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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Lulu Shows Our Cruise Ship Suite - Norwegian Pearl - ALASKA

Our suite on the cruise ship.

Shelby Cobra seen cruising in Victoria Canada

SEATTLE - Blogging From The Space Needle

 Seattle Space Needle today

Our ship arrived in town at 8 AM - our plane does not leave until 11 PM - so we have tons of time to kill. With the pretty blue skies - what a better place to spent it than on top of the Space Needle in Seattle. A senior citizen ticket to the top of the 600 foot Bethlehem steel structure is $22. The glass elevator take 40 seconds to get you to the top.

Sunday morning at 5 AM - sunrise from our ship off the coast of Seattle.

We are back in Seattle now - Sunday morning - sitting in a bar in the Marriot Inn - with free wifi. Our cruise is over but our flight home to Tallahassee does not leave here until 11 PM. We have a place to stash our luggage - so we will be touring the town a bit.

Our cruise was a busy 7 days.
Sunday - Seattle
Monday - along Canadian Coast
Tuesday - Juneau
Wednesday - Skagway
Thursday - Glacier Bay
Friday - Ketchikan
Saturday - Victoria - Canada
Sunday - Seattle

 Parliament - just before we walked back to the ship. 

I can't help bragging about the marvelous weather we had. The captain was saying we were lucky because many cruises just get fogged in and see nothing.We had lots of sun - warm days - no wind - temps in the 60s and 70s - no rain.

Sitting in Seattle Harbor - Victoria was really nice last night

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Victoria Canada - last night on cruise

We are in downtown Victoria from 6 to 12 west coast time. Weather is perfect - sunny - breezy - almost 70. 

The place has a big Chinatown - we are there now. For Saturday night it is quiet. 

Victoria reminds you of london and Quebec City. 

Tomorrow morning at 8 am we can leave ship in Seattle. We must find something to do because our flight does not leave Seattle until 11pm. We may try to change our flight home. 

What a great cruise!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Departing From Ketchikan at 5 pm EDT

We had a bright sunshiny shirt sleeve and shorts day in Ketchikan. We are still 900 miles from Seattle. Ketchikan is a big lumber industry town - harvesting lots of spruce trees. 

It is 64 degrees now. Weather is saying it is going to be this nice in Victoria tomorrow - our last stop. Since Victoria is in Canada - we have to have our passports with us.

All Day Thursday In Glacier Bay National Park - ALASKA

The highlight of our trip was spending all day Thursday in Glacier Bay. We had absolutely wonderful weather to view all the glaciers. It was like being back in my Earth Science classroom again.

Glacier Bay is a fjord that is miles long and the water is over 1000 feet deep. It was carved out by glaciers just 200 years ago.

Today we are in Ketichikan. Saturday is Victoria. Sunday back to Seattle. I am in a rush now to a Woodsman Show so the captions are missing. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

We left Seattle at 4 PM on Sunday
We are in Skagway - Alaska right now - Wednesday 7 PM EDT. I have typed the following while we were on our ship - posting it now. It is 70s and sunny here right now - just beautiful. High mountains raising from sea level - some 14,000 feet and permanently snow covered. Here is the story so far -

Seattle became a small image in your rearview mirror as we sped north and west at 25mph - destination Juneau - Alaska’s capital city. I remember when Alaska became our 49th state in 1959. I was 11 years old and in 5th grade. At the time - Juneau only had 10,000 people - the same as my hometown - Tamaqua. Since 1912 - the USA flag has 48 stars - 6 rows of 8 stars in the field. Even though Hawaii also became a state in 1959 - it was after the 4th of July. The rule states that you change the flag design only of the 4th of July. So for one year only - our flag has 49 stars - 7 rows of 7 stars each. On July 4th 1960 - they added the 50th star - the flag we have used the 55 years since.

It is about 1000 miles to Juneau from Seattle. Cruising at around 25 mph - it means it will be 40 hours of cruising before we put in at the capital city at 2 PM.

The seas have been foggy and calm. After passing Victoria Island - it has been open sea. Along Victoria Island we could still receive cellphone coverage - but it was Canadian - which means a high price on our AT&T phones. Keith called on Mother’s Day from Quebec and it cost about $1 a minute.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Cruising Past Victoria Canada

Today we are going on a cruise to Alaska. We will leave Seattle at 4 PM - getting back next Sunday morning early. Our ship is the Norwegian Pearl. This ship must not be full because the line emailed us offering us cheap upgrades. They caught me at a weak point and we took a balcony suite. 

I was to Alaska alone about 10 years ago - long story. Lulu has wanted to go there ever since. Alaska reminded me of being back at home in Pennsylvania. I went in September the last time and temperature never got out of the 40s. Also it drizzled a lot.

