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Monte Cristo Ghost Town

We were looking for a hike that avoided the snow up the in mountains, so in that sense, this was a failure. There was a good 6 inches of snow at the trailhead up to about a foot at the town site, but the hike was mostly flat and we were able to walk in the footsteps of the few people who went up ahead of us. It was a beautiful day, a pleasant drive, and well worth the trek.

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Fall colors

The Pacific Northwest doesn’t get the fall fireworks show that the East can get, but we do mountains much better and also, there are larches. I had never seen them before, but these are deciduous conifers and if you time it right, you can see them in full, bright yellow color up in the mountains.
These are all from Cutthroat and Maple Pass in the North Cascades. The yellow trees are larches, the bright red bushes are huckleberries and the haze is the remnant of wildfire smoke.

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Tall Ships

If anyone is going to be in Kirkland, WA this week, the tall ships, the Lady Washington, and the Hawaiian Chieftain are there.  Tours are $5, sailing trips and battle sail trips are also available.  My daughter is on the crew so we popped down on their day off to deliver a care package and provide a dog for the crew to pet.

The Lady Washington is a period reproduction and has appeared in many movies, most notably, she is “the Interceptor” from Pirates of the Caribbean.

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Lava

I’ve been following the eruption of Kilauea while at the same time, planning our fall camping trip to Mount St Helens.  I knew from previous trips about the difference between a’a and pahoehoe but the recent footage has given some really great visual examples of it in action, rather than the cold and plant-covered versions I’ve seen locally.

Here’s a video that shows the difference.

On the way back from the Ape Cave we saw a big pile of clinkers. This time, knowing what it is, I’ll be sure to take more pictures.

2,000 years ago, a smooth basalt flow ran through a forest on the south side of Mt St Helens. It smothered the trees which then burned or rotted away, leaving behind casts in the stone.  It is now covered by another forest.

This was once the trunk and root of a tree.

A new tree grows where the old one stood.

Before I knew how these were formed, the perfectly round holes were baffling.

Lave covered this fallen log, leaving the impression of its bark. This one is large enough to crawl through.

Pahoehoe flows sometimes form lava tubes when the outsides cool, but the molten center continues to drain away.  There are many on the south of St Helens. Ape Cave is one, and it is over a mile long.

A small lava tube

A large lava tube. (Ape Cave)

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Random musings and even more soap

I’ve been doing all sorts of exciting outdoor adventures, but I haven’t brought the camera so, alas, I cannot share.

I got my kayak out to a new lake and did a 6 mile loop at a leisurely pace (and got a sunburn because of that classic reason: it was cloudy out).  And for my birthday I got some kayak toys – hully rollers to put the kayak on top of the car (which I can now do by myself!) and this cool deck compass.  It’s probably overkill, but I have ideas about leading some short expeditions between islands and it seems like a good thing to have for that.  Right now I’m just playing with it.

My youngest daughter has been afraid to ride her bicycle ever since she fell onto the bar hard a year ago. In the last week, she went with her dad to a bicycle repair shop, where, apparently, they worked some sort of magic by showing her how bicycles work and letting her ‘repair’ one.  She is now super enthusiastic about riding. She still will only try to ride her own, older bike, that’s too small for her, but she completed an 11 mile ride with the family WITHOUT COMPLAINING.

This warranted an ice cream reward and we’re going to plan more small and easy trips with fun things at the end to encourage more.

The mango-lassi soap cured out somewhat tan in the ‘white’ areas – apparently it contains some vanilla – but it still looks good and is ready to ship out.

And then yesterday I made a new soap “Man Candy”!  The scent is actually called “Blue Sugar” and is described as “masculine cotton candy” but that was too much for my friends to remember and so it is now Man Candy.  I did another in-the-pot swirl and I really like the way it turned out.

And I cleared some space in the chaos that is my garage – so now I can mostly walk through it.  That’s progress.

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Whidbey Island

Whenever we have guests from out of town and I’m looking for a day trip, this is one of my favorites.  We start by driving up to Deception Pass and walk out over the bridge to Pass Island.

View from about mid-span.

The current through the narrow channel can reach 8 knots at peak flow. I’ve been kayaking near there before but never through the pass itself.  This time there was a series of standing waves west of the bridge and high winds, which made crossing a white-knuckle experience.  I was afraid to look through the viewfinder, so this picture was taking by just pointing the camera in a direction and hoping it caught something good.

From the bridge we headed downhill into the park for a walk along the beach and a look at the ancient (800+ year old) douglas fir.  We’ve heard this called the “Monkey Tree” but I have no idea where that name comes from (we did fill it with our own little monkeys).

Then it was on to the hike itself.

A different wind-contorted tree with ukulele player

Ebey’s Landing

Looking up the bluff

Then our final stop was Fort Casey where we flew kites and let the kids run around in the tunnels. For some reason I always forget to take photos at Fort Casey, but here’s my dog looking alert in front of the old battery.

From there we headed south to the ferry for a short hop back to the mainland.

The only thing that would make this trip better is if it could be done in reverse so you wound up by Snow Goose Produce for gigantic ice cream cones on the way home.

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Seascape Kayak – Quick Update

Using the right tools and some WD-40 I managed to get the rudder apart.  Here are the metal pieces that need to be straightened.

And here is the critical central plastic piece that holds the rudder to the boat and allows the blade to slide up and down.  It’s seen better days.  I’m going to see if my Maker friends can cut a new one or if we need to purchase it from the manufacturer.

I’m currently researching the deck cording to see if I can do better than $.50 per foot.

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Broken Kayaks – Before

I made soap this week, but I haven’t taken pictures of it yet – those will come later. Instead, since we had a rare patch of sun today, I decided to repair a crack in the cockpit of my kayak and have a look at the free one donated to our club a few weeks ago.

The repair of my thigh brace went well – the company sent me a plastic patch to lay over the top (it’s a 14′ Delta Kayak, made from a lightweight ABS plastic) and some epoxy to hold it in place after a bit of sanding.  I love my Delta.  It weighs nothing (45 lbs), it has unique ‘gas-pedal’ style rudder pedals, a surprising amount of bulk storage, and a snack hatch!  It’s just fun to paddle.  I’m not entirely sure how the thigh brace cracked.  My guesses are either that I jumped into it too abruptly launching from a rocky patch into a quick-moving stream or something to do with my 13-year-old son.

The donated kayak is a 21 foot fiberglass tandem. A “Seascape 2” by Northwest Kayaks. I’ve seen them used by a lot of touring groups in the area. It had been stored upside down under a hedge for many years and the rudder was broken off. Today I went to see what we were up against.

All the bungee needs to be replaced and I had to pry/cut off two rotten pieces of wood that had once been used to mount an outrigger.  Fixing the outrigger holes and maybe some new gel-coat should do it for taking care of the body.  I don’t trust the hatch seals, but I’ll test those when I get it into the water.

The rudder needs the most work. The blade is bent and the plastic parts are cracked or broken completely in half so it is no longer attached to the boat

These are my ‘before’ shots.  I hope we can either replace or manufacture all the parts we need to get this rudder working again, and get the whole thing cleaned up – it’s filthy.

EDIT

A shot of the 2 kayaks side-by-side.  The 21 foot tandem makes my 14 foot long sea kayak look like a toy.

The patch job on my Delta’s thigh brace.

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Arboretum

I managed to come down with the 3-week crud that has been plaguing everyone, but late last week I finally felt up to moving around and we went down to Seattle to catch the cherry trees before the blooms faded.  I didn’t wind up with too many great photos of cherry blossoms, but there was quite a bit to impress.

What I learned:  I need to think about the composition of my shots more and I find that difficult when I’m still tired.  It’s hard to nail the focus on macro shots, especially when I don’t have a tripod. I’m still learning how to take photos in aperture priority mode and it’s not always a success.

ferns and moss on a tree

tiny orange bells

mysterious fairy glen

fiddlehead

hellebore

katsura