Happy Halloween 2013

Just things, Uncategorized

To celebrate I think I might watch my “Saw IV” DVD tonight and see if I can scare the hell outta myself.

I usually love to sink my teeth into some candy corn this time of year, but it just just not as good as it used to be though. Brach’s was THE good stuff when we were kids, but they make it in Mexico now and it sucks. The Brach’s name was bought by someone else a few years back and quality went straight to hell in my opinion. You can even see the lousy quality in the cheap, crappy packaging.

Oh well, in the next few weeks I can do my yearly chocolate-covered cherry binge around the holidays season. They even make chocolate-covered blueberries now, and they are pretty tasty as well.

Well, it is time to watch a movie and have some wine. I found a good 2011 merlot from Columbia Crest Grand Estates from the Columbia River Valley. Quite tasty.

Ciao for now!

Last Week’s Adventure – 10/23, 10/24

Adventure, Outdoors, Travel, Uncategorized

This past weekend of mine I decided to get outdoors. The fog has been horrible here. I mean bad horrible, and I needed to see some sun.

Wednesday I went to town to run some errands in the morning. It was 32 degrees on my way out of the park here, but it looked like the sun was poking through along with some blue sky. I ran my errands and tried to figure out someplace to go and take a walk. Eventually I decided on going on the trail that leads up to Marymere Falls in Olympic National Park. I grabbed a few snacks and a lunch item and went to the trailhead.

By now the sun was in full bloom. The sky was clear and it was a gorgeous day for a hike. Unfortunately I had taken my hiking poles and boots out of my car when cleaning it out and forgot to put them back in, so it was my low-cut hiking shoes and, since I had no pack, carrying my lunch in a plastic grocery bag. Oh well… work with what ya got.

The trail is an easy two-mile roundtrip hike, very quiet this time of year from what I understand. This is a big tourist spot in the summer months so now it is time for the locals to go play. It is a nice walk… decent trail through some nice scenery. The waterfall is back in a little notch in the hillside and is pretty nice, and the bridges and boardwalks to it make it easy.

I wandered back and when I got back I realized that the lunch I had carried back there was still in my hand. I got a little lost in my surroundings I guess. I found a picnic table by the ranger station that was in the sun (which made it dry as well) and had my lunch.

It was still early afternoon so I decided to go check out the Sol Duc area of ONP past Lake Crescent. The road back was long and windy, but a nice drive with lots of parking and trails to hike along the way. I decided to go all the way back to hike to Sol Duc Falls.

There is more than one trail that goes out of this area so there were a few cars there. I took off and hit the trail and was glad I made the journey back here. Well worth the drive, but another place to avoid in the summer crush of tourism. There is a hot springs near the falls, as well as some camping and RV areas so I am sure it can get quite busy. With the road being so long and windy, I would really want to plan carefully to avoid those crowds.

Fifty feet onto the trail it is another world. Big trees, mossy branches, mushrooms everywhere, some mist in the air… a gorgeous place to wander through. As you walk you just get sucked into this place… the smells of this forest are none I have ever smelled before. You can hear the river, and as you walk you can hear the falls come cloJust before I got to the falls there is an old Civilian Conservation Corps cabin. Quite a neat structure that is on the Historic Register.

Just around the corner is a bridge over a chasm. From these bridge you can see the waterfall fairly close, and the water flows through this chasm under the bridge and heads on to where it heads on to. It is a really nice spot, and there are viewing platforms to get a better look. I bet this place is a zoo in the summer months so I am glad I am here now.

I decided to head back and not go any farther, but I do want to come back and do more of the trails back here around this part of the park. I needed to get back to town and get to the grocery store before heading home. It was a really nice day to be out, and I got in three miles or so for the day.

Thursday I got up early and needed to go do laundry. I had such a great Wednesday I decided to put my pack in the car, along with my boots and poles and take another hike. The weather was really socked in here so I got on the web and looked at the first place that came to mind – Hurricane Ridge. Visitors the previous week to the Refuge had said it was beautiful up there – sunny and 70. It is above the clouds up there so I thought I needed to be there too after getting my clothes done.

I headed over to Port Angeles and it was foggy all the way. As I started to head toward the road to Hurricane Ridge the clouds parted and Mr. Sun came out to play. I stopped at the Visitor’s Center to get water and a book I have been wanting to get about hikes on the Olympic Peninsula.

Items procured, I started up the 15 mile drive. My goal was Hurricane Hill, which the trailhead for is a mile past the Visitor’s Center at the top. I got back to the parking area and got out to get my gear ready to go. A fantastic and sunny 62 degrees! It cannot get much better than this. A lady who is a regular here at The Spit came up the trail I was going to head down. We chatted for a few, then she went back out to find a place for lunch. I got my pack on and hit the trail.

It is 1.8 miles up to the top of the hill, and it is a moderate trail. One thing I did not like about it was that it was paved, and I assume that is due to the fact that there used to be a fire lookout tower at the summit. The hard surface was uneven in a lousy asphalt sort of way, and poles made a lot of noise on it.

I know for a fact that this place is a zoo during the summer, and my guidebook even alludes to it in what was an amusing, yet unflattering, view of the throngs of people. Hurricane Ridge is a must-see for most people visiting the area, but one I will avoid at most cost.

I hiked along and eventually ran into Pam again. I stopped and we talked for a while longer. As we talked I saw other people I recognized from the Refuge as regulars. She left to head back out with a group she had been waiting on to descend, and I continued my journey upwards.

I got to the summit of the Hill, and the views are spectacular on a day such as this. Barring the short trees to the west, it is a 360 degree view with the Strait, Canada, and the San Juans to the north and northwest, and the Olympics to the east, south, and southwest. I cooked up some soup on my backpacking stove, and had a pleasant lunch in a great place.

Unfortunately, it was time to head back down. I got my gear packed and my pack back on and started back. I can see the glimmer of the cars in the parking lot shimmering in the distance. Another fantastic day outdoors comes to a close, but I think I need to do this more often. MUCH more often.

I have posted pictures at a this link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/shawnflaherty/sets/72157636889486316/

New Song – 10/30/13

Just things, Music, Uncategorized

Well, I finally got motivated and worked on a new song. Actually, I have had this for a while but it wasn’t recorded with vocals until tonight.

I started it on my iPad while on a plane. I was experimenting with Garage Band on it and recorded a few things. Two of these I kept, and this song is one of them. The people next to me probably thought I was nuts tapping on the iPad like that. The other one I am still working on but it is almost ready to record. Add to that another one I have had ready to record and I am on a roll. I will be recording and posting them pretty soon.

For those who are interested in a listen, here is the link: Asleep With Both Eyes Open

Well FINALLY!

Just things, Outdoors

I have been shut out of my job for the last two weeks due to the shutdown. I was still able to be in my cabin, but not allowed to work. At least I was able to get some personal things that I needed to do taken care of.

Today I was able to finally get back onto the beach. It was good to get back out there and do some work. Even though it is my day off I worked about five hours taking care of things that needed to be done. It has been a long stretch of time off and there were things needing to be done.

One bad thing, however… my Hawaii trip has been postponed unfortunately. No sure when I will get to go, but it may be in December. I was supposed to leave in three days, but that is not happening right now. Bummer. Oh well, it gives me more time to get a few more things together for the trip.

Anyhoo, all of the public lands are now open for visitors so get out there and see some places!

Ahhh… Home Again

Adventure, Just things, Outdoors, Travel, Uncategorized

I am starting this post sitting on a ferry heading back home after a weeklong road trip. I was heading toward the ferry and the first glimpse of the water was a sense that my trip was finally over. It was really good to see the water again.

I went to South Dakota to visit my youngest daughter and pick up some of the few possessions at her storage unit that I have left (wow… I sure have a lot less stuff than what I thought I had left…). It was great to see her, and we had fun (as we always do). I was hoping to get to Colorado for a day or two on this road trip, but with the floods I just did not want to take a chance. I was disappointed to not be able to go to CO, but I thought it was for the best to not go. I could not take the chance on getting stranded.

I love road trips because you can actually SEE the country and all of the quirky and cool things there are to see. When I travel I mix up my routes. My adventure getting up here to Washington was just going where I ended up by whatever road I took, and it was fun (see my first several posts on this blog). If I am going to a destination and returning where I started sometimes I stay on the interstate highways just to get there faster and then I can take my time coming back to where I started. That is what I did on this trip. I made a beeline for SD so I could get there and take my time getting back and stopping to see a few things and take a different route home.

I left Seattle a little later than I wanted to. I stopped to get a AAA membership to save on hotel costs, and the discounts I got paid for my membership plus I got maps as well. It was money well-spent, as it is good for a year so I can save even more on hotels. I left and headed across Washington. It is a fairly nice drive, but the eastern part of the state is considerably less forested than the west. That night I got to Coeur d’Alene and stayed there.

The next day I drove across Idaho, as well as most of Montana. The drive across ID is beautiful, and most of MT was too. In the center of the state it gets to be more plains. I spent the night at Billings.

The next day I went south toward Wyoming and got to Little Big Horn and then went SE towards Spearfish, SD. I had no cell phone coverage for hours and it was rather odd but nice. It took me through some pretty out-of-the-way towns.

I got to Spearfish and immediately went to get food at Culver’s. Culver’s is an upscale fast food place with great food. Their burgers are awesome, and before the weekend was done I ate there three times before I left Spearfish.

I got to watch the BHSU football game while Meghan was at her rockclimbing class near Custer. It was a nice day to be outside watching the game. Later on after Meghan got back to town we met up at my hotel and decided we would go out and have a few drinks with some of Meghan’s friends. We had a really good time, and it has been quite a long time since I closed a bar.

The next day Meghan was off work and school so she showed me around. We went out to the lake near Belle Fourche. On the way there of course I just had to stop and see the Geographic Center of the U.S. Wait, just a damn minute… there is a big marker for it in town but the actual site is outside of town. It seems the vandals would not leave the markers alone so they had to put it in a park in town.

We went got to the lake and met up with a couple of her friends that we were out with the previous night. They were really cool people to hang out with and I hope to do it again! After they left we drove around and looked at wildlife, but it was mostly birds. The coolest thing was we were driving sown a dirt path to look around, and we saw a huge Great Horned Owl sitting on a fencepost. Just as we spotted it we were close enough to spook it so we stopped but it was too late. It took off ahead of us and landed in the top of a tree. We got out of the car and walked along and I kept snapping pictures of it until it flew away.

We left to head back toward Spearfish and hung out a while. I was leaving the next day so that was a bummer, but she had to get back to real life and I needed to do the same.

The next morning I got up and it was raining. Dammit… I KNEW I should have loaded the boxes into the car the night before. Oh well, it worked out fine anyhoo. I went and loaded up the boxes and decided that since she had only one early class I would just hang around and leave late so I could see her and Michael one more time before I left. So we went to Culver’s! Yay!

I took out west on the interstate after saying bye. That always sucks – saying bye to family. I wasn’t sure of my route past Sheridan, WY so I had time to ponder it. I decided to head through Yellowstone, and I could stop at the Medicine Wheel National Historic Site since it was on the way. After Yellowstone I was thinking of cutting over toward Boise, ID via Craters of the Moon and up toward home from there.

Audiobooks are a great way to pass the time on a long road trip. On the way to SD I listened to the George Carlin biography audiobook. The guy was absolutely a comedy genius and it was interesting to hear about how he came to be such an important comedian and one of the all-time best. I started listening to the Pete Townshend biography audiobook when I left Spearfish. I was a big Who fan back in the 70s, but have liked them since the 60s and still do. It has been a really interesting book so far, but I still need to finish it up as of this writing.

When I took off west on the two-lane Alt 14, I discovered a beautiful drive. I do remember driving that road years ago but it was so foggy we could not see anything during the last part of the drive headed east. We really missed out on a gorgeous part of the drive.

I drove along and got to the Medicine Wheel. I got off the highway and drove up a gravel road to get to it only to find that the signs are of no help because many signs are missing for some damn reason. Very frustrating since I have wanted to see this place for years and now that I am here I cannot see it. Back to the pavement.

Westward I am heading once again, and the sun is racing me to the horizon and winning quite easily. My goal now is to get to Cody, WY for the night, then in the morning head out north to go into Yellowstone through the NE entrance.

I got to Powell, WY and stopped at a rest area. I saw some touristy signs inside and suddenly realized I was looking at some pictures of some serious history and it was on my way to Cody. I absolutely had to stop and see this.

Heart Mountain was an internment camp for Japanese citizens during WWII. It is located between Powell and Cody, WY. A few of the original buildings are still there and the visitor center (which, of course, had just closed) looked to be a reconstructed barracks area with a guard tower and fenced-in prison yard. There is a memorial there, as well as an interpretive trail to walk around. It was a very interesting stop and it really brings up many different feelings visiting a place like this. These places need to be preserved without a doubt.

I got to Cody and got a room at a mom and pop hotel. I went and got Chinese food at what was called something like “One of the 10 best Chinese buffets” by some magazine. Wow… imagine finding a gem like this in, of all places, Cody, WY!!! I shoulda known better seeing that, but I did it anyway. Nothing special, and pretty much average. I need to remember to add them into my Trip Advisor ratings.

I got a good night’s sleep and got on the road early – before sunrise. I needed to make some time after the beautiful yet slow and winding drive the day before. I gassed up the car and hit the road. Another incredibly beautiful drive on highway 296 going to Yellowstone. There were scenic vistas, mountains, rivers, valleys, twisty highways… a diverse area.

I got into the park and went south along the eastern side once I got to the first junction. I headed down toward Fishing Bridge thinking I would see some wildlife, but there was virtually nothing except a couple of what looked to be herons. Driving through the road construction was slow and had very little payoff. It was getting late in the day and I needed to re-think my travel plans to get back home in time for the volunteer picnic I had to cook at. Boise was going to have to wait it looks like.

I decided to head across the center of the road loop, then go north along the NW part of the road and head out the north entrance. On the way I stopped for a few animal sightings and one was a pair of trumpeter swans. I went on out of the park north up to Livingston, MT to the interstate, and then west toward home. This was yet another beautiful drive. Montana is a beautiful place and the sky really is quite big there.

I was glad to be out of Yellowstone because they were expecting a snowstorm that I did not want to get caught up in, especially since I had to get back. This was, I think, my sixth trip through there. I can say that this time of year it was a bit busier than I thought it would be, but thousands less than the summer. This was a good time of year to go through there, albeit a bit risky with the weather.

I did have to drive through some rain and wind on the way back once I got back on the interstate. Again, it is a fairly pleasant drive and the scenery is good. I drove well into the night and stopped in Ritzville, WA for the night after eating at a “Zips” restaurant next door to the hotel. It was a pretty good burger and fries, but at 9:30 at night I usually do not eat like that so it laid in pretty heavy. I would definitely eat there again, and I believe it is a chain.

The next day was the push for home. My sense of adventure took me off the direct route, of course, so after I stopped at Ellensburg, WA to get a salad and a Pop-tart Ice Cream Sandwich (Hey… I had a salad so it was okay) at Carl’s, Jr. I headed north on highway 97 heading towards highway 2 and Leavenworth, WA. Man… another beautiful drive through mpountains and along a river, but it was an hours-long drive that ended up getting me back much later than I wanted to get back. It was well worth the sacrifice, though.

This brings me back to the start of this post… the ferry at Edmonds heading back over to the Olympic Peninsula and going home. As I stated in another post, I am going to start using Flickr to post my photos instead of using WordPress. I just uploaded my first album and it is so much easier to do it this way. The photo album that corresponds with this blog posting is at this link: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjKE48gM. Please feel free to have a look at my pictures, but please remember that they are copyrighted and cannot be used by anyone other than myself.