Riding The Hanford Reach

Sunrise Chorus

Sunrise Chorus

As the sun was rising above the Saddle Mountain foothills I was enjoying a morning chorus of red-winged blackbirds.

I was headed out for a mountain bike ride along the Hanford Reach section of the Columbia River.  Of course, I was on the east side of the river.  Unauthorized visits to the other side of the ‘creek’ usually result in an all expenses paid vacation to a federal prison.  But, one can certainly get a nice view of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, and a new appreciation for just how expansive that giant land mass is, from my side of the river.

My route followed a crumbling abandoned narrow roadway that used to run up river to the tiny hamlet to White Bluffs (now-a-days, the town is also crumbling and abandoned).

Springtime in the desert

Springtime in the desert

U.S. Fish and Wildlife sign

U.S. Fish and Wildlife sign

The area is now under the control of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is closed to motorized traffic… Perfect for Rockhoppers!

The beautiful bright blue sky and the rising morning sun did little to warm up the day.  A chilly breeze and temperatures on the bottom end of 40 degrees kept me pedaling along whenever I wasn’t stopped for photos or filming.  Speaking of filming, how about a little video:

Jimi Hendrix – Angel.  Man what a great tune.

The Hanford Reach

The Hanford Reach

This marvelous view high on a hill was my turn around point.  From here it was mostly down hill and totally down wind.  Nice!

A drive-by geology lesson

A drive-by geology lesson

Hey one last thing.  Here is a link to a cool little video explaining some of the interesting geology associated with the White Bluffs area.  Ok, that’s it for now.  I got another week to spend here in the desert, then it’s back to the coast.

Thanks for following along, Kat

 

 

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Cowiche Canyon

Canyon Overlook

Canyon Overlook

That’s Cowiche Canyon down there.  I spent the day riding along the canyon trail and enjoying a day in the relative warmth (68 degrees).  I thought I’d share a few photos with you all.

Rolling down the canyon

Rolling down the canyon

I parked at the east end of the trail, a few miles east of Yakima.

The sunny Sunday weather meant that I’d be sharing the trail with a few of the locals, but in reflection, every one I passed offered me a nice wave and a smile.

 

 

In the canyon

In the canyon

One of the newer bridges

One of the newer bridges

Easter Island Man

Easter Island Man

My pre-ride research had me looking for this guy.  He is one of the most photographed rock formations along the trail.

I was thinking Easter Island statues, what do you think?

I pedaled down stream for about an hour, including a few dozen stops to take photos.

I was really impressed with the work of the local beaver population… those guys were really working hard all along the creek.

Beaver's Work

Beaver’s Work

More Beaver's Work

More Beaver’s Work

The Vineyard Trailhead

The Vineyard Trailhead

On my route downstream I noted a side trail that climbed up out of the canyon to a vineyard up on the ridge.  Of course the sign advising “wine tasting room” didn’t have much draw to me, but I thought maybe I’ll just scramble up there and buy a bottle of wine for Susan.

Well, a scramble is exactly what it turned out to be.  I pedaled a bit of the trail but most of it was just way to steep, rocky, and loose to get much traction.

Pano from high up on the ridge

Pano from high up on the ridge

Hike-a-bike

Hike-a-bike

Still Climbing

Still Climbing

Eventually the switchbacks ended and the trail was a little more rideable.  I continued up, and over a couple more rocky hills and popped out on the back side of the vineyard.

 

 

 

 

The Vineyard

The Vineyard

I rode through the rows of grape vines and pulled up to the wine tasting room, where the conversation when something like this, “I’m looking for a red, a cabernet, that will fit into my bike jersey back pocket”.  After a few giggles, the girls in the shop suggested their favorite vintage and we tried the pocket fit.  Prefect!

The pocket carry

The pocket carry

I took it a little easier going back down the hill just to insure that there wasn’t a big crash that left me covered in broken glass and red wine.

Cabernet Carry

Cabernet Carry

Well, I’m happy to report that the wine   (and I) both made it back to the van without incident.

That’s it for now.  Thanks for riding along.

Kat

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The Zoom H1 – Yikes!

The Zoom H1 Handy Recorder

The Zoom H1 Handy Recorder

Ok, this is gonna get a little technical, and my brain is ALREADY spinning from trying to understand 48/16 kHz, sampling frequencies, X / Y stereo mic,  and digital attenuation…

So, I got a new Zoom H1 digital recorder and I’m deep diving into the world of digital sound editing.

