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      Posting these cat-cartoons-without-the-cartoon was a long journey that I don’t know if I’ll repeat soon again. A daily blog is tough … even when you have your material handed to you! But, I couldn’t have done it without the artwork … Continue reading →
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Kayaking about

Posted by joeabbott on August 28, 2011

P8280010P8280016It’s about time for my yearly hike with my old Boeing chums and it was my turn to plan the hike. I tossed a couple ideas out to my pal Tim and he bit on the most unusual: a kayaking outing in the San Juan islands.

The only problem being, most of us haven’t kayaked much at all!

While I’ve kayaked a bit, I’ve never written about a trip in this blog, meaning it’s been nearly 5 years since my last outing! But, the plan is afoot and, as a testing of the waters (so to speak), I arranged a short two-hour kayaking outing with the crew. While our buddy Dan wasn’t able to make it, Ron substituted his wife Janet and Suzy joined me; they more than made up for Dan’s absence.

P8280002We met at Agua Verde at 10AM and spent a short time waiting in line before we were fitted out in kayak “skirts”, life jackets, and shown to our boats. From there we paddled out into Lake Union, through the Mountlake Cut, and into Lake Washington for two hours of beautiful weather on the water. We ended up resting a bit outside the arboretum amid lily pads, ducks, and quiet trees. Oh, and lots of other watercraft.

There were entire flotillas of canoes from a nearby rental shop and one poor couple in a paddle boat; I say “poor couple” as Tim summed it up saying, “they were working like mad and I just sailed past them effortlessly!” Such is the joy of kayaking: smooth, silent, and speedy fast.

That’s not to say we didn’t have a few moments of excitement as we battled waves in the Cut and negotiated the big boats on the lake, but overall it was a very pleasant two hours.

Afterwards we wandered into the Northlake Tavern for a bit of their “combo pie”: a monster pizza that is loaded with mushrooms, pepperoni, olives, and sausage. It was delish!

If you get a chance to enjoy such an outing, both the kayaking and the pizza, I highly recommend it.

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2011–Ingalls Creek Valley

Posted by joeabbott on August 28, 2011

P8190001P8190012Every year since 2007 I’ve had the good fortune of getting out for an annual hike with my friend Pete. I’ve cataloged a few of our trips in my Outings with Pete post, and will continue that tradition with a 2011 version detailing our trip to Ingalls Creek.

Some years ago I climbed Argonaut Peak via a route that came in from the south and up a loose gulley. It was a long day and I was constantly on the move to make time but I’d always promised to get back here. Well, Pete was game to head into the same region and so, rather than a one-day marathon, we planned a two-night stay along the Ingalls Creek.

To get the most out of the trip, we took two cars so we could make a large, crescent “loop”; rather than head in and out along the same trail. Additionally, this allowed us to create a route that would generally head downhill a goodly portion of the trip.

On the first day, Friday, I met Pete in Monroe, WA for an early breakfast and, after we finished, we started the long drive east. The plan was to get to Leavenworth, stop for gas, and then park his car at the Ingalls Creek Trailhead a dozen miles or so to the south. A fire on Hwy 2 in the vicinity of Leavenworth forced us on a detour that took us past our gas stop, but we continued on to Peshastin and then south on Hwy 97, the Blewett Highway.

We pulled in at the Ingalls Creek Trailhead and purchased a three-day parking pass for the truck … all the while wondering what official thought it was a good idea to have people place a notice on their dashboard announcing how long the vehicle would remain unattended. I may not be thinking like a thief, but that information seems like it would be interesting to opportunistic procurement specialists. But, we tossed his gear into my car and continued along to the Beverly Creek Trailhead.

PhotoWhile the two trailheads are about 11 miles apart (as the crow flies), we needed to traverse roughly 45 miles in the car to get there. But, the roads were in good shape, the company was pleasant, and on the way we found a little store that sold us chilled sodas. All very fine.

