Friday, June 29, 2007


Our first trip in the new RV

The extra house is listed "For Sale" so it was time to take a first trip in our new RV. We went north to our home park, Beachwood, at Blaine, WA, a distance of about 50 miles and it was only overnight so we didn't even take the toad (tow car- the "towed" one.) We had things to get put away and RV systems to check out and learn how to use. I had been to Beachwood before but this is the first time to stay there overnight. My original home park was at Elma, WA but since moving this one becomes it. This is important when it comes to calculating if another park is within the "125 miles rule area," where I can't stay on a reciprocal basis since it would be too close to my home park. We didn't take Huggy along this time as it was just overnight and we wouldn't have enough time to spend with her since we expected to be pretty busy learning our new motorhome.

First RV trip 01
Here we are parked in space B-134. The front tires are almost lifted off the ground by the hydraulic jacks that are used to stabilize the rig before putting the slide room out. The rooftop TV antennae is also up, but we were only able to get three TV stations in that location. One of the first things we discovered is that we need to carry along the Rubbermaid step as the "step" from the ground to the first stair to enter the rig can be quite high when the front end is raised as it was here.

First RV trip 02
A view of the hookup side and rear of the coach. I did keep my "TALLYHO" personalized license plate that dates from back in my MG car days. Hooking up went well but I do have to crawl a bit to get into storage bays that are below the slideout when it is out.

First RV trip 03
Here's an interior view showing the front TV and storage up in the entertainment center. It seems that we have the wrong TV directions and probably the wrong controller for the home theater system. The menus shown in the TV book do not match what we get on-screen and the theater system controller doesn't do anything other that turn it on & off. I was able to get things working by pushing the buttons on the devices myself but it is awkward to get to them up in those cabinets. Pat discovered a lot of things that we need to add to the kitchen area and we found that the mattress is a bit harder than either of us really likes. The shower mat we bought isn't the right size. The shower door doesn't close because the handle on the outside of it hits some wood trim, so it leaks (this will be a dealer fix.) There were a few other things like this. We need a wine cork screw (luckily the one we brought is one of those high class bottles with a screw cap!)

First RV trip 04
Here is one of my favorite photos from that trip- my beautiful bride coming out the door of the rig. The assist handles are well positioned to help but we really do need that extra step to put on the ground in places like this one when it is so high to the first step.

First RV trip 05
Here is a closer view. You would never guess that she is my favorite subject to photograph. We have also noted how quickly her Photogray glasses start to darken when she comes outside!

The trip was a success. We learned a lot and will get things better setup for our next trip which may well not happen until our July 17th trip east of the mountains to the Spokane area for almost two weeks. Today at Costco we bought a foam pad to put on top of the mattress that should make it a lot more comfortable. We also went to the Verizon store to buy a new ExpressCard aircard to connect to the Internet with my new laptop computer over the cell phone system. It is the same broadband connection that the PCMIAA card did but the new PC doesn't have a PCMIAA slot. The cord to connect to the Wilson Trucker's Antennae is on order & should be here in a couple of days. The best thing about it is that I think Pat enjoyed RVing!

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Monday, June 25, 2007


Hospital tour

Our Skagit Valley Hospital in Mt. Vernon is a public one. That means it is primarily supported by taxes from the local area. In the fall of 2004 a large levy was approved to expand the hospital to more than twice its original size and construction on that expansion started in August, 2005. It was scheduled to be finished by the end of September, 2007 but has been completed early and the patients will be transfered on June 30th. Pat is a regular volunteer in the Day Surgery section and was asked if she would help as a tour guide during the public open house. I have gotten to know Steve, the Volunteer Coordinator, and he asked if I'd like to also help. We thought it would be fun so we signed up.

The first thing we had to do was go on a tour ourselves. We did that with a lot of construction "stuff" still in view, so many of my photos have that stuff in them that had been removed by the time of the public tour, almost two weeks later. Events went on from 9am until about 4pm on Saturday, June 16th. We were scheduled to guide from noon until 4 but when we arrived about 11:30 they were running way behind so we were put to work right away. My photos were mostly taken on the tour guide tour as I didn't have much chance to take photos while we had the groups along and I only had the small Sony camera then too, but here they are.

