Jan 03

Christmas2014-624
Weihnachten 2014
Many of you readers are wondering why I took so long to post a Christmas report. Why didn’t it come on late Christmas? Or, at least, on 26DEC. Well, if you are asking, go suck on green persimmons. My top priority in life is NOT to provide the world instantaneous reports of what I just happened to do in the last hour, or what one of my children/grandchildren/nephew-niece or other relative just said that was cute. I will enjoy their cuteness in a hedonistic fashion, realizing to the rest of the world, my child/grandchild/whatever will be viewed as a solipsistic spoiled brat. No, I’m also not going to tell you what I just happened to cook, or what I am currently eating (I just happen to be taking my Abendmedikamente geschluckt mit Bier und eine Dose Rosarote Lachs für Eiweis Anhang); and if you can’t read German, you really don’t need to know what I eat/ate/will eat.
So, today, I went for a short bicycle ride (41 miles) with Russ Anderson and had an inspiration to write this post. The ride was at freezing point, and we returned quite cold. It took about 2 hours to thaw out. I don’t mind those sort of experiences. I get more annoyed when it is too hot, and I am borderline on a heat stroke. But, thinking about Christmas, Christmas tends to be melodramatic. We spend a lot for presents which don’t seem to be appreciated commensurate with the money spent or the time taken to select and purchase those items. This year, we avoided the mall altogether (Betsy and I went once just to visit the Apple Store several days after Christmas-we didn’t buy anything). We had the Hastings over, and sang Christmas carols, which we all really enjoyed.
Christmas Evening – Jon and I attended the 11 pm Gottesdienst. Bei Mitternacht gibt es Kerzenanzundung mit dem Raumlicht aus und das Stille Nacht Lied singen. Und dann, zu Hause. Every year, I make up cinnamon rolls from scratch, make about 8-12 platters of them, and then freeze them, giving them to friends, fiends, and family as gifts (aber, nicht giftig!). You simply set them out the evening before, and they unthaw, and then rise by morning, allowing you to stick them in the oven and have fresh cinnamon rolls in the morning. I made up a prime rib on the Trager grill and we had all the kids over (except for our dearest Rachel and Alex and kids). We had just installed an outdoor fireplace, into which we got a fire going, while the older kids played with the bb gun. Then, dinner.
 

Patrick as marksman on the bb rifle.

Patrick as marksman on the bb rifle.


Sammy as competitive marksman.

Sammy as competitive marksman.


Dean smirking at Patrick and Sammy, knowing that some day he will whip their Arsch on the firing range.

Dean smirking at Patrick and Sammy, knowing that some day he will whip their Arsch on the firing range.


Me cutting up the prime rib.

Me cutting up the prime rib.


Die Kinder devouring the Christmas Dinner.

Die Kinder devouring the Christmas Dinner.


Dean wanted prime rib but enjoying what he got.

Dean wanted prime rib but enjoying what he got.


The adult table.

The adult table.


Then, it was time for the kids to open up presents.
Elizabeth showing off her doll.

Elizabeth showing off her doll.


Elizabeth with mutant Frozen character themes.

Elizabeth with mutant Frozen character themes.


Sammy loves rocks.

Sammy loves rocks.


Dean wasn't sure at first what to do with the presents, but soon figured things out.

Dean wasn’t sure at first what to do with the presents, but soon figured things out.


Afterwards, we decided on S’Mores for dessert. The outdoor fireplace was the perfect place for that.
Roasting marshmallows on the campfire.

Roasting marshmallows on the campfire.


Roasting buttocks on the campfire. Left to right, Doug, Diane, Sarah, Andrew

Roasting buttocks on the campfire. Left to right, Doug, Diane, Sarah, Andrew


It was a wonderful Christmas, with a focus on God and family. Hopefully, each Christmas could be all the more so. By the way, I got the shirt in the first photo from my favorite German patient. It seems to sum up matters in few words.
The Feucht family wishes you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
 

Tagged with:
1 Comment »
May 28


MayCycleRides-576
Riding in Oregon with friends, family, and self, 21-26MAY2014
I had always wished to return to Portland to do some rides that I had tried as a kid, but which didn’t end so well. I wished to ride the Gorge, do Larch Mountain, and run around a number of the places I used to ride bicycles when I was growing up in Portland.  So, this adventure gave me that opportunity. I started by driving down to Portland after work of Wednesday evening. The next morning, Aaron H. came to meet me at the hotel, and we took off north. Riding across the I-205 bridge, we rode eastward along the Columbia River, following the Washugal River once we reached Camas, WA. A short segment brought us back to the Columbia River highway, where we passed Beacon Rock, crossed the Bridge of the Gods (photo above, with Aaron showing off his banana), and then rode back along the old Columbia River highway. The bicycle trail was now complete all the way out to Cascade Locks, though my cycle instructions did not realize that. The ride up to Crown Point and then back to Gresham and Portland was exhilarating. Here is the Garmin data…

The next day, I touched base with brother Gaylon, and rode a ways out the Springwater Trail to Boring, OR. It was boring, and so we turned around and came back. Garmin data…

On Saturday, I had wanted to ride up Larch Mountain with Aaron, but we decided to do something a little less strenuous, and so I came down to Salem, to do a fantastic and beautiful ride with him in the foothills of the Coast Range, and through the farmland of the Willamette Valley. Here is the Garmin for that…

Sunday was a day to relax. I spent about 4 hours with Lewis, which was much needed. I then spent time later again with Gaylon.  The weather was drizzly, and I was worried about Memorial Day, Monday, where it was supposed to rain heavily. On awakening, the weather was cloudy with sun, so I decided to go for it. On Gaylon’s advice, I headed down the I-205 corridor to Sunnyside Road, over to 152nd, down to the Clackamas River, and then back the Clackamas to Oregon City, crossing the old Oregon city bridge into West Linn, riding up to Terwilliger Blvd, headed up Terwilliger past the medical school,  (seeing the Terwilliger trail which I jogged many times while in medical school), crossing back across the Hawthorne bridge, and then (mostly) up Clinton Avenue back to the hotel on 92nd and Stark St.  I had rode the Hawthorne Bridge many times on my bike, but it was much easier now, as the wooden planks had been replaced with a solid platform. Here’s the Garmin, and a photo while crossing the bridge…

MayCycleRides-572

Hawthorne Bridge Crossing


On returning to the hotel, I threw everything in the car and dashed home. My ole BMC was a wonderful bike to do all of this riding, and it proved immense comfort and efficiency. Someday, I’d like to do the Larch Mountain climb. I’ve already worked out with Aaron to return to Oregon for the Crater Lake loop. I need to do much more riding with Gaylon, getting him into a little longer endurance rides. Altogether, it was a delightful and successful trip. Besides bicycle riding, I got to stop in at Powells Book Store, Bob’s Red Mill, and REI, as well as several bicycle shops. I should be back in Portland at the end of the STP in July, and hopefully one more time this summer for some riding.

Tagged with:
1 Comment »
Apr 29

China2014-586

I have had a flurry of writing at the beginning of the year, but it has now been two months since I’ve written a review or commentary on my life. So, away we go with a trip to China. Together, Betsy and I took over 1200 photos, so, you are seeing only a small sampling.
Dr. Liao invited us to go on a trip with him to China. He had been suggesting this to me for quite a while now, and we have finally gotten around to going. The trip lasted from 10-26APRIL, and we visited 5 cities, representing central China. The weather was cool, with intermittent rain. The atmosphere was not smoggy, but actually quite hazy, making for less than optimal photographs. Click on the individual photographs for a larger view. Here is the blow by blow of our travels…
Friday Diane tok us to the airport, and we met Mike, before getting on the Hainan express to Beijing. The flight went 1 hour shorter than expected, and eleven hours later, 4:50 the next day, we landed in Beijing. After finding our hotel and checking in, we went out for a quick dinner, and crashed.
Sunday: Mike had arranged a guided tour for today, which included first a visit to the Great wall. It was  great. According to Mao, anybody that visits the Great Wall is a hero, so, Betsy and I are now heros. After that,  we visited the tombs of the Ming dynasty emperors, with a focus on the third, Yongle. We then visited a silk factory and purchased a silk comforter, a jade factory, and a tea specialty house for a tea tasting. That evening, we decided to do some Chinese cuisine, which we enjoyed. This was on what was called “bar row”, where we met a friend, XiaoDong, of Mike, who joined us at dinner. This restaurant was on a lake, which we then walked around before heading home. XiaoDong is a biomedical scientist, possibly in line for the nobel prize, but very delightful in personality.

Dr. Liao at the Great Wall - a real hero!

Dr. Liao at the Great Wall – a real hero! 


The tomb area of Yongle

The tomb area of Yongle


The restaurant menus come as picture books. Here is an example.

The restaurant menus come as picture books. Here is an example.


Out for tea

Out for tea


Monday: first, Tian’nanmen square, which is just a large plaza. We wished to see the Chairman, but his tomb was closed, as well as the Forbidden City. So, we opted for seeing a flower garden next to the Forbidden City, and then going to the Summer Palace. The Summer Palace was build by the Ming dynasty, but burned by the British, and then again by the British and the French, and each time rebuilt. It was massive, with a very large lake in the center. The Buildings were all over the hillside and very ornate. After dinner, Betsy and I were exhausted and crashed.
The gardens next to the Forbidden City

The gardens next to the Forbidden City


Ming dynasty architecture at the Summer Palace in Beijing.

Ming dynasty architecture at the Summer Palace in Beijing.


A stiff climb up to the top of the hill in the summer palace area.

A stiff climb up to the top of the hill in the summer palace area.


Boat trip across the lake at the Summer palace

Boat trip across the lake at the Summer palace


 
Tuesday:   A quick breakfast first was followed by a trip back to Mao’s grave, and then the Forbidden City.  Mao’s grave was most interesting. There was an hour long line, as roughly 200,000 plus people visit the grave each day. You pass through security, and are not allowed to have bags or cameras, no photos were obtained. You are sold white flowers to leave at his grave. In the building, you enter a large room where his statue is sitting in a friendly pose,  carved in giant white stone, similar to the Lincoln memorial. In the next room, his body lays in state, reasonably well preserved. Mao has had a comeback in China, remembering him not so much for his colossal mistakes (the great leap forward and the cultural revolution)  but for his absence of corruption and for uniting the Chinese people.  We then went to the Forbidden City. Mein Gott! This made any European palace system, including Versailles, look like kid’s stuff. The palace and grounds were huge. There were over 8,000 rooms. There were huge squares. Sadly, Chaing Kai Shek looted most of the treasures of the Forbidden City. Schwein! They now sit in Taiwan, and don’t belong to them. Every building was exquisitely decorated in the most ornate fashion. It all made you feel quite small. The evening was spent having Peking duck, and then cha he pijiu (tea and beer) on a rotating restaurant on top of our hotel.
At the enclosure leading to the Forbidden City.

At the enclosure leading to the Forbidden City.


Inside the Forbidden City

Inside the Forbidden City


A small section of the Forbidden City showing its immense size

A small section of the Forbidden City showing its immense size


Wednesday:  Today, we say goodby to Beijing and hello to Xi’an. After breakfast, Mike and I first visited the Beijing Hospital, the best hospital in the country of China. It was a zoo. There were wall-to-wall people lined up various activities, such as waiting to pay for an appointment, waiting for the doctor, etc. There is no such thing as an appointment time as it is first come, first served. The hospital was nice, but just miserably crowded. After that we went to the Beijing Cancer Hospital, the best cancer hospital in the country. We met a doctor friend of Mike’s, and toured the place. It also was a zoo. China needs a better system—they have great doctors but no system. From there, we checked out of our hotel, ran down to the other end of Chang’An Jie (Long Peace Street) caught our high speed train to Xi’an, was picked up by a driver, and delivered to our hotel after having dinner. This hotel would have been a $4-500 hotel in the US, but we paid slightly more than $100. Throughout the travel, including the high sped train, and the hotel, it did not seem like we were in China, as things seemed to be nicer than in the USA. Construction was occurring everywhere you looked.  There was an unbelievable dynamism occurring.
A crowded waiting room at Beijing Hospital

A crowded waiting room at Beijing Hospital


Thursday:  this was another hectic day. After a quick breakfast, we headed off to the terra cotta soldiers of Qin She Huangdi. The site was massive and overwhelming. We then went to a site that had the swimming pools of the emperor’s favorite concubine. After a massive lunch, we headed to the museum and burial site of China’s only female emperor, Wu Zetain. Dinner was again held, with a bit of overeating, but meeting some of Dr. Liao’s acquaintances in Xi’an.
Main area of the Terra Cotta warriors. There are over 6000 that have already been excavated.

Main area of the Terra Cotta warriors. There are over 6000 that have already been excavated.


Terra Cotta soldier wanna be's.

Terra Cotta soldier wanna be’s.


A typical lunch scene.

A typical lunch scene.


Today we got to try duck's feet and duck's heads

Today we got to try duck’s feet and duck’s heads


Mike practices his calligraphy at Mr. Yeung's office

Mike practices his calligraphy at Mr. Yeung’s office


Our most gratious host, Mr. Yeung.

Our most gracious host, Mr. Yeung.


Example of instructions everywhere not to walk on the grass, in poetic form.

Example of instructions everywhere not to walk on the grass, in poetic form.


At the swimming pool of the emporer's concubine. She was reportedly the most beautiful woman in China (next to Betsy, of course)

At the swimming pool of the emporer’s concubine. She was reportedly the most beautiful woman in China (next to Betsy, of course)


Friday: another quick breakfast, and then we headed off to a local Xi’an hospital. This was a private hospital, and they were in the process of building an entirely new hospital, which we toured in the construction phase. It is 27 floors,  1000 beds, with both in and outpatient facilities in the same structure. They then held a conference to ask our ideas on forming a more American style service to the hospital. The hospital is private, in that it was owned 80% by the doctors and nurses in the hospital, and 20% by other investors. After lunch, we went to a museum of ancient history, where relics from s far back as the Shang dynasty were on exhibit, going up to the Tang dynasty. I was amazed at the exquisite character of the workmanship in the bronze material. Xi’an has the largest complete still existing city wall in the world. It was huge, 15 km in length, and bounded by a river. We looked at the gate which was essentially the starting point for the silk road. There were amazingly no tourists there, but it was an impressive site. After paying a visit to a local Catholic church, where they were having a Bible study, we headed off to dinner.
Part of the 15 km wall of Xi'an. It was very large on top, room for 4 lanes of traffic.

Part of the 15 km wall of Xi’an. It was very large on top, room for 4 lanes of traffic.


Saturday: We checked out of our hotel, which was probably the nicest hotel that I’ve stayed in ever. There was even a private sauna in our room. We went to breakfast, and then visited the large Buddhist temple in town. Xi’an was one of the main towns that promoted Buddhism early on in its introduction to China, so it was a significant town for Buddhism. The restaurant experience for lunch was most unique, as Betsy and I saw foods that we never dreamt to be possible. Duck feet and duck heads, chicken feet, squid, frog legs, and vegetables that I have never even heard of before. The food was Anhui, which I’d probably avoid in the future.  We later stopped at the largest hospital in Xi’an, and drifted around. It certainly was large enough for over 2000 in-patients. Next stop was the airport. So far, we’ve been in a city of 22 million, and 8 million. We are now heading to Chongqing,a city of 11 million persons. Small towns just are a bit hard to find. Dr. Liao’s two older brothers met us for dinner. Dinner in Chongqing was at a hot pot, where each seat has a hot plate that has a sauce pan with boiling water with spices. You take various items and cook them yourself to eat. The hot pot was first done done in Chongqing.
Our hotel, on the banks of the Yangzi river.

Our hotel, on the banks of the Yangzi river.


The cross-walk just outside of our hotel.

The cross-walk just outside of our hotel.


Sunday- this was a lazy day. We started out by hitting a McDonalds for Betsy’s sake for breakfast. Mike left us alone to tend to family issues, and we were able to spend a relaxing morning in our hotel room. We took a long walk along the Changjiang (Yangtzi River), while Mike went to help resolve family issues. Later, we met Mike’s brother, who is a physics professor at the University and Susan, who took us to a historical museum in Chongqing where the forces of the Kuomintang slaughtered a large number of Mao supporters who were in prison here. The evening was a family get together, where we met Mike’s parents, and had a large, real Sichuan dinner. Nothing was recognizable except for the kung pao chicken, which was super-hot.
Historical museum of the Chongqing prison.

Historical museum of the Chongqing prison.


Old shopping district in Chongqing.

Old shopping district in Chongqing.


Les Trois Mousquetaires - Two of Mike's three brothers

Les Trois Mousquetaires – Two of Mike’s three brothers


The Liao family gathering in Chongqing. Mike had the sweetest parents.

The Liao family gathering in Chongqing. Mike had the sweetest parents.


Monday- breakfast was at Starbucks! We took a walk again along the Changjiang before checking out of the hotel. Mike’s brother, the physics professor, picked us up from the hotel, and we went down to the center of town, which was a large shopping center with super-rich shops such as would be found in Bellevue, or on the Kö. Lunch included the standard Sichuan cuisine, which was quite hot and spicy, but very flavor-able. Much of the food was unrecognizable to us, and contained very strange creatures. We then dashed to the airport, flew to Hangzhou, and was picked up by Mike’s sister-in-law, who taught traditional Chinese medicine at the medical school in town. This includes using acupuncture, herbal medicines and things of the like. Every hospital has traditional medicine doctors, who are used in treating select illnesses. We got to our hotel by 9pm and collapsed. The area of the hotel is called the Xihu Qu, or the Westlake District, the most expense real estate in all of China. I’m told that Hangzhou was an area of the first experiments in capitalism in China, and there was clear success.
Mike's sister-in-law outside one of the pagodas on WestLake

Mike’s sister-in-law outside one of the pagodas on WestLake


Pagoda on WestLake

Pagoda on WestLake


Tuesday—after breakfast at the hotel, we were picked up by Mike’s sister-in-law, and toured a number of museums and places of interest. The museums in Hangzhou were all free, making it nice. We first went to a silk museum, where they had on display historical silks from many mons ago. They also had a nice display of the silk making process. We went to a large experimental farm established by one of the emperors from several hundred years ago. We toured a ceramic museum, which showed the development of porcelain from ceramics many moons ago. We went to one of the large pagodas on the banks of Xihu. There was lunch, and the took a long walk around Westlake, including a boat ride to one of the islands in the lake. The Xihu (Westlake) area is like one massive park on steroids, very popular and thus very crowded even in slow times, though not often visited by foreigners. It is meticulously cared for, massive flower beds, and most beautiful. We had dinner on the lake. Hangzhou is known for its particular cuisine, which is not hot, but distinctly different from other Chinese cuisines. The food tends to have more fish in it, and tends to have a more slimy character. After dinner we were tired, stuffed, and wanted to crash.
WestLake area

WestLake area


View of part of WestLake from the top of the pagoda

View of part of WestLake from the top of the pagoda


Scene on WestLake

Scene on WestLake


Mike searching for directions

Mike searching for directions


Wednesday—This was a slower day for us. We spent much time walking along Xihu, people watching, buying tea and other things, eating at Burger King (not as good as the US), and then drifting on back to the hotel. We then met Dr. liao’s brother-in-law, who is working on a PhD in constitutional law in Beijing. He took Mike and I on an extended tour of our hotel side of the lake (Xihu). We again visited a number of museums, and then tried this famous local dessert made out of the powder of the lotus plant root. It tasted good, but was a bit slimy in texture, but is well liked by Chinese. We had dinner in a very popular restaurant along the shore of Xihu, and the restaurant where Mike was married. Dr. Liao’s nephew Andy was with us, 11 years old, and who will be starting boarding school in Connecticut this August.
Elderly couples dancing in the park in Hangzhou. This was commonly seen by us.

Elderly couples dancing in the park in Hangzhou. This was commonly seen by us.


Mike's brother in law, talking seriously with Mike.

Mike’s brother in law, talking seriously with Mike.


Outside of one of the museums with Mike's brother in law.

Outside of one of the museums with Mike’s brother in law.


Lotus schleim. I actually tasted good.

Lotus schleim. I actually tasted good.


Scene from the WestLake park.

Scene from the WestLake park.


Girls loved to have their photographs with Betsy.

Girls loved to have their photographs with Betsy.


Thursday—today we were picked up by Mike’s sister-in-law and taken to the train station. The ride was one hour from Hangzhou to Shanghai. In Shanghai, we first found our hotel, and then took a cab ride to the international district. We saw the building where Mao and twelve people wrote the constitution for China, and then we went out to eat at a faux-German restaurant. The beer was good, food very so-so. Afterwards, we walked along the riverfront, looking at the buildings of Shanghai, and slowly drifted home. Hangzhou was a small town of only 3 million people and 8 million in the metropolitan area, but Shanghai had 10 million in the city and 20 million in the whole area, a little bit larger city.
Shanghai architecture across the river from Mike and I

Shanghai architecture across the river from Mike and I


Friday—today is a lazy day, with a focus on shopping. We went to two shopping areas, where we focused on buying tea, porcelain, and gifts for the kids. The first shopping district was close to our hotel, anf a very long shopping road, off limits to cars, and with very fancy shops. We then hopped in a taxi, and went to a very large shopping center with a Ming dynasty architecture motive. This place was huge, we spent all of our renminbis, and had an awesome time. We then got ready for dinner, hopped the subway to the other side of the river that runs through Shanghi, and went into a very large shopping center, larger than anything that I’ve ever seen in the US. It was a total of thirteen floors. Before entering, we got an appreciation for the building architecture of the new Shanghi, which is beyond anything found in America. Dinner tonight was with Drs. En and Mrs. Li. He taught biochemistry and did biochemical research at Harvard University, before getting a job working for Novartis, back home in Shanghai. China, because of its burgeoning economic status, is extremely favorable for scientists, and it is very easy for me to see why. Dinner, by the way, was probably the best meal we ever had in China, though entirely Chinese. En has apparently lived long enough in the US to know what the American taste would like.
Ming style architecture in large shopping district in Shanghai.

