Monday, October 20, 2014

Another Facebook Q&A

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers held yet another Facebook Q&A session today. This time it was two hours long. In her announcement she stated, "Please feel free to ask questions about the innovative policies I’m advancing to help Eastern Washington, or anything else that’s on your mind."

What questions did she answer? Four times she pointed out that she lives in Spokane. She addressed the recent report of committee nonattendance and fixing the Veteran's Administration twice each. And she addressed individual questions about tax reform, the REINS Act, rural healthcare, EPA expansion of the Clean Water Act, go to gop.gov to see the Republican detailed jobs plan, and told one constituent to call her office for the help she needed.

Not one word about an innovative policy. And I even asked early on in the session.

Crickets.

But ask her where she lives and she's all over that.

Zion Narrows Canyon

About a year ago my sister Jan asked me and Kathy if we'd like to backpack through the Zion Narrows Canyon. She and her husband Chip love the outdoors and they've spent a lot of time enjoying the wilderness. While Jan is certainly no slouch, Chip has done some serious hiking.

Last year they had a permit but the park was closed due to the government shutdown so they missed out. They really wanted to go and asked us to join them. Kathy was all for it so we waited as Jan applied for an October permit so we'd catch the fall colors. Permits are awarded via a lottery process.

We won!

The shuttle dropped us off with about 16 other people. Each group had an assigned camp site for the night. We were at camp site #1, which is at the confluence of Deep Creek and the North Fork Virgin River. The weather forecast was great so we didn't need to worry about flash floods. Flash floods in a canyon are not to be taken lightly.

 Me, Jan, Chip, and Kathy all loaded up and ready to roll.

For the first couple of miles we hiked on a dirt road, which eventually became a trail, which led us into the canyon. Then we donned our rented neoprene socks and canyon boots since we would be walking in the river for most of the trip. Kathy and Jan wore their dry pants the first day to keep from getting chilled by the water. The water was shallow for most of the first day with a couple of spots that were almost knee high.

 The sand bars were easier to walk on. I can't begin to count how many times we criss-crossed the water.

 Beautiful country.

 The fall colors were impressive.


This was not only Kathy's first ever backpacking trip, but this was the first time she'd ever slept outside in a tent. We had concerns but Kathy maintained a positive attitude the whole time and she had a great time even though this is a difficult hike. By the way, there were many opportunities for us to stand in awe of the trees and rocks tossed about by rushing water. 

 Chip and Jan leading the way.

The view from the top of Dead Man Falls.

 The falls from below.

 Campsite #1 - Our home for the night.

After six hours we arrived at our camp site. It was great to dry out our feet. We set up our tents, ate dinner, drank some wine, and chatted into the night. When night falls, which it seemed to do quickly, the darkness in a canyon is dramatic.

Kathy is very susceptible to the cold and I was worried she'd spent a cold night in the tent. But the Merino wool long johns and the high-tech sleeping bag and sleeping pad kept her toasty. She got a great night's sleep. We boiled water for tea in the morning and had a light breakfast before breaking camp and continuing our trip.

 One of the deeper spots. 

The deepest part we had to go through was chest deep, which means shoulder high for five-foot tall Kathy. But it was about waist high if you could cling to a rock outcropping and step way around onto a small ledge. I thought it was pretty cool that she and I successfully navigated that.

Crossing some swift moving water.

The fun had to end at some point. Unfortunately, it was sooner than expected. The one-day and two-day trips starting at the head of the canyon require a permit. As a result there are very few people along the way. Although we crossed paths with other small groups now and then, for the most part it felt like we had the place to ourselves. That changed after we got through the deepest water on the second day. Day hikers can walk upstream to that point without a permit. So we ran into lots and lots of people coming up the river. We reached the River Walk, a paved trail, after six hours and changed into dry shoes and socks. Then we hiked to the other end of the walk and caught the shuttle bus back to the park entrance. Tired and hungry, we checked into our hotel, got cleaned up, and consumed an excellent meal at a Southwest-style establishment called The Bit & Spur Restaurant.

It looks like I have a new camping partner. Kathy says she's willing to give it another try. How cool is that?

Balancing Life

Kathy and I just spent two days on a backpacking trip, the post on which is coming soon, but one of the most enjoyable things about it was being completely disconnected from the grid and enjoying the wilderness in our party of four. It was like we had the whole place to ourselves. This video brought back that feeling and the importance of taking time out for ourselves.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Looks Like They Wanted To Make Sure


New Go Pro Mount

My Go Pro bike mount broke last week during my commute home from work. Fortunately, the camera was protected by the housing. I was very disappointed that the mount barely lasted a month of commuting. Digging around on the interwebs I found a mention of the RAM mount as a solid replacement. I ordered one and it was waiting for me when I got back from Chicago.

The RAM mount weighs about six ounces or so which is about six ounces more than the Go Pro mount. The mount is definitely solid. A U-bolt holds the mount securely to the handlebar. But there's a huge downside to this mount. The length of the mount is exacerbates the vibration. You can see the camera shaking up and down. The resulting video sucks. If your sole purpose is to show how rough Spokane streets are then this is the mount for you.

I'm going to give it a shot at a cyclocross race but I'm not optimistic.

Marking Mistake

The last rough part of North Addison south of Francis has new asphalt. Yay! It's still being worked on but it's easy for a bike to get passed the road closed sign. This morning I found the new lines marking the parking strip and bike lane. Oops!
The good news is that the bike and arrow will last a long time because they will not suffer the wrath of studded tires. The bad news is that once the house sells, the new occupants will probably cover it up when they park out front.