Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Real Challenge Was Getting In And Out Of It

The most exciting part of our trip from the Oregon Coast to Cape Cod was at the Woods Hole end, where we were given a private tour of James Cameron's Deepsea Challenger, by WHOI Senior Engineering Assistant Expedition Leader, Tito Collasius, Jr.

This 24-foot long submarine was specially built to explore, to descend seven miles down into the deepest part of the world's oceans, the Mariana Trench.  

James Cameron has had a fascination with deep-ocean exploration since he was a boy, and the Mariana Trench hadn't been explored since 1960.  There was no present-day submersible capable of taking anyone to such depths, so James Cameron co-designed this unit in order to explore this part of the ocean himself.  

I guess when you're worth more than $900 million dollars, dreams easily become reality.

The Sub itself was designed to be manned by one person only.  And James Cameron was going to be that person.  Read some interesting facts about the sub HERE.

The most important component of the sub is the sphere, otherwise known as the pilot's chamber.  The spherical shape was chosen because it's the strongest shape for resisting pressure.  If it were a cylindrical shape, the walls of the chamber would have had to be three times thicker to withstand the crush of the sea.    

Here you can see Ed climbing into the sphere - which he jokingly dubbed "James Cameron's Ball".  

The internal diameter of the pilot sphere is 43 inches.  This is no place for a fat guy.  Good thing Ed dropped those twenty-seven pounds, eh?
Ed's surprisingly flexible, the way he contorted himself to get in this thing.  At 6' tall, I can't imagine it was easy.  He moved like plastic man.  

James Cameron is reportedly 6' 2" tall, but he looks pretty wiry, like those skinny Hollywood types.  He probably went on a juice cleanse the week before he was supposed to get into this thing. 
Marlaina also climbed in, which looked a lot easier.  She's tiny and fit, so getting up in there was a breeze.  She's also brave, since she doesn't like small spaces.  

You couldn't pay me enough to get in there.  Not because I'm claustrophobic or anything, but as a person of size, I don't like to squeeze into anything I might not be able to get out of gracefully.  And I'm sure it was hot in there. 
The interior of the sphere is filled with electronics and life-support equipment (WTF?? That's reason enough for me to say no, were I to be asked to pilot this thing), and is so small that while inside your legs are tightly bent and you can barely move your arms.  

James Cameron couldn't fully extend his arms, and he was in it for sixteen hours.  Which is fifteen hours and fifty-eight minutes longer than I would have lasted.
It was dark inside, so I lit Ed with a flashlight to get this picture.  You can see some of the equipment and how tight it looks around where his shoulders are wedged into the seat.  

The orb is equipped to ensure the pilot has oxygen and heat, and its 2.5" thick walls prevent his head from being crushed like a grape under pressure.  How nice.

The interior equipment within arm's reach consists of electronics, screens, circuit breakers, and tanks.  The pilot sits on a set of emergency batteries.  To his right are canisters and tanks that absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen (crucial), and to his left are buttons that control everything from power to communications.  Seems a bit more complicated than a CB radio, doesn't it?  Ed was fascinated.

The interior of the orb was designed to accommodate the pilot's exact bodily requirements - how much oxygen they take in and expel - to meet the physical needs of their breathing rate.  There are two compressed oxygen cylinders that will keep the pilot breathing for up to 56 hours.  He won't be able to move since his body will likely cramp in a bent position, but at least he'll be able to breathe.  Joy.
Ed's climb out was much easier than his wiggle in.
Since he was only in there for a few minutes, he was still smiling.  I'm thinking James Cameron, after his sixteen-hour stint, probably smiled for the cameras too, but probably couldn't wait to get home and fall onto a cushy mattress.  Learn more about the amazing orb HERE.  
The expedition itself sounds truly spectacular.  Read a little bit about it HERE and for more excitement, watch the trailer for the movie HERE.  I think now that I've seen the equipment and read the website, the only thing left is to see the movie.
And last but not least, here's a picture of Ed and Tito, the same guy who invited us on his 37-foot sailboat, even offering to let us sleep on it!  He was an extremely knowledgeable, personable, and generous guy.  I hope we'll have another chance to take him up on that offer.  
As we were leaving this area, a tour group was coming through.  They were taking pictures, but it didn't appear as if they were allowed to sit in the sphere.  How lucky are we??  We even got free t-shirts!  

Definitely one of our most fun trucking experiences ever.  For more on this entire operation, adventure and movie, check out the Deepsea Challenge 3D website.