Ming style architecture in large shopping district in Shanghai.


Typical buildings in Shanghai

Typical buildings in Shanghai


More very creative architecture in Shanghai

More very creative architecture in Shanghai


Family at a small tea shop where we purchased tea and tea cups

Family at a small tea shop where we purchased tea and tea cups. Note that Oma cares for the baby.


Inside the large shopping mall. This only a small view of the whole mall.

Inside the large shopping mall. This only a small view of the whole mall.


Dinner with our gracious host in Shanghai, Li En and wife.

Dinner with our gracious host in Shanghai, Li En and wife.


 
Saturday—we are eager to get home, though we have most thoroughly enjoyed China, and it is sad to say goodbye. A cab ride got us to the train station, and the train from Shanghai to Beijing was 5 hours, with 5 stops. It was mostly through very flat farmland. In Beijing, a friend of Mike’s picked us up and shuttled us to the airport, a little over an hour drive, and giving us our last taste of crazy Chinese driving. The flight home was 9 hours. We left Beijing at 4:30 pm and arrived in Seattle the same day at noon. It was two days packed into one. After saying goodbye to our dear friend Mike, Sarah shuttled us home. We unpacked, and noted piles of tea, as well as no broken porcelain. It was good to be home.

Thoughts on China…

Just a few minor observations. Cars… Brother Dennis purchased a Chinese vehicle in Belize, which was a total piece of junk. I anticipated that I would see cities full of junky cars and rickshaws, bicycles, and baby taxis, like in India. Instead, there were no rickshaws or baby taxis, almost no bicycles, and the most popular car was the Mercedes Benz, followed closely by the other German cars, BMW and VW. Chinese cars are reportedly next in popularity, followed by American cars,  and Korean/Japanese cars were the least frequent. I did not see a single Chinese made car until Chongqing, but it was a nice looking sports utility vehicle. Supposedly, they have vastly improved the quality of their vehicles. At the end of two weeks, we saw less than five Chinese built vehicles.
Secondly, the big cities do not have slums. They do have poorer parts of the city, but nothing that I would call a slum. The countryside had some very poor areas, but no worse than found in Belize, Jamaica, Cameroon, or Bangladesh, the “third world countries” that we’ve been to. The dress that people wear is identical to the western world. There was no ability to recognize that you were not in the US or Europe except for the Chinese writing, and that everybody was oriental. There is minimal unemployment in China, as there are no unemployment checks, welfare, food stamps, or anything of that sort. In a strong sense, it is more capitalistic than America! Regardless of your status or education, if out of a job, you will take anything in order to survive. The state will not be your nanny. There are no messy employment laws, and you can fire an employee at will. Employers tend to treat their employees well. One morning, we saw at a clothing store and then at a restaurant all of the employees out in front of the store doing Zumba like exercises. Many larger firms will have a cafeteria for free lunch. Our friend also had a large library at his firm for employees to encourage their continued education.
Thirdly, traffic is absolutely horrid in China. Why most the cars do not have bumps and scrapes is a total mystery to me. An American traffic cop would find violations literally every second. People use the shoulders of expressways as a passing lane. People run red lights. Cars do not yield to pedestrians but vice versa. People will aggressively violate every traffic rule on the books to pass a car in front of them. I watched my taxi driver pull into the on-coming lane of a four-lane road in order to beat a traffic light. I could not ride in the front seat of a car. Historically, I feared the taxi drivers of NYC. Now, China has exceeded that 10-fold. Next time I go to China, I bring mass quantities of Valium if I anticipate an automobile ride.
Fourthly, the Chinese put a very high value on family and relationships. This is a little odd, since their value for human life is less than in the US. Everywhere we went, we saw grandparents with grandchildren. I was surprised to see that the state was not raising the child, but the grandparents. In family relationships, the grandparents are usually asked permission for any major decision, such as marriage.  The eldest son held priority in family decisions. Nursing homes did not exist, as the children were expected to care for their aging parents. I did not expect this.
Fifthly, the language and poetry are important. Everywhere you go, you see poetry. Apparently, the Chinese language lends itself easily to poetic expression. We would see signs not to walk on the grass, and it was written in a poetic fashion (so I am told by Dr. Liao).  The Chinese hold those who are masters at poetry in the highest regard. And, the person in recent history who excelled in poetry was none other than Chairman Mao.
Sixthly, Mao Ren Zi (Chairman Mao) is the most poorly represented person in the west. Before my visit to China, I viewed Mao as nothing but a beast who slaughtered millions of people. That is perhaps true, but it lacks the full impact of who this man was. Why is it that Mao now has a near 100% acceptance rating in China? Why is he generally appreciated everywhere in China, and not because it is forced on the Chinese people? As mentioned above, the Chinese knew that Mao was most brilliant, and had a mastery of the language beyond most intellectuals. His poetry is everywhere, because it was very well done. During the years that Mao was chairman, he changed the Chinese language for the good, like having the symbols simplified. The Chinese now read and write right to left, like we do. Why? They used to write up to down and backwards, but Mao had that changed. Mao not only liberated the farmers, but also women, stopping crazy practices like feet binding, and giving them more rights. Secondly, the greatest problem with all Chinese emporers and rulers was serious corruption. If one faulted Mao for anything, it certainly was not corruption. Chaing Kai Shek was very corrupt, and the peasants knew it well, which is why they flocked in support of Mao. Mao had no love for the privileged elite, and exalted the poor peasants to a better living. That is seen well in China nowadays, with there being many multi-millionaires, but the farmers in the countryside have a reasonably good living in comfortable circumstances, and not as it was before 1949. With the current corruption in government, there is a sense of nostalgia for a leader who could act for everybody’s best interest without corruption. People often cite the fact that Mao murdered millions ruthlessly. Actually, most of the deaths under Mao’s watch were from serious mistakes that he made, and most people in China acknowlege that. I am referring to the great leap forward, and to the cultural revolution, which were truly stupid mistakes, which led to millions of Chinese dying, though not intentionally by Mao. One cannot forget history. China is a somewhat diverse group of people, with 56 ethnic groups, multiple religions, and multiple languages. In my reading of Chinese history, I don’t know of a single emporer that did not have to do a major “purge” to acquire unity and control of the country. Now, perhaps unity in China is not a good thing, but that is not something that I would propose—I don’t wish to be like the French, who felt the a united Germany (back in 1870) was not a good thing, since they would lose control of the weak individual German states. In any case, power was used consistently to achieve unity in the country. Finally, many in China view there to be two major revolutions in the country. The first was with the rise of the Qin dynasty, a very short dynasty from 221 to 206BC, and best known for the terra cotta warriors. What most don’t realize, was that the Qin leaders were quite ruthless at leading to the unity of the country. They also unified the language, and standardized many things, such as the width of wagon wheels. Important? Think about India, that has 5 different gauges for the railroads. That wasn’t to happen in China, because of wise but strong leadership. The second revolution was with Mao. Mao is now gone, and we are able to speak freely about him. There is much wrong with Mao, and I don’t think that the ends ever justifies the means. No doubt, Chairman Mao is a complex person, and my attempt to understand why he has such a pull in Chinese society at this time now has a little better insight.
Finally, what about “communist” China? Are they “communist” only in that the leadership is not necessarily elected, and that they do not permit criticism of the government? In China at this time, that is not bad, because the leaders have been capable of brilliant leadership. What about restrictions of speech? Facebook is not allowed in China, as well as many other forms of social networking. But then, homosexuality and pornography are also not allowed. Is that bad? I wish it were so in the USA. Meanwhile, the USA is far more communistic and socialistic than China. Perhaps we need to re-think the corruption and evil than rules strong in Amerika?
In conclusion, this trip to China was fantastic, and Betsy and I thoroughly enjoyed ourself. The food was sometimes slightly wearisome, but was always quite good – just not what we are used to. The mass crowds were also a little challenging. China was nothing like we expected, and the wealth and immensity was overwhelming. I now have a feel for Marco Polo returning to Italy only to find that nobody could believe his fantastic tales of China. China truly is dazzling, and the people everywhere were friendly. Most signs had English translations, suggesting that we Amerikans are still welcome in China. Hopefully, we don’t create an artificial war that treats China like an enemy. They have no interest in war, as their internal problems are great enough. I would hope that politicians could see China as a friend, understanding the differences that separate our two countries.

