Sunday, February 7, 2021

PODCAST FAVORITES

 

I was talking to a classmate yesterday and mentioned a podcast and woke up this morning and had two thoughts.  First, I do like working on projects listening to podcasts and learning.  Working with my hands while listening to interesting topics and learning is fulfilling.  The second thought was I’m happy with my current stable of podcasts, but always looking for more.  I don’t know what I don’t know.  So below are my current favorites.  Leave a suggestion or addition in the comments! 

 

News

The Daily – M-F, am, New York Times, deep dive on one subject the NY Times is covering

Today Explained – M-F, pm, Vox – different format than the daily but typically deep dive into one subject

Global News Podcast– I think it’s twice daily, from the BBC and a recap of world news (from a colonial power point of view)

Wonky Political stuff:

The Weeds – from Vox, various policy discussions, leans progressive, but not rabidly so

The Ezra Klein Show – Former Wapo Journalist, co-founder of Vox, now working for NY Times.  “Explanatory journalism” would be a decent description of his approach.  Wonky guests talking about policy and policy options on a wide range of subject.  Informative, low key.

Gzero World with Ian Bremmer – various guests discuss global affairs.  His specialty is global risk factors

Stay Tuned with Preet – Preet Bharara, former US attorney, breaks down legal topics – good source for separating ‘legal’ from ‘political’.

Shoe Leather Politics – the older brother of one of my sons friends puts this out.  Interesting history / political commentary ‘between the handshakes of respect’.

 

Other stuff

The Economist – Podcast from the Economist Magazine

New Yorker Radio Hour

Tides of History:  Patrick Wyman brought the middle ages and the fall of Rome to life in his podcast and recently delved into pre-civilization history and how homo sapiens, Neanderthals, and other humanoid predecessors lived and roamed the earth.  Highlights what we know – and don’t know – and does so in a highly entertaining way.

American Scandal – focused on past ‘scandals’ in history:  Three Mile Island, Exxon Valdez, Volkswagon Diesel Scandal, The Plame affair, Enron, Iran contra and others.  Usually multi part deep dive into specific stories

American History Tellers – Interesting series on past events

Ice Coffee – History of human activity in the Antarctic – the sound quality is not great, and he’s an acquired taste, but Matthew Alan McArthur gives an irreverent view of his place of employment.  Antartica.

The Moth Radio Hour – compelling personal stories

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, January 30, 2021

SHEARWATER PASSES BETWEEN GOOD HANDS

 


Shearwater's New Custodian

So here’s a fun small world story.  It starts with Bruce.  I can’t remember when I met him, but it was during college years and there was a group of us with a common attraction to boats, water, and Islands.  And, perhaps, just a little bit of beer.  I had made my first foray up to Alaska aboard a leaky wooden sailboat with no electronics back in 1978.  It must have been ’83 when Bruce and I hatched a plan to take his soon to be new boat up to Juneau and Glacier Bay.  He bought a 21’ Bayliner and called it “Moxee”.  We ended up taking that pocket rocket up to Juneau and Glacier Bay and started tacking more stories to our fairly long list of stories even then.  Bruce still retells them.  Some of them are actually true. 

Over the years, Moxee gave way to Moxee II, then Moxee III.  Power boats all, the last one a Trawler.  Each a platform for fun and adventure with family and friends.  Then he went back to his roots and bought a beautiful blue hulled passport 40, “Shearwater”.

I was fortunate enough to be on her during one of her first shake down cruises.  A rollicking sail over to Friday Harbor with some excitement.  We nearly dismasted it (the starboard upper was the leeward shroud and I just happened to notice it had become disconnected just prior to a planned tack), then we lost the inflatable, and when we cranked on the engine, the chop had shaken sediment laying in the fuel tank and clogged the fuel intake line.  Under sail alone we sailed into Friday Harbor for a picture perfect dead stick landing.  From our perspective.  For the crew on the ‘Silver Shalis’, it was nerve racking.   A nearly 200 feet, the brand spanking new Delta Yacht had its owner on for his first stay on his new Mega yacht.  With the Shalis crew pearing down from above, we greased down the side of it under sail alone to stick the landing in the open dock in front of the Shalis.  The owner had recently received a 4 billion dollar insurance payout from one of his properties.  The downed twin towers in New York. 

