Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

March 30, 2014

Weird Things on Google Maps/Earth

I always have my laptop on and am surfing the web all the time.  Whenever I'm watching TV, I have to look up hundreds of things I see or hear because I need to know the answers. I'm also a map junkie.  Recently I was watching yet another documentary about Sasquatch, and I wanted to see the specific places in Washington State where some of the incidents took place.  While zooming over the landscape, what looked like a dice cube came into view.  What the hell?  

I zoomed in and found this tract of logged land, which left 5 round, perfectly spaced, circles of uncut trees. It made me wonder what it looks like if you can walk around in that bit of land. 

And then that got me wondering what kinds of weird things that the satelites have captured for Google Earth and Maps.  Late last year there was an article on CNN about a family in Richmond, CA which was asking Google to remove one of their satelite views which showed their son, a murder victim, dead by the side of the railroad tracks with a police car.  As of that article, the image hadn't been removed.  Having lived in CA I knew where to look and my curiosity got the best of me and I followed the railroad tracks through Richmond and sure enough, there was the image.  You couldn't see anything gruesome, but I could totally see how inappropriate and unnerving that was.  Of course I have not and would not post that here.

I decided to google something less sinister, which was of course crop circles.   I easily found a listing of a few of them and decided to look them up and see if they were still part of Google Earth/Maps.  Here are some images that I screen capped off the maps.  I'm glad they were left on the site.  The bottom two are in Avebury, England.  They are man made.  I was unable to find any that were deemed mysterious in origin.

Someone carved 'Wanker' into this lawn in New Zealand.  

That of course made me want to see the satelite shot of the Cerne Abbas Giant in England.

I tried to find the Nazca lines in Peru but they weren't dark enough to see.  Have you ever looked for weird things on Google Earth/Maps?  If so, what did you find?

March 28, 2014

Much Ado About Nothing

The local media got the entire region whipped up into a panicked frenzy starting on the 23rd about the mother of all blizzards that was going to wallop half of Massachusetts and the greater Eastern Seaboard.  The speculation and breathless updates, especially by WCVB up in Boston, were ridiculous.  Then the National Weather Service and one of the Cape Cod sites piled on with their predictions and that made for a very uneasy area.  Everyone was talking about it and preparing.  I was upset only because I didn't want Russell caught on the road in it.  They were making it sound like we were going to have 21" of snow with hurricane force winds by the 26th. 

I spent Monday and Tuesday shopping, cleaning, doing errands and laundry...I ran into Sandwich real quick too.  I set up the generator and tested it.  I was as ready as I could be.  The weather people finally were able to get a handle on the various scenarios and it looked like only the Cape & Islands were going to take the direct hit. Which, by the way, was when WCVB's coverage dropped off significantly because Boston wasn't going to be affected.  The cutoff was literally at the Canal.  The wind woke me up around 2 AM so I took Pepper out but it hadn't started snowing yet.

This is what I woke up to at 7:00.  I called this picture 'Blizzards Bay'.  The snow was so fine and not accumulating but it was wicked windy.  My sweetie encountered no issues on his trip and was safe, and all my friends & fam were fine, so I was able to relax, finally.

It was windy all day and the lower Cape (Chatham, Eastham, etc) definitely had it worse than I did at my end.  Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard got the most snow and wind.

Snow stopped midday.  I spent most of the morning/early afternoon working on my cross stitch but I finally ventured outside to take some pictures around 4.  

Sun struggling to come out.

The plow made one or two trips down my street but my driveway didn't even need to be done at all, which was good.

The sun was out by 6:30 but the wind was still gusting strongly.

Dark clouds to the northeast.

But sunny in the west.

Ice on my car.

I really hope this was winter's last gasp cause I really don't know how much more of this I can take!!!!

March 26, 2014

March 24, 2014

The Time I Met James Coburn

Now that I have all my photos on the external hard drive, I am able to browse through them a lot faster than waiting for the albums to load on Facebook or dragging out an extremely heavy photo album.  So I was thumbing through photos from my Northern California trip to see my aunt & uncle in San Mateo, spring of 1987.  They took me all over the Bay Area, up to wine country, down Hwy 1 as far as Santa Cruz, through San Francisco and over to Jack London Square in Oakland.  It was a really fun trip.  

There was one day when I ventured into San Francisco by myself.  My uncle dropped me off at the Caltrans train station in Burlingame, and I rode up to The City in the morning, taking the MUNI bus downtown from the SF train station. SF is a very small city and the public transportation is very easy to maneuver.  I walked all over the wharf, and basically everywhere I'd been the year before on my first trip with Charlene, after I graduated from college.  It was a cool, cloudy day.

