Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Jungle Playland

One of the churches in Mt. Vernon has a pre-school and built a large play area for the kids. It is inside, heated, well managed and available on the weekends to all kids. They charge $6.75 per child, half that for little ones and free for those who are not yet walking and the parents. Pizza, sandwiches, pop, juice, candy, cookies, etc. are available at prices that are not outrageous. It is a real neat thing to have and both of my grand daughters love the place. Yesterday son M & I took both of the girls, ages 9 & 5 1/2 there for a few hours before I had to take K home. Here are a few photos of the place & the kids.

This first one is one of the view points built into the tubes & walkways that you move around on. These are fairly high:
Jungle Playland 1

This next photo shows a bit more of the unit including part of two of the tube slides that curve. The girls tell me the best one is the black one that you can't see but goes in a straight run from almost ceiling level down to the floor:
Jungle Playland 2

In another room the Space Maze is located. It is a large inflated "house" with walls inside that create a maze for the kids to work their way around. Son M took my camera inside & took these photos. Here is the younger K:
Jungle Playland 3

And here is the older K:
Jungle Playland 4

Another slide is the three abrest one with the "waves" built into it. This is also a fast trip down. Older G-daughter K likes to come down it in unusual ways. Here is one of them:
Jungle Playland 5

There are different ways to climb up to the higher levels where most of the things are located. Here is son M & K starting up one of those. It almost looks like a cage which I guess goes well with the jungle theme:
Jungle Playland 6

There are walkways between the various places at the higher levels. Here are all three of mine looking down at me through the mesh which keeps anyone from falling off:
Jungle Playland 7

Jungle Playland is a real asset to have in my town. Kids up to the age of 12 or so seem to love it & it is a nice place for their parents, grandparents, etc. to spend time while the kids are playing. There are tables & chairs located where you can keep an eye on the play area & the kids know you are close.

After we left Jungle Playland we all four went to Starbucks for mochas for we older ones & hot chocolates for the kids. Then K & I headed south to take her home as she has school today. It was great having her with me for what actually was a little over four full days and I think she enjoyed the trip, too. We didn't get to the Alpaca Farm as the weather wasn't very good and of course we were without Grandma Ann this year, but otherwise it was a great weekend. Thank you, K!

Monday, May 29, 2006


Go Karting, day two

K really seems to love go karting. Sunday we started at church, then Starbucks for a mocha & luke warm hot chocolates before going home for lunch. After that we went to the kart track but found they were full for about 2 & 1/2 hours, so off to Dairy Queen for Blizzard deserts, then to visit friends from church. K got to play with them a few hours while I visited with their parents. Then back to Kart Trak Indoor Racewaywhere we only had to wait about half an hour for a slot for her to drive in. She picked a different kart to drive today. Here she is about ready to start:
Kim karting 6

This is to prove that she also knows how to turn right:
Kim karting 7

And here is K going around her favorite turn. The course can be changed easily & is configured differently on different days, but Sat & Sun are the same:
Kim karting 8

Here is the happy driver after her second race:
Kim karting 9

The photos from Sunday were taken with my Nikon D70s camera while those on Saturday were with the little pocket size Sony. There is a quality difference.

This morning we are waiting for my son M & other grand daughter K who are driving up to go to Jungle Playland with us. We will have to leave by about 15:00 with the older K to get her home by 17:00 when I told her Mom I'd return her as she still has about four weeks of school left and tomorrow is a school day. It has been fun having her here over this holiday weekend!

Saturday, May 27, 2006


Go Karting - a first for K

My grand daughter, K, is here with me for the weekend. Today we visited KartTrak Indoor Raceway here in Mount Vernon where K had her first ever drive in a go-kart. It is an indoor track so they can run regardless what the outside weather is like. There are faster karts for those over 13 but since K is 9 she was in one of the slower ones - but it still goes pretty fast. She really loved it and wants to go back and do it again. Of course, it costs about $15 for ten minutes. Anyway, here are a series of photos of she on the course in her Batmobile kart. Here she is getting started:
Kim karting 1

She is getting the idea and taking a pretty good line around this turn:
Kim karting 2

Now she is really getting the idea of how to cut around the apex of the turn:
Kim karting 3

How is this for concentration:
Kim karting 4

After the race the proud driver poses with her racing kart:
Kim karting 5

She really did pretty good especially for her first time driving something like this. It only goes about 15 miles per hour but it will do that around the turns, too, which really takes some care to do as they are sharp turns. There were a couple of times where she hit the wall, but Danica did that sometimes while she was learning, too. I have a hunch that we will have to return to the track again over the weekend to give her another shot at this.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


The Grand Canyon

No, I am not there now but RV friends Padriac & Willie are and he has posted some really great photos on his blog, RV Escapade. There are photos of the Grand Canyon Railway, some of it's rolling stock including Thomas The Tank Engine, some from Williams, AZ, the town that bills itself as "The Gateway to the Grand Canyon" and some neat photos of the canyon itself. If you, like me, have not been there yet, go enjoy his photos. I also have a link to his site on my sidebar. Please leave him a comment and tell him Dick sent you.

Monday, May 22, 2006


Word verification is on

I hated to do it but I am tired of the attempts to put advertising for special interest blogs into the comments on my blog, so I have turned Word Verification on. If you are not familiar with it, you will need to key into the block the letters that are graphically shown above the little window, then click to submit it. I found I had probably twenty or more of this kind of comments, most of them added to posts from the past, some clear back into January! Why would someone want to put something like that into an old post? And most of them had been entered since late April with most in the last week. Not many people read the archives, although I guess the web crawlers do find them and might direct people searching on certain words to those comments in my blog. I think I got them all removed but am a bit pissed off about the situation.

What is meant by allowing comments from "Only Registered Users" in the Comments Setup section? I would like to eliminate all posts by "Anonomous" so people could only use Blogger or Other, where they at least need to enter their name. Would turning that feature in Blogger on do that? Also what are Backlinks? I am hoping some of you who read my blog & have been doing this longer than I have or were more into exploring the system can answer these questions, either as a comment here or to me via email at dick dot phillips at verizon dot net. Why do spammers and people of that ilk have to mess up a good thing for others?

I did sell my 1996 Nissan pickup truck today. Of course I didn't get as much for it as I wanted to but I am satisfied. I will no longer be spending $34.50 per month on insurance for it and it will have to be relicensed July 7th, now by someone else. I am now down to only four vehicles. Here is a photo of the truck that I listed on and found my buyer through Craigslist:

Son B is here tonight for the first time in a couple of weeks as he was off boating with the Navy. It's good to have him around again.

Friday, May 19, 2006


A taste of the summer to come

We have had a taste of summer this past week in the Northwest. I didn't get back until Monday but from then through yesterday we were having daily temperatures in the 70s to low 80s. It makes me think it won't be too long until we can again do things like this photo, with my son B on a water slide at Clear Lake Park last August:

Today the clouds came back and there has been some rain with high temps only in the 60s. But, we did get a taste of what the weather forecast says will be a warm, dry summer. I did get my lawn mowed this morning before the showers started.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


Mother's Day in Spokane

My trip last weekend to Spokane was good. There were showers on this side of the mountains Friday on & off up to the summit of Snoqualmie Pass and there actually was snow falling up there but the temp was 36F so it did not stick. When I cleared the summit and dropped down into the valley toward Ellensburg it was sunny and nice and that held all the way to Spokane. By Saturday the weather was great so I took the top down on the car. I did get to spend a few house with cousin B on Sat at his home north of town and it was a good visit.

On Mother's Day we took my brother's wife, S, to a bakery/mocha place in the morning and all three of their sons went along, with their grand kids and the younger son's girl friend. I took the following photo of grand daughter B at the bakery. She is 3 1/2 and as cute as can be:
Mothers Day 1

After that we all went for a walk through the "woods" near the bakery where I took a photo of a wild sunflower. One of Annie's favorite flowers was the sunflower. These are not as large as the garden variety but are bright and beautiful in their own way. This one has been worked on a bit with Photoshop:
Mothers Day 2

Western Washington State has mostly fir and spruce evergreens, along with cedars. In Eastern WA the predominant evergreen is the Ponderosa Pine with it's long needles. I took the following photo of those needles:
Mothers Day 3

Our Mother's Day dinner was at Applebees. I wanted to go to the Outback Steakhouse, where Annie & I liked to go and did go last Mother's Day, but we had steaks Sat night cooked on L's BBQ and it seemed not a good idea to have them two days in a row.

