Deception Pass

We packed up the Basecamp Friday and soon after Havana got home from school we left town for Deception Pass State Park. Traffic was bad all the way to Marysville so we didn’t get there until after 7pm. Jon and Megan and Emmarie left later and got there at 8:30pm. We were neighbors in slips 306 & 307. The last time we were here was over 12 years ago when Gay and Megan ran a marathon.

Jon and I went to the Deception Pass Bridge for some drone videos and photos — I flew the drone under the bridge and then over the bridge:


Flying the drone so far away, sometimes out of sight, and over water made me nervous given how my previous drone was hard to control and ultimately died in water. But the Mavic 2 was perfect.

Barley needed a seat after a long walk:

Havana wanted to sleep in the tent with Gay so I got to sleep in the Basecamp with Hudson and Eva both nights. I really like sleeping in the Basecamp. The Discovery is still great to drive.

Anticipating rain, I picked up a Caddis Rapid Shelter 10’x10′ canopy at REI Thursday evening. That was easy to setup, feels very sturdy and worked great over the camp site table to keep the rain off us. That’s going to be nice to have!

Apple Watch Series 4

My new Apple Watch arrived today!

I’ve had the original Apple Watch since it arrived in May 2015. I liked it but overall I felt that while it was better than a regular watch, it was not as good as it could be. The next 3 models (Series 1, 2 & 3) weren’t that interesting to me either – the hardware was mostly the same and battery life wasn’t any better. And newer versions of watchOS were released and through several updates, it gradually improved. The apps were better, it was a little faster and I appreciated it much more. It was still too slow at times, too small and I wished it was round.

It was very durable, though. It hardly had a scratch until it fell onto concrete last month and the screen cracked. I was more careful with it but the touch screen slowly got more and more unreliable until the display finally gave up last Sunday, just 2 days after ordering its replacement and 5 days before it arrived today.

48-hour update: The battery was at 90% when it arrived and I didn’t need to charge it until 2 days later when it was down to 10%. My last watch lasted 18 hours max so this is a huge improvement!


I took a few photos with my new drone last weekend, they were automatically uploaded to Google Photos where I keep backups. This morning Google told me their robots made a panorama photo out of them. Thanks Google! It’s impressive that they can take photos that weren’t even taken sequentially and figure out that they can go together to make a panorama shot.

More drone photos taken that day:

First day of school

The 2018-2019 school year started today. Hudson is in Ms Andrews’ 5th grade class and Eva is in Mr Carroll’s 2nd grade class. Havana had Ms Andrews last year and Hudson had Mr Carroll for 3rd and 4th grades.

Hudson and Bowie are not in the same class for the first time and Hudson was upset and apprehensive about that. But he came out of school today all smiles and really likes Ms Andrews.

Eva and Iris are in the same class this year and almost all her friends from last year are in her class. She’s happy too.

The biggest change is that Havana is now in middle school. 6th graders started today without the 7th and 8th graders so they could get used to the school, multiple class rooms, lockers, etc without the bustle of other kids in the halls. Very cool idea. The school had a parent orientation at the start of school so we attended a presentation by the Principal and others in the morning. Havana was very excited to be going to middle school and she loved it too.

Gay and I also picked them all up after school and took them and friends to Hello Robin for ice cream, which it seemed every other parent also did, including Robin & Clay!

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

The end of summer was approaching and Jon & Megan (and Emmarie) invited us to their family’s lake cabin in Coeur d’Alene for Labor Day weekend. Megan and Amy’s grandparents bought the property and built a cabin in 1905 and their family has been going there ever since!

We last came to Coeur d’Alene in 2005 but didn’t visit their cabin. Gay last went to the cabin almost 30 years ago and I’ve never been there until now. Megan’s sister, Amy, and her family – husband Chad and kids Leo and Kathleen (“Kaki”) and dog Oscar – also came. Barley came with us too. 12 people and 2 dogs in a small cabin on the lake.

After Gay took Havana and a bunch of her friends to a tour of the Seattle famous Fran’s Chocolates — owned by the family of a college friend of Gay’s and one of our neighbors — on Friday, we took the Basecamp and the Discovery to Spokane and drove to Gay’s dad’s house where we spent the night. The kids slept in the Basecamp and Gay and I slept in our tent in the backyard.

Saturday morning, we packed up and all of us, including Gay’s dad, aunts Lillian and Ginny, drove the 45 minutes to Coeur d’Alene for brunch at the resort, leaving the Basecamp behind. We made a quick stop at Starbucks, of course, and Spokane’s REI for a dog leash and headlamps that we (meaning me) forgot at home in our haste to get on the road in Friday.

