Catching up

July 29, 2008

I've been knitting, though I know it hasn't been making it to the blog recently. I have a few gift sweaters for friends' babies in different stages of completion. This is the one I've been working on the most, and my project during passenger time on the road trip:

I'd knit the body, put it on holders, and then started working on the arms individually. Then, around the time we hit Crater Lake, I started putting the arms and body together. I made it about 7 rows after the join and was feeling very discouraged – the sleeves were about 3" too skinny, and the whole thing just didn't look as cute as I remembered from the photo. Plus, the chest from the join up was starting to look oddly tight... It wasn't until I saw the back side of the sweater that I realized what had happened:

See how the ribs have neat lines of knit stitches between them at the top and a jumbled mix lower down?? The pattern calls for a broken rib, where you alternate knit and purl stitches row-by-row between the ribs. The pattern also calls for the sleeves to be knit flat. I tucked away the body in a ziplock once I'd put it on holders, and somehow I seemed to have reverted to plain k2, p1 rib without the body for reference – not nearly as cute. So disappointing to realize the mistake. I ripped right away (everything was wrong, including the proportions), but only back to the join, and then I decided to just go back with a crochet hook and correct the sleeves' all-purl columns to the nice p/k alternating pattern. It was a somewhat sensible idea, but it would have been faster to rip the sleeves entirely and reknit – lesson learned. Here's the halfway fix -- you can really see that the fixed sleeve's width is more what you would expect, compared to the ugly, skinny original (not to mention, such a prettier pattern!):

I finally finished the last three columns tonight (hurray! only three weeks later, to the day.) and can finally rejoin the pieces and continue with my life. :-)

I'd been thinking I'd never knit this pattern again (so slow, not coming together well), but now I'm realizing that it was just user error. Ooops. Hopefully the rest will fly right by


Lawn care update

July 28, 2008

I mentioned back in the winter that we'd decided to buy a reel mower (considerations: no gas, very little noise, cheap, and we found a pretty model on sale for $99!). It's one of my favourite house purchases -- up there with the washer & dryer and the new windows, but a small fraction of the price. Pretty, so effective, not intimidating – just useful and easy.

Sadly, in June, the back right wheel started falling off. It didn't really affect the effectiveness of the mower, but we kept trying to screw it back in because the poor thing looked so lopsided. We both thought some ungracious things about sale prices and attendant bother, nothing being as easy as it seemed, etc, and then sort of just kept ignoring it. Kevin tried to find hardware to hold it in place, to no avail, and I finally dug up the warranty and managed to find time to call during the short window (midwest time) that the service dept was open. The lady was extremely helpful – apprently they'd been using the wrong drill bit for a while and so one of the holes was too big. Oops. She mailed out the replacement part right away (shown here with a night view of the kitchen herbs, happy in their window – look how big they're getting!!):

So, knock on wood, we should soon be back to our balanced, efficient lawn-tending experience and I can go back to wholeheartedly recommending it to anyone in the market for a mower!!

P.S. Kevin just satisfied his urge for engine-powered lawncare by buying a weed-whacker (Sears was having a sale -- $40!). It's electric (a plus), corded instead of recharging (major plus, from a power perspective), noisy (a minus, but I think it makes him happy?), and all of our borders are now *perfect*. Beats hours of pulling up crabgrass. :-)

PPS. We're considering replanting the top shelf of our yard with Woolly Thyme. (Currently, that part of our yard alternates between deep moss in winter and 2' tall grass in summer -- I've been weeding constantly with minimal effect. The Woolly Thyme is treadable, low-growing, fragrant, and in theory can help keep weeds at bay. Anyone have any cautions for the pacific northwest? I haven't been able to find any online, but just checking. Also, any ideas how best to seed it? I'm thinking of growing trays of seedlings and then transplanting them since it's such a large area, but I'm open to other suggestions.


Quilt happy

July 20, 2008

When I sat down on Saturday afternoon to work on the daybed quilt basting, I ended up taking out about half of the pins. I'd pinned three lines along one long edge, and then worked in horizontal strips from the top, and when you held up the quilt that section had a marked sag, and pull on the fabric all the way along the pins. (You can see how crumpled and biased the fill was, too, in the previous photo.)