I took the cable car back up the hill from the Wharf, changed to the California Street cable car, and rode that halfway down the hill, disembarking at Chinatown.  I rounded the corner onto Grant Avenue (Chinatown's main thoroughfare), I saw a crowd of people and what was obviously some kind of film or TV shoot.  I could not believe my eyes when I spotted actor James Coburn!  

I stood there staring at him and snapped this picture.  All of a sudden, this P.A. guy says to me, 'This is a shoot for a cigarette commercial that will air overseas.  Can you please be one of the people that walks back and forth in front of Mr. Coburn, when the director calls Action?'  Uh, YEAH I CAN!!  So I joined a handful of extras as we walked back and forth in front of him.  Since he was standing on a step stool, it was clear to me that all that would be shown of the passersby would be the tops of their heads but I didn't care.  I mean this was a pretty huge deal for a bumpkin from Cape Cod.  I was already building up San Francisco in my head as Nirvana, Never Never Land, Heaven on Earth, Shangri La, Disney World, Electric Kool Aid Acid Test, home of the Grateful Dead, etc., all rolled into one, and then this happens when I'm on vacation??  

After the shoot was done, Mr. Coburn graciously signed some autographs for the bystanders and us.

And that is how I met James Coburn.

March 22, 2014

The Neilton Disaster

So the Neilton property out in Washington.  I have made references to it here from time to time but I never really got into the nitty and/or gritty of that utter and complete disaster, and one of the stupidest financial decisions EVER made in the history of mankind.

Early in the spring of 2005, we decided to look for property near Lake Quinault.  We'd vacationed there twice and loved the solitude of the rainforests on the Olympic Peninsula.  To our surprise, a 7 acre parcel with a livable trailer was on the market for $69,000.  It was pretty cheap, considering the location and whatnot, so we made an appointment with the realtor and made the 3.5 hour, one way trip out there in the pouring rain to see it.  Here is a map with the red A on Neilton, to show how close it is to Lake Quinault at the top of the picture.

But to give you scale, the red X on the right was where we lived, and the one on the left is Neilton.  It was a long, long, LONG trip.  Follow that yellow line from where I lived, past Lakewood and to the left of Olympia and you'll see how it curves north at Aberdeen, in an L shape.  128 miles, one way.

But it was also a scenic trip, for the most part, especially after you got past the wretchedness that are Aberdeen and Hoquiam, twin cities that are decaying and poverty stricken since the mills closed.  We ended up figuring out a way to bypass those 2 places by taking some curvy (and in places gravel) roads that wound their way northwest, joining Highway 101 a few miles north of Hoquiam.

Times were booming in early 2005, and our house was appraised quite high.  We both had good jobs and could afford to refinance and withdraw $69,000 from the equity to buy the Grays Harbor County property outright.  So we agreed to meet the sales price and were underway when the seller ripped the rug out from under us and decided to keep it in the family.  I was uneasy with the whole thing to begin with, but as usual, I was trying to give Brian what he wanted in the hopes he'd finally settle on something without jumping from expensive hobby to expensive hobby.  I was relieved when the buyer pulled out of the deal.  

Then a week or so later, the realtor calls me and said the buyer's sons didn't want the place after all, so he would offer it to us again.  This was my out....I could have said, 'No thanks', but then I figured if Brian ever found out I said no without at least talking to him, he'd be really pissed, and how would I feel if he kept that kind of info from me so I told him and yes, he wanted it.  Unfortunately.  I did argue against it but, as always, I caved in, and reluctantly agreed to move forward with it.

We closed in late May or early June, 2005 and the place was ours outright.  We'd gotten a little bit more from the equity so that we could pay for some work to be done on the place.  There were four buildings, total.  The main one was a single wide trailer, around which a huge metal building had been constructed, giving it a one car garage inside.  I figured OK that's good...with all the rain that area gets, it's best not to have a flat roofed trailer.  We would furnish it and I could make it cozy, but first we had to clean it and that was a major undertaking in and of itself.  There was another single wide trailer on the property that was a total mess and had to be removed.  There were also 2 large wood shed-like structures, also in bad shape. One looked like it could have been a small cabin, maybe a hunting cabin.  McCalla Creek ran through the property, and the 7 acres backed up to the Quinault Indian Reservation property & Olympic National Forest.  It was pretty desolate and wild, with only a few people kinda clustered on that small road we were on, called Old Mill Lane.

This is Highway 101 headed up there.  Have I mentioned what a long drive it was from Bonney Lake? 

This is the main building.

