Sunday, May 31, 2015

Return to Port Townsend

Our friend Doug was visiting from Powell River. We took him for a flight in 997 to Jefferson County International Airport (0s9). Check out its webcam by clicking here. Jefferson County is about four miles from the historic Victorian seaport town of Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula.

They have an automated unicom for airport advisories which is really nice. Click three times and get the updated weather and airport information.

Our reason for coming was twofold. First, we wanted to have breakfast at the Spruce Goose Cafe at the airport. Airport cafes are well know for excellent homecooking. The Spruce Goose fits the mold. Whether you come for breakfast, lunch or dinner the food is great. I had my favorite biscuits and gravy. It came with two eggs any style. The gravy had huge pieces of sausage and the bisquits were soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. Just the way I like it! We didn't have room for pie, but I heard they are delicious.

The second reason for coming was to take Doug to see the Port Townsend shipyards. We visited them with our friends Linda and Gary from Sequim on a previous visit. Doug is an avid boat enthusiast, so we knew he would love the experience. We were right. After a brief visit to West Marine to look at all the boating goodies he disappeared. We found him at a boat brokers where he discovered two heavy duty ex-police boats for sale. We walked the docks to give them a look. We could just imagine ourselves cruising the Strait of Georgia and Desolation Sound with them.

We watched a large lift carrying a boat in for repairs. We followed it into the yard to see all of the maintenance activity. In this yard you can have commercial work done, or rent a space to work on your own boat. They have everything from the small to immense, the old to new. You could spend a day here just looking at the boats and talking to the friendly people.

Peninsula Taxi (360-385-1872) picked us back up at West Marine for the short trip back to the airport. It is a little too far to walk, but close enough to be a reasonable cost. Round trip with a good tip was about $35 for the three of us. When we returned there were about fifteen planes in the parking area. It made you think of how general aviation was in the good old days. It was good to see so many pilots out enjoying the good weather, sunshine and good food. If you are in the northwest area of Washington stop by Jefferson County Airport. You can even arrange to clear customs here from Canada. -- Margy

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

"Silo Series" by Hugh Howey
My husband Wayne is an avid science fiction reader and writer. I enjoy reading some of the first contact and post apocalyptic scifi books he buys for the Kindle.

Having a family account stretches our book buying and reading budget.

We learned about an outstanding science fiction writer named Hugh Howey at a Whatcom Community College class by Susan Colleen Browne about self publishing. Howey is hugely successful in the world of independent publishing, and he's proud of it! No traditional publishers for this guy, and no need to share his profits either. trilogy of books including Wool, Shift, and Dust come together to form the Silo Series.

Each book was originally published on Amazon as a series of Kindle Short Reads. Once the chapters were completed, they were bundled together and offered as omnibus versions for $5.99, an interesting marketing technique.

All three books follow the lives of what appear to be the last humans to survive some kind of worldwide catastrophe. In Wool, we are introduced to humans confined to live within a deep silo underground. You don't know how this came about.
Next comes Shift, part prequel and part a continuation of the original story. We follow a "cleaner" outside to certain death, but follow her to a major discovery about their living condition.

Finally comes Dust. We learn even more about how silo life came to be, and the designers horrible plans for the future of humanity. Who will survive and how?

After each book, I could hardly wait to get started on the next! That's the sign of a good author, you just keep on wanting more. -- Margy

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Baking Cookies with Silpat

My friend Jeanne gave me a Silpat non-stick baking mat. It's a strange looking thing that takes the place of parchment paper for baking items like cookies. Jeanne's advice is best use a Silpat and not any of the cheaper versions.

Jeanne, a master baker, originally introduced me to the use of parchment paper to bake cookies. I kind of poo-pooed it in the beginning, but now I won't make cookies without either parchment paper or my Silpat.

The one I received as a birthday present is the toaster oven size. If I'm baking four cookies fresh for our dessert, it's just the right size. If I want to bake more, I still use parchment paper.

