MW Mobile Blog

For friends, family and the random search engine visitor. This blog started as an experiment in mobile blogging from my Palm TREO 600 700 Prē HTC Evo,Samsung 5. Now it serves as a simple repository of favorite activities. Expect bad golf, good fishing, great sailing, eating, drinking, adventure travel, occasional politics and anything else I find interesting along the way including, but not limited to, any of the labels listed here...

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Hurricanes and Sailboats - There and Back Again

I can't take my eyes off the devastation wrought by hurricanes Harvey and Irma in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico last week. Hoping for the best for friends and relations in Texas, across Florida, and the Virgin Islands - both now and in the coming days.

I guess it's simple human nature that the images that come out of these catastrophic events hit harder when it's a place you've been, recognize, enjoyed, and impacts people you care about.

UPDATE 9/11: While there is extensive damage across Florida, it is clear that civic preparation, media warnings, and a shifting/weakening Irma track kept the damage from being as bad as was feared. However, while Florida somewhat dodged a bullet, people should recognize that the British Virgin Islands took the brunt of Irma at it's peak strength. There were deaths, massive destruction, and a breakdown of society. From the Daily Mail:
"Escaped prisoners and hundreds of looters armed with guns and knives terrorise hurricane-hit islands as police from Britain and France are flown in to restore order.
Several people who were stranded on the island said looters had begun raiding hotel rooms and homes to profit from the natural disaster. Jos Smart, 26, and his girlfriend Julia Taylor, 30, reported being too afraid to leave their 'half-destroyed' hotel amid reports of looting and violence outside. Describing the apocalyptic scenes in St Maarten Jos Smart's father Ian said: 'They have not had any water for a day. 'They said the sounds were apocalyptic and they have likened it to a war zone. They are holed up in a half-demolished bathroom and their phone is running out of battery. There have been rats in their room looking for food. He added: 'At night time there were people knocking on their door, and so there are 12 hours of sheer blackness to get through with the terror of who is going to knock down the door."

In 2013 I had the opportunity to crew for Captain Jim on the Morpheus for a transatlantic passage from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean. It was a great "bucket-list" experience. The journey started in Sint Maarten - a Caribbean Island split between the French and Dutch. After outfitting Morpheus for the journey, we spent an afternoon at the famous Sunset Bar and beach abutting the SXM airport runway. Here a picture of the bar and beach from the jet as I landed, and a picture and video of what it looks like after Irma:

Then and Now

In November, I'll have an opportunity to again sail with the Morpheus as she makes her way back over the pond and home. Planning has begun, but as is often the case, nature has the final word. Saba Rock in the British Virgin Isles was our planned destination. This is what it looked like when the planning began:

This is what it looks like now:

Another considered destination is the Bitter End Yacht Club:

I know some of this discussion of yacht marinas and luxury resorts comes across as "First World Problems", but these islands depend on tourism for their financial livelihood. Lisa Minot, Travel Editor for the Sun, hits the nail on the head:

The only way to truly recover from Hurricane Irma is if tourists return to the devastated islands
"For the British Virgin Islands, St Martin, Anguilla and Barbuda, tourism is the lifeblood of their economies. Thousands rely on holidaymakers for their jobs and livelihoods. 
The graphic images of destruction are already having an effect. British Virgin Island local Emma Paull says: “We need the tourists to come back. Yes, we have been hit hard but we can get better. People are already emailing to cancel holidays booked for next year. 
“But we need the income to recover. Trees grow back, boats can be replaced, bars and restaurants won’t take long to repair. From the ashes, roses grow.” 
Thankfully, British holidaymakers have always been a hardy bunch. And returning to help support these idyllic islands is the only way we can truly help them."
Probably the best thing we can do (After contributing to Texas, Virgin Islands & Florida relief funds) is to continue to plan to patronage the area in the hope they can repair it between now and then. I've no doubt that they have the strength, spirit and will, but with the scale of devastation wrought by this hurricane, I'm just not sure there will be enough workers to get it done before complete our passage in December.

To Be Determined.

Anyone with the wherewithal should do what they can to help the people impacted by these catastrophic storms.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Who will stop the rain in the shed?

We interrupt this blog to bring breaking news from Upper Peninsula of Michigan:

Harlan repaired the shed roof.

As all camp visitors have noticed this (very) rainy year, the woodshed was leaking like a sieve.

In addition to being a travelogue and journal of favorite activities, this blog also serves as the family reference document for Shag Lake House repairs. As an example, Harlan notes in his text that he thought the last roof repair was completed in 2004. In point of fact, it was Thursday, August 29, 2005. Twelve years ago to the day:

"The shed repair is complete, and I believe made solid for at least twenty/forty more years.A new complete rolled roof, with about 5/8ths new plywood decking, plus proper drip edges." - HDW - 8/29/2005
That shed repair has held up remarkably well, but additional maintenance was now needed. Once again, Harlan stepped into the breach.

Thank you Harlan. Your efforts have now been documented in the official blog of record. 

I will also be recommending to the governing authorities that a plaque be commissioned and prominently displayed on-site commemorating your efforts. Said plaque will officially rename the structure and the outhouse it contains as "The Harlan Wallach Memorial Woodshed."