There's my car.  We hired a local handyman to dismantle the old trailer and that's his truck.  He met us out there a few times and eventually we just let him park his camper on the property during the week he was taking down and hauling away debris. 

It was a pretty location.  We went up a few times that summer to work on the trailer and furnish it.  It made for a long day, especially when we were doing round trips.  Out the door at 6:30 AM on a Saturday and didn't get home often till 6 PM.

We started to run into a huge amount of problems almost right away.  For one thing, there were a couple of neighbours, so we couldn't let the grass in the yard go wild all summer.  It got so much rain that the grass grew extremely fast and before you knew it, it was knee deep.  It happened at my house every spring too, where I couldn't get out to cut the lawn and eventually would have to weed whack it first.  So that meant paying the handyman to keep it cut.  I had to buy furniture for the place too like two cheap twin beds & a loveseat that came from Old Cannery Furniture in Sumner and some other odds and ends.  I got most everything else at thrift shops.  

Then we started a huge comedy of errors.  The day we rented the UHaul truck to bring all the heavy furniture, the UHaul had no record of our reservation.  I rescheduled for the next weekend and the Bonney Lake store was locked up tight when we went there.  We called and called and someone at UHaul told us we had to go down to Buckley to get the truck.  After a several hour delay, we finally got rolling.  There was also the time that we forgot to bring the keys and Brian had to kick the door in, breaking the lock, which meant ANOTHER trip out there to put a new lock on the door.

Then there was the time we went out there for the sole purpose of waiting for DirecTV to install satelite service because there was no cable out that far.  We waited all damn day and they never showed.  We couldn't get any cell service so we drove down to Humptulips to use the pay phone, only to find out that they'd had to cancel, but couldn't get ahold of us to tell us.  Another wasted trip.  Brian ended up taking a half day off work, and driving out there to meet them.  I think he finally got home at 10:00 PM.

He went out there to stay one weekend when hunting season opened.  There was such a torrential downpour that weekend that no one was hunting, so he came home.

The next time we decide to go up there and stay was right after Thanksgiving.  We loaded Pepper and all our stuff in Brian's truck and set out from work (Brian used to work down the street from my office).  We weren't on I-5 more than 10 minutes when all lanes came to a complete stop.  It took us an hour to go ONE exit.  We heard on the radio that there was a bad accident near Olympia (which was, at that point, still 30 miles away) and traffic was backed up all that way.  We bailed in Lakewood as soon as we could and went home.  So much for that.

Meanwhile, I kept having recurring creepy dreams about the place.  It was always dark, and the buildings were always covered in cob webs and were kinda scary.  There was always something very sinister lurking in the shadows at the edges of those dreams.  I dreamt of floods and power outages and trying to get there but always running into overgrown highways or muddy dirty roads.

We decided to ring in the new year (2006) at Lake Quinault, so, once again we packed up all our crap and Pepper and left for Neilton after work.  It was December 30, and we were going to stay the weekend, coming home on the 2nd.  About halfway there, and again it's pouring rain, panic washed over me.  I shouted, "OH SHIT THE KEYS PLEASE TELL ME YOU GRABBED THE KEYS!"  Brian pulled over to the side of the road and we started searching every bag and back pack.  No. Fucking. Keys.  AGAIN. Brian said, 'We are NOT blowing off this trip this time', so he turned around and we drove 2 hours back to Bonney Lake, only to begin the damn trip from 20 miles farther away than when we'd started out from Tacoma.  We got there around 8 pm, 4 hours later than expected.  It was my first night in the trailer and I'd made my room as cozy as possible, but I didn't like how spongy the bathroom floor felt (we just hadn't had the money to fix it yet), and I began to feel very creeped out by the fact that this was Sasquatch country, and as bad as I wanted to see one, I felt very vulnerable.  Pepper did not like the place at all and spent the night shivering miserably next to my tiny twin bed.  

So December 31st was fine....I went around shooting some pictures and we had a nice dinner at Lake Quinault Lodge.  It was really storming too.  We went to bed and Pepper was a wreck.  As I slept, I would occasionally be woken up by this strange booming sound.  I didn't know what it was.  When I finally threw in the towel and got up at 5:30, Brian was already awake too.  The power was out and the place was ice cold. He went out to see what made all that noise and the back part of the metal building had been torn loose in the storm and was flapping around.  He re-secured it and we decided to head home.  There was nothing else that could be done.  As we headed back, lines and poles were down everywhere. 

