Wednesday, January 18, 2017

David Theo & Ruby Snoqualmie Summit Snow Fun

David on the left, Ruby in the Red Tube
with Theo on the right
At my old home zone location of Western Washington there are these things called mountains.

Mountains any direction one looks.

To the west the Olympic Mountains on the Olympic Peninsula.

To the east and south the Cascade Mountains.

At my old home location in the Skagit Valley I could drive a few miles to the east and be in a cross country ski zone, or a few miles to the west and be on a saltwater beach.

My Favorite Nephews, David and Theo, and Favorite Niece, Ruby, live in Tacoma, walking distance from the south end of Puget Sound.

Last night David, Theo and Ruby's mom, my Favorite Little Sister Michele, emailed me some pics, with the subject line of "Snow Fun".

The text in the email explained what I was looking at in the pictures....

We went tubing at Snoqualmie Summit yesterday and then played in the snow at the Hyak Sno-Park. Super fun.  And just over an hour from our house.  I know you like things like this, so I thought I'd send some pics.

To which I replied....

I had not seen snow lanes for tubes before. That must be a new invention since last I was in that snow zone.

Theo trekking rather than taking the Magic Carpet
To  which my little sister further elaborated....

Yeah, I’d been hearing about the tubing center for a few years, but this was our first visit.  You have to make reservations and buy a ticket for a two hour session. They have 5 or 6 sessions that all seem to sell out.  They really hit on something.  It used to have a rope tow to get you and your rental tube back to the top, but now it is a Magic Carpet. 

David ready to be launched
The mention of a Magic Carpet had me questioning....

Magic Carpet????

Ruby taking a break at (I'm guessing) the Hyak Sno-Park
The Magic Carpet question had my little sister explaining....

Think of a narrow, enclosed, moving sidewalk, but it is carpeted. It is weird, cuz you can feel the rollers under your feet.

This Magic Carpet thing intrigued me. The only means by which I have ever been transported up a snow covered mountain has been via chairlift, rope tow or gondola.

It did not take much Googling to find out that the ski resort  at the summit of Snoqualmie Pass is now called The Summit at Snoqualmie. I can not remember what this ski area was named whilst I still lived in the neighborhood. There are several ski resorts in the Snoqualmie Pass Summit area, in addition to The Summit at Snoqualmie, such as Hyak and  Alpental.

On The Summit at Snoqualmie website I found the conveyance which transports tubers up the hill referred to as the Magic Carpet, with it being explained as "our convenient covered conveyor surface lift that whisks you to the top of the hill..."

Seems like this Magic Carpet thing must be quite a feat of engineering, somehow adjusting to the ever changing snow depth.

The last time I was on a chair lift at Snoqualmie Summit it was not to go skiing. At some point in time in the late 1990s, myself, and some fellow mountain bikers, rode the chair lift up the mountain to easily access some extremely bumpy trails. The chairs were retrofitted to hold a bike, which rode on the chair ahead of the one the rider rode to the top.

As I recollect a large number of bikers were using this elevation gaining method. I remember the long ride back to start was a lot of fun. I do not remember how many times I took my bike up the chair lift that day....

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Pray For Peace With Patterson Auto Via 2 Thessalonians 3:16

I do not remember when upon my arrival at my current location in North Texas, known as Wichita Falls, I began noticing signs suggesting one "PRAY FOR PEACE".

This praying suggestion appears on yard signs, such as the one you see here, which I photographed a few minutes ago whilst  I was jogging through my Caribbean themed neighborhood.

This praying suggestion also appears on roadside billboards.

And, whilst driving Highway 287 to the Dallas/Fort Worth zone I have seen multiple instances of this message attached to those big trailers you see on the road being towed by a semi-truck, with the big trailer detached from a semi, and then parked at a right angle to the road, thus serving as a movable billboard, temporarily stationary.

Under the PRAY FOR PEACE part of the message one reads "2 THESS. 3:16".

Googling this bible verse one only gets as far as "2 THES" before Google fills in "2 Thessalonians 3:16".

Clicking one of the links to this bible verse one soon sees various versions from various bible versions, with all versions pretty much expressing the same "Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you" sentiment, in slightly various ways.

All of these PRAY FOR PEACE signs also includes a website.

Clicking the link one quickly learns that  Patterson Auto is not a church. Patterson Auto is a car dealership, with multiple locations.

I make no judgement as to whether, or not, a car dealership advertising in this manner is appropriate, cheesy, tacky or sacrilegious.

I will make the judgement that there sure are a lot of people willing to help advertise in this manner, with this sign in their yard....

Monday, January 16, 2017

Martin Luther King Day Returns Blue Sky To North Texas

Last night, an hour or two after the sun left for the day, I found myself driving in an epic storm the likes of which I have seldom found myself driving in.

A storm which the weather predictors accurately predicted, including possible tornado action.

At the worst of the storm I found myself driving through lightning strikes striking on all sides, in front, to my rear, to my left, to my right.

With rain downpouring so copiously the drains could not drain fast enough, rendering the road being like driving on a river.

Eventually I found my way back to my abode's covered parking. To get from the covered parking to my front door required a fast sprint through multiple mini-lakes, along with the lightning strikes, deafening thunder and big blobs of rain being blown by gale force wind.

I enjoyed last night's fast sprint to safety so much I decided to go jogging today after I saw that the clouds have been blown out of town with blue sky returned, assuming, as it turns out, erroneously, that blue sky equates to sunny warmth.

The jogging did not last too long. Pretty much just long enough to snap the phone photo you see above, looking north at that aforementioned blue sky hovering above the Circle Trail and Holliday Creek Canyon.

I have no clue as to what I'm going to do with the rest of Martin Luther King Day.

Other than lunch.....

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sunday Morning Wichita Falls Downpour Thunderstorm

My location on the planet has escaped, so far, any Ice Storming.

Yesterday's day long drizzly misting turned to actual rain by the time the sun left for the day.

Rain continues to drip.

This is like being back in the Pacific Northwest, as in this is being like a stereotypical Western Washington winter day.

Except for a couple elements. Such as this evening a tornado is possible.

The forecast for tonight is for severe thunderstorms which can bring downpours, damaging winds and even an isolated tornado.


It is still early Sunday morning and already the downpouring has arrived, along with thunder booming, way ahead of schedule.

I must go batten down the hatches now....

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Second Wichita Falls Saturday Of The New Year With No Ice Storm Yet

A few minutes ago I left the warmth of my humble  abode thinking I might be able to endure the current frigidity long enough to have myself some salubrious exposure to endorphins via aerobic stimulation derived from high speed jogging.

I thought wrong.

Too cold, with too much drizzly mist adding to the chilly 34 degrees.

If we lose two more degrees we may be in Ice Storm mode. I do not want to be in Ice Storm mode.

I will not be driving anywhere until the threat of Ice Storm mode totally abates.

Twice in the past three years I made the mistake of leaving my old D/FW abode when an Ice Storm threatened, to find myself about a mile down the road when the temperature dropped below freezing, with the road suddenly treacherous, with the return to safety taking a couple hours of negotiating unwanted slipping and sliding and avoiding being  hit by other slippers and sliders.

The precipitation which is currently precipitating seems to be gradually migrating from mist to raindrops. Raindrops combined with a temperature below freezing is the recipe for an Ice Storm.

During my brief exposure to the outer world, on this second Saturday of the new year, I made it as far as the Circle Trail. I snapped the photo you see above, looking north, and then retreated to my safe zone where plenty of heat is being generated, including some heat from an oven baking a big turkey tortilla casserole.

I think I hear the lunch bell tolling....

Friday, January 13, 2017

Belated Grandpa Jones 114th Happy Birthday Greeting

A couple days ago, on Facebook, my most elderly cousin, Scott, posted a Happy Birthday message to our Grandpa Cornelius, using the Dutch version of the family surname, along with the photo you see here of our Grandpa displaying a sturgeon he caught in the nearby Nooksack River.

What follows is Cousin Scott's tale about our Grandpa (please note that in the jurisdiction in which Scott resides the use of capital letters is strictly forbidden)....

today is cornelius slotemaker's (jones) birthday. i’m told he loved to ride his horse into the mountains east of bellingham and ride back when it seemed time to do so. i’m told he loved to fish and helped his family through the depression by catching sturgeon and salmon. mom tells the story of how he was milking their cows one day – they milked by hand in the early 1950s – and started squirting milk straight from the cow into the cat’s open mouth. i apparently opened wide, too, and he squirted milk straight into my two- or three-year-old mouth. when we got back to the house, mom said i was smiling and he was laughing like crazy. he would have been 114 today. happy birthday, grandpa...


I believe Cousin Scott is the only one of his Grandkids at whom Grandpa Cornelius ever had the chance to squirt milk.

Way back during the second year of the new century I found myself scanning hundreds of photos of my relatives, mostly the Dutch relatives, with some of the photos dating back to the 1800s, when the Jones, I mean, Slotemakers, still lived in Holland.

Among those photos I scanned is the below one.

I do not know for certain which of the Jones, I mean, Slotemaker boys we are looking at above, milking a cow. It could be Grandpa Cornelius. But I suspect it is our Grandpa's brother,  Uncle Hank.

Below is an interesting photo documenting some fun during the Roaring 20s in the Lynden, Washington, Whatcom County zone.

Fifteen years ago I still remembered what name went with which person we see above.

Suffice to say, one of  the boys on the ground is Grandpa Cornelius, The other boys are Grandpa's younger brothers, including the aforementioned Uncle Hank. The other brothers are Otto and Dick.

One of the Flappers standing behind the Jones Boys is our Grandma Sylvia. One of the others standing may be Grandpa's sister, Aunt Agnes, which would make the baby sitting on the ground Aunt Jessie. The others standing may be Otto and Dick's wives, or future wives, Pernie and Ann.

What the Jones Boys are drinking is an illegal, at the time, libation known as beer. Details have long been sketchy, but it is believed, by many of the younger Jones generation, that Grandpa Cornelius brewed beer during Prohibition and then distributed his product all the way to Seattle.

Others dispute the Grandpa the Bootlegger legend.....

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Spencer Jack Big Lake Frozen Water Adventure

Til this morning I did not realize my old home zone was experiencing an extremely rare bout of extremely cold air, so cold that Western Washington lakes are freezing solid enough to walk on.

This morning's email brought a tale from Spencer Jack's dad of a potential tragedy averted on the Skagit Valley's Big Lake.

Big Lake is a small lake located about 3 miles east of my old abode in Mount Vernon. Spencer Jack's grandma Cindy's primary abode is on the shores of Big Lake.

This morning's email from Spencer Jack and his dad, along with video documentation of Spencer Jack doing some ice sliding....

FUD --

Winter here is the PNW has been quite abnormal.

Grandma Cindy has temporarily returned from sunny California.  She arrived home late last night.  Today, she invited FNSJ and I over to her Big Lake residence this afternoon to play on a frozen lake.

Last time I did this was with you at Lake Padden in the late 1980s. I remember you, FNJ2 and I ventured quite a few yards out on Lake Padden before going to see a nearly frozen Whatcom Falls.  Do you remember this?  I can clearly recall the exact spot at Lake Padden were you tested the waters before giving Joey and I the okay to walk out on the lake.

Frozen Big Lake today was nerve racking.   When we arrived, 3 kids were playing at the public boat launch without any parents in sight.

My first question was a shout out to the children, "Where are your parents?"

The kids were 100 yards from the shore.   I coached two of them back with ease.   The third kid, identified by the others as 14-year-old Nathan way too far out.  He was defiant.  He wanted to see how far he could go.

Spencer and I plus the two others pleaded with him to return closer to shore.

He kept saying, if he fell in, he would just climb out.

I was exploring all options to coach him back.  He wouldn't listen at all, and I knew if the ice broke, he would have no chance of me offering any type of assistance.

Despite all my efforts to get him to come back, he continued to push further out into the lake.  I knew I could not go grab weight would crack the ice that far out.   The ice in the pictures of FNSJ was plenty thick---maybe at least 6 inches or a foot.   But I knew the ice in the middle of the lake was 'ice thin.'

The two other non-supervised kids finally were able to assist me.  I sent one to immediately get another adult.  I knew if I dialed 911, by the time help arrived it would be to late.

Despite all my various attempts of trying to literally save this boy's life, the two other kids shouted out to him to remind him that he had his phone with him, and told him if he fell in it would get wet.

With that knowledge reminder, defiant Nathan returned to shore.

Nathan must have known that his smart phone wouldn't be of use for this dumb kid when wet.

And that smart phone probably saved his life.   Go figure.


I don't clearly remember taking my Favorite Nephews, Jason and Joey, to a frozen Lake Padden, or an iced over Whatcom Falls. However, when those two were youngsters I took them so many different places so many different times it is not surprising that my aged memory would have trouble remembering some specifics.

And now the video of Spencer Jack taking a running slide on a frozen Big Lake.....

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Windy Wichita Falls Heat Wave's Giant Seed Pods

A day or two ago sub-freezing had me searching desperately for my missing long underwear.