The Discovery got its first off-roading experience on the 2-mile dirt road from the road down to the cabin. The kids put their mark on it:

Hanging out at the cabin was super fun. We sat on the beach drinking beers, watching the kids play in the water with all the water toys, barbecuing dinners, making breakfasts, taking the boat out on the lake, reading in the hammock, having a bonfire on the beach with neighbors in the Bay. The kids all got along and played all weekend long with zero conflicts. The kids even helped clean up after meals without complaining. 😲


  • On Saturday, Chad took all the boys (me, Jon, Leo and Hudson) across the lake on their boat to Carlin’s where the boat got gas and we got beers, sodas and pretzel bites.
  • I slept both nights in the Discovery despite me and Gay’s plan to sleep in our tent. Gay fell asleep with Eva the first night and while setting up my bed in the tent, I realized the Discovery was empty. So I put all the seats down, put our inflatable mattress pad in the back and slept great. I could even see the stars through the moonroof.
  • A water trampoline kept the kids busy all day on Sunday.
  • Havana went tubing behind a friend of Chad & Amy’s boat. Havana also got to steer Chad & Amy’s boat, a first.
  • Barley loved the beach and the water and ate very well: eggs, bacon, sausage, salmon and English muffins (what he just calls “muffins”, being an English Bulldog).

While trying to take a selfie before we all left the lake, the drone lost its GPS connection and flew out of control, a common criticism of the drone since its inception, and crashed into the lake. Barley then retrieved it from the water and brought it back to us, very proud of himself. My drone is dead, 9 months after GoPro killed it. Next drone: DJI’s Mavic Pro 2?

Slayer 2018

I saw Slayer live for the first time in 1986 or 1987 – I can’t remember, if only blogging existed back then! – in Washington DC on the Reign In Blood tour, when I was 17 years old. Tonight, at 48, I saw them for the second time on their final tour. My 17 year-old self would be proud of me.

I like the beer-related tribute to their deceased guitarist and a band founder, Jeff Hanneman, on the finale:

I missed them the last time they came to Seattle so I made sure I’d see them this time. I bought two box seats with VIP parking and then couldn’t find anyone to go with me, so I had the box to myself. I wanted to get the “total experience” package that lets you backstage to meet the band 🤩, but it was sold out. 😩

That show when I was a kid is in my top 3 concerts of my life. The energy/excitement was incredible and I’ll never forget it (I hope). Tonight wasn’t the same since I’m old, was in a comfy box seat instead of the crush of the first rows and I don’t know most of their songs. But the stage was a lot more than the smoke and lights of 31 years ago! There were two walls of fire with several flamethrowers behind that alternately drew the Slayer 4-sword pentagram and upside-down crosses in the air and some that shot fireballs into the air.

I’m glad they had a long and successful 35-year career and I’m happy to have seen them on their final tour.

End of trip

We had breakfast at the hotel, the kids got some new books at Powell’s, we packed up the car and got back to a very smoky Seattle at 3pm.

11 days, 8 cities/towns/hotels/houses, 1,679 miles and 36.7 hours of driving.

It wasn’t much of a relaxing trip. We didn’t get a lot of down time between driving, moving in/out of lodging, getting meals, etc. I got practically zero reading done and spent most of my free time planning the next drive. But we saw a lot and spent the entire time with the kids, which was kinda the point.

The Discovery is a nice comfortable car to drive, the kids barely even complained about the long drives although no one wanted to sit in the 3rd row since the luggage limited their space, the Adaptive Cruise Control is suddenly a must-have feature for me and makes even bumper-to-bumper traffic pleasant, the kids got way too used to having WiFi in the car, the navigation system is the best I’ve used but the InControl entertainment system can be cumbersome at times.

The Discovery is better in almost every way than my previously most-loved car, our 2008 Lexus LS 460. I’m surprised that 10 years later few cars have all the bells and whistles of that Lexus; it was ahead of its time. The Lexus handled curves at high speed better due to its lower center of gravity, but was not good off-road. The Lexus got a bit better gas mileage. The Lexus had soft-close doors, but not massaging seats. The Lexus had stop-and-go traffic assistance, but not Adaptive Cruise Control. And the Lexus cannot carry 7 people (although I bet you could fit 3 people in its trunk!), tow anything or carry a roof rack.

Next, I have to get a brake controller for the car so we can tow our Basecamp! And I have to figure out where to store the Basecamp so the Discovery can go in the garage.