And for another perspective on our fun (and prosperous) cross-country trek, check out Marlaina's post.

  


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: Stormy Wyoming
2012: Entertaining The Masses
2011: A Very Expensive Day Of Laze
2010: A Little River On A Big Lake In The Middle Of A Floating Stage
2009: Eddie The Cicada Whisperer Friday
2008: Maybe We Should Sell Our Truck And Buy An Airboat
2007: Me And My Man
2006: If You’re Going To Rescue Me, Bring Sandwiches
2005: Hurricane Equality

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

All Along The Shining Sea

While Ed was unloading at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), I was researching a way for the four of us to get to town so we could do a little window shopping and have dinner out.  The roads in this area of Cape Cod aren't very bike friendly - lots of traffic, no shoulder to speak of - and there was no way I was riding on some skinny strip of asphalt while the bulging summer residency flew by me in their fancy-pants sedans.

My research paid off - I found the Shining Sea Bikeway, which would take us directly from the WHOI campus, right into town.  It was perfect.
Once we arrived in Woods Hole, the boys locked up the bikes and we all walked the main drag of the town looking in shops, taking pictures, and trying to decide on where to eat.  I loved the little Woods Hole Market and would have gladly had a sandwich there had it been mid-day and not dinner time.  We were on the hunt for seafood.
The town is small, just a few streets, all very close to the ferry landing, the gateway to Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.  The choices were limited.
Marlaina found a place to eat right on the water when we first arrived - the Landfall Restaurant - and after looking around decided to go back to it.  We wound up being the only table in the place. 
I had been cooking all week and was really looking forward to a dinner I didn't have to make.  I quickly scoped out the menu and immediately decided on the broiled scallops.  Three of us ordered the same meal, while MacG went with some kind of lobster bake.  It looked delicious.

We had drinks and appetizers and leisurely sipped and ate while we watched the boats passing by the windows open to the harbor.  The best part about the meal?  Well, other than the fantastic company?  Marlaina and MacG treated us!  
We lingered a little longer after dinner than we had intended and had to hurry back so we wouldn't be biking in the dark.  By the time we left, the restaurant had filled up quite a bit.  Now I know the secret of why people take advantage of early bird dining.  No crowds.  I can only imagine what the crowds would have been like on the weekend.
The bike ride back was a little more of a struggle than the one into town.  It was only two miles, but I think it was a gradual downhill on the way in and going back wiped me out a bit.  Those little hills are sneaky.  Ed switched bikes with me - his is waaaay easier to ride uphill - and he patiently waited for me to catch up.  Marlaina and MacG are pretty fit and took the slight incline with no trouble at all.  They were waiting at the truck when we got there.

We weren't far behind, but between being a little tired, having an irritated eye (don't even ask - just know that Ed wouldn't look at me because it was so red he was wigging out), and the heat (cool for most, always too warm for me), I was a little cranky when I finally got back to my little home on wheels.

And I also think you should know that I'm totally blaming my sluggishness on the cheesecake.  




~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013:  Waterfront Wedding
2012: Crossing The Mighty Hudson For Our Radio Debut
2011: All-Inclusive Social Butterflies
2010: The $7 Date Night
2009: Them’s Fighting Words!
2008: Skulls And Hot Chocolate In The French Quarter
2007: Once As High As An Elephant’s Eye
2006: Trouser Snakes On A Plane
2005: Big Honkin’ Truck Makeover

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Our Rear View Looks Fantastic

This gorgeous gorgeous GORGEOUS photo of our truck crossing the Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport, Oregon was taken by the extremely talented MacG of Life With No Fixed Address.

It's definitely one of my favorite pictures of our truck, and from a vantage point we never get to see while driving.

Thanks, MacGyver!



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: An Oasis Of Tranquility
2012: Clouds Over The Whitestone
2011: Room And Board
2010: Filler And Fluff
2009: Ghost Town
2008: Second Only To Feet
2007: I’ve Been Everywhere Sunday
2006: Heading South With One Wayward Goose
2005: Red Texas Sunrise

Monday, August 25, 2014

Not Really Trucking From NOAA To WHOI

Recently my friend Gary posted a picture on his Facebook page of his truck (a "baby" expediter truck, as my friend Marlaina calls it) parked at an RV park, enjoying a campfire and palm trees in Jensen Beach, Florida.  He commented on how he was adding the picture to his 'Not Really A Trucker' series of photos.  The phrase, describing something atypical of your average trucker, was followed by Marlaina commenting that it should be a club.  It is.  

I told Gary I was going to steal his idea for a category on my blog, and he said "feel free".   Our life on the road has been full of these types of experiences, it makes up much of what I write about.  And I plan on having many more.  The events of this past week are going to make up what will officially be the first of my 'Not Really A Trucker' posts.

Last week we dropped our load in Washington state, near Port Townsend.  Our next load was picking up a few days later at the NOAA Marine Operations Center in Newport, Oregon, approximately 325 miles south of us.  Because we had the extra time, I wanted to snake our way around the Olympic Peninsula - a temperate rainforest - through Forks (where the story in the Twilight books are set), and then down the Oregon coast.

As we made our plans and I shared them with Marlaina, I discovered we were going to be on the same exact run.  The excitement just cranked up a notch. We'd all be running across the country together!

After riding through beautiful lush forests and along the banks of Lake Crescent, we met up with the New York City Truckers just south of Aberdeen, Washington where we had dinner at Slater's Diner.  It was a surprisingly good meal for a diner in a tiny coastal town that didn't seem to have much else going on other than a whole lot of logging.

After dinner we walked back to our trucks and while Marlaina and I chatted in the sleeper, the boys raced Formula 1 on the computer in the trailer.  This photo was taken by MacGyver.  He took a break from racing to snap this classic Not Really A Trucker moment - Marlaina and I are looking on from inside the sleeper.

At one point we looked out of the back door and saw a local police cruiser stopped on the opposite side of the street, sitting in a position that looked as if he were intently watching the happenings of our two trucks parked side-by-side.  It was late, the town was quiet, and we seemed to be having a bit too much fun - I even served the boys hot coffee across the catwalk - I'm sure he was perplexed.  Or trying to figure out what kind of ticket he could write.  Is it against FMCSA regulations to have fun while trucking?  
The next morning we left and moseyed down the gorgeous Oregon coast.  Through Willapa Bay famous for its oysters, through Tillamook where we took a tour of the cheese factory, and down to Depoe Bay where we planned to spend the night at the Boiler Bay Scenic Viewpoint - if there was room.

Ed and I assured our traveling friends that we'd find a spot no matter where we landed, easing the mind of Marlaina, whose biggest concern while trucking seems to be parking and peeing.  We were confident we could handle both of those concerns.

Everything worked in our favor since we got there to find plenty of available parking and the Roasted Pork Loin was ready to come out of the oven.  I paired it with mashed potatoes and 
sautéed green beans as I watched the fog rolling in from my kitchen window.

The next day we drove leisurely through the morning mist to pick up our load.  We arrived as the morning sun lit the sky, exiting U.S. 101 and winding around under the Yaquina Bay Bridge, heading down Marine Drive into the NOAA Marine Operations Center.

Our freight for this trip would be equipment from the Ronald H.Brown, a state-of-the-art oceanographic and atmospheric research platform, the largest vessel in the NOAA fleet.  The ship was docked at the far end of this marina - it's the largest ship you can see, on the left side of the photo.
The equipment belonged to Jason, an ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle), and we were taking it to WHOI, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts for repairs and maintenance.

There were a few other trucks in addition to us, and we all lined up to get ready for loading.  Ed and MacGyver hung out with the other truckers, chatting and swapping information and stories, and Marlaina hung out in the truck with me while I made breakfast.  We were having Kodiak Cakes, eggs, bacon and country-style skillet potatoes. They loaded each of us on the dock next to the NOAA vessel.  

Using a crane, they moved the containers and equipment from the ship onto the trucks. The riggers and crew loved our Conestoga trailers, stating that although the freight didn't necessarily need to be covered, they liked that it was.  No road schmutz, etc.  The actual term they used to describe our curtainside trailers?  "The shit".

Here you'll see one of the riggers climbing up to release the straps from the corners of the first container.


The loading took most of the day and as lunch approached I was busy in the truck getting pork loin leftovers together when Ed called and told me we were all invited to have lunch on the ship.  At first I didn't think I wanted to go but was quickly persuaded.  When else would I have a chance to be on a vessel like this?  

The crew was casual and welcoming.  There weren't a lot of rules, we didn't have to don special equipment, and we were allowed to take as many photos as we wanted which is unusual at government facilities.  Here's another shot by MacGyver of Marlaina and I peppering the cooks with a million questions about their experience on the ship.

The guy we're talking to was former Navy - retired after a twenty-one year career - who's been on this vessel for the last seven.  He seemed surprised we were truck drivers.  He was asking us almost as many questions as we asked him.

There was a sign in the dining area warning of limited seating, urging diners to eat quickly and leave, so we did.  But not before being urged by the line cooks to grab dessert on the way out - I left with a Fudgesicle in hand.  What a fun experience!

After lunch, the boys finished loading while Marlaina and I stood on the dock watching catamarans and barges go by as the sea lions barked in the background.   

Next we'd be off to Woods Hole, where we were invited to go sailing on the WHOI Expedition Leader's 37-foot Hunter schooner if we arrived before they headed out to the waters of Cape Cod.

Why did I have a feeling we'd be traveling a wee bit above our normal fifty-eight mile per hour speed limit?




~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

2013: Paddling The Hudson 
2012: Cue The Flying Monkeys
2011: Project Island Life
2010: Be Italian
2009: I’m Not Just In The Granny Lane Anymore
2008: Where Pretty Resides
2007: The Sweet Sight Of Summer
2006: You Oughta Be In Pictures
2005: Oh, Brother!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Delicious Assembly Line

In the photo above you'll see what Tillamook calls "forties" - blocks of cheddar cheese weighing between 41 and 42 pounds - on their way to be cut, sliced and packaged at the Tillamook Cheese Factory in Tillamook, Oregon.

Last time we came down the Oregon Coast, the factory was already closed so we didn't have the chance to visit.  But this time with Marlaina and MacGyver in tow, we stopped for the self-guided tour, the free cheese samples, and the goodies purchased at the factory store to take home with us.

Tours with food samples are the best kind.

A few fun facts we learned on the tour:

  • Milk from the farm is turned into cheese within 24 hours of arriving at the factory.
  • It takes 10 pounds (1.16 gallons) of milk to make 1 pound of Tillamook cheese.
  • More than 1.7 million pounds of mile arrive at the plant every day.  Approximately 171,000 pounds of cheese are made each day.
  • Approximately 1 million pieces of cheese are packaged in a week by two daily shifts of proud Tillamook County Creamery Association employees.
  • Tillamook Cheese is the No. 2 brand of natural chunk cheddar cheese in the United States.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: The Greatest Invention Of Human Kind
2012: I Can Haul Yer Explosives And Stuff
2011: That Bitch Irene Is Trying To Ruin My Vacation
2010: Licking Our Chops
2009: I’ll Start Working On That Sarcasm Font Right Away
2008: False Security
2007: Protecting The Posies
2006: Asking Too Much
2005: Slotsa Money

Thursday, August 21, 2014

State-Of-The-Art Movement

Getting loaded on the NOAA Marine Operations Center-Pacific dock in Newport, Oregon with equipment from the Ronald H. Brown state-of-the-art oceanographic and atmospheric research vessel.  


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: Not My Kind Of Gold Mine
2012: Fat Lou Captured In Rare Photo
2011: Oceanfront Property At Lot 61003/94
2010: Monkey Pod Treasure
2009: Eddie Embraces The Rules Friday
2008: They Have A MAGAZINE???
2007: Planting The Sun
2006: Training Day
2005: Cannonball Run

Monday, August 18, 2014

'Scuse Me While I Kiss The Sky

Yesterday we visited the Purple Haze Lavender Farm in Sequim, Washington.

Sequim is located in what's called the "rain shadow" of the Olympic Mountains, which means for an area surrounded by some of the wettest rainforests in the 48 contiguous states, it's actually pretty dry.  It receives about as much rainfall as Los Angeles, less than sixteen inches per year.  Due to this the town has given itself the nickname of "Sunny Sequim".
Because of its unique climate, the city and surrounding area are known for the commercial cultivation of lavender (I didn't know it).  There are over thirty lavender farms in the vicinity.

The amount of lavender grown here makes it the Lavender Capital of North America, rivaled only by France.  That's a lot of smelly purple flowers.  Of course, none of my photos look like these.  You're going to have to go to France for that.
Oh, and just so you know - Sequim is pronounced "skwim" - which is much cooler than saying "seh-kwim".  It's a fun word to say.  Go ahead, say it a few times.

Skwim.  Skwim.  SKWIM.

Right?




~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: I Feel Like I'm Being Followed
2012: Keeping Pace With The Seniors
2011: Island Bound
2010: Cristo Velato
2009: Flash Dancing Through Summer
2008: Another Day, Another 32 Things About Me
2007: A Bottle And A Nap Would Be Nice
2006: Because You Never Know When You’re Going To Need A Roman Candle
2005: Thank A Trucker

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Famous For Its Crabs

Dungeness Bay on the Olympic Peninsula in Dungeness, Washington.  This is the town where the famous Dungeness Crab gets its name.

The bay is protected by one of the world's longest sand spits, which keeps the rough sea waves away.  According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Dungeness Spit is one of only a few such geological formations in the world which was formed during the Vashon Glacial era ten to twenty thousand years ago.

On the very end of the spit is the New Dungeness Lighthouse.  The lighthouse was "the first U.S. lighthouse completed on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  It has operated continuously providing navigational aids to ships plying the waters of the Strait since its lard oil lamp was lit for the first time on December 14, 1857."  If you enlarge this photo, you can just barely make it out in the distance.




~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: Detour Narrated By Wiki
2012: Say It Loud! Say It Proud!
2011: Stitch Me Up Something Fancy
2010: Hot Dogs Are The New Coitus
2009: Better Than A Five Dollar Foot Long
2008: Isn’t This Grate??
2007: Eddie Gives Me That Smoldering Look Friday
2006: Bringing The Good Stuff
2005: The Road To Sin City

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Friday, August 15, 2014

Nope, Don't See Anything I Need Here

Ed visited a truck salvage yard in Terre Haute, Indiana last week and took this picture while he was searching for a few parts we needed for the truck.  He found two of the things we needed and if he spent any more time there, would have come back with several we didn't.

 I promised him we'd go back again when we have more time to spend there.

 Wink wink.



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2013: Bears Outnumber Bigfoot  
2012: Betting On My Man To Show Me A Great Time
2011: Cut And Color
2010: X Marks The Imaginary Spot
2009: A Field That Looks Perfect For Wrasslin’…If It Weren’t For The Sign
2008: Come Visit Me In Italy!
2007: Asked And Answered
2006: L.E.A.P.
2005: Ed Visits His First Warehouse Store

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Squeezing Through The Backroads

I've said it before and I'll say it again - I love driving the backroads.  This week we were on some very scenic backroads in Southern Indiana.  Through canopies of trees, past fields of corn, and plenty of barns dotting the landscape.  Ed was driving, I was trying to get a few shots with the iPhone.

The roads were small, with trees hanging precariously close to the top of the trailer and no shoulder to speak of.  Meeting another big rig on a road like this is always a little hairy.  I think I closed my eyes as we passed.
We came out the other side unscathed.  Unlike my first experience driving an 18-wheeler on a country road, while still in my thirteen day trucking school course.



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: Waves Of Steel
2012: Forever In Bloom
2011: Ed Visits His First Warehouse Store
2010: HBD 143
2009: Eddie Hauls Laundry The White Trash Way Friday
2008: Sun Setting Over Lake Pontchartrain
2007: Sanchez. Pedro Sanchez.
2006: Remembering Those In Heaven
2005: The Line Of Gold Thread

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I See A Molasses Sorghum Cookie In My Future

Many times we'll be in areas where we pass fields of crops everywhere, and unless it's corn or cotton, I often don't  know what it is just by looking at it.  Sometimes if you can find out what's grown in the area, it makes the mystery easier to solve.  The most interesting crop I think I've ever seen were artichokes.  I ate them and loved them, but I had absolutely no idea they grew at the top of these giant stalks, like flowers.

This week we were in Brickeys, Arkansas.  These dark red flowery things lined each side of the state highway we were on.  At times they alternated with a silky bright green crop which we guessed was rice, but we really had no idea what this plant was. The bottom part of the plant has leaves like corn, but the flowering top was a little more hearty than the silk seen on a corn stalk.  And they were only about three feet high.  That really threw me.  We always turn to Google images to try to find something that looks similar.  This stuff stumped me.

I kept Googling until I found a photo that matched.  Turns out what I had taken pictures of was Grain Sorghum, also known as Milo. Who knew?  They even have a cookie recipe on that website.  I might have to try it. 

Thank you, Google.  You make me smarter every day. 


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: Save Fifty Cents By Staying Away From The Card Tables - Go To A Concert Instead
2012: Zero Tolerance Zone
2011: Flicker Of Hope…GONE
2010: Knee Deep In Training
2009: She Sells Seashells By The Seashore
2008: Shopping At Walmart Is The Closest Some Of Us WilL Ever Get To China
2007: Giving Indians A Bad Name
2006: Six Flags Of Horror Fly Over Texas
2005: Snake River