Thursday, January 31, 2008


Sunroom, snow and The Contractor

This will be a short post and without photos but the only thing that visited our under construction sunroom from last Wednesday to today was the snow Monday morning. Yes, our sunroom had about an inch and a half of snow in it! The Contractor finally returned this afternoon and worked about half a day and brought his 17 year old son along to help. I don't know how many days they will be working on it but expect perhaps through Saturday. Then he will probably go away and I don't know for how long before he returns again (maybe.)

We came to a decision over this week that we are not going to drive the motorhome to Arizona next week. The weather is crappy and we really don't want to risk getting stuck, plus our time available was so short that any delays would really cause problems in getting to where we wanted to be. There is also the 450 gallons of gas that it would take to drive to Tucson and back- about 3600 miles at 8 miles per gallon. Maybe next year.

But, we are going to go to Eastern Washington with it about the end of April and will celebrate our first wedding anniversary in the town we went to for our first short Honeymoon, Leavenworth WA. That is if the roads are finally clear of snow and ice by then.

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Friday, January 25, 2008


Snow and our sunroom construction

Snow pics 01
We occasionally do get snow here in coastal Washington State in the lowlands, but not very often. This photo was taken in the early afternoon on last New Year's Eve from near our house, looking east toward Cultus Mountain, which is high enough that it does often get snow during the winter. You can see there is still snow even on the tree branches. The photo was taken with a 300mm lens and I did have to remove some power lines from the lower part of the image in Photoshop Elements. I am posting this as the weather forecast says we may get a bit of snow overnight tonight that should change to just rain by tomorrow afternoon. Fun.

Our sunroom contractor did come back this week but didn't make it here until Tuesday. He worked half a day then and got the plywood onto the bottom of the deck framing, then came back all day Wednesday to get the insulation in, the subfloor decking with a vapor barrier on it and the knee wall built. We paid him a deposit on the work at that point and he is due back today. But it is now 15:15 in the afternoon and there is no sign of him yet. I don't think he will be here today. He needs help for the next part which is putting up the metal support structure of the upper part, so maybe he wasn't able to find anyone to help. But I think he should have called me. He was planning to work on it tomorrow and all of next week. We will see what happens tomorrow.

Sunroom construction 04
This photo shows the deck with the knee wall. The open part on the far side is where the sliding glass door will go. The window wall at the left side of the photo will be a vertical one with 48 inches of bronzed acrylic plastic between the aluminum studs, from the top of the knee wall to where the roof starts to slope up to the house. The roof will slope up from that height of 6 feet to where it reaches the house at a height from the floor of 8 feet. The roof is to be glazed with insulated polycarbonate plastic. There is a 6ft. wide sliding glass door which goes in the big gap in the knee wall, half of which will open and 3 - 2ft by 2ft awning type windows, plus a regular door located where the window into the house is now that will go into the house.

Sunroom construction 05
This shows the special electrical box we installed in the knee wall to provide an outside electrical outlet. It is one designed to work with vinyl siding which is what the house is sheathed with and will also be used on the knee wall. We will have two 20 amp circuits in the room and have a small electric "fireplace" heater to use out there. I don't know if it will be enough- probably not on these real cold nights but we will find out.

The warantee work did get done on the motorhome Wednesday but they didn't want to install the inverter where we wanted it. I have talked with our local Camping World store and they can do it before we leave so still have that to do next week. We are thinking about our travel schedule for the Snowbird trip and I am sure looking forward to being on the road again with the RV.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008


News Flash!

Pat and I will be leaving next month with the motorhome to spend about three weeks in sunny Arizona! It will be a mini-Snowbird trip and one that I am really looking forward to. Huggy will stay home with Molly and Peewee. Pat's daughter C will take care of them daily as well as gathering in our mail. We are looking at leaving about Sunday Feb. 3rd and as I said will be away about three weeks, going as far as Tucson.

In preparation for that trip I bought a Xantrex 400 watt inverter that will be installed in the RV this next Wed. It is smaller than the 2000 watt unit I had in the Sea Breeze but this one has a pure sine wave output that will safely power sensitive electronics while the other one was a modified sine wave. We will hook it up to run the entertainment center with an extra outlet to hook up laptop computers, cell phone & camera batteries to charge, etc. It should work fine for our needs. This RV has only 220 amp hours of battery power VS 440 in the Sea Breeze (two big 6v AGM golf cart batteries instead of four of them.) So, if we are dry camping someplace and want to run the microwave we will have to start the generator. Not a big problem.

RV inverter 01
This is a photo of the inverter and the remote on/off switch that goes with it.

Our sunroom construction hit a snag. The afternoon that I posted the last post the contractor said we were going to have to pay for a lot of things that were supposed to have been covered in the fee we were paying him, per our agreement with the salesman. The contractor packed up his tools and headed home, since I wouldn't give him any money until the issue was resolved. The next week the salesman told him what was to be covered but by then he was at work on another room in the Portland, OR area. He called me and said he will be back tomorrow to get going again and since it is supposed to be finished within two weeks, it should be by the time we head south. So, I have no other photos to post yet of it's construction. Maybe by Tuesday. Maybe.....

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Friday, January 11, 2008


Our sunroom? Maybe.....

A near miracle occurred last Tuesday when Paul showed up to start building our new sunroom. Yes, the sunroom that we ordered back in August that was supposed to be finished by Halloween. It turned out that they didn't even order the kit until mid-October- the only construction drawing that we were sent had a drawn date of Oct 10th and that was before it was sent to the manufacturer of the kit in Saskatchewan, Canada. When we ordered it we were told it was a good time as in early September the company (Royal Solariums from Everett, WA) would be at the big Puyallup Fair where they always sell quite a few units. Ordering in Aug would put ours ahead of those.

Well, I think ours at only 12 feet by 12 feet was a small project for them and instead of doing as they said all those other, bigger (more money) went ahead of ours. The kit arrived at our house just a couple of days after we got back from Hawaii in very early November. We kept asking when the installer would arrive to start and there were always excuses, but no installer. When the last promised date had been missed we contacted a lawyer who wrote to them and faxed the letter on Friday, Jan 4th in the morning. We got a phone call before noon that day saying they would start construction on Monday, the 7th. The installer called us the morning of the 7th and said due to slick roads in his home area (he lives about 4 hours away) he wouldn't come until the next day. Wonder of wonders, he did arrive about 12:30 on Tue the 8th to start! But he arrived by himself, no help and he had to do everything himself.

Where it is to go.
This photo shows the concrete patio on the back of our house where the sunroom is to be built. The patio is 14 ft. deep and 28 ft. wide- the sunroom only 12 X 12. It will line up with the right side of the house as you see it in this photo and extend across to about a foot and a half before the window to the left. These two windows go into the master bedroom and the one closest to the edge of the house will be opened into a door with an external door put in place to allow closing off the sunroom.

Most of the bundles that is our sunroom.
This view is of the space behind our garage where most of the bundles that contain the sunroom parts have been stored since they arrived in early Nov. These parts are aluminum, glass and plastic so it should be no problem that they are outside, although they should not have had to be out this long if the company we bought the room from had done what was promised as to its assembly schedule.

The deck after the first day of work on the project.
Paul didn't arrive until 12:30 on Tue and it is pretty dark by 16:30 so there wasn't very much time for him to work, but he really did accomplish quite a bit in that short time. Rather than having to break up and take the concrete in the patio away, it was decided in Aug to build an insulated deck whose floor height is a match to that of the house, then build the sunroom on that deck. He has removed enough of the vinyl siding from the house to get an exact level for that floor and has cut three 10 inch square holes in the concrete for footings to hold the deck. The footings will broaden out below the patio level to provide a 2ft by 2ft solid concrete block at its base to support the deck & sunroom. He had already made a trip to the lumber yard for wood to start building the framing for the deck and that lumber is stacked to the left out of this picture.

Progress after day two of construction.
When working this far from his home he stays in a local motel so arrived much earlier on Wed and the weather cooperated with no rain all day. He was able to finish the work preparing the footings and build the support structure for the deck as well as get the concrete in place to make the footings and hold that deck at the outer side, away from the house. Since it is cold here this time of the year, he didn't plan any work here yesterday but gave an extra day for the concrete to setup. He had another job to finish up in a town 40 miles away that he worked on yesterday.

It is now just after 13:00 here and he has arrived to drop off tools, then headed to the lumber yard for plywood. It sounds like he has an assistant to help today- Pat & I were out to lunch when they arrived and the only way I know they have arrived is the tools are out on the patio. I did phone him to let him know we are back although the back door into the garage was left open so they would have access to electric power. I think they will be working on it tomorrow and possibly Sunday too, and I will plan to take daily photos chronicling the progress. Paul told me that it should be finished in two weeks, but it is necessary to have a dry (no rain) day to spread the sealant along the edges between the plastic and the aluminum framing members. We also need to coordinate with our electrician to run two new lines from the power panel to the sunroom and make the connections there. It is finally looking like we will have a finished sunroom before too much longer. Maybe.....

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Saturday, January 05, 2008


This and That

I have been having fun playing with the new Photoshop Elements version 6 program and have worked a bit on one of the other photos that I took of Pat's Christmas basket of Hawaiian Protea flowers. These things are sure dramatic looking. The bouquet is now over two weeks old and the colors are definitely fading but it still looks good. I think she is starting the drying process now and it will be fun to see how they end up when that process is finished. Anyway, here is another photo of the basket that was taken when they were just a few days old:
Protea basket 2-01
As always you can click on the photo and be taken to my site on Flickr. Most of the photos that I've posted on that site since starting my blog at the end of December, 2005 have also been posted on the blog but there are some earlier ones and a few extras that have not been used here.

I got a surprise a few weeks ago when I got an email from the Flickr site from a publishing group that does city guides asking if they could use one of my photos in an upcoming guide for the city of Sacramento, California. It was a photo of the sign on the side of the California State Railroad Museum and they wanted it in that section of their Sac guide. I wrote back that it would be okay and just got confirmation that they will be using it. They are Schmap Guides and this link should take you to their Sac guide. There is no pay for the use of this photo but it is kind of fun to be asked if I'd let them use it. It was taken with the little Sony camera while I was there with my cousins who live in Sac in April, 2006, while I was on my trip to pickup the Miata I had bought on eBay. Here is that photo:
Get Miata trip 6

I subscribe to a weekly RV newsletter (it is free,) Chuck Woodbury's that today had a pretty cute joke that I will post here. Click on the link to see his site and if interested sign up for the newsletter. He also has a large selection of RV related books available for sale:

RV Joke
Joe and Jenny drove for miles in silence in their new motorhome after a terrible argument in which neither would budge. After many miles had passed, a frustrated Joe pointed to a mule in a nearby pasture. "A relative of yours?" he asked Jenny. "Yes," she replied. "By marriage."
Sometimes we guys are better off just keeping our mouths shut!

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Maui Ocean Center

The aquarium on Maui is called the Maui Ocean Center and it is a very good exhibit. It is located in the flat area that is between the two mountain ranges that make the Island and of course is right on the water. We visited it on October 29, 2007 and really enjoyed our time there. I have some photos that are a combination of Pat's and mine.

Maui 94
This is one of the signs that greet you as you enter the facility. It shows the layout of the exhibits.

Maui 95
We followed the normal travel route around the exhibit which starts with the reefs, first the shallow reefs. This tank starts outside the building but then has a viewing window inside the building where this photo was taken. You can see the water line and all above the surface is badly overexposed, but I was shooting for what was under water. Some of the various colorful fish in the tank show up here as does a part of the reef itself.

Maui 96
A closer view of one of the many types of fish. The Hawaiian Islands are far enough from other land masses that their own type of fish have evolved. These guys are too small to cross the open oceans so had to evolve here and they try very hard to keep invaders away. Some of these fish exist only here in these islands.

Maui 97
Another of the colorful fish. When I was here last ten years ago I rented snorkel gear and swam with some of these fish on the reef known as Kamaole Reef #3 but we didn't do that this trip. You can get right down among most of them without scaring them away and it is fun to take a disposable underwater 35mm camera to take photos with.

Maui 98
Here is one of Pat's photos taken inside at one of the deeper reef exhibits. I do not know if there is "black light" involved here to give these brilliant colors or not but they sure are colorful.

Maui 99
A moray eel is coming out of his hidey hole.

Maui 100
I don't remember the name of this guy but he is a master at blending into whatever surrounding he is in. You can see that his color has changed to match that of the nearby coral almost perfectly. I don't know if he is good to eat or not but he doesn't look very appetizing to me!

Maui 101
I had to take a photo of the sea horse. He is small, probably smaller than he will show up on your screen in this photo. There was not much else other than sea horses in this fairly small tank so they may be at risk of being eaten by something bigger and almost everything is bigger than they are. I wish the photo were sharper but I think you can get a pretty good idea of what he looks like anyway.

Maui 102
Pat is a fan of turtles and they have a very nice exhibit of sea turtles that are in their own display. This shot is taking advantage of my 200mm lens to reach across to the other side and catch one of them at the edge of the water. They didn't climb out on the shore but this one did come up to the surface so we could see him. These in the display are young, only about two years old but they are already over two feet long.

Maui 103
This view is of one of them swimming in the tank taken through the viewing window. Of course they are very good swimmers and can stay under water for quite awhile but they do have to surface to breathe.

The biggest "tank" is very large holding 750,000 gallons of water, and has almost 2000 fish in it. There are different varieties of shark including some Tiger Sharks that are 8 or 9 feet long. Also lots of manta rays. One of the most interesting parts of this exhibit is the 54 foot long acrylic tunnel that runs through it and you can walk through, with water and fish all around you.
Maui 104
Here is Pat at the beginning of that tunnel. The boys a bit farther down it are standing at the windows in the floor that give a good view of the bottom area of this tank.

Maui 105
This is another view of the tunnel taken looking back from the other end. There is a slight bend in it, probably to strengthen it. The fish here are brought in from the open ocean, spend some time here, then are returned to the ocean and are replaced by others.

Maui 106
Here is a shark, I think it is a reef shark, that looks to be about 6 feet long.

Maui 107
And a manta ray swims by the tube where these photos were taken from.

Maui 108
Near the gift shop is a fairly shallow display with some very colorful fish. I do not know what this one is but it has an almost transparent look to it.

I now want to go visit the aquarium in Seattle and also the one at Monterey, California. I understand they are both outstanding exhibits. If you visit Maui, be sure to plan a stop at the Maui Ocean Center. It is well worth your time.

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