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Monday, August 24, 2015

Wrapping things up

Another weekend, another opportunity to meet up with an old friend from college. In this case, it'd been 27 years since I last saw Andrea, though we'd reconnected in recent years via Facebook. Andrea had come up from Portland to visit a friend living across the water in Port Orchard, and used that opportunity to take the foot ferry over to Bremerton on Sunday morning, where my daughter and I met her at the ferry terminal. We spent the rest of the afternoon having brunch and catching up on various things that had been going on in our lives during the past two-and-a-half decades. I definitely had a wonderful time, and Andrea certainly charmed Amber. The intervening years have been a lot kinder to her than they have to me, as is obvious from the photos below!:

Our time here in Bremerton is coming to an end, for on Wednesday we move out of the apartment where we've been staying for the past month to commence a cross-country trek to our ultimate destination in northern Virginia. Planned stops en route include Yellowstone National Park, Mt. Rushmore and Chicago before we're due to arrive in Falls Church on Labor Day. We've really enjoyed ourselves here spending time with family (as well as getting to catch up with some of my old UC Davis friends), but it's time to move on. I'm not sure if I've been re-acclimatized to the American way of life, but home leave has proven to be a needed detox of sorts after two years in China.

Below are some snapshots of some of our activities of the past week or so...

Pulled pork for lunch at the Sweet and Smokey Diner in downtown Bremerton:

The view of Bremerton's waterfront from Port Orchard:

The foot ferry that operates between Bremerton and Port Orchard:

Her mother would like her home as well:

A Seattle attraction that has appeared on the scene since the last time we were in these parts is the Seattle Great Wheel Ferris wheel. Expensive and too quick in duration, but Amber liked it and the views of the city weren't bad:

The obligatory cheesy souvenir photo:

It turned out that Amber couldn't recall ever visiting Seattle's famous Pike Place Market, so I made sure she would have a new set of memories:

A late breakfast at the market:

One morning we joined my dad for a seaside barbecue get-together put on by his apartment complex for its residents at nearby Lions Park:

Orca have been sighted in these waters in the past, but on this particular day only the geese and gulls were out:

A large granite boulder dumped in Silverdale after it was pushed there from Canada by a 3000-foot thick (914 meters) ice sheet during the last advance of the continental ice sheet around 14,000 years ago:

We returned one evening to Big Beef Creek in Seabeck in hopes of getting a glimpse of the resident bald eagles there, but the scavengers had already retired for the evening. The views across the water more than compensated, however:

On Saturday, we took the ferry from Kingston to Edmonds, then drove to my niece Jamie's home in Marysville on the occasion of her six-year-old son's birthday party. En route we stopped for lunch at a Herfy's Burgers. This is what home leave is all about:

Entertainment was provided by the Reptile Man, who runs a reptile zoo in Monroe. I'm much more comfortable in the presence of pythons and alligators than I am in when confronted with, say, party clowns:

The party was also our last chance to get together in person with my sister (pictured above holding the gator), at least on this particular visit. Hopefully she and my nephew can visit us in Falls Church before we depart for Lithuania next spring. Here we are at the end of the party saying goodbye to Jamie:

My daughter plays near the waterfront in Bremerton after our brunch with Andrea yesterday:

Regulations and warnings at Illahee State Park - could any of these ever be enforced in China or Taiwan? Notice the different languages given on the sign about the toxic clams:

The warming waters of Puget Sound have resulted in an explosion of jellyfish:

Another sunny day, another great view of Mt. Rainier:

Amber pokes at jellyfish that had been washed ashore:

Forget the liberal politics, relaxed lifestyles, the outdoor recreational opportunities or even the caffeine. This is what the Pacific Northwest is really all about:



Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Full speed ahead, Mr. Boatswain, full speed ahead

Washington may be my state of legal residence, but my connections to the Pacific Northwest don't run very deep. I grew up in California, and my parents only moved to Bremerton after my father retired, while I was living in Tōkyō 東京. My sister relocated to the region several years later, but I haven't spent much time here, for the most part just making annual visits to see the family during the time I was living and working in east Asia. However, thanks to Facebook, I've been able to reconnect with several old friends from my college days, some of whom now live in this part of the country. Which is why last Sunday I was able to meet up with Lisa and Rob, two friends from UC Davis whom I hadn't seen in the flesh since the mid-Nineties. We got together for lunch at a Mexican restaurant in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood, one of those once-gritty areas that has been gentrified by hipsters and is now a pleasant place in which to spend time. As Lisa put it, it wasn't at all like 21 years had passed, with the only difference being that we now had little people accompanying us (my daughter Amber and their son Matt, whom I had the pleasure to meet for the first time). 

My wife took this photo of the group posing in front of the controversial bronze sculpture of Lenin, a reminder that soon I'll have to try and wrap my aging brain around the Russian language:

Another local attraction is the Fremont Troll. And I only just now learned from the Wikipedia article that the troll is clutching an actual VW Beetle:

Waiting for the Interurban is also a Fremont institution, with Amber being my contribution:

Rob was the first to notice the reference to Invasion of the Bodysnatchers:

While we were in the area, the Fremont Bridge was raised to allow a yacht to pass under. Life is harsh in this part of Seattle:

Looking toward Lake Union and the George Washington Memorial Bridge (part of Highway 99) from the Fremont Bridge (after the yacht had passed, obviously). It was a gorgeous afternoon:

For the trip home, our GPS directed us to Fauntleroy in West Seattle, where we took the ferry to Southworth via Vashon Island. It took longer (and cost more) than using the freeway for the trip back to Bremerton, but we were treated to good views of Mt. Rainier in the distance:

I hope it won't be as long as 21 years the next time I meet Lisa and Rob.

Yesterday being yet another in a long series of sunny, warm days, it was too nice to stay home. Nearby Keyport (population 550) is home to a navy facility where torpedoes are tested. The base is off-limits, but just outside its front gate is the Naval Undersea Museum, with exhibits on the ocean environment, undersea warfare, submarines and diving. Free of charge to enter, it proved to be an fascinating way to spend a couple of hours on a weekday afternoon. There were enough hands-on activities to keep my daughter entertained, and even my wife, who wasn't looking forward to this excursion, found it interesting enough to deem it..."interesting".

Here is the recording of the conversation which she found so hilarious: 

The girls look at some World War II-era torpedoes:

An example of a manned suicide torpedo called a kaiten 回天, used by the Japanese navy in the latter stages of the war: 

Checking for enemy shipping...and zeroing in on our car in the parking lot:

The development of diving suits:

Amber is dwarfed by the Trieste II, the successor to the Trieste, the bathyscaphe which holds the record for the deepest dive in the ocean - 10,911 meters (35,797 ft) to the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench. Trieste II didn't reach those depths, but was noted for its role in recovering pieces of damaged from the doomed submarine Thresher:

Stopping to take in the view of the Port Washington Narrows by the Manette Bridge on the way home: