zeerok

May 132017
 

Last weekend I hopped on my bike with camping gear in tow and went for a weekend jaunt out to the Snoqualmie Tree Farm. Starting at home in the Rainier Valley, I rode all the way out to the tree farm via the I-90 trail, Preston-Snoqualmie Trail, Snoqualmie Valley Trail, and various back roads. That took about half a day, and then I spent the latter half exploring the network of gated logging roads within the tree farm. On Sunday I did the same in reverse, except on the way back I decided to go around the north end of Lake Washington via the Snoqulamie Valley Trail, Tolt Pipeline Trail, and Burke-Gilman trail. Hauling the trailer over the steep hills of the Tolt Pipeline trail was no treat and I’m not sure that I would do that again. I was sore for several days after this trip.

More about the Snoqualmie Tree Farm: This is the area just west of the North Fork Snoqualmie River Road and drainage; it was owned by Weyerhaeuser for decades, but now is owned by Campbell Resources. The area is gated and generally closed to public access, but a non-motorized day use permit can be purchased for $8. Think of it as a capitalist version of a nature preserve. You won’t find pristine wilderness or rugged peaks in the Snoqualmie Tree Farm and the lakes are rather mediocre, but what is available are some fun roads to explore on a bike and relative solitude on a weekend. Many of these roads were originally logging railroads, so they are sort of rail-trails and nice to bike on. Camping is not officially permitted within the tree farm, but national forest land is available not far to the east.

Another feature is that it is relatively close to Seattle and a mere 33 mile bike ride from Columbia City to the mainline road gate, making it a perfect destination for a car-less weekend jaunt (although I wouldn’t recommend the Tolt Pipeline route).

Aug 212016
 

The top of Mt. Phelps

The top of Mt. Phelps

My Mount Phelps trip was a rousing success! Pictures are here.

I biked from SE Seattle to almost the end of the North Fork Snoqualmie Road pretty much per the Google bike directions. This route worked well except for the jaunt through Snoqualmie Ridge; the trail connecting the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail to Snoqualmie Ridge is quite steep and it dumped me into a terrible maze of subdivisions, golf courses, and gated communities. On the way back I elected to take the Snoqualmie Valley Trail and ride a short portion of SR-202 to Fall City, using 356th Dr SE, which was a much better way to go.

Once in the North Fork drainage I took the Weyerhauser Mainline Road to Gate 10 (per Google directions), which had quite a bit of truck traffic on a Thursday afternoon. At Gate 10 I switched over to the County Road, which was pretty dead on a Thursday, I think I only encountered one vehicle during the 2 or 3 hours that it took me to ride to (almost) the end. I considered camping at the confluence of the North Fork with Lennox Creek, where a bunch of roads branch off of the main road, but the place had an unsettling vibe to it and I continued up Road 5730, further towards my goal, in search of a campsite. This turned out to be a wise choice because the confluence became a shooting range on Friday evening. There aren’t any real great campsites up Road 5730, but thankfully I had my hammock with me and so I did not need a flat spot to pitch a tent. I found a spot about a mile up Road 5730 where a large washout had occurred within the past several years and there were lots of boulders to sit on and make a kitchen (complete with a water feature running through the kitchen), and some nearby trees provided perfect hammock attachments.

On Friday I took my bike, sans trailer, the last few miles up to the Blackhawk Mine site and stashed it in the bushes. As far as the scramble route up Phelps, someone has posted a route to openstreetmap.org which I pretty much followed on my GPS. There is a disconnected lower and upper portion of the posted route; once you reach the top of the lower route, the goat trail peters out then you have to bushwack and navigate to intercept the upper route. There is also some good info on the route here and here.

After finding the upper route, I was soon at the summit. I was treated to wonderful views of familiar peaks to the east, and although the air was somewhat hazy, I could vaguely make out a silhouette of Downtown Seattle to the west. It was Seafair weekend and I could see the contrails of the Blue Angles. Unlike many of the tall Cascade peaks, the summit of Phelps is quite spacious and there is room to explore and spread out. It’s like a small ridgeline oriented almost exactly perpendicular to an imaginary line between here and Downtown, which is why is has that prominent dome shape when looking at it from Seattle. I hung out at the summit for about two hours before heading back down. On the way down I instead descended a gully directly to the south of the peak, which short-cutted around most of the upper portion of the openstreetmap route; I think this was easier than the traverse connecting the upper and lower routes, but this way might be a bit tricky on an ascent because you have to find a specific spot to get through some cliff bands, and the spot is not apparent from below.

After another lovely evening in my impromptu campsite and a good nights sleep in the hammock, I packed up my bike and trailer and headed back towards Seattle. It was Saturday and there was a lot more traffic on the County Road, however this time I found a gated road that followed the east side of the Snoqualmie River between Wagner Bridge and Gate 10. This was a very nice way to go, no traffic on a weekend, better road surface, and I think less up & down than the county road. At Gate 10, I again took the Weyerhauser Mainline Road, and much less traffic here on a Sunday. From there I followed my route back home, minus the portion through terrible Snoqualmie Ridge.

Aug 042016
 

I am currently on my way to climb Mt. Phelps, using only human power to get there from home.

Mt. Phelps (incorrectly named “McClain Peaks” on Google and USGS maps) is a prominent dome-shaped peak clearly visible east of Seattle. I have had my eye on this peak for a while and it took some sleuthing to figure out what it was; there isn’t a whole lot of info about Mt. Phelps despite its distinctiveness on the skyline. The confusion over the naming doesn’t help matters.

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Anyway, the plan is to ride with my bike and trailer about 55 miles up the North Fork Snoqualmie drainage today and camp out near the end of the road near the Blackhawk Mine. Tomorrow I’ll scramble Mt. Phelps and maybe explore around the area time permitting. Then Saturday I’ll ride home.

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Mar 272016
 

It’s never to early to start learning to Ski! Over this winter we took Elza up to Stevens Pass a couple of times to go Alpine skiing. We gave her some 80cm skis, a pair of small ski boots, and a harness, then took her up to the top of the hill and gave her a little push. Next thing you know she’s skiing like a pro (well, a 2-year old pro). We started on the Magic Carpet hill a few times and then graduated to Daisy and even one run on the Brooks Chair. Photographic evidence is attached.

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We have also been taking her out on some nordic skiing adventures. On those trips, she rides in the Pulken.

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Jul 252015
 

Today I will leave on a 10-day hike/scramble in the Sierra Mountains in California. The Sierras are not my regular stomping grounds, but my friend JP convinced me to go along on this hike that he has been planning for a long time. JP started the northern portion of the Sierra High Route a while ago, and then I will join him in Bishop along with his other friend Greg to do the Southern Sierra High Route. If all goes to plan then we’ll exit near Cottonwood Creek on Aug 6.

May 152015
 

Over the past fall and winter, Amie, Elza and I went on several trips to search for fine edibles.

Lake Cushman
In early October, we rented a cabin at the Lake Cushman Resort. It was the off-season and the place was deserted. We harvested a bounty of Chanterelles, both Yellow and White, a bunch of Lobster Mushrooms, and one large Sparassis crispa! We also went on a lovely day hike up staircase. On this trip, we discovered a delicious way of cooking mushrooms: dousing slices with olive oil and baking them on a cedar plank (next to the Salmon).
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Chanterelling with Canadians
One of our AirBnB guests really wanted to go do something local with us, and we had been thinking about visiting one of our favorite mushroom patches along the I-90 corridor, so we all piled in the Pathfinder and headed up to our secret location near Rattlesnake Lake. We found a good amount of Yellow Chantrelles. The guests were from Vancouver BC and they seemed to really enjoy the trip. Elza rode in the backpack and helped spot mushrooms.

Undisclosed Lake
At an undisclosed location northwest of Snoqualmie pass, we set out on what was intended to be just a day hike. We were pleasantly surprised to find a healthy patch of Matsutake mushrooms. We gathered a bagful on the way up, arrived at our destination, then on the way down picked the ones we missed. We let Elza walk the last 1/2 mile down the trail; she did great except for one collision with a woody shrub.
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Razor Clamming at Long Beach
Amie, Elza, & I rented a cabin at Shakti Cove Cottages and our friends Grace, Eric & Allie rented an adjacent cabin. We stayed for two nights and all collected our limit of 15 clams per person on both nights. Shakti Cove is a great place to stay for clamming, it’s walking distance to a beach that is separated from the main beach access by a large creek, so it doesn’t get a large amount of traffic. The clams we dug, although plentiful, were rather small compared to what we are used to. We also went for a hike at Leadbetter Point State Park, and to our surprise found a few nice patches of Matsutake!
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Another Chanterelle trip
The chanterelles seemed a little early on our previous visit to the location near Rattlesnake Lake, so we ventured out for a return visit a little later in the season. We found several good patches, some were already picked but still plenty to be found.

Chicken harvest
For our next harvest, we didn’t have to travel far at all. Our chickens, no longer the spring chickens that they once were, were not laying many eggs, while still consuming large quantities of feed and tearing up the yard. So with a heavy heart, we butchered the four chickens remaining in the flock. While we were at it, we also adopted two other old hens from others and processed them as well. Later we had a yummy chicken stewed in a red wine sauce for two days and cooked for about 6 hours.
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Razor clamming near Grayland on MLK weekend
Over the weekend of MLK day, we made another trip to the coast in search of Razor clams. We headed down to Olympia on Saturday to meet up with our friends David, Alex, and Zoe; then we carpooled over to Greyland and drove out on the beach. The first spot we tried wasn’t all that fruitful, so we piled back into the car and drove down the beach a ways (where there were more cars parked on the beach). We had better luck in the second spot. Amie and I dug our limit of 15 clams each (we were pondering whether Elza was entitled to 15 clams of her own; the published rules are somewhat gray on the subject). Then we drove back to Olympia where Alex and David cooked us a delicious dinner, then we spent the night there before stocking up on artesian well water and then headed back north on Sunday.

Razor Clamming at Westport
We made yet another quest for Razor Clams in late February with our friends, Sherri, and Maya. We rented a vacation rental in Westport with beach access and spent two nights. Unfortunately the clams weren’t very prolific near the beach house, so we had to drive down to our previous spot close to Greyland. The clams were large but were more sparse and we really had to hunt for them. We got close to our limit both nights. Elza again had a great time at the beach riding on Owen’s back.
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Dec 282014
 

For three weeks from April 12 to May 4 last spring, Amie, Elza and I embarked on a grand road trip through California, Arizona, and southwestern Utah. Our home for these three weeks was a surplus vanpool van that my dad purchased some years ago and converted into a DIY camper of sorts. The van had a futon in the back, a secondary electrical system for running a cooler and lights, and lots of room for our stuff.

Since Elza likes to participate when either of us try to use a computer or use our phones, it has taken us quite a while to complete the documentation of our trip, also we took about 2,000 photos and going through all of them was not a trivial task. But here you go, better late than never.

Day 1; Friday April 11: Packing
We reserved an entire day for packing. I worked on some last-minute tweaks to the electrical and audio setup in the van. Then we loaded up the futon and the rest of our gear. The following three photos illustrate our van camping setup.
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Day 2; Saturday April 12: Drive to Portland
We loaded up the remaining few items into the van, grabbed the baby, and headed south towards Portland. In Portland we hung out at our friends JP and Sylvia’s house, walked their neighborhood on a pleasant spring evening, and found a food truck for dinner. We spent the night at JP & Sylvia’s place and got an early start the next day.
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Day 3; Sunday April 13: Drive to Big Bend, CA
We headed south on I-5 to Eugene as the sun rose over the Cascades, and had a nice brunch at the Morning Glory Cafe. Then, we took the scenic route through Klamath Falls and the Modoc National Forest. We wanted to stop at Howard’s Gulch campground for lunch, but we arrived to find it closed and instead we went up an unnamed gravel road on the other side of the highway and set up Elza’s high chair and used some scrap wood to make a picnic table. After lunch we hiked a bit up the road and scrambled up a columnar basalt outcropping. Along the road we found interesting obsidian and petrified wood specimens. We arrived in Big Bend just before dark; on the last few miles Elza informed us that she had enough car riding for one day.
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Day 4; Monday April 14: Hang out in Big Bend Hot Springs
Big Bend Hot Springs is officially closed to the public, but we had received an open invitation from our friend Seabrook to come visit. He welcomed us and took us on a lovely tour of the land. Big Bend Hot Springs has a collection of natural and developed hot springs, including one pool perched above the confluence of two rivers, and a geothermal well used for heating the buildings on site. The goal is to get the place up to code so that it can be opened to the public, but there is a lot of work to do to get improvements such as a fire suppression system installed, utility poles relocated, and going through permit review with the county.
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Day 5; Tuesday April 15: More Big Bend
Today we stayed in Big Bend for another day and helped out in Seabrook’s garden. this was the night of the full lunar eclipse, which we enjoyed from the Osprey Pool while Elza slept within range of the baby monitor; it was the perfect evening and a very special moment.
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Day 6; Wednesday April 16: Drive to Lafayette
We loaded up the van for a drive to the bay area to visit some friends in Lafayette, near Walnut Creek. The drive only took a few hours and we arrived in time for dinner.
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Day 7; Thursday April 17: 2nd day in Lafayette
Amie went to yoga with our friend at a fancy-pants yoga studio while Elza & Owen went on a hike in the hills adjacent to the property. It must have worked because Amie got carded while buying beer for Owen on the way home (just a few weeks before her 40th birthday).
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Day 8; Friday April 18: Lafayette Day 3
Today we just hung out and helped our friends set up for a big Easter party.

