Sunday, August 28, 2005

Blog is all caught up

Hey!!! This is the first entry that isn't back dated.

I made it through my first week of work. I am totally and utterly overwhelmed. I love it! I haven't found anything bad about work. Ok, I suppose there is one thing, but it's probably best not to say and every other company has similar problems. Google seems to be doing a very good job from what I've seen so far. I have no doubt I will find things I don't like or could be improved. Hopefully I will have the opportunity to make changes. Being an employee hasn't been as weird as I thought it would be. After over 10 years of kinda being my own boss, I thought it might be a bit uncomfortable. So far, it's been the opposite. I've been more comfortable doing things when they tell you to. Since there are always customers, you're never really the boss of yourself anyways.

Damn Comcast. They are making me drive into work Tuesday. How? It took less than two weeks for them to screw up my internet connection. Bad signal levels. Sometimes it works, like right now. I only lost one post due to the bad connection. I need to get back home quick when they come out to fix the problem, so it's best if I use the car. They also made me turn on the TV for the second time I was here. The first time was to verify they installed cable properly. Since I wasn't planning on watching anything, I unplugged the TV. When the internet went out, I figured it best to verify at least the TV was working. Of course it was, just internet was out.

The rest of these notes are my feelings towards my new home. I walk too fast for a Californian, but I ride my bike too slow. They should balance each other out. I'm in no hurry when I ride my bike (ok, I'm pretty lazy), so there's no need to go faster. OTOH, I jaywalk all the time. I'm guessing it will take less than a year to get a ticket. What a useless law to enforce. Which brings up something I've found to be quite odd here. California is known as being this liberal haven. I find it peculiar that they seem to be so into Law and Order. Not the television show (maybe that too, I don't know), but everything. There are so many signs, it's dizzying. Do this, don't do that. This is how much it will cost if you do this.

So many people water their lawns. I realize I'm in NorCal (Northern California) where there aren't as severe water shortages. However, they complain about not having enough water, then they waste it. I know at least some of the water is reclaimed which doesn't seem as bad, but I'm sure a lot of it is also clean drinking water. I have to say it is kinda funny to see a sign that the sprinklers use reclaimed drinking water, don't drink it. There are a lot of homeless people around. I was surprised at how many are here. There seem to be as many as in DC.

One other annoying thing is that as much as California is tolerant, there seems to be a huge gap between Latinos and everyone else. It's worse than the gap between black and white in the east. I was talking to a guy from Peru about it. His opinion was that it was primarily a workforce issue. The Latinos have a particular set of jobs they typically perform and so there isn't much intermixing. That does seem to be true. I don't know if that's the cause or effect.

It's still a very nice place, just some observations I've noticed so far.

I like that there is a fair amount of ethnic diversity. Lots of Asians from all over. The restaurants reflect that, which is good for me since I love Asian food. I've seen mostly Indian, Thai, Chinese, and Japanese.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Almost through the first week

I keep forgetting to mention. I've never worked at a place with so many conference rooms! I guess I kinda had the expectation that there weren't many (I forgot about when I interviewed apparently). It's not that communication isn't important, it's just that I was thinking that it was different. Well what's different is that there aren't that many big conference rooms like other places. There's a bunch of very small conference rooms. It works out pretty well actually.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Nothing much to mention today. Today's word of the day is the same as yesterday, ontology again. I magically got approval to work on pychecker. It was really difficult. I sent an email yesterday and got approval. Seems we are still working out how to announce this stuff though.

I think I can say this. I was reading the style guides. I finished the C++ guide and opened the Python guide just before heading off to dinner. I didn't really read it, but I did see that at the very top was a summary and happened to notice that the #1 entry was "PyChecker: required." I thought that was humorous (in case anyone doesn't know, I wrote pychecker). Now I really got fix all those bugs that have been in there for quite some time. I did add my key to SF and was able to cvs co pychecker.

I did the weekly walk and tried to get someone interested in documenting pychecker. I'm sure many people would appreciate it. In case that was too boring, I tried to sucker^h^h^h^h^h^h offer the Python docs up for enhancements. I read the rules on blogging, hence the verbiage at the bottom of the page.

Oh there's something I keep forgetting to mention. I feel like I'm back in DC. I've heard so many languages being spoken and even more accents, it's really quite nice.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


It's 4 o'clock?!? What the hell have I been doing all day? I got in before 8 am and the next thing I know it's 4 pm. Things are moving so fast I kinda lose track of time.

Still getting access to more systems, etc. Got my tetanus shot today. Signed up for the weekly walk reminder and the gym. Of course, the doctor said no strenuous exercising for the next few days. I'm assuming riding my bike isn't strenuous. Although on the ride in I remember the problem with not riding one's bike very often. Let's just say it will be much nicer when I develop some callouses. At least my hands are fine.

Word of the day: ontology

Yesterday's word of the day: cacophony

These are words that you don't typically hear engineer's use in their everyday language. I'm going to keep a list of all the interesting words that are not particularly common. It was funny to hear these words used in a presentation.

One really nice thing I haven't mentioned so far is that people are encouraged to bring pets (really dogs) to work. At least dogs that are nice and quiet.

I find it funny that my desktop computer has a Microsoft sticker on it. So Google paid for an OS that was probably immediately wiped from the disk and will never be used. How much is Google subsidizing MS because of its (MS's) monopoly?

This is really stupid (like the rest of what I wrote isn't?). At any rate, I really like the bathrooms. They are kept very neat and clean, but that's not what I'm talking about. All the bathrooms have shelves that you can put books, etc. Lots of big shelves right when you walk in. It's very convenient not to have to hold something while you're peeing. There's even little shelves over the urinals. (I think one of the bathrooms in a lobby didn't, but I noticed it after I wrote this.)

No, I still haven't learned how to use the toilet yet. Today the seat was heated. If it takes me this long to learn to use the toilets, I don't even wanna guess how long the phone system will take.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Day 2

For the first time in my life, I rode my bike to work. For the last time in my life, I rode my bike to work. Just kidding. :-) It took me less than 20 minutes door to door and the drive takes over 10 minutes, so there really isn't much difference, except that I enjoy riding my bike tons more than I enjoy sitting in the car.

First thing in the morning, I got annoyed at the idiot that was calling me at 8 am. I had only been at work for 15 minutes and it was bad timing. I wanted to get busy reading/learning. Who was it? It was the damn alarm clock I set and forgot to turn off. Oops.

I'm still not sure which group I'm in and who my real manager is. But there seem to be several of us that are confused. I guess possession is 9/10ths of the law, so I'm going with those who claim me regardless of what the computer says.

Lots more learning today. Get mail setup and add myself to a few groups. Read various things about culture etc. Orientation classes are now fairly short, not the full day thankfully. The full day was really helpful. It's just really painful to be in meetings/classes all day.

The comment of the day was: "Since this is a place of business, by law we aren't really allowed to provide beds, otherwise we would. As long as you can go without sleep, you are welcome to live here." That's a slight paraphrase, but the idea is the same.

No free dinner for me tonight, I didn't feel like waiting the extra 10 minutes. Besides, I just bought a bunch of food for home. I gotta use it or lose it.

I was really planning on leaving at around 17.30, but I started talking to another noogler and his buddy. That lasted for almost an hour. So far, it's been pretty easy to have interesting conversations there (or here, whatever you get the idea).

I might have lined up 2 projects to work on and the balloons haven't even dropped yet. Oh, I didn't tell you the balloon story. When I get to my desk I get lots of kisses. No, no Hawaiian beauties waiting with leis unfortunately (I guess they gotta draw the line somewhere). These were the boring Hershey's type. The kisses are weighing down several mylar balloons to announce to the office that a newbie works here, use caution. My mentor told me that I had until the balloons lose all their helium and drop to the ground to decide what project(s) to work on. If I hadn't made a decision, I'd be fired. Ok, not really fired, they'd just work to find me something.