Over the years, Bruce and Carol lavished love and adventures on that boat.  It was a fresh water boat and they transformed it into a full fledge all season cruising sailboat.  6 or so years ago I was up in Desolation Sound, ran into Bruce as well as Andy and Jill Cross.  We tied the 3 boats together, enjoyed a great day – so much so we simply hit ‘repeat’ for the next day.  One of the truly great cruising memories.  For 11 years that boat was upgraded, loved, and used.

Fast forward a couple of years.  I can’t remember when I met Kristin Pederson.  It may have been at one of the Sloop Tavern Cruises, but I became a fan of hers.  Solid sailor, competent, and I followed her and Elena’s "Team Kelp" R2AK bid in 2017.  So  much so that I would wake up and yell at my screen when I saw they were sleeping way too much and not attacking the race as aggressively as I thought they should (they had no intention of attacking it aggressively and if I do that race again, I may take a page out of their book).  Kristin has been aboard Cambria with friends for dinner and helped on Race Committees aboard Cambria.  She was always thinking 2 or 3 steps ahead and had knack of being at the right place at the right time. 

My perception was confirmed when I spoke to a very tenured delivery captain with whom she had sailed.  He had a very high opinion of her seamanship skills.  Praise I don’t think he gives out often.

Up until a few weeks ago, Bruce and Kristin didn’t know each other and I’ve never mentioned one to the other.  Two completely different phases of my life two completely different groups of friends.  Bruce lives in Anacortes, Kristin in Seattle.  No overlap at all.  Until I get two messages spaced about a minute apart.

Kristin:  “I think I might buy a boat and the current owner says he knows you.  His name is Bruce Van Iterson”

Bruce:  “Do you know Kristin Pederson?”

And so the beautiful blue hulled passport 40, “Shearwater”, goes from one quality set of hands to another set of quality hands.  It’s been fun to watch.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

THANKFUL FOR 2020

 

I am personally very thankful for this year.  2020.  Seriously.  Genuinely thankful.

It was a miserable year for humankind and armed with a magic wand I would have changed it in an instant.  I can’t change the virus, politics, unrest, lockdowns, racism, or oh so many other things.

What we could control was our response to the virus and the other things.  It was, and is, a massive curveball nobody asked for.  Along with hundreds of thousands,  I was furloughed with virtually no notice.   I had made my wishes known in advance should tough choices need to be made and my wishes were followed (be careful what you ask for).

Virus and furlough.  Learning new concepts and words.  Social distancing, PPE, flattening the curve, hospitilizations, ventilators.  Frightening, but I had four advantages. 

First was Leigh. Strong, smart, medical background, flexible, a great partner with whom to discuss and parse information. 

Second were the discussions I had in the eighties regarding the AIDS epidemic with my medical doctor father.  The viruses, methods of transmission, etc are totally different from each other, but there were parallels.   Overblown hype, uninformed news, uneven adoption of safe practices, and fear accompanied both pandemics.  Over reaction and under reaction were both problems.  Dad was able, with his sober medically trained mind, to break things down for me and we chatted about it. The virus was the enemy and there were ways to avoid it.  One can never reduce the risk to zero, as a Mayo Clinic professor acquaintance of mine said, crossing the street carries some inherent risk greater than zero.  Risk mitigation, not elimination, is the key, along with acceptance of the residual risk.  You do what you can, and accept the result.

The third advantage was a bio tech email shared with me by another buddy back in early April.  The note was from their CEO who succinctly described a 12 to 18 month event, which at this point (December of ’20) seems about right, if not a tad optimistic.  Wrapping my head around a long term event, not wasting any energy or thought about ‘getting back to normal’ were keys to charting a path forward.

The final advantage was the hobbies or pursuits Leigh and I like to do.  Backpacking, hiking, kayaking, boating, visiting the island.  All covid friendly pursuits where minor tweaking, not drastic change, resulted a safe and rewarding experience. We didn’t make a habit of hitting bars, or revolve our life around eating out or attending concerns or sports arenas.  Occasionally yes, but not central pursuits.  The outdoors has always had an organic gravitational pull for both of us and that remained ‘in scope’ even with the pandemic.

