December 16th, 2020

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, Uncategorized

As I sit here and start typing this post I am enjoying a cup of Cuban coffee. It is one of the coffees in last batch of coffees I ordered. It is not bad but there are others I got in that order that I like better. They have so many coffees I have to keep a list of what I like and don’t like so I don’t re-order one I don’t like. I should have had a decaf but it is early enough in the day I will be able to sleep after drinking this. At least it’s not a double espresso, but I do need to order a few tubes of those and single espresso. It’s a great jolt first thing in the morning and the flavors are intense but delicious.

It’s a cold, blustery day here today and the wind has picked up this afternoon. Glad it is the exception and not the rule or I would not be hanging around here. That means today is one of those stay-in-the-house days, but I have things on the computer I am trying to do. It also means getting out for walks is only out of necessity and they are quick trips out and back in.

I am trying to organize and clean up files on my devices and on my cloud service, which I should have been doing all along but didn’t. I am also trying to get Word and Excel documents converted to their Apple counterparts. I purchased a year of Microsoft Office in August and I am really disappointed with Outlook, the main reason I spent money on the program. Microsoft just cannot make Office work on a Mac like it does on a PC. I am tired of fighting it and going back & forth between different programs so I am gonna simplify it. I don’t really need Word or Excel bad enough to pay for it and I can use the web version if I need to, but my Apple programs will open those documents and spreadsheets with decent compatibility. And I don’t need to spend money since Apple’s programs are “free” (there is that premium price on Apple products though…).

My gripe with Apple’s native programs has been that they would build a basic program and then let third-party developers do the real work on apps that you then have to buy those to get the cool features. Apple has apparently heard the complaints and is putting out some pretty decent apps for their products. Since they are doing that I find myself embedded deeper into Apple’s “walled garden” and I am fine with that. Not an Apple Fanboy; I just like technology that works; I don’t like it well enough to camp out in a line for a week in front of the Apple Store.

Other than organizing that stuff most of the day I went to town and got the new airbox for my truck. I hope this fixes it but I will still have the dealer check it Friday in case it is something else. I hate chasing problems like this with my wallet as it gets expensive fast and you may end up spending money on changing parts that were not bad. The lid on my airbox was cracked so it needed replaced anyway. I cannot really check it to see if it runs better at idle until the engine cools down. At least it is in there.

I ate the rest of my Lou Malnati’s pizza for lunch. It is odd to have room for so much food that I cooked ahead plus things like the pizza. It is convenient but cooking is SOMETHING to do during a day and on a day like today it would be a break. I took some of that chicken/broth base in the freezer and cooked up some chicken and dumplings. It is a great day for something warm and rib-sticking and it hit the spot. Another thing to make with dumplings is a recipe my mom made only once for some reason when I was a kid. Blackberry dumplings. Make the dumplings the same and drop spoonfuls into some boiling blackberries. It is sooo good and filling as well.

I don’t remember if I posted anything about my microwave or not; it is a convection oven/microwave. I bought one of these for the trailer – I had too many other things on my mind to figure it out so I never used it. When I made the Malnati’s pizza I did it in the convection mode. I am very impressed by the utility of this appliance. Two handy appliances in one! I will have to experiment with mine since it is in a tight space in the trailer so I don’t know if it will get too hot or pull too many amps. If it won’t work I have used the microwave part; next time I move into someplace I can use it for baking too.

One more eye appointment tomorrow and I think I am done with follow-ups for that. It is amazing that after 35 years of wearing glasses (and a brief couple of stints trying contacts) I no longer need glasses except to read. It is so fantastic. Everything is so clear and better looking than through glasses. I need to get laundry done tomorrow some time since I have the truck service on Friday and I also really need to wash clothes. Apparently I am back in my old habit of waking up in the mornings around 6 so I can hit the ground running to get it done and have some downtime before I have to leave.

I decided to get my guitar out and try to get back into playing now that I have room to stretch out. Having a hard time with dexterity in my hands so I don’t know how this is going to work out and for how long. I had to struggle a little working on the truck because of arthritis in my left hand and some possible nerve stuff in my right hand after tearing up my shoulder in 2019 – I kept dropping the bolts. However, a few years ago I kinda saw where my hands were headed. I thought I would play around with the keyboards and the textures and things I can do with my limited knowledge of digital music creation. I think I have come up with some interesting things for my tastes but it doesn’t mean that I would do some things a bit different here and there (I still could at some point).

