Friday, August 22, 2008

The Beach; or at least it looks like a beach...

A few weekends ago we decided to venture out to the beach here in Washington. It was a very different adventure from what I'm used to.

See, I grew up in SoCal, so going to the beach was a very common occurrence. We would go surfing, body surfing, wake boarding, play volleyball, have campfires, and have long walks on the beach in the sunset. One constant was the warm water and the warm weather. The beach here in the North West is just a lot different. The biggest difference? Cold, Cold, Cold!!!!

Oh, cold and windy, I should say. It looks like a kite flyer's paradise. In fact, there were a whole lot of kites around. So anyway, we got there and decided to park in one of the many parks along the coast. We parked and walked up to the shore. There was beach sand, and there was beach water, and the water was washing up on shore in waves just like it's supposed to, but that's where the similarities ended. The water was colder than anything I've ever felt. And the wind was howling around us. And then, the biggest difference of all... You can drive on the beach here.

Yup, that's right, you can drive on the sand. In fact, that's what most people do. Drive out to the water's edge, park and set up for the day right there. So, that's what we did. We walked back to the truck, and drove out there. The best part was as we were driving along, I drove in the ocean. It was cool. I've never driven in the ocean before. I don't know many folks that have. It was a great time, and such a different experience from what I've known. What a fun place!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Shrek the Musical

Oh yeah, Shrek made some sweet music of his own!

So, about 4 months ago, when we found out we were moving to Washington, Pamela's sister Jennifer told us about this cool program that Broadway productions have. Before they get all spun up and spend all of their money on a new Broadway show, the producers will sometimes do a pre-run in other locations. This way they can test run the play and get audience and critic feedback and make adjustments. So Jennifer, who is working on her last semester in a Masters in Fine Arts Degree and very much into all the stage production stuff (she's very cool), told us that they were going to do a pre-run of Shrek the Musical. So, on Saturday, we went to the World Premier of Shrek the Musical. It was awesome! Don't get me wrong, this was no local theater troupe doing a test run of a concept; this was the full blown Broadway production with the Broadway cast. (Unfortunately, it also came with the Broadway ticket price). Needless to say, we were one row away from being on the back wall of the theater in the balcony. But it was still great. My only beef with the show was the parts they copied directly from the movie. A lot the jokes from the movie were repeated in the play, and most fell pretty flat. But the original content of the play was phenomenal. Lots of new songs, new scenes and new characters. One scene they added, in which Fiona grows up from a seven year old to a 20 something, was particularly outstanding. The three girls that sing were fantastic and their voices were beautiful. All in all, it was a great day in Seattle. If you're in the neighborhood you should check it out: Shrek the Musical or you can wait till it's on Broadway.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Space Needle

Who wants to call something a needle? That sounds painful, or at least like I'm gonna have to do some work. And a "Space" needle no less. What's next? Space Thread? Which a space seamstress then weaves the fabric of time together with? /shout out to my Dr. Who peeps! What happens if somebody loses it in a space haystack? I could go on... Anyway, since we're in the great state of Washington and within an hour of Seattle, we decided we'd better go see this "Needle" thing. Holly Streebe was here visiting Bekah, so the day we took her back to the airport we visited the Space Needle.

So here's my beef with the "needle." First, it looks nothing like a needle; where's the eye? It's white (needles are generally silver), and anyone who looks at it can see that it is three towers that look more like ladders than needles. Secondly, it doesn't go into space. What's going on here? Ok everybody, let's put on our imagination hats and pretend that the space needle isn't an earthbound object that has absolutely no resemblance to a needle. Ha ha ha! Oh don't get your panties in a bunch Seattle, I'm like this with everyone! Except Mt. Rainier, of course. What am I going to make fun of in that place? It's perfect!

Anyway, first we missed the exit. (I know, you can see it all the way around the sound, how do you miss the exit? but we did) After that we drove around it for a long while, trying to figure out where to park. Finally we pretended we were rock stars and did the valet parking at the base of the towers (ahem...needle).

Then we got our tickets and headed up! It is a pretty cool view of Seattle and the Puget Sound, so I forgive the whole not being a needle thing. Turns out the "space" part was actually just a marketing ploy for the World's Fair (do they have those anymore?) as is often the case. What are you gonna do? All in all it was a fun trip that allows me to say that I have indeed been to the Space Needle, such as it is.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Hike in Mount Rainier

Ok, so I was going to try to give this great daily log of the move and our subsequent adventures, but as it often does, life got in the way. So, I've decided that I'm just going to give some highlights of things that we've done recently, hope that Pamela can fill in some of the gaps on her blog and keep going forward. Someday the past will all get wrote down! I know, great English.

Moving on. One of the things we wanted to since before we even got here was to hike in Mt. Rainier. You can see some beautiful pictures of the park and learn all about it at the National Park Service's Mount Rainier website. Obviously, that wasn't enough for us, and I highly recommend you not be satisfied with a silly website either.

We ended up going with Pamela's parents while they were visiting over the 4th of July week. We drove up the Monday morning after the 4th weekend. We didn't go very far into the park but what we did see was breathtakingly beautiful. One cool feature of the park is that a seasonal pass for the whole family (one vehicle) was only twice as much as one trip in. It's already paid for itself and will again several times over just this summer. We started up the mountain and stopped first at Cougar Rock for a lunch picnic. From our spot at the picnic table we could see Eagle Peak in front of us and one of the mountain's seven glaciers behind us. Did I mention Mt. Rainier has glaciers? It is actually an inactive (not dormant) volcano that last erupted about 5000 years ago. When I mentioned this to my father, who was commenting on how beautiful the Wasatch Front was, he said, "yeah, but my mountains are true." I can't believe my own father has become one of "those" Utah folks. Anyway, I digress. From our picnic spot we were able to get great views. We had some friendly birds join us for lunch (no idea what kind, anybody know?) and we did our best to keep the kids (and the grandparents) from feeding them...

After lunch we drove up to the start of the Christina Falls trail. From there it is .8 miles to the first falls bridge. It was a great hike and not strenuous at all. The falls were beautiful and just a bit frightening as Bekah and Brenton ran around the bridge and the edge of the rocks and such. How odd that doing that never bothered me as a kid, but terrifies me as a parent; sorry Mom and Dad, I didn't know! We all survived though, and Pamela's parents made the trip to the bridge and back with aplomb. I was glad they went and the kids got to spend that kind of time with them. On the way back out of the park we stopped at a bridge and looked the rocks underneath. The water had turned them this weird orangish color. We played around there for a little while and then headed home. It was great trip altogether. Can't wait to go back!

New blog for the train stuff

I've created a new blog to track the model train crap. It is located at

Check it out!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

My new all consuming hobby

Ok, so some of you (meaning the two of you that actually read this) know that I have a really bad habit of getting excited about a new hobby and jumping in all the way. I say "bad" habit because this usually involves a great deal of time and more often than not, a great deal of money. But as I've often said, "there are certainly worse things I could be doing with my time." That's how I pacify Pamela's exasperation (her word, not mine). Anyway, so for about a year now, I have been becoming more and more interested in model railroading. Some may recall my first attempt last Christmas with my "train village." I think it was a rather valiant attempt.

Since then, I have become more and more interested (Pamela says obsessed...) in the hobby and as such have learned a ton. Technically, I've learned a ton because all I've been able to do is study seeing as I haven't really had the funds necessary to go all out on a real layout. Did I mention it's expensive? It is. Much more expensive than I could have ever imagined, but more on that subject later. So I've been studying, a lot, and after we moved here to Washington I began to plan in earnest. I tracked down a good model railroading shop, read lots of blogs about it, and order manual after manual. I wrestled mightily with the choice of whether to build from scratch using my own design in my head, much like the christmas village, or go with a "starter kit." I finally made my decision after reading a very well written blog which convinced me to go with a starter kit. I chose Woodland Scenics River Pass kit because Woodland Scenics has a lot of cool products and techniques which I could try out on this project and see which ones I like and which I don't. The finished product is supposed to look something like this:

I guess we'll see. Anyway, having made that decision, I simply had to come up with the money. You see, this "starter kit" starts in the neighborhood of $800. I know, ritzy neighborhood. That puts my christmas village definitely on the wrong side of the tracks. Well, last week we got our claim check from the moving company for all the crap they broke in the move. Since we'd already replaced all of the items we needed I begged Pamela to let me have the kit. She, being the wonderful person she is, agreed. Actually, I think she likes it too, but don't tell her I said so or you'll get "the look." True story.

So, I order the kit and it showed up on Friday. It was about 30 times bigger than I had imagined. You see, the aspect of this "project" I haven't discussed yet is the size. The layout is 4'x 8'. Yes I wrote that correctly four feet wide by eight feet long. 32 square feet. It's huge. Being that big, we knew we couldn't build it in any room in the house so it would have to be in the garage, but we've gotten so used to having a garage and parking in it that something had to done. So I came up with a plan. I designed a pulley system that raises the whole layout up to the ceiling when it's not in use. Yes, I designed it. Not only did I design it, I built it yesterday. I built the wood base and frame and the pulley system. See:

Having accomplished building the base, I set out on the pulley system. Doing that was really fun. It was mentally challenging as well as physically. Those of you that know me well know I'm not the most "handy" person in the world. "Handsy" yes. "Handy" no. So it was with some pride that I finished the first stage of my monster model railroad project.

