Kevin Hellriegel's Blog of Worthless Advice

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Tag Archives: sunshine

My Prefect Gift: My Stories

Have you be on vacation lately?  Do you feel that you have to buy souvenirs for all your friends and relatives back home?  You know, all those schmucks that didn’t come with you on your dream vacation?  And now they want a gift from you?  An expensive trinket that means nothing to them but costs you a fortune.  A trinket to prove your friendship?

No, my dear worthless advice blog readers…this is when we put down our foot and say “No more worthless gifts”.  Let me enlighten you, dear readers to a gift that keeps on giving to my friends and relatives…my stories!

How can my stories be a gift?  Upon my return from a trip, I’ve noticed my kids usually ask this question: What did you bring me?  When they were younger, I use to be able to get away with bringing them restaurant napkins or maybe some airline peanuts.  Heck, when they were younger you could bring them a hotel brochure and they would be impressed.  But now, they want more.  You know…things like a tee-shirt…a snow globe…a boxed set of Chinese throwing stars…a new Dell Alienware laptop….typical things for kids.

family-591579_1920Instead, I bring them my exciting stories of making Kona coffee in my hotel room, ordering a sandwich at a beachside deli, and how the old lady almost ran me over at the cross walk.  I let them know that my life is exciting and dangerous; yet can be boring and mundane at times.  Clearly, my listeners will learn from my engaging and entertaining stories and appreciate them more than a dull old trinket from my Maui vacation trip.

Who wants a seashell lei when they could instead feel the salt spray on their face as they listen to how I walked along Wailua Beach on Kauai at sunrise?  Their mind will hear the crashing of the waves on the beach, the Hawaiian music floating across the lobby of the hotel, the soft gentle trade wind will kiss their face, and their eyes will begin to squint when I mention the bright sun reflecting off the golden sand.  Truly, my vast stories have awoken them from their mindless slumber and taken them on a journey like no other.

1 palm-tree-2095813.jpgMy stories of coconut palm trees swaying in the wind will delight the young and old alike.  Maybe I should even talk about the annoying tourist at the bar?  You know the guy that talks way too loud and complains about being there?

Yes, dear readers, you are welcome!  (I know you want to “Thank” me for sharing my stories) in my blog.  In fact, leave a comment about this post or your favorite story below in my comments section.  And if you’d like to do a guest blog entry, send me a private message.

 

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Vacation Post: Chelan, Washington

It has taken me a few days to get out of work mode and into vacation mode.  We are staying about 3.5 hours (driving time) from our house which results in hotter weather with clear blue skies.  As you have probably gathered from past blog posts, the western Washington area is usually cloudy, wet, and cool (55-65 degrees F).  However, once you drive over Snoqulamie Pass and enter the eastern side of the state, you get hot, dry desert weather.  We now have high 80s to low 90s, clear blue skies.  Did I mention blue skies?  Yeah, we can see the sun here.

Now, summer is the best time to be in Seattle because the cloudy skies are really now blue skies.  The weather is good.  The new channel is teasing us with reports of sunshine and temperatures of 70-80.

The Lake Chelan area is beautiful.  It use to be just apple orchard country, mixed in with some cherries, and then a sprinkle of vacation condo resorts (lots of timeshares here).  Over the past 15 years, Chelan has added about 23 wineries and more tourist activities such as ziplines, jet skis and boat rentals, etc.  There is a great and affordable family waterslide park called “Slidewaters”.  Great local pizza joints and hamburger places.  Heck, and there is sunshine every darn day!

300 days of sunshine…you can’t complain about that especially when it comes with a 55 miles long lake with clear blue water.

Back to School and a Ruined Labor Day Weekend

Here in Washington State, our school kids don’t go back to school until the last week of August or the first week of September. In fact, my kids went back to school on August 28. In comparison, the Seattle School District started yesterday September 3, 2014. This makes a heck of a lot more sense than starting August 28, going to school for two days, and then having Labor Day weekend off. It puts a bitter taste on the last week of August and Labor Day. You can’t milk summer out for a bit longer. Instead, you must think of getting your kids back in time for starting school on Thursday before Labor Day weekend.

It isn’t like anything is done the first two days of school when you have Labor Day weekend right there. Everyone knows that Thursday and Friday (before the Labor Day weekend) are “throwaway” days of education. You might as well let the kids watch TV because they sure aren’t paying attention to the teachers during those two days of school.

Labor Day Weekend wasn’t ruined for me. I always have fun. This year instead of heading to Anderson Island for the three day weekend, we went camping at Sun Lakes State Park. It was a good choice because we left the rain behind. Sun Lakes is located on the eastern side of Washington, roughly three hours away from our house. While western Washington might be experiencing rain and misery, the eastern side of the state will have sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns. Well, maybe not unicorns and rainbows but you get the idea. The weather is nice. We don’t have lots of rain and huddle under blue tarps. In eastern Washington, we don’t do the “blue tarp” camping made famous on the west side of the state. In eastern Washington, you slap on the sun block (SPF 45) and a big hat

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What lurks beneath the waters of this lake?

What lurks beneath the waters of this lake?

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It's all fun and games until someone falls off the cliffs!

It’s all fun and games until someone falls off the cliffs!

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On the negative side, it was windy in the evenings and the state park was full. Truth be told, it was very windy and miserable in that respect. The first night was bad. The tent was flapping around, keeping both myself and my wife wide awake. You would drift off to sleep, and then a gust of wind would pop up and wake you up. The second night, the wind was just as bad but I wore my ear plugs and I enjoyed the evening a bit more.

Sun Lakes State Park has a few different lakes within the park boundaries. On Sunday, we hiked along the Deep Lake Trail which was about 2 to 2.5 miles round trip. It goes right along the lake and is an easy hike. There is an opportunity to do some cliff diving or jumping off the cliff edge but we didn’t do it this trip. Perhaps next time we can jump off some basalt rock cliffs into the water below, have a scary monster grab us and drag us under.

I did manage to get some swimming in Sun Lake itself with my daughter and her friend. The weather was a bit cloudy, the wind was blowing, and the water was a little colder than I would have preferred. However, it was probably going to be the last swim of summer so I toughed it out. I’m not a little baby (well, I really am but I try to act tough).

My son and I also did a twilight walk where he was almost hit by a bat. Lots of bats on the Park Lake Trail, however I can’t complain about the bats because they keep the bug population down. Go bats!

Overall, the camping trip was a good one. No flat tires, no lost sleeping bags. The drive home wasn’t too bad. I’d go again but probably opt for a RV campsite further and with less wind.

 

Thanks for reading and your comments are always welcome!

Hold on? I’m rich beyond my wildest Dreams? A Bloggers Guide to Riches!

I have some bad news and good news! 

Bad news, I didn’t win the lottery with my lucky $2 bill while I vacationed in Winthrop, WA over my birthday weekend.  Of course, this leads into my good news that I can now continue to blog and offer worthless advice to Cyndi (my imaginary stalker) and my three other readers (special shout out to my blogger friends on Vancouver Island and in the great state of Kansas).  I do appreciate your following my worthless advice blog!

With my lack of winning the lottery, my retirement plans include to continue to work and save money.  In the meantime, I will enjoy the sunshine.  If you haven’t heard, we have had a rash of good weather here in the Seattle area for the past few days.  If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook (if you don’t, you really should), you might have noticed that I have been posting photos of myself out on location as the awesome school photographer I am (and a modest one as well).  Today, we hit 81 degrees at the Sea-Tac Airport and I’m sure it was 84 here in Kent, WA.  I love this kind of weather: sunshine and a little heat.

Since my blogging career and online business income hasn’t exploded into a massive fortune, I am not moving any time soon to Kauai (as seen on the TV show “Hawaii Life”) or any other warm climate.  Sure, I have talked about moving but I most likely won’t be moving anytime soon.

I have considered Kauai since my parents still live there but I am apprehensive considering my past experience as a youth on Kauai.  And the larger question is: What would I do on Kauai?  I would probably avoid doing any work of any sort and that would be a bad thing.  I’d get fat and tan and lay on the beach like a Hawaiian Monk Seal and that wouldn’t be good, would it?

I would probably have a hard time blogging too because I couldn’t complain about the rainy Seattle weather or the awful traffic.  What would I blog about?

Nah, I think I’ll continue to complain about the rainy, cold weather of Seattle and give worthless advice about blogging, retirement, and how to make money online.  Since, I am the King of Worthless Advice, I should be perfect at it!

Thanks for not even bothering to read my blog today.  Just hit the “like” button!

 

 

Sunshine kills my work day…

I’m out on location and we are experiencing some beautiful sunshine here in the Seattle area. Usually on days like these, I would blow off work. Instead, I embrace it with open arms. Why should I enjoy an awesome day like today?

I should stay inside and close the drapes.

In reality, I want the sun. Ah, sunshine come here my elusive lover. How you tease me!

I may complain a great deal about our rainy Northwest weather but today is not one of those days. I just wish I was caught up on my work so I could skip out of work. Instead, I’m playing catch up with digital images and I’m out on location (outside) for another 45 minutes.

I also hate writing and posting from my phone on WordPress. It is so cumbersome, I mess up on my tags, I get lost in the interface menu. I feel like an idiot. I blame it on the sun.

Have a great afternoon. Sorry, that I would be able to offer any worthless advice today….the sunshine had zapped my powers of sarcasm.

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Sunshine kills my work day…

I’m out on location and we are experiencing some beautiful sunshine here in the Seattle area. Usually on days like these, I would blow off work. Instead, I embrace it with open arms. Why should I enjoy an awesome day like today?

I should stay inside and close the drapes.

In reality, I want the sun. Ah, sunshine come here my elusive lover. How you tease me!

I may complain a great deal about our rainy Northwest weather but today is not one of those days. I just wish I was caught up on my work so I could skip out of work. Instead, I’m playing catch up with digital images and I’m out on location (outside) for another 45 minutes.

I also hate writing and posting from my phone on WordPress. It is so cumbersome, I mess up on my tags, I get lost in the interface menu. I feel like an idiot. I blame it on the sun.

Have a great afternoon. Sorry, that I would be able to offer any worthless advice today….the sunshine had zapped my powers of sarcasm.

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Why wear sunglasses on a dark, cloudy day?

You know what drives me nuts?

People who wear their sunglasses on dark cloudy days.

Sure, I know you can have a bright cloudy day and need your sunglasses. You need your extremely cool sunglasses on bright sunny days; I get that.  I’m a photographer and I am aware of the amount of light I see every day.

No, I’m talking about dark, overcast, ready to pour down rain on you days. I’m talking about people who insist on wearing sunglasses regardless of how dark or light it is outside. I’m not talking about the old grandma types that need them because of cataracts. I’m talking about people who are old enough to know better but want to look “good” in their shades. They can be in their twenties, thirties, forties, and fifties, and they still insist on wearing sunglasses when they clearly don’t need them.

Granted, some people’s prescription eyewear does change with the amount of light that hits them but they have a free pass to wear them. They need them and they aren’t trying to be a model from a hip clothing line. It makes no sense to me. You look like an idiot and it seems to me that you are hiding something.   A little too many martinis at lunch today? That hit off the old meth pipe too much? You were crying because you realized your boyfriend was an ass and you should have dumped him three months like your friends told you to? Why wear the sunglasses? Why look like someone who is clearly an idiot?

Being from the Pacific Northwest region, we have over 200 days of cloudy weather. I understand you might want to wear the sunglasses but it makes no sense. Accept the fact you live here in a cloudy, rainy area of the world with no hope of sunshine except for two months out of the year. Get use to it. It is cloudy here most of the time and the weather is cold (40-50 F) most of the time. If it is 65 F and sunny, we are in heaven here!

Comments? Please for the life of my blog….make some comments!Image

How to Lose Your Girl Scout Troop in Seattle

Girl Scout Adventure to the Smith Tower and MOHAI!

Excuse any mistakes….this blog is from my phone!

On Friday, our Girl Scout Trip had a little adventure to the Smith Tower located in the Pioneer Square neighborhood of Seattle via the Sound Transit’s light rail train. All eight of our Girl Scouts showed up for the trip to the top of Smith Tower and the Chinese Room.

We were able to catch the light rail train from the Tukwila station directly to the Pioneer Square neighborhood where the famous Smith Tower (42 stories tall and at one time the tallest skyscraper west of the Mississippi River) is located. Being from the South King County city of Kent, we have quite a few options to get into Seattle. Instead of driving on Friday morning, we took Sound Transit’s light rail train into Seattle.

My son also came along so we had a total of 12 people on this outing: 8 Girl Scouts, one Boy Scout, and three adults. If anyone is keeping track or needs to plan a trip into Seattle, I’ll be giving you costs for each of travel legs. One of our scouts met us there so our train fare was $34 for our group of 11 people.

Smith Tower is the only place in the Seattle area that has elevator operators. The elevators are staffed by actual human beings that will take you to the observation floor of Smith Tower from the beautiful lobby. The doors on each floor and the elevator’s doors are glass. This allows you and your fellow passengers the treat of seeing each floor as you pass by as you race to the top.

Cost on this part of the trip was lower than normal because Groupon had a deal for four tickets for $14.99. We used three Groupon certificates for the group of 12 we had.

The Smith Tower offers an excellent view to the south, southeast, and southwest of it. The industrial area lays to the south and I-5 freeway to the east. You can see the downtown Seattle business core to the north plus other landmarks like the Space Needle, CenturyLink Field, Safeco Field, and the cranes on the Port of Seattle waterfront. If you have time, you can watch the Washington State Ferries come and go into and back out of Coleman Dock. While the weather wasn’t too clear for us on Friday, I’m sure on a sunny day with blue skies, Mt. Rainier would be visible.

After we had explored the 35th floor observation deck, we descended back down to lobby and returned to the metro tunnel to catch another link rail train to the Westlake Mall area. The transit tunnel was built roughly 25-30 years for buses with the idea that it would one day have trains running through it. Currently, our transit tunnel allows both the light rail trains and buses to run through it and is handy when you know where you want to go.

We got back in the light rail train and rode the it to Westlake, got off and had lunch at the food court. To keep costs down, we had the girls bring a sack lunch. However, there is a small selection of restaurants and smoothie stands in the food court to choose from. The dining area is clean and well lit. Lots of places to eat at and we just made it in before the big lunch rush.

We then went back down to street level and caught the South Lake Union Streetcar north to The Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI). The Seattle Streetcar is different from the Sound Transit Light Rail system. The street car is run by King Country Metro which is our local county transit authority and the light rail train system is run by Sound Transit, our regional transit system. Confused? I bet. If you live in the area and travel on both frequently you may want to purchase an ORCA pass. However, for a short day trip, we opted to pay the general fair for the ride. Your ticket is good for the ride and you have a two hour transfer that you can use for the return trip. Cost for the streetcar is $2.50 for adults and $1.25 for youth. You can purchase tickets at the kiosk at each stop and on board the streetcar.

One problem I noticed is that the ticket kiosk is designed for you to purchase one ticket at a time. Not a big hassle until you have to purchase 12 tickets and you have to do it one at a time. One of the moms and I spent half the ride purchasing the tickets for all 12 of us. At one point I was tempted to skip it but what kind of example does that set?