With a good cleaning, both the Silpat and parchment can be reused. The Silpat is a more expensive initially (about $20), but it can be a savings if you bake a lot of cookies. Parchment paper is about $7.50 for a 33 foot roll.

Both the Silpat and the parchment paper bake my cookies equally well. Compared to baking directly on the cookie sheet, they both are a huge improvement.

Do you use a Silpat? What do you think? Is it worth the cost? -- Margy

Monday, May 18, 2015

"Icebound" by Leonard Guttridge

I just finished reading In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette (Doubleday, 2014) by Hampton Sides. The book takes you along on the harrowing journey of the captain and crew of the ill-fated Jeannette as they tried to be the first to reach the North Pole in the late 1800s. You can find my review of that book by clicking here.

In a review at Amazon, I learned about a lesser known book recounting the same heroic voyage. Icebound: The Jeannette Expedition's Quest for the North by Leonard F. Guttridge probably didn't get as much fanfare when it was published by the Naval Institute Press in 1986 or when it was reprinted by in 2006, but both editions are still available in hardback, print, and audiobook formats. Neither are e-books.

The recent discovery of Sir John Franklin's ship the Erebus from the 1845 expedition to discover the Northwest Passage may be spurring new interest in the Arctic. I know I am reading more about it these days. -- Margy

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Longhorn Saloon in Edison WA

If you're going to drive the Chuckanut Loop south from Bellingham, why not take a side trip to quaint Edison, Washington.

If you like fresh seafood, stop at the Longhorn Saloon. This is oyster country, so try the pan fried variety. The full meal with salad, fries and six plump Panko-coated beauties is really reasonable.

Not a seafood fan? The wings and burgers are always good choices, or drop in for one of their special nights with prime rib or slow-baked baby back ribs.

Everyone is welcome at the Longhorn, including bikers. You see lots of motorcycles on scenic Chuckanut Drive, so I'm sure they appreciate the warm welcome.

If you like to eat or enjoy a brew outdoors, they have a patio in back with views of the countryside and slough (kind of an ugly word for a pretty place) that winds its way inland from Padilla Bay.

At high tide, small boats can make their way this far inland. And if you like a bit of night life, come on weekends for good music and other special events. Hope to see you there. -- Margy

Sunday, May 10, 2015

"In the Kingdom of Ice" by Hampton Sides
I've recently been reading books about Arctic adventures, especially those that occurred before modern ships and technology. I just finished In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette (Doubleday, 2014). The author, Hampton Sides, takes you along on the harrowing journey of the captain and crew of the ill fated Jeannette as they try to be the first to reach the North Pole.

In the late 1800s, the Arctic was an uncharted wilderness, the end of the earth. Wild theories abounded. Many thought that the top of the world was surrounded by an Open Polar Sea, free of ice and warm in temperature. If someone could just break through the frozen ring that girdled the globe, the quest for the North Pole could be achieved.

This widely held speculation caught the interest of James Gordon Bennett, the wealthy owner of the New York Herald, the same paper that sent Stanley to Africa to find Dr. Livingston. Big adventures caught public interest and sold papers. This made Bennett willing to finance a scientific expedition. He selected George De Long to captain a 146 foot long three masted wooden sailing and steam powered ship. After a lengthy refit at the Naval Yard in San Francisco, De Long and his crew of thirty-six hardy and skilled men boarded the Jeannette for a trip of adventure and discovery.

The book is rich in detail, some say too much, but it helps put the story, people, and places in context. The late 1800s were exciting times. Inventions such as electric lights and telephones were just being put into use. The Jeannette incorporated some of these new inventions and more "modern." But for me, the most interesting part was how the traditional ways of the peoples of the north made survival in the harsh Arctic environment possible. Without their support, no one would have survived the final ordeal.

In the Kingdom of Ice is available in hardcover, paperback, e-book, and audible book formats. Two of the online booksellers include Amazon and Kobo. It wasn't a quick read, but it was a book I enjoyed over an extended period of time. If you enjoy reading historical non-fiction, and especially tales of the Arctic, I think you will be captured by this amazing book. -- Margy