Tuesday, June 30, 2009


At 30,000 feet, I look back upon the wonderful trip I had over hill and dale through the different cities and towns of (primarily) Pennsylvania. There are many of the beautiful towns, and I imagine what their grand pasts held when each town was a little agricultural or industrial center for producing the myriad items consumed throughout the country and world. Unfortunately, times have changed, and many of the main streets have transformed to trades catering to the tourist and service economy and the factories are all shuttered and overgrown. But the memories pour forth, and some of my best times are driving through the Appalachian Mountains to see all sorts of the city and (mostly) country folk.

But a leisurely drive across the old roads of Pennsylvania was a refreshing way to end my trip back east. I look forward to returning home to Bellingham, and although my life will be stress filled with continuing to build out businesses, I am overjoyed with being able to bike everywhere and not be car dependent (how awful), and not having to spend my days choosing between sweltering heat or frigid air conditioning. I will gladly trade the east coast stress for that of the west.

But as much as I miss parts of Pennsylvania, Washington is now my home, and with the rigors of the east being behind me, I can now begin my summer vacation in Bellingham. Although I get all mushy over the fun times I have (in Clarks Summit and beyond) and wax nostalgic, I fortunately love returning to my Washington home. And the views of the peaks of Mt. Adams, Hood, Rainier and St. Helens are second to none while flying in to SeaTac.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Bedford, PA

As in most of my journeys around Pennsylvania by car, I usually take the low road when the opportunity presents itself. Today was one such opportunity, and I gave myself enough time to take the Lincoln Highway across much of lower Pennsylvania. This trip back east was much better than my stay in Pittsburgh, and today I wound down my trip and look forward to my return to Bellingham. The weather here has been very Bellingham like (rainy cloudy and cooler) , while the weather in Bellingham has been beautiful.

Yet still, I enjoy how lush everything is, and the smells of life bursting forth. The spring weather can be nasty here and last Friday a horendous fron blew through with winds gusting to 60+ miles per hour. I was a litle concerned because my tent was pitched quite near the Susquehanna River and if it didn't get washed away, I feard it would get blown away. Fortunately, I staked it, and when I went to check it in the evening, it was bone dry inside and solidly pitched. I also bought the ground cloth for it, which probaly also helped keep it intact. Not bad for a hundred dollar tent.

Oh well, the highway beckons so my time in Beford at this little coffee shop will be very short lived. Bedford is like a thousand other little quaint towns that dot the landscape of Pennsylvania. Off to a friend's place in the Laurel Highlands (on my way back) before I stay at my sister's for a very early flight home. It's nice living in a town like Bllingham (and working at a job) that you really look forward to coming home to.

Friday, June 26, 2009


A bit of time spent in Cleveland, a city of which I have generally fond memories and spent many summer plying its lake aboard my little Catalina 25. Back across the beautiful rolling hills covering Pennsylvania. No matter where you are in Pennsylvania, you can always see rolling-tree-covered hills.

And last night we met at a roadhouse in Mt. Pocono - a friend that lived down the street from me for many years that I hadn't seen in fifteen years or so - for drinks and catching up. I camped at Hickory Run State Park (see picture, although I really saw nothing except the bathrooms) and left this morning to pitch my tent on the Susquehanna River near Lake Winola and Falls, PA.

An odd thing: I rarely watched television, but while falling asleep on someone's couch, I was watching an old black and white movie called "A Place in the Sun." The next day I told my aunt how I missed the old movies like that and she told me how that movie was based upon an event that actually happened at Harvey's Lake, only a few miles away from where she lived for many decades. I dunno. I thought that was odd.

Back in the town I call my 'home town' of Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania. Down time spent at the library and a daytime of mellow fun to follow. Fortunately my trip has turn around entirely for the better.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Of the three attractive women in Pittsburgh that are not overweight, I think two of them can be found in Shadyside, a place I frequented and lived during much of my ten dark years spent in Pittsburgh in the nineties. So I went there for some coffee and business meetings this morning there in hopes of raising my spirits of an otherwise dismal visit to this forlorn city.

It didn't work, as the pervasive pall continued to suppress my usually resilient spirit. Other than a few glimmers of enjoyment (via friends and family), my time spent in Pittsburgh was depressing and despairing and my departure from Pittsburgh will not come soon enough. Tomorrow is thankfully off to Cleveland to visit more family. (The best part of my visit to Pittsburgh is frequently the "Welcome to Ohio" sign.) With the start to my vacation being so bad, it can only get better.

The beautiful stay in the Laurel Highlands so far the highlight of the trip and I wished I could have stayed there longer. But the Steel City drew me back like a bad relationship; tomorrow's itinerary looks brighter once I leave this rusty and deteriorating city. Off to sleep: the sooner I fall asleep, the sooner I can wake up and leave here.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


No picture, but maybe I will add one later. The weather turned beautiful here this afternoon, as I took a Westmoreland Transit bus out to Mount Pleasant last night and some friends picked me up and we relaxed entirely at their wonderful mountain home on the western ridge of the Laurel Highlands: an enclave of older houses set on large wooded lots. I used to cross country ski up here in the nineties and today is a wonderful way to spend the day here with old friends.

It's funny how the smells can recollect such vivid memories of bygone years and distant adventures. Running errands with them this morning was quite enjoyable - they stopped at all these little stores along Rt. 31 for the various locally-made (or grown) ingredients for the meal tonight.

Gotta get back outside to enjoy the day...

Friday, June 19, 2009


An uneventful flight into Pittsburgh yesterday. I am spoiled when my flights actually depart on time and arrive early. I was in a relaxed mood and flying (so infrequently) actually makes for a pleasurable time. My return to my old haunts of Pittsburgh are usually without much joy, and although I seek out some semblance of fondness for this town and its inhabitants, I fail to uncover it.

Business and family bring me here, and will not miss seeing it in my rear-view mirror as I depart early next week. Sad to say, but I cannot sugarcoat my feelings here. This city is dirty, worn and forlorn, and I miss the warmth of Bellingham already. I feel like Phaedrus on his return to Montana and the reemerging specters of the past. But I think you need a few crummy years in life to truly appreciate the good ones. And it's not really the city of Pittsburgh, but moreso the time in my life when I spent here.

But I did meet up with an old friend this morning, and was able to take the Mon Incline into town. A hot, humid day today with soupy skies. Off to visit a friend in the Laurel Highlands this evening. Then back tomorrow for more family.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


The chickens have moved to the back outbuilding attached to the garage. I think they liked the comfort of living in the home, but I am sure they will adapt. How sad that I sit here thinking about these animals huddled in the corner of their dark new home subjected to the wilds of this urban evening. Opossums, raccoons, cats,...I think they are safe in their new home. They'll be okay. The bantam is quite fiesty, and always jumping the fence in the back coop. I was told that he will eventually get too big. He crows in the morning, and I hope the neighbors are okay with that, as it get light around 4:30am here in the morning.

But on a brighter note, I did get some straw for the chickens (so far a single egg cost me sixty bucks), along with more cardboard to cover with the fir, pine and spruce wood chips in the front and side yards. I think the neighbors said they were okay with me covering their yard too. A hugely productive day, and hopefully an equally productive tomorow, so I am not stressed when I am trying to relax on my quasi-holiday set to begin in the latter part of the week.

Oh, and the picture of the bantie up top is not ours. Did you know that bantam chickens are amoung the oldest domesticated animals in the world?

Monday, June 15, 2009

More Orcas

So it looks like the orca whales are still on the western side of Vancouver Island, as the salmon haven't come through the strait yet due to the lack of rain. And because of that, the guy that owned the whale watching boat at the ferry dock (who owned a BMW 1976 R75/6) told me that business was off this year. In fact, he said business around the island (lodging, etc.) was off 35% year-over-year. I found this to be odd: as the economy is so crappy, I thought that more people would be vacationing closer to home. Maybe they're just camping out in their fifty thousand dollar SUVs in Costco parking lots.

But economically, I think we are much worse off than the media indicates. My expectation is that we'll see a slight economic bounce, only to be followed by a last gasp as the second wave of foreclosures inundates the market with Option ARM recasts and Alt-A resets (larger than the subprime meltdown) awaiting us in 2010. But only time will tell.

The picture abouve is from the sail we took on Friday afternoon as the sun was dropping low in the sky.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Orcas Island

"I'm still living in
the dream we had,

For me
it's not over...
-Neil Young

So I made it to Orcas (pronounced OR-kuss) Island and we stumbled upon some fabulous wind spilling down the west side of the island last night for a great sunset sail, adding to my repitiore last night some of the most splendid views I've seen in my life. I wish I had pictures, and hopefully my friend will forward me some to me. Then on to the Lower Tavern in East Sound for bar food with nary a moment to spare, as we just made last call for food just before ten. A sound sleep aboard his 1965 Islander 32 in the calm harbor.

Breakfast with another friend on the island, then up Mt. Constitution on my friend's motorcycle (I believe a 2002 BMW 1100RT). We rode to the top, although he is a much more advanced rider than I. Riding back, we swapped BMWs and he gave me a vote of confidence that my was running fine, in spite of needing some carburetor adjustments and synchronizing.

A nap on the ferry home rejuvinated me for the great ride up through the Chuckanuts and I sit here in my favorite coffee shop reconnecting to the world on the mainland. It is always nice to return to Bellingham. Although I love the islands, I do not know if I could ever enjoy living over there. The locals are great, but I can never understand why the people rushing there from the big cities of Seattle, Portland,... are always in such a harried rush to relax. I look forward to more trips to the islands this summer. Oh , and here is the link to the above picture.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Today an unnerving day dealing with the congestion of Seattle. At least I am getting more used to the hustle and bustle. I'm not saying that I like, it, I'm just getting more used to it. At any rate, today I did something I never did before, and that's wear a hardhat. A company that I am working with cleans out storm drains and filters and today we were down on the docks in the industrial part of Seattle near Marginal Way. The mistake of learning that there is an East and West Marginal Way with the Duwamish in the middle cost me ten minutes.

Then off to another place to inspect more storm drains. It isn't the most glamorous job, but at least it's more stable than many of my past forays. And it's fun to start your own business from the ground up. And of course there are my other endeavors that consume much of my other time and otherwise idle thinking, such as a conference call on the way up I-5 for a medical device I'm building out on the Other Coast.

Tomorrow is off to Orcas Island on my old BMW R60/6 motorbike. I hope to leave around noon and stop meet with a colleague in Anacortes, then on to the 3:30pm ferry. Motorcycles get to go to the front of the line - right behind pedestrians and cyclists. I think this picture is the marina on the south side of the island where my friend's boat is moored. A sail might be in the works, even though the wind will probably be crummy.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Here's a picture taken a few blocks from my house. It was a gas line explosion that occurred near Whatcom Creek. Oh, but it happened ten years ago, on this day. A few people were killed - two kids, I believe. This picture was taken from the Bellingham Herald. As with most things in Bellingham, there are conspiracy theories out there as to what really happened, but offhand I cannot remember what they suggested.

But last night, at our weekly garden parties, the food looked oh so tempting and I am going through a period of stress and transition and all sorts of other justifications for ending my cleanse and partaking in the fine food that was prepared: the salmon and cheeses and breads a salads. A bounty of food. And a perfect time to break my fast. Raw fruits and veggies for almost six days. Fortunately, the momentum carried forward and I had a salad tonight versus the standard cookies or ice cream. But now that I think of it, cookies sound pretty good...

Time to get some rest, as tomorrow I need to be in Seattle by eight. Ugh. That means leaving at six and hoping I miss the ever present Everett congestion.

Monday, June 8, 2009


When you eat nothing but raw fruits and vegetables for a few days, the lack of consuming substance take on more of a psychological element versus the physical. It's been since Thursday since I had nothing but copious amounts of fruits, veggies, and right now some veggie broth.

I lost ten pounds in the few days, mainly because I eat a ton of crap usually, and burn off the calories by biking. If I ever reduced my cycling, I would drastically need to reduce my caloric intake. Oops, I did have a tiny square of chocolate too, and tonight I might have another. I designed the cleanse, so I guess I can add something like chocolate to it the list of acceptable items.

But I did feel a sense of lessened energy riding to Happy Valley this evening. Oh, and I got a call this morning where a tree service had a load of wood chips (pine, spruce and fir) that they could drop at my place to cover the front yard. Sixteen friggin' yards of wood chips and pine needles and branches piled high in the front yard. So the Monday (which are usually busy) was even made more hectic by this surprise phone call. But the yard looks mch better than the exposed cardboard. I am sure my neighbors breathed a sigh of relief. And many, many people biking or walking by stopped to tell us what a wonderful thing we are doing by removing the yard.Hopefully others will follow suit.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


A busy weekend of catching up on doing nothing.

Yesterday a friend came up from Seattle and my R60/6 was put back together and complete, so we went out to ride for a bit up and down Chuckanut Drive (but only a few miles, as we were somewhat limited by our time). He has a 1979 Harley Shovelhead, while mine is a 1975 BMW Airhead. It's odd to see Harleys riding with Beemers, so I've been told. And right now his is parked right next to mine at home, leaking oil all over my garage floor, I'm sure.

I replaced my drive shaft seal (twice actually, as the first time screwed up) and now it's once again tight...running smoothly. Next is to set the timing and change the fork oil - two things that proobably don't need to be done, but I might as well do it anyway.

But on a much sadder note, two sailors capsized and presumably drowned in Chuckanut Bay yesterday, right at the place we were riding. The appeared to be in a wooden homemade boat around 20' or so in length. That's what I gathered from the pictures in the print edition in yesterday's Herald. Having sailed and been in some very precarious (and life threatening) situations, I can only imagine what these sailors were feeling in their remaining moments.

The picture abovee is of Chuckanut Bay and stolen from this website. But I guess it's not stolen if I just linked to her site?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Week End

Another great day. A run of good weather - something I have not been accustomed to in June in Bellingham. Usually it's rainy and cloudy. But I've heard the precipitation for the year is slightly above average. An evening spent in Happy Valley, and the headwind that confronted me as I rode over the top of Western's campus was a nice tailwind to carry me home. It's sort of neat when you are riding and cannot feel any wind becuase your riding at the same speed of the wind (around 20mph). That was the case with the usual southwesterlies blowing off Resario Straits and pushing me home.

It is nice to finally have some structiure back in my life with work seemingly gravititating toward a more predictable path (relatively speaking). Ending the first full day of the cleanse and only five more full days to go. I am sure you will hear more. Mostly raw veggies and fruits, interspersed with occassional caffeine. The real fun licks in around Day Three where you start to feel the effects of the cleanse. A lot of people in Bellingham see to be into these, but I do not recall where the idea came from for me.

I feel like I'm not making too much sense tonight, so it's off to sleep. The picture was taken out the front door this morning.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Tomorrow I hope to begin a cleanse. Six days is the plan of only raw vegetables. And tean and veggie broth and coffee and some nicotine in the form of a cigarette - probably one a day. That's what's great about designing your own cleanse - you can add what you want. I think my last one was in August. I'm sure you'll hear more of this effort in the next few days.

Today was a day of renting a car: breakfast meeting in Everett, lunch meeting in Tacoma (see photo above that I took from somewhere on the web), and a later meeting in Kent. And then back through the mayhem of Seattle, the land of expensive cars with tinted windows and shiny wheels and sad faces. Upon returning home, I needed to decompress and gladly shed the rental for my bike - down to watch the sun set at Boulevard Park. I wonder how many Seattle-ites took the time to watch the sun set? Poor people.

Monday, June 1, 2009


I may need to do something that I dread. And that is to give up my car free lifestyle. I cringe at this moment, as life without a car is so far preferable to the headaches and rigors of a filthy hunk of steel and plastic crowding the front of my home.

And what's more appalling is the lack of anything offering decent mileage (not to mention that cars all look the same these days). My best opportunity right now is a 1983 VW Rabbit diesel, or a truck that a friend may let me use for the time being. What a shame that mileage on automobiles has dropped so precipitously in the past twenty five years. The closest of any decency is the Austin Mini in the 38mpg highway range. And I've read where Europe offers twenty models that get at least 60mpg while the US continues to languish while oil futures once again edge past seventy dollars per barrel.

But the saddest thing is the fact that I will once again join the lonely, sad people stuck in their cars in the horrendous traffic of Everett and Seattle. Fortunately it will only be for a few days per week, and I will still get to ride my bike and smile and wave to the other pleasant cyclists passing me on my way to work. But I guess I'm not doomed, but I will lose a big chunk of my freedom. Sad.