Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category.

blog on hold

I haven’t been blogging in a long time and I’m going to put this blog on hold.  It was a fun experiment for a while.

The best way to keep up with my bike and sailing nerdery is by following me on Instagram.  The photo-only format just works for me.

I’ll be keeping the old content online, but comments, search, and other features of the blog won’t be working.


Frame and Fork Alignment Gauges

A couple of years ago I made a popular frame and fork alignment gauge that was being sold through my blog (we sometimes call it the “Christmas Tree”). I still am frequently asked if I have any for sale.

Hahn Rossman (with my help) developed a new version of the gauge which is he is now making and selling through Compass Bicycles. You can find information on them, along with rack tabs, here:

The new ones have some nice improvements:

  • They are a made of steel (vs 6061 aluminum) and will be more durable to shop wear.
  • They are also a little more compact (made from 3″ wide stock instead of 4″ wide stock).
  • The width numbers are printed on both sides, and there is a centerline scribed on the mounting tab.

I’m really excited to see these back in production and easily available.

July 2013 Sailing Trip

Want photos? Click here!

Christine and I both had the month of July off this year.  I’ve known that I’d be taking this summer off of work for about two years.  When I first learned about that I started to think about how I’d like to spend it, and that is when I initially got interested in sailing. Sailing has really clicked with me, it has the right mix of being a slow and immersive form of travel, presenting new challenges and things to learn, and is both fun and relaxing. It’s got a lot in common with cycling that way and I’ve noticed a lot of crossover between cyclists and sailors.

Our destination for July seemed obvious, we’d go to Desolation Sound.  I really knew nothing about Desolation Sound except that it was a major destination for sailors and kayakers around the world, and it was also almost in our backyard.  It is about halfway up Vancouver Island, in between Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia, right where the Georgia Strait ends and dozens (or hundreds?) of islands and inlets begin.

click to browse our route

The blog has been quiet for the last 9 months because I’ve spent most of my free time preparing our boat for the trip and getting in a lot of sailing.  We bought this boat (a 28.5′ Pearson 28-2) last October and in the meantime I’ve replaced all the running rigging, much of the electrical and electronics, sails, bottom paint, plumbing, lifelines and generally customized the boat to our needs and liking. Regular blog readers might notice that this is our second sailboat in a short period of time. It’s a bit larger than the previous one which made it a more comfortable size for this trip. The time that we had with the first boat really helped me learn what I’d want in the second one. I’m glad that we’ve owned both, and think this one will stick around for a long time to come.  The new boat was in good condition when we bought it and is really dialed in and in great shape now.

We left for our trip on July 1st.  The plan was to move at a swift but not breakneck pace up towards Desolation Sound, with one major break to visit Buchart Gardens near Sidney, BC.  This is a very well known garden and we hadn’t been there in 15 years.  Since Christine works with plants for a living and the garden was accessible by boat it was a must visit.  We also ended up with one rest day on our trip north while we waiting for the weather to calm down so we could have a more comfortable passage across the Strait of Georgia.  We still ended up crossing the Strait in 20-25 knots of wind with seas of about 4-6 feet in height.  The boat did great, but Christine was quite nervous.  In total it took us about a week to get to Desolation Sound, with us blowing past most of the San Juan Islands and Gulf Islands.


Buchart Gardens

Smuggler's Cove was one of our favorite stops heading north

We spent almost two weeks in the Desolation Sound area.  This was awesome with fjords everywhere and mountains plunging straight from the sky into the water.  There were waterfalls that dumped right into the sea, islands and rocks everywhere to explore, beautiful clean lakes to swim in, and most surprisingly warm clean sea water (the next warmest water south is in Mexico) to swim in too.  I’ll let the photos speak for themselves (and click on any of them to drop into a gallery with many more). I don’t think I can name our favorite anchorages, they were all wonderful.

Entering into Desolation Sound

Anchored out in Isabel Cove, Desolation Sound. That is our sailboat in the background and our dinghy in the foreground.

Hiking in Laura Cove, Prideaux Haven, Desolation Sound.

Clear waters, blue skies, awesome scenery in Prideaux Haven.

We had to learn how to anchor with a "stern tie" to stay put against cliff walls. This was in Teakerne Arm

That little white spec is another sailboat for perspective.

A rare cloudy day as we head past "Hole in the Wall"

We came home down the western side of the Strait of Georgia in very calm conditions and had to motor most of the time.  We didn’t leave ourselves a lot of time to explore on our way home and chose to spend what we had in the Gulf Islands.  The two days spent on Salt Spring Island where a highlight of the trip.  We might some of the nicest people anywhere on that trip, I went for a great bike ride around the island on my Brompton, and ate some great local food too.  It was a fitting way to really end the trip.

Heading south along the Strait of Georgia

Hornby Island had a great swimming beach, but lots of crowds.

We didn't see as much wildlife as we hoped. These transient Orca whales were found near Wallace Island. The resident whales are believed to be far offshore this year due to low Chinook salmon stocks in the Salish Sea.

A couple of the very friendly folks that we met on Salt Spring Island. I ran into this group racing remote control sailboats while on a bike ride on the north end of the island. They invited me to try out the small boats and to come race with them on larger boats the next day, but sadly we couldn't stay that long.

The rest of the way home was a little bittersweet.  I wanted to keep going, Christine wanted to get home and see the cats, and we had things to attend to in Seattle.  We had a couple of quiet days heading south through Puget Sound and putting the boat away.

Heading south down Saratoga Passage

In September I hope to do another trip.  I’m thinking about doing a big adventure and going up to Barkley Sound, or a smaller one and returning to the Gulf Islands.


Christine shot this video on her cellphone.

Christine and I were taking a lunch break from cleaning up our sailboat today when I checked the Orca Network Facebook page.  The resident pods (normally in the San Juan Islands) have been hanging around Seattle for a couple of weeks eating fresh salmon chum, but we never saw them when we were out on the sailboat.  Today was our turn!

The most recent post said they were last spotted off of Alki Beach and were heading north.  Alki is about an hour’s sail south of us, so we got the boat out of our slip and headed south to find them.  I kept an eye on my phone for updates on their location and about the time that someone reported seeing them off of Magnolia we looked over and found them about half a mile away off of our 10 o’clock.  I tacked the boat in their direction and slowed until we were a safe distance away (about 200 meters).  We hove-to (slows the boat down to a crawl) and floated along side until they’d passed.  We then sailed slowly under our main sail, keeping speed with them and going along side the group (always trying to stay the required 100 meters away).  It was magical when we were out there alone, just us an the Orcas, and no sounds but them breathing.  The silence was broken for a few minutes as another sailboat came motoring past and then crowded into them, but eventually he turned off his motor and sailed along with us too.

When the second part of the video was shot it was hard to stay the safe distance away.  The group had split suddenly and most of them went in between our boat and the other one.  As we tried to move away from them (you can hear Christine asking me why I’m sailing away from them at 1:45 in the video) the other part of the pod started to surface on our starboard side.  I slowed the boat even further to let them pass before we headed back.  It was an amazing hour of watching the Orcas.

It’s time to start leaving a decent older digital  camera on the sailboat, this cellphone footage isn’t great (especially from using the digital zoom), but it’s what we’ve got.

Sailing to the San Juans

Route map, click for the interactive version

This summer’s big vacation was a sailing trip from to Seattle, up to the San Juan Islands, and back to Seattle.  I took two weeks off of work and used 11 days of that time for the trip.  The text is long, but I’m mixing in a lot of annotated photos if you want to read along that way.  You can also find large versions of the photos on our smugmug gallery of the trip.
Dear bike nerds who enjoy my normal content: Fall is coming and I’ll be back in the basement and working on fun projects soon.  I hope you don’t mind this little bit of sailing in the meantime.

Getting to the San Juans

Reefed, running the small jib, and still heeling the boat heavily as we sailed north across the Strait of Juan de Fuca

My friend Andrew joined me for the trip north to the San Juan Islands.  Christine couldn’t get the time off of work and Andrew has been sailing with me a lot this summer.  We left Shilshole Marina in Ballard (north Seattle) at about 5:30pm and sailed then motored to a little bit north of Kingston, WA.  Rather than doing the logical thing of anchoring at Apple Tree Cove in Kingston I pushed on and we anchored about 4 or 5 miles north.  This wasn’t well protected, but the winds were calm and we planned on waking up early.  We made a quick dinner and got to bed just before midnight.