At the Beverly Creek Trailhead, we pulled in at the same time a man and woman with a horse trailer pulled in. While we saddled ourselves up, the couple kitted out horses. As the sun was full overhead, we splashed on sunscreen, I pocketed an extra bandana, and we grunted at the weight of the full packs. But, we were ready before the horsemen and so we locked up and started walking.

I had vague recollections of the trail but it was far rockier than I’d recalled. It was also more gently sloped and we made good time in spite of the fact that both of us weren’t in the shape we should have been. Soon enough, the sun and some hot spots developing on my feet suggested we take a break in he shade and I used that time to tape my heels. As we sat, the folks on horses passed and made a minor jibe in our direction at needing to stop already.

They passed, I got my boots on, and we continued up the trail after them.

Just as we were starting to gain altitude a bit more seriously, we found the riders had pulled off the trail and were going to turn around. One of the horses was panting heavily and continuing on was ill-advised. Perhaps a bit of karma catching up with them but it was more likely a temperature nearing 90º F that was the true culprit.

We continued up the alternately rocky and then churned-to-mush trail (horses will do that to a footpath) and made it to the intersection with Forth Creek trail just under Iron Peak. Here we stopped for a proper lunch and endured the flies as we cooled our heels, our bodies, and inwardly smiled at knowing the rest of the day the trail would be downhill.

It was here that I found that my water hydration bag had been slowly leaking into my pack since leaving the trailhead. To say I was disappointed is making a fairly generous understatement, but I had enough water to make it to camp. I wasn’t aware of just how wet things were in my pack until we setup the tent a few hours later. Good thing it was hot out … my wet spare clothes and gear would need it!

P8200038 StitchThe trip along Forth Creek to Ingalls went quickly and peeks at the distant Stuart Range peaks helped pull us along. We made our campsite around 4 PM and had the space to ourselves. The sheltered and shady trees made for a mosquito and fly haven but I was exhausted from too much work and too little sleep over the past week: I crawled into the tent and napped until dinner time.

We ate dinner a few hours later and enjoyed that the ending of the day brought relief in the form of some cooling, but mostly for the abatement of the flies and mosquitos. Pete found a large rock by the side of Ingalls Creek to perch on and watch the sunset and I sat on a log down the creek a bit reading a magazine I’d brought for just this purpose.

When it was dark enough to need headlamps, we retired to the tent, did a bit more reading, and then sleep stole over us. Or at least me … I slept like a rock.

P8200060Saturday, day two, dawned and I continued sleeping. I believe I slept until about 9 AM; unprecedented and impressive given my before-dinner nap from the day before. It felt great. But, getting out feels great, too, so we grabbed what day hike gear we wanted and started hiking west up the Ingalls Creek trail to Ingalls Lake.

The temps were again in the upper 80s and felt even hotter when we broke out of the trees and into the open fields.

On the way out I, again, had to tape my heels and the mosquitos and flies were back in force. And yet, the day was absolutely gorgeous: high, craggy peaks on either side of us, a cool and lively stream below the trail, and light packs made the miles drop by quickly.

We made it just below Lake Ingalls and decided to find a bit of shade on a low, rocky tor.

P8200050I again made use of the magazine I’d brought and Pete fetched water and snapped pics. As the day passed overhead we played some cribbage and split the set, did a bit more reading, and then packed up to head back to camp.

Before leaving our picturesque vale, Pete did his best Sound of Music impression and, arms out, spun in circles below the towering mountains around us. It summed up the feeling of the day very nicely.

It was likely the effect of having sat out in the sun all day, but the trip back seemed both long and tough. The trail again was the odd combination of ankle-breaking rocky in one section and a broken down muddy mess in others.

Upon getting to camp, I repeated my “afternoon nap” routine from the day before. It kept me out of the heat and bugs for a bit, which was very nice.

P8210079When we woke up we found neighbors had setup a tent in a nearby space. It was a couple and they seemed to have little interest in chatting so we all ignored each other for the rest of that day.