Now that I located the missing long underwear such is currently no longer needed.

My swimsuit would be of more use today than long underwear, what with the outer world being heated into the 80s.

I was barely two steps out into the outer world  today when HOT hurricane force-like wind sent my head covering skyward. Eventually I was able to retrieve the flying hat.

On the Circle Trail I soon found that the high wind had blown free from trees a lot of big seed pods like you see me holding above.

The seed pods had not blown free from the leaf free trees you see in the picture.

The seed pods appeared to have blown free from evergreen type trees which were standing tall behind me at the location from whence I took the above picture.

I hope this balmy summer type weather stays around for awhile. The icy temps wreak havoc with my arthritic joints.....

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Spencer Jack's Virtual Drive Through California's Fallen Pioneer Cabin Tree

Spencer Jack Simulation of Driving Through the
Pioneer Cabin Tree
Last night Spencer Jack's dad text messaged me asking if I had ever been to the Pioneer Cabin Tree.

I assumed my Favorite Nephew Jason was asking about that drive through sequoia which came crashing down during the recent California rainstorm.

I replied saying I assumed it was the fallen sequoia he was asking about, and further saying that I did not recollect driving through the tree, but I do recollect driving by it.

I added that if I remember correctly the drive through tree was near what is now Redwoods National Park and also near the Trees of Mystery.

Mentioning to Jason the Trees of Mystery got me wondering if that long time Northern California tourist attraction still existed, with its giant Paul Bunyan and Babe, the Blue Ox.

Traveling Highway 101, back in the last century, stopping at Trees of Mystery seemed sort of mandatory, what with all the Trees of Mystery bumper stickers one constantly saw, the sort of thing which caused kids in a car, well, me and my siblings, to beg to stop.

I Googled to quickly find myself pleased to learn that the Trees of Mystery not only still exists, this roadside attraction has greatly expanded since my last visit.

Since my last visit to Trees of Mystery a Sky Trail has been added, which is a Gondola  ride high above the ground, communing with Sequoia tree tops. Motel Trees have been added. A Forest Cafe. A museum. And other things I did not remember seeing previously.

Well, actually, it has been so long since I was last mystified by the Trees of  Mystery the only elements of that tourist attraction which I remember are the aforementioned Mr. Bunyan and his Ox, and a souvenir store.

The Pioneer Cabin Tree was old, real old,  maybe as old as a thousand years. If I remember right, when last I saw what became known as the Pioneer Cabin Tree, it was known as the Tunnel Tree, and was situated in Calaveras Big Trees State Park. I vaguely recollect exploring trails in Calaveras Big Trees State  Park prior to Redwoods National  Park coming into existence.

Travelers began being able to travel through the Tunnel Tree after it was hollowed out in the 1880s. At that point in time it would have been travelers on horses or riding in a horse powered buggy which traveled through the Tunnel Tree.

Eventually automobiles were allowed to transit through the Tunnel Tree. I do not recollect doing so.

At some point in time, late in the previous century, or early in  the current century, vehicular traffic through the Pioneer Cabin Tunnel Tree was banned, with a hiking trail becoming the way to transit through the tree tunnel.

So, I suspect some sort of digital manipulation has been used, above, by Spencer Jack and his dad to create the illusion that Spencer Jack is about to drive through California's former iconic giant sequoia tree...

Monday, January 9, 2017

Balmy South Wind Blows Away Latest Wichita Falls Arctic Blast

Venturing into the outer world at my location on the planet has been a cold experience the last few days.

To do so comfortably required attiring pretty much as if one was doing some downhill skiing.

For the first couple days of this most recent Arctic Blast I did not attempt any outdoor excursion of any lengthy duration.

And then my GPS locator located my missing long underwear, with that discovery rendering the outdoor frigidity a bit more tolerable.

And now, today, the second Monday of the new year, a breeze from the south has risen the temperature well above freezing to a relatively balmy 51 degrees.

And so today I left my long underwear behind whilst I ventured outside, still well layered with the outerwear, to take a walk on the wild side of my neighborhood Circle Trail.

A strong breeze is blowing in the warmer air, but with that strong breeze making that warm air feel colder than 51 degrees, hence that which you see above, me looking like it must be really cold.

Tomorrow the weather menu has us scheduled to reach a temperature in the 70s. I do not think this will provoke a bout in the swimming pool, or a Polar Dip in Lake Wichita, but you never know until tomorrow arrives....