The maternity section has 16 birthing rooms. If there are no complications the mother and baby will spend their entire time in the rooms here, including the delivery. All patient rooms in the hospital are private and each has a double size bed available for a family member to stay with their loved one. All also have LCD high definition TV, a DVD player for movies, WiFi and ether net broadband Internet connections in the room.

Hospital tour 00
I don't have a photo of the birthing rooms (two are designed for C-section deliveries) but they all have a great view from the third floor except for two of them. Those two look into a roof top garden, shown in this photo. The statue/fountain was donated and is in honor of a lady who was the first Mid-Wife in the Skagit County area.

Hospital tour 01
The current hospital has 5 operating rooms, each about 345 sq. ft. The new addition has 6 with room to add 2 more and each are 600 sq. ft. All the equipment is hung from the ceiling freeing up floor space and with no cords or wires running around. I don't know much about what all is here but understand that it is pretty state-of-the-art. Even robotics are supported so that a specialist, say in Houston, TX, can "perform" a surgery here in Mt. Vernon using the robotics capability.

Hospital tour 02
One thing that is needed in this environment is being able to see at anyplace in the room. That can make it hard for the surgeon to see the monitor screens which may be showing an image from a miniature camera inside the patient that is being used in directing the instruments. These rooms have a "green light" capability built in as apparently green light lets people see pretty much normally but does not detract from the ability to clearly see the monitors. This photo was taken under those green lights.

Hospital tour 03
This sign has info about the patient rooms on the first floor. Third floor is maternity and patient rooms, second floor is surgery and patient rooms, first floor is Emergency Room, offices and patient rooms. The patient rooms are about the same on all three floors.

Hospital tour 04
Here is our tour guide group with Steve, the Volunteer Coordinator, at one of the nursing stations. Can you find Pat in the group?

Hospital tour 05
Another view in the patient area. Warm colors are used through out the new building and there is a different "theme" for the decorating on each floor. Pat is here, too.

Hospital tour 06
This is the nerve center of the Emergency Room. There are 23 private rooms and when a patient arrives they will go straight to one of the rooms and the registration and data intake will be done there. Each room does have the capability of accepting another gurney so in a disaster situation that capacity can be doubled. There are also two other ER rooms that are specially setup for patients with mental illness problems.

Hospital tour 07
This is one of the ER patient rooms. The two heliports will for now remain where they have been on the original building with a private corridor & elevator to use to transport to the ER. Eventually new heliports will be built on the new building. The pharmacy will be in the basement. There is a system of pneumatic tubes, similar to those used at a bank drive in window but larger, that can move prescription drugs, samples to the lab, paperwork, etc around the facility rather than a person having to hand carry things. Much use has been made of digital imaging. X-rays can be sent immediately to the place they are needed and viewed on one of the LCD screens.

We had fun being tour guides but it was tiring. I led three full tours that covered all three floors. Pat concentrated on the short tours and took five groups around. There were employees who work in each of the areas on duty to explain each station so we didn't have to pretend that we knew a lot. We were ready to leave when our time was up and headed for the Olive Garden restaurant for a dinner out. Then home to fall asleep in our living room chairs!

Tomorrow will be Pat's last day in the old Day Surgery section. Next Tuesday when she goes in it will be in the new building.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007


W on global warming and my house is listed

My house is officially listed For Sale as of Tuesday afternoon! Now it will be interesting to see how long it takes for us to find a buyer.

Yesterday we stopped for coffee & a visit with my neighbors who live beside the other house. B showed me a pretty good "W" impersonation that appeared on the JibJab web site and I thought I would post a link to it here. I know that Becky, the Absent Minded Housewife is a real fan (NOT) of W so this is for her.

"W" on Global Warming

This young man looks to be about 14 years old but has done a good job. I remember seeing JibJab on the news back during the last presidential election season but I've never gone there to look around. I think now that I'll have to do that. Be sure your sound system is on when you check this link. It will play for a bit over 3 minutes.


Sunday, June 17, 2007


Memorial Day tour of the USS Ingraham

The house is nearly ready to list and I have finally had enough time to work a bit on the photos from our Memorial Day tour of my son's Navy ship, the USS Ingraham. Pat, her 13 YO grandson B, and I were shown around the ship by my son B, who is a crewman on her. They were not participating in an official open house but we were able to tour with B as a guide.

