Monday, August 29, 2011

Hiking up a river (or a road)

I went for a hike yesterday, up a river, and up a road. What happens is that the river runs over and through and around the road at this one spot, blocking it off, so we just wandered around the side until we could get to a spot where the river didn't do that anymore, then got back on the road. And roads are much better without cars. I got a nice shot of this stream here:Before that, I went for a walk down the end of the Lake Whatcom train and there were some pretty sights out there.

Friday, August 26, 2011

At my Dad's place

I've been staying with my dad for a few days, and we went out fishing for salmon one of them. In the morning, I got a few nice shots of the sun rising and the farms and things around there. It is a beautiful area.You can see the mountains from his house, though there are some trees now growing up in the way, and you have to look through them a little. This is Twin Sisters Mountain.And this is Mt. Baker.

Monday, August 22, 2011

American Wedding!

I went to a my best friend from High School's wedding this past weekend. It makes me start to feel a bit older... Quite a few of my friend's from back then are married, and one couple has a child now. I am behind on the times for sure!
The wedding was amazingly beautiful. It was set on this farm out near Mt Rainier, which is the biggest mountain in Washington State. Rainier dominated the view. On my way down, I saw a Cedar Waxwing!So the first thing that happened was that they had a soccer game the day before. I really like this idea, that just before any family gathering you have a game, and if there are people that don't know each other (like I didn't know many of the people there) they can get to know each other in a very informal way, and you don't have to worry about not having very nice clothes since you may have just gotten back from china and happen to not own any nice clothes.
I really liked the game. Then they had a big dinner, and the next day was the wedding. A few of my other friends from high school were there, so we all went out to play in the sunshine before going to the farm, and found a nice little lake we had never been to before. Once we got to the farm, we looked up at the mountain and all wondered if we could stay here for a few more days. It was amazing to see this giant white snowcapped thing just hanging out of reach.
I don't have a lot of people pictures, since I wasn't the pro photographer and I didn't get that many good shots. But I got a few. This is Jenna (from Sehome high) and her boyfriend Jake (who I just met this weekend).This is Karl and Rachel. I hadn't met Rachel before this, and I discovered that she is lovely and nice. I would like to see them again in a different place, where they don't have quite so much spinning around them, and get to know her even better. They are in Puerto Vallerta on honeymoon, which is where my boat is (or near enough) but I won't get down there until after they have left.This is the aisle... And what an aisle! The music all came from the families, and I didn't know that the "here comes the bride" had words. In german, I think. Rachel is a singer and her family are all musical, and Karl plays Violin and Viola and his family is also very musical. I had music lessons from his aunt when I was a child. So the cousins played the music for everyone.One of the neighbors of the farm flew over to check things out, and did a couple fly-bys in their biplane. It was cool to watch, and they could really go slow since they have so much wing area.The glasses were nice, and the light coming through looked neat. Rainier. I couldn't stop taking pictures of it.
After the wedding and everything we came back home, or I guess back to Bellingham. I think of it as home still. On the way we stopped at a few places. I really like this road called Chuckanut Drive, and I discovered a new little beach along it, that I hadn't ever been to before.The Chuckanut sandstone is beautiful. They use it for a lot of the buildings in Bellingham.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Back from China

I've come back from China. It was a great trip, and I'm really glad that I went, though the beginning and the end both had some bad parts... Crossing the borders! On the way there, I had to get to Canada to get things done, and that was a mess, and coming back, I had a nice three hour wait in the airport trying to get out.
First, they didn't have enough people in the normal immigration line to keep up with the pace, and there might have been 1000 people in line, and growing as I stood there (1 hour). Then I made the mistake of saying that my purpose of visiting China was to visit a friend. I should have said tourism, I guess. So they scribbled something on my card in red ink.
Then I collected my bags, and at customs, they sorted me into the stupid slow line, the one where they have 15 people in it and it takes 20 minutes per person or more, with no explanation why I am there. Since my dad had agreed to pick me up at the airport (a 1.5 hour drive) I didn't want him to decide to leave, so I tried to get a message to him, but the border prevents phone activity by costing too much, so he didn't have his phone on, and I didn't know the number. So I was trying, but failing. Finally, I got to the front and they searched my stuff, and that was that. Severely disgruntled, I got out and my dad was still there! Then a border wait and drive back. Ouch.
So the moral is to cross as few borders as possible, or don't go anywhere.
But I am really glad I went, because the middle part of the trip was great. I can't say that I really loved China itself, or Beijing, but there are some parts of that country that I liked. The parts without many people in them. Up in the mountains, near the Great Wall.
The main reason I didn't fall in love with China is the pollution. I didn't take very many pictures because the light was too white, and I like the red and yellow sunlight. But the last day I was there (tuesday) I went up with Marie on a trip around town, and it was beautiful! We went up this little hill in the middle of town and you could see all over. I think this is the best air quality (by far) that I had seen the whole trip. The hill is directly north of the Forbidden City, so it has a nice view over that area. And for some reason, there are these plants that grow all over the place that I don't know what they are, but I was wondering if they were hemp. They had 7 leaves, and spiky sort of thing, and they are all over the place.
I'm also including a shot of the team from Beijing Big Brother, a frisbee team that I played with in June at the Shanghai tournament. It was a great time, and we won the tournament.
And a bottle of sprite from China glows mysteriously.... Because of a super bright green laser that I got there.
So now I am back in the USA, I will take the next week to put my head on straight and go to Karl's wedding and then I have a few weeks before I need to get to Mexico and the boat. I'm trying to work out the easiest way to do that, but then I'll be working my way south and back to the traditional "life on water."

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

China summer heat

The humidity here has been nearly unbearable, and with the pollution, it creates an atmosphere that troubles me greatly. After I got back from Vietnam I had some sort of sickness that made me feel feverish and wobbly and weak, with a big headache. I was concerned about maybe Malaria, but apparently that is a recurring fever, not a one time deal. So I think it was, is, the pollution here. You walk around, or run around, and it hits you hard. And I played frisbee right after I got back, so it was a big hit on my weak lungs. I am amazed that the pollution would be enough to make me sick for more than a week, just from running around and breathing for 2 hours in it.
But fear not! I have developed my smoker's lungs again, so I am getting tougher to the bad air. The humidity is something I haven't had to deal with so much before. It feels like its much hotter than it really is, and you can't do anything about it. I run around and get very wet with sweat, but don't get any cooler because of the sweat. I just get hotter and hotter and eventually feel like I need to lie down or I will fall down. What great air!
In Mexico, and in Costa Rica, the humidity was high, and also in Vietnam, but I guess all those times I was near the ocean, so the temperature was a little less or something. It was more bearable. The last two weeks there were thunderstorms nearly every night, but I think that might be lessening now, at least its been "clear" for 4 days now.
Last saturday, Maria's grandmother died. She got the call in the morning and decided she wanted to get out of town for a night, so we went up to the Great Wall again. I'm really glad we went up there, and it was beautiful, but I'm sorry about her grandma. Its been a while since I've had any grandparents, but they are sure nice to have. The farmland up there had changed quite a bit since the last time we saw it, and giant corn plants were everywhere!
We watched the sun set and made a nice little fire and cooked sausages, and listened to a chinese guy (who had come up with his son) tell us not to make fires or watch the sun set and come back in the dark, since it is dangerous. But alas. Danger is my middle name!
So it was a nice night up there, and then when we got back to town on Sunday, Maria had to get ready to go to Xian, where she is for a week.
For some reason the China internet filter seems to be leaking now, and I can get to this blog. I hope it works and I can post this and maybe I will continue to post more here, but who knows. Internet here is such a mystery.
I don't know what the first plant is, so if you know, let me know! And the others are tiger lily(I think) and a grass.
This trip is starting to wind itself down now. I've made a few friends here, and it has been really nice to visit Maria. I am looking forward to getting back to the boat, however. I miss the water. After Vietnam, the need to be swimming is twinging along my spine and I can feel the withdrawal symptoms. I also need to shoot some fish. I've been having dreams about spearfishing over the summer.
I'm eager to get back to learning Spanish again. For whatever reason, Chinese hasn't attracted me, but I do want to practice my Spanish. And I want to build things. I can't do any building in China, because there isn't any parts or hardware stores that sell things that are any good. Everything is crap, and you can't even find wood or rope or metal to make things out of, so it is frustrating to try. But I am eager to get my hands on my roller-furling and work on it, and to work on my dodger some more.
This summer has been an active one (and continues to be) for hurricanes in the Pacific. There have been 5 hurricanes so far, out of 5 depressions, so that makes a lot for how early in the season we are. I am quite concerned about what will happen when I get back and put the boat in the water in October, as to if there will be a storm that I have to deal with with the boat in the water. Or that I have to sail through. I am planning on going north quickly, in order to get out of the weather patterns, but then again the storms make for big swells, and good surfing, in the south, so I might stay in San Blas and hope that no storms hit there and go surfing a lot. I miss surfing too.