Phase two began this afternoon as I began build the layout. The Woodland Scenics kit is really well done. It comes with nearly everything you need to build and it incorporates all kinds of different types of techniques and products that are designed to save hours of time. I was really disappointed, however when I opened the boxes today and found that some of the items were broken. A few of the foam boards were broken and some of the plaster "masonry work" were chipped and broken. I will call Woodland Scenics tomorrow and let them know. I will let you know what comes of that. The first steps were to layout the foam base, glue the four pieces together and then layout the track to ensure all the pieces are present and get a feel for the actual layout. All of that went very well. As you should be able to see. Cheeto thought the whole process was very interesting and hung around most of the day, though I have to say he was rather less than helpful. I did promise him that when the layout is all done I will let him walk all over it pretending to be a giant "godzilla" cat! Should be a fun day at the Shane home.

I've decided that I'm going to start a new blog to document the actual details of this whole project. That way I don't bore anyone who doesn't care about the techniques used to build trees for model train layouts. I will put the link up as I create it. Let me know what you think of my crazy new adventure.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Move to Fort Lewis - Day 5

So the moment finally arrived, we were leaving Sierra Vista FOREVER!!!! (ok, just for a little bit; I mean everyone knows Fort Huachuca is a black hole and eventually sucks everyone back into it. Oh and it also sucks out their brains and makes them think they like it there and Sierra Vista would be a great place to retire...)

So, we're off, and driving too! As we have to drop the travel trailer off in Utah with my parents, we are driving both cars. It should be noted here that getting both vehicles ready for this trip has taken a very large chunk out of my bonus money. But ready they are, and Pamela has the grand am with Cheeto, Marshmallow and Bekah, and I have the truck with Cookie and Brenton. I think I got the better end of the deal!

So, with Sierra Vista where it properly belongs (in the rear-view mirror) we set out for Washington. We stopped for breakfast in Tucson at the Cracker Barrel; doing this would soon become a trend as we traversed the country. Anyway, with our bellies full of crackery goodness, we drove and drove and drove. So, you may remember my last post with the picture of signs to Mormon Lake, yes? Some of the more astute readers of this blog will have wondered, as I did, how I happened upon that sign on the way to Flagstaff when Flagstaff is not at all on the way to Washington. It would seem that I made an error, a word here which means jacked up the directions real bad! One would tend to think that since I was going to Vegas and then on to Utah, and had made the trip several times, I would know what I'm doing. Turns out one would be mistaken. As we drove through Phoenix, I was chatting with my lovely wife and I couldn't remember the name of the highway we needed to take to get to Vegas. What's that? The 93, you say? Yes thank you, you're most helpful... my navigational system, however, was even more than less than unhelpful. I mentioned that I wanted to go to Vegas, and Mrs. Potts (yes we named the navigation system) suggested a route. Without actually looking at said route, I happily selected the suggested route and went back to chatting. Sad for us... Mrs. Potts apparently wanted us to visit Flagstaff again on our way to Vegas. We happily obliged. Honestly, it wasn't even until we were actually in Flagstaff and turning onto the 40 that I realized we had gone 173 miles out of our way. So it was with great regret and sadness that as I got gas in Kingman, AZ, I realized I had been driving for 10 hours, had spent over $200 in gas and was still in Arizona. Not a pretty moment in the Shane family. Oh well, moving on...

Now, as many of you (I say many, but since there are probably no more than three of you saps reading this I suppose many is a bit of an exaggeration, and that's a surprisingly difficult word to spell) anyway, as many of you know, it is unlawful to bring a trailer across the Hoover Dam, so we had to go through Laughlin. All I can say is, going up a 6% grade with a 2000lbs, 18 foot trailer in 105 degree weather was no picnic, for me or the truck. But Pedro (yes, we named the truck, what part of the Shane insanity aren't you getting?) did just wonderfully. We made it into Vegas that evening and stayed with Pamela's brother Sam and his awesome family. We even went to Del Taco for dinner which tasted like heaven! Actually, we got an even better treat when it was decided that Pamela's sister Jennifer (Lord lover her!) offered to take Bekah and Brenton to her apartment for the night. So Mom and Dad actually got to sleep! Well, that's all I can stand to write this morning. Till next time!