Once I'd removed about sixty pins, I smoothed the backing, smoothed the fill on top of it, pulled down the quilt top, and then set again to the task of pinning. This time, I was really pleased with how flat the fabric/fill/fabric sandwich was, and I was feeling proud when I finished. But again, held it up and there was a saggy 9" wide horizontal band in the backing, where I'd folded the quilt to fit it into the available carpet space in my room. Oops.

So then I finally ditched the plan of listening to NPR as I worked (computer streaming), moved to the family room's lush, huge carpet, took out about a hundred pins, resmoothed, repinned, and ended up with this:

It's gorgeous. The redos were annoying but completely worth it (I didn't really hesitate – better to pull out pins than rip out stitches, or even worse, to hate the finished quilt). The new quilt sandwich is *flat* (aka, hopefully it won't pucker when I start sewing). The backing is going to be a little bit crooked, but (a) it's the back, and (b) I'm completely willing to chalk it up as a sign of quilt character. No complaints.

I cleared off our table to start quilting.

I'm working on my sewing machine, which is going to be interesting. (Machine quilting is easier on a quilting machine, which has a much longer arm so that the fabric doesn't have to get all bunched when you swing it to the right side of the needle. ) I'd read advice on one of my blogs to make use of backstitching instead of turning the whole quilt. It works pretty well, but I find steering the quilt with only my left hand (while my right holds down the backstitch button) very challenging. Some of those backstitched seems are NOT straight!!

My first round of quilting will be to "stitch in the ditch" around the pink squares. I sewed 4 squares yesterday; my photo of the front didn't come out, but you can see one of them well on the back:

After that, I want to do the same around the brown squares(brown thread for the face, the same pink for the back, I think). I'm still debating what to do in the middle – I don't want to highlight the non-symmetric nature of the down areas. Maybe a double diamond in the middle of the light pink x's? I'd like to do some sort of ivy pattern down the legs of the x's, but it seems like a disastrous plan given the sewing machine...? I might feel more confident later, we'll see. For the trim, I found a stencil with a repeating flower pattern that I like a lot, so I plan to do a double band of that in each of the light pink strips.


Sunset at Larry's

July 19, 2008

Larry seemed to feel that his wine collection was taking over and it was time for a group dinner, so he invited us over for baked ziti, fondue, and a sunset. Shawn, Sanna and William came too. The view (Olympic mountains, seen over Lake Washington and Seattle) was great. Hazy around 8 pm, then misty with great mountain differentiation –- usually the Olympics look like a solid block, but every now and then you can see which mountains are close and which are more distant.

The clouds made for a great orange sunset – peaceful and spectacular.

Kevin and I have made a pledge to intrude on Larry more often. I miss seeing the Olympics and the lake (one of very few downsides of our current house).

ps. We spent a while driving through our old neighbourhood. Building has not slowed down a bit. There's a new three story condo development on our old block, two entirely new monster houses in place of the old 800-sq-ft postwar variety, and five or so finished (and sold, moved in) houses where there were construction sites back in November. Crazy.


A Friday post

July 18, 2008

First of all, happy 27th birthday to me! :-)

This is sort of an odd milestone, after two years of big ones. Turning twenty-five, getting engaged, getting married, buying a house...! Now it just feels like the goals are to build on and improve existing milestones (marriage, job, house). I can live with that happily, it's just a very different tenor than past birthdays. (To borrow a page from my technical writer self: "For more information about adulthood, see this Water Heater Post." :-P )

Lightening the mood a bit, we have our first tomato!! Green and tiny, but it's there! (dead center of the photo!)

The cages are an awesome addition to the party. The plants look so much healthier than last year (when I tied them to our deck railing with varying lengths of unwanted yarn), and it's easier to note their growth against the cages. It was cold into late June, so this just wasn't the ideal year for tomatoes, but these plants are looking surprisingly healthy at this point. We'll see?

Also, I have a few plants for the (literally) kitchen garden!!

Left to right, that's thyme, oregano, chives and basil (I've found that basil won't tolerate having its roots constricted, so it gets a big pot). I'm still on the lookout for cilantro (Kevin loves it) and dill (my favourite), but this is a good start in the right direction. They won't survive the winter, but I'm hoping that we'll get a few months of fresh herbs. They smell amazing.


Neglected projects

July 17, 2008

I haven't forgotten about the Hidden Wells quilt for the daybed; I was just gathering steam (for several months) to work on basting it. The back, fill, and pieced top all need to be held together so that I can quilt them.