So when the virus really hit, we were, unexpectedly and without real forethought, prepared.   Our experiences, pursuits, and relative financial health put us in good position.  The thing that probably tipped the balance was ready access to unemployment and the additional $600/week of unemployment.  I’ve never, in nearly 50 years of working, have ever taken unemployment.  It was, for 3 months, the difference between a little financial discomfort and no discomfort. It deferred the worrying should furlough turn into lay off.  Fortunately we returned to our jobs prior to the cessation of the extra $600.  Did we deserve it?  No.  Are we grateful?  A resounding yes.

Leigh was out of work for 2 months and I was out of work for 3.   After applying for the unemployment and realizing that we were in a fortunate position, the value of time shifted dramatically.  From a precious, carefully managed resource to a thing of abundance needing to be thoughtfully filled.  With no time to plan, we just started making decisions.  The greenhouse took shape.  A 9 by 5 underutilized patch of the yard was designated as the ‘site’ and we started digging.  And digging.  And digging.  A retaining wall needed to be built, the site leveled, water and electricity plumbed in, walls framed, roof joists made and custom glass installed.  None of which I had ever done before.  Early on I realized I was not ready for retirement and I needed something to ‘do’.  And by ‘do’, I mean plan, worry about and execute.  I worried a lot about the greenhouse.  There are seemingly an infinite number of ways to do certain things and the choices need to be first understood, then evaluated, with one path selected.  Over and over again.  It was both agonizing and fun and we are both happy with the final result.  A Leigh designed, Mark built, she/he shed serving as intimate wine bar and dining room. An office during the day. And a greenhouse.

We also continued our January/February plan of camping each month.  Somewhere, somehow. Each month.  The goal of camping each month locked us into a better planning cycle.  Which weekend was the camping weekend.  We got out on the kayaks more, camping on Blake Island and both Hope Islands, one in each end of Puget Sound.  We backpacked up on Mount Adams, camping at 7000 feet during the summer and went back near Mount Adams late in the Fall to spend a rugged night with 35 mph winds and 15 degree cold (without windchill).  We car camped near lake Cushman and near Port Townsend, slept a night on the beach in front of the cabin and during the middle of the lockdown spend a night in the backyard.  We spent two very social outings with Becky, pitching a tent near her trailer, one near Mount Rainier, and once on Whidbey island.  Hikes and trail runs accompanied both outings.

We also redecorated the little cabin.  Framing pictures, arranging and rearranging them, and planned a kitchen remodel (this winter, but in 2021).  We spend more time on the island and had great meals up there with mom.  While most were foregoing holiday meals, we time shifted, having two thanksgiving feasts and two Christmas feasts. 

We started using zoom, staying better in touch with friends that we’ve done in a long time. 

All this in a year where the general perception was staying home and lying low – which we did as well.  Our personal ‘bubble’ was very small.  Family only and even then being careful. 

Given all that has gone on, we are thankful for 2020.  A pivotal year, but one for which we are thankful.  For us, it was that age old lesson of being handed lemons and making lemonade.  There’s much truth to that adage.  What we couldn’t do filled volumes.  Figure out what you can do and do it. 

We are thankful. 

And now some pics that capture the year.  The green house had humble beginnings.  The only logical site was a sloped bit of land between the raised beds and the deck.  So excavation was done by hand and took some time.


Leigh did a ton of work.  Neither one of us had played with mortar much and it was a fun learning experience.
We had many 'builder / architect' discussions.  For the most part we communicated pretty well -- Leigh had the design in her head and here we're trying to get the roof height, angle, and overhang right.  

We had bought a vintage window from Earthwise Salvage -- they had salvaged a 1908 capital hill house


The window had some 15 coats of paint on it and Leigh stripped it down to wood, glazed the panes and finished the trim.  Paint on the outside and varnish on the inside.

Getting there


Pretty much the finished product with only that upper window left to complete.  It's an opening window with an automatic opener for hot days.

The inside -- a she/he shed that serves as an office, wine bar, intimate dining room and, oh ya, a green house.




Some other shots

This was the view from the tent in June when we camped at the beach.

We got a lot of use out of the back yard during the summer.  

After the lock down had eased a bit we cruised the south sound.  And wrote an article about it.


