Doing things in Bend

This is an interesting town. It’s sprawley, and navigation is confusing. They seem to love roundabouts which are everywhere, but traffic isn’t bad at all. Once a huge lumber town, it’s now tourism, retirement, commercial center for the region, and packed with breweries and brewpubs. I went to the The Old Mill District hoping for some historical sights and instead it’s a monstrous shopping mall.

The idea was to do some shopping here to avoid sales tax. I got step bars installed on my truck, bought a Nintendo Switch and 2 video games, and a new vacuum cleaner for my rv. Plus some miscellaneous stuff. Tomorrow I’ll finish up buying stuff, and take out of here on Friday, heading into Malheur NWR.

Bend

I’ve not spent any time in Bend, and I needed to do some shopping for my truck, so it’s Bend for a few days. I’m impressed at first look, so am looking forward to exploring a bit.

And then bye to Yakima

As usual, it’s tough leaving Yakima, and saying goodbye to a lot of friends. I dropped by the Glenn Cassidy Golf Tournament for a bit, but the biggest thing was my 50th high school reunion. I was apprehensive about doing that, but it worked out well. Two evenings of chatting with best friends and others that I haven’t seen in 50 years. An amazing experience.

But I’ve got to get moving again, so it’s off to Bend, OR tomorrow morning for a few days. I’ve only passed through this town, so this time I’m staying there for a bit to get to know it. The weather is good, but obviously summer has passed. I’ll be in high desert and mountains for a while now…

Saying Bye to PT

Tomorrow I’ll head to Yakima, a much-anticipated change of scenery. Not that the scenery around here is bad, but one can get too much of a good thing.

But I won’t be able to see the solution of a problem that cropped up in town this summer. Both the state and the city resurfaced their streets and highways this summer. State 20 takes a hard right into the ferry terminal, then PT’s main street continues straight. Both entities shared the materials, the contractors, the designs, and the laborers. But, the two roads missed each other by about 6 feet. So if you don’t want the ferry, there’s a jog in the road to downtown.

This didn’t become apparent until the very end of the two projects, about 2 months ago. Since then, neither side has done anything further. It’s a standoff. The state can’t adjust without expanding the seawall, the city would have to sacrifice a portion of the bike lane and a rain garden.

Rain Garden: Rather than collecting stormwater runoff (ie, rain) into a pipe discharging directly into the bay, it’s directed into a small garden at each street intersection that contains native plants known to absorb pollutants, growing in a sand filter that performs similarly, before draining into the bay. Or, exactly how nature worked before humans fucked it up. I’m not skeptical that it works, but it’s only appropriate in extremely small applications. There are some folk that become very emotional about these.

Enough of PT…

Last days in PT

I’ll be heading out for the winter next week, so I took a browse through downtown today, checking out the shops that likely won’t be there next year. It’s Wooden Boat Festival this weekend, the biggest of the many summer celebrations Port Townsend has. The weather looks a bit iffy, but I’ll try to get down there in between drizzle spells.

My first stop will be Yakima to see friends, hang out at my brother’s golf tournament, and attend my 50th high school reunion. This will be the first trip with my new truck, and the drive is very representative to what I usually see in the west. Escaping Seattle traffic is the toughest trick; after that it will be a while before I see a city again.

I’ll head south to Bend, then the Oregon desert and Nevada, aiming in on the watermelon festival in Green River, Utah. Then, eastward to Cincinnati to visit family. Time to get back into storm-watching.

Upcoming Elections and Cannabis

The number of states, counties, and cities considering some limits on marijuana prohibition this season is quite remarkable. And there has never been such a rush by candidates to jump on the bandwagon declaring their support, although some of the politicians might be trying to fool you. Sometimes things go wrong, like these examples.

I’ve written about Calaveras County (CA) before. An economically-distressed county issued licenses, collected fees, imposed and collected taxes on cannabis businesses, and then changed their mind a year later, prohibiting all such operations including licensed operations. Legally what they did was a crime, then there are the civil issues. They took a chance on a guaranteed growing industry and forced themselves into probable bankruptcy.