Last night finally seemed like the time, so I started. I only got about half way, though, before running out of safety pins.

Frustrating! (Though the work I did was sufficient to create a semipermanent safety pin-shaped groove in the tip of my index finger from all the closing.)

The pins are slightly unusual and bent at a 30° angle so that they hold the layers without stretching them. Here's a closeup of them in place:

I'll have to go buy another set or two so I can finish up.


Week Five CSA Haul

July 16, 2008

So far the CSA has been a resounding success. Here are the contents of this week's bag:

Clockwise from the lower left:
• Four kinds of heirloom cucumbers
• Lupin Cherries
• Mystery greens
• Two kinds of zucchini, summer squash
• 3 heirloom nectarines
• 4 sugartime peaches
• A dozen pluots
• Arugula (yay!)


Total Adulthood

July 15, 2008

Want to see something exceptionally exciting?!

Why, yes, it *IS* a new energy efficient water heater!! With earthquake straps and an expansion tank, and pressure/temperature valves in all the right places!!! We're completely delighted. The Town of Redmond came to inspect it on Friday, there were a few corrections that the water heater company made on Saturday – but now we're (probably) just one follow-up away from being up-to-code and good to go!

For those of you who haven't been following the saga, the water heater that came with the house turned 14 in May, according the paperwork duct-taped to the side in a plastic baggie. Our furnace (November '93, according to its pedigree paperwork) shares ductwork, which needed to be brought up to code. The gas lines were out of date, and we had insufficient seismic support. Replacing the water heater was our first priority when we moved into the house. We wanted something energy efficient and with a long warranty. We started with Sears, bought a water heater, but they source out the installation to a local company that wanted to charge us $2000 to bring everything up to code. I spent two months trying to get our money back before I finally succeeded (moral of the story: avoid Sears, avoid Fast Water Heater Company). Kevin took mercy on me and took over, and we went through the guy who told us we were up to date and not to bother with a permit from the town (riiiight), and the company who special–ordered a water heater for us and then tried to install a different one and wouldn't refund the money for the heater or the installation after the installer left with water heater in tow. We spent a few evenings roundly abusing the entire industry, threatened lawyers and small claims court (we got our money back), and leapt back into the struggle.

Fourth try was apparently the charm, though, since Brennan gave us the lowest quote by many hundred dollars, gave us a heater with a 10 year warranty and good efficiency scores, and did a great job installing it. Our permit inspector likes them a lot as a company and said we got a great price. All's well that ends! :-)

But that's not all! While I was at home on Friday, we also had insulation installed!! Hurray! Our house (built in 1975) still had the original insulation (some sort of sawdust mix in the attic, the insulation equivalent of cardboard). There was also an addition (the family room that we've been working on for windows, trim and carpet...) built at some point in the 80s, but the geniuses who installed insulation in the crawlspace installed it upside down. So, we had people remove the reverse-insulation, install R-19 insulation (fiberglass batts) under the entire house, and blow in R-30 insulation (fiberglass blow-in, looks like cotton) into the attic above the fishroom and bedrooms. Yay!! We are now at the max R factor recommended for our area!! Last year, I cringed when the furnace went on. I could just picture walking outside with infrared goggles and watching all of that nice hot air funnel out of the roof in an orderly column into the sky. Now, no hats indoors next winter? :-)

I would have taken pictures of our pretty new insulation, but I'm not so much of a crawl space or attic person... instead, "oooh", the water heater expansion tank:

So, THE most exciting things this week are insulation and water heaters? All sorts of things we've done have seemed like things that adults do (get jobs, pay bills, get married, buy a house). But to define happiness for the week (more like the month!!) as a new water heater and good insulation? Incurable adulthood. We are now old. :-) Rock on.



July 13, 2008

My cousin Andy and his fiancé Mark flew into Seattle from Montreal to visit. :-) Happy us.

They spent the early part of the day in Woodinville tasting wine, and then came over midafternoon. Such a treat. They were the first family on my side after my parents to see our new house. We worked our way through several cheeses before a yummy dinner out on the patio of salmon and CSA squash on the grill, with a strawberry salad.

Nine hours, and no pauses in the conversation. :-) This is the second photo I took – the first came out terribly because everyone was mid-sentence.

Major merriment. (Andy's even blurry, he's laughing so hard.)