Pete and I had our dinners, snapped a few early-evening shots, and continued reading our respective magazine or book before calling it a day. While idling is seldom what I find myself doing, I seemed to be rather good at it. And, upon that reflection, I turned in.

Our last day of hiking was again, glorious, bright, and clear. We arose a bit earlier this day, had breakfast, and broke camp by 8:30 or so. Our neighbors were about 15 minutes ahead of us in terms of schedule and we shared a few pleasantries as they hiked the way we’d went the day before. But, my mind was on my pack and how heavy it felt compared to the lightweight “day pack” weight from the prior afternoon. Still, it was riding well and I was feeling refreshed from a tremendous amount of sleep I’d been getting!

Still, my estimate of “around 3 hours” for getting back to Pete’s car was well short of the 4+ hours it actually took us. And, to be realistic, I’m not sure why I thought we would be able to go 10 miles in hot weather with full packs in three hours. We weren’t in shape, the trail conditions on the way out included “overgrown” to the “rocky and churned” that we’d seen so far, and 10 miles is a good stint.

But, we weren’t really in a hurry so we broke 2-3 times, had a lunch in there, and finally got to the cars around 1 PM or so.

And that was the trip.

At Pete’s car we changed into street clothes, drove around to get my car, and on the way into Seattle got stuck in a 15 mile backup for two hours as we waited for a bad accident to clear. The stopped-for-nearly-two-hours traffic allowed me to tidy up the car and run a pair of socks left in my vehicle up to Pete. And while I was a bit worried about having enough gas to get home, the journey back (aside from the long delay) passed without incident.

It was another fine outing and one on which it didn’t rain at all. So, except for dousing my clothes in drinking water early in the trip, it was perfect in many ways. Thanks for (another) good trip, Pete!

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Been a while

Posted by joeabbott on July 23, 2011

My last post was 7/9 and today is two weeks later … but it feels like a lot longer than that!

In that time work seems to have exploded (or, if not exploded, crept into a series of really long days), chores around the house keep coming in, and the new chickens are eating up a bunch of time. But this weekend, it’s a fun weekend.

Last night Suzy and I saw a play, A Comedy of Errors, at Angle Lake Park. Today we have a play downtown at the 5th. Tomorrow we do nothing!!

In that time I’ll try to catch up on some of the blogging I’d meant to do: I’ll detail the final coop I built for the chicks, tell a few stories about having the youngsters about, and share a bit about the plays. Heck, maybe I’ll even share a few stories about the halibut I caught outta Westport last Saturday!

For now, though … now I’m just trying to remember how to blog a bit.

Smile

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Just where have you been?

Posted by joeabbott on June 9, 2011

imageOK, I tried to pull the track data off my GPS but I’m having some problems.

I’m not sure what went wrong, but clearly I had data corruption of some sort.

I hadn’t had my GPS on for some time … since April or so. Over the past weekend I used the GPS sparingly on the way into our Summer Land camp, then left it off while we climbed the mountain, but turned it on after we climbed Goat Island Mountain and allowed it to track me out.

Well, when I pulled the data off, I had all sorts of crazy lines, tracks and data on the map! I couldn’t make heads or tails of it.

Over the last couple nights I’ve worked on this and can only conclude that the data from everything before the Goat Island Mountain climb is bad, but having a chance to sync with satellites up high got it working well again.

Because that’s the odd part … most of the data looks wrong but the one track from the mountain out to the car looks PERFECT!

Yes, it shows that I didn’t really summit, it shows that our camp wasn’t truly at the Summer Land high point, and it’s spot on with what I recall in nearly every other way.

OK, so I have two mapping programs: National Geographic Topo! and Garmin MapSource.

Now, I prefer Topo!, but my version of the product is ten years old and doesn’t work with a GPS device connected via a USB port … yup, still looking at my COM ports! As such, it won’t work with my GPS, but the maps are far more accurate and it’s just an all-around better product. Yes, even at 10 years old.