Tagged with:
4 Comments »
Feb 03

Seahawks
Much hype was made over the Superbowl in the Seattle area. Everybody (hyperbole, actually, only about 30%) was wearing Superbowl shirts over the past week, and the mania reached to all branches of life. The super-rich flew to Christie-Land (kind of like Fantasy Land) to personally attend the festivities. There was great apprehension, because the Reds (* see below for explanation of the colors) had the most valuable player. Conversely, the Blue-Greens had the favor of Nero, as well as the Reformed Pope of Seattle (Mark Driscoll).
The game was not watched by me, but I could tell that it was practically over from the start. The only anxiety remaining was whether the Blue-Greens would be able to pull off a total shut-out. Actually, they did accomplish a total shut-down, as the city of Seattle and its accompanying megalopolis rested quietly, all citizens glued to their personal sewer pipes (televisions). The streets were empty, and shops were stilled. Even the houses of worship that still met on Sunday evening were poorly attended—I know, since I went, but heard one of the best sermons ever last night-Zechariah 14. Facebook was littered with photos of home Superbowl parties, photos of nauseating junk food spreads fit for Rosanne Barr or Oprah, and scores were updated on a continuous basis. Since I am friends on Facebook only of Seahawk devotees, I delighted in their spontaneous posts of rapturous praise to the Blue-Green god. The red devotees were not happy, but I never heard from them, and they got what they deserved—dogs and blasphemers never deserve to win.
Now that the Superbowl is over and the Blue-Greens are the victors, all is well in the Land of Oz. The Emerald City has returned to it’s usual helter-skelter. But, there is a noticeable difference. There is now love in the city. No crimes have happened since the clock struck game-time zero the Land of Oz.  There is a prevailing sense of peace. There is joy unspeakable among the residents of Oz. It is a transformation like has never occurred in our great land. Meanwhile, Nero has announced that he was just kidding regarding Nero-Care and is terminating it as of this moment. He is withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, shut down the Federal Reserve, and has confessed to being an inveterate liar, never to lie again. Salvation has come to our dear Pacific Northwest, and we’ve all found jesus. The Seattle Pope has already declared that many of the Blue-Greens have found jesus, and while the rumor exists that while some of the Reds have professed finding the same man, we know most assuredly that that simply cannot be true, as jesus loves sports and would only allow true believers to win.
 
*In Greek and Roman society, the sports teams were named by color, so that instead of the SeaHawks, the Broncos, the Cubs, the Trailblazers, you had the Blues, the Reds, the Greens, the Whites, etc. The White Sox or the Red Sox most closely approximate the ancient standard. The SeaHawks colors are Blue-Green and the Broncos Orange with a touch of Blue (call them Red since an Orange team did not exist in Rome), so they are referred to with color terminology in this post. Ancient Nero, like most of the emperors, was an avid Green fan, so he probably would have been a SeaHawks Blue-Green fan. The reincarnation of Nero in the White House almost certainly is a Blue-Green fan.

Tagged with:
5 Comments »
Jan 01

Happy New Year! The year has had some great trials, as well as bringing supreme joys.
Joys? Not only has Rachel given us Lily Mae and Adalyn Grace, but Diane also have given us Dean, leaving us with 8 grandchildren. It’s an odd thing to think how much joy one gets out of the grandchildren.
The trials (and trial, literally) last year has been hard, but has been good for both Betsy and me. We have acquired a rich discovery of each other that has been a blessing. It is typical to have the empty nest turn on parents as a strenuous time for each other, but we have found it just the opposite. It has been fun traveling together, and just living together.
The trial from last Spring has been elaborated in a blog entry from April and can be read about there. The supposition is that one gets over a lawsuit, knowing that they are going to happen, and one gets on with life. That has not happened to me. I have felt the horrible injustice of the court system that does not seek after truth and rightness. When a physician does everything right, he still is legally culpable if a problem arises. In response, I have backed down considerably in what I do in my practice, and plan on retiring sooner than later. I see God’s hand in all of this, as it is otherwise quite difficult to slow down one’s practice and yet be able to remain in practice. It feels as though the entire system has you trapped.
Trips have included a bicycle ride with the ACA in Death Valley, a trip with Dr. Tate in upstate Michigan on bicycles, a trip to Germany with Jonny, and a bicycle ride on the eastern side of the Sierras with the ACA and also with Jonny. All of these trips are chronicled previously on this website. I took a brief trip to San Antonio (not recorded in a blog entry) in early December for the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. There were other small trips.
Last year, I noted that I was working through all of my classical music. I have since acquired about 20 days more music, including a complete Wagner (with 2 sets combined), a nearly complete Haydn set, a complete Verdi, and multiple other works. My classical collection is now 66633 songs, consisting of 418.3 Gbytes, which would take me 204 days, 10:22 hours to listen to. At the end of the year, I am now left with 4189 songs, 29.5 Gbytes, and 14 days, 11:31 hours of music. I have acquired a set of the complete Bach organ works by Marie-Claire Alain that I have yet to load. So, I should be completely through my classical collection some time in late February or early March.
Plans for the coming year include more bicycle rides. More people from church have become interested in cycling, including Rick DeMass, the associate pastor. I am planning a week loop in Washington with Jonny, as well as a ride in the Black Hills with the ACA. Before the Black Hills trip, Betsy I plan on driving to Sioux Center to see Alex and Rachel and Lily and Adelyn, who will then meet me in the Black Hills for several days.  Betsy and I will be traveling to China with Dr. Liao in April. I am trying to put together a church trip to Israel with John Delancey for early 2015.  I also plan on going with Betsy to Phoenix in March to meet Dr. Tate and attend the SSO. I might also go to the American College of Surgeons meeting either this year or next. This year, I’d like to do the STP (Seattle to Portland bicycle ride), as well as a ride in Oregon with an old friend Aaron Hughes. There are no plans yet for Germany this year, though a trip in the fall is appealing. I really appreciate my time with all my German friends, including Dr. Herbert, Dr. Hannes and Katja, and Dr. Carsten and family. For 2015, I’d really like to do a 2-3 week Danau Radweg ride (Danube bicycle route) from Danaueschigen to Wien. I have no current plan to change my practice as it is right now, but will be working on forming a more cohesive atmosphere for cancer at Good Samaritan Hospital.
I still have a large stack of books to get through. Some time this year, I plan on reading Calvin’s Institutes, translated by Battles, as well as reading Hermann Bavinck’s 4 volume set on systematic theology. Neither of those books are available (yet) on Kindle.
Most of the sleepless nights that I and Betsy have had have been related to the troubles that close friends have had. Sometimes, it can be harder to endure watching a friend suffer, than to be going through such suffering yourself. Relationships to friends, family and God have become more important over the past year. Sundays at church remain a defining moment in Betsy and my lives. All else becomes meaningless before an infinite, personal God.

Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever… as for me, it is good to be near God: I have made the Lord God my refuge. From Psalms 73

Tagged with:
2 Comments »
Oct 29

PCTDreams-1
The reader of my blog site may will notice below that I have reviewed a series of movies and books related to hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. This is a trail that runs from Mexico to Canada through the Sierra Nevada mountains, and then the Cascades. It is over 2650 miles, and typically take 4-½ to 5 months for a hiker to accomplish this, doing roughly 25 miles/day. I wish to offer an explanation now for these posts.
If you look through many of my distant past posts, typically end-of-the-year posts, you will notice occasion mentions of dreams for epic adventures. It is not a mistake that the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings trilogy and Der Ring des Niebelungen 4-opera series are my favorite books and operas. They all represent epic adventures. Whether it be a bicycle trip that completely circumnavigates the United States, or a thru-hike of the Appalachian or Pacific Crest trail, such an adventure has been a dream since I was a kid. I remember well as a teenager hearing the account of Luke Huber backpacking around the world. Such a thing could never be done in today’s world. Even then, 40 years ago, Luke was able to do it since he carried a Brazilian passport and not a US passport. His slideshow tale has stuck in my mind as though I had just seen it yesterday. It was a venture like I would have longed to have done but never could have been possible for me.
So, the question remains as to whether I would ever be able to accomplish a epic adventure? Two issues affect my decision. The first issue is Betsy. Regardless of every other affection and desire that I have, Betsy remains the most important person that I have in life, dare I say, even more important than my own personal satisfaction. Outside of my love for God, nothing exceeds my love for Betsy, and desire to be with her and enjoy her. Since she would not be able (or desire) to accomplish an epic thru-hike or epic bicycle venture, I must judiciously tailor my plans and expectations. The second issue is my own personal health, which is good, though I still require low doses of antihypertensive medications.
A third but non-issue is the economics of such a venture, which relates more to being able to get away from work for 3-6 months in order to accomplish such a task. I just discharged a patient from my practice who I treated for #####; he worked for REI in the warehouse in Sumner, and was an avid outdoorsman. He explained the REI policy that all employees at 15 years get to take a 1 year Sabbatical, and then they take a Sabbatical every 5 years after that. I couldn’t believe my ears. I had no clue that one successful corporation in the US actually has some sane employment policy.  When I took a Sabbatical in 2009, it was after a maddening 4 years of medical school, with minimal break to start 8 years of an insanely busy residency and fellowship, with minimal break to start 2 years of life as a military doctor, with minimal break to start (by 2009) 14-½ years of hard slave labor. You can add up the numbers easily enough. Yet, my Sabbatical in 2009 was considered most unusual. It was one of the smarter things I ever did in life, besides coming on my knees to the cross of Jesus Christ, and asking Betsy to marry me. If one considers that a Sabbatical occurs every 7th year, then the year 2016 should be my next Sabbatical year. I’ll be 62 years of age then, and ready to hang it up for good. I will actually retire somewhere between 2016 and 2020, when I will be forced to retire, since I have no intention of re-certifying with the American Board of Surgery. This will get me plenty of time for epic adventures. In terms of cost, the trail is cheaper than daily life at home, especially (when cycling) one plans to spend most of their nights tenting, which is no problem for me.
I cannot speak for the Appalachian trail, but for the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), there are some good arguments against performing a thru-hike. “Thru-hiking” means that one goes from the very beginning to the very end of any given trail in a single setting, i.e, doing Mexico to Canada from start to finish in a single year, without formally leaving the trail. In order to do that, one must start in the southern California desert at the start of the hot season, hit the high Sierras a little early in the season, when snow still covers most of the trail, arrive in Yosemite at the peak of the bug season, hit Oregon in the still rainy season, and then hope and pray that nothing interferes with your schedule to make it through the North Cascades before an early winter snowstorm. Ideally, Oregon and Washington are best hiked in July and August, the high Sierras in June/July and not May/June, and the desert in March. This means that to thoroughly enjoy the PCT, sectional or chunk hiking is the way to go. You can’t write books or make movies or spend hours bragging of your sub-epic venture, but at least you will not have turned backpacking into a chronic enduring painful drudgery.
There is a third alternative to thru-hiking and section hiking, which is chunk hiking. While thru-hiking attacks the trail in one grand solitary attack, and sectional hiking deals with short excerpts, chunk hiking is to tackle a larger section than section hiking, such as doing the entire state of Washington or Oregon in one setting, or California in several settings. Brian Lewis, in one of the books reviewed below, discusses chunk hiking, suggesting that chunk hiking gives the hiker the best of all worlds, being able to tackle sections of the trail at the right time of the year, while not engaging in the insanity of a 4-6 month ordeal and still maintaining the spirit of a thru-hike.
Chunk or thru-hiking demands a completely different style from regular hiking. Most importantly, much less weight must be carried. Every ounce of weight matters. Nothing frivolous can be engaged. Light-weight stoves or tents are not light enough. Certain things cannot be sacrificed, such as clothing, but even then, extreme prudence needs to be exercised to carry only one change of clothes, and then wash them once every week or two. Meals are typically eaten cold, unless at a re-supply. Since there are long stretches of trail uncrossed by road, a 7-9 day supply of food must be carried, while considering 5000 cal/day to be the norm on the trail. Most people do not use hiking boots, but rather use hiking shoes.  Resupply needs to be accurately planned out beforehand, since one will not carry all the necessary maps at once, clothing and equipment changes on the different sections of the trail, and shoes wear out, hikers usually going through about three pair of shoes.
So, perhaps my epic adventure should be done on a bicycle, and leave the PCT to sectional or chunk hiking. It would be cool to do the Pacific coast trail down to San Diego, and then return on the Sierra Cascades trail back up to Canada and then home, using the path outlined by the Adventure Cycle Association (Pacific Coast & Sierra Cascades). That trip would parallel the PCT on a bicycle, and would take about 3 months total, which is entirely possible. For now, I am planning a week-long backpack with Jon or someone else next year, hopefully doing the Wonderland Trail in reverse from what Jon and I did several years ago. I would also like to do part if not all of the Washington Parks (Adventure Cycle Association) Route around Washington State. Other planned ventures will be mentioned in the year-end report.

Tagged with:
No Comments »
Sep 17

SierraSampler-24

Sierra Sampler with the Adventure Cycle Association
(Note – click on individual photos to see larger views of them)
06SEPT2013-Jonny and I were able to leave Puyallup at 1700, arriving in Roseburg, Oregon at 2300. Traffic out of Puyallup was horrid, being stop and go until past Olympia. Portland also had  bad traffic through Wilsonville.
07SEPT2013- we followed Google maps advice, avoiding Sacramento, and arriving at Donner state park at about 2:15. After unloading our stuff, we headed  with our bikes up Donner Pass to the ski area, where we parked our cars and then rode our bikes back to camp, about 7 miles. The view of the lake was fantastic, as well as the  railroad that could be seen with its many tunnels. The Garmin data are below…

Jon on Donner Pass with the rail in the background

Jon on Donner Pass with the rail in the background


On Donner Pass looking down onto Donner Lake

On Donner Pass looking down onto Donner Lake


First day introduction

First day introduction


The food line-at Donner State Park

The food line-at Donner State Park


Jerry showing us how to wash dishes

Jerry showing us how to wash dishes


08SEPT2013 – Truckee to South Lake Tahoe.  This was a little more uppy-downy than I expected, but beautiful. It started out freezing cold, and became quite hot by noon. Fortunately, the ride was completed soon after noon, and all of the riders (33+) all did well and had a great itme. Beer never tasted so good after such a ride. The meals were also catered and were quite delectable. I worried about gaining weight on this venture! The Garmin data are below…

Squaw Valley Ski area

Squaw Valley Ski area


Jon grinning like a hedgehog

Jon grinning like a hedgehog


Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe


Jon taking a very brief rest

Jon taking a very brief rest


Lake Tahoe (again)

Lake Tahoe (again)


The mountains around Lake Tahoe

The mountains around Lake Tahoe


Lunch stop on the ride to South Lake Tahoe

Lunch stop on the ride to South Lake Tahoe


Am Stand bei Tahoe See

Am Stand bei Tahoe See


09SEPT2013- Luther Pass- because of the fire, the decision was made to do only the first pass, then turn around. We were then shuttled to a small resort (Virginia Creek Settlement). The climb to Luther Pass started like the day before, quite chilly at first, with the fingers feeling frozen until about 9:30 am. The ride otherwise went well. The shuttle bus ride took us through Topaz, and then south on 395 down to Bridgeport.
Luther Pass?

Luther Pass?


Übernachten hier. Blick droben am Dach - gibt es einen Mann im Fass so dass  du kannst die Fussen sehen

Übernachten hier. Blick droben am Dach – gibt es einen Mann im Fass so dass du kannst nur die Fussen sehen



10SEPT2013- VCS to Lee Vining via Bodie. We were given three options regarding rides before going down to Lee Vining. Jon and I went to Bodie, which is now a ghost town, but once had a population of 15000.  It is now a state park.  The ride was quite a climb, but three miles before the town of Bodie, the road turned into gravel. Unfortunately, the gravel was loose and irregular, making it very challenging to travel on.  Jon and I got shuttled to the town, but on return, the bicycle rack came loose, so we rode the last 50 meters of gravel. Quite a few people actually rode the gravel. The last 19 miles was a ride south to Lee Vining, a small town just below Mono Lake.   The only obstacle was Conway Pass, made most difficult by roadwork, giving large trucks and bicyclists the same lane to contend with.
Where the road to Bodie turns to gravel

Where the road to Bodie turns to gravel


The church in Bodie - as dead as the town

The church in Bodie – as dead as the town


Main street USA

Main street USA


The mines of Bodie

The mines of Bodie


The upper class part of town

The upper class part of town


Conway Summit

Conway Summit


Mono Lake view

Mono Lake view


Another view of Mono Lake more easterly

Another view of Mono Lake more easterly



11SEPT2013- Tioga Pass. This was a there-and-back experience. The climb was a little over 3000 feet, putting us right at the entrance of Yosemite Park. It took us 2 hours to climb, and a most beautiful experience. It was a steady 6-7% grade with a good road surface and adequate shoulder.  My only regret was that we didn’t continue riding down to Tuolomne Meadows, another 8 miles and 1500 feet of elevation back. Oh well. I had done the Pass from the other side on the Tacx trainer, and remember it more difficult than our experience today. It took only 1/2 hour to get down, also an awesome ride with minimal traffic.
The start of Tioga Pass

The start of Tioga Pass


The summit of Tioga Pass off in the distance

The summit of Tioga Pass off in the distance


A Lake near the top of Tioga Pass

A Lake near the top of Tioga Pass


Tioga Pass Lake

Tioga Pass Lake


Jon and I at the summit of Tioga Pass

Jon and I at the summit of Tioga Pass


The Sedona Kid (Norm) also makes it up Tioga Pass

The Sedona Kid (Norm) also makes it up Tioga Pass



12SEPT2013- Lee Vining to Mammoth. This included an appendage 1200 ft 5 mile climb up to a series of lakes sitting north of Mammoth. We took the scenic route into Mammoth, rather than the highway. Since we arrived in Mammoth early (about 11 am), Jon and I decided to head up to Lake Mary. It started to drizzle once at Lake Mary, and so returned to the RV camp in Mammoth where we were staying.
Lake on the June Lake Bypass

Lake on the June Lake Bypass


Deadman's Pass

Deadman’s Pass


Lake Mary

Lake Mary



13SEPT2013- Today was exploration out of the town of Mammoth.  Our first venture went toward the Devils Postpile, but stopped where one entered the park, where there was a great view of the Minarets. Afterwards, Jon and I decided to return to Lake Mary, and go beyond. Oddly, the climb today now seemed much shorter than yesterday, and we had the wonderful opportunity of Tom S. giving us a guided tour of the entire area around Lake Mary, including Twin Lakes, and Horseshoe Lake. Horseshoe Lake was unusual, in that seismic activity has caused carbon dioxide to come up from the ground and kill many of the surrounding trees.
Wandblumen

Wandblumen-Tom, Pete, Norm


Wandblumen at Horseshoe Lake

Wandblumen at Horseshoe Lake



14SEPT2013- The trip home. We were shuttled back to where our cars were parked today. The bus trip was a 4 hour venture. Jon and I promptly loaded our cars and headed home. We arrived in Puyallup at 0130 the next morning, a 13 hour drive through Susanville, Klamath Falls, Bend, Government Camp, and up I-5 to Puyallup. We were tired but had a great time.
Thoughts on the trip:
1. It was a delight to have time with Jon. We need to do this more.
2. The Adventure Cycle Association could not have done a better job at running this tour. The staff were all quite enthused about cycling, and the organization was impeccable. We had to make some unfortunate serious changes to the original route plan. This was in our best interest, and worked out quite well. I can highly recommend this trip (or any trip with the ACA). Special thanks to Melinda, Meredith, Cammie, Jerry, Don, and Bob, you all were fantastic!
3. Camera – The problem with the Canon EOS M camera is that in bright sunlight, it is impossible to see exactly what is being displayed on the screen. I guess I’m too used to looking through a viewfinder. Also, a better variety of lenses is imperative. I’m thinking that this camera is my best option for road biking. Perhaps the new Canon SL1 (super-light slr camera) with 18 mpx and a 18-135 mm zoom would be a lighter option for when I’m on my CoMotion. I’m not going to rush out and buy yet another camera, as I love my Canon 6D, but it is heavy, and best served with a tripod to give the best possible landscape photos.
4. Arriving back in Puyallup, I’m in the rain and again fighting cancer. It’s hard to return to reality. I always rode by bike in the rain and snow when I was a kid, so why is it a problem now?  Does everybody become soft when they become an old fart? This morning, I did the TacX trainer ride up the west side of Tioga Pass and konked out at two hours, drenched in sweat. I think I need another bicycle vacation.

Tagged with:
No Comments »
Sep 17

IronHorse-3Iron Horse Trail over Snoqualmie Pass –
The Iron Horse Trail goes across much of Washington state, though it has its interruptions in various spots. The trail is a converted rail track, and is almost entire gravel, thus best meant for mountain bikes or fat tire bicycles. There are a number of tunnels on the trail, including the 2.5 mile tunnel under Snoqualmie Pass.

East side of tunnel

East side of tunnel


West side of tunnel

West side of tunnel


The trail goes over some of the existing railroad bridges. The sights are a beauty. The only problem with the trail is that it parallels I-90, so that one is always able to hear the roar of traffic off in the distance. Except for that, the condition of the trail is excellent, and it never goes over a 3-4% grade. One does need headlights for the tunnel, as it is pitch-black inside. The day that I rode the trail, the weather was good, and so there were many people on the trail. It appeared as though parents would drop groups of children off at the top of the trail (by the tunnel) and then pick them up at the bottom. Those poor children never had the opportunity of what was most enjoyable about the trail, which is the joy of riding UP the trail.
Railroad bridge
Scene of the mountains from the Iron Horse trail

Scene of the mountains from the Iron Horse trail


The Garmin data are as follows…

By the way, I also saw a number of touring bicycles going over the pass. I’m sure they were headed for the distant eastern Washington. I wish them happy trails in their journeys.

Tagged with:
No Comments »
Aug 24

SalemHoodRCycle-2

 
Salem, Oregon to Hood River, Oregon on bicycles with Aaron Hughes 21-24 August
Day #1 – Salem to Detroit
I stayed overnight with Aaron and Anita, so that Aaron and I could be on the road by 9 am. We took off, following the main highway out of Salem and across Santiam Pass. Our first stop was in Detroit.

The "other" Detroit, which is not going backrupt

The “other” Detroit, which is not going bankrupt


The Garmin map and stats of Day #1 are here…

We stayed in a motel in Detroit, and generally rested up that evening.
Day #2 – Detroit to Timothy Lake
This was the most challenging day, with over 6000 feet of climbing (according to the Garmin). The started at Detroit, heading up the Clackamas River Road past Breitenbush, until the turnoff logging road took us straight up to Timothy Lake. At Timothy Lake, I set up camp, while Anita met us and ran away with Aaron for the night. I camped out at the lake. I did my homework, and learned that the Cove Campground was intended for bicyclists and hikers. When we arrived there, it proved to be anything but that, and the campground hosts rudely informed me that I wasn’t welcome, since everything was full. Fortunately, there were three guys with their kids who immediately offered to let me stay on a corner of their campsite. I had a few beers with them, and offered them cigars. It was a nice evening. The photos were from the lake the evening and morning of my stay.
Riding along the Clackamas River road

Riding along the Clackamas River road


My one man tent and bicycle

My one man tent and bicycle


Timothy Lake

Timothy Lake


Timothy Lake

Timothy Lake


More Timothy Lake

More Timothy Lake


The Garmin data for day 2 are here

Day #3 Timothy Lake to Hood River
Overnight, it had rained quite hard, with thunder and lightning. I stayed dry, but most everything else got wet. I slept in a bit longer than I should have, since I knew I had to meet Aaron and Anita at the junction of highway 26 and 35. Putting away a completely soaked tent, I headed off at about 8 am, saying goodby to my kindly hosts. It was a rather persistent climb to our treffpunkt, but arrived only about 6 minutes late, feeling like dogmeat. I was really tempted to have Anita shuttle me to the top of Bennett Pass, but ultimately decided against that. I had already gone over Blue Box Pass, and we had two more passes to negotiate, that over Barlow and that over Bennett Pass. My legs hung in there, though I did have to walk short distances just to utilize other muscles. Here are photos of the day…
Summit of Blue Box Pass

Summit of Blue Box Pass


Mount Hood from the road

Mount Hood from the road


Meeting Aaron at the junction of 26 and 35.

Meeting Aaron at the junction of 26 and 35.


Barlow Pass Summit

Barlow Pass Summit


Aaron showing good form

Aaron showing good form


Mount Hood from White River

Mount Hood from White River


Aaron patiently waiting for the tortoise to catch up

Summit of Bennett Pass


Mount Hood from the fruit orchards of the Hood River valley

Mount Hood from the fruit orchards of the Hood River valley


The Garmin stats for day 3

Our grand total stats are as follows… total distance 165.89 miles, 12,651 feet of elevation gain, and minimally 7000 calories burned. The road would be rated as five stars from Stayton on, but maybe would have gone backroads out of Salem. The arrival into Hood River was also slightly off of our planned route, putting us into the heart of nasty traffic in Hood River. The entire trip had enormous beauty, and was a superb choice. So, we are already planning a trip for next year. If we could get a SAG vehicle, then Aaron and I will do the Pacific Coast starting in Astoria. We would ride lighter bicycles, and do more distance. We’ll see. In two weeks, I do an ACA tour with Jonathan on the east side of the Sierras, so you’ll be seeing a blog of that trip soon.

Tagged with:
No Comments »
Jul 27

1. Adventure #1 – cycling with Aaron in the Willamette Valley 12-13JUL2013
Oddly, I didn’t get any cycling photos, as I didn’t want to carry a heavy camera along, and I was riding my new Gran Feuchto, which doesn’t have any racks.  You can see the course of the rides for each of the two days here…
a) Saturday
b) Sunday 
Here of some photos that were taken while NOT riding…

Aaron and I relaxing on the back porch

Aaron and I relaxing on the back porch


Aaron reading in the backyard Hammock

Aaron reading in the backyard Hammock


Anita in the garden. They have raised gardens.

Anita shows her green thumb in the garden. They have raised gardens.


The backyard greenhouse

The backyard greenhouse


Aaron built a shed in the backyard with an extension to hold a hammock. A MOST brilliant idea!

Aaron built a shed in the backyard with an extension to hold a hammock. A MOST brilliant idea!


2. Adventure #2 – Backpacking with the Flanagan Grandchildren to Summit Lake 19-20JULY2013.
I had promised Patrick and Sammy a backpacking trip this year, but wasn’t feeling in tiptop shape so decided on a shorter hike, 2.5 miles but mostly straight up. We decided that since the hike was short, we would also take Ethan. The kids were a total joy to have along, watching them discover the delights of getting out into the wild and discovering the unknown.
Summit Lake. The hill in the background is what we were standing on in the next photo.

Summit Lake. The hill in the background is what we were standing on in the next photo.


A wonderful view of Mt. Rainier from Summit Hill

A wonderful view of Mt. Rainier from Summit Hill


 
The loop around the lake without our packs on

The loop around the lake without our packs on


 
Patrick in great style. The kids were frequently preoccupied with the snow.

Patrick in great style. The kids were frequently preoccupied with the snow.


 
Massive fields of glacier lilies were noted. They grow only in a small region of the NW.

Massive fields of glacier lilies were noted. They grow only in a small region of the NW.


Tired children reluctant to wake up the next morning.

Tired children reluctant to wake up the next morning.


Three happy children and one happy dad at the end of the trip.

Three happy children and one happy dad at the end of the trip.


This was the first trip in which I was able to utilize my new camera, an EOS M. It is a mirrorless camera, with the same resolution and controls as most of the EOS rebel line, 18 MPixel, APC format, but with interchangeable lenses. Its action in focusing and taking photos is a little slow, which okay for mostly scenic and landscape photos. There is no flash, but I have a very small flash designed to work with the camera. One can also put a gps apparatus on the camera.
Canon EOS M.

Canon EOS M.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Tagged with:
No Comments »
preload preload preload