2015 In Photos

I’ll admit it, I take too many pictures. I also share too many. Apologies in advance!

LeMay Family Collection – Tacoma Washington

This morning we got up way too early, at least I considered it too early. Mike seems to think it’s perfectly acceptable to be packed and eating breakfast by 6:30am when the place we’re visiting doesn’t open until 10. Needless to say, we had a bit of time to explore the area.

We drove around Puyallup a bit, finding their State fairgrounds, which was quite impressive compared to the rapidly shrinking and lamer Oregon version. Most impressive to me is their assortment of fixed rides, including this beautiful little wooden coaster which was originally built in 1935. I think we need to come back and visit during the fair.

Vintage woodie coaster that's only open twice a year? Challenge Accepted!

Vintage woodie coaster that’s only open twice a year? Challenge Accepted!

Mike, of course, searched for Antique stores. He found a few (boo).

IMG_0312

Rats. He found one.

Fortunately they were closed (yay!). Finally, it was 9:30 and time to head up to Marymount.

In Tacoma there are two museums with connections to the LeMay family and their cars. Mr. Lemay amassed such a quantity of classic cars that no single location could readily house them all. The vanguard of the collection is shown across the street from the Tacoma Dome at America’s Car Museum, which we love, but a greater portion of the collection (about 500 cars) are crammed together in three very large buildings at the old Marymount Military Academy.

Continue reading

Christmas 2014

Merry Christmas!

Every year it seems this holiday comes sooner than the last. Why does time fly faster the older we get? Good grief, nephew Kevin is away at college this year (OSU) with Jake right on his heels as a senior and Sam close behind. College? How can it be, only a few years ago we were buying Rescue Heroes and Captain Underpants for their Christmas gifts, and now it’s Xbox gift cards and iPhone accessories.

Continue reading

Day 2 – Visit to our pig-in-a-poke and see how the other half lives.

The last time we visited Las Vegas we gambled on some property, buying a piece of dirt sight-unseen in a Podunk little subdivision in Arizona.

See, we like to spend money on dirt. I’ll bet you’re sensing a theme here.

Okay, it’s not THAT bad, we’d driven through Mohave County quite a few times over the years. We liked the feel of the place; mostly retirees, some “interesting” desert rats, and a few younger families. An added plus was the proximity to the Colorado River, so this dusty little spot in the desert felt significantly less dusty than many other desert locales. We felt it would be a good place to snowbird.

Continue reading

Day 1 – Drive from Terrebonne Oregon to Laughlin Nevada

Today’s journey consists of 934 miles of mostly 2-lane roads in the middle of nowhere, but that’s okay, we sort of like “middle of nowhere”.

As I mentioned in the previous post, we woke early, then got going pretty much on time. Mike wanted to be on the road by 5am, and we rolled out of the garage at 5:30.

We usually enjoy long rides like this. Mike drives the whole way because if I drive he gets motion sick (does this say something about my driving skills? Probably), so it’s my job to stay awake and keep the music flowing.

Mike’s Christmas present from me this year was a new stereo for the car, it has a USB port, so I basically dumped all the music from my computer onto an 8-gig flash drive (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007V9SNNY/ref=wms_ohs_product?ie=UTF8&psc=1 ) and voila! DJ duties handled! So much easier than shuffling through CD’s like we did in olden times (last month).

Speaking of presents, did I mention today is my birthday? No, because no one else mentioned it today either. Yep, Mike forgot my birthday. Not as in “completely spaced the fact that my wife has a birthday in January”, more of an “I even bought you a card and everything but because everything was so crazy I forgot today was it” kind of thing. Continue reading

2013 Christmas Letter

Deep Creek Road on the Continental Divide, Montana

Deep Creek Road on the Continental Divide, Montana

Another year, another (probably too-long) letter from me. I love doing these things because it feels like I’m able to “wrap up” the year in a tidy package made from photos and written highlights of our lives. Of course, real life is nowhere near as well-ordered as this letter, but we’ll sweep the cat fur and chaos under the rug for awhile and put on our holiday best, okay?

