Labor Day, School, and So Much More

The New Car

Yesterday marked the one monthiversary of buying our Bolt.

New Bolt!

Since we bought it, we’ve figured out that:

  • My bike fits in the back, but only with the seats all the way down and the passenger seat squeezed all the way forward–leaving room for only the driver. Clearly before we replace the Prius, I need to get a hitch-mounted rack for the Bolt.
  • The car has at least 300 miles per charge. Ian drove it for two straight weeks, just about 300 miles, without a charge.
  • The radio turns on every time we turn the car on, and so far we haven’t found a way to turn it off.
  • It feels like riding a bike: You’re very aware of ups and downs, since you’re paying close attention to energy usage; and it has a hand brake paddle on the steering wheel that lets you slow down or even come to a full stop without ever touching the foot brake.

Ian and Benji use the car the lion’s share of the time, since during the week I exclusively travel by bus or bike. It’s the first time I’ve actually wanted to drive the car… but not into downtown Seattle. I can’t believe how many people are actually willing to sit through the misery we call a commute in their single-passenger vehicles.

It’s been quite the month.

Labor Day Weekend

Benji, Dad, and I had a very fun Labor Day weekend, hitting Alki Beach and Twin Falls on back-to-back days.

Twin Falls

Twin Falls 2017 - 1

Twin Falls 2017 2

Twin Falls 3 - Benji on a Rock

Twin Falls 4

Benji at Twin Falls 2017

Twin Falls - Snoqualmie River

Twin Falls - Snoqualmie River 2

Alki Beach

Alki Beach 1

Alki Beach 2017 - 2

Alki Beach Labor Day Weekend 2017

Alki Beach 2017 - 3

Alki Beach 2017 - Tidepools

School

Benji’s half-day kindergarten at ORCS started on September 11.
First Day of ORCS Kindergarten
I think it’s going well, although to be honest, I hear very little of how the day actually went. All I can really say is that Benji goes, and then I see him in the evening and he probably has a craft and is tired-hyper. But anything in between — going to school, having lunch, doing the afternoon with someone — I just trust is happening.

But overall, from the little snippets I do hear, Benji is liking half-day kindergarten. We’ve started keeping track of our reading hours, and so far it’s about an hour a day. He also said he likes having his best friend Will in class with him, and his two favorite parts of the school day are free choice and recess. Just about right. I tried to ask about academics, but aside from being really excited about doing colors this week, I haven’t heard much.

So far, Benji’s remained astonishingly healthy, but he’s been sniffling and sneezing lately, so I expect that’s about to change.

At Benji’s 5-year doctor visit we determined he’s totally normal in terms of physical growth and such. The doctor did refer us to Children’s for an assessment of large and fine motor skills as well as speech. That’s still pending.

Meanwhile, we’ve had two weeks of school and no pattern set yet. Next week will be another week with no pattern, but starting in October things will hopefully settle down.

Work

My work has gotten increasingly busy. I like it, and I haven’t dropped any balls yet, but I’m starting to get close to full capacity. I have a secondary project that I’m really excited about, but it’s taking a long time because release notes and release-related content updates always take top priority. This release cycle, which finishes on release night on October 19, has a number of big stories that require quite a bit of time to document.

I’ve been bringing my work laptop home on the weekends in the hopes of getting some work done, but somehow I hardly ever do. It’s work I love, but weekends are so full, especially with wanting to spend time with Benji and Ian since I don’t see them as much during the week; biking; and (importantly) catching up on sleep (hopefully).

Twin Falls Hike: Photo Impressions

Day’s Verse:
When down-and-outers get a break, cheer! And when the arrogant rich are brought down to size, cheer! Prosperity is as short-lived as a wildflower, so don’t ever count on it.
James 1:9-11

Dad and Carmel on the Twin Falls trail.
On the Trail 1

I meant to do this.
Forest Blur

Nothing like a hike for getting out in NATURE.
Gridwork

I liked this leaf.
Watery Leaf

Dad gets credit for snapping this partially-submerged shot of Carmel.
Underwater Dog Nose

Trying out the waterproof claim of my camera.
Underwater

Check my Flickr photostream for more pictures.

Tiger Mountain Hike

Day’s Verse:
Look! Listen! There’s my lover!
Do you see him coming?
Vaulting the mountains,
leaping the hills.

Song of Solomon 2:8

A last few pictures of Carmel from her short stay with us. If I sit cross-legged on the ground, she immediately comes and sits in my lap.
Large Lap Dog
In the kitchen the other day, Carmel was vacuuming for us, Hoovering up food scraps from the corners. She twisted her head and stuck her snout under the oven to get something, and Ian said, “Oh, look, she comes with an edge attachment.” Which nearly caused me to snort tomato soup out of my nose, let me tell you.

I just like this picture.
Watch Dog

Today instead of me vanishing for the whole day on a long bike ride, Ian and I went and hiked up Tiger Mountain. Actually, we hiked up West Tiger 3. There were a number of other peaks we didn’t get to today, which was OK with Ian. This is his game face.
Ian @ Tiger Mountain West #3
You can’t tell, but it was apparently Asian Hiking Day, unless every day is like that there. I don’t know if it’s usual, but I swear 75% of the other hikers — and there were a lot of them, even on a cloudy, cool day — were middle-aged to old Asian people. There were also some younger Asian people with kids. But it was almost like a tour bus had disgorged a group of them, or maybe they’re a hiking club and today was Tiger Mountain day, because they clearly all knew each other. Anyway, it was kind of surprising.

Also noticeable was the grade. It was unrelenting almost from the start all the way to the top. I hadn’t been up to Tiger Mountain in years, since high school or maybe very early college. Definitely not in the last 6 years. And that was to Poo Poo Point, which I don’t think was as steep of a climb as this. Today my miles of biking paid off and I didn’t have any trouble, but poor Ian had to grit his teeth and put some real effort into getting up to the top. He was a good sport. It probably didn’t help that I loaded him down with the two water bottles and snacks. I carried my Rebel XS, which didn’t really prove worth the back pain it incurred (it seems like any time I carry anything on my back, no matter how light, I end up sore. Bah, humbug). Not much to take pictures of when the summit is mostly clouded in. But since I carried it all the way, here’s a picture that doesn’t really capture the vibrancy of the green or the mistiness or, most of all, the steepness of the trail.
Tiger Mountain Trail

And, lest you think I’m skipping out on the biking, tomorrow after church I’m planning on doing what should work out for me to be about a 75-ish mile ride to Snohomish with Team Earthdreams.

Seaside Day 8: Fort to Sea Hike

Day’s Verse:
Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.
1 Peter 2:16

Yesterday Ian and I did our most ambitious hike yet: the Fort to Sea, from Sunset Beach to Fort Clatsop and back. I call it a hike, but in places it was much more of a stroll, a walk, a perambulation, or a tromp. Here we are at the start, feeling fresh and frisky.
Fort to Sea: Start

We started by walking through a wind-ravaged clearing, crossed an amazingly elaborate pedestrian bridge:
Fort to Sea: Bridge

…and then spent a couple miles weaving through cow pastures, literally:
Fort to Sea: Cow Guard

Then, after tunneling under Highway 101, we transitioned into a some more woods and farmland.
Fort to Sea: Farmland

Good thing some genius invented trail mix. Ian carried the trail mix baggies in his jacket pockets because we didn’t have a backpack and I had used all the extra space in my camera bag with 2 PB&Js and 2 apples. I also carried a water bottle strapped to the back of my camera bag (the tripod holder, when empty, fits a Nalgene perfectly!), and Ian hand-carried another Nalgene. Next time, we’re bringing a proper backpack.
Fort to Sea: Trail Mix

After the farmland, we entered woods, but the trail remained well-maintained and graveled almost the whole way. Almost immediately we found a nice pit toilet and signs: 3 miles to Ft. Clatsop; 3 miles to Sunset Beach. Halfway there, and they gave us a potty break! Then we followed a meandering stream along the side of a valley, eventually climbing to the top of the valley for an overlook.
Fort to Sea: Overlook

The overlook was about 2.5 miles from the ocean, but it looks very far away. We gazed out for a while, ate trail mix, and moved on. The trail changed to a wide graveled road that led us almost all the way down to the road. We cross the road, meandered for about 1/4 mile (just long enough for us to wonder whether we really were near the visitor’s center), and voila!
Fort to Sea: Ft. Clatsop Visitor's Center
When we went inside, one of the rangers asked if we had a national forest pass. We were confused: Why would we need a pass? We’d just walked here from somewhere else, didn’t plan on doing anything on national forest land, and intended to turn around and walk back. Once the ranger understood our plan, she agreed we didn’t need a pass after all, but she said she hoped we’d come back and see the fort some time. So now I’ve been by Fort Clatsop twice and never seen it yet.