Mormon Lake

Saw this on the road to Flagstaff (why we were headed to flagstaff is an entirely different story). I wonder how many mormons it took to make???

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Move to Ft. Lewis - Day 4

Cleaning Day! Yup, we cleaned today. Well, I should be honest here and say, Pamela cleaned today, while I tried to help. Mostly, I tried to stay out of the way. In addition to the cleaning, we have a lot things that we still need to pack for the trip and some repairs to do around the house. Why do we always wait to fix things until we're no longer going to live in the house? Doesn't seem very smart does it? Anyway, so we set about doing all these things cause our final walk-through inspection was at 2pm. At lunch time I went to lunch with a bunch of folk from work. It was good to see everybody, but I'm serious, this saying goodbye crap is for the birds. It is so strange, we can't wait to leave Sierra Vista and Fort Huachuca, but we don't want to leave our friends. Maybe we can take them with us, or convince them to move to Washington... That would be the easiest thing to do, I think.

After lunch I came back and was helping Pamela with the last minute cleaning. Then the "inspectors" showed up a half hour early. They came in and the first thing they said was, "there's dirt in this window track!" Well, I got irritated, and Pamela burst into tears, since she'd just spent the last 15 hours or so cleaning. So I said, "listen, there is no way we're going to get this to your standard before we leave in the morning, so just take it out of our deposit. They said no problem, people do it all the time, and I'm thinking, "man we're dumb, why didn't we just do that in the first place?" So, we've decided we're not going to bother cleaning when we move in the future. It's just not worth it.

So they left and we finished packing for the trip and then we went over to the Strebe's for some roasted weenies and, of course, RockBand®. Jezabell and the boys should have been there, but she's a chicken butt and took off for Phoenix before we could say, "see you later!" The Hams were also supposed to join us, but Matt had to go to some dumb graduation in Douglas. Because it's far more important to be loyal to a company you don't work for anymore than to your friends you won't be seeing again until the Grand Canyon hike in two weeks. Oh, so maybe I was being a bit dramatic... Oh well. We had a great time roasting dogs and mallows and all that, until way late and then we had to leave. Sucky!

Since our house was no longer our house, we spent the night at Jezabell's, which was empty since they ran away to Phoenix, as I mentioned a moment ago... Brenton slept in Josh's bed, of course, and Bekah slept in Jacob's (scandalous!!), while Pamela and I slept in Jezabell's bed and TOTALLY DID... nothing but sleep. :( I'm just sayin it would have been fun to watch Jezabell go buy a new bed. What a good friend I am....

Tomorrow we start our journey. At the butt-crack of dawn!!!! See ya later!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Move to Ft. Lewis - Day 3

Well, today is truck day! They better bring a freaking huge truck, cause we have a lot of crap! Jim, the driver, showed up right on time this morning and brought two other guys with him for the loading. And yes, they brought a huge freakin truck! Remember how I said things were going to turn out well with the packers leaving a bunch of stuff for the driver? Yeah, it did (also sarcasm...).
They were irritated, to say the least. As they began prepping the stuff, Pamela and I went around the house and gathered up all the things the packers, um, missed. Turns out they missed quite a bit! Two whole boxes worth, in the end. I don't know if they are lazy or incompetent (or both) but it was very annoying.

The Hams brought pizza for lunch today. That was not annoying; that was wonderful. As we ate we discussed the hiking trip in the Grand Canyon and their mission this evening. Saying goodbye to everybody sucks!!!!!!!

Well, the loading went on all day and at the end, we got some pretty disturbing news. For those of you who don't know how the whole Army move works, the Army will pay to have your stuff moved up to a certain weight; after that, you pay the rest. Well, as a WO1, I am authorized to move 12,000 pounds (I know, that's a lot!). So, the disturbing news... Jim comes up with the inventory sheets and says, "you know, I've been doing this for nearly 30 years, and generally one inventory sheet equals 1,000 pounds." To which I replied, "how many sheets?" 16. Yikes! 16,000 pounds! That sucks! Just so you can feel my pain at that moment, the Army charges $1.25 per pound, if you go over your weight allowance. Yeah, this sucks! But nothing I can do about it now, so moving on!

