Wednesday, May 28, 2014

New Neighbors/New Dock

Our daughter and son-in-law bought a house across the lake from us.  We helped them rebuild the dock this past weekend.  While the pilings on the dock were good, and most of the underlying structure was okay, it had never been completed.  A strange form of plastic sandwich material had been screwed down for about a third of the dock several years ago, but it was warped and had holes in it in places.

Ron and Dan started by carrying the new material down the hill.  Each trip is equivalent to 4 staircases according to Amy's pedometer.  At least the trip up was empty handed.

Then they added new structure to the unfinished part of the dock.  They were able to add four 2"x12" 12 foot boards onto the pilings while balanced on loose boards without dropping any into the lake.
Some of the work was done in a downpour.
At the end of the first full day of labor, new boards had been added to where the old boards started.  The hardest part was removing the old boards, as they were put down in brackets and linked by tongue and groove.  The brackets had rusted and were mostly stripped, so removing them was a tedious task.  Amy and Dan take a break in the end of the day sunshine, experiencing a bit of what it will be like when done.
From the lake - all new boards.
From the shore.  Looking forward to many summer days enjoying the finished product!


Friday, May 16, 2014

Granite Falls and Mountain Loop Highway

The interesting places closest to home are the ones we often neglect.  However, when we have out of town guests, we are always asked "is there really a Granite Falls?"  The falls are a few miles east of the town of the same name.
Alongside the river and the falls, a fairly impressive fish ladder helps fish navigate the waterway.
 Ron and I standing on the fish ladder below the falls.
The falls are pretty impressive right now with the high water in the river.

The walkway has a grate where you can look down and see the waterway for the fish - which looks just as swiftly moving as the main river right now.

The views at the river make the steep stairs worth the effort!
One of the most popular hiking trails on the Mt Loop Highway is the one to the ice caves on Big 4 Mountain. 
We stopped at the trailhead and took some pictures and walked a ways on the boardwalk through the swamp.  We continued on Mt Loop Highway to Barlow Pass, and then over the gravel portion of the road along the river until we reached pavement just outside Darrington.
We stopped at the ranger station in Darrington where we ate our picnic lunch.
We caught sight of the Oso slide from the gravel powerline road that serves as the one way detour for part of the road between Darrington and Arlington.

The pictures we've seen in the media in no way prepared us for the actual site of the slide.  We saw the remains of cars crushed so small we could barely identify them as cars.  The debris extended from the other side of the river - many hundred yards at least - all the way to the power line where we traveled.  The power line road sits well above Highway 530, but the entire valley had been filled with debris, making it nearly level all the way from the slide to where we drove.  There really is no way to describe how horrifying the sights are.

Showing our World To our Friends from Florida

We met our friends, Bill and Cynthia, on a bike ride when we were in Florida.  At that time they both rode Harleys.  That was a couple of years ago.  Since then, they have given up the bikes and traded them in for a mini-Cooper.
They are full time RV'ers,
in a very large coach.  Which might be what you need if you are hauling everything you need around with you all the time.  We tried full timing for about 4 months in a much smaller rig, and I was ready for the some serious therapy by then.
With all the tipouts, it's probably as big as our house.

We headed out around 11 - with them in their mini and Ron and I on the motorcycle.  First stop, Jordan Bridge.


on to Deception Pass

One of the "must see" places for out of town visitors (even those fearful of heights, like Cynthia).

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Every Blooming Thing

One of the lovely things about Spring is that suddenly, everything has color.  After the grays and browns of the winter months, along with sunshine, we find every color.  Starting with green
of the lupine leaves, and a silver drop of water from all the recent rains.
Asparagus spear - one of the real signs that spring has arrived.
Rhododendrons blooming in so many colors,
Apple blossoms bring a promise of fruit in the fall.
Perennials like "Shooting Star" and
Lily of the valley, and many others.
Also time for beautiful Mother's Day Baskets!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Biking in Snohomish and Skagit County

The real sun worshippers live in the Pacific Northwest.  When the sun comes out in the spring, everyone heads outside!  There is no excuse for burning daylight sleeping in or working inside.
So when we woke up to full sun and a promise from the weather forecasters for a day where the temperature got to 80 degrees, Ron got the bike out and we headed out on an explore.
We intended to go out Jordan Rd to Arlington and then on to Darrington via Oso as we had heard the road was open.  However, Jordan Road was closed for a bridge replacement, so we ended up on Engebretsen Rd, following the South Fork of the Stillaguamish River,
through the old growth forest,
 onto Highway 530 toward Oso and Darrington.
I love barns, so this road is great for looking at a variety of barns. 
The slide at Oso has made us much more aware of slopes and slides, and frankly, all of the hillsides look fragile.
About a mile east of Oso, we came to a traffic stop, where a flagger had traffic stopped and a security person came up to us.  "Can we get through to Darrington?" Ron asked.
"Yes, but traffic going east goes on the half hours and coming west leaves the other side on the hour." 
He also mentioned that the bypass is a gravel power line road with a 16% grade.  It was 10:42 a.m. when we got there, so we would have to wait 45 minutes for the pilot car.  We decided that trip was better left for another day and turned around and went back to Arlington.
Highway 9 North has its own traffic issues.  We still used the one lane bridge just north of Bryant, but we could see the new bridge, which will take out several 90 degree turns is nearing completion.
We headed west on Hwy 534 to Conway, where we had lunch at the Conway Pub, one of our favorite outdoor eateries.
 We came back through Silvana,
 where the barns butt right up to the road,
and the slopes look just as dangerous as the ones out toward Oso.