We used the visitor center’s facilities (aahhh, water to wash your hands!), ate lunch, and did the whole hike again — backwards! Actually, we took a the Alder Creek Loop up to the outlook, but after that it was all the same, and we didn’t walk backwards at all. too risky. Instead we walked normally and talked about number theory and different types of elves in Middle Earth. The cows had moved and were standing around one of the pass-throughs, which made us nervous. They kept eyeing us suspiciously, like they thought we’d come to steal their hay or something. We crept through carefully, only getting partly covered in 1:1 cow poop:mud goo. My boots need a good cleaning.

Here we are after 12.25 miles and 4 hours, back where we started:
Fort to Sea: End (Ian)

Fort to Sea: End (Katie)

Overall we agreed the Fort to Sea trail was a really excellent one. It had lots of different landscapes, from pastures — which you saw up close! — to lots of different types of forest to water meadow to regular meadow. Enough landmarks appeared along the way to keep it interesting, too. First you walk 2 miles and get to the Highway 101 underpass; then another mile and you get to the halfway bathrooms; another 1.5 miles takes you to the overlook, etc. It felt less like 6 miles each way than only a mile or mile and half to the next interesting point. Also, it was quite flat compared to the Tillamook Head hike, sticking closely to valleys and not needlessly hurtling over high points just for the heck of it. That made it a fairly easy 12 miles, coming in at just under 4 hours, excluding stops. I’m pretty sure we’ll be doing that hike again.

Moving On.

Day’s Verse:
A devout life does bring wealth, but it’s the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that’s enough.
1 Timothy 6:6-8

OK, it’s time to move on from the exciting bike crash. That’s in the process of being resolved, and in the meantime I’m contentedly riding the red bike.

This Saturday — a quintessentially Seattle fall day if ever I’ve experienced one — Dad and I went for a hike to the Kendall Katwalk. We saw a pika, some very aggressive beggar birds (one of which brazenly perched on Dad’s head), a pickle on a picnic bench, and a few other hikers, most of whom carried buckets of mushrooms. It was a perfect day to be a mushroom, actually, although not if mushroom hunters later found and drooled at the prospect of eating you. We also saw some very nice misty views of pretty fall foliage; I think, but am not totally sure, that it was sumac changing colors so brilliantly.

Anyway, Kendall Katwalk is known for having these dramatic drop-offs, but somehow they’re not so dramatic when they’re completely cloud-shrouded. We felt wind that seemed to indicate wide open space high up, and at one point the fog (is it fog when you’re up in the clouds?) cleared enough for us to get a nice glimpse of the valley below. Dad tried out his new cell phone’s camera on some of the views, which was a little odd since I’m used to Dad having all this amazing camera technology with him all the time — tripods and lenses and filters and stuff that help him take pictures. His cell phone camera produced this:

Katie Katwalk

But I’m more used to Dad producing photos like this:
Puddle Clouds

We had an excellent hike and came back pleasantly tired and fairly damp. I barely had time to shower, change, and help Ian with dinner before his parents arrived. We made honey baked chicken, bread, salad, and apple crisp, all of which turned out quite tasty. Best of all, we had a nice evening catching up with them after their 5-week European adventure.

Then on Sunday after church I attempted to make chicken stew with dumplings, but it turned out kind of watery and flavorless, for all there were zillions of vegetables and chicken broth and all sorts of goodies in there. Darn. Now we have 1.5 huge Tupperware containers full of it and I’m not sure what to do with it; I guess we’ll just suffer for a long time.

And last but not least I’m reading a book called Spin that’s quite original and well-written, but I suspect that I’ve been lured into yet another series. Hmm.

And that’s it for now.