Thursday, December 4, 2014

2014 Fire Season

This is a video about the 2014 fire season that was made.  If you look closely around the 6 minute 35 second mark there might even be a picture of me giving a fire behavior forecast briefing on the Carlton Complex.  I was actually supposed to be interviewed for this video, I got called by somebody from our region office and asked if I would agree to be interviewed about the Carlton Complex and the fire behavior that occurred on it.  I said sure, but when we started talking about dates all the times they ran past me to come up and interview me were during the hiking trip with Dad and Michael and Jeremy, so I decided to go poke through the washes and the canyons of southern Utah instead.  Here's the link, hope everybody's doing well.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Videos from Great Wolf Lodge

These are videos from the water park at Great Wolf Lodge in outside of Centralia, WA.  Check back later for videos from our adventures today, which will include more water slides I'm sure, as well as a ropes course, and some sort of obstacle course thing.  I think.  The videos were shot using a Sony action cam, which is a wearable camera, in this case worn attached to my head.
EDIT:  The video resolution is pretty crappy when you try to view the videos full screen.  Here's a link to our youtube channel where the resolution is better:

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Shooting Challenge

Our friend Brian came to visit our friends Billy and Emily this weekend.  We did an army challenge on Saturday that was more fun than you legally should  be allowed to have.  Gun safety was used at all times, even when it looks like it wasn't. The boys came out too, but only did a couple challenges.
These are 3 of the enemies we were battling for the army challenge.  The 4th one wouldn't load for some reason, but it was a filthy communist.  The one above is a generic bad guy, a drug dealer below, and an alien below that.

The group getting ready for the challenge.

So challenge one was a pistol challenge, here's the link to the you tube video.  Ponder on Dylan's question at the end.
The 2nd challenge was a sniper shoot off.  The targets are down in those smaller trees mid way up the slope in the back of the picture.  Simon did this challenge with us.  We were shooting a .22 with a scope.  The 3rd challenge was with a .22 with open sites and you had to shoot from cover (a tree), move to and shoot from cover again (another tree), move to short cover and shoot from one knee (another smaller tree), then the 4th shot was up to you to decide.  I didn't have the camera with me at the 3rd or 5th challenge, so no pictures from that.
The 4th (and absolute best) challenge was with an old Enfield .303 that I have that has a bayonet!  There were 4 bad guys to shoot, so for this challenge you got 3 bullets, then had to charge the last target and kill it with the bayonet.  Link here:   The boys did this challenge as well, with an empty gun.  Here's Dylan:  and Simon here:

Sorry, the videos look kind of pixelated, I uploaded them to you tube from my iPad, and I don't think it loaded very well.

The 5th challenge was Billy, Brian, and I lined up with the targets in front of us and shooting them as fast as we could.  It was so fun we did it 3 times.  Once that was done Dylan was screaming that he couldn't feel his toes anymore and it looked like it was about to rain, so we headed back to the van.  We were on some property that Emily owns with her brother and sister, and it's adjacent to a state DOT gravel pit which is where we parked.  There was a pile of sand that was about 25-30 feet tall.  Simon climbed to the top of it and jumped off, then Emily did the same thing.  It looked like fun so I decided to throw caution to the wind and do it as well.  I jumped, landed about halfway down in the soft sand, immediately fell forward and landed on my chest, then slid the rest of the way to the bottom.  Emily said "We know what happens when Ben does things like this, why weren't we filming that!?"  I could feel I tweaked my back a little so I decided not to do it again.  Dylan got out of the van and decided to jump off, then Billy joined Emily, Simon, and Dylan in jumping off it.  It began to look like a 2nd jump would probably be more fun than the first one, so, again throwing caution (and good judgement) to the wind, I climbed up, got a good running start, and flew off the edge.  I leaned back this time so I wouldn't fall forward again, but unfortunately physics decided I wasn't leaning back far enough and I fell forward, face planting this time, my legs came up over my back and head, and I rolled the rest of the way to the bottom.  I had so much sand all over me that I could pull hand fulls out of my sweat shirt pockets.  It was in my hair, beard and everyplace else.  To quote Simon, "I have sand in places I didn't even know I had."  Unfortunately, I also tweaked my back so bad that I've been laid up on the couch or in my hammock all day, and I had to miss a deer roast at our friend David and Arwen's house. They've been wanting to roast something in the ground, and decided the deer they got would work, so David dug a pit, started a big fire in it, and when it cooked down to coals threw the deer in, after it was all wrapped up.  The boys decided to stay home as well, they had a couple of friends over that they were playing with.  Faith went and hopefully she brings me home some pit roasted deer.
I'm heading to Hood River, OR on Monday to a conference.  I did a big analysis on a project my forest is working on that shows if and how much money we would save on fire suppression costs by doing fuels reduction treatments, and I did a presentation to some folks on the forest on the results.  There was an ecologist at that presentation from the regional office, and after it was over he asked me to come down to a regional conference give that same presentation again.  I'm only the 2nd person in the nation to complete that type of analysis for the project, and I did it differently than the 1st person that did it. The regional ecologist told me he would like to see other forest with similar projects do the analysis the same way I did it, so that's pretty cool.  After that is over I drive home on Thursday, then Friday morning the family is heading to Portland for a long weekend to see my friend Mark and his wife and kids.  We're going to OMSI and the zoo for sure, and whatever else we have time for.  OMSI is the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, it's a pretty spectacular place.  We went to a Star Wars exhibit there about 8 years ago.  The exhibit this time is about what people from around the world eat.  There's also tons of activities for kids, like a robotics room and some other kid centric stuff.  That's about it, hope everybody's doing well!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Grand Coulee Dam and Steamboat Rock State Park

