Monday, December 20, 2010

Movie: The Town

Ben Affleck leads and directs this movie, a good effort both acting and directing, but the movie itself's a bit depressingly violent, the sort of depiction of America that spoils it for the other 99.9% good folk we meet on the road.
There's plenty of suspense in that you're always expecting the characters youve identified with might get topped in their next heist. At times you're reminded of that story where the sherriff's being questioned over why put 68 bullets into a crim, and he replies, because that's all we had, so deserving were they.
But then, that's good literature, if it gets you on or off-side with the characters.
Story gets a bit fairytale to match the violence too.
By comparison, Clint Eastwood does his directional efforts better by theming good books.
Not really my cup of tea. 3 out of 5.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Norfolk Island 10/12 #1

It had to happen to me one day.
The weather over the whole country hasn't been the best for the traveller last week or so, even if a welcome relief to the early drought conditions.
Got out of WAG airport without interference from fog, ditto getting into AKL for the Norfolk connector, but got spat out of immigration on account NLK airport's closed, so here we are, courtesy of AirNZ, travellis interuptus, put up overnight till the flight schedules come right.
Just have to mention this hotel, Holiday Inn Auckland Airport, about 10 mins courtesy coach from the landing strip.
Nice room, a standard one, flat-screen Bravia on the wall, twin sumptuous double w/ choice of soft or firm pillow, hi-speed internet (clocking at 9.11 kbps), no mini-bar, (but who needs that when you can get what you want room service), a decent bar, restaurant, and top obliging staff. It only goes up one floor, so minimal humping of gear involved too.
You can get all this, depending on occupancy demand for between $126 to $180 room rate, maybe cheaper if you book through the internet.  Only bug-bear, and its a pretty normal one here in NZ compared with the rest of the world, you have to pay extra for your internet connection, $30 for 24 hrs here.
However, the coup de grace is the tucker. Just partaken of the evening buffet, salad bar, choice of mains, baked fish, baked chicken, lamb curry, or pork roast, plus baked taters/kumara, rice, and vegies, (the broc was overdone though), and a nice array of desert, baked sponge, var cheesecakes, fruit, or cheeseboard.
I'll resume my diet tomorrow......
after breakfast. (which incidentally was pretty good too)
Top marks to AirNZ for extending interupted travel courtesy to cover meals.
My roadie mate Rocket is a fan of accommodation search and booking guide (international), and this place figures quite well there.
Excellent value.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Right Hand Rule

The change from left-turning giving way to approaching right turning, back to the old right hand rule, can't happen soon enough. Neither should we have to wait till after the RWC.
Most of us grew up with the right hand rule, give way to your right, and if turning right give way to everything.
To give the controversy a bunt, I'll allege our current rule is responsible for 50% of intersection accidents and road rage, (its a lot simpler to whack someone, than figure out the difficult, lol).
We're the only developed country still doing it. Victoria reversed its implementation after 2 years, and I'll give them points for seeing its faults rather than attribute to any possible lack of Aussie ability to understand its workings.
I had a little reminder the other day how dangerous our current system is. I was in my right-hand lane, signalling to turn right at the lights. A bus was approaching from the opposite direction, so I stopped.
Right at the line, the bus indicated to turn to his right, and as the approaching left lane up till this time was entirely clear, I started my right turn too.
But, suddenly, from behind the bus, a motor, obviously vexed at being in the wrong lane behind a no-intention signalling bus, hooked out, shot across the intersection, and there we screeched to a halt, 4' apart, but me wearing some expletives from the driver. Fair enough, I broke a biker's rule never to go until the coast is absolutely clear.
But under the old right hand rule, where the left lane would have had unrestricted right of way and traffic flow, that motorist would have been in it, and completely visible to me.
Under our current system its a real bummer trying to decide which lane to approach an intersection in, even when you're first to it, because the vehicle pulling into the lane beside you, might be going in another direction, or more likely, will try to drag you off for lane rights across the intersection.
The proposed new rule does have one snag, the right hand rule wont apply at a T junction. This is plain nuts.
One other point, something similar to the old RHR still operates in USA, only its a left hand rule, and I think our conditioning to the current stupidity only makes assimilating to riding there the confusion it can be.
Even better is their 4-way stop system at uncontrolled intersections, first in has right of way, then subsequent, but we'd need to modify our national aggro for it to work here.
Actually, we've got roundabouts, which offer pretty near the same thing, and might even be safer.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Arming the Police

Have just heard Police Assn's Greg O'Connor on ZB's Larry Williams Live, being questioned on his renewed stance for arming of police, (as in strapped to the hip), following the serious machete attack incident on a Taihape lawman.
If the police arm up, wont the crims follow suit? asks Larry.
Too late says Greg, the crims are already there, growing in drug based where-withall and resource to obtain. Theyre carrying to protect themselves from inter-gang dispute, but increasingly police, and inevitably, more public are getting caught as collateral damage.
Seems like a side-arm wouldnt have helped in this circumstance prods Larry.
Maybe not so if the crim knew at the outset he was out-weaponed, responds Greg.
Everyone from the PM and the Police Minister down dont support arming of police, says Larry.
Greg responds, it would be interesting to poll the public now, 9 lawmen killed in the line of duty in the last 2 years, multiple more attacks.
If the police cant protect themselves, how are they going to protect the public.
There might be a hue and cry about it right now, (on implementation), but in 6 months time, it'll be like nothing happened.
I'm on Greg's side.
In America all police are side-armed. All the ones we struck were polite, amiable, and helpful. I dont doubt they could be insistent.
The big difference between here and there is simply that we've got more and worse baddies in our society than America has, and this was somewhat of a shock to me to experience. As Greg said, we arent some peaceful little South Pacific paradise anymore.
I had a look up of police stats between our two countries, the rate of serious injury crimes, and crimes against property, per 100,000 of pop. is double here in NZ than in USA.
The situation regarding murders is the reverse, but I bet it wont be for long if we dont arm our police.
Or we'll end up like America before Wyatt Earp came to town. Pies

On the road victualling is very important!
In the news yesterday of significance is Pete, of Pete's Pies, formerly of Carlton Av at the Alma Rd roundabout, is opening up for business again.
Pete made the best pies in Wangas, and I went into near withdrawal when the shop burned down earlier this year.
However, Pete's Pies is re-opening soon in Sanson, in what used to be the pet shop, approaching from the north, its on the left about opposite the Shell station. The daily 26,000 traffic through this SH1 burg will give him the patronage his product deserves. The news item stated the premises is much larger than the old place, so with a bit of luck, we might be able to get a coffee there too. Actually, it has a respectable size forecourt, lots of space for off-street bike parking, a great meet-up venue.
Also worth a mention in Sanson, is the fish and chip shop next to the pub. Top F&C's, big slices of decently fresh fish, nice batter, good helping of chips, and they're open well into the evening.
The home-made pie situation hasnt evaporated in Wangas either. Carlton Takeaways, 44 Liffiton, on the main drag just past the town end of the motorway bridge has stepped up to the plate with what I think are now the best pies in town.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Los Angeles, California

Tuesday 20 July 2010
Hey Folks
Here we are on the road again, heaps better than yesterday, jetlagged, nauseous, writing the furthest thing on the wishlist.
But, after re-assembling the CB, having a squirt round LA, and the imagination fired up, here we are!

First off, the JohnnyReb write de plume has to go.
There's about 3 pages of them on facebook, and a zillion hits on google, some of them pretty unsavoury looking if you ask me.
Then the connotation with the Southern losers.....
I'm outta here, hoping to pick up on a better one as i ride round US of A.

Mainfreight have been totally brilliant, kiwi boys in the big smoke, rounding the turn off a busy blvd to be met by the familiar big blue and white sign.
Spent the morning getting our bikes out of their crates, personally attended by kiwi boss Steve.
The warehouse was a pretty interesting place,
several Shelby mustangs and camaros, among others waiting for shipment.
Regs have been eased, and one can now get these and similar classics into NZ without having to do RHD conversions.....
for about $1800 freight!

LA's a featureless city, no skyline landmarks to orientate on,
vast and flat, not much high-rise.
Along Sepulveda where our hotel is you ride under the LAX runway, while a big jet glides in.
We drove 8km on a straight 6 lane street, turned right and did about the same,
still no end to the place.
One part through houses with grilles on all windows and doors.

Again, I'm struck by the hugeness of american consumption.
We're in the south tower of the hotel, tower of babel, all sorts of lingo in the elevator
krautish, japoneseii, korienseii, espanol......
I forgot, the loo-bowls here are half full of water.
Thats 40 odd rooms per floor, 8 floors, just in the south tower,
all that water coming from somewhere, going somewhere, 
all those vehicles on the streets.

In a Diamond "Collapse" sort of way, you'd wonder if "its" coming.
But I'm unusually comforted by this stream of humanity and a sense that there's enough resourcefulness to get us through handsomely.
I think the Mayans fell over because they were dumb bastards.
They might have been smart enough to count astronomical cycles,
but their human sacrificial practises and the associated mode de accompli sort of gives them away.
That Gorman bloke, in "Social Themes" talks about the banana complex,
equatorial peoples had their lives too easy, their food just grew as fast as the master-lords that controlled it.
The descendants of Isaac who moved north had a tougher life and grew their societies slower and solider.
Well, its a good theory.....

And again I'm overwhelmed as a kiwi, that we take our wordly responsibilities too seriously.
I dont think the average pleb in this vast metropolis gives a turkeys about what we do with ETS.
We're a bit like those old pensioners who turn off their heaters and shiver for the national good when we have power shortages.
Killing off farming and food production with an ETS load in the cause of climate change mitigation WILL cause "Collapse".
Or is it kama just putting the brakes on for us.

thats about it for today.
The GPS has been just brilliant.
The american version tells me which lane to get in, what the speed limit is (in kms), kms and meters to next turn,
time and date, whatever......
See, there's that human ingenuity at work.
And getting back to LHD has been a breeze.
I've had a swim, and found my drink favorite from last visit, SoBe, several flavours, each with different herbal additives.
I got a coffee and panini for breakfast also from the supermarket across the road
$8 US, the price being an indication of its size.
Had half for breakfast, and the rest for lunch, so i guess the price was OK in the end.
The cars here are smaller and more modern than i saw elsewhere last year.
Several women zipping round in mini cooper s's or BMW coupes,
more range rovers than i've ever seen in one place.
Santa Monica Pier, the end of Route 66
Wonder what they do with them here when they break down.

And wealth...
mile after million mile of homes in the Hollywood district,
but Santa Monica and the beach nothing to write about.
i've sort of noticed the people here are a bit bigger too.
A cop who couldnt get out of his car fast enough to catch somebody running away,
a couple of motorbike ones who'd look more like PR men than GI's, pleasant and laid-back they were.
A lady walkble-ing through the supermarket carpark cellulating through a bluetooth earpiece.

See you later.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Morro Bay, California

Wednesday 21 July
Kia ora

Lower key day today, getting out of LA, under the landing jumbo jet one last time, through Santa Monica onto the Pacific Coast Highway
but, as usual, the Wet Coast turned on another misty, cant see too far, morning.

Took a long time to get to sleep last night, partly the body clock still out of phase
some of the others decided the best remedy was to go out and get sloshed, fall into an induced asleep, and problem fixed.
Not my room-mate.....,
on with the TV and 2 hours solid of congressional hearing on the US economy, Ben Bernanke, etc
and a tirade on how useless the Yanks were, a bunch of losers who run up debt and create nothing, and how the world's coming to a fiscal end, when that great nation China calls up its chips.
Dunno if it was chewing on that kept me awake, but when he stirrred for a pit stop at 1 am, I told him i didnt agree.
Had he noticed two stone throws down the street from the hotel a big building with "Boeing" writ across the top
had he not noticed we flew with 600 odd other souls for 12 hours in the jumbo that brought us here in its 30 year old airframe, safely
did he not notice that the email he bummed off me and my notebook, and the wifi and software that runs it, got created just over the hill in Silicon Valley
and what was it that he drooled over in Mainfreight's warehouse, those.........,
whoa there, american icon creations, chevy camaro's and shelby mustangs?
hell, he used to own a camaro years ago
and what has china created for the world?
other than fireworks, and a language thats as hard to learn as it is to write
they even copied communism off that great human, Stalin.

