Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Fun With Granddaughters

The past three days have been nothing but fun with our sweet granddaughters who remained here in Washington with us after their parents left last Saturday. We enjoyed having the whole family here, including mom and dad (son Gregg and daughter-in-law Elaine), for much of last week.

That's Hayley and Talli above left at Seattle's famous waterfront Aquarium on Monday, and at right just above is Aubrey "the Octopus" at another part of the aquatic exhibit.

A little later in the day we took in the Space Needle and enjoyed lots of rides in the Seattle Center amusement park. The girls especially enjoyed a visit from their uncle Doug and aunt Jamie who stopped by the Center for a time in the afternoon.

Unfortunately for us, the fun times came to an end yesterday as Grandma and Grandpa accompanied the girls on an Amtrak train trip home to Oregon, a first for all three of the young uns. It was a great experience for all, although the grandparents were ready for the sack last night after eight hours on the train.

To Amtrak’s credit, they have made travel by train quite acceptable (we had opposing seats with a table between for eating and games), but they certainly are not as customer-friendly as are airlines.

As an example, you can make and pay for Amtrak reservations online, but instead of issuing an actual ticket with a seat assignment, you can only print out a voucher. Then you have to wait in line at the station to convert the voucher to a ticket and then stand in line again to get a seat assignment. Kinda redundant.

Unfortunately, Amtrak is still an ego-centric corporate monolith rather than a customer-friendly company like Southwest Airlines or Jet Blue. Too bad for Amtrak, as they could be attracting a lot of travelers right now, but alas.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Boat Search Ends Suddenly and Surprisingly With Hometown-Made Arima

A funny thing happened in my search for an aluminum fishing boat.

I ended up acquiring a fiberglass, highly sought-after, Seattle-made Arima (used, of course).

It’s a boat that was originally designed primarily for nearby Puget Sound but is just about as light as an aluminum lake boat and will work just fine in local ponds. Arimas come in many different models. Mine is a 16’ Sea Chaser. You can locate it on the Arima link above.

I’m totally pleased with the purchase and am finally satisfied I have the right boat for my needs and interests.

At left above is the interior, looking forward from the stern. There's a small cuddy/storage area in the bow through the center doors. At right is the port side view from aft.

I happened to see it last Wednesday on Craig’s list just two hours after it came online. By the time I called, someone was already looking at the boat. As fate would have it, the engine didn’t start and the interested party spooked.

Turns out the guy who showed the boat (son-in-law of the owner) didn’t know how to work the choke properly. The 60-hp outboard runs just fine.

The boat has a fish-finder and downriggers, but I do need to find a kicker motor for trolling. I’m checking out Craig’s list again as soon as I finish this post.

The beauty of this boat is that it offers safety for the bigger waters of the Sound and the Straits of Juan de Fuca (for salmon) but is at the same time perfect for lake fishing (for trout), both of which I like equally well.

So… if you like to wet a line and you’re coming our way, let’s go fishing!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

A Rare Occurrence

I experienced one of those great “family” happenings this past week that are far too few in frequency. I got to spend two solid days with my son, Gregg.

He’s a busy pastor, husband and father of three who rarely has a moment for himself. So to get to spend time with him for 48 straight hours was sheer enjoyment.

Some time ago he and his wife Elaine began looking for a self-contained Recreational Vehicle that would provide family fun as well as serve as a “guest house” for when my wife and I and others visit them in Oregon. Long story, but local building regulations prevent them from adding the guest facilities they desired. The RV became the perfect answer.

He located a vehicle online in Denver that met their criteria (pic above), so last Thursday he and I flew to Denver to pick it up and drive it back to his home. That’s what bestowed me with the prized time with my hard-working son.

After test-driving and checking out every nook and cranny of the RV, Gregg completed the purchase and DMV registration right at day’s end. We hit the road in Denver about 6:30 that evening and headed north to pick-up westward-bound I-84 in Wyoming. We tested two of the four beds just after midnight in a Rock Springs, WY Wal-Mart parking lot (with W-M's blessing). But only for less than six hours.

Refreshed in the morning (great mattresses) we headed for Utah and the rest of the trip home. The hours were spent catching up on life’s details we never usually have time to talk about. I enjoyed every minute and am ecstatic that someone of Gregg's caliber is my son.

He’s a “tekkie”, so whenever I was driving, he’d be working on his laptop. He even devised a spread sheet that told us breakeven cost points between RV travel versus journeying by car and staying in a motel.

For instance, if you don’t drive more than 400 miles a day, then for his size family, he might be putting a penny or two in his pocket via the RV. The high cost of gas makes auto voyaging a hair cheaper if you drive longer distances in a day.

The RV’s amenities include beds to comfortably sleep six (eight in a crunch), fridge, stove, oven, microwave, sink, bathroom and shower (interior pic above of kitchen and bedroom peek) plus an eating/game table with bench seats and even a couch – literally all the comforts of home. With the benefit of wheels. It was a great acquisition, and the whole family is excited.

Because we didn’t sleep all that much on the two-day motor jaunt, the time element is now much of a blur to me. But I’ll remember every minute of the enriching discourse with my son.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Does "The Da Vinci Code" Shake Your Faith?

Have you seen the movie The Da Vinci Code? Or read the book?

Though touted as "a mix of murder and myth" by the New York Daily News, the author, Dan Brown, has accelerated the curve.

He has suggested that there is historical evidence that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene who was carrying their child at the time of the crucifixion.

Their descendants supposedly still live in France – all kept secret for two millennia by a male-dominated church.

Now, if this were to be true, the ramifications could shake Christianity to the core. At first glance, these views would appear to be laughable.

However, in a Today Show interview with Matt Lauer, Brown claimed that “all of it (The Da Vinci Code novel) is based on historic fact.” And the difficult thing, for those of us of faith, is that a considerable measure of academics are of similar mind.

Fortunately, for those of us of faith, there are clear thinking intellects on our side as well. One such model is Philip W. Eaton, president of Seattle Pacific University.

His recent guest editorial in the Seattle Times dealt with the topic. In his piece, titled Debunking "The Code," Dr. Eaton effectively probes Brown's assertions of authenticity and invites healthy discussion on this, or any, topic of widespread interest to both Christians and non-Christians.

Click on the title in the previous paragraph to read Dr. Eaton’s commentary. His approach is fresh, incisive and engaging. Well worth the read.

In addition, click "comments" and read longtime-friend (53 years) Bob Rodde's remarks about Carl Olson's book, The Da Vinci Hoax. Click here to reach the Carl Olson web site.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Boat Search Changes Course (Again)

Well, they couldn’t reach the owner of the boat on which I made an offer, and it’s turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

An outstanding nearby outboard engine mechanic whom I’ve gotten to know once advised me, “NEVER buy a newer boat with an old engine”. And of course that’s exactly what I was doing (note previous blog post).

Fortunately for today’s developments, I won’t make that mistake.

When I called today to see if they had reached the owner to find out if he would accept my offer, they were negative. But, they said, in the meantime why don’t you consider a slightly older boat of the same make but with much newer Mercury engines? Suddenly it clicked what my mechanic friend had warned.

“How much more?” I asked (a better overall boat is ALWAYS more). Only a couple grand, they said. Yikes.

Well, to make a long story short, I dickered, wailed and moaned, feigned impending divorce, and just plain begged. Nothing worked especially well, but all together I was able to get the price down to a point we could finally agree on. Picture is above.

This boat is a foot longer than the other one, doesn’t look quite as good but has a much newer monster main engine and a late model kicker motor (for trolling). It’s perfect for Puget Sound as well as for “trouting” in nearby lakes. And it’s light enough that I should be able to launch it totally by myself, if I desire.

Now I have just a few days (before I must finally commit) to convince my wife that this is a wise decision. In truth, she’s a wonderful, understanding help meet, and I’m fortunate to have her.

Monday, August 07, 2006

So many fish… and so little time…

I could be going nutso.

The Sockeye are running rampant in Lake Washington this week. The Coho are flashing on the surface just a mile and a half from our house. Plus, the bigger Kings haven’t even showed yet.


Since I sold the too heavy, too big cuddy inboard in June, I’ve been scanning the internet and the local papers for a fishing boat. Not much so far.

However, just today online I found an aluminum boat down in the Portland area that may have possibilities. It’s a very nice, fairly late model, Smokercraft Fazer. So I made a “low-ball” offer.

Now I’ve got to wait a day or so to see if it will be accepted. A pic of the boat is above. All I can do now is hope. And try not to get more nutso.

So many fish… and so little time…

Friday, August 04, 2006

Seattle SEAFAIR Culminates This Weekend

The month-long Seafair celebration in Seattle culminates this weekend with a U.S. Navy Blue Angels air performance, hydroplane races on Lake Washington and tours of Navy ships in port for the event.

From early July through the first weekend in August the Seattle Community celebrates Seafair with almost daily activities including parades, fireworks, concerts, distance running events, milk-carton boat races, and a zillion of just plain fun things to do.

Boats are everywhere at this time of year, as many of the events are best witnessed from right on the water. And with Puget Sound and an abundance of nearby lakes, the Emerald City certainly has adequate floatation space.

Unfortunately, I sold my boat earlier in the summer. What was I thinking?