Internet will be limited - but when I get on-line - I will send more pictures.

WASHINGTON STATE - Lewis and Clark Fort - Olympia Capitol

 Lewis and Clark explored the Louisiana Purchase for President Jefferson. They started at St Louis and trekked up the Missouri River - then crossed the Great Divide into the Northwest. It took them 2 years  - but they ended up at Seaside OR along the coast. They built this fort for protection for 4 months and then headed home. 

 There is a replica fort here for you to explore. Lewis and Clark conducted a well-documented scientific excursion.
 The coastal area of the Northwest is full of bays - rivers - tributaries - estuaries. They are all subject to tidal action.
 The beautiful capitol at Olympia was empty on a Saturday.

 The Capitol is on a hill overlooking the town and the water. 

The coast in the area has a large area between low and high tide. Note these boats at low tide - also see the capitol in the background.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

OREGON - Lulu on the Widow's Walk of our Seaside Hotel

Oregon - Along The Coast From Florence to Seaside

Old blimp hangar museum at Tillamook. The plane in the foreground was used to haul rocket sections to Cape Canaveral. The hangar could hold 7 blimps at once.
 Highway 101 in Oregon zigzags along the rocky coast line sharing varying views of high waves - giant rocks - pine trees - and foggy skies. It is 2 lanes most of the way which would probably make it a painful drive during tourist season - but right now it is not bad. We could keep our rental Versa at about 53 MPH most of the way.

At Florence - we woke up in our motel room with an enclosed front porch. After a hotel breakfast we headed north in the light light rain. The little tourist towns - Newport - Cannon Beach - Tillamook - provided just enough distraction. Lulu decided that Seaside has a nice ring to it and so we got an oceanside hotel - Tideriver Suites - very nice. Seaside has a great little downtown - and I was immediately attracted to Pigs N Pancakes - where a tall stack of sourdough pancakes waited. We walked the beach where the sun showed its face for a few minutes so we had proof that it does shine here sometimes. :-)

Today we plan to visit Astoria and Olympia - I am sure you are looking forward to another state capital picture.

Sunday at noon we mount our Norwegian Pearl cruise ship for a week long ride up and down the coast to Alaska.

We did not have time to visit this famous air museum in Tillamook. Seven blimps could fit into that hangar together - during World War II the blimps were used to find submarines.
High speed chargers - on the left - for the Tesla - on the right - for the Nissan Leaf.
Those blocks of cheese weigh 40 pounds each. At the cheese factory in Tillamook.
On the beach at Seaside OR - by our hotel - the sun came out just for a little bit. There were a lot of hard shell crabs on the beach.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Exploring Oregon in FSU Shirts

By Lulu

Many of our "winter clothes" consist of FSU jackets and sweatshirts. So it didn't occur to us to not pack them for our trip to the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. However, walking around Oregon with FSU colors and logos is certainly a conversation starter. We had somehow erased it from our minds the drubbing we got in the playoff game against the University of Oregon just a few months ago. It helps that Oregon was the winner so the conversations are very pleasant for them. Oregon's success was short lived as they went on to lose to Ohio State in the national championship game. Our quarterbacks were picked number one and two in the NFL draft and will play against each other in the opener of the season - Jameis Winston from FSU leading Tampa and Marcus Mariota playing for the Tennessee Titans.

Oregon - Today We Are Driving Highway 101 Up the Coast

Salem Oregon's State Capitol - built in 1935 - is an Art Deco version of the Classic Greek US Capitol
Thursday we drove from Vancouver WA to Florence OR on Siuslaw River. Today we will drive north on Highway 101 along the coast to Olympia - Washington's capital
We spent the entire second day of our trip driving from Vancouver WA to Florence OR in our gray Nissan Sentra rental car. Oregon reminds me a bit of Ireland and a bit of back home in Tamaqua PA. It is very green - it does not see a whole lot of clear skies and sunshine. They have lush grass and lots of trees. The mountains are a bit more random than you find in Pennsylvania where they line up like fortress walls.

We have 2 more nights to spend vagabonding until we must board our cruise ship on Sunday around noon for Alaska. We just found out that our cruise ship has a free laundry - I wish I would have read that sooner - I brought way too many clothes. I could have gotten by with just 2 gray t-shirts - shorts - jeans. Lulu and I travel the whole world with a carry-on bag and backpack. No - I am not avoiding the check luggage fees - with our FF access we can check our bags for free. The main reason we travel so light is because they move you to the head of the line when they ask for volunteer bumps - they do not want to go digging for your luggage. 

We are looking forward to the drive up the Oregon Coast today.

