Friday, December 26, 2008

Coal Harbour, BC

We had a nice breakfast at the Best Western in Campbell River this morning, then headed into town. We found a good parking lot (meaning: off the street, not too snowy, and a place I didn't have to back into / out of so I wouldn't get stuck), then we hiked around town for an hour or so. There wasn't much open (Boxing Day), but it was nice anyway.

It had been snowing since breakfast, and there was a couple of inches on the ground when we left town. The road north was in pretty good shape, though there were patches of ice from time to time.

We arrived in Port Hardy about 1500, and scoped out the town. Between seasonal closings (most of the hotels in town looked closed for the season) and Boxing Day closures, there wasn't much open.

Lorraine called around to find us a great place to stay -- we wound up at a bed and breakfast in Coal Harbour, BC, not too far from Port Hardy. After we checked in, we headed back to Port Hardy to get a bite to eat. We stopped to see if we could grab a geocache outside of town, but it was snowed in. Ugh.

Lorraine had spied a sports bar when we were in town in the afternoon, so we headed back there to see what they had to eat. The bar was, indeed, open, but they hadn't received their food shipment because of the weather, so all they had was booze. Time for Plan B, which turned out to be a convenience store (again). The Subway was open, but we couldn't go back to Virginia and report that we had a Subway dinner while north of 50 deg.

The convenience store had frozen dinners, and we got a few other things while we were there.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Campbell River, BC

2033 PST Thursday, 25 December 2008

We took a nice, leisurely drive from Vancouver to the West Vancouver ferry terminal this afternoon. The scenery was terrific, and the skies cleared enough to give us a few glimpses of the mountains north of the city.

We took the 1500 ferry to Nanaimo, arriving just before 1700. We headed directly north, along the coast, to Campbell River. We got a room at the Best Western Austrian Chalet after scoping out the town to see if there was ANY place open for dinner (there wasn't). After we checked in to the hotel, we went back south about 3 km to the 7-11 to see if we could get something edible. The 7-11 had a Pizza Hut Express in it, but we decided to get something that we could make on the stove in our motel room, instead. We'll find a pizza place tomorrow, in Port Hardy.

The roads were in good shape today; there were a few icy spots, but in general everything was fine.

We'll be heading north, tomorrow, to Port Hardy.

Vancouver, BC (part 2)

0954 PST Thursday, 25 December 2009

We got up about 0900, and we're ready to head out for breakfast. It looks pretty chilly on the street, but we're all bundled up and ready for a hike.

Vancouver, BC

2334 PST, Wednesday, 24 December 2008

We arrived in Seattle a little after 1800, and got through the rental car check-in process and on the road about 1920. After an uneventful drive north, we arrived in Vancouver a little after 2300.

We're staying at the Hotel Le Soleil, and we're blown away by the quality. We got a GREAT deal through, and are in a two-room suite on the 12th floor, with a great view.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

On the road (well, in the air) again

1330 EST Wednesday, 24 December 2008.

Lorraine and I did the car / train / aircraft thing this morning. We had our timing just right, leaving the house in time to park at the office at 0830, then arriving at Union Station in time for the 0930 MARC train to BWI. Our flight from BWI was delayed somewhat by weather in Chicago, but we left okay at about 1310 EST.

Today was my first experience with MARC. It's okay -- it's like Greyhound on rails: no frills, drab colors, but it gets you from A to B.

BWI is pretty nice these days. I first flew through BWI in the summer of 1977, on my way to pick up USS VOGE (FF 1047) in Naples, Italy. BWI, like Dulles International, was much smaller in those days, and seemed pretty remote to me. Airline traffic is much higher now, especially with Southwest operating from BWI as a hub, and the area around the airport has grown significantly.

Air travel has changed in subtle ways since the days I was on the road about 50% of the time. Flights are more full, airlines charge for everything (luggage? pillows? blankets? snacks?), and security is MUCH tighter.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Continued lack of consumer, what?

Imagine my surprise to learn this evening that there is a lack of consumer credit, and this lack of consumer credit means that Chrysler LLC is taking at least a month off. My surprise is a result of the seemingly endless stream of credit card offers I receive, along with assurances from my credit union (the best in the world, for my money) that auto loans are available for as low as 3.75% APR.

So, which is it? Continued lack of consumer credit, or continued consumer apathy about Chrysler vehicles?

Are people with decent credit ratings now being shown the door? Really?

I'd really appreciate it if someone would do a credible study to determine exactly WHO can't get credit in this environment, because I live in such an insular community that I don't know anyone in that condition.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Wow...I just learned that MillerCoors (?) announced, in October 2008, that it has killed the Zima brand of "alcopop". Just like those television shows that run for years that I just can't bring myself to watch, I've seen Zima on store shelves for lo these past 15 years without ever bothering to see how [bad] it tastes. And now, I've lost my opportunity.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Voters in Louisiana's 2nd Congressional District have sent William "Dollar Bill" Jefferson home after nine terms in Congress. I've been watching this race carefully to see if Rep Jefferson would pull a "Marion Barry", and get reelected despite the lack of plausible explanation for the $90K in his freezer, the 16-count indictment, or the impending trial. He didn't.

Anh "Joseph" Cao is now the first Vietnamese-American elected to the Congress. Good for him, good for the voters in 2LA, and good for the American public.

I'm looking forward to the trial, as I'm sure William Jefferson is.

Chilly weather

It's 34 degrees F at the moment, but we have quite a breeze blowing through North Springfield, so the wind chill-adjusted temperature is about 21 degrees F. Brrr. I have at least one outside chore today, that may be postponed: tuning a 6m vertical antenna for next Saturday's 6m test in Fairfax County. I don't like the idea of "just in time" tuning for a test, but I don't like freezing (literally) while trying to do the job, either.