The first project doesn't really count, since it's pychecker. I know something about that. At least I used to know something, I'll have to check if there are still any marbles rolling around upstairs though. The second project seemed pretty cool. It dealt with improving hardware defect management. Man, it sounded much cooler before I sanitized it.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Step 6 -- Goto work, so you can pay your bills

First day at Google. I expect some confusion since I received an email last Wednesday asking me when I was starting. I originally was supposed to start on Sept 6, but I moved up the date. I figured 2.5 months of vacation should be enough, even for me. Time to get some work done. I would have responded to the email, except I was in LA having too much fun. I didn't even think to look at email.

So I arrive and sure enough my name is not on the list. The receptionist says don't worry about it, I'll add you to a list and they can deal with it later. Damn, that was too easy. I get my picture taken for a badge. Man, haven't had one of those for quite a while. I'm supposedly in one system, but not in another. So they can't decide if I exist or not. Better than the guy I sat next to in orientation who really didn't exist. But he still got to enjoy all the "fun". (Later he found out he did exist and got his badge too.)

We go to setup our passwords. Since I'm not in the write system, they fix the problem and tell me to setup the password later. It didn't matter at this point, since there weren't enough computers for me in the orientation room anyways. I just sat in the back with a dumb look on my face like I always do.

We go to lunch. I must say, I'm really disappointed. I keep hearing about how awesome the food is and how you can get 3 meals a day for free! (Yeah, yeah, there's no such thing as a free lunch, but I ask you, what about breakfast and dinner, huh?) So we get lunch. The food was really good, better than most restaurants. But there's way too many choices. I'm assuming all are as good as the next. It sucks to have all that food there and you have to limit yourself to only a few options. Dinner was just as good.

Orientation lasted most of the day. Lots of interesting people there, but I only got to meet a few so far.

At the end of orientation, I call the help desk to setup my password. That takes a bit, seems there are still problems. My machine arrived only 10 minutes before I did, which is apparently not good by Google standards. Most companies would love to have the apparent efficiency and organization I've seen so far. After some delay, I get a password, but my machine isn't in another database, so that's gotta get done. That gets done, but won't be ready for a while, so that was when I left for dinner.

Tomorrow, I'm going to ride my bike to work for the first time. We'll see how that works. (Unless I get lazy and this is the last entry. :-) )

Oh!!! I completely forgot about the toilets. Now I admit I ain't the sharpest tool in the shed, but how the hell do you work those things. It's got way too many controls. I was afraid of pushing the wrong button and getting squirted in the face. Americans should never use a bidet unless they really know what they are doing. I thought it would flush automagically. I waited and waited, but nothing happened. I did make sure to move out of the way of the IR sensor, in case you think I'm totally losing it. I finally pushed the button at the top. Imagine that, a toilet that flushes manually. Most other toilets I found in the buildings don't have all this fancy shmansy crap. Even I can work them. I just get up and they flush by themselves. I can do that!)

I forgot the funniest and most embarrassing story of the whole day. I was so nervous and had so much energy that I peed all over myself. I started laughing at the urinal and I'm sure everyone around was wondering what that wacko was thinking. Ok, it didn't really happen, but while I was standing at the urinal I thought that would be incredibly funny if it did.

One of the great benefits of being indoctrinated into old fartdom is that there's no need for nervousness. I was very comfortable the whole time (except after lunch since I drank too much and there was an interminable cycle of people telling us one thing or another that I'm sure was very important. But I had more important things on my mind, like making sure that my bladder didn't explode raining yellow droplets on everyone.) I stopped waiting for a break and just left. Of course, this episode was after my image of creating a Picasso on my pants leg.

I also didn't try to remember one bit of information. I know there's going to be way too much to remember. Easier to not try. I'll learn what I need to learn later.

It was a very enjoyable day.

Just in case, for those of you wondering, no I didn't wear a holy shirt (ie, shirt with holes). Well, maybe one or two small ones, and I think there was a stain too. But it was a newer shirt (ie, definitely than 10 years old, maybe less than 5). [It was the shirt with all the kiwis on it. I'm sure my mom will tell me exactly how old it is, since she was the one who got it for me when she went to New Zealand. Give 180,000 miles and get a couple of shirts.]

