Wednesday, November 20, 2019

More travel!

Ok, so we've been gone again.  This time we do have a really good reason though!

My wife's sister-in-law passed away from pancreatic cancer recently and her husband (my wife's brother) was holding a Celebration of Life to memorilize his wife.  It was held in a small town near their home on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state.  I've never attended such a celebration but this was quite interesting.  She was a poet so various people read their favorites from her poems.  It was quite a fitting sendoff.  Of course having someone close to you die of such a terrible disease is really quite awful.  In her case it was especially nasty because originally there was hope that it was operable and in the end it was not.

The ceremony did lead me to think about what I am doing with my life and I believe I'll be making some changes to give more back to our community.  I was thinking that if it were a celebration of my life it would only be family members attending.  I need to do more.

Because of the sadness of the occasion I didn't bother trying to take photos but there were sure some opportunities!  That part of the world is both beautiful and depressing at the same time.  Locally it is called Washington's Banana Belt.  Well, you could have fooled us!  Rain, mist, cloud and just plain wet was the order of the day.  You fly into Seattle then drive about 3 hours so that pretty much takes a day.  Coming home is another day.  So on a 5 day trip you spend 3 with the people you've come to see.  Yeah, I guess you could compress it if you wanted but I'm over 70 and don't want 12 or 14 hour days. 

Now it seems as though things will settle down for a bit.  We have no travels planned so anything that comes along will be a surprise.  Right now the things on my calendar are getting lab work done and my annual visit with the doctor.  Talk about hot stuff!

So this is what Washington looks like in good weather.  This was taken July of last year on the Washington shore of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, November 02, 2019

A little trip...

So I really do like being home.  However, my wife and I just got back from another little jaunt so I can't whine about it being dull quite yet.  This time it was 'business'. 

For several years I've been a member of a board that is supposed to tell the Dept. of Energy, Environmental Management people what local people think about the Nevada National Security Site - aka the Test Site.  You may remember it as the site used for testing atomic weapons back in the day.  Well, it's still there and parts are still radioactive and all is off limits except when you are taken on a tour.  It is 31 miles 'as the crow flies' from home so that is the excuse for me being on the board.  Actually, I'm just interested because of it's place in history.  Once a year the group gets a tour to visit things we'll talk about in the coming year and I always invite my wife.  We spend the day wandering around the site (on a bus with guides!) seeing places that are scheduled to be 'cleaned up' in the next year.  Security is pretty tight:  cameras and phones are banned and the guards do carry guns

I am not afraid of radioactivity so long as it is far enough away so visiting these places is always interesting.  Some of the pollutants need to be cleaned up; some simply cannot.  One place I remember was a concrete bunker that was polluted with some cleaning agent.  We recommended that it be locked and signposted as 'Do Not Enter'.  Recently the DOE transported hundreds of truck loads of dirt from one place to another because the first area is on an Air Force base and was needed for training.  It seems silly to move dirt but those tests ended in the 1990's and it was still polluted today.  The site has special areas reserved for Low Level Polluted Waste and that's where the dirt ended up. 

ANYWAY, every year there is a meeting of people from our board and other similiar boards from around the country.  This time I got to represent our board and the meeting was in Sun Valley, Idaho.  We've been near Sun Valley but never in the actual town.  It turns out to be a pretty little place and the resort we stayed in was quite nice.  The meeting was a day and a half (and pretty dull) but we also got to tour part of the Idaho National Laboratory.  We got to visit the EBR-1 nuclear reactor built back in 1953 and some other reactors still being used for various tests.  It wasn't as historically dramatic as I find the Test Site but it was very interesting all the same. 

We could have flown but decided to drive just because we haven't seen all that northern Nevada has to offer.  It is a 600 mile (970 km) trip one way but we were in no hurry so we made it two days up and two back down.  We got to visit a few new Nevada towns and see a bunch of pretty scenery.  No photos unfortunately because it was cold and windy.  When we were touring the Lab. areas photos were not allowed anyway; and yes, their guards carry guns as well.

So that's what we do for fun.  Drive, drive and drive some more.  Thanks for stopping by.