Map of my travels

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States I’ve Visited

Race to Alaska

Last year I wrote a lot about this event, I thought “This is cool shit!” Turns out others thought the same, and it became a “thing”.

The very most important thing to know is the url, r2ak.com.

The premise is a race, by any means, from Port Townsend to Ketchikan, Alaska. No motors, no support crew. The winner gets $10,000, second place a set of steak knives. Those are the rules, so it’s a simple game to understand.

No one has a tried an overland route, likely because it’s impossible, so by water is the way you go.

Last year R2AK came on me while I was dry-camping at Pt Hudson at the marina. This year I’ll be in the same dry camping spot but I’ll see just the start of the race, not the prep. No matter, I’m only a few miles from the point, so I can follow along before I move up there.

Expect a lot more from me on this over the next month or so…

Better weather

The color of the day this morning was sky blue, though it hazed up after a while. It looks like we’ll have a few days more of dryness.

I tackled the job of repairing one of my window shades today, which involves re-threading the strings that control it. After months of preparation I had a decent work space and reserved many hours for the task. It didn’t take all that long, and I think it came out great. It’s one of those things that once you do it, it’s a snap the next time. I bought the repair kit that can be found in RV stores. It’s a handy collection of some necessary parts you’ll need, including a wonderful “needle” for threading string. The included written instructions are atrocious, though, so check YouTube for something understandable.

The toughest part is coming up, re-hanging the shade. But that’s for tomorrow.

Spring in Port Townsend

Over the weekend, Washington State added a second ferry to the Port Townsend–Whidbey Island route to handle the tourist load for the summer.

I usually get here while the Brant (like a Canada goose) are still hanging out on that tiny gravel spit at Point Hudson. It’s only about 100 birds, but the flock is reliable. They packed up and left for the north the other day. They won’t be seen again until Fall.

The boatyard is looking empty now. The Alaska fleet has left for the season. The boatyard looks to me like it’s very underutilized: there’s a monstrous amount of empty space.

And, this weekend is the signature civic PT summer festival, the Rhody Festival (parades, carnival, car show). It’s unfortunate they schedule it this time of year given the weather, and the Rhodies are better in a couple of weeks.

And sun is forecast for the next few days….

Washington state pot regulation this session

The governor signed into law 2 bills that dealt with some miscellaneous, though important, issues dealing with the state’s marijuana regulations. I highlighted the most significant points earlier.

It cannot be said that the legislature is advancing the state of the art in cannabis regulation; very little will be of interest to other states in any significant way. Part of this is likely because the lawmakers are taking a wait and see approach regarding the uncertain federal position. But another part is that it doesn’t look to me that the industry is organized enough to deliver consistent and emphatic messages to the reps. They need to get it together and go to work now on their message now in preparation for next year.

I was impressed at how knowledgeable the legislature members are on the subject, something that is sorely missing in most other states, especially the eastern seaboard. And they seem to be accommodating to the industry’s needs when they are informed on the issues.

Washington is doing well with it’s program, but there are a lot of annoying features that can be adjusted. We hopefully will know more about the feds next year, and the industry might be a little more organized and aggressive then, too. Meanwhile, they are functioning…

Nevada Pot Laws

I like how Nevada is handling it’s new recreational marijuana laws. Like a few other states, their initiative passed last fall with a deadline of January 2018 for implementation. I think all states would say 1 year is too short a time to get operational. Nevada’s approach is that the tax collection system is now ready to go, and stores can open July 1. The rest of the boring stuff can wait until January.

This will create a rush to pay the license fees (not insubstantial), then very quickly there will be a reliable revenue stream when sales start to compensate for the costs of developing regulations.

Industry people say Nevada has a glut of pot right now, so it should be able to absorb initial demand. I’m suspicious of that because Nevada’s market is it’s tourists.

I applaud Nevada for so adroitly side-stepping most of the pitfalls other states have experienced, temporarily, and being completely straight where the state’s priorities are.

Hanging in PT

The color of the day around here is white. It’s a combination of fruit trees (apple, mainly) and ocean spray, a completely nondescript plant unless it is blooming. Some years they all seem to bloom at once, which is spectacular along the roadside, but usually the show is spread out over weeks. That looks like this year. Yellow is coming on fast, lupine and Scotch broom.

The Fruit Stand has opened this year, this time in a real building rather than a tent or shack. I’ve patronized them for ten years because they operate like the fruit stands I knew as a child in Yakima, and because they make their own runs to Yakima to get the produce I grew up with. They are rowing upstream around here, this being a fanatical local and organic type of community. This is May, proper asparagus comes from eastern Washington, and it could never be grown locally or organically.

It’s been wet lately. So, to kill time I’ve been dealing with slides and 8mm films that my dad took. Picture number one is his collection is my baby picture, and they go into the 60’s.

I scanned the slides myself by buying a gadget from Amazon that worked fairly well for a low price. If you want perfection on a slide, time and expense are very high; all I wanted is kind of a “proof sheet”, digital images that can be browsed on a computer. Turned out well, but you’d need to re-scan if you wanted a quality reproduction of a slide.

The films I turned over to a local guy with the machinery for doing the job. Home movies from the 60’s really suck. I say that from 2017 looking back to the technology that was in my family’s hands 55 years ago. Quite different from the youtube environment today.

The content of these films (a fraction of what dad took) will be of huge interest to my nieces and nephews, despite the poor quality…

California Regulations

When Colorado and Washington passed legal marijuana they had to write the rules from scratch. This hadn’t been done since the end of alcohol prohibition, far beyond the memories of those writing the new de-prohibition rules. The first guesses and bad assumptions were quickly seen as errors, and corrections made fairly quickly.

Oregon and Alaska learned from the original states, and added their own twists and turns, mistakes and accidental pleasant discoveries. Nevada is doing the same, but with their unique brand superimposed on the entire culture.

But California is coming through as the mastodon in the west. They’ve learned from all the rules ever written, expanded them until seemingly every agency in the state has a hand in the action. From environmental protection to public health to law enforcement to agriculture, California represents the state-of-the-art in cannabis regulation. This achievement comes with a cost, though, and while the taxes won’t initially be unexpected, the fees and compliance costs will be high.

There are two problems I see with this strategy. The entire masterpiece of regulations that cover everything does not address the export of cannabis out of state, which account for about 75-80% of the industry’s output. The other problem is that guesses right now say costs for compliance will run about $500 a pound, on an agricultural product currently selling for $1000 a pound. If you could get your output to Chicago, you’d get $4000 a pound, but you’d be illegal; but you’d avoid the $500/lb for being legal.

The mastodon is loose….

Washington passes a pot law

A public health office came up with the idea of distributing lockable “stash boxes” through the pot stores, particularly to homes with children. By law, the stores are not allowed to sell such things, nor can they give them away. A new law now allows both activities at the stores.

First off, the retail stores (in WA) are not allowed to give away anything. This prevents the “free gift” when you buy an empty baggie for $35. Then, stores can only sell marijuana or it’s derivatives, nothing else. There’s a “sweetheart deal” that allows stores to sell “closely-related” items like rolling papers, bongs, and even cigarette liters, but stuff like food, T-shirts, or a pop machine is off-limits, including things like lock-boxes.

Now it’s legal for the stores to make available the lock boxes supplied from public health. I’m sure the stores will cooperate, now it’s up to public health whether they are free or are sold. Their objective is to get them out there to avoid accidental ingestion by children.

Washington Legislature

When this year’s session opened, there were hundreds of bills left over from last year, including a couple dozen dealing with marijuana. With the laws and regulations on retail pot not even three years old yet, one could expect there would be many opportunities for modifications and additions to something so new.

They did manage to deal with 20 items late last Friday, the last day of this year’s session. The remainder, including some of the most discussed, they pushed into the next session.

I watched closely to see what the local reporters would come up with for the headline on the bill that passed. Nothing appeared, likely because they couldn’t describe it in an interesting way.

“Bureaucratic Pot Laws and Rules Tweaked”. A few highlights might be the LCB is now required to notify Indian tribes before they issue a license on tribal land; allow retail shop owners to have a stake in 5, not just 3, stores; legalize sharing marijuana (ie, passing the pipe); cut the WA Dept of Ag into the action on edibles, and define organic standards; add some fees and costs to the licensees; and then, screw around with the advertising restrictions.

There almost isn’t anything I detest more than advertising run amok. What I really detest is the state restricting free speech, no matter the message, size, or place. Taken to the logical end, my ideal would lead to laser shows advertising Pepsi on the walls of the Grand Canyon.

While I have to admit the pot billboards are quite obvious in Oregon and Washington, I’ve seen many in the US for alcohol, paid sex, and those yucky pro-life ads you see in the South. When laws are attempted at restricting advertising, they always include a long list of exceptions. No sandwich signs allowed except for Sunday church services. It takes a few minutes for the lawyers to get the “except for” clause stricken in court, then they can delete the “No”.

Put another way, the more they try to write clarifying legislation, the more loopholes they open, and the more folk can exploit the vagaries. I’m fairly happy this law passed as it imposes yet more exceptions to the billboard rules, and confuses the issue with regard to other forms. It’s good because it’s bad.

I wish I was there when the situation came up that prompted the part on notifying Indians. It had to have happened fairly early, when licenses were being doled out by county. One of those addresses was on tribal land, and there are tribes that have an intense aversion to cannabis. Oops. There’s a law now that says the Liquor and Cannabis Board can’t do that on sovereign lands.

“Boring Bill Passes Legislature”

Color of the Day: Yellow

The local natives use the greeting “Tokitae”, which means “Nice day. Pretty colors”. This is the season where the Olympic Peninsula is frantically blooming, with a different color in the majority almost every day. Right now it’s dandelions. Every lawn, pasture, highway divide, and field is covered in blooming dandelions, sometimes completely covering the green. It’s gorgeous.

But it’s not confined to the peninsula. Yesterday at a big gathering at Hippie Hill in Golden Gate Park, photos show that it, too, was covered, and very pretty. Likewise in Denver at the party there.

Apparently not everyone appreciates this phenomena. A very high-ranking elected official took the floor at the Capitol yesterday to complain about the dandelions in the expansive lawn there. He offered to bring his back-pack sprayer and take care of it. Even worse, he didn’t like the way the tulip bulbs were coming up. Dandelions are weeds and need to be destroyed, according to him, and the tulips need to be in straight lines. Obviously the gardeners were slacking off. There’s moss growing on the concrete, too.

He sounds like an Eastern Washington farmer to me…