I didn’t sleep that well that night due to being nervous about our anchoring and anxious to get on with the trip.  I knew that we had to start moving early to catch the tides properly to take advantage of the currents.  At about 5am I woke up and hauled anchor and tried to motor quietly to avoid waking Andrew.  Running a small outboard at 5:30am will wake up anyone, so a few minutes later he joined me and the trip started in earnest.  There were large waves in Admirality Inlet, so we ducked over to the canal near Oak Bay.  We used the protected waters there to make some coffee, headed through the canal, and then raised sail.  During this time I had been texting with my friend Matt who was a couple of hours ahead of us and he warned that winds were high near Port Townsend and that we should reef our sails (that is shrinking the sails to handle high winds).

Andrew and I took turns at the helm on our first long day of sailing (75 miles in 13 hours). This was during one of my turns. Conditions were dynamic enough that I didn't use the autopilot much.

Being reefed near Port Townsend wasn’t necessary, but it also didn’t slow us down too much.  Once we got past Port Townsend and into the Strait of Juan de Fuca Matt’s advice was really beneficial, we were flying along with our smallest jib and the main reefed.  My sailboat can’t go faster than about 6 knots through water and we were going just about that fast without much advantage from the currents.  The trip across the Strait went pretty quickly as a result, the winds did die down somewhere in the middle and we raised the rest of the main sail to compensate.

We entered the San Juan Islands by going up Cattle Pass between Lopez Island and San Juan Island.  In this area someone suddenly turned off the wind and we came across a large group of whale watching boats.  We tried to find the whales ourselves while sailing slowing between the boats, but never did see anything.  Just as the last whale watching boats moved away the wind picked up and we entered Cattle Pass.  We also were talking to Matt and picked Westsound (on Orcas Island) as a good destination for both of us for the night.  The amazing thing is that it was only 1pm, and I hadn’t expected to be actually sailing in the San Juans until 4 or 5 hours later!

Our arrival in the San Juans was near American Camp on San Juan Island. We got there just in time for the water to froth up with strong currents and pull us up towards our destination.

A group of 3 or 4 wooden schooners were sailing around Shaw Island as we sailed by. It was really enjoyable to see all of them with their sails flying.

We got to Cattle Pass near the peak currents and were quickly whisked in on a greater than 3 knot current, bringing our speed up to over 8 knots sustained and peaking over 9 knots.  Not only were we ahead of schedule, but we were picking up speed and time.  I’d never had our little sailboat running this fast!  It didn’t take long before we found ourselves going around the north end of Shaw Island and heading up to West Sound.  The winds died off north of Shaw, but we sailing slowly and drifted with the currents for almost an hour before putting in the motor and heading up to meet Matt.  Just over 24 hours from leaving Shilshole we were docked on Orcas Island, almost a day ahead of schedule!  On Wednesday we’d covered 74 miles in 13 hours, the longest day by far that either of us had spent sailing.

On Thursday morning we had a lazy breakfast, cleaned up the chaos on the boat, and then I took Andrew down to Orcas Landing.  The plan was to drop Andrew off there and pick up Christine who was taking the ferry in.

I loved seeing the variety of cool boats that were going around in the San Juans. I don't really know what was going on with this boat, but I think it had something to do with tiring out a group of summer camp kids. We saw this near Orcas Island as we entered Westsound.

In the San Juans we ran into Matt on his sailboat Karma a few times. He is a friend who also keeps his boat on Lake Union, and it was nice to run into a familiar face up here.

The San Juans

When I got back to the boat after picking up Christine I discovered the downside of the Orcas Landing public dock.  It is really exposed!  Our boat had been bouncing up and down enough that some of the fenders (the bumpers that protect the boat from the dock) had been pulled off.  Most landed on the boat, but one was missing.  I looked over and saw it bobbing around on a nearby beach, so I got in the dinghy and motored over there.  I saved the fender just fine, but while turning around I ran our dinghy motor into a rock and broke the shear pin that holds the motor’s propeller in place.  Thankfully Christine found some nice folks who towed me back over to our boat (and I had a spare prop).

We stayed on Lopez Island for a couple of nights to go to Kalen and Clair's wedding. Fisherman's Bay has beautiful sunsets. This one occured on Christine's first night in the islands (after Andrew headed home).

Kalen and Clair had one of the most fun and beautiful weddings that I've been to in a long time. Congrats guys!

We spent our first couple of days in the San Juans staying at Islands Marine Center on Lopez Island.  Some friends of ours were getting married at the Lopez Island Winery, and we enjoyed a couple of days hanging out with our friends there and going to a fantastic wedding.  Some of our friends there also sailed, so we talked to them to get ideas for where to go during the rest of our trip.  We ended up with a rough plan to circle Orcas Island clockwise and stop at some of the outer islands that aren’t accessible by ferry.