The beaver symbol is everywhere even on the carousel in Salem OR
The carousel in Salem was listed as one of their top attractions
The carousel is in the park along the river in downtown Salem

We saw elks along the highway to Reedsport OR

Sand Dunes National Park near Florence. This is by our hotel.
Our Florence hotel is along the river - the is the first time I ever saw a warning sign in a hotel room for a tsunami

Thursday, May 21, 2015

WASHINGTON STATE - At 5 AM Were At Home in Tallahassee - By 4 PM We Were On The Side of Mount Saint Helens

35 years ago this month - Mount Saint Helens erupted
Usually our trips are centered around Lulu's work - this time it is just us. We had a free airline ticket that was to expire at the end of the month.
For 33 years I taught Earth Science in Lansford - Pennsylvania. That included a good dose of earthquakes and volcanoes. In 1980 - a whole new set of lesson plans was created by Mount Saint Helens exploding near Vancouver - Washington. After teaching about it so many times - today I got the chance to walk the mountain and witness the destruction. It was 35 years ago this week that this mountain blew its top - spewing ash all over the world - knocking millions of giant trees over like splinters. The local topography was changed forever - covering a beautiful fishing resort Spirit Lake with hundreds of feet of mud.

We left Tallahassee at 5 AM - had a quick stopover at Atlanta to get on a full Boeing 767 to Seattle. In Seattle - we didn't have to wait for bags - we plopped into our rented gray Nissan Versa for the 100 mile trip down I-5 to the national park. It is a long 50 mile ride from the Interstate up a zig-zaggy 2 lane road to about 4000 feet above sea level to the visitor center. In the winter it is closed to visitors. Today the views of the mountain are magnificent. 

When Mount Saint Helens erupted in 1980 - it did three main things - 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Exit Row To Atlanta - Empty Plane - Then On To Seattle

We are in the Atlanta Airport now - after a quiet flight up from Tallahassee. Our lfight to Seattle boards soon. It is full but they are not looking for volunteers to give up their seats.

Bost Tallahassee and Atlanta airports have free wifi computer service now. They also have more places to charge your computer and phone batteries.

North To Alaska - Head North - The Rush Is On

Lulu and I are at the Tallahassee Airport at 5 AM. We are going to Alaska. All aboard.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Beach Boys Concert Was A Raining Success

52 years ago - a few weeks before my first class at Tamaqua High School - I saw the Beach Boys play at the Lakewood Ballroom. A few weeks before that concert - the Beach Boys did 16 straight shows in Hawaii. They were number one in the nation.  How in the world did they end up just 5 miles north of my Tamaqua Pennsylvania home? 

Tonight it was deja vu all over again. The Beach Boys were playing in Cascades Park - within walking distance of my "new" Tallahassee home. I bought 4 tickets way back in January on the first day of the sale. We were sitting in Row 5 - center stage. $50.

The show was supposed to start at 7 PM - but during supper my friend Marge emailed to say the show was delayed by possible thunderstorms - the new start was supposed to be 8:15 PM. It gave us a little extra time to share dinner with our friends Josh and Melissa. About 30 minutes before the show we parked our car by the pool and walked the last couple hundred yards. We were surprised how orderly everything was. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Walking To A Beach Boys Concert Down The Street

Bruce Johnston - unknown - Brian Wilson - Al Jardine - Mike Love. Bruce and Mike will be there tonight. 

Tonight at 7 PM - Lulu - Me - Josh - and Melissa are going to a Beach Boys concert. They are playing as Cascades Park - the newest addition to our neighborhood. It is not everyday that you can have good friend over - then stroll down the street to enjoy a former number one in the nation band. 

Yes - I know some of them died - some of them don't tour - and some of them left the group decades ago. Tonight - only Mike Love will be left from the original group. Brian Wilson - the main songwriter does not tour. Bruce Johnston - who came to the group to replace Glenn Campbell - who replaced Brian when he had a nervous breakdown - will be there tonight. 

I first saw The Beach Boys play at the Lakewood Ballroom near Tamaqua PA in 1963. Due to poor promotion by local promo man Bill Aubrey - only 300 people attended the show. My friend Fred and I sat on the edge of the stage and enjoyed our heroes. Also on the ticket were local bands - The Chevelles - and Angie and the Citations (Strangers). The Chenille's Greg Machay stole the show with his guitar solos. Greg was my best friend then. 

The Beach Boys lost their crown to The Beatles - and other British Invasion bands. 

Much later in life - I took my sons to see The Beach Boys at The Allentown Fair. Son Keith enjoyed playing their tunes over and over. 