Any other family considering a trip to Seattle? :-)

A Successful Carful of Chores

July 12, 2008

I had a whole slew of chores to do, and managed to burn though all of them:
• Buy additional wood for trim for the windows I forgot to include in the previous tally
• Take said wood to the millwork place to get it stripped to width (they didn't charge me! Yay!)
• Buy herbs for a kitchen garden (actually indoors! Squirrel proof!)
• Buy flowers for the rock wall in the backyard and for planters.
• Buy a strawberry pot and pea gravel.

Here's the evidence (and I still love that every seat in the Matrix folds flat – I can't count the number of times that feature has been useful):

I was psyched to come across a fundraising carwash at the end of the errands! It was a high school aged cheer group and their dads, and they did an amazing job scrubbing off the last of the road trip bugs. :-) (I would have done it myself, but our entire areas has edicts against soap in the storm drains because of the salmon. You can use plain water in your driveway, but can't add anything to it. 2000 miles of bugs requires soap.)

Here are the plants on the patio, awaiting planting. Pretty.

I decided on three groupings on the rock wall. To the far left, I ripped out a ton of fennel and mint, and made a place for an English Lavender and two "Shock wave pink vein" petunias. They're really more of a light purple, and I'm hoping they spread.

The photos from here on in are all dark, since I didn't take them until 8:40 – sorry! But knowing me, this will be a photo topic in the weeks to come, and you'll get to see the light and bright versions soon.

In the middle of the wall, to the left of the path, I cleared out a pretty large space. In back are the tall "Lady in Red" Salvia. We've already seen a hummingbird checking them out! In front of those, I planted three zinnias (two "Magellan Salmon" and one "Magellan Coral") and then four marigolds (a mix of "Zenith Orange" and the dwarf "Durango Orange"). The brilliant red one in the foreground is a "Lanai Cherry Red" Verbena – it is sensationally bright and I love it.

On the far right of the rock wall, Kevin dug out two shrubby pine things, and I pulled plenty of mint and forget-me-nots to make space for more marigolds, zinnias, and verbena.

The plant you see in the foreground between the two rocks is a honey melon sage. This is the third one I've bought in Seattle, and the smell is truly splendid, plus it's starting to bloom delicate trumpet flowers. I was happy to find one at the nursery – it's a great plant.

This guy is the ultimate in wishful thinking on my part, but we'll see:

A sunflower. It's already tracking the sun, even though the flower is still a ways away. I'm completely enamoured with it.



July 09, 2008

The roses in the backyard are blooming!

Here's a close-up of the yellow one:

And the red one:

We also have large cream ones and tiny pink ones.

I'm of two minds on the whole thing. The first is sort of a "yay, blooming!" happy response – they really are pretty, and since they're in a corner of the yard that we can't see at all from the house I have no compunction about clipping blooms to bring indoors.

The section reaction is mild irritation – I can tell that the bushes are crying out for care from the way they're growing (very droopy, not like the proud straight bushes of the neighbour up the street), and I know that roses can be time intensive, and off all the things I'm willing to spend time tending roses don't really make the list. But if they're blooming this well without any prodding/help, maybe I should try to nurture them? If they weren't blooming so well, I'd just tear them out and plant dahlias and call it a day, but now I'm feeling torn. Does anyone want to convince me that the work is minimal?


A new dude!

July 07, 2008

Kevin went to the fish store for more salt and came home with a new cleaner shrimp!

We've been trying to find one for a good eight months (since we moved into the house), and we haven't had much luck finding mature ones. We bought a teeny one when Kevin's family was here for Christmas, which was a mistake as it fell prey to the ricordia in a matter of minutes. We were crushed and felt so guilty.

This morning, I felt a surge of the same emotion again, as I checked the tank on my way out the door to work and saw a shrimp body half-consumed by the ricordia. Luckily my eyes deceived me – the shrimp had molted (a good sign that he's physically in order, since that's an appropriate response to adjusting to the new environment), and it was just his old skin that was caught in the ricordia – a major relief.