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Step 5 -- Get more stuff

I start doing some real shopping and buy a bunch of different stuff I need. Furniture, food, etc. The rest of today's entry is apparently just miscellaneous notes I typed in earlier.

After nearly 3 months off, I forgot how to save a buffer in emacs/gnuclient. For some reason I kept thinking it was M-x #. Of course it is C-x #. See, this is what happens when you take off for too long; your brain turns to mush. And when it starts that way, let's just say it's not a pretty cite.

My pulse is already 10 beats lower than before I left. I'm quite comfortable here already. In 2 years at my old house, I managed to buy one picture. It never got hung. I did hang one picture, but that was only because there was already something to hang it on. And in case you are still wondering what my pulse is (why the hell would you want to know that useless bit of information), it's around 60. The lowest I counted was 56. Maybe with exercise I can get it down to under 50. Then again with all the free food at Google, maybe it will become a nice round figure like 100. It would be really nice if I could get my pulse down to my age (mental age, that is). However, 5 seems like an unrealistic goal for my pulse rate.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Step 4 -- Return to Mt View

I gotta go back and start getting ready for work. I still have a bunch of things to do to the house, etc. I use the opportunity to do some more fun driving. It was recommended that I take Sunset Blvd all the way to CA-1. Awesome choice, Holly! Sunset was so much fun and a very pretty drive. It was weird (no idea why) driving past the Beverly Hills Hotel. I recognized the sign with its distinctive font when I drove past. CA-1 was fun up to Oxnard. But at that point it really went inland and I should have stayed on US 101 until San Simeon (Hearst Castle). At San Simeon CA-1 got fun to drive. It was slower than I thought. I didn't get back until pretty late. I want to head back to all the places that I missed, at least: Big Sur, San Simeon, and Monterey.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Step 3 -- Road trip!

I've been here for 2 full days, that's long enough. Time for a road trip to Los Angeles. Take US 101 down, that was pretty plain. But it was a lot of fun to head down there. I really like LA for some reason. I think it's because it's a little more East Coast-ish than the rest of California. It's a little faster.

I have a great time in LA. We had some really good Indian food and it was fun to hang out and meet some new kids (of a friend).

Monday, August 15, 2005

Step 2 -- Move in

It's been less than a week and I'm already in my own place. The movers show up before I do at a little after 8 am. That's a good sign. The unload all the boxes. There were about 37 numbered pieces. Most of those were boxes, but a bunch were things like: 2 chairs, bike, bike rack, mop, lamp, laundry basket, etc. I don't have a whole lotta stuff. :-)

Time to start getting new stuff. So I shops around and sees what I can find. There's plenty of choices between Mountain View, Palo Alto, and Sunnyvale. All are very close.

Ikea and Best Buy aren't very far. I had already picked up a nice 19 inch LCD and I got a chance to unpack it. But no internet until tomorrow.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Step 1 -- Find a place to live

I've been here for a full day and 2 nights, it's about damn time I find a permanent place to live. Sure, it's real nice getting maid service in the Residence Inn. But living out of a hotel gets old real fast. I went out with the guy setup to help me find a place. I really had so little work to do in this move, it couldn't have been easier. The second place we looked at (out of about a dozen) was the best. I went back and talked to the guy and got the lease. I signed and delivered it the next day. Yeah, I got a place. Now what do I do? I have 11 days before I start.

Time to learn the area, go around, hang out in the downtown area (Castro Street). Downtown, all 3 blocks of it, is only a few blocks from the hotel (and the new place too!). It's an easy and convenient walk. I don't really remember what else I did, but the time went fast.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Cultural Adjustment--A New Beginning

The cultural adjustment begins. Like all good Easterners I walk too fast and cross the road whenever it's clear. We don't need no stinkin' crosswalks or signs to tell us when to cross. It's odd to see people wait until the red hand becomes a white walk ok sign even when there's no traffic. I like being able to walk to many places. It was particularly weird to go to a bank for personal use. For the last 10 years or so, I've only done business transactions at a bank (well, used business accounts even if I had to cash a personal check).

I was somewhat familiar with the pedestrian friendly attitude of California drivers, so this wasn't a shock. Though it is still a bit weird for me.