Memorial Day 01
This isn't the first photo I took but I thought I'd start with it here. We were outdoors looking down onto the main deck and this brightly colored life ring really stood out. It does show the name of the ship.

Memorial Day 02
B doesn't work on the bridge but we were lucky enough to find a Chief who does and he gave us a tour of the bridge. The Ingerham is a fast frigate that was built in 1989 so it is fairly new. It's main mission is to find & destroy enemy submarines so most of it's armaments are things that would fit that use. One of the first things we looked for when we came into the pilot house was the steering wheel. We couldn't find it. Here is why:

Memorial Day 03
That little brass wheel is it. They no longer use cables that directly move the rudder so a large wheel isn't necessary. That one is about 6 or 7 inches in diameter. The gauge above it is a rudder position gauge that indicates where the rudder is pointed. Some of the navigation and communications systems are amazing.

Memorial Day 04
This photo was taken just outside the bridge on the port side. That large container on the left is one of the lifeboat containers. There are at least three ways they can be opened including one that automatically opens & inflates it if the container is submerged to 6 feet or more under water. Someone must make a lot of money from selling gray paint to the Navy. It seems like they know of no other color.

Memorial Day 05
This view is looking up toward the top of the mast. Of course there are no sails here but you can see some of the many antennae that are used with the many communications systems.

Memorial Day 06
Here we are walking across the main deck, with B, Pat and my son B, left to right. This ship is fairly narrow and I guess it tends to rock pretty strongly when the seas are striking her from the side. They carry two helicopters on the aft deck and will turn into the weather to help stabilize the platform for them to land or take off from.

Memorial Day 07
We were able to see the crew living quarters. It isn't quite like a room in a Hilton Inn. That lower bunk, called a coffin bunk, is B's. There are some that are a little larger but they do not have the built in storage under the mattress so he would rather have this style. Just be careful to not sit up too fast!

Memorial Day 08
Here is the aft deck, where the helicopters land when the ship is deployed. While in port it is the area where the gang plank ends and you step off onto the ship. You can see another of the ships that are home ported at Naval Station Everett in the background, tied up to another pier.

The tour was fun and Pat's grandson really enjoyed it. You don't realize how tight the quarters are on these ships until you actually tour one. They try to have things to occupy free time and do have crew rooms with large LCD TVs, DVD players and satellite TV. Internet email is available while in port or at sea. B is assigned to this ship until later this fall when he finishes four years of sea duty and starts three years of shore duty. This is the third ship he has been assigned to in his a bit over ten years in the Navy. I guess there will be at least one more if he gets to finish a twenty year career with them. Our tour was fairly short as he was to be on watch at noon, but it was fun to see where he spends his time. Like I said, it isn't like staying in a Hilton or on a cruise ship, but they do make good use of all the space they have. I was in the Army myself but is is fun to see another branch of the service at work.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007


I had to change my email address

A couple of months ago Pat & I checked with Verizon, the supplier for both of our DSL accounts, to see what we had to do to keep my email address when I moved to her house. At that time we knew we would close out my DSL account with them but wanted the same email address for me, just moving it to her account. We were told it would be easy when the time came.

The time came today but it turns out they can not do it. It seems crazy. We can have up to 9 email addresses per account so I could create a new one. But they can't move the old one over. The old one has been closed now or at least I was unable to log onto it to get any mail this afternoon. We created another one for me but everyone who has used it will have to change my address in their books. Unless you used the one that was at the Escapees RV club and ended in I have changed the pointer for it and mail sent there will come to my new address.

If you were using my address, you will need to add the number 1 just before the @ sign. Isn't that dumb?

Our three cats are getting along better. They still tend to hiss at each other when one enters the room where another is but then they will settle down, both in the same room, and sleep or whatever. It looks like they might actually get to where they will just exist together. But I sometimes wonder if they just like the feeling in their throats of hissing.

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Friday, June 08, 2007


Cat house news plus honeymoon photos

Huggy has been here now for a bit over three days. All three cats are still healthy and they have actually been known to spend a little time in the same room. But there is also still hissing & growling, too. It is looking like it will work out but may take a little longer than we had hoped for.

