Thursday, July 31, 2008

Grandpa's in Town

Most people tend to think that their Grandpa is the the coolest guy ever, but they are wrong, because my Grandpa is the coolest guy ever.

Grandpa W. was in town this week, he's on a long trek through the Northwest seeing kids, grand kids and great-grand kids. Caleb and Abby haven't been around him since they were babies, but that didn't stop and instant bond from forming. Of course being the coolest grandpa ever makes it easy for kids to love him, but it was a truly special couple days.

Grandpa played H-O-R-S-E with Caleb and told Abby that she was a princess over and over. We saw some local sites and took Grandpa out to the lake to share with him our good life.

He's a great man that has seem to have figured out our crazy world. It never takes long during aconversation with Grandpa to realize that he knows what's important and what's not.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Three Hour Tour

My father in law, Stuart (Stu), bought an older sailing catamaran this spring. He has a great passion for sailing, and I'm starting to catch the bug as well (At least, I think that's what that rash is from). He purchased a Nacra, which is similar to the more popular Hobie-cat, but a whole lot faster. We've taken it out a half dozen times this year and it's been a blast.

Yesterday, I was playing Mr. Mechanic on my boat and he came along to provide some muscle (two nurses = one man)(yes, he's a nurse too). During our successful replacement of the steering cable on my boat, the wind was howling, and we both knew we had to go out for a quick sail...despite both our wives waiting for us at home.

There were white capped waves across the lake blowing onto our shore so it took several attempts just to get out pass the docks. We have yet to master getting off the dock while looking like we know what we're doing. This time was no different as we crashed into a neighbor's dock, turned around, ran onto the beach, turned around again, got the dagger board stuck in the mud, turned around, then after barely avoiding another neighbor's dock, finally made it out to the deep stuff.

Once in the deep, I think we know what to do and with that strong wind we were flying. These Nacra boats are pretty simple crafts, just two hulls, a sail and a trampoline to sit on. We had brought a couple folding stadium seats to sit on, a bottle of water, a couple life jackets and Stu never goes anywhere without his cell phone.

We were cruising for about 15 min when I mentioned to Stu we should tie up the life jackets (you didn't think we'd actually be wearing the life jackets did you?) and seats. I had just buckled my life jacket around the mast when we rose up on one hull. Now these boats are made to ride on one hull, but we're not exactly at the level yet. But the next 10 seconds would change our level of sailing quickly. The side I was on rose about 5 feet, Stu tried to steer us down to the water, but the wind took the boat over on it's side. I was standing on the now horizontal mast for a few seconds deciding were to jump and Stuart was swimming to try and catch the boat.

These boats are suppose to be fairly easy to right once they've tipped over, but I have a good 1-2 hours of my life to prove otherwise. We pulled, pushed, swung, swore, and did everything else to try and get the beast right side up, but couldn't do it. Some guy even showed up with his boat and tried to pull us over, to no avail. The wind finally took us to the shore, which in retrospect, sounds like a safe and easy place to right the boat, but not for 'ole Stu and me. We looked like Larry, Moe and Curly trying to pull the boat over. Just when we thought we figured it out, we were raising the mast and it got stuck in some trees overhanging the shore. We did finally get it right side up and then we repeated our song-and-dance routine to get the boat into deep water again. It took some time to go up-wind back to the lake house, but we did remain calm and with smiles on our faces.

The stadium seats and water bottle were our only casualties (other than our egos), Stu had grabbed his life jacket as he went overboard, my life jacket remained buckled to the mast the whole time, and Stu's cell phone had amazingly made the ride inside an open pocket on the trampoline. After arriving to the dock, we took the ski-boat out and found the seats on the shore.
One of my ultimate goals is to sail the world with my family...that's sail the world with both hulls in the water at all times.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Flesh-Eating Creatures Attack

A few days ago I walked out of the garage with Caleb and I thought I saw a cat near where we stack our fire wood. Since I was with Caleb, I walked bravely to investigate the new found animal, but it ran under some wood. Caleb went back to the garage to put on his shoes, which gave me a chance to revert to my scardy-cat mode. I grabbed a shovel and started to turn over some wood. A few seconds after messing around with the shovel a killer animal came out of the rubbish, charging at me with his blood-filled eyes. With no time to react, I froze like a barbie doll, held the shovel above my head and screeched like a young school girl. The rabid animal ran passed my ankles and darted into the woods. I nearly lost my life, I'm sure of it. Caleb came back out of the garage to see his "brave" dad and asked why I had the shovel? "ahhh, to scare the animal". Then he asked why I made that funny noise? "Ahhh, also to scare the animal". I then went inside to the get online and figure out what just had try to eat me. I found a few videos on youtube of the vicious animals called marmots. Here some links:

You can now see, why I was fearing for not only my life, but the lives of my entire family.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Holding the Truck Together With Zip Ties

All is well in Spokandy land. We've spent lots of time at the lake despite some days of high winds. I even took the kids out on the catamaran one evening (when there was hardly any wind). They were bored within 20 min of sailing and wanted to jump in. I still have some time before asking them to spend 2-3 years living on a sailboat, hopefully there attitude towards sailing will change.
We're back to projects. I used some of my new found mechanic skills and replaced the fuel pump in my truck, it wasn't too bad. Does swearing count as a bad thing when working on engines? I think there should be some leeway for cussing during certain activities like car/boat repairs, home repairs, sporting events, exercise, dealing with young kids, dealing with teens, talking to liberals and when killing spiders. Anyway after the truck smelling like gasoline every time I stop at red light for the past 5 years, the problem is no fixed. Hopefully those zip ties hold....I'm not kidding about the zip ties.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Sinking the Family Boat

Until a few days ago, I still hadn't put our boat in the water due to cold weather. I also had done some work on it this spring, mainly changing out the engine-cooling water pump and serpentine belt. It was a major pain in the butt to replace because of it's location on the bottom of the engine compartment. But the boat shops are charging $100/hr for service time, so I'm sure I saved some $. I think those places must hire midgets with 6-foot arms to work on these boats though. Anyway, I got it all back together and all shined up. Stuart (my father in law), the kids and I took the boat up to the lake. Stuart dropped us off at the ramp, the boat started up, the kids jumped in and we headed across the lake to the Foster's lake place. We were about half-way across the lake when the over-heat alarm went off....crap! I shut down the boat and opened the engine compartment like I knew what to do, and noted the bottom was full of water...super-crap!! (Yes, I had put the plug in). I turned on the bilge for a while and let the engine cool down some. After a few minutes of lying to the kids about why we weren't going anywhere, I started up the engine again, then I went back a looked in the compartment while it was running and saw the bilge wasn't keeping up with how much water was coming in...super-duper crap!! We were sinking....OK the boat wasn't sinking, but my stomach was. I called Stuart, who must have been talking to someone about something much more important than this grand kids floating in the middle of a cold lake (For the record, he claims he never heard it ring). Then I called Mon to tell her I loved her and that if she remarries, I'll haunt her underwear drawer with spiders....actually I told her to keep calling her Dad to go back to the ramp and pick us up. I was stuck in a quandary though: Should I run the engine while too hot to get to shore or should I wait and risk taking on too much water? I did a little of both, shutting down the engine for short periods while keeping a close eye on the water level around the engine. As the engine got hotter and the water level rose, steam from the hot metal starting billowing out the back. Soon though, the steam turned into dark smoke as I'm guessing the black paint started to burn off the engine. Within about a 1/2 mile of the ramp, another boat started coming toward us. I figured they'd be a good back-up plan as I was about to wave them down (as if the black smoke didn't trigger a cry for help), but as we got closer, I noticed the boat was full of teenage girls...I remember thinking..."I'll take my chances, thanks". The whole time the kids smelled the fear in me, Caleb kept climbing under the bow cushion and Abby sat perfectly still with her mouth wide open. When I was within a few hundred feet of the ramp, I yelled at some other boaters on ramp that I needed to beach my boat quickly. A couple guys scurried around and moved there boats to make room for me. And a couple other guys moved their trucks to allow Stuart (who was called by Mon) to back up the trailer. I ran the boat up on the muddy shore and killed the engine. Other than the fishermen Larry and his other brother Larry who were trying to diagnose my boats problems, the next 1/2 hr was spent trailering the boat, draining the water, and letting it cool down. When it was finally safe to stick our heads in the engine compartment, Stuart found a large water hose that had slipped off the water pump...once again I failed as a mechanic. It wasn't too much of a fix the next day, it took me an hour or so. (It probably would have taken the long-armed midget 15 minutes). We put the boat in water and she's run fine since. This concludes the longest post ever.

More Romantic Than an 8th Grader

We're back to the good-life after our Oregon Vacation. The first few days home were busy getting the house back to order. Before we left for Medford, it was still a cool spring, but while we were gone, summer arrived in Spokane which shot the weeds and grass up. I mowed our park (sometimes referred to as Wallace Field) the first couple days. Only took me 4.5 hrs with my push mower. And that was just the half I'm taking care of. Maybe I'll get a ride-on mower for my Birthday....anybody....only 13 more shopping days left. On the other half of the park I mowed the the letters 'CW + MF'. All the letters were about 20 feet tall. I know, I know...I'm a romantic, what can I say? Though when Mon finally noticed it, her response was, and this is a quote. "What are we, in 8th grade?"...OUCH!!