The morning after the wedding we packed up our gear, bought ice and fuel for  the boat, and sailed up to Stuart Island.  The sailing to Stuart was pretty easy (except for 30 minutes where I tangled up the spinnaker) and we enjoyed looking at the scenery along the way.  Stuart Island has two bays, one to the north (Provost Harbor) and one to the south (Ried Harbor), and we headed to the north one to avoid potentially bad weather that was coming in from the south.  This turned out to be a good decision, Provost Harbor had much less boat traffic and was a lot quieter.  We picked a good location and dropped anchor.  After dinner our friend Matt (from a few days earlier) turned up and we enjoyed some drinks and cheese with them on their boat until nightfall.

Catching kelp trains on our rudder seemed like about the biggest danger that we had in the islands. 30' of kelp trailing behind a sailboat can really wreck how it handles.

We spent a couple of nights anchored out at Provost Harbor on the north end of Stuart Island

Stuart Island had some interesting sounds sights to visit, so we stayed for a full rest day and went for a hike.  The first stop was a museum at a still active single room schoolhouse that had been there for over 100 years.  In many years they only had a couple of students, and the schoolhouse included photos from most of the classes that have graduated there.  It was really fun reading about the history of the place and we bought some handprinted postcards from there to mail back to family.

From the school we kept hiking over to the lighthouse at the end of the island.  Along the way we stopped at a nice lookout and ate lunch.  While there we saw the whale watching boats again, but this time we were able to spot the whales too!  We were probably sitting a half a mile away, but we’d brought the binoculars and enjoyed the show.  When it was over we walked down to the lighthouse and then took an alternative (and it turned out not to really be public) route back by a modern totem pole.

A tree swing that we found alongside a road (mostly used by pedestrians) on Stuart Island. It was a lot of fun!

Stuart Island has this 100 year old schoolhouse (one building for school, one for a library) as a museum with the island's history. It was fascinating and very cute. There are only about 15-20 people who live on this island year round, but it has two museums, the other at a lighthouse.

We enjoyed the view from this lookout on the west end of Stuart Island. I'm glad that we packed along good binoculars, because we saw a group of Orca whales go by!

After the lighthouse museum we came back a different way past this totem pole.

The next morning we pulled anchor and started going northwest towards Sucia Island.  The winds were really light so we didn’t go very quickly, but we also didn’t need to go very far.  Sucia Island was one of the most intriguing destinations on the map because it just looks so unusual.  We discovered that the topography up close was just as dramatic and interesting as the island’s shape on the map.  We were really drawn to an area called Ewing Cove.  All of the mooring balls there were in use, but we went around the corner into Echo Bay and looked for a place to anchor.  While anchoring Christine noticed 3 otters that had caught a fish running up the limestone cliffs with their prey in tow.  We watched them for a bit before moving along.

After anchoring we got back in the dinghy to go on long at Ewing Cove.  This area had many little islands that you could walk across during the low tide.  We hiked and explored for a couple of hours before going back to the boat for an on-deck shower and a nice dinner.  We finished the evening with a beautiful sunset.

Our last morning anchored by Stuart Island before heading east to Sucia Island.

The sailing to Sucia Island was calm and slow and enjoyable. We were sailing along the Strait of Georgia and passed many small islands, including these two (Skipjack and Bare) that act as a wildlife preserve.

Ewing Cove was our favorite spot on Sucia Island. We couldn't anchor there (it's small and was already full), but went back on our dinghy to explore.

Near Ewing Cove

near Ewing Cove

More cool boats seen in the San Juans. This group had come over from Bellingham, and I think there were 5 of them and a dog aboard this small yawl. The small and low draft boat let them anchor in the best spot near Ewing without worries of hitting anything.

Another beautiful boat that we kept seeing in the San Juans.

We used a solar shower hanging from the jib halyard to take a nice warm shower after 3 days of anchoring out.

We also figured out a good way to rig up a hammock on the bow of the boat. It's really relaxing up there, the only problem is that we can't fit two of them!

More fantastic sunsets.

On Tuesday we woke up to cooler air, good winds out of the southeast, and a little more grey then we’d been hoping for.  It was our 13th wedding anniversary and we’d been trying to decide if we should stay on Sucia and go for a hike, or sail south to look for a nice marina with a restaurant.  The weather helped us make up our mind, and we set sail for Rosario Resort back on Orcas Island.

We had to sail directly into the wind, which meant tacking (zig zagging) back and forth, not the most efficient way to go.  I was enjoying the sailing though, the winds were great and there were some other boats to race against and check out.  The wind got a little strong near Clarke and Barnes Islands, but we ducked in between them and found better conditions.  We were running fairly slow though, and were at risk of both missing favorable currents and coming in too late for our dinner reservation.  Once we passed the eastern most point on Orcas Island we relented and switched from sailing to motoring.

As we went through Obstruction Pass and rounded the bend heading up to Rosario Resort the sun came down and the temperatures rose.  We got a nice slip at the marina, enjoyed real showers (the first ones in a few days) and a fantastic dinner.  It really was a nice way to spend our anniversary.

The day that we left Sucia Island was a bit windier, cooler, and grey. We sailed into a headwind most of the day, so progress was a little slow.

Rosario Resort's docks were full of these tiny little jellyfish. We didn't go swimming, but we did have a fun time watching a young kid catch hundreds of them in a net. Of course I neglected to take a photo of the beautiful buildings at Rosario, you'll just have to trust me that they exist.

Sadly this was also our last day in the San Juans.  The next morning we had to start heading back towards Seattle.

Heading Home

We planned for our first stop on the way home to be at Port Townsend.  From there we’d try to get the rest of the way home in one day or two depending on conditions and how we were feeling.  We left Orcas around 10am (any longer and we’d have missed the currents) and motored out of East Sound and along the edge of Lopez Island.  I was hoping that we’d pick up some wind in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but it stayed glassy calm all day.  The only sailing occured when a piece of kelp got caught up in our motor’s prop and I had to clear it.  We put up sail while I attacked the kelp with a fork duck taped to the end of a boat hook, finally untangling it and allowing our outboard to run freely again.  We really need to be better at watching out for kelp, it can really make a mess when it tangles up in the rudder or motor.

It was very very calm on our way south across the Strait of Juan de Fuca. We motored almost the entire way as a result.

Point Wilson lighthouse. This meant we were really out of the San Juans and almost at Port Townsend.

The crossing went pretty quickly and we arrived in Port Towsend in the mid-afternoon.  We choose to stay at Port Hudson Marina which is only a few blocks from downtown Port Townsend.  Christine and I took some alone time and each did our own things for a couple of hours, then met back at the boat for a nice dinner and an early night in bed.  I choose to go for a long brisk walk up to the other marina (a mile or so south of downtown), walk around among the boats, and come back.

The next morning the wind was coming strongly out of the west.  It was so strong that I skipped an almost necessary stop at the service dock in the marina to empty our boat’s holding tank.  The water just outside of the marina had 3′ wind waves, the highest that Christine had ever experienced.  The wind was at a pace that would have been nice for sailing, but the waves made me want to get us around the edge of Marrowstone Island where the water was better sheltered and the winds would die down.  Once there we put up the spinnaker only for some easy downwind sailing.

The next day the wind picked up (a lot!), but we lost the beautiful blue skies. We flew the spinnaker while getting chased by dark clouds down Admirality Inlet.

We made the mistake of leaving Port Townsend a little later than we should have and were running a bit late to catch all of the currents.  By the time we got 10 miles south of Port Townsend we had a 2 knot current against us and a strong tailwind pushing our boat as fast as it could go (which is a slow 4 knots with the water against us).  The winds and current were also opposing which made for shorter and steeper waves.  Our asymmetrical spinnaker is happiest on a broad reach, not dead down wind, so I was trying to manage that without making our route too much longer.  On top of that a grey cloudbank was following us down Admirality Inlet, making it colder than was ideal.  Christine was already feeling anxious from the waves earlier in the day and this weather wasn’t helping.  We decided to stop at the first available marina (Kingston) and to motor there instead of continuing to sail the spinnaker.

At about 4pm we arrived in Kingston.  The harbor there is very well protected and the sun was coming out, really improving our moods.  We fueled up, cleaned up the boat, and walked into town for dinner.  At dinner we kept hearing the locals talking about something called “Pie in the Park” and finally asked our waitress about it.  “Pie in the Park” turned out to be the perfect event to turn our mood around, it was a pie auction and fundraiser taking place a couple of blocks away.  For a small donation we bought tastes of many pies and all of the ice cream we could eat (it was melting faster than people were consuming it).  We enjoyed hanging out there for an hour watching local business owners buy pies at outrageous prices from local citizens all for helping grow the downtown community.  It’s really one of the most fun and nicest fundraisers that I’ve ever been to, and was a perfect way to cap off the day and trip.