In looking over my photos from the trip I find that most of them are just family snapshot types, so I really don't have many to post. I enjoyed my mini-vacation. L leaves for work about 06:20 so that was the time I headed out for home on Monday and It was a good time to go. He is a short timer now with less than seven weeks until he retires at the end of June. The temp Monday was to get to 90F in Spokane with highs of around 100 in the desert areas between there and the mountains. I was home before noon so missed all those high temps. I did drive all the way home with the top down and I do have a slight sunburn on my legs, from the bottom of my shorts to my knees, probably mostly from that trip. But, it was fun.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


I am off to Spokane tomorrow morning

I plan to leave home about 08:30 tomorrow for a trip to Spokane, WA for the weekend. That should be late enough that I won't get to Everett before most of the rush hour traffic has cleared and to Bellevue about 09:30 which will be before it starts to get bad there. I'll be over the summit at Snoqualmie Pass an hour or so later, then stop for gas & lunch in Ellensburg or Moses Lake and probably to Spokane by 14:00. I will get a mocha for the road from here at home, then meet a long time friend over there at the mocha place at Hastings Bookstore for another one. My brother doesn't get home from work until about 16:30 so L & I will have time for some visiting and a mocha. Two in one day - sounds like a good day!

Here is a photo from the past. This is from the MG Car Club Tulip Rally and I think it is a Riley, an English car that is pretty rare especailly over here in the States. It is left hand drive so it would be an export model and the color is surprisingly close to that of my Miata. I am sure it was not built by Mazda, though!
Blog extra 02

I will try to take some photos on this trip and some in Spokane. I have the camera packed to go. I am also taking my laptop but won't be able to do any posting with new photos until after I get back home on Monday. The weather report for this side of the mountains sounds like showers tomorrow morning, when I'll be going over the pass, but with improving weather over the weekend. I expect it will be nice in Eastern Washington as they don't have as much rain as we do here on the wet side of the mountains.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Car is back home & now licensed in Washington State

I got a call today about 14:00 from the Mazda place saying my car was ready. I misunderstood him yesterday in that the problem wasn't with a computer type board but with some kind of a solenoid controlled valve that moves the car's camshafts to change valve timing. I guess the old one was sticking so the ignition timing would change as engine speed increased but the valve timing didn't change. I talked with the mechanic and he said he has never seen one stick this way so hopefully it won't happen again. Anyway, the total cost came to $610 including sales tax and a $22.50 charge for overnight shipping to get the part here today. I hope this will now be all it needs for quite awhile.

I also went to the Skagit County offices to license the Saturn for next year & take Annie's name off the title and I licensed the Miata in Wash. State. The motorhome has had our TALLYHO license plate but I transferred it to the Miata. I didn't have to pay any more sales tax as that I had paid in Arizona was a little more than what it would have been here. At least that saved me some money, but all this cost about $200. At least both cars are licensed for another year and will have the same renewal date. The new plates for the RV & Saturn are just two numbers apart - 887 and 889 so that should make them easier for me to remember. I needed a new plate for the Saturn as it had Annie's handicaped plate which is no longer needed.

Monday, May 08, 2006


A nice quote, mochas & car "Check Engine" problems

I was looking at archives for Deni's Time To Tell blog and was looking through her posts from last July. I always kind of wonder what others were doing while I was at the hospital holding Annie as she was dieing. I found a wonderful quote there from Steel Cowboy and he has given me permission to post it here:

"We look back at the trail we have trodden that has brought us to this point in our life, and see all that we have passed through, good and bad, and smile a wane smile... some have been left behind.
Others are up the path, waiting to be met."

I find the older I get the more I value family and friends. Go look at his blog and also check Deni's.

Becky, The Absent Minded Housewife asked in a comment this morning if I let people drink mochas in my Miata (yes and I do myself, too) and said that she would like to see a review of my thoughts on the best mocha I have found in my travels.