 The boys and I went on a little trip on Saturday.  Our original plan was to go Steamboat Rock State Park, but we decided to stop at the Grand Coulee Dam visitor center since we had never been there before.  There is enough concrete in the dam to make a sidewalk that goes around the world twice.

 They had a game sort of thing where you could fly a guy with a jet pack around the dam.

 This is the picture Simon took of me and Dylan.
 This is the picture Dylan took of me and Simon.
 After the dam we headed to Steamboat rock to have lunch before going hiking.

 The trail on the way up.

 Taking a break after the first steep pitch.
 Almost to the top, we hiked up that little valley.

At the top!

It was a really fun day, we went to Omak on the way home and got some pizza for dinner.  On Sunday I went skiing with my friends Billy and Emily to set up some game cameras to see if I could get some pictures of a fox.  I'd seen some tracks that I thought were fox tracks, but the wildlife biologist said there any foxes around Republic.  He gave me some game cameras to set up though.  We ended up ditching the skis about 1 mile in and hiking the rest of the way, but it was still a fun day.  That's about it, hope everybody's doing well.  Oh, I almost forgot, we saw a bigfoot on the way to Omak after leaving Steamboat Rock.  Here's a link to the video: 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Dylan's new toy

Here's a link to a YouTube video of Dylan with his guitar.  We bought him some pickups that fit inside the sound hole of the guitar and plug into a small battery powered amp.

Monday, February 17, 2014

This youtube link will take you to a video of Dylan playing guitar.  I can't remember if I've mentioned it before, but a musician named Blake Noble came to Republic a couple of years ago and played at the brewery and he was spectacular.  We played some of his music at home and Dylan loved it.  He would sit and watch youtube videos of Blake playing for hours.  The brewery booked Blake to play again, and Emily knew that whenever you mentioned Blake's name, Dylan would say "Blake Noble?  I'm his biggest fan!".  So Emily asked Blake if he would consider hanging out with Dylan for a little while.  Blake agreed (we found out later he was a pre-school teacher and loves working with and spending time with kids), and spent about an hour and a half with Dylan, playing guitar, teaching him some things, and just talking.  It was pretty awesome, and Dylan's been practicing playing like Blake ever since.  The you tube link is the song Dylan wrote for Simon on his birthday.  On Valentines Day Blake invited us to a invitation only "secret session" show that he was playing at in Okanogan, about an hour and a half from Republic, so we went over to see him.  We showed him this video of Dylan and he was impressed, and said all sorts of nice things, that made Dylan grin from ear to ear when we told him.  You should really check out Blake's music, he's got a youtube page that has a bunch of excellent stuff on it.  A girl named Kate Lynn Logan was also playing at the show we went to.  I liked her quite a bit, but I'm not sure that Faith did.  I listened to some of her music online before we went to the show and I wasn't that impressed, but she was pretty good live.  Anyway, here's the link to Dylan:  