Its this great melange of ethnicity that fascinates me about Nation America
and its youth, hardly any older than NZ.
There isnt any such thing as an "American", unlike african, arabian, or european races whatever
its the wellspring of creativity, proficient bilingualism the first step.

He's at it again tonight, my roomie
two hours of Bernanke in front of the congressional finance committee
America's 14 trillion down the gurgler
the next 12 months GDP wont equal that much
there's 2-3 trillion sitting unused in company balance sheets after refinancing at lower rates this year, and hanging onto improving profits
90 banks have gone under in the last 12 months
and today and yesterday, as opposed to last year, I couldnt find a gas station would accept my mastercard.

Here in Morro Bay....
the fish and chip shop down the road was still alive
a bar and grill looking over the bay, a cup of the nicest chowder I've had, a basket of shark n taties, a Coors Light, and all's well in JohnnyReb's world
but I worry about my mate
he's going to miss america in 6 weeks at this rate.

It was sheer hurly-burley in the traffic on the way up, freeway stuff at 100k's
with a diversion out of the mist to Solvang, a Danish community tourist burg, where I happily resisted lots of cakes and pastries
even went past Flag Is Up Farms CA spread, notable thoroughbred stud
then on for a quick gink at the Madonna Inn, on the Madonna family ranch, (no, not our singer lady)
and here we are in Morro Bay, a little fishing, boat marina, tourist, town
also looks like a coal-fired power station along the bay too
SanFran tomorrow.

Have to mention us NewZealanders seem even more recognised than last year
when you say NZ in response to the "your accent?" question
ah, kiwi........... is the response
Peter McKenzie told me Jemaime and Brett played to a packed 16,000 at Hollywood Bowl a month or so ago, so they would have helped the impression pioneered by Peter Jackson, Rachael Hunter, Scott Dixon, Team NZ, et al 

No pics, nothing funny enough, just a gang of bikies disappearing into the mist
and that garish Madonna Inn, but Rona and Ken got a shot of me in the gents, engaged at the Eiger face of the imitation waterfall that was the urinal!

Monday, August 2, 2010

San Francisco, California

Friday 23 July

One of the inevitable things about being a tourist in a big strange city is you walk yourself stupid
but we got a bit of reward from looking up at the Orpheum Theatre, festooned with the green and black hoardings for.....
Wicked, the musical
so after an enquiry at the box office we walked away with A tickets for tonight, discounted from US$90 to 75!
So for today I can be JohnnyWicked
I even scored a pair of pyjama boxers from the outlet store @ $2.16 tax incl, having left mine at home
also left at home, was my medication, and one plan was to get a local prescription, but on fronting to the walk-in medical centre in LA
and being informed the doc consultancy cost was US$145, and the  pills on top, we'll give that a miss
I'd more likely die of that, than going without
how lucky are we in NZ....

Neil lost his padlock key too, and we managed to find a locksmith of 22 years experience down on 4th, who informed us it was a Master 937 padlock,
he could disassemble the lock for about $20 to pattern a new key, but it'd be better to buy a new lock for $26
Neil also lost a competition for the most economical bike
he's been a bit sensitive about his 850 BMW, and I honestly thought it was a 650 and had been telling everyone so
much to his chagrine, so yesterday we succumbed to his insistence on an economy trial, to let him get some save of face
Well, the winner was, at $3.466, carrying load of 150kg's rider and pack, Johnny Wicked's Honda CB1300
2nd was Sam O'Shea's Suzie Bandit 1250, at $3.60 and small-change, carrying Sam and Rona, plus their side panniers and topbox
and last was Neils 650 Beemer, at $3.80 odd, and the lightest load of all, probably half.

As usual, the harley boys are on a race to the next town, or to keep up with Ken so they dont get lost.
We've gravitated to a little group of muddlers who stop to look at anything and everything
and from all reports, the tail-ender group will grow in size tomorrow when we head north
quite a number have come in direct to SF, and renting bikes here, we havent all met up, but keep bumping into black-shirts in the lift
so the hotel is distinctly kiwi
38 total folks on the tour.