After they finally left, we went to an unnamed family's home for some dinner and some Rock Band®. Oh, and to get ready for the night's activities! BTW, names will be left out from here on out to protect the innocent (or not so innocent, in this case). As many of you know, and for those that don't know, our home was desecrated by foul fiends (aka toilet-papered by good friends) on April Fool's Day. So, we've been planning our revenge for quite some time. And now was our hour of redemption! We enlisted the aid of previously mentioned unnamed family and that of another unnamed family for the endeavor, and tonight we set out about 9:30. Unbeknown to the unnamed family that was aiding us, I had previously arranged for the Hams (who have also subsequently moved so they're safe) to toilet-paper their house while they were helping us with the devilish fiend's (Bramwell) house. I know, evil! I'm sure this would make a lot more sense if I were using names, but I'm not, and those that were there know who they are anyway. Maybe they will tell you! I won't, cause I'm not a rat fink!

Toilet-papering went spectacularly! I must admit the Bramwell home seems to have been designed specifically for toilet-papering! Large beautiful trees, great bushes, lovely carport, etc. All carefully and lovingly decorated by our hearty band of brothers and sisters. The experience was all the more satisfying for me because the whole time, I was getting updates as to the progress of the other house being toilet-papered. What a fantastic night! The best part is even if the Bramwells figure it out tomorrow (they're pretty crafty, so they might) there can be no retaliation, cause we move tomorrow afternoon. We have no house for them to toilet-paper! Ha Ha Ha Ha! Pure genius.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Move to Ft. Lewis - Day 2

Last night was interesting in that much of the sleeping niceties, pillows, sheets, beds were all packed. This afternoon, we had two additional guys show up for the packing. (This will eventually turn out to be a bad thing, but I'm not supposed to be able to predict the future in blogs, so we'll leave that alone for now.)
There were several times today when I thought, "they're never going to get all this crap packed!" Turns out I was right and wrong... Those boys are shady! Everything they didn't get packed was "intentionally left for the truck driver to pack, as it is their responsibility, not ours." This is going to end well, I'm sure. I managed to keep my shoes on my feet today, though, yay me!
We were supposed to go to the McGill's with Jezabell and the kids tonight, but everybody was tired and swamped and a touch grouchy so we ended up going with the Bayardos to Texas Roadhouse. (Yes, I know we just ate there yesterday. Is there a law against eating good food two days in a row?) Mykayla wasn't there tonight but we managed to have fun throwing peanuts at each other anyway. Jezabell was buying, so I decided to order everything on the menu, and by the time our food got there I was stuffed and the steak I ordered was humongous! Obviously, I didn't finish it, and Jezabell made me pay for it!!!! (Seriously, did you think I wasn't going to rat you out?) Only a real friend could get away with that!

Halfway through dinner, I remembered I had to go to Scout committee meeting. Why would I go to the committee meeting when I'm not committee chair anymore? Good question! Mainly because I still am! That's right, I haven't been replaced yet. Yes, I know I've been bugging them to get a replacement for 6 months. So, apparently they're supposed to tell me who it is tonight. So, I get to the Bramwell's for the meeting (of course I don't have any ulterior motives for holding the meeting at their house... hee, hee, hee) and, brace yourself for a shock, nobody from the Bishopric was there. I know, I was floored too! But I did get to do a little reconnoitering while I was there....

As for sleeping tonight, well, we were smart this time and have sheets and blankets and the air mattress in the trailer. Aren't we clever?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Move to Ft. Lewis - Day 1

So we started our journey to Ft. Lewis, Washington today. Ok, so we didn't actually start driving, but the packers showed up today to begin packing things up for the move. Pamela decided she needed to work today so I am stuck here at home with the packers. Truth be told, I think she did it on purpose so I would have to do all the work since she's done all the other moves. She's like that you know...

So they got here and started packing everything in sight. And I mean, everything! At one point, they asked me to pull a picture off the wall, cause apparently they can't (grrr), and I was wearing my sandals, which I took off to climb on the desk to get the picture and when I came back down, my sandals had been packed. Those boys are quick! A little while later, I was cleaning the kitchen and decided to empty the dishwasher. I opened it up and then got asked to get another picture. On my way back into the kitchen, I grabbed a very large glass of milk and was walking back over to the dishwasher when I tripped over my own feet, and threw the glass of milk across the entire kitchen, including the clean dishes sitting in the now open dishwasher. So I spent a long time cleaning that up... including my clothes and shoes. I put them in the washing machine and a little while later I put my shoes on top of the dryer. Yup, not more than 30 seconds later, my shoes were packed, again!!!! This has to stop, I'm running out of shoes!

Tonight we had dinner at the Texas Roadhouse. We figured we have to eat and we haven't been there yet since it opened, so we went. We had a great time throwing peanuts at Mykayla Bramwell during the meal. Afterwards, we went over to the Rhiele's to say goodbye. We've been doing that a lot lately... :(

Well, check back again for day 2!