The next time we decided to spend the weekend was for President's Day in February 2006.  We now had Sagan, and I'd taken that Friday before off so that I could pack up everything we needed.  Brian couldn't take the day off and was gonna drive in, load us up and we'd head out.  However, we had a huge wind storm the night before and now our power was out in Bonney Lake!!!!!  It took him over 2 hours to get to work b/c all the traffic lights were out and due to detours from downed lines and trees.  I sat in the house all day waiting for the power to come back on and it never did.  Brian didn't get home till close to 6 and it was obvious we weren't going anywhere, so we scrapped the trip.  Again.  We got our power back the next day, midday, and yeah we could have headed out but we were just so frustrated with this constant issue.  It was like fate was thwarting us at every turn.

That spring we were burned out.  Sick of it.  What seemed like a good idea in theory, having vacation property near Lake Quinault, was in fact a complete nightmare and financial failure, when you factor in everything we went through just to even get out there half the time.  We grossed just $10,000 more than what we paid, and after the realtors and everyone else took their cut, we walked away with maybe $4,000 over the initial sales price, but we'd borrowed more than that against the equity in the house, so we came out really far behind.  We did use a good portion of the net proceeds towards the balance on the loan, but not near as much as we'd taken out.  And that is why, when the economy tanked, my house sold inn 2011, owing more than it was worth.

We never returned to Lake Quinault again, although I did pass the area on my way out to Kalaloch in 2010, but I didn't stop.  Just too many bad memories.

I leave you with pictures of boulders on tree stumps, that were alongside Highway 101 on the way to Quinault.  We have no idea where they came from or how they were placed on the stumps.  

Very close to the road as you can see from this shot.  There was no sign of human intervention; no scrapes on the rocks from chains, no evidence of tire or heavy equipment tread tracks.

I have heard stories...theories....that Sasquatch will mark territory with giant rocks or even trees plucked from the ground and replanted, root side up.  Did a Sasquatch leave these?  It would have to be a mighty strong being if it did!

This one was just beyond eerie. I don't know how they got it to balance.

And these are pics of the one and only time I actually stayed overnight, in December 2005.

The Olympic Peninsula is beautiful....I highly recommend it for vacation.

Just don't buy any land out there!!!!

March 20, 2014

Still Waiting On Spring

Wasn't amused to wake up to this on the 10th.  And again on the 13th.  In between the snow, we had mild days.  It's going from 20 to 50 every other day.

Sagan turned 9 on the 11th!  I can't believe it's been that long.  I got him when he was 9 months old and now he's 9 years old.  Getting a little grey on his muzzle but he still acts like a silly, goofy puppy.  Russell's really taken a liking to him, which is so sweet to see.  I tried, and failed, to get him to wear the birthday bandanna and hat.

The birthday boy and Bean.

Squeaky lips.  It looks funny when he looks at you with them in his mouth but he wouldn't look my way.

Pepper made a fort.

Sagan does this with the bed every day in the morning.  Gets it right on his head and tosses it around like a pizza.  It's hilarious to watch. 

On Saturday the 15th, I took part in the Worldwide Minute, which was organized by Paula Wallis Photography of Vancouver, BC.  The premise was to take a photo at 5:47 pm, your local time.  So all day there was a rolling block of pictures as new time zones appeared.  We went down to the beach near the house and waited for the appointed time so I could shoot my entry.  Got home and uploaded it to the page and it was incredible because Cape Cod made a huge showing of photos.  Nearly every photo uploaded for 5:47 pm Eastern Daylight Time was taken in this region.  

I've been spending the freezing cold days inside working on this butterfly cross stitch.  I will NEVER buy another kit with 18 count, black Aida cloth again.  It's too hard to see, especially when it also requires black and dark blue floss.  There are a lot of colour changes in this kit, floss colour combos, backstitching, french knots and couching, which I've never done.  Should be interesting when it's done.

Marsha gave me these killer socks.  So pretty!

My awesome stepdaughter gave me these.  I can't wait to make a giant rainbow cupcake!!!!!

Made this for Marsha.

And speaking of bracelets, here's my win from Krafty Max Originals!  The pics don't do it justice, but it's a really pretty purple.

Steampunked a small working padlock with keys.  Hard to see but the front has gears and a tiny key.

There are wings on both sides, and this shows the back.

St. Pat's Day was bitter cold and cloudy, with just a few flakes that fell around mid-day.  It was a pretty sunset though.

I got up a couple days ago with the intent of going grocery shopping but it was 11*.  ELEVEN DEGREES on March 18.  So I stayed in, cross stitched and make sugar cookies.  Note the maple leaf Canadian flags.

It's hard to believe that over half of the month of March is quarter of the year.  This one's definitely going down in the record books as the worst winter ever.