Hot air balloon over Mt. Jefferson

Hot air balloon over Mt. Jefferson

Continue reading

Disney World Day 2, Feb 5 – Hollywood Studios

This morning we double-checked with guest services about the room transfer, and told them about the stuff we had in the fridge, I’ve got some meds that require refrigeration so they just said to leave everything in the fridge and they’d transfer it along with our luggage. Cool.

After breakfast of Disney coffee-like substance (Sanka, blech) and a bagel and cream cheese from our grocery order, we headed to Hollywood Studios at the ungodly hour of 8:05 due to the fact that we were about as excited as a couple of kids on Christmas morning. We were 3rd in line, hanging with our original Disney Bear who travels everywhere with us.

And this is the reason you want to get to Hollywood Studios at least a half hour before the park opens, because you’d rather have all these people behind you in line, rather than in front:

Although rope drop was packed, Disney has recently started a new park opening procedure that does away with the “second rope” and the show, and allows people to filter in to the park and go to their selected attraction when the gates open about 15 minutes prior to the scheduled opening time. The new procedure makes it much easier to arrive at Toy Story Midway Mania without the prospect of being trampled to death, which could be a real vacation downer. Way to go Disney execs!

We did the usual “grab a Fast Pass, ride” for Toy Story, then decided to ride again because wait time showed 20 minutes. When we got in line I told Mike it looked closer to 30 – which it was. Not a big deal since we weren’t really in a rush to do anything else except shows. By the time we got out our Fast Pass window was open and we grabbed a second set, then wandered off towards Rock N’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror.

Mike’s got motion sickness, so I do the big stuff solo and he enjoys spending time as a homeless person sleeping on park benches. Tower of Terror was a walk-on. Rock n’ Roller Coaster showed a 20 minute wait, so I decided to play the odds and use the regular line instead of Single Rider. I always choose the wrong option! 15 minutes later, I’m finally at a point where I can see the single rider line – which is empty. Doh! Oh well, Mike got a nice nap out of the deal.

After another walk-on ride of ToT, we headed to the first Indy show – which was standing room only! Crazy how this show still packs ’em in after all these years.

After this, we take in the Muppets 3-D mayhem (one of my favorites!), then The Great Movie Ride which was running the cowboy side that we’d never seen before. It was neat to see “Option 2”, but I liked the gangster storyline better. After this it’s off to our favorite show, Lights Motors Action. By this time it’s pretty stinkin’ hot and humid, and I’m starting to agree with lots of summer visitors, that this show needs seat backs and some better form of shade and air conditioning.


Hey, look, a hovercar!

Still, it’s internal combustion engines, nitros, and awesome drifting skills at DW, so I’m not really going to complain.

I REALLY like the removal of the stupid Herbie section and the addition of the much funnier Lightning McQueen skit.


Awesome stealth Gremlin action here.

After the show we head back to Toy Story Midway Mania to use our Fast Passes, we get through the first time, but the second time through are turned back just before loading as the ride breaks down (actually saw them letting people off and everyone walking the track back to the exit). On our way out they give us two “anytime” FP’s good until the 15th – score!

We headed back to Pop Century to see if our room switch had been done, Pop was supposed to take all our stuff from the double room and deposit it in our King room on Sunday, including the fridge which held my medication that requires refrigeration – we made sure bell services knew about it, and that the luggage pickup tags had that information on them. We arrived at our new room to find everything present and accounted for….except the refrigerator and my medicine. Ruh roh.

I called housekeeping and they told me that anything that had been left in the other room’s fridge would have been thrown out. Uh, yea, this is my cue to either pass out or start screaming. Being the kind and sweet soul I am, I do neither. I sic Mike on them  and send him down to the front desk.

After a bunch of crazy communications with:
1. Lady from housekeeping who doesn’t have correct information, makes things up as she goes along, and doesn’t care.
2. Awesome dude from maintenance who brings us a fridge and goes on a search and destroy to find our original fridge.
3. Awesome dude at Luggage Hold who finds our stuff and brings it to us.
We are finally in possession of our refrigerator again, and after thanking everyone profusely (except the stupid housekeeping lady who couldn’t care less if I died from an asthma attack) we marvel at how many truly awesome people work for Disney. Sure, there’s always a few idiots in the bunch who are just bell tappers, but the greater majority really kick butt.

After dinner in the room, we head over to Downtown Disney and wander around a bit, Mike finds this gold-digger who seems to take a shine to him:

He’s finally able to break free and we make our escape to Disney Quest, where we spend the evening re-living our teen years on Pac Man (the group game they have is really fun) and Pinball.

Back to the room by 10pm, we’re in bed by 11 with the alarm clock set for 6am and an Epcot rope-drop. I know, late night then early morning – but we don’t have kids, so we can be stupid without involving youngsters in our disastrous planning decisions.

Oh, where did we eat you ask? Lunch was chez Peanut Butter and Jelly, dinner was a fine al-dente pasta with canned sauce cooked in our hot pot which we brought from home. Total out-of-pocket costs for food in the parks today, $0.

Yahoo takes my money, hacks my email account, shares my Contacts list, ignores pleas for help.

Until September of 2011, I was a relatively happy customer of Yahoo Mail. I paid $20 a year for their “premium” service, not knowing that part of their “premium” benefits included giving out my contacts information to spammers.

On September 16 last year, I opened my Yahoo email to find a bunch of weird bounce messages from people in my contacts list – it looked like spam had been sent through my email address. Panicky, I started by doing a complete scan of the computer which came up clean. I then started looking at the emails – one of which was sent to my other Yahoo account so I could inspect the actual mail. It did appear to have actually been sent from my account, and not a “spoof” account.

In a real panic at this point, I quickly changed my Yahoo password, then tried to email Yahoo to tell them about the problem. I received this canned response:

“Some users have reported that their contacts received spam that originated from their Yahoo! Mail account.

If you’ve experienced this issue, we strongly believe your account has been compromised and was used by an unauthorized third party to send spam or fraudulent emails to your contact list.

The best way to assure that this does not happen in the future is to change your password. By changing your password, you minimize the resulting risk for your Yahoo! account. For help selecting a strong password, please review the tips posted in the password section of the Yahoo! Security Center.”

I replied that I had already changed my password (I do so every 3 months anyway), but that no one had accessed my account, there was no way that anyone could have gotten my password, and that I believed they had some sort of security breach. I received no reply for a week. I sent another request for further information, and again received no reply.

During this time I received emails from a few friends who had exactly the SAME THING happen to them with Yahoo. Talking about it on Facebook and different online forums garnered even more responses from people who had the same issue! At this point I am certain I was not hacked, but that Yahoo has a massive security issue that they are simply ignoring or covering up.

Finally two weeks later on September 27, I received this reply:

“We are very sorry for the significant delay in responding to your message. We are currently receiving an unusually large number of emails and have mobilized additional resources to get them answered. We are committed to providing you with the quickest and most accurate answers to your questions.”

During this time I switched everything over to Gmail, copied my contacts, then completely deleted my contacts list from Yahoo, and canceled my Premium service.

On October 1, another batch of spam was sent to my contacts – this is AFTER I had changed my password and deleted all my contacts from my yahoo account. I again changed my password and also backed up my saved emails to a different computer, then deleted every stinkin’ thing from my online Yahoo account.

On October 4 I received another copy of the same “We are very sorry for the significant delay in responding to your message.” I have replied to each one of these and have never actually received any kind of response whatsoever, other than these canned messages.

Just last week, another batch of spam was sent to my contacts list from my Yahoo account. The same one that has had multiple password changes and absolutely NO WAY of anyone but Yahoo accessing the account.

So, after reporting this last batch of spam, I’ll bet you can guess what their response was?  “We are very sorry for the significant delay in responding to your message. We are currently receiving an unusually large number of emails…”

I wish there was some way to make the general public aware of this problem, and to force Yahoo to own up to it, figure out the cause, and FIX it. If anyone has a good idea on how to make that happen, I’m open for suggestions! And if you’ve had the same thing occur to your Yahoo account, please say so in the Comments!

 

 

Oregon’s heavenly back country

After years of exploring this state by motorcycle, car, camper, and on foot, its variety and beauty still amaze me. Uncage the Soul Productions has made a gorgeous video showing some of the timeless glory of the State that “flies with her own wings”.