Thank you Mike for assembling this documentary roof repair post and video. I accept the renaming honorific, but since it has the word "memorial" in it, I would humbly request that any such bronze plaque not be created or affixed to the shed until after I have shed this mortal coil. 
I would also suggest, that a new roof be put on in about 10 years. That be appears to the the life span of the rolled roofing material. -HDW September 1, 2017

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Eclipse Epilogue - Planes, Trains, Automobiles and Statues

On the day after the celestial extravaganza, Harlan and family continued Jonah's college tour with stops at Oregon University and Oregon State, then proceeded to Portland for an early flight back to Chicago.

I intended to  ride with them to Eugene on Tuesday and catch the Amtrak Coast Starlight overnight train back to the bay area.  Due to an overabundance of eclipse tourists or an underabundance of planning on my part, the first ticket I could get was the last coach seat on Wednesday the following day.  Which gave me another day to spend with cousins in Philomath, whether they still wanted me there or not.  

We had a relaxing day, worked through the leftovers from numerous feasts of the last few days, organized pictures and worked to bring this blog up to date.  With leftover abalone steaks we prepared a favorite - the BLAAT -  a Bacon, Lettuce, Abalone, Avacado, and Tomato sandwich. Simply the finest sandwich in the history of this or any other universe. 


Rob and Paula entertained us with a screening of La La Land (👍). Enjoyable, well acted, well directed, innovative - but not sure it measures up to the hype at the Oscars. Unintended consequence: After experiencing Rob's blue-ray home theater setup I am determined to rip out my obsolete system and initiate a forklift upgrade. But I digress.

Wednesday Rob drove me to Eugene to catch my train home. I had a few hours to kill exploring the area around the train station. Found a decent lunch special at Sushi Ya ....

... then settled in at the Jackalope Lounge across the street from the train station.

Finally it was time to catch the train and bring our eclipse adventure to a close.

The train ride itself was about 15 hours from Eugene to Oakland - Jack London Square Station. The seats are comfortable - about like US airline business class. It's great to travel without being strapped in and to wander freely from your seat to the lounge or dining car. The food in the dining car is mediocre and wildly overpriced...

...and some AMTRAK staff hate their jobs and show it, but in general I found the trip to be pleasurable and a civilized way to travel. It's all relative. Compared to your typical commercial airline flight, it was great. I'd do it again, but for a night route like this I'd spring for a sleeper car.

Pulled into Jack London Square about 9 AM Thursday.  I generally don't pay much attention to municipal statuary, but it's apparently become the most pressing social issue facing the country in recent weeks. So I took note of the most prominent statue in my departure and arrival stations:

Eugene and Oakland 

Eugene features a hexagonal, pyramidy, towerish public art installation ensconced with decorative flower mosaics and a metal compassy thingy on the top. Engravings of apparently significant time and space milestones circle a granite layer cake foundation. Among them - the distance to Tombouctou (6,799 mile) and the year Jerry Garcia died (1995).

Oakland features a bronze statue of C.L. Dellums striking a heroic pose in front of the Amtrak station. C.L. Dellums was a labor leader, organized the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, fought for and served on the Fair Employment Practices Committee, and was the uncle of Ron Dellums - corrupt U.S. Representative and incompetent Mayor of Oakland.

Make of it what you will. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipse Day!

Series of 8/21/17 eclipse photos in Philomath - credit cousin Kamal
I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. Up with first light, Rob already had coffee brewing, quickly followed by blueberry pancakes and a crust-less spinach quiche. I don't know if I mentioned it, but we are eating too well.

We were a little concerned by some early morning haze and clouds. No worries - it quickly burned off and we were greeted with blue skies and clear air.

Outfitted with certified eclipse glasses, we settled in on the deck, on the grounds and in the quince orchard for the big event.

Just in case anyone missed the 1,247,595 warnings about staring at the sun that saturated the media in prior weeks...

 ... everyone received warning alerts on our smart-phones from the emergency broadcast network as the eclipse began.

This was my second total eclipse. The first was 26 years earlier during a holiday in Costa Rica. I remember it as a magical experience then, and that sense was not diminished by the experience today. Totality only lasts a couple minutes, but it is simply a wonder to behold.

We had a couple of real photographers (brother Harlan and cousin Kamal)  loaded for bear with quality equipment and mad skills in our eclipse watching party.

These are the best eclipse photos for each of  us. See if you can identify which is the one I shot (hover over photos for credit):

It was over all too soon. We basked in the afterglow of the celestial event, compared notes, impressions, thoughts and wondered why anything that passes so quickly can seem so important. It just is. Was it worth it? Yes. And the evidence is the first question we googled after it was all over: "When and where is the next total solar eclipse?"  [It's Chile on July 2,2019].

The rest of the afternoon we enjoyed a burger and hot dog barbecue,visited with more extended friends and family, took a walk in the Oregon countryside, sorted and shared pictures, posted on social media and...

... enjoyed yet another wonderful dinner of grilled salmon.

By the end of the day we were full, in every sense of the word.