Given the separate living quarters on the island, visits became more frequent.


I also rebuilt Dad's gate to the house. The original had rotted and was falling apart.

Way down towards the bottom of this pic is Leigh and I.   A photographer caught us peering up at Mount Adams.
Another backyard fire...
 A marmot on Mt Adams poised with Rainier in the background,

Leigh watching the sunset from 7000 feet up on Mount Adams.


Backpacking

Leigh and Vera kayaking




Monday, April 13, 2020

VIRUS OUTBREAK IN THE NORTHWEST. A CAUTIONARY TALE.


The virus entered the town on March 12th.  Unseen, unfelt.  Silent circulation within the community was later to send public health officials into dramatic action with dire consequences.  Six days later, on March 18th, the news reported the first confirmed case.  Two days later another one.  The outbreak had begun in the Pacific Northwest bringing widespread panic.



But this isn’t current day nor is this the Covid 19 virus.  This was a known entity and a vaccine had been developed.  Quarantine protocols were known to all.  This is a true story that took place 158 years ago.



1862.  Victoria in what later was to be come British Columbia.  Four years since the gold rush on the Fraser River, Fort Victoria was on the verge of becoming a ‘city’.  A mixture of wild west with a British heritage, Victoria growing and on the move.  Later that same year the ‘Female Emigration Society in London’ was successful in bringing 62 marriageable young women to the predominantly male society aboard the SS Tynemouth. That year also marked the first gas lights on the streets of Victoria as well as first public baths. 



Enlightenment and egalitarianism were not hallmarks of 1862.  Civil war was raging in the US and the prevailing opinion on natives was certainly not one of openness and acceptance.  Wealth created by growth and opportunity in this still young town becoming a city spread unevenly with English bred Caucasians enjoying the center of it while Natives in various encampments around the outskirts of Victoria getting the scraps.  Natives from various tribes and villages up the coast to Juneau had temporary camps around the more prosperous center of town.



The arrival of the steamer ‘Brother Jonathon’ from San Francisco started the outbreak.  Built in 1851, the 220 foot paddle wheel steamer had been owned by Cornelius Vanderbilt, and was presently owned by the California Steam Navigation Company when it steamed into Victoria on March 12, 1862.  This was the same ship that 3 years earlier delivered the news to Portland that President Buchanan had signed the bill officially recognizing Oregon statehood.  But on this day the ship arrived with about 350 passengers, mostly seeking a recently announced gold strike along the Salmon river, along with an invisible, yet far more sinister, cargo.



Smallpox, like the Covid 19 virus, is highly contagious prior to presentation of symptoms.  Completely unaware, a person can go about their normal activities unknowingly infecting their associates, their family and strangers through moisture droplets of breath.  Once the incubation period for smallpox is over, the symptoms arrive suddenly.  Severe chills, high fever, loss of appetite followed by the characteristic lesions which eventually kill the skin.  If the person survives the initial symptoms, they may succumb later to secondary infections. The fatality rate is between 30 and 75%, depending on the strain of the virus and the one introduced into Victoria in 1862 was particularly virulent.



Smallpox was with us as humans for at least the last 2,000 years.  It was a well-known and feared disease.  Between 1796 and the mid 1800’s progress on vaccinations and regulations surrounding their use were steadily advancing.  Between 1843 and 1855 Massachusetts then three other states mandated smallpox vaccination.  While only recently eradicated, the human experience with the virus was well documented by the mid 1800’s.



By 1862, the medical professionals in Victoria knew how to deal with smallpox through vaccination, inoculation or isolation to prevent spread.  Isolation can come in two forms.  Either bring the infected persons together in a state of quarantine and insulate them from the outside population or sequester the healthy population together and expel the infected persons to outlying areas.  Or combinations of those three general techniques.   Which brings us back to what the government faced in 1862.



Predictably fear and panic spread.  Just as now, rumors and misinformation mixed with substantive fact.  The danger was real and newspaper articles of the day fanned the flames of public opinion.  There was some vaccine available, but not at times not enough, so inoculation, the less safe practice of taking virus  from a diseased person and injecting it into the superficial layers of the skin of a healthy person, was more generally used.  Both methods were not 100% effective, and both had risks.