Day 9; Friday April 18: To Hemet
We quickly packed up and got a fairly early start. We would like to have taken the scenic route via Yosemite and Inyo National Forest, however that would have made for a long day and probably would have exceeded Elza’s daily driving time limit, so we found a compromise route via The 99, a nice alternative to The 5. We had an excellent lunch at an organic restaurant called Revive Cafe in Fresno. We thought it would be wise to avoid the Los Angles area on a Friday afternoon, so we took a route over Tehachapi Pass and descended into Hemet at sundown. Grandpa Dave met us at the door to the “ant farm” where he and Winnie live, and showed us to the guest quarters where we stayed for the next few days.
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Day 10; Saturday April 19: The Living Desert
We piled into Grandpa Dave’s Honda and all went to the Living Desert in Palm Springs. It was very hot in Palm Springs, but we survived and had a yummy dinner at Native Foods Cafe before heading back to Hemet.
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Day 11; Easter Sunday April 20
Elza, Amie, Grandpa Dave and I went to Diamond Valley Lake and took in the scenery. Unfortunately the Museum there was closed for Easter, so we went back to Hemet and then joined Winnie for an Easter Brunch. Elza took her first steps that evening in Dave & Winnie’s living room.
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Day 12; Monday April 21: To Arizona
We packed up the van, said our goodbyes to Grandpa Dave and Winnie, and then headed NNE into Arizona. We stopped at the Chamber of Commerce in Wickenburg, located in the old train station, and got some info on a short hike in Box Canyon on BLM land. We took a lovely evening hike down Box Canyon and saw a rattlesnake and lots of saguaros. The trailhead was pretty deserted (ha ha) and seemed like a fine place to camp, so we did.
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Day 13; Tuesday April 22: Watson Lake
We woke up to a lovely sunrise, and then continued NE towards Prescott. We went on a short day hike at Watson Lake amongst some interesting rock formations. After that, we drove to Dead Horse Ranch State Park (thankfully there were no dead horses there) and rented a cabin for a couple of nights. After we got ourselves settled down at the cabin, we hiked around the park in the evening as night fell.
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Day 14; Wednesday April 23: Verde Valley Railroad and on to Sedona
In the morning, we did some much-needed laundry in Cottonwood; Elza had a grand time running around the laundromat while we waited. Then, we took an excursion on the Verde Valley Scenic Railway. After that we set off towards Sedona. We had a fine dinner at Ken’s Creekside in Sedona, then bummed around looking for a place to camp. Finding a place to camp/park was difficult. Sedona is a rather hoidy-toidy place with no-camping ordinances and signs everywhere and few sanctioned camping options available. Finally we found a turnout on a dirt road just outside the city limits that didn’t have any threatening “no camping” signs and seemed fairly out of the way.
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Day 15; Thursday April 24: Boynton Canyon
We woke up early and went on a hike at Boynton Canyon. Boynton Canyon is a popular hike, but for good reason. The hike starts out in a narrow red rock canyon, that is, after you hike around the enormous and gaudy Enchantment Resort that sits in the entrance to the valley. The trail ends at a high point with modest views, but we scrambled a little bit past the official end of the trail and found much better views. Thanks to some info from others on the trail and the topo maps I had downloaded to my phone, we located and visited some impressive cliff dwellings. That evening we camped at Cave Spring Campground (featuring an actual spring in a cave) and cooked a delicious dinner.
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Day 16; Friday April 25: Oak Creek Hike
Today we went on a hike at West Fork Oak Creek, just a bit south of Cave Springs Campground. This hike winds through a narrow canyon with one of the area’s only year-round streams. The trail crosses the stream about 14 times before ending at a submerged canyon, where the signage encourages most visitors to turn around at this point. We, however, took off our hiking boots and waded through the canyon, with Elza on Owen’s back on the way in and on Amie’s back on the way out. This was the most beautiful and interesting part of the hike. We saw what we think was a Milk Snake on the trail too. After the hike, we drove north through Flagstaff and then into the night where we camped at a desolate location between Flagstaff and Page after the van’s headlights cut out a couple times while driving in the pitch dark (this was later fixed with an old T-shirt and duct tape).
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Day 17; Saturday April 26: Antelope Canyon
We woke up bright & early and had mediocre breakfast in Page, then we went on a guided tour of Antelope Canyon, a popular and impressive slot canyon, situated in the eerie shadow of the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station. The weather was cloudy with light rain. We took a lot of photos. After that we drove west towards Zion National park and cruised into Springdale looking for a place to stay the night. This proved challenging and we ended up cooking dinner in the town park and then parking overnight in a place on the side of the highway signed ‘no camping’ (we were simply parking…)
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Day 18; Sunday April 27: Zion
We spent this day exploring Zion National Park. The place was a zoo, even in early spring. The variety of people visiting this park was almost more interesting than the scenery and natural beauty. The most common wildlife sighting was of several species of gray squirrel, and almost every one had at least one human taking a video of it. Zion has a very nice shuttle system used to access the lower canyon area. A benefit of the shuttle system is that it allows a visitor to take a one-way hike and end up at a different trailhead. We went on a hike to Emerald Pools and then caught another shuttle to the Temple of the Sinawava at the end of the canyon. After that we returned to the van and then drove through the Mount Carmel tunnel to the east end of the park. The eastern portion of the park actually looked like a more interesting place to explore, but we had to continue eastward towards Bryce Canyon to stay on schedule. We found a very nice campsite in the Dixie National Forest just NW of Bryce Canyon National Park.
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Day 19; Monday April 28: Bryce Canyon
A dusting of snow greeted us in the morning at our campsite, a result of being at 7000+’ elevation. We quickly whipped up some breakfast, packed up, and ventured into Bryce Canyon National Park. We checked out the visitor center and then went on a nice loop hike through the Queens Garden. Bryce was much less crowded than Zion; the campgrounds weren’t even open yet. After the hike, we checked out a little bit more of the park, decided that it all looked the same, and then drove eastward towards the Escalante drainage. We camped that night at Escalante Petrified Forest State Park.
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Day 20; Tuesday April 29: Slot Canyons in Escalante
Since we were staying at the Petrified Forest State Park, we of course had to check out the petrified forest. We hiked the lovely loop trail and saw some really cool petrified logs. Then we headed to the Escalante-Grand Staircase Visitor Center to get some beta on good places to explore in the area. The rangers there were very helpful. We wanted to explore a slot canyon more off the beaten path, but also baby-compatible. They steered us to a trailhead that accessed three different slot canyons, called Dry Fork, Peek-a-Boo, and Spooky. This sounded like a fun adventure so we stocked up on supplies at the fabulous Escalante Mercantile & Natural Foods Store, and then headed down the Hole in the Rock Road. This was a horribly washboarded rough road and we could drive the van no faster than 20-25 mph without rattling our brains out; the trailhead was 30 miles down this road. Along the way we stopped at Devil’s Garden and roamed around for a bit. The hike to the slot canyons was pretty easy compared to that horrid drive. But the canyons were spectacular. Peek-a-boo had an exposed climb at the beginning that we didn’t feel safe carrying the baby through, but Spooky was fun to explore. It was so narrow that Owen had to take Elza out of the backpack and hold her above his head to negotiate the narrow canyon. Then we checked out the Dry Fork Canyon, which wasn’t as narrow but goes on for quite a ways. We had to turn around because it was starting to get late and we weren’t sure exactly where we would be camping that night. We ended up camping near Dry Fork wash just a little ways down the Hole in the Rock Road.
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Day 21; Wednesday April 30: Escalante Canyon
We started off the morning by driving back up the horrid Hole in the Rock Road; along the way we checked out some cool dinosaur footprints. Then we headed east on Highway 12 to the point where it crosses the Escalante River. From there we hiked up the Escalante Canyon a few miles to an impressive arch formation, and checked out a view of a cliff dwelling, where we turned around. We tried to camp nearby at Calf Creek campground, but it was hopelessly full. Instead we continued up highway 12 for a bit until we found a nice spot on a gravel road just off the highway.
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Day 22; Thursday May 1: Lower Calf Creek Falls
We began today by backtracking a bit on highway 12 and hiked on the Calf Creek Trail to Lower Calf Creek Falls. It was a pretty hot day, and the mist from the falls created a nice oasis where we ate lunch. Elza ran around in the sand and boulders around the plunge pool and thoroughly enjoyed herself. We saw some impressive petroglyphs along the trail. After the hike we headed north on Highway 12, stopped at the Anasazi State Park Museum in Boulder, UT, and then continued to Torrey, UT where we stayed at a nice hotel and had dinner at Cafe Diablo.
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Day 23; Friday May 2: Capitol Reef
We took a quick drive through Capitol Reef National Park, through the main road and then down the scenic drive to the Pioneer Register, stopping at several scenic turnouts along the way. We didn’t have much time to go on any day hikes, but it seemed like this park was pretty well set up for auto-touring. After exploring Capitol Reef, we headed northwesterly, through some terrible traffic in the Provo/Salt Lake City area, and then made it as far as Pocatello before the Baby’s driving time limit expired. We found an inexpensive motel in Pocatello and crashed there for the night.
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Day 24; Saturday May 3: Craters of the Moon
We started out by heading north out of Pocatallo towards Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve. We checked out the visitor center and then hiked around the Devil’s Orchard. Then we checked out the spatter cones. Unfortunately, Amie twisted her ankle in one of the spatter cones. Due to the spatter cone injury, the unruly baby, and general malaise, we decided not to explore the lava tubes. After Craters of the Moon, we continued northwesterly towards Boise, where we had an early dinner, then continued north through eastern Oregon and back into Washington State. We pulled into the Selah Creek Rest Area on I-82 late and crashed there for the night.
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Day 25; Sunday May 4: Home
A beautiful sunrise greeted us at what must be the rest area with the best view in all of Washington State. After utilizing the facilities, we pulled back onto the interstate and were back home before 9:00 AM. Then the unpacking began…
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Oct 262014
 
Internet Antenna

The Internet Antenna, installed

1.5 Mpbs was a great broadband speed, back in 2002. CenturyLink’s refusal to upgrade the DSL speed in our neighborhood, and their lousy/incompetent customer service combined with their general hostility towards 3rd party Internet Service Providers (ISPs) made me start to look for other internet connectivity options. As of this weekend, after months of tinkering on the roof and tweaking radio frequency settings, the Passiflora Farm has officially cut the cable and this webpage is now being served through the new internet antenna. The internet antenna operates in the 5.8 GHz ISM band and uses a dish antenna pointed towards an access point located on a building on Capitol Hill. It took several months of tinkering and about $150 in hardware, but now I am enjoying 10 Mbps dedicated speed internet (both upload and download) while bypassing any of the two or three large broadband providers that everyone else in Seattle is forced to use.

Cortland Communications has been my ISP Since 1998, and they are great small locally-owned company. Before the internet antenna, my connection to Cortland was via a DSL Line provided by USWest/Qwest/CenturyLink; with Cortland acting as a 3rd party ISP. Cortland also provides internet connections to selected locations via point-to-multipoint microwave broadband wireless connections.

On a whim I contacted Mike Levy, the owner of Cortland, to see about getting a wireless broadband connection to the house. Unobstructed line of sight would be required to one of Cortland’s two transmitter sites; one of which is in West Seattle and the other on Capitol Hill. The West Seattle location was out of the question due to that pesky Beacon Hill, but Capitol Hill was a possibility thanks to the fortunate orientation of Rainier Valley. I climbed up on the roof to see if I could see the Council House, the building that hosts Cortland’s transmitters. Not quite; some trees on the foothills of Mt. Baker Ridge seemed to be in the way, but only barely. Then I attached a camera to a 10′ pole and hoisted that up on the roof. Using the self-timer I snapped a photo that showed the top of the Council House barely peeking out above the trees.

The only way to know for sure if this would work would be to get some equipment and try it out. Mike is rather busy, running the whole ISP business himself, and I am a rather small-potatoes residential customer, so if I wanted to try this out then I would have to pretty much do all of the setup myself. Seemed like a fun project. Mike invited me to come over to his shop on Delridge and he gave me some equipment and mounting hardware and walked me through the configuration steps. I would need to build a tower on the roof of the house to get the enough height for the necessary line of sight; this seemed like a bit of a daunting task.

Access Point

The view from the access point

The other issue was that Cortland didn’t have an access point currently pointed in the direction of Rainier Valley. So Mike and I set up a time to go up on the roof of the Council House and get a new access point set up. Then I started thinking about how I would construct a tower on my roof. The tower design I came up with uses two 3/4” EMT conduits coupled together, one 10′ long and the other about 3′ long. At the coupling, three guy wires are attached that hold the pole in place. I stopped by Puget Sound Solar’s shop and got some clamps that attach to our new metal roof, the same ones they used to attach our solar panels, and used those to anchor the guy wires. A dish antenna is clamped onto the very top of the pole, and the “subscriber unit” is attached to the pole below the antenna. An ethernet cable runs from the subscriber unit to the basement and connects to a power injector that provides power to the radio via power-over-ethernet.

When I first powered on the internet antenna, it successfully associated with the access point, but the connection was not very reliable. I spent some time trying some different frequencies but nothing worked satisfactorily. I had to make a return visit to the Council House to find a higher mounting location for the access point, and I had to convert the polarization of the roof antenna from vertical to horizontal by taking down the pole and rotating the dish 90-degrees, then more frequency tweaking. After all that, I finally got a stable connection at 5768 MHz and it has been working great for several weeks. A third visit to the Council House was required to run a new ethernet cable to the access point after my hastily patched-together cable blew apart on a windy October evening.

The final step was to get static IP addresses assigned to the internet antenna and move the kehoe.org server over to one of those IPs. This happened on Saturday, and this means that the Passiflora Farm house is now completely off the DSL and connected to the interwebs via the internet antenna.

I was a little woried about the antenna during the windstorm last night. The connection did get knocked offline for a while, but the antenna was still standing. The wind rotated the whole pole so that the dish was pointed towards somewhere like Kirkland. A brief visit onto the roof this morning to point the dish back towards Capitol Hill was all that was needed to get back online.