The fish are intrigued but trepidatious. Here's a typical moment: The shrimp was doing his cleaning dance and Clack (with Click nearby for moral support) swam up to him. But the second that the shrimp started to guide him into place to be cleaned with his antennae, Clack remembered he doesn't like being touched by the shrimp after all, and cringed away. This photo is the closest I've seen of a fish shrugging off physical contact:

The tang consented to be cleaned for almost a whole second (Kevin saw it, I didn't), which seems like a good sign since he's the one that can benefit the most from grooming. He's jittery enough around us that I suspect he'll be too nervous to sit still when we're home, but who knows what they all do when we're away at work. :-)


Catching up on the home front

July 06, 2008

Yesterday, we got home and commenced a flurry of house cleaning and catch-up. Within four hours of being home, all of the laundry was clean, folded and put back, the suitcases were away, the lawn was mowed, the fishtank had gotten an hour of cleaning and TLC, and we were feeling organized and happy to be home. :-) Nice.

Larry had been our fish sitter, and he went above and beyond, keeping our dudes cool and happy despite the 90+ temps (very rare for Seattle). He also saved a pump by stopping by an extra day – we got an evening phone call from him and could hear the pump screeching away in the background – he said it sounded like it was about to take off. He also took great care of the plants and they grew like mad while we were gone:

I'll have to buy cages for the tomatoes this week!! Last year it was Amanda and Brian, now Larry. I think my new tomato strategy is to plant them then leave town for at least a week – they seem to thrive under the care of friends. :-)

I spent the afternoon finally tackling the grout in the shower. Apparently eight days of vacation can give you courage for daunting housework. We've been halfheartedly scrubbing at it every few weeks, but what worked in a tub with attached vinyl walls just doesn't do it for grout. A toothbrush and laundry detergent with bleach did the trick, though it took a few hours. Shiny, pretty grout:

Of all the things to post about, right? But it's so attractive now, I feel entitled to share. I can't wait to shower tomorrow. :-)

Road trip: Home again!!

July 05, 2008

We're home!!

We checked out of our hotel at the last minute again, checked our bags, and went to the French bakery down the street for a satisfying breakfast. Our plan for the day was vague, but I had a knitting store that I was interested in checking out and Kevin professed not to mind, so we reclaimed the car and headed for the suburbs (following the directions from Microsoft on Kevin's phone). It was a complete failure. The directions were pretty over the river and through the woods, including turns down unpaved back alleys, and then the address that we were directed to didn't seem to exist, and we were left on a residential street in the middle of south-east portland. Not meant to be. The neighbourhood was pretty, at least, and we drove by Reed College, which was interesting.

We'd contemplated stopping to see Mount St. Helens on the ride home (I still haven't visited it), but the skies were low and deeply gray, so we decided to save it for a day with views. We cruised up I-5. The only real slow point was a mental one, where we drove past the junction with 101 just before Olympia. Call into work and tell them that we'd see them in a week because we decided to do the loop a second time?? How tempting...

According to my car's trip counter, we went 1951.6 miles in eight days. Three states, a mix of old and new. I love car trips and this one was even better for the amount of time we spent on tiny roads where the speed limit dropped to 35 when we went through towns. This was a trip of little tastes of places – each morning when we got back in the car we wished we could stay at least another night. Wouldn't it be neat to do a week-long vacation on the ocean in Oregon? Or a full weekend in Napa? Or a longer stay at the Tu Tu Tun Lodge...? Kevin wanted to bike lots of portions on our route – I'm not sure that a fully loaded bike on those hills sounds appealing, but I bet he could find biking partners and maybe I'd be the car support crew? In any case, the goal this time was to learn more about this coast, to see it in person, and I feel like that was well accomplished. We live in a beautiful place, and it's amazing to see the variation down the coast and then back up inland.

Here’s the full album of trip photos. Yay. :-) Feel free to contact me if you want recommendations for places to stay or eat along the route – we found several great spots.


Road trip: Bend, OR to Portland

July 04, 2008

Checkout at McMenamins was at 11, but Kevin went to the corner bakery to pick up treats and coffee for breakfast, and then we enjoyed the tubs, and took turns reading sections of the impressively local paper (favourite story: the full page on the guys who set up with beach chairs and coolers of beer in their driveways to watch the forest fires, after agitating for brush clearing for a few years...). And we ended up suddenly realizing we were five minutes late for checkout and hustling away – luckily, they didn't seem fazed.

We decided to have lunch there, since it was a short driving day and we'd both wavered between options on the menu the night before. My onion soup and Kevin's rueben were yummy, and it was fun people watching since the Bed Fourth of July Pet Parade had just broken up. Lots of red, white and blue costumes on pets, kids and adults. And as we drove out of town, there were several classic cars in show condition on the road, so that was a treat, too.

I'd just called my parents to wish them a happy anniversary when we came around a corner and saw this out the driver side window. Woah!

Sorry, Mom and Dad, for getting completely distracted mid-call. It turns out they were the Three Sisters – three huge cojoined volcanic peaks (Kevin turned out at a scenic pullout with a sign that explained the view – thank you, Oregon). If you click through to the bigger photo, you can see all of the big, blue, mounded hills in the foreground.

Pretty spectacular. The clouds (and what turned out to be the last blue sky of the trip) were pretty sensational too:


The road took us across the Cascades, along a tiny brook that grew larger by the mile. More elk signs (but still, no elk: sigh). The landscape grew increasingly distressed, and we'd finally figured out that what we were seeing must have been an enormous forest fire when we came across yet another scenic/educational pullout.


Apparently, this is a corner of the B&B complex – a forest fire set by lightnight in 2003. The hills and hills of dead black trees were sobering, and put a lot our last few days of driving in perspective.The pullout was interesting, as it explained how better husbandry could prevent fires. Certainly not new news, but I was impressed that state funds had been dedicated to education.

We took Rt 22, which followed the north fork of the Santiam River, which continued to be pretty. We switched drivers in Marion Forks so that Kevin could call his family before it got too late in the afternoon Eastern Time. The river continued to get bigger until all of a sudden the road went by the Detroit Lake and Detroit Dam – sort of amazing in a flyby way – the more I thought about it and the depp dropoff down the road, the more impressive it seemed.

Kevin fell asleep just before we picked up 15 south of Salem. For the most part the passenger time on this trip was attentive and active – we spent more time talking to our families on the phone on the off shifts than we did sleeping. I wouldn't say that he missed much in this stretch though. It rained a little, and there was just general sprawl along the highways (lots of big box stores and billboards). You couldn't see the mountains, so I was mostly just making haste for Portland.

Last time we were in Portland we got seriously lost, but I blamed us for inattentiveness. This time I just blame the city. Portland pretends to be a nice, grid-based western city, but in reality it's a mess of one way streets, bridges, misleading highway exits, and you-can't-get-there-from here. A little Boston wannabe. We missed our I-5 exit heading north, got off the highway to turn around, missed it again going south, and then got on a different highway and finally managed to find the hotel via surface streets. Stressful! :-) Crazy Portland. Our hotel had mandatory valet and they were amused to see all of our roadtrip baggage (cooler, lifejackets, sleeping bags, yoga mats, etc). Apparently we weren't the first car they'd seen en route. We managed to leave the camera in the hotel room which was a pity because Portland was awesome and now we have no visual proof. We walked over to an Andean Tapas place in the Pearl district for dinner. Wow. They had really unusual and yummy drinks (though we recognized some ingredients like tamarind from the Sengalese restaurant in San Francisco), I had oysters for the first time (interesting, but not a new favourite), and we had a great selection of small plates. I can't remember all of them, but here are ones I remember from the online menu:

• TORTILLA DE PATATA Y ALIOLI DE AJI AMARILLO Spanish-style potato fritatta with ají Amarillo aioli
• CHORIZO Rioja's dry-cured sausage
• AHUMADOS DE MAR Y RÍO assorted smoked fish from the river and the sea
• ANTICUCHO DE PULPO grilled octopus kebob with rocoto and caper chimichurri
• CAUSA a traditional preparation of freshly mashed potatoes, infused with key lime juice and pressed into a cake filled with spicy tuna, crab salad, and crispy shrimp

After dinner, we went down to the riverfront to watch the fireworks. I haven't see a major city display in several years (the Seattle fireworks we've watched have been from across the lake), and Portland's was spectacular. Happy Fourth!


Road trip: Northern CA to Bend, OR

July 03, 2008

We got off to a slow start – tired after all of the fun of seeing friends for the last two days!

Far from anything approaching a city, we couldn't help but notice all of the heavy advertising on the highway for the Olive Pit in Corning, so we stopped there on the way out of town for bagels, lattes, and to be impressed at the variety of ways that you can use olives.