On March 26, just 2 weeks after the arrival of the steamer, the Daily British Colonist advocated for the removal of all natives to protect the health of the colonists and warned of great danger amidst government inaction.    Attitudes along these lines had been prevalent well prior to the arrival of the virus, but the arrival of the virus gave new push to old sentiments.



For the next two weeks, the citizens of Victoria were urged to get vaccinated and by April 1st, roughly half of the residents of Victoria were either vaccinated or inoculated per the Daily British Colonist.



Throughout April of that year, the smallpox virus spread quietly through the Native population around Victoria.  Unseen at first, the toll worsened each week as the government wrestled with what to do, with English whites getting the benefit of vaccination and medical care.  By the end of April, a strident press increased their demands for government action to remove the increasingly sickly and decimated native encampments. 



Throughout this the tribes local to Victoria and the Puget Sound area appeared to receive vaccinations.  The tribes from the north camped around Victoria did not.  Encampments from at least 5 Northern tribes were suffering horribly at the end of April and the government actions lead to the inescapable conclusion there was far more concern with the risk to the white population and little if any regard for the welfare of the natives.



With Natives dying at an accelerating rate, authorities began expelling Natives, first with demands, then finally, on June 11th, at gunpoint.  The gunboat ‘Forward’ took a 15 day trip up to Fort Rupert with 26 canoes in two from various tribes.  What was left of the native population was expelled north.  Along with the smallpox virus.  The suffering and devastation that followed was horrific.



Robert T Boyd, in his work The Coming of the Spirit of Pestilence: Introduced Infectious Diseases and Population Decline among Northwest Coast Indians, 1774-1874, estimated that some 30,000 aboriginal peoples lived between Victoria and Juneau in 1862.  Over the course of that winter, 1862/63, roughly half would perish to the ravages of smallpox.  The rate varied amongst the tribes with some populations being cut by two thirds. 



I’ve read of other accounts with much higher death rates.  What is known is clear.  The virus was introduced to Victoria.  This was a known virus with known remedies.  Infected natives from a variety of tribes were removed at gunpoint with predictable end result.



There are vast differences between smallpox and COVID-19, but similarities as well.   Ultimately history will judge how we dealt with this new virus and the values we employed to fight it.  History will judge our collective actions, whether on the front line as health workers, people getting needed product to market, or those of us sheltering in place.  History will have the final word.  The cautionary tale of history should trigger thoughtfulness and long range thinking in how to deal with this new virus.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

January Kayak to Blake







We had originally planned to take ‘Cambria’ over to Blake.  42 feet long, two staterooms, two heads, a large salon with a Dickerson Antarctic diesel heater that bathes the entire boat with delicious heat.  Between that and a covered cockpit, Cambria is made for winter cruising.  Perfect for the 5th annual Sloop Tavern Yacht Club January Blake island cruise. 

Except for the pesky raw water pump which had been ordered, but hadn’t yet arrived.  Cambria was disabled until it was replaced.  




Leigh and I both independently came up with the idea to kayak over.   The party was too good to miss.  Great people, great location and that party seems to kick off the cruising year for us.    The tandem is a virtual station wagon and the weather looked ok for paddling Saturday and Sunday with a wind event sandwiched between the paddling times. 

Steady rain and steady wind would have deterred us, but we could deal with a mix of weather and as it turned out, the weather as a bit better than our expectations.


What’s so special about this particular cruise?  The people.  This isn’t your fair weather cruise crowd.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but this particular group of people year after year are experienced, interesting, and the conversations around the fire are entertaining and illuminating.

Saturday morning was a case in point.  Over coffee an interesting discussion revolved around war movies, world war I and II.  A few of us had seen ‘1917’ and the  movies touched discussed were Gallipoli, They shall not grow old,  Dunkirk, Midway, among others.  Informed views discussed over coffee and a fire.  Guys and gals, and a mix of generations contributed to what I found was a fascinating discussion.  The weekend was full of discussions, reacquainting with old friends, making new acquaintances, just a wonderful time.



Overall the kayak camping worked well.  The only real failure came in the morning after we had gone to the shelter to make a fire and crank up coffee.  Wind gusts increased and finally the tent partially collapsed.  Had that happened at night with the rain, it would have been a different story. 