Front - Al Jardine - Dennis Wilson - Back - Mike Love - Brian Wilson - Carl Wilson
In 1962 - David L Marks - Carl Wilson - Dennis Wilson - Mike Love - Brian Wilson.  Marks was in high school and he could not tour. He is the Beach Boys' version of Peter Best of The Beatles.
They looked like this when I saw them at Lakewood. Al - Carl - Brian - Mike - and drummer Dennis. Three were brothers - one a cousin - one a friend. 

Tickets were $50 for reserved seats - which are sold out. They are selling general admission for the grass hill for $40 each. There is a good chance of rain.

The Beach Boys were managed by Murray Wilson - a father of 3 of them. He pushed the band pretty hard - driving Brian Wilson into mental health care. Brian is considering a musical genius - he influenced many other bands including The Beatles.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Gary Shiver - Our Builder - Is Working On Another Project

This fireplace will have a big TV above it - you can see through to the other side.

Gary Shiver does not advertise. He does not put his projects in the Parade of Homes. He just does one at a time - like circus elephants grabbing the tail of the one in front of it. 

The owner of Sonny's Restaurants here in town - bought a home north of town on 8 acres. But instead of tearing the house down - they decided to gut it. It will join the long list of Gary Shiver million dollar homes when done. After that - he is building Ben Giddens - our AC man - a mansion in the north woods. If we wanted something done - we would have to wait in line after that. 

Friday, May 08, 2015

Pressure Washing Our Neighbors Fence

Lulu and Melissa were spending a day at the Outlets in Destin - I could not let this beautiful spring day go to waste. It was a perfect day to pressure wash some fence. 

We have not put any fences up yet around our home - but the neighbor has a 100 foot section of cypress fence. I have no idea how old it is - but the black fungus made it look ancient. 

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

No More Power Failures - Thanks To This Honda Generator That Runs On Natural Gas

June to December is hurricane season in Florida. But already we have had power failures due to storms dropping trees and branches on our power lines.

The City of Tallahassee runs an excellent natural gas system to most of the homes in town. The city will install the service free of charge - all you have to do it buy the gas. Our home has a natural gas supply line that even during a power failure keeps offering the gas at about 2 PSI.

We have a gas tankless water heater - fireplace logs - a gas range - a gas grill - and now we have a gas generator.

The Honda 2000 Tri-fuel Generator will operate on natural gas - propane bottled gas - or gasoline without having to do any alterations. It senses which fuel is being used and adjusts itself.

Natural gas is a very clean burning fuel - although I would not run this generator indoors - you could. Natural gas is clean burning - therefore the generator will have much less wear and tear on it. There is no worry about stale gasoline clogging the carburetor bowl. The exhaust has no foul odor.

I have installed a gas tap on the outside of our home for our gas outdoor grill. I can use the same tap to run this generator. It is a quick release tap - so I can store the generator indoors when not in use. I do not plan to hard wire this generator into our main service box. I will use extension cords to connect it to appliances. I did have to buy a small regulator to step the pressure down from 2 PSI to 0.25 PSI. It cost $30.

Normally a Honda 2000 gasoline generator costs about $1200. This tri-fuel generator cost $1369 including the shipping from the factory in Maine. To sweeten the deal - I had a Honda 1000 gasoline generator that I sold on Craigslist for $500.

I bought my generator at - Central Maine Diesel - 29 Carey Circle - Hampden ME 04444 - 207-941-1188.

2000 watts is a lot of power. If you add up your appliances - you can run the freezer - refrigerator - televisions - satellite TV - tons of lights - several fans - even the hot tub in a pinch. You can charge cell phones and computers. The generator also has a 12 volt outlet that works well to charge auto batteries. Heck - I could even carry it around in the back of my Nissan Leaf electric car to turn it into a hybrid :-)

Monday, May 04, 2015

Beach Boys Concert Down The Street On May 16th

The amphitheater canopy was cleaned this weekend! It's all bright and shiny now! (and ready for the Visit Tallahassee The Beach Boys concert on May 16th!)

We have 4 tickets in the second row - taking our friends Josh and Melissa. It is 1/2 mile from home. We will walk. 

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Dr Ji Hei Kang Graduated Today From FSU

Dean Larry Dennis - Ji Hei Kang - Lulu
Ji Hei - her family - and Lulu

We are very proud of Ji Hei (Gee Hay) Kang. She is a very special student. She arrived from Korea four years ago with very limited use of the English language. She spent the four years working on her doctorate in library science. Her husband works making films for the government of Korea. Ji Hei and her daughter Claire lived here alone for four years. Imagine managing - a doctorate - a language barrier - a toddler - and being alone. 

Lulu was her sponsor and is very proud to say that Ji Hei was one of her best students. Today at graduation Lulu had the honor of hooding Ji Hei. 

We had a small party at our home for the the family and other doctoral students and faculty.