Back from Vacation

In case you don’t want to read this whole post, I’ve broken this down into identifiable sections so you can quickly find what you want in this longish blog entry. In order, those sections are: Vacation, Writing, Photography, Book Review, Astronomy.

Vacation

Simply put, vacation in July was wonderful. We didn’t spend a single weekend not on vacation in July.

First we went to Haines, Oregon, for the 4th of July, leaving the evening of the 3rd and returning the afternoon of the 6th. As usual we had “reserved seats” for the Parade on the 4th, courtesy of the Mayor. Some of us went to the rodeo while the rest of us lounged around the yard relaxing.

We had a horseshoe tournament, in which my team, FIFO, was promptly eliminated in the initial game and in the subsequent loser’s bracket.

Picture shows one fo the "fairways" at this golf course going off to the distant flag.

The fairways on this golf course were simply a lane created by a riding mower.

We also enjoyed golf in his pasture course, which was surprisingly pretty good. I lost three balls in the weeds all over the place, due to the tall grass. The fairways, if you could call them that, were only the width of a riding mower. Despite all that, I still managed to turn in a decent score. I look forward to playing that course again and I don’t golf.

Picture shows the pasture and one of the holes in the golf course with flag and toilet seat cup.

Each of the nine holes on this golf course had a cup represented by a toilet seat.

One of the best parts of all this was the breakfast burrito. These guys have a style all their own for making these and they’re delicious. Another delicious part was the salmon feed for supper. I’m not usually a fan of salmon, but the way these guys fix it on the BBQ, it could be served in any 5 star restaurant and hold its own. I ate more salmon that evening than I have in the last 8 years combined.

A picture of the house showing the three big windows, the smaller window over the kitchen sink, and the three youngest grandkids playing.

The house we stayed in at Coos Bay, from the back yard.

After that, the very next weekend we left for the coast. We stayed in a house near the Cape Arago lighthouse close to Charleston, near Coos Bay, Oregon. From our back yard to the private beach was 56 steps. I mean steps, not paces. By the end of the week I was going up and down that steep stairway pretty good, which pleased me no end, but the second oldest granddaughter…she was going up and down them like it was a flat surface, not even breathing hard. I’m getting old!

A picture of the steep stairway from the beach up to the top of the cliff where the back yard of the house is.

These are the steps from the beach to the back yard of the house we stayed in.

We used the house as a base camp, exploring quite a few of the local sights. I even discovered a couple of back roads that probably only the locals use with any regularity. The entire place was simply gorgeous, though we probably spent half our time on the beach exploring the tide pools and playing in the ocean. The only downside was the long drive there (11 hours) and back (14 hours). The drive back allowed us to visit several places along the Oregon coast such as The Devil’s Churn, the Devil’s Punchbowl, and have a late lunch at the venerable Sea Hag.

Then the weekend after returning from the coast we flew to Wendover, Nevada, with my dad, my niece, and her husband. I’ll admit that at the start I wasn’t enthusiastic, but I did manage to have fun anyway. I’m the kind of guy that doesn’t like to gamble with money, but I enjoy some of the games. I’m also the kind that is too analytical to truly enjoy playing for money. So, I watched the others play and enjoyed that as well as being with the group.

We toured the old Army Air Force Base where Enola Gay and the other first nuclear bombers practiced and then loaded up for the trip that resulted in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagaski. There was a lot of history packed into that small museum and it was fun seeing all the various buildings that remained of that base way out in the middle of nowhere.

They also had one of the cargo planes used in the movie Con Air. We were able to go into it but it was kind of sad. It was a shell, all gutted out with no trace of it’s former glory other than the fading US Marshall and logo on the outside. Along with that they had the tower used with the movie Independence Day, only visible off in the distance.

Naturally we also saw some Hell’s Angels. I actually took a picture of the group with one member’s cell so he could be in the picture with his friends. The photographer in me, ya know? Hope the picture turned out since I wasn’t familiar with his phone’s camera operation. (Since I’m still here, I guess it worked. 😉 They had some really nice looking bikes, too, which made me miss my old Kawasaki KZ-1600B.