We finally made it to the MOHAI and the weather had turned to sunshine. It was a marvelous sunny day in Seattle and one that makes you love Seattle. MOHAI is a beautiful museum and offers so much of the way of Seattle’s history. It moved to this location a year or two ago and it is well thought out. I wasn’t able to finish the whole museum myself. The nice part about the MOHAI is the cost is free for kids under 14. It is pricey for adults at $14 each. Of course they offer a teacher rate and senior rate as well. Luckily for us, I had planned ahead and asked the parents to look for Entertainment Book coupons and we got the four adults in for $24. Not a bad price for a group of 12!!

Our age for our Girl Scout troop is 11-12 years and this seems like a prefect age for the MOHAI. They were busy but not bored. Again, I could have spent a few more hours reading and enjoying the museum. I didn’t get to finish the whole thing but I definitely give it a thumbs up!! My favorite display was the Great Seattle Fire display. It has a little show you can watch and enjoy. Quite well thought out and keeps all ages entertained.

After we finished up there, we headed back home. You would have thought I planned it perfectly because as soon as we walked to the streetcar stop the streetcar was arriving. We hopped onto it and rode it back to Westlake Center. Then we went straight to the light rail stop and waited a few moments for the light rail and hopped on that. A quick fun ride back on the light rail to the Tukwila station and we were almost home.

Now before we left the Tukwila light rail station we had to park in the parking lot which doesn’t have enough parking for the ridership this station produces. They do have a special parking section that is marked S.O.V. Permit parking from 6 am to 10 am. I’m not sure what or who S.O.V parking is but we used two of their spots. The rest of the time it is open to general parking. We had arrived at 9:20 am and parked there. My troop moms were worried about their cars getting towed but our cars were there when we returned. For forty minutes, we were breaking the rules but it did work out in the end. No cars or cats were towed and I didn’t have to pay to get two vehicles out of the impound lot.

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Hawaii Life TV Show

Yesterday, I managed to watch another episode of the TV show “Hawaii Life”.  This one involved a former pro surfer who was moving back to Oahu (Hawaii).  Oahu is called the “Gathering Place” island and roughly 85% of the state’s population lives on Oahu.  That is about 850,000 people.  As you can figure out, the State of Hawaii has about 1 million people.  This doesn’t include the tourist population that is coming and going throughout the year.

Now, you might now that my parents still live on the island of Kauai (know as the Garden Isle) and that I lived there for a while in my youth.  I attended Kapa’a High School on Kauai.

When you tell people you went to school in Hawaii, everyone thinks it must have been totally awesome.  Warm weather, the beach, the kick back lifestyle.

As a teenager, it wasn’t as fun as you can imagine.  I’m a haole boy (a Caucasian) so I got picked on.  Part of the problem I was a big kid, not fat mind you, just physically big.  I swam, mountain biked, and lifted weights (me Incredible Hulk, me strong…not really).  I was a pretty good target for local boys that didn’t like haoles.

Not all of my experience on Kauai was bad.  I did have some great friends and did a lot of fun activities.  I was just careful on where I went and who I was hanging out with.  If I had my big Hawaiian friends, I was able to go to some rougher areas.  If I was with my haole friends, we went to the more public beaches.

When I watch the “Hawaii Life” show, I enjoy it.  The show “Hawaii Life” is well done.  It is fun to see sunshine, surf, and the beaches here in the comfort of my Seattle home.  Hawaii is a wonderful place and after watching this type of show I get a bit homesick.  The weather looks wonderful, the beaches look inviting, and the family (buying the house) appears to be very happy.

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To combat my feelings of moving back, I quickly watch a few episodes of “Dog the Bounty Hunter”.  Nothing like Dog chasing down some meth head or bail jumper to snap me back into reality and wake me up!  The reality being that Hawaii is like everywhere else.  Sure, you have great weather but you also have drugs and crime, good times and bad times.  Life is what you make of it.

In the meantime, I plan to whine about not living in Hawaii and not buying a house like the folks on “Hawaii Life”.  Boo hoo.  Poor me!  What am I going to do.  Perhaps I should start a donation site in which people (like yourself) could contribute to my family’s move back to Kauai.  What do you think about that?

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