The road north was *rural*. We were back in log truck country:

... and forest fire country, so a lot of the pictures didn't turn out. Lake Shasta was gorgeous, and it looked like all of the party boats and house boats were having a great vacation. After Redding, we were pleased to be seeing Cascades again (before that, the mountains to the east were the tail of the Sierra Nevadas). These mystery rocks to the west were amazing:

Mount Shasta is one of the huge volcanic peaks on the west coast, yet we could barely even see it due to forest fire haze. (And note trucks for scale!)

The road has views of it from the south, west and north, so we had a long time to contemplate the glaciers and how very volcanic the mountain seemed. This little volcanic nubbin (3917 ft, Black Butte Summit) was clearly related.

Once we crossed into Oregon (and got to use our neat new laminated map! An awesome gas-stop purchase!), we paused for take-out pizza in Klamath Falls. The town was pretty and lots of interesting storefronts; we could have spent much more time there. So: pizza, gas (I have to say I'm not a fan of the mandatory non-self serve), windshield and windows cleaned by me, change of drivers... and on past Klamath Lake

to Crater Lake.

I have to say that I'd been fairly vague and middling in my expectations of Crater Lake. I was expecting pretty mountain ranges, an unusual and pretty headless and water-filled volcano, tons of tourists (in the main season, there are all sorts of boat rentals and things apparently get all full of tour buses and activity), and nature despoiled for the sake of tourism. I was wrong every step of the way and loved the experience of being there.

We'd been taking 97N and split off onto 62N to get to the park. It still looked like a reasonable sized road on the map, but turned out to be a meandering, wide lovely two-laned thing that curved through farm country, with 360° mountain views.

There were pulloffs all the way along with educational signs about which mountains we were seeing and how the geology had changed over the last few millennia. I'd thought this before, but after reentering the state on the way home I had an even higher level of appreciation of what a great state Oregon is to drive through – gorgeous (ocean, mountains, lakes, wildflowers , and interesting weather), great signage, the roads are taken care of, they make a point of including passing lanes, and the pullouts are constant and well-marked. I love Oregon.

We had to stop along route 62 to get out and just smell the air. Wildflowers and hay and heavenly. (And aren't the clouds neat?)

The road curved into the park, and we tuned to the National Parks radio frequency to find out that the majority of the park (including the east rim drive and almost all of the hiking trails) were still closed for the season due to snow. Craziness! As we climbed out of the farms (along blessedly straight roads – mountain curves aren't usually my thing), the road curved along a deep river chasm – too deep to see the river even when you looked over the edge, but the canyon walls were sculpted and impressive. More signs for elk, but we didn't see any.

We stopped for a moment in the visitors' center to look at maps and orient ourselves, then drove to the rim. Wow. Here was one of the first views down to the lake after we got out of the car:

That's looking down an almost-straight snow slope, and the blue you see is the lake, not the sky. Wow.

We found a spot on a rock-wall-lined outlook to admire the lake and eat some of the CSA cherries we still had in the cooler. Something of a trend this trip – locate gorgeousness, eat fruit. :-)

And here's the shot of the view across the crater. Neat.

We enjoyed watching the wildlife. A fun chipmunk, and then this is a Clark's Nutcracker – it's about twice the size of a robin, and we saw dozens of them.

On the drive out of the north entrance of the park, we admired the snow banks:

The fields of snow on either side of the car looked like they'd been scooped away by yard-long oblong chisels. The result is that they looked groomed, like snow versions of vineyards. I have to assume that the wind does this?

Forest fires made most of the view a haze, but we could see this volcanic specimen as we descended.

We thought it was Mount Hood when we took the photo but on further reflection and a study of the map decided it was probably Jefferson.

We arrived in Bend, OR in the late afternoon. We stayed at the McNenamin's Old St. Francis School – a catholic school converted into a 19-room hotel, restaurant and brewery. The place was very neat, and lived up to its billing for quirkiness. We stayed in a room called "Alter boys" – here I am reading in the room reading news stories and captioned photos on the wall from its former life:

The bathroom was something else – side-by-side claw foot tubs, two showers, a sink, and a toilet stall with no door, plus quotes from the former students painted all over the walls.

We went out to find a better parking spot, then came back for dinner and beer – both were delicious. We had free admission to the movie theater but the 8:00 show didn't appeal so we played pool instead. I'm incredibly rusty, but we had a good time anyway. A neat place to stay the night after a very full day!