Our learning with the kayak continues and I need to give thought to a navigation set up so I can better compensate for leeway.  




.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

SEVENTY48: WE'RE IN






We applied to Seventy48. Within a few minutes were approved to race.  The race is a human powered, non-supported race from Tacoma to Port Townsend.  The race website, with all the details, is here.


We have a plan heavily influenced by my experience at last year’s finish line.  I didn’t see the first ones to finish, but watched from around 8am Saturday morning on.  What I saw that morning were heroic efforts, pained faces, and variants of “I’ll never do that again” (many of whom, according to family and friends, said exactly the same thing after they finished last year).  As they day wore on, the smiles increased.  Laughter.  Clearly the later arrivals had more fun than the earlier arrivals.

We won’t finish first. We won’t finish in the top half of finishers.   We’ll finish Sunday mid morning, weather willing.  Just in time for the ruckus.  But if smiles are on our faces, it’ll be a personal victory.

Our boat is a Pygmy Osprey Double.  Wooden, stitch and glue, built by a craftsman in Portland who really knew what he was doing.  It was, and is, a well loved boat.

Training will commence shortly.




Sunday, October 20, 2019

T@B Trailer Weekend


The rain turned steady beating on the roof as I glanced at the cards in my hand.  I had played a two eyed jack scoring one sequence, Leigh was on the verge of tying up the game but I had just drawn a one eye jack allowing me to ruin her moment and win the game.  Though she protested otherwise, had the tables been turned, Leigh would have done the same thing.

The sound of the Skagit river flowing 70 feet away slowly gave way to the drum beat of rain.  Here we were on a dark and damp mid October night playing a game of cards in complete comfort in our rented T@B trailer.  The furnace kept the trailer toasty and we had just heated up curry chicken on the stove, sipping a nice napa cab while playing cards.


For those unfamiliar with T@B trailers, they are a teardrop shaped 2 wheeled trailer.  Small by trailer standards, but large by tear drop standards they offer comforts well above a tent, but well shy of larger home like trailers.  You are reminded you are still camping, but fairly comfortably.  The model we had rented had an inside galley consisting of a sink, running water (cold only, no hot water) and a 2 burner stove.  No oven, no microwave.  The dinette folds down to make a large (huge) bed.   It sleeps only 2, although 4 extraordinary friendly people could probably sleep on what amounts to a huge king bed.

Two people can stand in the galley, but if they move around a bit, bumping into each other ensues.  It’s a small, tight space.  Adequate, but marginally so by modern standards.

Neither Leigh nor I have a history of camping with a trailer.  This was a first for both of us and an experiment.  Would we like it?

Leigh had found the trailer on ‘RV share’, an RV rental site.  With the recent addition of a chevy Tahoe, we had the tow vehicle equation covered.

Checkout for the trailer was simple – drive to the owners house, get checkout on the systems, (it doesn’t have many), hook up and drive away.  The Tahoe is capable of towing a much larger trailer – when driving you can barely sense you are towing something, but prudence dictates a more conservative approach to following distances and driving style.

Leigh had scoped out several different locations which roughly mimicked the compass – North, South, East or West and we landed on the North Cascades highway pretty much at the last minute, driving away with the trailer. 

About 2 hours after leaving the Seattle area, we drove through an RV camp.  No trees, lots of big RV’s, hookups at every site and a nice camp guest ready to check us in.  The vibe just wasn’t our style.  Smiling, but departing quickly, we drove east on the North Cascades Highway.  About 25 minutes later, we drove through a camp ground where we had tent camped before. The Goodell camp ground off the Skagit river.   Open year around and at this time of the year, free.  Water had been turned off and there were no electrical hook ups.  Perfect. 

It was Saturday afternoon and the campground was nearly full, but there was a small site right on the river that hadn’t been taken.  With the small trailer, backing in was a breeze. 

As we settled in, Leigh’s nose would occasionally wrinkle as she occasionally got a whiff of ‘something dead’.   A quick sniff test around the camp site wasn’t conclusive and we went about the quick task of leveling the trailer and getting a happy hour ready.  A little over a year ago on a late summer’s eve we had dragged our chairs to the rivers edge watching a few swallows dart and weave above the water.  More and more swallows appeared as night approached until we realized they weren’t swallows. The air was thick with bats.

