This is getting ridiculous

Ebola! Ebola! Terrorist in Canada! Ebola! Another Terrorist in Canada! Ebola! Hatchet-wielding terrorist in New York! Ebola! School shooting in Marysville! Ebola! Highway patrol officer shooting in California! Ebola!

I’ve often thought that the media here wants everyone trembling under their beds, clinging to their guns and religion. The media here are in full panic mode.

I watched a bit of Fox News today, and they had people calling for increased security on the American-Canadian border!

And of course, it’s all Obama’s fault.

Fellow citizens – GET A GRIP!!!

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I’m still alive and kicking

I didn’t fall off the face of the earth. I’ve been lazy about posting, but I did take a 10 day trip to the Old Country. As for the kicking part of the title, I’ve still got the big black contraption on my foot, but I’ve got an appointment with the podiatrist this morning. The nerve and muscle testing has all been done, so I hope the doc has an easy quick solution to my foot issues. Actually any solution would be good. This foot business is getting really annoying.

But back to the trip up North – I thought I’d share a few photos of things not often seen in the USA.

prairieAs much as I love the mountains and the water, the prairie boy in me can really appreciate scenes like this.

elevatorThe once ubiquitous grain elevators are disappearing, but a few are still standing.

And the wildlife -

bullelk

I was hoping to get a picture of a moose, but this spectacular bull elk will have to do.

buffaloThese aren’t cattle. They’re buffalo. Yes, buffalo. Oddly enough, the buffalo here at Elk Island National Park (just outside of Edmonton) are descendants of American plains bison from Montana.

beaverAnd what montage of Canadian wildlife would be complete without that iconic Canadian symbol, the beaver! There are no beavers visible in this photo, but their lodges are.

It was a great trip to see family and friends, but as much as I like the prairie, it was good to get back to more familiar terrain.

mountains

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What a drag it is growing old…

I think I need some little yellow pills.

As some you may know (I’ve bitched and whined enough about it), I’ve had numbness and pain issues in my right foot for the last year and a half. I went to a podiatrist last year, and even though he was a nice enough guy, he didn’t have much to offer in terms of diagnosis or treatment. He gave me some pills and a foam insole, and that was about it. The acute pain went away, but the numbness persisted. I went to see him again, but he essentially said I’d have to learn to live with it.

So I did live with it for the last year, and it was OK until last week. Then the pain came back with a vengeance. So I tried to make an appointment with the original doc, but nothing was open until October 14th. Way too far away for my condition. So I called another doc yesterday and got an appointment today at 7AM. An appointment that early sucks, but since I was first in the door, there was no waiting. And the doc spent so much time with me that I’m sure his appointments are backed up for the rest of the day.

He did a few tests and took some x-rays (which the other doc never did), and talked to me a lot. At first, he thought it might have been gout (which would be a bad diagnosis because I’d probably have to cut back on beer consumption), but after I suggested tarsal tunnel syndrome and mentioned I had broken my right ankle in 2006, he did some more tests and started to agree with me. After he saw some bone spurs on my now-healed ankle, it only strengthened the idea. So he gave me some super-duper NSAIDs and this fancy new boot.

footbraceFarley is exhibiting his usual concern for me, or more likely wondering who’s going to walk him 3-4 times a day. I think wife-Megan may have to take up the slack.

So once the pain and inflammation subsides, I’m supposed to go see him again to see what we do next. Orthotics, physical therapy, and surgery are all possibilities.

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My first trophy!

P1050701I guess I’ll have to add a trophy room to our house renovation plans!

Last Saturday, I skippered Rinpoche in what could be considered a “real” race. At least it was real in that the winners names weren’t drawn out of a hat.

The race was relatively short, two laps around the Meadow Point buoy and West Point buoy, starting and finishing at the Hamburger buoy at Shilshole. The winds were decent enough, at 8-12 knots from the north, that I thought Rinpoche could do OK. There were only five boats in our class, but the boat I really wanted to beat was Blue Fin, a Catalina 42. On paper Rinpoche is faster than Blue Fin, but Blue Fin’s skipper has a whole lot more experience than I do. My crew, consisting of Tim, Rainer, Lee, and Brad, was pretty good, so I thought we might be in contention.

We had a good start, just a boat length behind Blue Fin, but he was already going full speed across the start line, and I had some accelerating to do. I didn’t do a very good job at it, and as is my tendency, I pinched into the wind too much, losing some time. When we rounded the upwind mark, I was a half-dozen boat lengths behind, but slowly gaining. Blue Fin gibed to the mark far earlier than I thought was right, but I went too far and over-stood the mark. He was right and I was wrong. Try as I might, I never really got close to him again.

We didn’t make any catastrophic mistakes but still ended up way behind. Good enough for second, but not good enough for my ego. Obviously, I’ve got a lot to learn.

Ps. Pretty good looking crew, eh?

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Megan’s Birthday Party

We kicked off the summer this year with a party for me. We ended the summer with a party for Megan. This could become a tradition.

When I asked Megan how she wanted to celebrate her birthday, she said she’d like to have a dinner party. That sounded good to me. An intimate dinner for 8-10 people. When she said she wanted to seat 30-40, I thought she was kidding. She wasn’t. All it takes is some co-operative weather and the willingness to move furniture to unconventional locations. Here are the results.P1050698
I knew there was some reason we had a half-dozen complete sets of dishes tucked away.

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P1050694

P1050693A good time was had by all with prodigious consumption of Mexican food, Margaritas and of course, a keg of my home brew.

All good parties must come to an end. Here’s what the kitchen looked like last night.P1050700Great thanks to everyone for showing up on short notice to celebrate Megan’s special day. Like I said earlier, this may become a tradition.

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Adventures in Apple Land

As some of you may know, I have not drunk the Apple-juice and do not believe that everything they do is wonderful. The only Apple device I have is the iPod. I like it, but with reservations. Apple is revered for their elegant software, but somehow that elegance does not extend to the iTunes software that is required to manage the music on both your computer and the iPod. It is a cumbersome non-intuitive piece of crap. But I usually managed to get it to do what I wanted to do.

The other thing they’re famous for is their elegance of design, and I will give them credit for the design of the iPod. It was a true quantum leap above any competitors (remember the Sony DiscMan?) when it was introduced. But one thing that always bothered me a bit was that the battery is not user-replaceable. So when the battery in mine finally died after eight years, I took it down to the Apple Store for service. The guy who met me when I walked in took a look at it, plugged a few numbers into his iPad, and asked me if I realized how old it is. The subtext was that it was ridiculous of me to think that Apple would provide service for this antique. He did offer me 10% off on a new $250 iPod Classic. Not only elegant design, but elegant planned obsolescence design.

So off to the internets, where I’m sure parts are available. And yes, batteries are available, along with video instructions on YouTube. So I ordered a battery and special dis-assembly tools and brushed up on the procedures by watching several videos. The task is not an easy one, and not for the faint of heart. Once you get the case apart (a major job in itself), the battery cables are tiny, and the connectors even tinier. I would like to see how these things are actually assembled. I can’t imagine that even with China’s low-cost slave prison labor system that these things can be manually assembled.

P1050688

Well, you guessed it, I broke one of the tiniest clips on one of the tiniest connectors I’ve ever seen. What now? I could still get the cable into the connector, but how do I hold it there? Glue? Tape?

P1050689I came up with an “elegant” solution. See that little wad of white in the corner of the case? That’s chewing gum! I put it all together, and it worked! Well, not really. Before the battery change, the display was totally blank. Now it showed that the battery was very low, and that I should wait. I waited a few hours, and the display never changed. Oh well.

So I went back to the internets, and bought a used 80 gig iPod Classic on Craigslist for $60.

P1050691The only thing comment-worthy about it is that I bought it from a high school kid. He told me it was filled with music, but probably not to my taste. He was right. Do you know what kids listen to these days? I looked at the artist list, and didn’t recognize anyone. I listened to a few cuts and heard nothing but obscene rap and electronica. Nothing I would call music, but it did give the sub-woofer on the truck’s sound system a workout it had never had before.

I guess I really am turning into a grumpy old man.

 

 

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We’re back

After almost four weeks and over 600 miles of cruising, Farley and I made it back late yesterday afternoon. Megan left us in Vancouver on Sunday to help with a close friend’s medical issues. In any case, all’s well, and we’re all back home.

Yesterday was the first day the sun didn’t shine on us. We even got rained on a little in the morning. But it’s always pretty no matter what the weather.

foglayers

I’m not sure if I want to do a comprehensive narrative of the trip, so I’ll just share some random thoughts and photos.

Here’s one of the unforeseen bonuses of the trip. While pulling up the anchor in Gibson’s Landing, I was getting concerned about how hard the windlass was working. Usually it’ll grunt a bit when breaking the anchor loose, but then it’s easy work. Not so this time. It was laboring all the way. I was getting concerned that something was broken or getting burned out. Here was the issue.

gibsonsanchorNotice the chain wrapped around my anchor? Attached to that chain is 30 kg Bruce anchor. I spent more than an hour salvaging the chain and anchor. If you think it should have been easy, you should try wrestling 66 lbs of anchor and over 150 lbs of chain while standing in a dinghy! New, this stuff is worth almost $1000. Maybe I can get half of that at a swap meet or on Craig’s List. Sometimes boating is a hole in the water you pull money out of!