Pat & I didn't try to go anywhere after the wedding on Sat. April 28th but on the morning of the 29th we drove her diesel powered VW New Beetle across Stevens Pass in the Cascade Mountains on US 2 to the Bavarian themed town of Leavenworth. On the way I had to make a stop at The Alps. That is the chocolate and gift store 6 miles or so west of Leavenworth. We of course made some purchases. Pat collects toads among other things and they had a good collection of toad things.

Honeymoon 00
Here Pat is looking over part of their toad items.

Leavenworth was originally a railroad town but when the RR closed down their northern route over the Cascades it looked like the town might die. Someone who lived there had recently visited the Bavarian area of Germany and noticed how similar the landscape was. They suggested that the town re-invent itself as a Bavarian village and go after the tourist market. They have been pretty successful.

honeymoon 02
This photo shows a few rooftops but also some of the foothills that surround the town. This was a photo taken in the morning when the clouds were still hanging around in the air from the 4th floor of our hotel.

Honeymoon 03
This view looks upriver over a home, up the Wenatchee River. There were power line wires running across the house that I felt kind of spoiled the clean look of the area so I took them out in Photoshop.

Honeymoon 01
Here are some of the buildings in the town. We ate dinner our first night there at Gustav's. It had good German food at reasonable prices but we felt it really was more of a lunch type menu than dinner.

Honeymoon 04
Just a few miles east of Leavenworth on US 2 is the town of Cashmere. One of it's most famous products is a fruit candy called Applets & Cotlets. We visited the factory and it's sales area. Here is Pat at the cash register while the sales lady rings up our $60 plus order. We like the stuff and bought quite a bit. We are still eating the peanut brittle. Of course Pat has me on a limited quantity of that type of stuff which is good as I am still loosing weight. Sloooowly.

Honeymoon 05
Here is another street scene in Leavenworth. This is not the US highway but is the main street through the village. Vehicle traffic is not much of a problem here. Our hotel was only about three blocks from the downtown area so we just walked over.

Honeymoon 06
This is the Enzian Inn where we stayed, in a twilight photo. The area on the 4th floor with the big windows on the right of the photo is the dining area where we ate our free buffet breakfast each morning. The balcony in front of the dining room is also where I took some photos of the landscape as well of the alphorn player:

Honeymoon 08
This fellow plays this horn from the railing along the edge of that 4th floor balcony at various times of the day. He also came inside the dining area to play it a bit.

Honeymoon 09
This shows a part of the inside lobby. The upper lobby is where Pat is standing, the stairs at the right side go down to the main floor. The big chandelier is in the near foreground and above the lobby. Behind the chandelier, on the ground floor, you can just see the grand piano which is played for an hour and a half every evening by various musicians.

Honeymoon 07
Doesn't Pat look a bit like a kid in a candy store in this photo? We were in a few candy stores but I don't think this was one of them, but there are a lot of places that give you many opportunities to buy things. It is kind of a shoppers paradise and even has two Christmas stores that offer Christmas decorations all year.

We spent two nights in Leavenworth and then decided that since we are retired we didn't really have to be back home on any specific day. The North Cascades Highway had opened the week before (it is closed all winter as they don't even try to remove the 50+ feet of snow that builds up there) so we thought we would go north to Winthrop, another of my favorite towns, with a Western theme. Winthrop is on the eastern side of the North Cascade Hwy (Wash. SR 20) and we thought we could spend that night there. On our way we stopped in Manson, near Chelan, for lunch with our friends R & D C who helped so much on various things with our wedding, including many of the photos.

Well, we got to Winthrop and found there were no rooms available! It seems that a chain group of stores had taken them all for employees to hold a retreat or something like that. We did a little shopping but only about half of the stores were open. This town pretty much closes down in the winter while it's residents go south where it is warmer, then they reopen shortly after the pass roadway opens. It did get opened a couple of weeks earlier than they thought it would so some of them were probably caught a bit by surprise and were not back to town yet.

Honeymoon 10
Here is the Winthrop Emporium, one of the places that was open. We did have dinner at 3-Fingered Jack's before hitting the road to cross the pass. I wish we had thought to give Pat one of the cameras to take some photos of the road at Washington Pass, but we didn't so I have none to show here. But the snow along the sides of the road was piled up about 12 feet over the top of the car! The road was bare and dry so the driving was easy but there sure was a lot of snow. We had no trouble and light traffic, so stopped for nachos when back to our town before going home.