This morning the walkies have taken in breakfast at Rocco's,
then around to a bike shop on 8th where new helmets, bike intercoms, and other gear has been purchased
the pricing looks a heap like somewhere between 30 and 50% cheaper than home.
I had a brief affair with a $270 converted to NZD jacket, that was more enticing than my current $546 model
but it was a size too small.
We figured it was the sheer size of the market in US that gave the marketers superior purchasing power.

San Fran hasnt changed, although the streets look a little dirtier, I guess, and more in need of maintenace, rough surface etc
there are quite a few shops vacant and boarded-up on Market, but definitely fewer panhandlers.
I've got a sense too, that the screw for gratuities wherevever we've been isnt as aggressive as last time
like theyve got a message that they shouldnt quirken the quarry
several times we've been asked if we'd like change in response to deliberate over-payment
and there also seems to be a different attitude in a younger generation of service assistants.
The Americana  Hotel has been taken over by an asian chain, by the looks, even though its still sporting the Best Western signage 
they tried to get another $20 out of me and Neil to cover bike park, Ken's already paid.

It was a pretty full day yesterday from Morro Bay to SF
We took in the WA Hearst Castle, looked at the pictures in the tourist centre instead of taking the $24 bus trip up the hill
During the Great Depression, Hearst was 126 million in the donger, he went underground and left his lawyer to sort things out
the lawyer saved 15 newspapers and this CA ranch obviously, with the castle on the hill
and when he died in the early 50's his fortune was back up to $60m odd.
He started out as editor of a university student rag, although his parents weren't short of a bob.
I should have photo'd the ranch's mission statement
a long winded diatribe about using the environment sustainably and keeping the animals doing what nature meant for them in peace and harmony
and I said....
hey, thats what I do, run a farm!!
I mentioned last year, my surprise nearly everywhere we went in the States, that tourism made up >30% of local economies
converting farms to tourist ventures is very common.
We passed one place with a maze-labyrinth and huge castle, made up of conventional straw bales
no smoking, I bet.

We took in a sea elephant colony, the bulls weigh 5000lbs, and the signs said they were surprisingly fast, so dont tempt the fates
we didnt
then it was back to familiar territory, Straganos family diner on Santa Cruz Pier, where Richard and I breakfasted regally last year
this time char-broiled mahi mahi, green veges, w/ rice, fries or bake spud, a cup of chowder, and a fresh loaf, $15.
The GPS put me crook starting the last 80km leg to SF, trying to run me back to the major internal freeway instead of CA1 up the coast
so we had to turn off the freeway and scored a delightful run down a tree-covered valley road back to Santa Cruz.
The run into SF was a bit on the anxious side but the GPS got us through the freeways and spaghetti's spot on
the others reckoned I ran a red light, in front of a cop, but I never saw it, I was watching the cop.

Not much else, other than its been bf cold
froze on the bike yesterday, 57-60F
we all put extra layers on during the day
one lady told us its been 5deg cooler than normal
the fog hid everything all day.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Eureka, California

Saturday 24 July
1235 km

Wicked was worth it, plot cleverly constructed to prequel seemlessly into Wizard of Oz
the players brought it out nicely, climaxing with one of my favourite pieces of music, "For Good"
although experiencing the rest of the score had more life live on stage than that on my CD.
With the rarity of a lotto win, Neil got seated behind the hugest and only afro coif in the theatre
but we managed a shift enough rows back when the lights went out.
He also commented he couldnt make out the lyrics at times, missing the odd gist of plot and innuendo
common fault when female singers trill and warble
the girl who did the wheelchair bound one was great though, and the male leads were clear
Golden Gate
the Wizards part contains some very clever lyric, great stage set
pleased we went...

Out of SanFran this morning, first stop for the customary group shot at Golden Gate
then out to the coast on CA1, over the hill to Muir Beach and on up the coast
little winding road like the Parapara used to be.
Brunch stop at Point Reyes Station, an old coaching stop, where we caught the saturday market
looked to be totally organic produce, and enticing it all was too, everything from native potatoes to homebred meats.
There's a split showing in the taking to market of farm produce in North America
either you're a contracted supplier to a food company giant
or you supply the farmer's market, where you authenticate food origins yourself.
The Wanganui team at Muir Pt
I spoke with one lady farmer who said they have an open day every sunday on the farm
so you can see where your next meal's coming from.

This place is 30 miles from north SanFran and they were having a pretty busy time with weekend drivers
and road cyclists by the dozen.
Its one thing to comment on American obesity, but I still reckon Ive seen more fitness activists than couch slouchers here.

Unfortunately we had another day of fog and low temps, so the spectacular coastal views didnt eventuate
Nice view when the mist cleared
even in the few sunny breaks, 57F was order of the day.

Had a couple of roadside chats with locals
but theyve so hi-jacked the questioning, their curiosity being greater than ours
havent learned a great deal........... yet.
Most think we're pretty wealthy to be able to ship bikes over, so firm is the grip of depression
Again we've had a day of very reasonable menu prices, and no pressure with the tips
typically, big breakfast and coffee, well under NZD20
and tonight, a decent soup, steak, mushrooms, green veg, baked spud, garlic bread, and 2 coronas, NZD34 all in.

We ducked inland after Mendocino and Ft Bragg
and the temp shot up to 84F,
with some clothes shed when we called at that ridiculous drive through giant redwood
only $3 this time, i'm sure it was $5 last year
another farm diversification project.

Another 20 odd miles of twisties through the forest, then down the Avenue of Giants, (redwoods).
Southern CA's more like Australia, up here we're into proper forest.
A quick call at Fortuna where we were told there was a classic car show, but too late
Avenue of Giants
all we caught was the vintage farm machinery which wasnt going anywhere overnight
this was back down near the sea, and temps plummeted back to that of the fog-shrouded morning

And so ended our day...
having escaped the civilisation of LA and SF, our credit cards have started to work at the gas pumps too.
Story of the day was a convo had by another of our group with a big Abe Cleminger sort of coot in bib overalls
who said he was a "tarler", (tiler)
but when questioned about the state of the building industry, he replied it was rooted
or words to that effect
and when further questioned about what he did for a crust now
he said he grows marijuana, $2600 per lb.
I recall seeing a bit in the paper recently about production for medicinal purposes being discussed in northern CA and OR
and on googling Eureka, I find its on the local council ordinance discussion papers list
but you only get a blank screen when you click the link.

Neil won todays fuel economy test, by 1/3 of a gallon on the only refuel of the day
we arrived at the motel, fortunately a day late to catch a Yamaha FJR convention
a holiday-maker who stayed last night told us there were 300 of them parked here

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Astoria, Oregon

Monday 26 July
You didnt get a letter yesterday from Bend, Oregon, on account of we arrived there late after a big day in the saddle.
I was in the dogbox for getting us lost in a town called Grants Pass
trying to dodge the I-5 interstate freeway with the GPS doing its best to put me on it
the worst part about it being the 2 bikes in our group with pillions doing stop-starts around city streets
while trying to stay on the track of a headless chicken leader.

I finally gave in to the GPS getting on to I-5 but heading in the wrong direction
and I woke up I was in exactly the same predicament as last year
but this time was able to get off the freeway quicker without the u-turn I pulled last year.
Neither GPS option of fastest time, or shortest route, is convenient at times
and this situation does indicate a rare case of deficient road signage
come to think of it, I pulled into the same gas station to ask directions
and was given the same off-beam pointers
its a waste of time asking an American for directions.
From Eureka up the coast in the fog but lifting a little for the run through Redwood National park to Crescent City, then the duck inland to Grants Pass and Crater Lake.
Went past the turn-off to Oregon Caves, and was told by a gas station attendant it was something to see
next year maybe!
Crater Lake
Crater Lake was still there, a 6 mile diameter crater filled with water, not blown up in the interim since we were last here.
Interesting to hear the comments of the others, discovering what we did last year
how civilised the road traffic is
and how our great scenic asset is but a postage stamp compared to whats here.