It seems like a bunch of the things I need are either in Palo Alto or Sunnyvale. Which is no big deal since it took about 5 minutes to go from PA to Sunnyvale with Mt View being in between.

That's the end of my written notes--all 23 pages.

There were a few things I remember that I didn't write down. 2 humorous signs I saw along the way. The first was just a misspelling of Famly. The second was "Kids for Sale". I know lots of parents want to give their kids away from time to time, but selling them? Come on! This sign, however, was selling young goats, ie kids.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

California Coast

The fog was dense when I left so there wasn't much reason to stick around. I left before 9 am. US 101 turned into a real freeway with 65 mile per hour limit. So I made really good time. I decided to take a scenic route through Humboldt State Park on Avenue of the Giants. Very glad I did. It was an awesome, immense forest. I visited a tree that was estimated to be 1,000 years old. The fog was still think here, so I didn't walk at all. I need to return to this excellent locale.

It looks like I'll easily make Mt View today at this rate. I wanted to stay along the coast (CA-1) which is a slower, longer route, but should be scenic. I'm so glad I did too. Immediately after the split from US 101 onto CA-1, the road changed. There was a sign that said it was curvy for 22 miles. I figured this was like the deer crossing signs that say 22 miles and you never see a deer along the stretch. Holy shit, this was the opposite. There were hardly any straight stretches. It was awesome The funnest road I've ever driven. Thankfully there weren't too many people slowing me up. The few slow drivers usually pulled off the road pretty quick when they saw the Tasmanian Devil 6 inches behind them. It's not just lots of curves that have you slow up. (They may say you should slow up, but who ever does?) The signs were usually to slow down to 15 or 20 miles per hour. Sometimes even 10 mph. There weren't just the curves but switchbacks going up and down mountains. So I got to change gears a lot too (manual transmission). There were bonus points for targets (ahem, bikers) on the road. There wasn't a shoulder for the most part. The end of all the curves is the Pacific Ocean. From what I could see at 90 mph it was beautiful. Okay I was really doing 60, but the fog was pretty think, enough to obscure the best view.

I'm less than 200 miles from San Francisco and it's a little after 1 pm. I finally had to stop to eat. Man that was a fun drive. Before I turned onto CA-1, the temperature was at least 80. It had been up to 86 at least. By the time I neared the coast it was 60. Can't wait to see what's left.

The rest of CA-1 was also a lot of fun. There were a few more slow drivers. I hit some traffic going over the Golden Gate Bridge and in a few spots on US 101. I guessed right and found the hotel quite easily. I got here about 7.17 pm. Only took a little over 10 hours to get from Redwood Parks to Mt View including about an hour of stops. I made it all the way across the country without a ticket. Woohoo! I didn't get pulled over for slowing and didn't witness any accidents this time (unlike my trip 6 years ago). Although I did have a cop pull up behind me on Interstate 5 in Seattle. I had pulled onto the shoulder to talk on the cell phone. She just wanted to make sure I was alright and was very nice. I'm known for pretty short phone calls, but that one was especially quick when I saw her pull up behind me.

Total travel time was 9 weeks, over 7,000 miles. Google Maps says it should have taken about 2 days 0 minutes and 2,862 miles. Oh well, I preferred my itinerary. This part of the journey is over.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Oregon Coast

I made it all the way down the Oregon coast today--all the way to California in the Redwood Parks. I had a campsite, I didn't, and then I did. I pulled into the last site (this is a recurring theme). There were no envelopes to pay, so I walk to the entrance which was probably about a mile--no envelopes. I go back to the camp host. He says everything is reserved. I must be in someone's reserved spot. Does that mean I would have to leave? Of course I had already setup everything for the night. And there were supposedly no state parks in the area with vacancy. I thought I'd have to sleep in the car, which really sucks. (I might have to do that tomorrow (my last day) since I only $17.41.) I start packing everything up when I see the boss go by. I had to verify that the site was really reserved. Of course the host wife said it wasn't reserved so it was fine for me to camp there. As usual, the wife is always right. Good for me this time! Now I just get to "worry" about my lack of cash. I think I burned about $600 in a little over 2 months. I have no idea how much is on the credit card.

