.

When I was younger, I was a "black and white" guy.  Things were that simple.  Either it was right or it was wrong and no shades in between.  As I've gotten older, the grays and other shades started to appear.  I think the best way to put it is how a former boss put it, "There are two sides to every story and the truth is somewhere in the middle".  Simplistic but it does remind me to try to look for the other side.

What also amazes me is that so many people are willing to believe a random meme without doing any research.  One I saw tonight involved Chase Legleitner and Lamar Lloyd.  Both are young adults that committed robberies in Florida.  The Herald Tribune cited these two as an example of racial disparity.  Legleitner got 2 years in prison while Lloyd got 26 years for "the same crime".   I'm sure you've guessed by now that Legleitner is white and Lloyd is black.

I did mention to the person that posted the meme that there were some mitigating factors.  Legleitner and his co-defendants robbed 3 men in a drug deal.  Legleitner later agreed to testify against his co-defendants and cut a deal with the prosecutors.

Lloyd and his co-defendants robbed a Pizza Hut while it was open for business.  They walked in and pointed a gun at the employees.  They later went to a Sunoco gas station and robbed the clerk.  Oh, and Lloyd had a 3 and a 5 year old children with him in the car while committing the crimes. 

The Florida 12th Judicial Court investigated this situation after the news story and pointed out the differences.  In particular that when Lloyd committed his crimes, he endangered the general public by robbing businesses that had innocent customers present.

So was it fair?  I don't know.  I'm sure there are other mitigating factors that I don't know.  But I do know that by showing remorse and cutting a deal with the prosecutor to testify against your co-defendants will buy you a lot of points.  I don't know if Lloyd was cooperative/remorseful or not.

Anyway, the point is that the meme was over-simplistic and doesn't even come close to telling the whole story.  It only served to inflame passions with incomplete information.


27 July 2018

Just got back from a short road trip.  I need to hit the road again soon before the summer is completely gone.

On Day 1 we drove from Tacoma to Bellingham, near the Canadian border.  We stopped for the night at the Holiday Inn.  It was the start of a heat wave with temperatures going up to the low 90s so it was nice to move from an air condition vehicle to an air conditioned hotel room.

After resting a bit, we wandered about Bellingham and visited a nearby shopping mall.  Soon we called it quits for the night and went back to the hotel.

On Day 2, we left Bellingham and drove to Sumas.  It's a bit farther than I thought it was.  There is a border crossing there that is supposed to be much less busy than the one at Blaine.  There have been times in the past we have spent over an hour trying to cross the border at Blaine.  At Sumas, we got there and there were 3 cars in front of us.  We were thru in about 10 minutes.

We drove north a few minutes before turning east on the highway.  We were soon doing 100 kph (about 60 mph) and making good time.  After about an hour of driving, we encountered Bridal Veils Falls.  It was a good time to take a rest break so we pulled over and visited.

The 300 yard walk thru the woods was very pleasant as the air was still cool.  The falls were a pleasant stop but it was time to hit the road again.

We got back on the highway and soon passed thru Chilliwack.  We soon saw a sign urging us to check our fuel status as the next gas station was 120 km away (about 74 miles).  We still had 3/4 tank so we were good to go!

The speed limit soon went up from 100 kph to 120 kph (about 74 mph).  There were many really pretty spots on the Trans Canada Highway but no where to stop.

What was funny was that we stopped at two rest stops along the way.    One was a simple building with two toilets and a room with benches.  The other was a pull off with two pit toilets.  After stopping at each, we hit the road again and not 5 minutes down the highway encountered a new and modern rest stop complete with WiFi.  I wish they had put out signs mentioning the newer rest stops!

We eventually stopped for the day at the Kelowna Holiday Inn.   After dropping our bags off, we had time to drive into town.  We parked near the City Hall and visited a small park nearby.  That area was full of restaurants and bars. It looked like the tourist zone.  We also saw this tour bus:

The customers are sitting at a bar while pedaling their way around town.  The tour guide is sober and he's steering.  Still, not something I would want to do in that heat.

We grabbed dinner and then headed back to the hotel.  As the sun was setting, we sat out on the back deck and watched a distant fire on a mountain across the lake.

On Day 3, we left Kelowna and headed for the border crossing at Midway.  That is a very small border crossing there and the border agent said it was a very low traffic crossing point.  We chatted about mundane things for a bit before moving on.

Just down the road, we stopped at the Ranald MacDonald gravesite. 

MacDonald was the first to teach English to the Japanese and helped Perry negotiate a trade agreement.  After wandering the world, he returned to the Pacific Northwest and passed away nearby while visiting a niece.  His burial site is also the smallest state park in Washington State.

Another half hour down the road, we encountered the ghost town of Bodie.

Another small check mark on the bucket list of life.

Got to go for now but will pick it up later.  I have to say that I love driving thru remote areas.  There is practically no traffic and a decent speed limit.

22 July 2018

Youngest daughter is in an abusive relationship.  I'm very frustrated because she knows that it is but can't bring herself to break away.

I actually sat down with her and talked about the things that he has done to her.  I then asked her, "If your best friend told you that her boyfriend were doing those things to her, what would you tell her?"  She looked down and said, "I would tell her to leave".  It's incredibly frustrating for me but she's an adult now.  She has to make the decision on when to pull the plug.  I can no longer make that decision for her.

It's very irritating because when she comes to visit us, he is constantly texting her asking "why are staying there so long?"  He is constantly accusing her of meeting other guys and cheating on her.  Even when she is at work he constantly goes into fits and accuses her of cheating on him.  During her last visit, he texted her and demanded that she leave here immediately because he knows that she is bad mouthing him to her parents.  She gets very irritated by his behavior.  I get very upset because she's just visiting. 

Youngest daughter has let on that he's afraid of me.  Despite being 40 years younger than me and 6 inches taller, he is afraid of me.  I looked at her in surprise and asked why he was afraid of me?  She smiled and said after their last fight, he came here looking for her.  I read him the riot act even though she wasn't here.  I did.  But I had repeated an Army phrase.  He said his life was hell.  I told him that he didn't know what hell was but I was willing to take him there personally - I know a shortcut.

I guess we're not allowed to say that anymore....

21 July 2018

I was just thinking again about how quickly 2018 is passing.  July is almost gone.  There is still so much I want to do.

Health issues have popped up again.  It sucks to grow old.

14 July 2018

Retired Life

Retired life continues....

I’m now past the 2 year mark of being retired and life is going well.  I’m sad to see so many of my friends must continue working past 62.  Even my brother, now 64, has just announced that he will work until 67 for financial reasons.

I’ve been very fortunate and grateful for that.  My living expenses do not come close to exceeding my retirement income.  In fact, I decided to start drawing my Social Security.  I received the first payment a few days ago and have not had a need to even think about it.

But I did want to talk again about being thanked for my service.  I served 20 years of active duty and 12 years in the Reserves of the US Army.  I’ve been downrange twice and on standby a couple other times.  I have spent a lot of time away from home, missed a lot of birthdays, and worked a lot of weekends.  Having said that, I would do it again in a heart beat.  For all that, I drew a pay check and benefits.  Yeah, the base pay was not as good as some of my friends in the civilian world but I volunteered for this.  I could have left at any time and did for a while (92-97).

Military pay has increased significantly since 2002.  When I first joined the Army in 1978, no one below the rank of Sergeant/E-5 could afford a car.  Privates and Specialists lived in the barracks, ate in the Dining Facility, and pretty much spent the weekends drinking in the barracks.  They couldn’t afford to do much more.  These days, young Privates are driving Escalades or incredible motorcycles.  They are making a lot more than their counterparts in the civilian world.

When I first joined, many people talked about doing their time then getting out to make some real money.  Now I see a lot of soldiers talking about staying in because they can’t find a job on the outside that pays as well with the benefits.  Thanks to the military, my two oldest children were able to go to college and graduate with no student debt.  That’s right - no debt!  The Department of the Defense paid for it.  

So where is this going?  I guess I just want to say “Please don’t thank me for my service”.  I volunteered, was paid, and now have a comfortable retirement.  I’m the one that is grateful for the opportunity to do what I did.  Sure, there were tough times but I volunteered for it.  I’m glad I went to war.  It tested me in ways that just cannot be done in the civilian world.  Many of my friends that never joined the military now wish they did.  Going to war was like playing in the Super Bowl after decades of practice.  Did bad things happen?  Yes!  But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  I would do it again in a heart beat.