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Tag Archives: washington state

The Cold Freeze is Over! (And I’m not talking about my blogging vacation either!)

For the past couple of weeks here in the Seattle area, we have enjoyed a nice frosty cold spell.  It was so cold, we had numerous days of the temperature dropping in the 20’s (F) and even into the teens.  That is pretty unusual for us.  It cause my little fish pond to freeze over. Don’t worry; the goldfish are still going strong under the ice.

It also cause Lake Josephine on Anderson Island to mostly completely freeze over.  The other sister lake, Lake Florence, also was frozen over from this recent cold spell.  Again, pretty amazing stuff for our mild martime Puget Sound climate area.

We broke up some of the ice by the dock.

Winter is coming….

Bella on the ice!

Now, when I took these photos, the ice was 2-4 inches thick and clear.  That will support my dog’s weight of 37 lbs with no problem.  It could support me…but why take that chance? My son and I happily stayed on the float section of our dock.  I didn’t want to fall through the ice, die, and leave you (my dear blog readers) sad and depressed, right? In this case, instead of my usual “Safety 3rd” motto, I bumped it up to #1. Heck, safety is no accident.

(Here is a link to some ice information.  It isn’t for Washington State. Click HERE to Ice Safety information).

My dog Bella enjoyed the ice and chasing the ball for hours.  My son flew one of our Phantom 3 drones over the frozen Lake Josephine as well, hopefully we will have some drone video to post in the next week or so. 

Now, the weather has warmed up into the 40’s (F) and the ice is disappearing.  Until next year….I bid you a fond farewell my frozen lake friends….

Thanks for reading, please comment below on my amazing blog post about ice safety in Washington State, Anderson Island, or just how darn funny and good looking I am.

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Need a Break from your Boring Day? New Drone Footage – Lake Washington

 

Ah, the sunny skies of Seattle…Enjoy our latest drone footage featuring University of Washington, the new 520 floating bridge (longest floating bridge in the world!), me racing around in the ski boat “Mac Mac”, our and friends in their trawler “Fish Hawk”.  Also some footage of Batman on a jet ski near Seward Park.

 

Below is a link to our YouTube Drone footage.  If you want an idea of how nice Seattle can be, take some time and watch the videos.

 

Why “Baby on Board” signs should say “Moron Driving” instead!

It never fails to annoying me when I see those little yellow “Baby on Board” signs in a car’s window because I know the driver is a moron. They are always the worst drivers. Case in point is the driver you see in this photo.

  

license plate AKA0818

  
When we were on the five lane road, this awesome driver decided to tailgate me, then zoom pass me on the right, get stuck behind the car in the right lane, cut back into the left, and get stuck behind that car. After all that, they were now in front of me instead of behind me.  Hats off to you, moron driver!  You are truly a winner!

Of course, they have “Baby on Board” sign hanging on the back window.  Oh yeah, I should be extra careful when you cause me to crash into the back of your car because you think this is a NASCAR racetrack and you are sponsored by Busch beer.
Thanks again Washington State license plate AKA0818 for being a bad driver and endangering my life.  I appreciate your awesome ability to weave in and out of trafffic as you race to your finish line!  Good luck to you and your kids!

Twin Falls State Park Hike – North Bend, WA

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Twin Falls in North Bend….no one fell in so the hike was a success in my book!

The semester ended for our kids this past Monday so the whole school district has to let the kids off for the day. I’m not sure if my kids really go to school for a full five days in a row. What, with all the holidays, late start days, etc. my kids never seem to go to school for a full week.

Wait children….

However, we aren’t here to complain about the state of our education system. Instead we are here to chat about another great little hike here in the Seattle area. It is the Twin Falls Hike off of I-90 in the North Bend area. This is a short hike coming in at only two miles round trip.

Of all the years I have live here, I have never done this hike. With all of this great winter weather we have been having lately, I thought we should take advantage of going on an easy hike during the “off season” of hiking. (Die hard hikers would say there is never an “off season”). From what I have read about this hike, it is a fairly popular hike especially during the summer. Consider it is January and we usually have a bunch of rain, I figured this is as a good time as any to do this hike.

Luckily, I checked the trail report at wta.org and learned that there was a washout on the trail to the Twin Falls. This would stop is if we left from the traditional trailhead off of Exit 34. Good thing I check it out before we started our hike. The Wta.org website is an excellent resource for all hikes in Washington State and I highly recommend checking it out before any hike.

We modified our starting point to the Ollalie State Park parking lot off of Exit 38. You start your hike on the Iron Horse Trail for about half a mile until you come to the spur/trail to the Twin Falls trail. The Iron Horse Trail is an old Burlington Northern railroad bed (now a service road) so the downhill grade is mild for about half a mile. The trail to Twin Falls is clearly marked (from the Iron Horse Trail) and you won’t miss it (unless your face is buried in your phone texting a friend).

After you leave the Iron Horse Trail and use the Twin Falls Trail, you will be going downhill for about 3/4 of a mile. Just remember, you will be going down and that means the way back is uphill.

Easy trail down for my hiking partners and myself. In our hiking band, we had my wife, my daughter, and another Girl Scout (and friend) with us. No one complained about the hike so that means it is a fairly easy one for 12 year old girls and 40 year old parents.

For all you math geeks, the different route brings this hike in at 2.5 miles.

Awesome detailed map of where you will be lost. The best part? You won’t have a clue of where you are at!

Overall, this hike is a good family hike and easy to do. We left the Covington area around 2 pm and we’re back to Covington by 5 pm. That included a stop at McDonalds for hot fudge sundaes (for the girls). Hey, I’m working out so I can win the Fat Ass Dads Weight Loss Challenge so I’m skipping that stuff. Well, until I get home…then I pig out and cry into my bowl of chocolate peanut ice cream….

At least Cyndi (my imaginary stalker) cares….

See those two dots? Those would be the kids I’m suppose to be in charge of.

Let’s Talk About YOU! (Because obviously talking about me isn’t working….)

With the weather turning to gray overcast skies, even the die hard optimist can get a bit depressed with the rainy weather. Everything around you can be depressing; the wet roads, the bad traffic, the gray skies, the rain, the gray skies, the rain, the cold 40-50 degree weather. Did I mention the gray skies and rain?

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It isn’t always bad here in the Pacific Northwest but you would think it is because of all the lousy weather we are currently having. We had great weather up until the middle of October. Now, it is the normal Seattle weather. I tend to be very busy at work (since I am a school photographer) during this time of year. I don’t notice how bad it is until I have a little breathing room. And with Daylight Savings Time ending, you really notice that it isn’t nice here anymore. It isn’t as bad as Alaska but you do notice that it gets really dark around 4 pm everyday. We haven’t even seen the worst of it yet. The shortest day of the year: December 21 Winter Solstice.

That means from now until December 21, the days will get shorter and the people of Seattle will die a little more each day.

I don’t really care. To me, it is just another day in a series of depressing days where I live my life. Oh, before you get all concerned about my well being, just know that this blog post is about you, not me. I can weather any storm my way. I just jump on YouTube and get all pumped up by listening to some Tony Robbins or Les Brown. I like the crappy weather because it forces me to look at what I’m doing in my business and life.

Now, some people can’t handle all the rain and gray skies around Seattle. They complain, they mope around, yet here they still are…wet and whining in the Emerald City called Seattle.

For me, the rain and gray skies bring my busy work season. I know during this time of the year, I’ll be making the bulk of my income as a school photographer. I know that I’ll be busy working 60-80 hours a week. I know I’ll be getting up at 5 am, putting in a 12-15 hour day. On top of my work day I will also need to be a dad, a Scoutmaster, an aikido student and teacher, and a blogger. I will be attempting to balance my work life with my personal life during the months of the fall school photography season.

My darling wife is also more than willing to point out that I pretty much have summers off (work free) as a trade off for my busy, crazy fall. However, during this hectic fall season, I also think I should be creating an online business of some sort to balance out my income. I imagine it would be extremely nice to have a summer schedule during the rest of the eight months of the year. Don’t you think it would be nice to have a few extra thousand or tens of thousands of dollars to live on and invest in my retirement? People who say money isn’t important must not be too concerned about the future (or even the present). Money can’t buy happiness? But it sure makes life a lot more enjoyable!

What makes you survive the fall season? Do you feel you live in a better area and therefore can make fun of schmucks like me?

As always your sarcastic and non-sarcastic comments are welcome! At least hit that like button!

Pumpkin Protein Shake Recipe for you whiney pumpkin lovers!

Oh, all the rage is pumpkin spice, right? I’m not a big fan of the pumpkin spice lattes but I do love pumpkin pie. I also thought a pumpkin protein shake wouldn’t be too bad. I didn’t want a lot of sugar in my protein shake since I’m doing my Fat Ass Dads Weight Loss Challenge. (I’m headed to Kauai and Maui in four months so I’m trimming down and toning up!). I was concerned that the canned pumpkin I was using was for pumpkin pies and would have lots of sugar. It actually isn’t bad in the sugar department.

A quick internet search got me to a website that had a pretty good pumpkin protein shake recipe. I wish I had bookmarked the page for you but as a lazy American male; I didn’t. Here is the basic recipe that I use these days.

