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Seattle to Dry Falls and Back

As soon as FrankL, DougW and I got back from our British Columbia motorcycle ride, we started talking about the next one. We settled on a trip out to Dry Falls in central Washington. This past Saturday was the day that had been circled on the calendars but we woke up to rain. After the driest two month stretch in Seattle history where we only got 0.02 inches of rain, we got rain on the day we picked for the ride! We met at Doug’s house anyway, and, after checking the radar, decided to give it a shot.

The rain ended somewhere around North Bend and from there it was clear sailing. Our route took us up US 97 right through the Wenatchee forest fire. The fire has burned 143 square miles and there are firefighters from all over the country trying to put it out. It started as a series of smaller fires caused by lightning and quickly got out of control. A little bit of the smoke has been drifting west into Seattle, but it was nothing like we experienced over there. The sun turned to a dull red ball, visibility was greatly reduced and you could feel the sting of smoke in your eyes. At one point where the fire was the closest, they had closed down the road and were leading single lines of cars back and forth with pilot cars. The website says that “fire is approaching the highway from the east and crews are conducting burn out operations from the road. Firefighters and their equipment will be along the roadway and visibility likely will be reduced by heavy smoke.“ The fire’s page on inciweb.org shows just how close the fire is to the highway right now!

Once we were through that area, we headed east out to Dry Falls. It’s a big dry canyon/riverbed and the sign said it was once the largest waterfall in the world. After taking in the sights it was back on the bikes heading west through Wenatchee again, then Leavenworth, Stevens Pass, and finally back home.

All told it was just over 400 miles in one day. We were pretty sore during those last stretches, but what a day it was!

This was my first major test of the Go Pro camera. Instead of mounting it on my helmet, I mounted it on one of the wind deflectors over my right side mirror. I got just under 2 hours of video recorded before the battery ran out. I posted it all on YouTube if you really want to see the raw footage. I also edited it down to about 5 minutes, added a soundtrack (Eddie Vedder from Into the Wild), and recorded a little commentary to explain what you’re seeing. The version embedded below has the commentary but if you don’t like me talking, you can watch the edited version with no commentary. Confused yet? Just watch the video below!

Cities in Motion

A friend at work was reminiscing with me about old games like SimCity and Roller Coaster Tycoon. Both of those games could put me in “the zone” for hours on end and give me a surprise when I noticed that the sun was rising. He then recommended Cities in Motion as a newer game in that genre that does that same thing to him.

I finally gave in and bought it when Steam was having their big sale a few weeks back, and wow, what a game! Here’s the blurb from the website:

Cities in Motion (CIM) is a city-based mass transportation simulator for the PC. Players operate their own transportation company, building a public network with a variety of vehicle types, including buses, trams, and subway trains.By meeting the needs of city residents, the player tries to make as much profit as possible. Observing the changing and growing city, as well as the different types of people in it, is key to building a successful and efficient network.

It was a bit overwhelming at first. There are so many knobs and dials to tweak and gauges and charts to examine. But once you get the hang of it, it is addicting. If you like city simulator games, check this one out. You can get the full collection of the game and all the add-ons for $50 from Steam but it’s on sale fairly often. As I write this that whole package is only $12.50!

Caribbean Cruise Photos

It’s going to take me a while to edit all the video so I thought I’d post some pictures. I tried to write useful titles and descriptions to help you understand what they are. They aren’t all in order since they are combined from three different cameras. The video will tell a better story, but these are some good point-in-time snapshots. You can find them all in the photo gallery under Caribbean Cruise 2.

100 Year Floods

I’ve been surprised at the number of “100 year floods” that we have had around here. Global warming proponents often tout this as proof of their theories. I was happy to read Cliff Mass’s recent blog post on the title. The (now) very obvious explanation is that these 100 year flood events are not happening at the same spot every few years. And if each area has a 1% chance of having a flood of that level, if you get enough areas, you’re going to have them pretty often. In fact, around here we expect to hear about a 100 year flood every 4-5 years!

You can check out his blog for the full post. If you live around here and are at all interested about weather, I’ll again recommend that you follow his blog!

Flight Changes

Flying back to Indiana at Christmas time gets very expensive. I’ve paid almost $800 just to fly back by myself and that was the lowest price I could find by flying on the red eye, etc. So this year when I discovered that Tyla and I could use our frequent flier miles to get free flights for Christmas, we jumped on the chance and booked our flights more than nine months in advance. It’s crazy, but it could easily save us over $1500 if it all works out well.

The problem with booking this far in advance is that the schedules are always changing. I had one year where an airline decided that they could no longer sell me a ticket for one segment of my trip because it was a codeshare and blah blah blah. I was furious and after two levels of management I finally got them to capitulate and give me the seats I had paid for.

A couple weeks into this, I’ve already received my first schedule change. This one was a simple change of flight numbers, but it still required a call to United to have them press some magic buttons. I’m going to keep a list on this blog of how many times (and in what ways) our flight schedule changes before December.