The Beetle went about 500 miles, used 3/4 tank of diesel fuel and averaged 42 miles per gallon. This isn't bad for a car with an automatic transmission. Our little Honeymoon trip was short but sweet. We will take some longer trips with the motorhome before long as my house is almost ready to list for sale.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Huggy has moved to our new house

I hadn't tried to make the permanent move of Huggy to our new house (Pat's house) yet as I was spending quite a bit of each day down at the old house sorting & packing and I felt she would be alone more here than if I left her there. But yesterday son M & I moved most of the things out of that house and took them to an auction house to be disposed of. I then decided that Huggy would be pretty upset at being alone there so about 20:00 hours I moved her.

Molly & Peewee don't seem too upset about it although they are a bit confused. Huggy spent last night under the bed and hissed & growled whenever she saw either of the other two cats and sometimes did it just for general purposes. This morning about 5 she came up on the bed & woke us up. With the continuous meowing & hissy fit she was having there was no possibility of our going back to sleep.

A bit later in the morning she came out into the other part of the house to wander around, again with the same result whenever she saw either of the other two. This afternoon I got her to eat some of her regular food, which she immediately threw up. Later she did keep some of her special canned soft food down and she is drinking water.

For the last hour & a half I have been in the computer room working with my PC and she came in here on her own. She has let me hold her in here and laid for quite awhile at Pat's feet while she was using her PC, until Molly came in. Then the hissing & growling started again. She is now by my feet, keeping a constant lookout on the door into the room and growling every few minutes.

She has been just over 24 hours in our new home. I think she is doing better, at least she is being a bit more like her old self at times, until either Molly or Peewee comes into view. I don't know what she will do tonight overnight but I am sure it will be interesting. More on this saga soon.


Sunday, June 03, 2007


The last of the wedding photos

Here are a few more photos from Pat and my wedding. I am a bit slow at getting these posted because I've been working pretty hard on getting the house cleared out, but I do have a few more that will probably finish the set.

Wedding 19
This first one is of my two sons, B on the left and M on the right. The photo was taken by M's wife, J, as were most of the photos I have posted. Some were by my long time friend R or his wife D and some by my next door neighbor in the park, D.

Wedding 20
This is one by my friend, R, and shows part of the mirror room in the clubhouse, where our guests were able to be seated to eat and visit. He even managed to catch me in the background opening a window for some ventilation.

Wedding 21
The outside patio was a popular seating area for some due to the fantastic weather we lucked out and had. This shows one of my grand daughters, K, at a table at the left and my nephew J with his daughter B near the right side of the frame. A long time friend of mine, DS, is seated behind my grand daughter. DS & I started kindergarten together in Spokane, WA in the fall of 1948.

Wedding 22
Another view inside the clubhouse, here looking past the kitchen area toward the library. At center left is another of my nephews, another J. My brother and I are in the middle of the photo and at the right is my neighbor, B, whose husband D was the third person taking some of our photos.

Wedding 23
We have to sign the paperwork that will be filed to make it all legal. Here is our Priest, Vicki, with Pat signing her part of them.

Wedding 24
And here is my turn to sign them. Boy, I sure need more hair!

We left the morning after the wedding to spend a few days east of the Cascade Mountains in the little Bavarian themed town of Leavenworth. I have some photos from there but haven't had the time yet to work on them. I at least reduce the size of the images before uploading them to Flickr where my photos for here are hosted. I'll get them done soon, I promise.

In the meantime, progress is being made on getting my old house cleared out. I have the den piled on one side with things to move to our new house and on the other side to move into storage. The really big pile is in the rest of the house that was going to be in a yard sale, but we had coffee last Thursday with a former neighbor who used a local auction service when he moved. I called them on Friday and have an appointment to deliver my "stuff" Tuesday. I have a rental truck reserved and my son M is coming up to help. We should be able to get it all transfered there in that one day. They will sell it in the next auction, keep 35% and I get the rest. Anything left over they will dispose of. That sure sounds a lot better than going through the problems associated with holding a yard sale! By Wednesday the house should be empty and ready to start the final cleaning. It may be listed for sale by the weekend. Then maybe we can finally take out the new RV on it's maiden voyage!

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