1 cup Non Fat Milk
3/4 cup non fat plain Greek yogurt (because it’s the “in” thing to use)
1/2 cup to 1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 scoop of Vanilla Protein Mix
1 tablespoon of ground flax seed
3-6 ice cubes (optional)

Whirl all that up in your blender and you are good to go.

You can adjust the recipe to fit your individual taste. Don’t even thinking of commenting about how much it sucks. It isn’t a real ice cream milkshake, so no whining that it doesn’t taste like that McDonald’s pumpkin milkshake, ok?

Everyday my recipe is a little different because I’m lazy and don’t measure everything perfectly. Maybe (if the mood fits me) I’ll share my peanut butter banana protein shake recipe with you in my next post.

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Curriculum Night: How my Child will learn to Become a Mid-Level Management Suck Up

This evening I went to my daughter‘s “curriculum” night at her school. This just happens to be my last one for elementary school. Have you forgotten about curriculum night? Or maybe you are a bad parent and have never attended one before? Basically, the teacher tells you what your child will be learning over the course of the year. In the great State of Washington, goals have changed and the names of the goals have changed. We’ve had WASL goals, we’ve had Iowa tests, we’ve had critical thinking goals, MAPSAT, BS Goals, etc. The acronyms keep rolling out and the goals keep changing but it all comes down to this: we want our kids grow up with a decent brain inside their heads.

I’m all for progress and helping my child become a world thinker who is compassionate and uses critical thinking in their ever changing world of shifting paradigms while at the same time becoming a global citizen that needs to manage her own future. How about that? Is that a “mission statement” or what?

One of the new math concepts is for our students to work on the computer solving problems. Really? The teacher had a sample problem involving pizza and two kids. One kid was named Lucas. All I was thinking while she was showing us the math word problem was that Lucas was a fat pig who shouldn’t be eating 3/8 of the cheese pizza, 4/8 of the pepperoni, and ¼ of another one. That Lucas kid is going to be one fat ass kid with weight and self-esteem issues if he keeps pigging out. Poor Lucas.  Did Lucas think he found the best Seattle pizza?

Welcome back to School!

Welcome back to School!

My other concern was that it was fairly stupid to being solving this math problem on a computer. A good old pencil and paper would be a lot quicker and easier to use. How are they going to do the math on the fly if the computer isn’t there? Hmm? Are the children of today (and tomorrow) going to be able to do math without the use of a pull down menu? Could they mix art and math together and sketch out the problem on paper with a pencil and still figure it out?

Really, all I saw was that our schools were teaching our kids to rely on a computer to create a whole bunch of extra work to solve a simple math word problem. They can make pie graphs, charts, etc. That’s great but it is a simple problem. They don’t need to make a ten page report on it that is a waste of everyone’s time. Are we creating a society of mid-level managers that make reports for the heck of it and to justify their jobs?

“I have that twenty page report on why we shouldn’t eating Twinkles!” Conclusion: Uh, because they are bad for us? Or maybe we should eat them because it helps the fitness industry keep fitness instructors employed?

Over the years, I’ve learned that you need to watch less TV, get off the worthless texting and Instagram, Facebook, social media sites, and read more nonfiction (that was a big one tonight) and classic novels. I would also add you need to get out and experience life. Take the kids to museums, road trips, ferry boat rides, hikes, walks, boat rides, and feel the wind in your face.

Don’t get me wrong; I love the internet as much as you do. All the information at your fingertips, merely a click away…it’s wonderful.

Yet, I’m just as guilty as other parents and their children in letting social media run our lives. I have a hard time disconnecting from my iPhone. I have slowed down my use of social media. I have tried to make a deliberate effort not to check my phone when I’m doing activities with the family. I try to ignore that email buzz on my phone. It is hard. Sometimes I’m good and other times I’m not.

What are your thoughts about using only computers for school work these days? Will it work?

 

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!

Dad & Daughter Roller Coaster Trip Day 3: Magic Mountain

X2 roller coaster - Flickr photo

X2 roller coaster – Flickr photo

You knew I’d milk this roller coaster trip on forever in my blog posts didn’t you?  On our third day of our adventure, we bid farewell to the City of Sacramento and flew on Southwest Airlines to Burbank Airport in the Los Angeles area.  I do like flying into the smaller airports because it is easier to get in and out in a timely manner.  Both Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines flew into Burbank Airport so this worked out well for us since our return flight back to Seattle was departing from Burbank.When I was planning this trip, I wanted to fly in as close as I could to Six Flag’s Magic Mountain Park and Burbank was the closest major airport for me.  My original plan was to fly into Sacramento, rent a car, visit friends in the Sacramento area, do the Six Flag’s Discovery Park, and then drive to Magic Mountain.  That plan fell apart when the cheapest rate I could find on any rental car website or kayak or hotwire or anything was close to $800 for a short five or six day rental.  It was expensive due to the fact I was picking the rental car up in one city and returning it in another.  My original plan also produced a lot more driving and car time that we wanted to do.  We are vacation for the rides not to be taken for a ride by the rental car companies.