Well, maybe you'll need to copy and paste it, it doesn't seem to be coming up as a link. Not much else has been going on, I've been skiing a bit with some friends and by myself.  My friend Landon and I went skiing on Saturday, we were doing an out and back trip on an 11 mile loop trail, though I think we ended up skiing around 8 miles.  As we were heading up we found a big open patch that led down to the lower loop of the trail, and decided to ski down it on the way back.  The trail we were on had a lot of up and down, and some kind of tight corners you had to make while going downhill, and I was doing pretty good at negotiating all the turns.  So good that I thought skiing down that opening we found wouldn't be a problem at all.  I got back to it and as I was waiting for Landon (he was skiing some new Altai Hok skis and they go a little slower on the down hill sections than my waxless skis) it was looking a lot more narrow and steep than it had when we first saw it.  Landon caught up a minute later as I was shifting water bottles to the inside of my pack so I wouldn't lose them and muttering to myself about how I wished I had a case for my glasses so I wouldn't lose them when I fell.  Landon said I wouldn't fall, just make wide, slow turns.  He graciously allowed me to go first, and as I skiied over to where I wanted to drop into the opening, I fell down.  Not a very promising start I thought, but I got up, pointed my skills downhill and took off.  I then realized that the opening was in fact much, much more narrow than it had originally appeared, I was going much faster than I wanted to be, and the wall of trees was rapidly approaching.  I shifted my weight on the skis and started to turn.  There was no way I was going to turn in time at the rate I was currently going, so I dropped into the turn a little more, then my brain reminded my body that I have no idea how to correctly turn on skis while hurtling down a steep slope, my body reminded my brain that my glasses were in the pocket of my sweater and would likely fall out if I wrecked, so my brain and body decided the best course of action was to lean way back to protect my glasses.  Then physics got involved and brought the whole thing a sliding, tumbling, snowy stop.  Luckily I still had my glasses in my pocket so I sat up and watched Landon go zooming by making a nice turn, then he went to turn the other way and he fell down too.  We proceeded down the hill taking turns falling down and narrowly avoiding running into trees.  It was a whole lot of fun.  We're going to go ski the whole loop next weekend and will probably do the same thing again.

Simon played basketball this winter.  He had practice a couple of times a week, then scrimmages on Saturdays.  For their last game they played at half time of the varsity girls highschool game, in front of all the people that came to watch the highschool game.  He said he was pretty nervous, but did great when they started playing, he even managed to get the ball and shoot at the basket, but he missed.  He had lots of fun.  For those of you that don't know our AWD van broke down about 2 months ago.  I was able to get it running again, then it died about 100 yards from the house.  I could never get it to start again, so I had it towed to the shop.  After it came back from the shop, costing significantly less money than I thought it would, we decided to buy a new to us car.  We ended up getting a 2002 Subaru Forester.  The day we got it Simon was in school and didn't know that the van was even fixed yet.  I went to pick him up from school in the new forester.  I met him at the front desk and as we walked outside I said that I had walked down to meet him, but I really didn't feel like walking home.  "It's OK Dad", he said, "It won't take us too long."  As we walked across the parking lot we were nearing the new Forester that Simon didn't know we now owned.  "That's a nice car" I said.  Simon agreed.  "Come over here for a minute," I said walking over to the passenger side of the car.  I looked around furtively, and asked Simon if he had ever stolen a car.  His eyes got a little bigger and he stammered "N-nn-no?"  I reached over and opened the passenger door.  "It's unlocked!" I whispered, "Get in!"  Simon's eyes got even bigger and he slowly sat down on the seat with his legs still outside the car.  "Dad, is this our car?" he asked.  "Get your feet inside!  No it's not our car."  I shut the door and ran over to the drivers side and got in.  "I found the keys laying on the ground."  I said.  I started it up and reversed quickly out of the parking spot.  "Dad, is this our car!?" Simon asked again with a hint of panic in his voice.  I threw the car into drive and hit the gas.  "No, it's not.  Pick that purse up off the floor and see if there's any money in it."  Simon picked up the purse and half yelled, "Dad, tell me the truth!  Is.  This.  Our.  Car?"  "No," I replied, "Now what's in that purse?"  Simon looked at the purse, then looked at me, then peered into the top of the purse.  "Dad, this is Mom's purse."  "It is?"  "Yes, it is."  "Oh," I said, "I guess we're not stealing this car then."  Simon thought it was pretty funny, and so did I.  Faith thought I probably destroyed 10 years of trust building with Simon, but I think she's wrong.  That's about it, hope everyone is doing well.

Monday, November 25, 2013

 We went and checked out a ghost town called Bodie this past weekend with Mary, Faith's mom.

It was pretty neat, I'd driven by it a lot, but had never stopped.  It's only a few buildings and a sign.  It was a gold mining town, and between 1911 and 1940 they mined 1.3 million dollars worth of gold.  The history of gold mining in Ferry County is pretty impressive, when the area was opened up to mining, something like 96% of all new mining patents that year were for Ferry County.  
The link below will take you to a you tube video, the video uploader on the blog kept giving a an error message.  It should be ready to view by late Monday night or early Tuesday morning.  Dylan and I made a catapult today.  The plans for it were to build a rather small catapult, that launched wadded up pieces of paper, but Dylan and I decided to "Go big or go home" and made a scaled up version that can launch a fist sized rock 20-30 feet..  Then we set up the playmobile castle they got for Christmas about 6 years ago and started the siege.  Dylan kept the catapult (it's name is Dragon Bolt,  by the way) a lot closer to the castle than it's maximum launching distance.  It was pretty awesome.  When Simon got home from school they continued the siege, then painted the catapult.  Hope everybody's doing well.