Tech Specs

Tech Specs

Just a quick look at the manufacture’s photo describing all the buttons  and settings had me scratching my head.

Imagine what happened in my head when I started reviewing tutorials for competing digital audio editing programs.  Yikes!

Indoors

Indoors

Well, the idea started as a “work thing”.  I needed a way to get a nice clear audio track on firearms training videos, when the environments where I was filming in included ventilation fans, airplane noise, and of course gunfire.  The Zoom H1 offered a way to attach a lavaliere mic on my instructor/demonstrator, and have the audio go straight into the digital recorder (in his pocket).  Thus allowing the camera to film from any angle to get the exact shot I needed.  Sweet!

Outdoor

Outdoor

They say that as we humans age it is important for us to continue to “work” our brains and to always be learning new things to stimulate our brains…

Well at this rate I’m gonna live to be 300 years old, because my brain has been  working overtime the past few days.

Editing a training video

Editing a training video

Syncing 3 audio tracks

Syncing 3 audio tracks

Ah, but this is the place where the creative fun starts to happen.  Now I’m thinking about all the cool applications where a nice clear audio track would be a great addition to some action footage, or having a crisp, clean, stereo music track for those Kani Ka Pila campfire jam sessions on the next VanSlam.

Kani Ka Pila

Kani Ka Pila

Ok that’s it for now.  I gotta get back to the virtual classroom and “crack the books” for my next continuing education session.

Below is a little 1 minute video where I am experimenting with the blending of three separate  audio tracks, and trying to get them all synced to sound as one.

Warning: Ukulele dork alert…

Thanks for following along.  Till next time.

Kat

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Lower Crab Creek

Sunrise At Potholes St. Park

Sunrise At Potholes St. Park

Susan and I escaped the rainy, wet side of the Cascades and popped over to the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge (near Othello, WA) for an overnight camping trip.  Every year around St. Paddy’s day I try to spend a few days in the general area just to hear and see 1000′s of sandhill cranes.  This year the skies over the Columbia Plateau were layered with cranes as we rolled across the Frenchman Hills.

Empty Campground

Empty Campground

We setup for the night in the almost vacant Potholes State Park, and took a little walk along the reservoir.

Morning arrived with a few clouds, but our hopeful anticipation of a sunny day could not be crushed by a cloudy morning.

Drumheller Channeled Scablands

Drumheller Channeled Scablands

Our first mission was to explore some of the hundreds of lakes in the Drumheller Channeled Scablands, searching out the best locations for a summer kayaking trip with all our little grandsons.  With the addition of a new sit-on-top double kayak to the fleet, some summer fun under the scorching sun will be on the Adventure Journal to-do list.

Lyle Lake

Lyle Lake

Standing on the edge of Lyle Lake we could hear coyotes yipping everywhere, and pheasants, cranes, meadowlarks, red-winged blackbirds , and dozens of other birds filled the air with their spring chorus.

The very primitive nature of the place beckons one to come out and spend the night, if for no other reason then to star gaze without the annoying all night lighting that seems to be present at most developed campgrounds.

With the recon complete we were on our way to the Lower Crab Creek Trail for a hike.  Of course I did a little history research before the hike and I won’t drill you with too many details here, but, did you know that to many folks Lower Crab Creek, at 163 miles, is considered to be the longest creek in North America.  If you would like to read all about the Missoula Floods and the abandoned Chicago/St. Paul/Milwaukee RR trail click the Wiki Link.

Here is a little video from our hike:

Not Bonneville, UT

Not Bonneville, UT

In the photo at the right you’ll see a teaser image for our new movie “World’s Fastest VW Eurovan”.

The blue sky and sunshine were with us for the entire hike, but the clouds, lashing rain, and screaming winds were waiting for us just a few miles to the west.  As was a Dairy Queen in Ellensburg :-)

Lower Crab Creek Road

Lower Crab Creek Road

This was rush hour.  The whole time were were there, maybe 3 hours, we never heard or saw another vehicle.

That’s it for now.  Thanks for following along with us.

Kat

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The Metal Cowboy

The Bike Expo

The Bike Expo

Well, it was 36 degrees and trying to snow… Must be time for a bicycle ride.  I was on my way to the Seattle Bike Expo, held each year on Pier 91 at Smith Cove.  But like all fun adventures this ride was as much about the journey as it was the destination.  Kayaks, and fishing boats, and trains, all caught my attention along the way.

Lets have a look at some photos.

The Dudes' new kayak

The Dudes’ new kayak

First stop was dropping the new sit-on-top double kayak off at the Dudes’ house.  Of course they were ready to launch right off their lawn into the street, but that trip will have to wait for a couple of weeks.

I carried on to Gas Works Park and launched my Rockhopper from there, following a series of backroads and bike trails to Smith Cove.

A few sprinkles and a chilly wind was about the extent of the challenges presented on the ride in.

Fremont Bridge

Fremont Bridge

The Ship Canal

The Ship Canal

Fishing Art

Fishing Art

I pulled into Seattle’s Fisherman’s Terminal to poke around the docks and have some lunch.  The commercial boats were a beehive of activity, getting outfitted for the season.

The Fleet

The Fleet

The Fisherman's Memorial

The Fisherman’s Memorial

Then I went from boats to trains as I cut off the Ship Canal Trail and headed along the BNSF rail yards.

The Yards

The Yards

From Pier 91

From Pier 91

This year I was at Bike Expo for one specific attraction… I was there to watch a presentation by a guy named Joe Kurmaskie, “The Metal Cowboy”.  Joe is a writer, and a bicycle traveler, and a marvelous story teller.  I have been reading of his travels for… Yikes, I just did the math on that… Decades!!!

I arrived early enough to wonder around and explore all the cool stuff.  Of course the “classic bicycle” displays are always fun.  Its a little disconcerting to see bikes that I remember fondly from my early days as a cyclist being referred to as “classic” or “retro” but I guess time and tide wait for no man.

Classic

Classic

Retro

Retro

The next BIG thing

The next BIG thing

Joe's Books

Joe’s Books

I had a chance to meet Joe before the show and visit for a while.  We talked for quite a while about bicycle journeys with little travelers – his, and mine.  I was delighted to learn that he is the exact same whacky guy in person that he appears to be in his stories.

Any parents out there looking for a fun book to read with their children, Joe’s Mud, Sweat and Gears would be an excellent choice.  But beware, your six or seven year old may start stuffing clothes in a rucksack and head out the door for unknown places yet to be discovered.

Joe

Joe

The TV show trailer

The TV show trailer

Joe announced that his new book, A Guide To Falling Down In Public, has been picked up by some award winning Hollywood big shots and is going to become a TV series.  How cool is that?

The irony of a guy that doesn’t own a TV being swept up in that world was not lost on Joe, but as he stated in his presentation, anything that gets the lowly cyclist more noticed by the general car driving public has to be a good thing.

Its A Seattle Thing - 3 babies in a trailer.

Its A Seattle Thing – 3 babies in a trailer.

Kat and the Metal Cowboy

Kat and the Metal Cowboy

Well that’s about it for this edition of the Adventure Journal.  All that remained was a really chilly (and slightly wet) ride home.

Oh, but wait.  I didn’t mention how Joe got the name “Metal Cowboy”.  Well, I guess you’re just gonna have to read the book to find that out.  Enjoy

Kat

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Tool Boxes For Valentine’s Day

Sawing out the boxes

Sawing out the boxes

Well its time for another winter building project.  Just after New Years Day I had a notion that I would build a little carpenter’s tool box for each one of our 5 little dudes.  Not that they would all become carpenters, but the sturdy wooden boxes would be great for storing all kinds of cool little dude stuff, from craft supplies to a rock collection.  With a brief search of the inter webs I found a simple set of instructions and cutting dimensions for a beautiful 8 X 16 inch classic, century old design.  I was delighted to discover that the very close tolerances in the layout allowed for two boxes to be cut from one 8 foot piece of stock.  Let’s do some math – five dudes + 2 boxes from each board + 3 boards needed = 1 extra box!  Immediately I thought of our darling little grand-niece, Jane.  Happy Valentine’s Day Jane!

Pile of sticks

Pile of sticks

I chose three gorgeous planks of poplar and got busy with pencil, compass, saws, rasps, sanders, drills, and glue.  I won’t bore you all with a cut by cut description.  I might have gone a little overboard with the fit and finish, for a box that is likely going to be filled with garden dirt.  I countersunk all the fasteners and filled the holes with tapered wooden plugs.  The sanding marathon went from 80 grit to 120, then to 220, and then – WHOA!

I reminded myself that it was after all, a tool box, not a jewelry box.  But I must say I enjoyed the smooth feel of the rounded ends as I rubbed my hand along the edge.

Waiting to be sanded, and sanded, and sanded

Waiting to be sanded, and sanded, and sanded

The Valentine’s Day gift box idea was all Susan’s.  When I said I was going to try to decorate each box with some unique design or logo that was specific to each of the dudes, grandma Suzie decided that she would fill the boxes with Sweetheart candy and some other cool little trinkets.

I copied numerous designs onto tracing paper, along with their names in block letters.  I bought some graphite transfer paper and an inexpensive Weller wood burning tool.

The perfect day

The perfect day

I didn’t have to wait too long for the perfect day to stay inside the garage and learn to be a “Pyrography Artist”.  That’s not a naughty thing, it’s the burning of  decorations into wood.

Patterns

Patterns

I made a few practice burns on some scrap wood, and handed those pieces over to Susan for stain and polyurethane sampling.  I got on about 5 layers of fleece, wool, and down, set up a nice clean work station, and started burning.  I must say at this point that it was either way easier than I thought it was going to be, or I have some untapped pyrography gene that has been hidden deep in my DNA from another lifetime.  The designs and names burned in nicely.  In fact the project went so well that even after I thought I was finished with the wood burning, I went back into the house and found a pattern for a hand grenade, and added that to Duke’s box.  If you know 3-1/2 year old Duke Danger then this addition makes perfect sense.

Tool Box collage

Tool Box collage

A Jeep theme for Jane, puma tracks and mountain climbing gear for Booker.  For Remy – the Remington Arms logo, of course.  For Kingston, a dual-sport motorbike headed over the mountains.  A surf board, on a palm tree beach adorned Cadence’s box… and there may have been a surprise appearance by a Pokémon (ポケモン guy on the back.  At this moment in time Cade is a little Pokémon (ポケモン crazy.  As for Duke’s box, a proper toolbox logo of a hammer and saw, and that vintage WWII pineapple grenade on the back.

So the next phase of the project was bringing them inside and applying several coats of polyurethane.

Susan prepping the boxes

Susan prepping the boxes

In light of the fact that the boxes were all constructed the same, we wanted to make sure to decorate and finish them a little differently.  The idea was to give them all a nice clear polyurethane coating on the inside (to protect the wood from all the stuff that would be tossed in there) but to apply slightly different wood stains to the outside.  Some lighter, some clear, and some a little bit darker.

About a half mile of Frog tape later – the insides had a couple of coats of clear finish, and the bottoms were sealed with the same clear polyurethane.

Frog tape around the edges

Frog tape around the edges

Remy's box is shiny

Remy’s box is shiny

A few coats of poly, and then we filled ‘em up with some cool stuff.  Some small tools, decorative duck tape, ropes, books, tiny trucks, science projects, and craft supplies, were among the items included.

My brother Kevin and "Tarzan"

My brother Kevin and “Tarzan”

We got Jane’s box packed up in a shipping carton and ready to go, but before we could send it, Jane got a brand new baby brother.  Clark (known as Tarzan to his friends) was born on Jan 28, 2014.  Susan and I rounded up a few little newborn baby toys and wrapped them up for the newest little Katzer dude. So just in case he reads this years from now, he won’t feel left out.  Judging by Tarzan’s size in the photo – I think he might just fit inside Jane’s toolbox… Just an observation (Jane) don’t get any ideas.

Of course Jane’s box arrived before the big Valentine’s Day reveal so we had to make sure her mom and dad didn’t give away the surprise by posting any pictures on FB.

Jane checking out her toolbox

Jane checking out her toolbox

Max snapped this picture of Jane and confirmed that our choice of a Jeep logo for Jane’s toolbox was spot on.  Jane broke out her pink para cord first thing and immediately started tying things up.  (Sorry Clark, I hope your rope burns heal up quickly) :-)

The problem with having the five other toolboxes hidden at our house for over a month is that every couple of days Grandma Suzie would discover some new, very cool, whiz-bang little item that needed to be added to the boxes.  Pretty quick they were packed full of all kinds of nifty little dude treasures.

So finally February 14th arrived.  Man this was tougher than Christmas, the excitement was killing me.  Suzie and I shot down to Leane’s house first thing on the morning and stormed in with the first 3 toolboxes.  Her house erupted in excitement as the dudes tore into everything.

Duke, Kingston and Cade dig into their boxes

Duke, Kingston and Cade dig into their boxes

Then later that afternoon, when we got word that Remy was up from his nap, we loaded up the final two toolboxes and popped over to see Booker and Remington.  Again, delighted little dudes was the order of the day.

Remy and Booker taking inventory of the toolbox contents

Remy and Booker taking inventory of the toolbox contents

Well, the excitement of little boys playing with new toys (and big boys too, I guess) will always be a marvelous thing for my eyes to see.  But I think that the most wonderful part of the the whole process, made especially meaningful as Susan and I are approaching our 37th wedding anniversary, was to see each one of the little dudes hugging and squeezing their grandma Suzie for being such an awesome grandmother and loading them up with treasure.

Happy Valentine’s Day Dudes, and Happy Valentine’s Day Suzie – I love you.

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Deadman’s Slough

Booker ready to launch

Booker ready to launch

Finally we had a day where the marine layer of freezing fog took pity on me and decided to fade away in mid-morning.  Perfect timing because Travis, Booker and I were going paddling.  I picked up the boys and we made the 2-3 mile journey to the very muddy launch area below the Hyw. 2 trestle.

Our plan was to explore a secluded little backwater system of sloughs, known to me as Deadman’s Slough.

Loaded up

Loaded up

Native Growth Protective Area

Native Growth Protective Area

I had recently discovered these signs marking the area as a Native Growth Protection Area, there were dozens of them all along the road and posted in the marsh on the water side.  I’d seen river otters, ducks, geese and lots of beaver sign in the area so I knew Booker would be interested in checking it out.

Mud Slog

Mud Slog

Did I mention that it was a serious mud slog for about 30-40 meters to get from the road to the water.  We slopped the boats down to water edge and then carried Booker over and plopped him right into his seat.

Glassy smooth water and geese overhead

Glassy smooth water and geese overhead

So, just before we launched Travis and I tried once more, unsuccessfully, to convince Booker that he didn’t need a paddle.  He could just sit in the navigators seat and have two hands free to use my binoculars.  (Travis of course knew that another paddle, in the hands of a 5 year old thrashing around, was not going to be much help getting where we were going).  Well, Booker pulled rank on us and insisted that he needed a paddle because he going kayaking.

So directly after we launched, I gave Booker a quick little paddling refresher lesson/demonstration, and he paid close attention to every detail.  Then just to further illustrate how incredibly stupid grownup people are… He paddled like a champion the whole rest of the day.  Right, we were on the water for about 2-1/2 hours and he paddled the whole way!  Take that Dad and Grandpa.

Cat tails reflected in water

Cat tails reflected in water

We found some ice in the shadowed areas of the marsh and bashed through that.  We explored every little nook and cranny we came across, and followed the slough south through an ever decreasing series of bends.

Google Overhead Map

Google Overhead Map

You could follow our route by tracing the brown tannin stained water, from Hwy 2, south -almost to the end of the photo.

Along the way we stopped for lunch at the base of a well used beaver or river otter trail from the levy down into the water.

In fact we found lots of beaver sign along the way.  Every place where an alder tree had come to the waters edge was worked over pretty well with chisel tooth marks.

Beaver Tooth Marks

Beaver Tooth Marks

Cows

Cows

Working their way along the slough

Working their way along the slough

Shore Leave

Shore Leave

Eventually we “beached” the boats for a little shore leave.  There certainly wasn’t anything resembling a beach involved, but we scrambled up the side of the earthen dike and rambled around a bit.

We found this little merganser floating (dead) in the water and I pulled her aboard to let Booker examine her feet and feathers.

I dropped her off when we were finished with her and Booker was satisfied that a coyote, raccoon  or otter was gonna chow down on her for dinner.

Merganser on board

Merganser on board

Tea Time

Tea Time

Well thats about all from Deadman’s Slough.  A final thought for all 5 year olds – Grownups don’t know everything – Don’t let them fool you.

Kat

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