We used Fox Rent a Car which had some terrible reviews online but we fine for us.  It was a short ride from the airport to the rental car company base.  We got a sporty little four door Mazda 2 with only 500 miles on it.  Not a bad little car for the two of us.  I thought about having my daughter drive it but considering she is only 11 years old and it would be her first time in LA traffic, I decided against it.Aww! Sunshine!

Now, when you are visiting amusement parks in February Six Flag’s system of parks might not be open seven days a week.  So our only window to visit Magic Mountain was on Monday February 17 (President’s Day).  The park hours are limited as well from 10:30 am to 6 pm and the water rides are usually shut down.

Since we had purchased season passes at Discovery Kingdom the day before, we merely had to park our car for the outrageous sum of $20 and walk though the main gates of Magic Mountain without purchasing new tickets.  I remember passing by Magic Mountain 20 years ago thinking I’d get to it one day.  Finally, this day had come.  Finally, I had a kid who wanted to ride the big scary rides.  Finally, I had a roller coaster ride partner that wouldn’t wimp out on me.  I was finally here.

To be honest, I like coming on the off season because the lines are much shorter.  The newer rides had the longest rides which ate up a lot of our time.  X2 is the latest redesigned ride and it was awesome but the line took forever.  When a sign says the wait will be 45 minutes, that is OK.  When it turns into 75 minutes, then I get a little pissed off.  We didn’t make it to the Full Throttle ride because we ran out of time and the ride looked scary long.  In fact, we had to skip some rides due to running out of time and having to ration our time for the rides that we heard were awesome.  However, on others we rode it three times just because we could.  Goliath, Tatsu, and X2 were my favorites.  I tried to look up my daughter’s favorite ride but the Magic Mountain website is down (sorry folks!).

Waiting for X2 - almost there!

Waiting for X2 – almost there!

Definitely need to have two days at Magic Mountain (even in the off season) to get to all the rides into your schedule.  I can’t imagine how it is on a busy summer day with more people wandering the park, trying to get in as much as possible.  The lines have to be almost impossible.  We didn’t even get to the wooden roller coasters since they aren’t my favorites because we ran out of time.  Personally, I like the speed and loops of steel roller coasters so skipping the wooden ones wasn’t an issue for me.

As anyways, your comments and sarcastic witty comments are welcome.

 

Oops…more taxpayer’s money wasted because someone didn’t want to do their job!

If you haven’t heard, the Washington State Department of Transportation engineers didn’t test the 520 floating bridge pontoon design like they were supposed to do.  Oops.  But not to worry, good taxpayers of Washington State, the DOT set aside $200 million for mistakes and unforeseen problems that might arise.

Keep in mind, there aren’t a lot of floating bridges in the world and Washington State has three of them.  I think there are only like four or five in the whole world.  Do you think that maybe we should be paying attention to the design since we are setting the floating bridge standard?

I have to ask about this cost overrun: “Are you kidding me?”  I don’t mind having a $200 million emergency fund for unforeseen problems or conditions that might arise.  I can understand that if you were building a bridge and discover the ground wasn’t stable and you had extra costs to make sure it was safe, I can understand that.  However, when it was your job to test the design but you didn’t do it (didn’t do your job in other words), that isn’t “unforeseen” problem.  You screwed up.  You didn’t do your job.  But hey, that is OK.  Your bosses figured you’d mess up and planned a $200 million fund to pay for your laziness.

And you wonder why people are so upset when these “cost overruns” come up?  You wonder why people don’t like taxes or paying the bridge tolls?

I’m not a moron.  I know things cost money and that government isn’t free.  I just get a tad bit upset when someone doesn’t bother to do their assigned job.  I get more upset when there is a whole division of professional engineers (with fancy college degrees) that don’t do their job.  It  is their job to test the design prior to approving it because, well, it is their job!  They are professional engineers that are overseeing a new floating bridge and it is a new design.  Hmm, it is kind of important considering hundreds of thousands of cars and people will be travelling across this new bridge everyday entrusting their lives on this design.

Gee, should we test the design?  Should we do our job and test it?  Nah, let’s approve it.  Screw good engineering practices that we should believe in, screw the taxpayers and money they pay us!  Stamp the approval on those plans and let’s start building those untested pontoons for one of the few floating bridges in the world!

Thanks for reading!  But next time just push the “like” button without reading my blog…it is the easier thing to do!

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