That is harder to answer. I have had some very good ones and some that I didn't particularly like. But I have to remember that I like what I am used to - my normal mocha has pretty much set my tastebuds for what I expect. I have found that the Starbucks chain produces a very similar product at their various locations and I suppose that is what I am most used to. I guess my all time favorite is still a mocha made with Seattle's Best Coffee, but not all of them. There is a new outlet in The Grocery Store in the Yuma Foothills they call "The Wired Cafe" which is also an Internet cafe and they use SBC coffees. The Cinnebon outlet in Don Laughlin's Riverside Casino in Laughlin, NV also uses SBC coffees & makes a good one. I think the answer is that there is no one answer that will fit everyone. We tend to like what we are used to and something with a different taste may or may not seem good to us. Just remember that it probably is good to those who drink it regularly.

Yesterday morning when I started the Miata to drive to church, the "Check Engine" light came on and didn't go off. I checked the owner's book, made sure the gas cap was tight and continued on as it wasn't blinking. If blinking they want you to turn it off and get a tow to help. I called the local Mazda dealer early this morning & the Service Rep said to bring it over at 9. The light was on when I started it at home but I stopped for a mocha at a drive through place & turned the engine off while waiting. It didn't come back on when I re-started the engine! I found the car would sit at the shop for an hour or so before they would even start on it, then it would take an hour & a half to check it for the problem. They offered to call the shuttle to drive me home and pick me up when it is ready, which I took advantage of. I haven't heard from them yet and it has been three hours, so I am glad that I came on home. I used to be able to fix most problems with my cars but those of today, with all their electronic computer controls are kind of out of range for the average hobby mechanic. It sure makes you feel at the mercy of the car dealers, though.

I just talked with the Service Rep who said the mechanic did find a service code in the computer but is at lunch now (12:18) so he won't know what is up until the mechanic gets back. Oh well, it is just money, right?

Sunday, May 07, 2006


Club Miata NW Deception Pass Run

Saturday, May 6th I participated in my first actual event with my new Club Miata NW, a run called the Deception Pass Run. A run is different from a rally like I was on a couple of weeks ago with the MG club in that here we are just following the leader, out on a drive through the country side, rather than having to follow written directions and, on some rallies, maintaining specified average speeds.

Son M went with me on this one which gave us a chance to spend a few hours together. The weather was threatening to rain and the temperature was cool so we left the top up on the whole trip although some of the braver souls took their tops down (on the cars!) I had bought a new citizens band (CB) radio specifically to use on trips like this and we had it operating. It added to the fun to be able to chatter back and fourth between the cars and listen in on all of that. We met at a truck stop, Donna's, at Marysville about 24 miles south of my town of Mt. Vernon, where we could fill the gas tanks ($3.059/gal!) and pick up a mocha to fuel the people, from the mocha stand near where we were parked. This first photo shows part of the group gathered for a driver's meeting before we hit the road:
Deception Pass Run 1

It was a beautiful drive northward toward Skagit County. Our first stop was at the Rexville General Store, between Mt. Vernon and LaConner, and kind of a local must-see type place. Here are a few of the thirteen Miatas that participated parked in the area near the front of the store:
Deception Pass Run 2

We are nearly past the blooming season for tulips but there was a nice group of them around a tree, with Miatas in the background, so I took this photo. It also includes Oatie, the mascot who rides on the trunk (boot) of the Miata of our leader:
Deception Pass Run 3

We took a side trip up a road that would be great for a hill climb race, if you didn't have to worry about other cars, especially those coming down the hill. This is called a mountain although it is probably not over 2000 feet in altitude. Here are a few of the group enjoying part of the view from the top of Mt. Erie, looking out over a part of Puget Sound:
Deception Pass Run 4

We have a lot of evergreen fir trees in the northwest and here in a park like Mt. Erie there are some good examples. These were just below the viewpoint where the previous photo was taken, but looking a bit closer to where we were standing:
Deception Pass Run 5

I think these events usually end at a place where the group can order a meal and have a chance to discuss the trip. This one ended at a small restaurant called Deception Cafe & Grill, where this photo was taken:
Deception Pass Run 6

Deception Pass is the waterway between the mainland and Whidbey Island. It was named by Capt. Vancouver when he originally explored the area way back when as he thought it went someplace else. He eventually discovered that the land mass on one side was a large island. I think Whidbey Is. is second only to Long Island in New York for size of an island within the US. There is a bridge connecting the island to the mainland and the water below moves with very fast currents as the tide changes. It is not a good place to be with a sail boat!

