Archives for category: THINGS TO DO

P1080656

The first WCXC Meet & Greet started off with a bit of a hitch. I’d scouted the the first location, the half-abandoned Navy shipyard, Mare Island, by Google Maps, instead of with tires on the ground. When we rolled up to the vacant bit of land I’d picked as a meeting point, we were confronted with signs everywhere threatening arrest for trespassing and a security guard, hot on our tail, telling us to move on. So we went and found a better spot with trees and benches; I updated our location; and everyone found us.

After that it was off to the Warehouse Cafe in Port Costa, on the other side of the Delta for beers, and posing next to the huge, taxidermy polar bear. It was so great to meet everyone, to share stories, and, of course, check out each others vehicles. It was a lot of fun.

Below, are a few photos of the trucks people brought to the event.

Thank you all for coming out! Read the rest of this entry »

This video is amazing. It illustrates how taking a native species out of an environment causes that environment to tilt and list and go off kilter. Put that species back and balance is restored. When wolves were reintroduced in Yellowstone National Park in 1995, everything changed, included the courses of the rivers.

It reinforces my belief that everything’s connected and everything needs everything else.

This process, of a predator changing the behavior of its prey, which then eases pressure on that prey’s prey, and so on down the line, is called a trophic cascade.

Audio is taken from a talk given at TEDGlobal 2103 by environmentalist George Monbiot .

Check the links to learn more.

Links:
TED Radio Hour: Everything is Connected
(listen to the show here)
Wikipedia: Trophic Cascade
Yellowstone National Park

Fancy doing a 3,500 km (2,175 mi.) lap of India in a 7 hp Bajaj rickshaw? Well then, step right up young sir, young miss, The Adventurists are at it again. Correction. They’re always at it. They’re running three Rickshaw Runs a year, by the looks of it.

The idea is that you raise £500–£1000 ($816–$1632) for charity and pay The Adventurists £1395 ($2277) to sign up. They give you rickshaw, host the start and finish with some epic parties (according to their site), and send you off on a 16-day, shit-your-pants adventure through Indian traffic.

It actually looks like a lot of fun.

20131221_131005

If you ever find yourself heading through central California on Highway 5 and in need of a meal, we have a place to recommend, a Basque restaurant in Los Banos called The Wool Growers Rest.

We were just looking for a quick lunch and didn’t really know what to expect. Well, walking into the place was like walking back in time 50 years. Dim light, no windows, just a big room dominated by two long communal tables that could seat about 40 people each. Natalie and I were seated at the end of one of the long tables. By way of introduction, the waitress placed in front of us a pitcher of water, some bread, and a small carafe of red wine. There were no menus.

She came back in a few minutes and said, “Today we have four choices: lamb chop, pork chop, tri-tip, or chicken.” After getting a recommendation from her, we ordered a lamb and pork split and an order of chicken, so that we could have a taste of almost everything.

The first thing that came out was a bowl of soup for us to share. Then came a plate of baked beans, and a bowl of salad. All of the food is served family style.

After that came a bowl of chicken and rice, and a good-sized serving dish of lamb stew. I flagged down the waitress. “I don’t think we ordered the lamb stew.”

“It’s OK,” she said, “It comes with it.” We looked at each other. Really? The lamb stew was delicious. The meat fell off the bone and I sucked out the marrow.

Only then came the main course. Natalie’s plate bore a full lamb chop and a full pork chop. I said to her, “Do you think you accidentally ordered two entrees?” Then I looked over at a neighboring party as the waitress said, “And here’s the lamb.” There were two chops on the plate. Natalie had indeed received a single split order. I was given half a chicken. Oh, and the entrees came with a share plate of fries.

Our eyes were popping out of our heads. How could we eat all of this food? I also thought. What did we get ourselves into? We had no idea how much it was all going to cost. And the place was cash only. I was glad I’d happened to have stopped by an ATM earlier.

While we were gorging ourselves, I joked to Natalie, ” I hope you’re saving room for dessert.” Sure enough, after the plates were all cleared our waitress sat a little cup of ice cream down in front of each of us.

We couldn’t believe just how epic the meal had been. When the check arrived, I gingerly turned it over to see what the damage had been, then looked at Natalie in disbelief. $32. We’d been served half a meat counter’s worth of food and it had cost $32.

It’s a great place. Quite an experience. If you go, make sure your appetite is in full effect.

Links:
The Wool Growers Rest

Let me start by saying this video is amazing. Now let’s backup. There’s a group called The Adventurists. They host absurd rallies, donate to charities, and throw big parties at the end. One of their events, The Mongol Rally is a 10,000-mile bash from London to Ulan Bator (the capital of Mongolia) in a 1,000-cc (or less) car. What!?

Many people accepted the challenge. A group of Swiss guys calling themselves Team PZM decided to go it one better by piloting their crap Fiat through Iran, Pakistan, and China. Armed guards, ferrying over a seriously flooded highway, amazing views, and friendly people. This looks like an epic adventure.

Want to go next year?

Links:
The Adventurists
Mongol Rally info/sign-up page

img_6978
OK, I may be biased, but my fiance, Natalie, writes a great blog over at The West County Bramble. She’s been doing a much better job than I have posting about our day-to-day travels.

Here’s a link to her post about our stop in the little town of Chemainus, BC, on Vancouver Island, where we happened upon a First Nations (Canadian native peoples) ceremony as well as a very well done musical. Both were quite unexpected.

The town is full of murals. Below, Natalie sneaks into the scene of one of my favorites.

In the top photo, our boat, Carmana, lies just offshore in gorgeous twilight.

Link Trail: The West County Bramble > Chemainus, Vancouver Island, BC Read the rest of this entry »

20130907_125157
If you happen to be on Orcas Island in the San Juans this week, check out Pop-Up Print Shop. It’s a pop-up silkscreen shop that sells t-shirts and prints on paper.

Most of the designs are mash-ups of vintage, royalty-free, line art. It’s good stuff and the shop is only open another week.

Pop-Up Print Shop, 109 North Beach Rd., Eastsound, Washington Read the rest of this entry »

img_6470

A couple of weeks ago we were in Vancouver and spent the afternoon at Granville Public Market on Granville Island. It’s a big market hall with, I’m guessing, a hundred or more vendor stalls, offering meats, fish, pastries, bread, chocolate, fruit and vegetables, just about everything. It’s like going on a food holiday. Everything’s delicious.

It was a bit of a trek to get there as we were anchored on the other side of the Strait of Georgia on Gabriola Island. If you’d like to see more photos of Granville Market and read about our trek, check out Natalie’s blog: The West County Bramble.

20130713_114148

While we were in Seattle, Natalie found an amazing fabric store called, appropriately enough, Seattle Fabrics. They specialize in fabrics for outdoor, recreational, and marine use. Want to make your own sleeping bag? They have the patterns, nylon, fill, zippers, and notions. If the bag ever gets ripped, they sell sealer with which you could repair it. Want to make your own parka? They have patterns for that too.

They had braided line, elastic line, elastic line with reflective thread. Their notions section (buckles, snaps, D-rings, etc.) filled a whole wall. They had ripstop nylon, marine canvas, duck canvas, camo, gortex. Pretty much whatever you’d want. I’ve never seen a fabric store more geared to the how-to, outdoor enthusiast.

If you happen to pass though Seattle, check out there store at 8702 Aurora Avenue North or find them online at the link below.

Link trail: Seattle Fabrics

More photos of this great store below.

Read the rest of this entry »

20130721_093845
A couple of weeks ago we boarded Seattle’s historic steamer, Virginia V, at Lake Union and sailed to Bainbridge Island.

The Virginia V is quite an experience. You really get the feeling of traveling in another time. And she’s so quiet. Gliding through the ship canal she barely made a sound.

She was built in 1921 and became a part of what was then known as the “Mosquito Fleet,” a group of hundreds of small vessels that plied Puget Sound in the era before state-run public transit. All the vessels were privately owned, initially unregulated, and often competed for business on the same routes, with the first ship to the dock getting the lion’s share of the fares.

The Virginia V is powered by a 400-hp, double-expansion, three-cylinder steam engine, built in 1898. The 115-year-old engine has a maximum RPM of 200, although it mostly spins at about 80 or 90 RPM. She used to be oil-fired but today burns diesel to develop steam.

Our route took us down the Washington Ship Canal and through the Chittenden Locks. Lake Union is at a higher elevation than Puget Sound, hence the need for the locks.

Locking through is a neat experience. The huge, steel doors of the lock were open at one end as we came into the locks, then shut behind us. The water was then drained out of the lock as the ship dropped about 25 feet down. The doors at the other end of the lock were opened, and out we went, into the Sound.

The Virginia V doesn’t sail very often—she is crewed solely by volunteers. If she has a trip scheduled, and you happen to be in Seattle, make of day of it. It’s a very unique and enjoyable experience.

Link: Virginia V Public Schedule

Read further for a gallery of photos from our day aboard, as well as a quick video.
Read the rest of this entry »