As usual I loosened up a little and it was a little frustrating doing so fumbling along. I did come up with two ideas in about 30 seconds so I recorded those. Then I started some music on the computer to play along with before I started to really work on a few ideas old and new. The next song up I have talked about before. It is an instrumental by Camel (*and that is NOT Frampton’s Camel or Sopwith Camel), and the song is called “Ice”. A beautiful, emotional, heavy/melodic guitar-oriented beautifully-constructed song with a keyboard solo. I used to be able to play along with the guitar parts fairly well but I could not do it tonight. I will not go quietly into the night. I am not giving up. Then some Metallica came on and the mellow mood got moshed. It was an old one called “Escape” off of “Ride the Lightning”. Certainly picked up the mood.

Wow. Talk about some great memories. A song that John and I wrote – actually, it is the very first one we did together probably somewhere around 2006-2008 – just popped up in the shuffle on my computer. He had written the music before we met. I threw the lyrics together in about 20 minutes as I remember and then we recorded it. Those were such great times. Some good stories from those years! Hahaha.

That’s it for tonight. Be safe!

*obscure musical group references from the 60s & 70s

December 15th, 2020

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, Travel, Uncategorized

A few nights ago I was watching a movie and I saw some lights through the door glass. I wasn’t expecting anything until Monday and Tuesday but my items were in town. Could it…no, it can’t be…YEAH!!! It was my electric bike! It showed up TWO days early!

I got the box in the house and pulled the bike out. It was folded up and wrapped in all sorts of padding and packing materials to keep the scratches at bay. It took several minutes to get all of the padding off before I could unfurl it. It is pretty easy to figure it out, but it does have a very well-written manual in case you want/need to use it.

The way it is designed it definitely feels different than a regular bike. The frame is low so you feel like you are sitting pretty high up. It is different to ride than a regular bike so it will take a little bit of getting used to riding it. I took it out for a spin yesterday morning and it moves along pretty good. I haven’t even changed the setting in the controller to a Class 3 yet. Even with very little pedal assist it moves along pretty good. It will be fun to ride and get exercise plus riding it to town will save fuel. I looked at helmets yesterday and won’t ride far without one. I want to get a few more lights and reflectors on it; visibility is a good thing. It came with some actually decent saddlebags, headlight, taillight and cargo rack behind the seat so it is pretty well set up. The seat has a suspension post and the upgraded saddle is bigger and more comfortable.

I did more research on my truck’s check engine light and I have one more thing to try out before the appointment on Friday. The lid of the airbox is cracked and I am thinking that might be affecting the airflow and it is causing a computer error. I stopped at the parts store to buy one. I ran what I think the problem is by the counter guy and he thought it could be the issue. I will get the new one tomorrow and get it installed. If that still doesn’t fix it the dealer gets a turn.

A friend gave me a pizza for the holidays. Not just ANY pizza, mind you. A Lou Malnati’s pepperoni pie, imported straight from Chicago. That was a damn good pizza. Along with it was a catalog from Tastes of Chicago. Italian beef, Vienna Beef hot dogs, desserts, baked stuff…hardcore food porn.

I really need a travel fix so I started watching “A Cook’s Tour” again. It was Anthony Bourdain’s first travel series. I remember seeing a few episodes years go and thought it was interesting. He was visiting Vietnam in the first ones I remember, and it was probably the first time I had an interest in going to that part of the world and it was because of him. Growing up in the shadow of the Vietnam War it was never really someplace I had an interest in going to visit. He had the gift of making it all interesting and within reach to every person.

I’ll probably be hitting the travel shows hard again pretty soon. It was about this time in 2017 and 2019 that I was getting things together to go to Europe. I wish I were doing that for real in 2020 but we know how the year has gone for the most part. It’s nice that I now know the best way I need to pack after being there twice. It’s not to say that I won’t make some minor changes, but at least now I have the gear I need, have a good idea about how to travel, and know what to take and leave as far as clothes and toiletries. I think I will be looking at my travel items closer and may thin out a few things (I need to thin out a few things anyhoo). I have some things I really could do without and maybe some other things I really don’t need to keep.

I have definitely been getting much more exercise in even with the short days (glad to see that changing next week!). The dog and I are logging about 3-5 miles a day. Nothing wrong with that! When I first got in the area it was pretty rainy so we did not get out much. Being in the trailer at the time I did not want everything smelling like a wet dog and mud all over inside. We got out as much as we could; he cannot hold it forever! We have had some really nice days lately but we have a few days of some showers coming up. I am looking forward to some more.

That’s about all I have for now.

ATVs and PTSD

Just things, Travel

Yesterday was both fun and interesting.

Wednesday night Dave and I headed out for a 4+ hour drive to Portland, OR for certification on ATVs. The government requires certification for various things to make sure you know what you are doing, do not get hurt, and equipment does not get torn up. Chain saw operation requires the training and certification or you cannot operate one – even if you were a lumberjack for 20 years. Use of ATVS is the same, and in my position I need to use ATVs and UTVs.

We stopped for wood-fired pizza at one of his favorite places in Olympia, WA on the way. Farelli’s knows how to make a mighty good pizza, and the wood-fired ovens really add something to the taste (as well as the roasted garlic cloves on the top). I always wanted to try a wood-fired pizza and I now know what I was missing. I would recommend it as a great place – from one foodie to another! We got done and headed to Portland to our hotel. Portland sure looks beautiful at night.

Thursday morning we got up, got ready, and went to the training site. It was a rainy morning, and the forecast was for this all the live long day. We had some class work to do indoors, and then it was off to do some riding!

We had a Polaris UTV (much like my trusty Mule), a Honda 400 ATV manual, and a Polaris 500 ATV with an auto (my favorite one). The three of us students took turns with all three of them, doing various maneuvers, turns, and obstacles. We went over many things about these vehicles. It was a good course and I learned some things that I did not know.

We finished up with the outdoors part and then had to take a written test. Aced it! WOOT! WOOT!

After a late lunch we left to come back home. We were fat and happy and ready to spend the 4+ hours to get back.

We get back and I was getting settled in for a relaxing evening. The cabin phone rang about 8:00, and I thought “Now who in the hell is calling me THIS late?”. It was Dave. He had just gotten home, and not two minutes went by and he had gotten a call that there was someone on the Spit at the lighthouse with a dog with some story. He calls me up and says “Hey Shawn… ready to go back to work?”. He told me what was going on, so I said “Let’s go!” and the night was suddenly not relaxing.

This guy had said he was kicked out of his house and had no place to go so he was going to camp on the Spit for now. Well, that wasn’t going to happen since it is not allowed. Fast forward a bit…

Dave showed up and we utilized our new ATV training. He got on an ATV and said to give him 20 minutes then come down after him. It was a bit weird not really knowing what was going to happen, and I was a little on edge about it. It is dark, you do not know what mental state the guy is in, if he has anything on him, etc. Dave is Law Enforcement so I trust his judgement completely and just do what he says I do so I should be fine.

I went to the lower overlook on the trail and looked out over the Spit to see if I see anything. The brake lights on the ATV light up and I did not know what was going on – perhaps he was stuck. I went and grabbed some rope just in case, hopped in the Mule, and went down the trail to the beach without any headlights on. The moon was lighting things up just enough to see and the tide was out. Plenty of beach!

I got out there, and it was this skinny kid with a dog. Turns out he was about 29 years old, had gotten kicked out of his house, and had a dog that was a Pit Bull/Boxer mix that was given to him to help him with PTSD. I asked him if he was hungry and he said he sure was. I had quickly thought to put two Snickers bars in my coat in case he needed something to eat since I knew a bit about the situation before we left, plus I thought it might help relieve any tensions if there were any. I gave him the candy and he thanked me a lot and ate one down fast. Dave asked if I would take him up to the front gate and he would follow us. I said “sure” so we got his stuff and his dog in the back and he hopped up front.

This kid was really a nice guy but down on his luck as can happen to us all from time to time. He was cold, tired of walking (it is 10 miles round trip to the lighthouse), and seemed a bit freaked out by all that had happened. He does have a job so he has that going for him. I tried to encourage him best I could.

We got to the front gate. I told him to eat that other Snickers to get some fuel for the furnace to keep him warm while he slept… wherever that would be. Dave then remembered some chips and Coke leftover from our trip so he got those and gave them to him. He was grateful and we parted ways. I hope he can get his ducks in a row and get back to a more normal life – well, at least more normal for him.

I sincerely wish you the best, Josh.