We enjoyed the trip even though the weather could have cooperated a bit better. It is always fun to get out and go on something like this. I hope the price of gasoline doesn't force cutbacks on this type of activity. At least Miatas do get pretty good mileage.

Friday, May 05, 2006


Elvis lives!

I had the opportunity last night to visit a local casino and see Danny Vernon as Elvis in his tribute to Elvis show. It was very good and I wish I had taken my camera with me! So many of those places do not want cameras around that I thought it better to not take mine, but it looks like it would have been okay. Anyway I have provided a link above to his web site so do go check it out, especially if you are at all interested in or remember Elvis. Turn your sound system on and hear Danny sing "Don't Be Cruel."

Today is a yard work day and I plan to get the CB radio setup and operating in the Miata. Those radios are used a lot on car club trips to talk back and forth between the cars and, since I am going on my first trip of that type tomorrow, it would be nice to have mine working.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Go visit Schmoogle Wuggums & a Miata club meeting

I have been reading a blog by a young college student from the east coast and think she is a budding writer. Go check out Schmoogle Wuggums, read some of her posts and be sure to read her novels she is writing. They will be found in the sidebar under the heading, "Novels I'm Writing." There are two of them.

We are having another beautiful day weather wise here in the northwest. The sun is shining and we are expecting a high temp into the mid-60s. That is just about perfect and I hope it will last through Saturday when I go on my next road trip with Club Miata NW. I attended my first of their monthly meetings yesterday, at the Burgermaster drive-in in south Everett. This is one of those old fashioned drive-ins where the car hop comes to your site, takes your order & then brings it out to put on a tray that hangs on the window of your car. There are not many of these left but the Burgermaster chain of a few in the Seattle area is one that still exists. Next months meeting will be in Issaquah (we have some interesting town names in the NW) at the XXX Drive-In, another place in the old fashioned model. This first photo shows some of the twenty or so Miatas that attended the meeting:
Club Miata NW meeting

The meeting place is a drive-in so the "meeting" itself was held outside. The breeze was a bit cool but it was nice having the sunshine:
Club Miata NW meeting

Here is a low level view of some of the cars:
Club Miata NW meeting

Notice the numbers painted in each parking space? That of course is how the orders are identified with the proper car. With good weather there was a pretty good turn out of members plus two prospective members and a visiting couple from a Miata club in Sidney, Australia. I am looking forward to the Deception Pass Run on Saturday that my son, M, will be going on with me.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


The weekend & a good movie

This past weekend we had a book & plant sale and a tea at our church on Sat. I helped setup on Friday and tear down Sat & Sun afterwards. They all together raised about $4400! Last year Annie sold tickets to the tea during the day. Last year son M & grand daughter K came up to enjoy the tea with us. This year M had to work on Sat so my DIL and grand daughter, K, came up to attend the tea with me. DIL also bought some plants for their yard. It was a busy weekend but all in all, quite a bit of fun.

Here is a photo from the past for today. This shows many of the dozen or so Miatas that were in the MG Car Club Tulip Rally on Apr 22nd, parked in the lot before the start of the event. I attended my first meeting tonight of the Club Miata NW & took some photos of the cars parked there. I will get them setup tomorrow and try to post at least one. It looked good, with close to 20 Miatas parked in the lot at Burgermaster in Bothell. Here is the photo from the Tulip Rallye:
Blog extra 01

Yesterday I went to a matinee showing of the new Robin Williams movie, "RV", with my son and DIL. You know from just the name that I would have to go see this one but it is a good movie with a lot of laughs. I think the rating is PG but it probably would not be too much for children of any age. If you have a chance to see this one, it is worth the time and money.

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