Our happy hour view - no one around
On this evening we didn’t see any bats, but as we dragged our chairs down the water I was looking for a larger mammal I had seen as I was getting water about an hour earlier.   A bear.  And that dead smell Leigh had caught a whiff of at our campsite?   Much stronger to the point of occasionally overpowering at the river’s edge.  Dead salmon.  Hundreds of them.  Spawning season on the Skagit.



We had happy hour on the banks of the Skagit, quietly reflecting on the salmon.  Some were still alive, giving it their last, a few more were jumping, but scores and scores lined the shore slowly decaying and offering themselves as food source the gulls, crows and perhaps some unseen bears.   Sad, sobering and majestic.  A life cycle I’ve read about since I was a kid, and have seen in more urban settings, but never in the wild.  This was about as close to seeing this annual ritual in the wild as I’ve ever witnessed.

The following morning, we were up for a hike.  Leigh had read about the Diablo Lake trail,  which required driving over the Diablo lake Dam.  Water level to the right, a nearly 400 foot drop on the left.  Single track.  Not much traffic, but if 2 cars meet, one is going to have to back up. 

Our trip across was mercifully uneventful. 




Fall colors abound as the Diablo Lake Trail began.  We walked by the impressive North Cascades Learning Center.  A place to check out occasionally as they offer interesting classes.  The architecture was impressive and it looked both expensive and temporarily abandoned.  It was, after all, the end of the season.

Gaining elevation the vegetation slowly changed from lowland coastal to approaching alpine.  Up up up.  Easy on this day for Leigh, I was struggling a little trying to keep up.




The views down are pretty good.  Shy of jaw dropping, but decent.  I’m probably becoming or have become a view snob.  We are so lucky here in the northwest to have great views and they really need to be stunning to set themselves apart from our everyday views – which are usually excellent.

The Diablo ferry was running down on the reservoir some 1500 feet below us and it gave thought to kayaking the lake sometime.  Ross lake is more popular, but Diablo has 3 boat in camping areas and that would be a fun Spring or summer time pursuit.  The water looked amazing.



After the hike we were back at the campsite and uncharacteristically had a fire.  A camp fire is nice, but archaic viewed from a more modern ethic.  We never have fires backpacking.   Camp stove only.  Even at established sites during summer, we generally refrain.  But here we were on a cold October evening.  Rain was threatening and a fire seemed pitch perfect.  It was.

Then the rain started in earnest and we went inside the trailer and turned up the furnace.  And played sequence.  Did I mention at the outset that I won?

Thoughts on a trailer.

We learned a few things.  First, that a trailer is rather fun, especially in the off season.  Summer is for backpacking and getting out there, but getting older, camping in a damp tent in mid October has lost its appeal.  Not that it had much to begin with. 

The trailer makes life comfortable.  At the RV show we saw a variety of levels of comfort.  From ‘better than a tent’ to ‘better than any house I’ve been in’.   It’s all a matter of degrees.  Each added foot in length, each added feature, each added system comes with increased expense, maintenance, complexity, and power requirements.  The list of nooks and crannies you can camp in decreases with each additional foot.  But the comfort!  Each added foot brings creature comforts inviting you to get out more – in terms of getting the trailer out more, but stay in more as in ‘stay in side the trailer’ once you are there.  At what point do you bugger up the word ‘camping’ and have a mobile second home?

We decided we need a few things inside a trailer for primarily shoulder season and winter camping.  An inside galley and an inside bathroom.  You can get smaller T@Bs with both those features and that trailer is fully adequate, but storage and space are just too tight for us. 

There are other trailers.  The ‘E Pro’ caught our attention.   Seemingly well built, light and small but with everything we thought we needed.   Plus a little space for storage.  All within 19 feet.  The interior was functional.  And depressingly devoid of charm.

That’s the thing T@B trailers have.  They are well built and they have charm.  Back in 2017 a new model came out, the T@B 400.  It’s on a larger footprint than the normal T@B’s but retains the shape and ‘cute factor’.  It has a small dinette and separately a full made up bed.  A small on board galley and a bathroom.  With running water.  Big enough to be comfortable and have space for storage.  Small enough to remind you you’re still camping.

I suspect we’ll be hunting for one….