I managed to get a lot of reading in while in Wendover. If you don’t gamble, there’s really not much else to do once you’ve seen the museum and the salt flats. Other than ATV rides or the pool, that is.

Writing

Through the month of July, while I didn’t do all that much writing, I did manage to finish up Draft 1 (D1) of Ghost Ship.  I’ve done my initial pass-through of D2, pulling out the stuff I had crossed off, tweaking wording, and fixing a couple of typos. I’ve started on the second pass-through, where I’ll be focusing on story consistency (e.g. do I have the right number of people being mentioned), story flow, event flow, and general writing.

As is normal for me, I’m not happy with some of the events the way they played out. Yet, they provide some insight to the overall premise(?) of these short stories. I also introduce another recurring character, this time an antagonist. I’m pretty sure that character will be returning, but how and when I have no idea at this point. That may return to haunt me in a future story, but that’s the way this pantser rolls.

Along with some work on Ghost Ship, I also wrote out the premise for the next Pa’adhe story and a precis for a totally unrelated short story or novella. I’m not sure which of the two I’ll work on next, once I start sending Ghost Ship out to my Alpha and Beta readers. The next story will focus on Scarle, just as Restaok focused on Xinu and Dreamland focused on Cook. That will, I think, flesh out all the main characters in this series of short stories.

Except maybe the Captain. I’m fundamentally using the whole of the series itself to flesh out the Captain, but aside from The Pa’adhe there’s really no back story for him so maybe I’ll need to fix that in a future story. There’s definitely a bit of back story that needs to be told, which I can’t go into now without revealing too much of the overarching story driving the entire series. It definitely has to be told before the final story in the series is published since I can’t reveal that stuff properly in The Final Voyage. Yep, that’s the title of the last Pa’adhe story, and has been for a long time. It’s the half-written final Pa’adhe short story I’ve mentioned here and there on this blog.

I’m kind of thinking of doing the non-Pa’adhe story next, for a writing break. I’ve no idea if I will or not, but it is an idea I want to explore and think would be fun to write. But then, too, so is the Scarle story. Decisions, decisions.

Photography

As you’d expect, I did manage to do some photography while on vacation. Some of the pictures turned out quite nicely, I think. Others, not quite so well, but that’s the nature of photography and the reason I love digital cameras.

Over the 4th I took 718 pictures. Most dealt with vacation but I did manage to get a couple neat ones of the night sky there. The Milky Way and a couple of constellations came out rather nice. I also took some with my Galaxy Nexus’ camera which also came out nice.

A picture of the southern part of the Milky Way as seen from Haines, Oregon.

The Milky Way from Haines, Oregon.

The week in Coos Bay resulted in 2,554 pictures. Not my usual output, but it’ll have to do. Quite a few of these are mini time lapse. All told, put together into a single time lapse of the vacation, I managed to squeeze a week’s worth of vacation into 5 minutes. That time lapse, though, doesn’t show half the stuff we did.

I was disappointed with one aspect of where we stayed. Our back yard actually faced pretty much North. Due to the curve of the land, the big windows’ view was straight out over the ocean which feels like it should be West, but no, that was basically North. That meant that the night photos I had hoped to take weren’t going to happen, no matter what. I did manage to get some nice sunsets against the lighthouse on the end of the bay, and some fun shots of the grandkids holding it or eating it. Other than that, everything else was pretty much the usual tourist schtick. Lots of snapshots, essentially. I’m ashamed of myself. 😉 Not all of it was, of course. I did take time to do some artistic work as well.

A picture of the beach from our access to the far end by the lighthouse.

One of the grandkids on the beach.

A picture set up such that it looks like one of the grandkids is holding the lighthouse in the palm of her hand, showing the other what she has.

Look at my lighthouse!

Sunset at the Cape Arago lighthouse, seen from the back yard.

Sunset at the Cape Arago lighthouse, seen from the back yard.

Cape Arago lighthouse from the beach.

Cape Arago lighthouse from the beach.

Cape Arago lighthouse from the back yard

Cape Arago lighthouse from the back yard

Wendover was all on my cell camera. I debated taking my camera but in the end decided against it. I wasn’t sure what I’d be able to take pictures of, but figured I could always go back again if there was something I wanted to work on, photography wise. And of course, you can’t take pictures inside the casinos, which is where everyone spent most of their time. Even so, I think I got a few decent shots.

Last weekend, I went downtown and helped my daughter with a photography project based on the 50s-60s. I’m not sure what the project is, but it was a lot of fun and definitely some missed opportunities. The suggestion is to go do it again, now that we have an idea what photos she wants, and do it better. I don’t know if that’s actually going to happen or not and am waiting to find out. I did also get a really nice shot of the Nampa train depot. I need to get out more at night and go downtown, there’s a surprising lot of photo opportunity there, way more than I thought.

I was planning to go up in the Owyhees the night of the 12th, but that’s probably not going to happen. That night is when the Perseid Meteor Shower peaks and it looks like it would be a great night for it. I might still get up and go outside for a while in the early hours of the 13th, just to see what I can see from our deck.

Book Review

Actually, this is more of a series review. I mentioned above having got in some reading while in Wendover. Between Wendover and after getting home, I’ve read six of the twelve The Merlin Saga books by T. A. Barron.

The series seems to be rated as both Young Adult and Children’s fantasy/novel. It looked interesting and I like mythology, so I grabbed it when I had a chance and took it with me. I wasn’t expecting much from it, maybe just a nice, quick read.

The first book, The Lost Years, started out slow and I wasn’t sure I was going to bother reading the whole thing. However, after wading through the second chapter things picked up and I kept reading. The nice thing about taking a series with you is as soon as you finish one you can start the next.

I soon started skimming the first parts of the next five books, because the author was repeating in each book what had happened in the first book and how Merlin was talking about the lost years of his youth. Reading about Merlin telling him about the lost years in the first book was fine but by the third book I no longer read that part of each book, I just jumped for the Prologue and started reading there. I wonder if any readers read that section in every book? Personally, I thought it a waste of pages since there was nothing new there.

When I hit book 6, The Dragon of Avalon, it was a jolt in the reading flow. This book not only switched from being about Merlin, but also was very slow starting up, very similar to the first book in the series. I had to stick with it for a few chapters before I got into it as much as I had been with the previous five books. Even so, it’s a little of a disappointment. I started reading the series because it’s about Merlin and seemed to promise some Celtic mythology. This book only has Merlin as an incidental character. While the main character is interesting, and I’m curious to find out just what he is, it still disappoints for not having Merlin in a more prominent role, and also due to not having much to do with mythology, so far, other than having mythological characters.

I’m hoping book 7 will get back on following Merlin’s lost years.

Astronomy

Well, I’m not on Facebook and for those old enough to understand what I’m about to say, it’s apparently the new AOL. 😉 I know, you can find something like this on any social media. At any rate, what got me groaning was something astronomy related someone showed me on Facebook.

Remember the hoax about Mars being it’s closest in thousands of years and not being able to see it as close again for thousands of years? Even in the years after it was at its closest? Now there’s a similar post about the upcoming Perseids Meteor Shower peak this weekend.

It’s calling it a rare event. Much of what it’s saying is reasonable enough for the Perseids, but whoever put it out is pushing it as a rare event, which it’s not. It happens once a year, every year. Some peaks it has hundreds of meteors an hour, others tens. Like every other meteor shower, it varies, but also like most it’s predictable when it’s going to happen…and that is on a yearly basis.

I appreciate the idea of trying to get people out to see it, but calling it a rare event isn’t the way to do it. Indeed, when they find out it’s a yearly event, it might turn them off being interested in the night sky. Who knows? Maybe it’ll get some people interested and others disappointed.

At any rate, the Perseids peaks this 13th. The moon will happily be out of the sky during the peak times, after midnight on the 12th. The best time is to see it is probably in the hours of 3 AM to 5 AM on the 13th. I hope you go out and take a look. And if it’s awesome in the original sense of awe, call your family out as well. I plan to be out and take a look. I hope we both have a good view of a spectacular Perseids Meteor Shower.

Clear skies!

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: