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.  I think it already is.

I told Gary I was going to steal his idea for a category on my blog, and he said "feel free". The events of this past week are going to make up what will be the first of my Not Really A Trucker installments.  I plan on having many.

Last week we dropped our load in Washington state, near Port Townsend.  Our next load was picking up a few days later at NOAA 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 cranked up a notch learning that information.  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 them 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 of Life With No Fixed Address.  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.

A few times while the boys were enjoying the games in the trailer and us girls were talking in the sleeper, we 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 fog 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, Pacific.

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 back to WHOI, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.  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 grabbing a Fudgesicle on the way out.  What a fun experience!

After lunch, the boys finished loading while Marlaina and I stood on the dock watching catamarans 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.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
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.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Dark Cloud Hangs Over The Plantation

This is a photo of the Frogmore Cotton Plantation & Gins in Frogmore, Louisiana just before the sky opened and rain doused the cotton buds. 

This 1,800 acre plantation has been around since the late 1700s and still produces cotton today, although now it's gathered through modern means.  We've passed by many times and one day I hope to be able to stop and see the entire operation.  It's considered a "must see site" by Rand McNally and has been featured in Southern Living Magazine, among others, and was also the subject of several PBS documentaries.

The cotton gin - which is short for "cotton engine" - was invented by Eli Whitney as a way to take the seeds out of the cotton.  It helped increase production of cotton and allowed the plantations in the south to rapidly expand.  Before the cotton gin, it would take one person and entire day to separate the seeds (by hand) from one pound of cotton.  A job not many people would be happy doing.  

Although I like the idea of them giving tours to keep alive the history of places like this, I think the smiling white woman and her laughing young son, seen in the home page slideshow sitting among the cotton blooms, "picking" them with a smile, isn't really the best representation for an industry with such a dark history. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: I Wonder How These Longhorns Would Feel If They Knew A Steakhouse Was Named After Them?
2012: Frying Up Memories
2011: Icy Beverages, Sun, And Sand
2010: Smalltopia And Rowdy Kittens
2009: Severely Disabled
2008: Boys In Dresses
2007: I’ve Been Everywhere Sunday
2006: When I'm Done Peeing, Do I Bang On The Pipes Or Just Yell When I Need Someone To Take Me Back To My Cell?
2005: The Emerald City

Monday, August 11, 2014

Beautiful Brutalism In A Bucolic Bourg

In the land of Goshen - the one located in New York state, not the Biblical one - stands a building that smacks you in the face with its modernity.

The Village of Goshen, located within the Town of Goshen, was settled in the early 1700s and the area is known for its historic homes, rolling green pastures, quiet village streets and proximity to New York City.  It's a very desirable place to live.  And this building has been a topic of conversation in it for over 45 years.  So much so, even the New York Times has covered its existence and architectural importance, its supporters, and the campaign for its demise, in articles published in 2004, 2007, 2012 and again in 2014.

In 1967, the year it was completed, it was called a "monstrosity".  Its rugged brick and concrete exterior, stacked like today's trendy "green" shipping container homes, was the antithesis of the Village of Goshen aesthetic.  
I was born the year it was built, so I can't tell you what people thought about it then - even though we know based on documentation - but since I've lived in the town it's in, and my family still resides there, I can tell you what they think about it now...they're still not happy.  My mother called it the "eewy-gooey" building.  Not exactly an architectural term, but descriptive nonetheless.

The building sits prominently (as if it could sit any other way) on the corner of Scotchtown Road and Main Street, two-tenths of a mile from the historic Harness Racing Museum and the Goshen Historic Track (the oldest active harness racing track in the United States), and across the street from Maplewood, the current
Village of Goshen Town Hall, which was built in 1816.

Stark contrast is an understatement.
But I like it.  I've always liked it.  Sure, it doesn't fit in with the small-town-farm-community history of the village.  Nor does it please the people who moved from "the city" to "the country" to get away from buildings that look like this.  But it has a certain appeal.  And it certainly evokes emotion.

The building served as the Government Center for Orange County.  Inside were offices for our county officials, the county court, court records, deed and mortgage records (I'd been there many times pulling giant books to look up property information for various reasons), and the DMV office.

In the photo above you'll see an addition on the north side of the building.  I had already moved out of New York when they added that part, which housed the new county courts.  I think it ruins the look of the original structure.  I wish they'd just left it alone.
Visiting the building has always caused me a teeny bit of trepidation.  It was a very confusing structure.  But it was also a bit exciting, like an adventure. It didn't matter which way I entered, I was always in the wrong part of the building for what I needed.  Hence, I always gave myself extra time when I needed to go there for an appointment or errand.  I loved having a reason to go there. 
The interior is just as fantastic as the exterior.  Intersecting walkways, open areas showing its multi-levels, light streaming in from what seem to be oddly placed windows but were clearly well-thought-out by the architect.  The stairways all seemed to end at a cube with a window.  They often posted security personnel in high traffic areas to direct people who got lost.  There were many. 
The decor showcased minimalism before I knew what that meant.  Look at the sleek benches in the photo above.  