Josephine County (OR) is in SW Oregon, just north of the California border, in primo marijuana-growing land. They,and their neighbors, grow the bulk of the nation’s weed. Josephine can easily claim fame to high-quality pot just like Humboldt or Mendocino. But somehow they thought it in their best interests to sue the State of Oregon for forcing it to break federal law. Their beef was that they wanted to prohibit growing cannabis in rural areas (a NIMBY thing), but growing is legal in Oregon. So they sued the state.

This was a dangerous move because it was in federal court, and might have grown legs, perhaps shutting down the state’s entire legal system, but the suit was tossed out the other day for obviously flawed arguments.

The lessons here are pay attention to the local issues, no matter what they are, but carefully watch the marijuana candidates and issues to avoid any stupidity. The “Green Rush” is on not only for capitalists, growers, and sellers, but politicians, too.

Smoke

This is getting crazy. I’ve been in smokey areas before, but only for a few days at most. It’s gone on now for 2 weeks. The morning weather reports describe the day as either “bad” or “worse”, and promise relief in a few days, which so far hasn’t happened.

I’m having a bedliner put in my truck today; on Friday my hitch will be installed, after being cleaned up and painted this week. The bedliner decision was based purely on aesthetics: I looked out my window down at the truck parked next to me and thought “antique bath tub”. Knowing that the thought will never leave my mind, I went for the (black) liner. And managed to think of this before I installed the hitch.

Being the peninsula, service providers are few and far between. The neighbor RV shop is doing the hitch, the liner is being installed by a guy in Sequim, and to cover transport needs while that is being done, a rental car from Port Angeles. The rental is a cheap Nissan, which I would never own. My truck, as bare-bones as it is, is a lot better.

Tomorrow I’ll get the truck, then I think I’ll sit indoors for a day or two. My eyes burn.

Test Drive

An obvious first test drive would be the Olympic Mountains, the National Park, but the region’s air is so full of smoke, there would be no views. But just general driving around here’s what I’ve found so far.

I buy the most basic stock truck that I can, adding only the trailer package options. I require an FM radio and cruise control, but after that I can do without. Features that I got include On-star, which means my truck has it’s own cellphone and account. She (On-star) greets me every time I get in with “To turn off this message, activate an introductory account”. This is said by voice, like a robo-call. I have no intention of activating anything of hers.

I turned off the wi-fi in the truck. I’ll admit having a router built-in so I don’t have to remember to take mine is nice, but whose network is it using?

The computer is a BSD-Unix based system, same as I use at home, same as Android. I figure in 6 months I’ll have the dash plastic off and will be tapped into it. The security vulnerabilities of these things is astounding, and I’ll need to disable some of the things it does.

There are lots of boxes, cubbyholes, and cupholders. But no place for my sunglasses.

The power train is great. I’m looking forward to pulling with it so I can learn the transmission characteristics, which I can already see are different. One thing I like is that down-shift for descending hills kicks in automatically rather than by using “show by example” with the brake pedal while in tow-haul mode.

People I’ve talked to swear it’s great at pulling trailers, though I remain skeptical.

New Truck

I bought a new truck, delivered today. Its a 2018 GMC Sierra 2500HD, basically the same as my other truck. The new one has 4WD, and instead of the 8L engine I had, it’s a 6L with the same hp rating. It has power windows and a few other gadgets that are now standard, but the biggest thing is the radio has a screen now, and I have no idea how to use it. There’s more plastic things everywhere.

My plan calls for a few after-market additions, like steps, but I’d like to wait until I get into a region of the US that has decent truck parts stores.

I’m into it for less money than I anticipated, but I gather GMC is cheaper than Chevrolet, the factory rebate was higher than I thought, and even my credit union threw in $350 for some reason. The interaction with the dealer was contentious as hell, but I never have to do that again. Well, my rv is getting close to replacement, too.

Tomorrow I’ll square away the insurance, then take a test drive.

Lavender Weekend

It’s long-standing tradition that people from the cities come over for a day-trip to see the lavender farms for the Sequim Lavender Festival. The ferries and highways around here hit capacity for most of the weekend, so I stay close to home.

The kids came over earlier in the week for camping, and I treated them all for a whale-watching trip. We had great views of orcas, the weather was splendid, the tour outfit did great, and the grandkids seemed to have a good time. The tour is well worth it.

This week I visit my surgeon to talk about the next step on my arteries. I know he’s looking at one obstruction in my left leg, but whether the fix will be simple or complex, I’ll find out.