Fast run on straight roads down to Bend with the GPS redeeming itself putting us right at the front door of a difficult to find hotel
where I scuttled away to the McMennamins pub to throw down a handle or two.
The group were a bit shocked by the heat that day, but at 85F I had to tell them, like the scenery
it gets better........

Today was Bend to Astoria through Salem where some fellow-riders wanted to go to the Harley dealer.
From the Willamette ferry
Out through Sisters with the 3 mountains on our left in clear blue skies at 7000' asl
down past Detroit Lake and an ice-cream and right on the button at the Harley shop
which was closed......
after weekend trading many businesses take monday off.
Reliant on the GPS we headed for McMinnville on the fastest route setting which took us to a ferry crossing the Willamette River
through fabulous agricultural country, hops, wheat, alfalfa, dairy farms (all housed), a huge garden nursery
to the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum for a couple hour visit.
Highlight exhibit is the Howard Hughes "Spruce Goose", a monolithic seaplane that was designed to carry troops to Europe during the war, but only did one test flight at 70' off the water.
The wingspan is greater than a football field is long, and a man can stand inside the wing
the avionics are noted for the leverage of effort from joystick to aileron control.

Then down through some more shady forest winding road to Tillamook
where we dodged the aviation museum there, opting for the farmer co-op cheese factory
another example of local industry turned massive tourist attraction
glassed walkways above the production line, cafe, souvenir shop, and a huge icecream bar.
Light fading so quick rip up the coast and within 20km of Astoria, we spot a 2 block retail outlet complex open 9am-9pm,
shopping time!

In Astoria, down to Wayfarer Inn to check if the 14oz steak still lives
it does......

Final comment...
we've been in pine scented fresh air and blue skies nearly all day, (except for the last 30 odd km up the coast in cold fog)
like last year you have to think there's little wrong with US CO2 sequestration and emission ledger.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Yakima, Washington

Tuesday 27 July
Yakima's a pop 70,000 city in mid-south Washington state, steppe climate in the shadow of the Cascade range
agriculture in the form of fruit and vegetables is the economic mainstay, and there's a burgeoning wine industry
which some of our group were keen to get to town to sample.
Also note the military have a presence, and the Japanese forces train here to take advantage of live ground-fire opportunities they dont have at home
speaking of, the Yakama Indian War took place in 1855 and they were toddled off to the reservation the following year
allowing settlement to continue apace.

So it was a minor shock to arrive in 7pm 84F temps after most of the day getting across the forested range.
We left Astoria in another cold damp fog, crossing the Columbia River on the Astoria bridge which is several km long and has 2 arches for shipping.

Not quite so prominent here as in Canada, but significant nevertheless, is the humble salmon
  Hatchery home for salmon
first as a food source for the early Indian, then as a foundation for later industry and recreation.

We visited a hatchery further up the river
females are diverted off the annual run and harvested for roe
fingerlings are raised and released after an 18 month process.
They swim out into the Pacific, stay there 3 years, then come back home to spawn and die.
The fingerlings amused us with their jumping antics trying to leap up the mini cascade of water fed into their living quarters
Rona said her cat would be quite interested, having once fallen into their goldfish bowl in pursuit of quarry.

In a damp valley we stopped off for a look at an old covered bridge
not done for ghosts to live in, it was to keep moisture and ice off the decking so animals and wagons could cross without mishap.

Then on to Mt St Helens national park, and a look at and in a lava cave, mile and a half long full of holidaying parties of children and families
Lava cave
and the volcano itself and its lahar valley, looked a km wide
on through the park past Mt Rainier, over White Pass
and here we are.

Meant to mention, some of the group bought new helmets in SanFran
mark the make, Shark, a french product
nice style, sound-proof, drop down sun shield
and the chin piece folds over to neatly clip behind so the unit converts readily between full and open face
between $200-400 US depending on model.

Mt Ranier

From todays paper.....
doomsday shelters are booming, manufacturers claim doubling of business each year for the last 5 years
$400,000 gets you the family model, up to $4m for the corporate
power and air filtering for 3 years
ones even supplied with a countdown clock set for 12 Dec 2012.

Lahar bed, Mt St Helens
Shark helmet