I made much better mileage today. I had to or I'd never make it out of Oregon. US 101 wasn't as nice today. There were large sections that didn't hug the coast. All that changed around Port Orford. I really enjoyed the curvy road and seaside rocks. The trip from there to California was a lot of fun.

As soon as I made it into California, the fog/clouds were really thick. I saw the sun set below clouds, but not the horizon. It was kinda neat to keep going up and down through the cloud layer.

I've got over 300 miles left. But I'm definitely nearing the end. Very nice to finally be in California. It sure doesn't feel like home, but I haven't had one for a long time, so who knows.

I'm tired from not walking enough, so I'm going to spend more time hiking tomorrow and less driving. Unless I have to make it to Mt View due to lack of dough.

The night sky is clear and awesome as usual. I can see the Milky Way which is still a treat for me. I never saw it in Maryland.

Sunday, August 07, 2005


I wound up getting the last hotel room for the next 40 miles west towards Astoria on the coast (according to the guy at the hotel). I returned to the monastery at the anointed time of 10 am. Not that the time was written anywhere (I asked) it just had to be the time. What happens at 10? Service! Wouldn't ya know I'd get roped into that. I was looking for a change of pace and I sure found one! But me in a religious ceremony is mostly comical. I suppose it was fitting that I ran out of clean shorts, so I decide to wear black jeans and a black shirt. I look presentable, at least as presentable as I get. (Send smart ass comments to /dev/null, you know who you are!)

After mass, I received a class on "Introduction to Meditation," which had exactly one student--me. Then back to more service. Followed by lunch. Now that's what I'm talking about. The experience was very nice and refreshing. I got some info about places in Mt View and San Francisco. Who knows what I'll do.

I've been here for two weeks now and I haven't done anything. Big surprise, but there's so many other things to do. It will take another few weeks until I've really settled in more I think.

All this and I just wanted a quick tour. :-) It was funny when I first arrived they asked if I knew where I was going. I'm not sure if I looked lost or if I looked like I was gonna try and rob the place. I really think they were just being nice. It was a very nice group of people I met there. And I'm not just saying that because they may be reading this blog. :-)

I finally had ripe blackberries. There were so many blackberries on the Olympic Peninsula, but they were never quite done. Same at my friends place in Eastern Washington. Lunch at the monastery was good and so were the blackberries. Now onto the coast, only about 3 days left.

I finally started making my way down the coast for the final leg of my journey (this part). I looked on the map and it appears I've effectively gone about 70 miles down the coast from South Bend, Washington to Barview, Oregon over the last 5 days. I think I could have walked that far, that's only 12 miles per day. Of course, I actually travelled a lot further, but that was East, then back West. I hit a bunch of beaches down the Oregon coast, including Del Ray, Cannon, and a few others before stopping for the evening. I just missed the sunset. Only caught the last glimpse of the sun before it dropped below the horizon. Still very pretty and the night is looking quite nice, though cold. It's already about 58 F at 9.30 pm. The moon looks like Pac-Man eating one of the planets.

What started with lots of time has dwindled down to just a few days. I barely have enough time to make it down the coast at a comfortable pace. (Ha! read on.) It looks like I've got at least 700 miles to go (8+ degrees of latitude). I suppose that's good. What should have been a 300 mile trip has turned into a 6000+ mile trip and counting.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Damn, there are LOTS of waterfalls in Oregon

Oh man, if you like waterfalls, this is the place. It's just spectacular. I think by 4 o'clock I only drove about 10 miles. I may have hiked that far. There are a bunch of waterfalls right on the old US 30, a scenic highway. (Vista house is on this road, which is also very curvey and fun to drive.) The area is mostly run by the forest service and is a National Scenic Area right along the Columbia River in Oregon. You can hike to get to more falls and just beautiful areas. (Some of the names that I recall were Horsetail Falls, Multnomah Falls, Latourel Falls, Del something.) The Oneaton Gorge was really cool. There was an enormous salamander (10+ inches and fat) eating a dead bird in the water at a log jam. I took a picutre, but I don't think it will show up with the sun and shadows. I wanted to take a bunch of pictures, but the phone has too few left. The only other picture I took was from under some unnamed waterfall along the path.

I finally left the area around 8pm to go towards Portland. I couldn't find any decent places to stay. I was in Portland around 9pm. The drive reminded me a bit of Phoenix how all the towns merge into one. That wasn't good. I walked around the city center for a while. It seemed very bland. I guess it's like DC where all the interesting stuff is going on in other places (like Adams Morgan), not the city center. Of course I managed to find the titty bars without even looking.

So after walking around and finding the only action was in the titty bards, I decided to continue west towards the coast. I thought US 30 would be a nice drive, but there were a ton of factories (at least that's what they looked like). The road is a ways from the Columbia River. I made it to one town that I thought about staying at. I figured finding a skunk was an omen that the town was stinky and decided to move on.

I found some small town (Skalkamie?) that was far enough away from Stinkyville that I decided to stay. There were 2 hotels at the edge of town, but I decided to drive through the town center. That took about a minute and I came to crossroads. I was about to turn around when I saw a sign to a Zen Monastary. I just had to go there. I got there at 12.10am Sunday morning (just after midnight). The sign said closed until Sunday. The smart ass part of me was about to demand that they open up, but decided it best to stay at a hotel. Good thing too, the residents are supposed to wake up at 3.50 am. I don't think they would have been happy with my sorry butt on their doorsteps at midnight.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Disappointment, Cape Disappointment

Started the day a bit earlier. Drove into Long Beach and walked on the beach for a bit (boadwalk too). Couldn't see almost anything since it was so foggy. The beach was huge. It is supposedly the worlds longest beach. Drove back to Ilwaco to go to the light house and Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. The lighthouse was awesome. I talked to a Coastguardsman for quite a while. He talked about how there was a ton of activity there, many Search and Rescues (SARs), hence the name Cape Disappointment. It's a very dangerous area to navigate and there are many shipwrecks strewn about. The guy had just got here from Conneticut and Baltimore of all places. There was an incredibly awesome cove on the way to the lighthouse. There were signs saying not to go there. So of course I had to go. If you follow the rules, you miss the best parts of life. I wanted to take pictures of the cove from where you were allowed to be, but the phone apparently does have a limit of about 90 pictures. I still have more territory to cover, so I save room for a few more.

The Interpretive Center was ok. I drove down US 101 to Astoria, Oregon. It was a nice drive. I'm eating lunch now and headed back up to Washington so I can take WA-4 and US 101 (the fun section) in sunlight. Then down to Portland.

Wow! Southwest Washington has some fun and beautiful roads. I am very thankful there were very few slow people in front of me. And the few there were, were kind enough to pull over. I guess they preferred to pull over rather than have a heart attack with me on their tailpipe.

I tried to make it to Portland before 5pm to get some money. Since that didn't succeed, I headed out WA-14 along the Columbia River to Bonneville Dam. It was closed of course. I headed into Oregon and found some camp site off US 30. Looks like a nice place so I decide to stay and put in early. I'll head back US 30 towards Portland. There are a lot of waterfalls apparently.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Mt. St. Helens, Take Two

Since I heard there was an earthquake at Mt St Helens while we were there and we all missed it, I decided to check it out again. Supposedly the crater changed a bit. It didn't seem as flat the second time which was 6 days after the first trip. Since I got there earlier this time, I was able to do more, including taking a walk on Hummock Trail. It is a short (2.5 mile) loop around hummocks (hills caused by volcanoes). There was a bunch of signs describing various facts. One sign mentioned frogs. I wondered if there were frongs around. A short while later a frog jumped off the path in front of me. Then I thought, "If there are frogs, I wonder if there are snakes to eat the frogs." At this point, I tripped from too much day dreaming. But further along the path I did see a small garter snake. Later, I was walking around Coldwater Lake and I saw a bigger garter hunting in the water.

I decided to head back towards the coast. I took a very nice route (WA-4) along the Columbia River which runs between Washington and Oregon. This hooked up with US 101 nearly where I camped the night before. I turned south towards Ilwace. The road got really fun and curvey. I think I'll have to do it again in the daylight.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Washington Coast

Today was much more relaxed. Slept off of some logging road in a little alcove of trees. It was extremely quiet. The ground was a little sloped. I only slept okay. And I got up way too early (6am). Got an early start at the Hoh Rainforest. It was a nice walk aon 2 short trails. The signs were fairly nice and informative. Didn't do much else today. WOund my way down to Aberdeen where I am now. I stopped at Ruby Beach. It was nice and very large, though not too crowded. It was too cold until afternoon (low 50's). Then got up to 80 or so and stayed there. Since I'm eating dinner early enough (7pm), I hope to catch a nice sunset on the Pacific.

It was very nice--cold and windy as hell, but nice. I caught the sunset in Westport, then headed south down US 101. I found some little county campground late at night. It was south of SOuth Bend. It was on some body of water. Even though I got in late, I had to check out the water. After pitching the tent which a raccoon oberserved, I took a walk towards the water. The walk was very long. I heard a big owl fly away, but unfortunately didn't catch a glimpse.

The niught was extremely clear and I could easily see the Milky Way. I wonder what the sky looks like in a very dimly lit area?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Hot Springs

Finally catching up with the journal from the last 3 days (writing on paper that is, since I'm typing everything in at the end of August). I did the hot strings at Sol Duc in the morning. I figured it was as good a way as any to get clean. Unfortunately they didn't have a cold pool like Ainsworth (in Canada, Finland and Russia just use ponds/lakes/streams). There's nothing as refreshing as jumping in a pool at 40 - 50 F (4 - 10 C). I guess I should leave out the rolling in the snow stories, that was a long, long time ago.

Hiked to some Falls. Drove out to Mora and west to Rialto Beach. Couldn't see anything--fogged in and cold! Went to 1st beach--cold and windy. Skipped 2nd beach. I almost skipped 3rd beach given how bad the first 2 were. (There are those original English names again.) Very glad I didn't skip 3rd beach. It's a mile plus hike to get there, but well worth it. The beach is very sandy and walled in on the north and south by steep rock cliffs. It's fun to hop along the rocks. There were tons of starfish on the rocks. There was a very nice waterfall on the south end. Unfortunately I couldn't get around enough rocks to get under the waterfall which was probably over 100 feet high.

I forgot to mention a few short hikes near Sol Duc. In the Ancient Grove and Salmon Cascades. Both were very nice.

I'm still waiting to see a good sunset on the Pacific. I was hoping for 3rd beach, but the sun set over land which juts out. I'm gonna find a place to camp and try to hit the Hoh Rainforest tomorrow. (There are a bunch of rain forests on the Olympic Peninsula.) It was recommended and very interesting.

Monday, August 01, 2005

NW Washington

I hiked to Cape Alawa (I hope that's spelled write, my handwriting gets worse and worse all the time). The trail starts at a lake, goes through a forest, and ends at the coast. I got lazy (I was way too hungry) by the time I got to the coast. It was only 3.3 miles, but I skipped the 6 mile return hike over the Sand (? or Sad or Sail, damn handwriting) Point trail so I could eat sooner.

I was so glad to camp at Ozette. It was raining very hard that night. I thought for sure that it would be pouring down and no camp sites. I lucked out. Although the many frogs I ran over on the way might feel otherwise (so there are some vermin in WA).

I drive all around the Northwest corner (of the US). I go to Neah Bay to try and find an awesome campground Karent described near a pier where the whales come. I couldn't find it, though I did see several piers (see explained it in more detail later. Still not sure I could have found it). I went to Cape Flattery at the NW corner. Interesting rock formations due to the ocean pounding the coast. I drive back to pick up US 101 and see Lake Crescent which I missed since I took WA-112. I end up camping at Klahowya. It was recommended and was avery nice place on a river. I wished there was a bigger clearning because the night was clear and beautiful.

I did see a few satellites though. (I always long to see the Milky Way which isn't visible from near cities. It's such a different sky between the "city" and country and I much prefer the country.)