On our final day from Kingston back to Seattle we had clear skies and light winds again (but we did sail). The sea lions loved this bouy marking the center of the shipping lane.

The next morning we woke up to light winds out of the south and bright sun.  The sail back from Kingston to Shilshole and the locks was extremely pleasant and helped remind us why we like sailing so much.  Halfway across we passed a large bouy with 3 sea lions jockeying with each other for the two sea lion sized spots available on the bouy.  They completely ignored us as we sailed by and smiled at them.  The last part of our trip was going through the locks, something that we normally don’t enjoy too much.  On this calm and sunny Friday afternoon there was almost no wait and we were back at home just after lunch time.

Heading through the locks back to our boat’s homeport on Lake Union.

Things I didn’t take photos of that you’ll just have to go back and read about:

  • The nice lighthouse at Turn Point on Stuart Island
  • The sea otters fishing near Ewing Cove on Sucia Island
  • The beautiful buildings at Rosario Resort
  • The kelp getting caught up in our boat’s propeller in the center of the Strait of Juan de Fuca
  • The beautiful pie auction and fundraiser in Kingston


Map picture

Christine and I just returned from a week in Bonaire.  When I told friends that we were going to Bonaire most of them hadn’t heard of it before.  I hadn’t either until sometime this fall when someone at work mentioned it.

Bonaire is in the south end of the Caribbean, just north of Venezuela.  It is best known by scuba divers (for it’s pristine reefs, most of which are accessible from shore) and wind surfers.  We came primarily for the scuba diving, and it was just incredible.  There are about 50 dive sites located down the west side of the island, and almost all of them can be accessed from shore (saving a lot of money compared to diving off of a boat).  There were reefs with countless wildlife and cool double reefs with interesting underwater topography.  The reefs have been protected as part of a Marine Park for 30 or 40 years and as a result are in very good shape.  They strictly forbid touching anything underwater, fishing, anchoring boats, or anything else that could damage the marine infrastructure.  The water is also very clear here, and a lot of the good diving was at 50’ or less, allowing for long dives (the deeper that you go the more quickly you consume air and the longer breaks that you require between dives).

Almost all of the tourists are here for the diving, but it still didn’t feel crowded.  I went on 11 different dives in 6 days and we only saw other divers 2 or 3 times.  Since everything was shore accessible we didn’t have to go with a guide or in large groups.  It was really relaxing to dive at our own pace and whim.

Our favorite dive sites were Something Special (for the amazing quantities and diversity of fish), Angel City (a really cool double reef,where you can swim along a valley between two reefs),and Tolo (great coral and fish).









This is what a couple of the diving beaches looked like:



I also brought my new S&S coupled travel bike with me.  In the mornings I’d let Christine sleep in while I went for a ride (hopefully before it got too hot).  The islands paved roads have little traffic early in the morning and there is essentially no traffic on the dirt roads.  The ride to the south went around large salt flats, past some old slave cabins, and was along the coastline the entire time.  It was dead flat though, and had a headwind, which made it a bit less attractive to me.  I preferred to go north where the island has more interesting terrain and better views.  I loved the riding here and would bring a bike again.  My favorite 3 or 4 miles of riding were along the Queen’s Highway, a narrow (one lane) road along the northwest coast which has no traffic, rolling hills, and great views.

North Island:

When I ride with John we get stuck behind cows.  When I ride out here I get stuck behind donkeys.





South Island:





One morning Christine woke up early with me and we drove the south loop at dawn looking for the native wild flamingos that live here (one of their 4 breeding grounds in the world).  There are about 10,000 of them on the island, but they mostly avoid humans and can be hard to find.  During the day many of them fly to Venezuela (about 80km/50mi away) to eat, then return here in the evening.




On our last day here (when we couldn’t go diving) we drove up to Washington Slagbaai National Park and explored.  This area covers about 15-20% of the land area of the island and had the most rugged beaches and best birding of anywhere on the island (it was a lot easier to find the Flamingos here, but we also saw more Pelicans, Parakeets, and other small tropical birds).  It was a great way to finish up the trip and doesn’t seem to be well visited.  We drove the whole way through the park (on a very rugged road) and saw less than 20 other cars.




Overall we had a great trip.  I loved the diving, the riding, and the simplicity (there are few large resorts and food was reasonably priced).  Compared to Hawaii it was a lot less developed.  Compared to Mexico or Jamaica it felt a lot more integrated, with houses intermixed with the hotels instead of trying to put up a pretty façade around the tourists to hide the realities of local living.

We still have many more dive sites to explore, so I’m sure we’ll be back in a few years!


Seat tube angle adjustment on the frame fixture

There was some confusion on the framebuilder’s list on how the virtual pivot point works on my frame fixture (and on the Arctos).  I took some more photos to try and explain how it all works.

Here are some photos showing how the parts fit together:

This is the seat tube angle adjustment backplate. The adjustment plate rides in the groove slot on some brass pins. There are some machining errors visible in this view, but they don't affect the precision.

This is the back of the adjustment plate. The groove in it is for the locking handle to pass through.

The adjustment plate is mounted on the backplate.

This video shows it all in action.

Click this photo to see a video that shows it all in action. Watch how the BB position doesn't change.

Kettle River

I went out to the Kettle River (the northeast corner of the state) to visit John and his family. They have a nice piece of land that is right on the river, next to a 3 mile dead end road that goes through national forest, and with almost no neighbors. Great dirt road and paved road riding abounds, and when you get back and it is hot and sunny you can jump into the river and go for a float.

We went on two rides. The first was an out and back on a dirt road going up a mountain. We saw 0 vehicles but about 20 cows that wouldn’t get out of our way for a few miles. The second ride was a loop that went a little over 20 miles and we saw 10 cars, despite being on paved roads. It had one climb, lots of rollers, and better scenery than I can find near Seattle. I’m surprised that there aren’t more cyclists heading out this way for vacations.

In the evenings I had fun hanging out with John’s family by the fire and eating some excellent food.  It also helped to see a bit more blue sky than we’ve had on the western side of the state this year.

I enjoyed this view for much of the weekend.

This view is across the river and up some hills from the fire pit

Liza enjoying some time by the river at one of the fishing spots

I took this photo because the sky and landscape looked awesome. When I got back to the house Liza (who was riding behind me) said "Did you get a good photo of that moose?" They thought I had stopped for the Moose, which you can see if you look carefully to the right of the road.

Full moon, river views, good company

'Stine, who used to work at Free Range Cycles, now lives in Eastern WA. She dropped by on Friday and made a very nice paella on the fire.

There seemed to be an endless collection of fire roads to explore

These cows insisted on riding with us for about 5 miles. It was slow and smelly,but they finally found a field to stop at

I brought my new folding kayak and paddled down the river a couple of times

An old farm that we rode past on a ride. We headed into the valley beside it...great riding and no traffic.

wildflowers and a barn

Lake Roosevelt was created by daming the Columbia River. There are some lost towns under it.

This trike is many sizes too large for Maddie,but she handles it better than any of the adults

Summer Camping…finally!

It’s been a pretty cold and wet spring in Seattle this year.  In most years I’ve already spent a week’s worth of nights outside by this time, but this year I’ve barely done any camping.  That is changing now.

On Friday I made a quick getaway (by car) to a nearby National Forest and did some semi-wilderness camping with a few good friends.  This is one of my favorite spots and I hope to be out there again a few more times before the year is done.  It’s really nice having a camping trip that can kick off at the end of work Friday and still be back home by the morning on Saturday.

On Thursday I’m heading east for 4 days of camping and riding with John Speare, hanging out by another great river.  The weekend after that I’m heading for an overnight kayak trip to Blake Island.  Finally, summer feels like it is here.


Scroll past the text if you just want to see photos…

Christine and I spent 6 days in Iceland last week.  Now that I’ve been there I know that 6 days isn’t anywhere close to enough.

Iceland is a beautiful country.  It also has a few major oddities.  The first is the wind, it’s always going and it’s strong.  The second is that there are hardly any trees.  Apparently the original settlers used them up in the first 100 years.  The country once had 25% tree cover, now it is less than 1%.  Finally, since we were there near summer solstice it never seemed to get dark.  Even when I woke up at 2am on our first night I found a beautiful sunset, but it never got darker than twilight.