Below you can see the first level area that housed the Department of Motor Vehicle office.  The marks on the carpeting indicate where the benches were for the waiting area, which is shown in the next photo.  
FYI - there was nothing modern and futuristic about our motor vehicle office, the wait was still excruciating, the system archaic, and the skill of the clerks...well, it's the DMV.

The last time I was in this building was 2006, just after my father died.  I had to get the title of his car switched into my name.  The building is now closed, so unless they renovate or re-open the building, that will be my last time inside those walls.     

In the photo below you can see the ridged concrete on the wall, which was rough, as if they just scored the concrete with fork tines.  It would snag your blouse if you got too close. 
When I drove by or walked around the building, I'd look up and wonder who was lucky enough to work behind those windows.  Who worked in that office?  Oooh, that guy's got a huge window.  I wonder what that woman over there is doing?  It seemed like an exotic place to work.

The building has been plagued with issues since it was built.  It leaked.  It wasn't energy efficient.  Repairs would be costly.  The town doesn't want to put money into it, but the people who love and appreciate architecture and the significance of things from the past don't want to see it destroyed.  I'm in the latter group.  
It's not so much about loving it or not.  It's about the importance to preserve something that has historical significance.  This building is as important as the current town hall, which is almost 200 years old.  Imagine if someone decided that wasn't worth saving?  In the future, people who see the value of conservation will be happy these structures exist.  You can't just erase what a handful of people don't like.  
And if you look at the building at a certain time of day, or during a certain season, or from a certain angle, it looks different.  In morning and evening light, in the rain when the concrete is wet, when the trees and flowers around it are in full bloom, or when the land surrounding it is blanketed in snow.  
Maybe its detractors need to take another look.  Give it a good stare.  Bring a picnic to the lawn and gaze up at history.  Perhaps they'll get a tiny glimpse of something they like and change their minds.

Because beauty comes in all forms.

** None of the photos in this post were taken by me.  They are courtesy of the Internet.

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2013: Have A Little Faith In The Romantic Comedy
2012: The Perfect Volunteer
2011: The Men Who Stare AT Goats
2010: A Peek At A Working Team
2009: Alligators Are Not A Girl’s Best Friend
2008: Forget Your Cholesterol. Get A Hearing Aid.
2007: Sizzling Good Time
2006: Amarillo May Smell Like Cow Shit, But They Have Some Pretty Tasty Steaks
2005: List Of Fives

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Natural Home Decor

So we were shopping at the hardware store in Shipshewana, Ed was looking for some gasket thingy and I was just killing time until he found what he needed.  I'm always amazed at how much stuff they cram on these shelves!  Hardware stores have the most interesting mix of items for sale and I always seem to find things I absolutely must have, like the cattle tags I really wanted to buy.

Then I moseyed over to the aisle where they had kitchen items and home decor - picture frames, cast iron doorstops, wall art, and then these little wooden beads and tin decorations.  As I was looking through the bins, I saw one of those little fake fur sleeping cats on the bottom shelf.  I've seen them before - they use real fur (usually rabbit fur) to cover a hard foam-like body - and they're extremely lifelike. 

I'm always amazed at how soft the fur is, it's like petting a real cat.  I stood there looking at it for a few minutes before I reached down to touch it.

Then I stopped because I thought to myself, what a weird place to display one of these things, on top of the bins with all the little wooden beads and stuff.  I was suddenly confused.  I didn't see it breathing.  It hadn't moved for at least ten minutes.  And it was in a perfect curl.  It had to be fake.

So I stretched out my hand and with one finger gently poked the back end of the cat.

He whipped his head around so fast, it scared the crap out of me.  It was a real damn cat!!

I snapped my arm back and stood there laughing at myself.  Then I called Ed to come over because I wanted to trick him, unfortunately the cat stirred when he heard Ed's voice so my little scheme didn't work.

From now on, before I decide to reach out to caress a cute furry creature, I think I'll just give it a little nudge it with my toe first.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: Cats In Trucker Hats
2012: Marbelize It!
2011: Inner Harbor Fixture
2010: Sandía On The Wall
2009: Big Rig Parking AT #34
2008: The Benefits Of Marriage Without The Hassle Of Dieting To Get Into The Dress
2007: Gateway To The West
2006: Taking A Lesson From An Eleven Year Old
2005: Rejoicing And Be Sad