The MapSource product I have is also old … but only four years old. Even newer, it’s a bit of a rookie tool but it works perfectly with my GPS. No small wonder as they’re both Garmin products.

Where am I going with this?

Well, I’m trying to find a way to pull the data from the GPS into the MapSource tool, then save the data in a way my Topo! program can use, and then work with Topo! to map and analyze the route information! I still have to work through that but, bottom line, I’m on the way!

Stay tuned as I continue to play with this stuff and thanks for reading!

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With the Cat Cartoon moving to a new site …

Posted by joeabbott on April 24, 2011

image… I’m back into the groove of only blogging on the weekends!

As usual, we have a lot going on and I’m ready to let you know what’s been cooking! But first, a recap of sorts.

My Lenten commitments have gone well: we’ve avoided eating out, no eating sweets, and no snacking. I’ve also given up caffeinated beverages. I would say all soda pops, but Trader Joe’s has a a blood orange soda that we’ve enjoyed at breakfast now and then … looking at the label, it’s pretty much orange pop. Oops!

During the last 40 days, I’ve lost over 10 pounds, and probably closer to 15. Suzy has lost 4 pounds. When I commented on this to her I noted that it shows I probably take in more calories from junk food than she does. Her response: “yeah, but we already knew that.” Ouch!

ZeroC_Thumb_128x96OK, Lent has been a success but it was trying. In past years we’ve given up either eating out or sweets but this was the first with both … and stealing a guy’s every vice is just cruel! It was a tough 40 days but I’m happy we didn’t break the promise and supported each other. For breakfast I enjoyed a couple cake pops and am now banging down a Rockstar soda.

The picture above and to the right is from last Sunday, spent with Suzy’s family enjoying a surprise party for Denise, Suzy’s sister. It was probably most surprising in that her birthday wouldn’t be for another week, but that was part of the surprise. To help her feel young on the 21st anniversary of her 29th birthday, we all “dressed young”. That meant Suzy was all in pink, and I had on some colorful suspenders and a propeller beanie cap.

The party was a hit that included pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, a piñata, and lots of treats. It was hard to avoid sweets and chips that day but I did OK as I commanded the grill and found lots of time in chatting with others. More pictures are here on Suzy’s blog/photo album.

P1020482P1020478I also finished the gate!

From my Another Weekend post you might have thought I had more of the gate completed, but at the time of that post, I’d really just cut the parts. We got home early enough on Sunday (from Denise’s party) to glue it up, and then I hung it on Wednesday. Well, it wasn’t done “right” so I had to do a little retrofitting and now it’s perfect.

On Wednesday I tried to get away with just attaching the hinge parts on the edge of the outside vertical piece. That worked fine, but the hinges were a quarter inch thick and made the opening side rub against a post. So I pulled it off, used a trim router to cut in a mortise on the edge, and chisels to clean it up. After that, I could mount the hinges in the recess and gain back that quarter inch. It doesn’t sound like much but it really made all the difference.

After that, I attached some “stop blocks” to keep the gate from swinging both ways, and finished it by adding a tensioning spring to hold it closed. Done!

So far the 4” spaces in the vertical slats have allowed my cat to walk on through but are keeping the chickens at bay. I hope that continues as I’d hate to have to retrofit this baby!

I completed that work this past Friday. I took the day off from work to finish up some projects at home. In addition to the gate, I completed a bunch of domestic chores and was able to check many “to-do” items from our list. So, in good conscience, I was able to get in a hike on Saturday with Adam up Mt. Si!

Originally the trip was for a few of us who are planning additional hikes this summer but, in the end, it was Adam, Dash (as in “the Incredible Dash”, his Bernese Mountain Dog), and me.

P1020484Mt. Si is considered a “training hike” because it’s just 4 miles but you gain almost 3000’. It’s a punishing bit of continual “up” when you have a pack on, but the trail is well maintained and the views from the top are wonderful. Unfortunately, it’s so close to Seattle that scads of people ascend it on a weekend. We got off around 7:45 AM and were able to park in the first row of cars; by the time we got down around 11:30 AM, cars were parking (stupidly) 3 deep on the ends and we had to cautiously thread our way out to avoid dinging cars. It looked like the lot was over-full by 30%!

Anyhow, after that I got home, I showered, and tried to help a bit with more chores. I swept the deck and driveway but mostly laid down and tried to avoid getting in Suzy’s way. My head was achy and my feet/ankles were sore. I needed the rest but was hoping I’d be more useful than I was.

And that brings us to today: Easter!

Today will be a day of treats, family, and a delicious meal. While today’s rain will keep people from enjoying the many hours and effort we put into the backyard, they can still look out on the beautiful flowers and watch the funny chickens strut about in their enclosure.

And that brings us up-to-date with our doings. So I’ll close with a Happy Easter to you all!

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Reminder: today is the last day for the Cat Cartoon to appear here

Posted by joeabbott on April 14, 2011

Starting tomorrow, they’ll appear on http://catcartoon.wordpress.com/ and show up on the sidebar to the right.

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My final labors–now that was a lotta work

Posted by joeabbott on March 26, 2011

P1020341My plan for today was to merely complete the steps up the left hand side of the yard and to get fat eating snacks and playing on my Xbox. Well, ok, so the plan was really just to do the steps part but the second bit sounds pretty good, too.

Anyhow, I found it was mighty chilly this AM so I waited until after 10AM to start my day. As I now look out on our sun dappled yard and squint at the brightness, I was working in a bit of weather that can only be referred to as a “contrast” to this sunny milieu. Yup, rained the entire time I was out there. Good thing we have a lot of clay in the yard or I would have sunk up to my keister!

I started by clearing away the top landing to make room for a bit of retaining wall to hold back the hill. It came out pretty good but I needed to go a bit higher (4 tiers!) than I thought. This ate into my lumber stockpile and I was finally left with only three 4x4x8’ timbers.

Unfortunately, I ran out of 3/8” rebar and needed to go back to Home Depot for more.

Then, while drilling holes for the rebar, I managed to pull the head off my drill motor! I saw a retaining clip floating around in the body but wasn’t able to affect a repair. I’m not sure if this is a “replace” or “repair” moment. I used the daylights out of that thing and like it, but it’s mighty well used at this point. Well see.

Anyhow, I was able to use the drill (as long as I didn’t try to pull the auger out and always used the reverse.) Maybe that’s what I should have been doing all along!

But, with the wall in place I flattened the steps and then dug trenches for the border pieces. That was a mess. Loose dirt, lots of clay, rain-soaked everything, rocks to slip on … it was quite a bit of work.

And yet, that fell into place, too.

I then emptied the four bags of gravel (could have used 5) and was disappointed to find they were washed river rock, and not crushed as I was hoping. But, it looks fine and once good and lodged into the clay, is holding everything well enough.

And that was it.

In the continuing rain, I cleaned up the scrap lumber, moved the salvageable parts to the garage to dry, cleaned the yard tools the best I could and hung them in the potting shed, and moved my soiled and stricken tools to the garage for attention tomorrow. With all that done, I disassembled and moved the tent to the garage as well.

While I’d hoped tomorrow would be a day of complete sloth, I’m deferring the garage cleaning until then. Puttering about the garage is never a major chore and I was tired of being wet and cold. So, I sold “work tomorrow” for a “warm shower” today.

And I’ve seldom been happier with a trade.

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There’s more to life than cats

Posted by joeabbott on January 22, 2011

imageI’ve been letting the cat comics take the center stage on my blog and, I expect that to continue. I’ll post one comic daily and thoughts about other things … well, less than daily. Also, work has been incredibly busy … just a lot going on and I’ve been putting in long days. And this from a guy who regularly puts in long days. Recent days have been a whole ‘nother level of longness, however.

But, as I reflect on my week, it’s been long but really hasn’t been tough. I have a friend, though, who has been seeing some tough times. To get a picture of what’s going on, I’ll share a quote from his wife:

Quite frankly, I like my neurosurgeons overly confident.

Yeah. That’s tough. And yet, so is he.

Anthony has been a climbing buddy of mine for years now. I was his basic mountaineering instructor some years back and, after the class ended, he went on to do things I’ll never do, but has included me in a few of his adventures.

We’ve probably been rained or fogged off more things than we’ve climbed, but we’ve touched the tops of some high places. The picture to the right was from this last summer when we did a hike to Twin Falls; it was pretty much at the upper end of what he could manage at that time. Since then he’s had some additional problems that are documented on a blog started to track his trials: Ants Go Marching On.

So, while I carp about an ankle injury that won’t seem to heal, a long day at the office, or a woodworking project that’s beyond my skill, I at least have never reflected on my situation and summed it up as Anthony did in a letter to one of his other friends:

Some days my hope is that my life will return to perfectly normal, and that I’ll get my body back. Other days I just hope to be alive next year.

I’m not a prayerful person, but what prayers I take time for will include a little something for Anthony and Lori, his wife. He’s a good guy and I think our relationship probably has a few more outings in it to enjoy together.

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Can you review the reviews?

Posted by joeabbott on January 6, 2011

I’m not sure if it’s proper but, heck yeah I can!

As the year ended, a number of “best of 2010”, “2010 notables”, or other such year-end summaries came to light. A few of these resonated with me and so I’ll talk about them in this blog. And what better way to start than to take a look at the “Joe Abbott Blog Review” I posted yesterday!

The first thing to come to mind is: man, I’m glad I’m not making a living off my blogging! Quick math says that 1800 views over the course of the year amounts to less than five a day. And when you consider that a full half of these are probably hits I’m making as I post, review, and edit things, it’s doubtful that my family’s even paid attention to what’ I’m saying, much less anyone else. I suppose one way to test that would be to blog about my childhood and their antics, but that’s a cruel way to test readership.

Smile

But, the fine folks at WordPress, in addition to providing me a space to spew and the aforementioned fine summary, note that my fecundity (as blogging goes) merits this blog a Fresher than ever rating. Like a mountain breeze! Let’s get out the calculator and determine what it takes to be part of the Irish Spring ™ blogging group.

Sixty-seven posts over 12 months (and, yes, I know in the last two months there were only a handful), gives me a posting every five days, or so. Not bad but I realize I go in fits and starts around blogging. Take the last three weeks, for instance, in which I’ve posted 12 times, yet I’d posted only three times in November! Clearly a bit of averaging going on here.

My final observation is one of amusement, in that my second most popular post in 2010 was something I’d written in May 2009! And nothing in my top 5 was posted earlier than March of last year. That’s a lot of time with nothing of substance to talk about.

But, it’s not surprising, either. The average post on “I’m playing a neato game” probably can’t compare in long-term relevance to “here are plans for building your own coop”.

So, what this ultimately does is remind me to be humble. Anyone can talk but if you want to be listened to, you need to build chicken coops or something else of merit. Now stay tuned for future posts in which we consider movie awards, notable passages, and even the weather! You can take the boy out of the Midwest but you can’t take the Midwest of out the boy!

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2010 in review

Posted by joeabbott on January 5, 2011

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2010. That’s about 4 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 67 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 179 posts. There were 703 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 109mb. That’s about 2 pictures per day.

The busiest day of the year was February 27th with 82 views. The most popular post that day was One for the birds.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were joeandsuz.com, kimandaaronstebner.blogspot.com, en.wordpress.com, cpgiffin.wordpress.com, and mail.live.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for joe abbott, 1 cubic yard of dirt, 10 yards of gravel, eave vents chicken coop, and http://www.comcast.com/wirelessrouter.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

One for the birds January 2010
6 comments

2

A weekend in the yard May 2009

3

The home team scores! January 2010
2 comments

4

Been a while February 2010
2 comments

5

Assembling the Chicken Coop, part 3 March 2010

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