We spent 2 nights in Reykjavik, 2 nights in Isafjordur, and 1 night near Þingvellir (the Þ is pronounced th) National Park, with a lot of driving (about 700km) in between.  Reykjavik is the largest city in Iceland, but it is still pretty small.  The downtown core/tourist area was easily walkable.  We spent our first day in the city wandering around, and on our second day we took a bus out to the Blue Lagoon.  The Blue Lagoon is a huge thermal pool that uses the waste water from a geothermal power station as it’s water source.  It felt great and was very relaxing.

On our third day we picked up a rental car and started to head north.  We didn’t have an exact plan in mind, but a convenient ferry schedule made up our minds for us.  We arrived just in time to catch the ferry to the West Fjords.  The West Fjords make up the northwest corner of the country and are one of the most remote population areas.  The drive from the ferry north had incredible scenery and was about half gravel roads.  When we arrived in Isafjordur late that evening we made arrangements to go kayaking with North Explorers on a trip called “Hot Pots” that promised some more hot springs relaxation.

The weather and tides weren’t in our favor for the kayaking trip.   We went out with the group and found a lot of chop in the main part of the fjord.  We then tried to get into a more protected area, but couldn’t make it pass the current coming through a narrow bridge (the tide was going out).  Our guide actually capsized there when attempting it.  So we got out of the kayaks, carried them across the road, and paddled on the inside.  The chop was gone there, but there was still a very strong wind.  We went downwind for a little while and enjoyed looking at the seals, there were tons of them including many seal pups.  Turning around and paddling into the wind was very hard going.  About half of the group actually walked back, but Christine and I were among those who braved the wind and paddled back.

The night after our kayak trip we went out to dinner with everyone that we had gone paddling with.  We went to a resturant called “Tarhouse” that only had two things on the menu, fish soup and fish.  The fish that they offered was only what had been caught that day.  We ordered enough of both for everyone at the table and had a great dinner and the best meal that we’d found in Iceland (also served by some very nice people).  It was really good to hang out with some other travelers.

The next morning we started to head south again.  We only had one more night, but didn’t really have a destination in mind.  At about lunch time I decided that we should see if we can make it to Þingvellir National Park, part of a popular tour called the “Golden Circle”.  After another long drive over gravel roads with amazing scenery we came to a very nice hotel called Hotel Hengill that was next to Þingvellir lake.  Christine enjoyed some time in the sauna while I enjoyed watching the view out of our hotel room.

On our last day we went on a short hike near the hotel, then went over to Þingvellir to explore.  Þingvellir is where the concept of the parliment was first created (I had always incorrectly assumed that it was an English invention) and the park has many historical areas related to that.  It also had some incredible scenery and what felt like all of the tourists in Iceland (compared to a US park it was lightly attended, but compared to what we had seen so far it felt very busy).  We found a little used trail to walk on down a ravine, then came back through the historical area.

I didn’t know what to expect when we planned on going to Iceland, but I really enjoyed it.  The scenery is incredible and it was very relaxing being in a place where there are hot springs in almost every city.  I hope we can visit again someday and see more of the country.

Houses in Reykjavik

This is what 2am looks like. Twilight, but not dark.

This Cathedral in Reykjavik is very prominent on the skyline. The texture also reminded me of what a Lego cathedral might look like.

The Perlan sits just outside of downtown and collects hot water from geothermal sources which is then distributed throughout the city for hot water and heating. There were nice views and an ice cream shop at the top of it.

Blue Lagoon

Christine enjoying the hot springs at the Blue Lagoon

A nice view on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula

First view of the West Fjords

Multi-tiered Falls on the West Fjords

Arctic Terns fishing on our kayak trip.

Seals on our kayak trip

Hot Springs that we enjoyed after paddling. Yes, that is a hot tub full of hot springs water the size of a swimming pool.

Cod cheek skillet for 4. They were very tasty.

Driving in the West Fjords involves a lot of going around fjords like this one. It takes about 20 minutes to go around a normal sized one.

Those three mountains might look like they are next to each other, but there are fjords in between each one.

Mountain Hut at the top of the one of the passes

Farm Field

This is my best waterfall photo, and as far as I know these two waterfalls don't even have a name. We parked by the side of the road and hiked back to check them out.

A random good view from the road back to Thingvellir NP

Hiking near Þingvellir Lake. The weather changed every few minutes, from rain to sun and back again.

We enjoyed hiking along this ravine in Þingvellir NP.

A historic church in Þhingvellir NP

All Photos