20 August 2006

Phoenix to Seattle (1500 miles part II) It didn't get off without a hitch.

Oh man. The time has come. 'Twas a long month up here without Christine and the time to bring her up had come.

First of all our cats had to get boarded. Yes, it appears that my friends up here either -

  1. hate cats
  2. don't have a car
  3. are afraid of my cat
  4. or just don't want to be put out

for when it comes time that I need a cat sitter, no one is available. The issue is compounded with that fact that Bailey, our fractious, I don't like most people in the world and will try my best to kill them, black cat, is diabetic. Not only would someone need to come to our house, change the cat litter and feed the cats but also give Bailey an insulin shot. And it would generally have to be at the same time everyday. So the cats went off to the vet for 5 days. Bailey hates the vet!! She tries to kill most of them. It's really wild. If a vet approches she will make the most demonic, possesed, shrill cat sounds and attack with equal ferocity, then turn around and give me a angelic little meow. Capella, on the other hand, is an angel. The vets love her. People love her. People who don't like cats love her. Even Bailey tolerates her.

The next day I caught a taxi at 4am to get to the airport by 4:30, just to breeze through check in by not checking any luggage and following all the rules for the ever changing security measures, so I could sit and wait to board the plane for 2 hours. If you live in Seattle, are actually reading this, and plan on flying out of Sea Tac airport check this out - http://www.portseattle.org/seatac/. It's good to check it on the night before, or the day of your flight, as things change daily. For example, last week, no liquids were allowed. Now people can actually take lip stick, lip balm and solid deodorant. If you ask me some people on flights should be required to take deodorant but I digress. The flight went well. Christine picked me up around noon. Yea! We ate lunch, and packed up what little she had left to take.

Turns out she had more then we thought. As we packed I kept thinking this is not going to fit in the truck. As the time we planned in leaving at approached, I mentioned this. Christine still thought it would. We loaded about 2 boxes into the truck (her pick up, not a moving truck) and she came around to my way of thinking. Frak! The next day we had U-Haul install a hitch on our pick up and rented a 4 x 8 trailer. So, you can't say, "everything went off without a hitch." Ha Hah Ha! We loaded up and got off around 13:00 and made our escape from the desert.

The rest of the trip went pretty smooth. It was long. It was boring. It would probably be pretty cool with about a week or two to stop and site see and no trailer in tow. We made our way west on I-10, through the heat, the wind power plants, and L. A. traffic. We just missed rush hour. Then north on I-5 through vineyards, rolling hills, farmland and the outrageous gas prices. We made our first hotel stop near Coalinga, CA a few hours after dark. A fair distance for about 9 hours driving. Then, in the morning, north again. North through Sacramento. North into the forests, mountains, and past Mt. Shasta. North into Oregon, where you can't pump your own gas. We know we're getting closer as latte stands start appearing at all the gas stations. Mountains, mountains, mountains, and we reach our final hotel stay in Salem, Oregon. The next morning we leave Salem for beautiful Portland, and wouldn't you know it, we are in Washington. Everything that is not water or inhabited by humans is forested now. Within a few more hours we are here, finally, in Seattle.

We decided that there some cities we will have to return to someday for a visit. Of them -

  • Portland, a beautiful looking city both day and night of bridges, rivers and parks.
  • San Francisco, although we didn't actually travel through it.
  • Possibly Sacramento, and Mount Shasta.

What we really need to do someday is travel to all of the above and down the Oregon/California coastline.

We ate - Beef jerky, water, soda pop, fries, Pringles, sauage, eggs, pancakes, coffee, more coffee, Oh I guess that was just me drinking all that coffee, Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Denny's, almonds, walnuts, Mambas, gum, Red Vines, bagels, danish, and a host of other bad things containing chemicals and sugar.

We read - aloud to each other, Patrick O'Brian's The Fortune of War.

What matters now is that we are here, safe, together again.

To see a few more photos of out trip, click on the title, Phoenix to Seattle . . . above.

13 August 2006

Seattle Dry Suit Diving

Ha Hah! It looks like my brother-in-law, whom I took my open water class with in the first place, is coming to Seattle at the end of August. We are planning on taking a dry suit class. Whoo Hoo! I get to dive again. And fairly soon.

10 August 2006

The BBB

Well I was going to put up another post about cycling and I realized that although Neutral Buoyancy is my main blog and will always include posts about interesting events (at least interesting to me) in my daily life, I had originially intended it's subject matter to be primarily about SCUBA and ocean/sea related topics. Well since SCUBA has been put on the back burner, at least until we get settled in Seattle again, and I've been rambling on about cycling I created a new blog. Brian's Bicycle Banter. The BBB. This should keep any SCUBA/sea lovers from saying, "What the FRAK is all this cycling C**P."

08 August 2006

More Bicycle Banter

So it's been a while and nothing really of interest has happened. I've just been working, drinking lattes, talking to Christine on the phone, ruffing up the cats and cycling. So I'll bore you with a lot of mundane cycling chatter.

Probably about 4 years ago, the last time we lived up here in Seattle, I decided I would start riding my bike to work. It worked out fairly well. It's only about 7 miles, most of it on nice bike trails or smaller streets with less traffic. It took me about the same amount of time as waiting for and riding the bus.

I had a "mountain" bike at the time that I purchased sometime around 1993, so it was about 10 years old. Well it wasn't long before I was set on buying a new improved mountain bike with shock absorbers, more gears and even fatter knobbier (heavier) tires then the ones I had. Although like so many 4x4's and SUV's I would probably never take it off road on a trail. Once I had the money I started looking around the local bike shops and my quest took me to Recycled Cycles.

Now I had an old beat up 10 speed when I was in high school (these are the 80's) that I got at a garage sale somewhere for 50 bucks. Skinny tires. Electric tape on the handlebars. Wheels all out of true. Shifters that barely worked. One brake. The front one. But I took that bike all over the neighborhood. In the desert, through sand, cactus. (Why did I never get a flat?) Over small jumps that my friends little brother had set up. (How come I never broke a spoke?) So anyway, the "road" bike wasn't unheard of to me.

So when I was at Recycled Cycles I decided to test ride a few. GAWD! It was so fast! So light! So easy to ride! And this is on a bicycle that still has a steel frame. What I was looking for all this time and I didn't even know it. This whole mountain bike craze that came up through the 80's and 90's was just foolishness for us city dweller/commuters. I had found my way back to what cycling should be like. After test riding a few, I settled on one that was in my price range. Although the shop is Recycled Cycles, I purchased a new bike from them. A Fuji Ace which you can see in my previous post. I think it was around 400 bucks. Cheap for a road bike. And it is sort of cheap as far as road bikes go. But it's the best bike I've ever had and what's low end today was high end at one time.

I have a bicycle computer and when the odometer read something like 800 miles one of my spokes broke. This is when I discovered a neighborhood shop, Aaron's Bicycle Repair. They took care of me. Replaced my spoke and trued my wheel while I waited. A few weeks later another spoke broke. Same wheel. The back wheel. The one that most of the weight is on. This is where low end (cheap) comes in on the bike. Aluminum spokes. Oh yes they say they are lighter and faster. Folks . . . if you are buying a road bike for commuting or any sort of long term riding on bumpy, pot hole infested city streets, don't get cought up in these racing wheels with the new fangled, light weight spokes. Get yourself some good 32 stainless steel spoke wheels. You won't regret it. There's a reason you still see them on touring bikes. They last. Check out the page on wheel building at the website for Aaron's Bicycle Repair to learn more. OK, where were we. Ah yes, the second spoke broke. Needless to say I had Aaron's Bicycle Repair build me a new wheel which, at almost 2000 miles now, I am still happily riding on. Plus free truing forever. You can't complain with that.

Recently I stopped back by Aaron's to have the wheel trued and a strange noise down in my crank looked at. (Which they did again, while I waited.) They noticed 2 other safety issues with the bike that had to be addressed first before they would do the other work. First was a break cable housing that was to short. Second was a hole in the front tire that the tube was pushing through. They said a blowout in the front and you're gonna crash. I don't want to crash so I got 2 new tires. Schwalbe, Marathon Plus. They got a rubber layer built in the tire (shown at right) that you can't push a thumb tack through. This seems to be true as I rode 30 miles yesterday and at the end of the day I pulled a 1/4 inch piece of glass out of the tire (hole at left) without a problem.

My next and latest dilemma involved a pannier pack and rear rack I purchased. The rear rack (at right) was allow-ing the pack to hit the spokes. But I exchanged the rack for another (left, mounted on bike) and now there are no problems. Note how the second racks bars extend farther to the rear on the bottom. This keeps the packs clear away from the spokes. This last picture shows the reflective pannier packs mounted on the rack. No more hot sweat soaked shirts from wearing a backpack.