“Finding Oregon is the compilation of six months of timelapse photography across the state of Oregon, punctuated by a 1600 mile road trip in September. We’ve filmed the Columbia River Gorge, Mt Hood, Mt Jefferson, the Southwestern Coast, the Alvord Desert, Leslie Gulch, Blue Mountains, Crater Lake, Eagle Cap Wilderness, Deschutes River, and more. We’re proud to have touched all four corners of the state; however Oregon is the kind of place that the more you see, the more places there are to still discover”

Finding Oregon from Uncage the Soul Productions on Vimeo.

Crater Lake from two sides – Hiking up Watchman and Mt. Scott

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Crater Lake is only a few hours from home. It is a National Park. It is one of the top rated places to visit in Oregon. We haven’t been there in over 20 years. Pathetic, aren’t we?

I’d always wanted to fit it into our itinerary, but hated to deal with the summer crowds, then again there’s riding. If it’s warm enough to hike around Crater Lake, then its warm enough to ride – enuf said! So, it takes a broken wrist and some time off the bikes to finally get around to a visit, and all I can say is, why did we wait so long???

Driving that lonely, impossibly straight road early in the morning, we arrived in the park just as the sun was coming over the rim. We stopped first at the parking area for Watchman Peak, a 2-mile round trip hike that takes you to the old lookout tower on the West rim. The first part of the trail is actually the original park road, it’s interesting to see how skinny and treacherous this road was in places, and a few of the original mileposts are still in place if you know where to look.

The view from the top is spectacular! Early in the quiet morning, everything is dark in the shadows, with deep blue sky and water, and sunshine to dazzle the eyes. We had the whole place to ourselves, never met another hiker the entire time.

View from Watchman

See, it's a sign about Fire Watch, and look, there's fires...to watch...

Vintage binoculars in the lookout tower

That's our car down there.

After coming back down, we hopped in the car and headed around to the lodge, which has been recently restored. I have a love/hate thing with how the government “restores” these old lodges. In some ways, I’m just happy their still around, and that they’ve added fire protection and other updates that hopefully will keep them here for years to come. In other ways though, I’m frustrated by how radically they change things – from new windows to elevators and air conditioning, the old feel of the place has been washed away.

Crater Lake Lodge

That’s not to say I don’t think the lodge is beautiful, the location and design are gorgeous, and I’d stay here in an instant if I could justify the cost.

As we were wandering through the hallways, we crossed paths with one of the workers who asked if he could help us find anything, we said we were just snooping around, he happily told us about the lodge, the renovation, then gave us a special treat – opening up one of the most popular rooms so we could see the bathtub with a view of the lake!

A view of Crater Lake from your bathtub, how cool is that?

After a quick cup of coffee at the little shop next to the lodge, we headed towards our major hike of the day, Mt. Scott, a 5 mile round-trip hike that has an elevation gain of 1,500 feet. The view at the top gives you a great panorama of the lake and the surrounding valley, and is also the highest point in the park.

Look, a sign.

I’d definitely recommend doing this one as early in the day as possible for two reasons, one, it’ll be less crowded and dusty, and two because you’ll have a clearer view. We caught it just as the sky was beginning to get hazy, by the time we started hiking back down, smoke from some small forest fires had started to fill in the valley below, turning an impressive view into something less awe inspiring.

View from the top of Mt. Scott

Even though this was only a 5-mile hike, I can see why they rate it as strenuous, it is a constant uphill pull all the way to the top, and then constant downhill on the way back down. Usually on hikes like this you’ll have some flat sections or up-and-down areas, but this one is just one uninterrupted pull. Whether you’re headed up or down, it’s tiring and tough on your joints. Still, it’s worth every ache!

Uphill slogging.

Tired feet rest at the top

Pain with a view.

After gratefully arriving back at the car, it was on towards Medford, with a quick stop at Natural Bridge of the Rogue. This is a geological oddity that really has to be seen to be believed. The entire Rogue river is flowing along naturally, when it suddenly just disappears underground, re-appearing in a thundering rush a few hundred yards beyond.

Water disappearing under Natural Bridge

Although Mike was unimpressed, I thought it was very cool, and it’s worth stopping and hiking the short and easy trail to take a look.

Medford Super 8 tonight, Ashland tomorrow!