Princess Louisa Inlet was probably the highlight of the trip. It’s gorgeous, with waterfalls, mountains and lots of water. Even though the water is pretty chilly, we went swimming a couple of times. Farley went too, but he wasn’t real happy about it. I think (hope) he’s forgiven me for pushing him in.

chatterbox

The world-famous Chatterbox Falls not far from where we anchored. If you can find room, it’s a good place to anchor because the constant flow of the falls keeps the anchored boat pointed right at them. Or you can tie up at the usually full dock. Otherwise, it’s really tricky to anchor in the vicinity because the water drops so quickly from the shore. I’ve seen water over 100′ deep 10′ off shore. You have to go through the Malibu Rapids to get into the inlet, and that can be exciting if your’re not patient enough to wait for slack current. I think Megan was actually a bit disappointed (but relieved) at how easy it was at slack after I told her how rapid the rapids could be.

aftereight

Here’s Rinpoche with a mega-yacht in the background. The name of the boat is After Eight, and according to Google, is (or was) owned by Don Wheaton, a familiar name in car dealerships in Edmonton. Apparently he had eight kids, and after eight, he bought something for himself. On board were a whole slew of teenagers, playing on their jet skis and water skiing behind the high-powered zodiacs. I thought this was more than a bit inappropriate in such an idyllic setting, so I complained to the park ranger when I saw her. She explained that, yes the land around the Falls is a provincial park, but that the waters were under federal control, and therefore she had no jurisdiction. She had complaints from others, but there wasn’t much she could do. So I put on my best grumpy old man face and took my dinghy over to have a chat. The guy I talked to was 30ish, but was obviously in charge. He was polite, so I didn’t get to do my unhinged rant. They slowed their play down a bit, and after the ranger went out and complained, they stopped all together.

Here’s a shot of PLI looking away from the Falls.

louisa

Something seen in PLI that I’ll keep in mind the next time I’m shopping for something for Baby Elina.

elinaboat

Here’s a scene from Powell River, a lumber mill town on the coast. Big log booms get towed to the mill to be processed. The interesting thing is that they built the breakwater to the mill by sinking a bunch of WWII vintage boats. The tugs towing the booms go in one side, drop off their loads, and head out the other side. Logging is not a pretty business, but I think the breakwater is cool.

powellriver

And then we’ll go from rusting heaps of steel to the moon rising over Ganges in the Gulf Islands.

gangesmoon3

This was taken on Sunday after sailing across The Straits of Georgia in 12-18 knots of wind. I love it when I can sail faster than I can motor. At cruising speed with the engine, the boat speed is a little over 7 knots. With the wind I had on Sunday, I was doing 7.5 most of the time. I could have gone a bit faster, but was edging out of my solo-sailing comfort zone when the winds got up to 18 or 20. So I under-trimmed the sails a bit but still had a fast, comfortable sail.

And here’s Farley and I having a bit of a chat.

farleychat

He may not like it much when the boat is heeled over and getting thrown around by waves and wakes, but he’s a very forgiving dog. He does like land better though. So much so that when we docked at Roche Harbor to go through American customs, I had his leash tied to a winch on deck so he wouldn’t jump off before I’d finished docking, or so I thought. We got to within about 2′ of the dock, and he went for it. It turned out that his leash was just long enough so that he could hang from his neck over the side of the boat in the water. Kinda like a canine fender. Fortunately there were fenders on either side of him, so he wasn’t in danger of being crushed by the boat against the dock. I stopped the boat and hauled him out as the customs agents came out to help handle the boat and Farley. Usually customs guys are gruff to the point of being rude, but Farley’s incident helped break the ice. They were very friendly and helpful, and I breezed through the process.

Not all the time was spent lounging around. Here Farley is keeping Megan company while she does a bit of work on a project she’s been working on.

IMAG0meganfarley599

As usual, boating is not always a non-contact sport. No, I’m not showing off my love handles. This is a pretty good boat-bite I received while falling through an open hatch on deck while I was messing bringing down the mainsail. And yes it hurt!

boatbite

This was a good trip. I had a few boat issues (navigation, refrigeration, and a failed shower sump pump) to deal with, but as it turned out, non of them stopped us or even slowed us down much. I think a month sailing north every summer could become a Friesen-Bond family tradition.

Ps. And then just to annoy me, WordPress changed their whole template. It’ll take me a while to figure it out, but in the meantime, you’ll have to live with lousy formatting.

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