An Afternoon at Carnival – the Run-up to Mardis Gras

We arrived at the Aviation Arbor RV Park on Naval Air Station/Joint Reserve Base (NAS/JRB) New Orleans, in Belle Chasse, Louisiana, about Noon on Thursday February 8th, having taken a couple of days to work our way down from Hot Springs, Arkansas.

The previous evening we spent the night at the Eastbound I-10 Milepost 2 Mississippi Welcome Center, having been unable to find a parking spot for nearly 200 miles of Louisiana Highways. We arrived after dark and were glumly idling our way past all of the full parking stalls overflowing with 18-wheelers when the night time security guard (24-hour security is common in many southern state Rest Areas) suddenly cut in front of us in a golf cart. I silently called him any number of impolite names since he scared the heck out of me but refrained from honking my horn or opening my window and heaping upon him the verbal abuse it appeared he so richly deserved. Danged good thing I remained outwardly calm because he led around a corner and pointed us at a pull-through parking spot off the side of the drive. All the “No Overnight Parking” signs we’d seen on our way through the Rest Area at that point had apparently only been for the specific vicinity of each sign, not for the Rest Area itself. Each parking spot along the drive was pretty well isolated from others and we had no irritating generators, refrigeration units, or idling diesel engines to bother us all night. And when the sun came up Thursday Morning, we found ourselves in a parking site that better than many campgrounds I’ve paid good money for!

Nice Pull-thru Parking, Mississippi Welcome Center, I-10 Eastbound, Exit 2

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As we crossed Lake Pontchartrain on our approach to New Orleans, I was continuing my band-surfing in search of a decent radio station when I had an electronic collision with WWOZ 90.7 FM New Orleans, “Dedicated to bringing the music and culture of New Orleans to the universe.” That became my listening venue of choice for the remainder of our New Orleans stay, and if you’re not in range to synchronize your Frequency de-Modulator with 90.7 MHz HD1, then definitely deploy your favorite browser on the Information Super Highway to resolve for a little streaming relaxation. They play a great mix of Jazz and R&B that will bring out your mellow while getting your toes to tapping.

I-10 West Bound Across the South-Eastern portion of Lake Pontchartrain

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The light traffic that we’d enjoyed on the outskirts of New Orleans definitely became heavier, and by the time we’d reached downtown, we were crawling past the Mercedes Benz Superdome into the exit from I-10 and onto the US Business Highway that crossed the Mississippi River and routed us toward Belle Chasse.

Mercedes Benz Superdome – Home of the NFL New Orleans Saints

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New Orleans Traffic – it’s not all Big Easy!

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The RV Park is a great deal for anyone authorized to use US Military Facilities – Only $18 per night, and there were plenty of open spaces during the week leading up to Mardi Gras. We scored a nice pull-through site (much in demand for motorhome campers because you typically do not need to unhook your towed vehicle before you park) with full concrete pad, water, sewer, and 50-Amp electrical service. If you’re eligible and don’t mind the odd EA-6B Prowler taking off, flights of FA-18 Hornets in the traffic pattern, the occasional Huey helicopter, and even a C-130 doing ramp run-ups (all naturally filtered out as the sounds of freedom by the minds of the soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen and their families stationed around military bases) this is a fantastic place to stop over. Even the sign warning “Beware of Alligator – Please Do not feed the wildlife” added a lighter note to a hazard common in the southeastern US.

Aviation Arbor RV Park, Naval Air Station New Orleans

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Please Don’t Feed the Wildlife – You might be on the Menu!

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Friday afternoon, after picking up some tips from the locals on how best to approach the city, we headed out to historic Point Algiers (founded nearly 300 years ago in 1719), a few miles distant from Belle Chasse, to catch the city-run ferry into New Orleans ( We parked in a private lot nestled up against the dike and run by local entrepreneurs reminiscent of “event parking” around the Puyallup Fairgrounds. A gentleman was seated at the entry booth, ambling over to our car as I pulled into the drive. “How much?” I asked. “Twenty bucks” he replied holding out his hand and accepting the twenty I handed him. He waved me in and on toward a young man who pointed to a spot that had just emptied. I understand that the parking fees vary with whatever is going on a particular day or evening. The busier they are, the higher the fee, in a classic demonstration of price elasticity of demand.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit is Alive and Well

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The Point Algiers Ferry Terminal

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Although parking is a bit pricey (admittedly less than I’ve paid in downtown Seattle on occasion and we later found out that it was nearly twice as much at downtown lots – saw one sign proudly advertising 2-5 hours for $34, and 5-8 hours for $39) the ferry was dirt cheap. Since Darling-Darling and I are both “Seniors” the fare was a dollar apiece into the City, and the same to return, cash only. 4 bucks total for transportation plus 20 bucks for parking was a heck of a lot more convenient, faster, and significantly cheaper than it would have been to try to drive over there and then find and pay for parking!

The ferry runs every half-hour, on the half-hour into the city, and on the quarter-hour to return. We’d missed the boat by about 5 minutes but that was just fine because it gave us time to figure out what was going on and where we needed to be as well as observing downtown New Orleans and doing a little people watching. We quickly figured out that this wasn’t Alabama or Arkansas Dry County Territory! It was more likely than not that the folks waiting for the ferry with us had an alcoholic beverage in their hand preparing for the party, and one young man had a 30-pack of Busch Natural Light under his arm that he and his friends were making lighter by the moment. Many of our fellow passengers were dressed, partially dressed, or nearly undressed as they felt appropriate. The bead-collectors were readily identifiable by their very short cut-off t-shirts and similarly revealing or loose clothing. And now I have a really good idea where a couple of my former Weyerhaeuser/Verizon colleagues procured their bright pink wigs!

Darling-Darling waiting for the Ferry

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Party Time is almost here!

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Waiting for the ferry, we had the opportunity to view not only the city across river, but the heavy commercial traffic, including ocean going freighters, tug/barge combinations, and the occasional replica stern wheel Mississippi river boat. Boarding the ferry for the quick trip we traversed between more traffic and noted the US Coast Guard inflatable, complete with bow-mounted M-60 7.62mm (.30 caliber) machine gun. The Canal Street Ferry Terminal in the City was watched over by pelican sentinels, who were not disturbed in the least by the ferry docking at their guard station.

Ocean Going Freighters, Tugs with their barges, and the US Coast Guard watching over all

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Pelicans guard the Canal Street Ferry Terminal

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Off the ferry and enroute to the RiverWalk Outlet Collection (where else would we start our tour of this 300-year-old center of commerce and culture?) we encountered our first costumed revelers all decked out to party hearty. We would see many more over the coming days.

The first fully costumed revelers we encountered. Many more would follow.

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Having worked up her appetite by the strenuous exercise at the outlet mall, Darling-Darling wanted some lunch, and wanted it NOW. We ended up at Mother’s Restaurant for lunch. Since Blue Crab (her first choice) was out of season, Darling-Darling had the Half-Half Seafood Platter with shrimp and calamari and I had the sampler platter, along with a sample of Abita Brewing Company’s (Covington, LA, north of New Orleans on the far side of Lake Pontchartrain) tasty Amber Ale. Mother’s restaurant has been a staple of New Orleans for nearly 80 years serving “the world’s best baked ham.” (Mothers’ Restaurant Menu) They take your order cafeteria style, you pay up front, then you find a place to sit and the wait staff picks up your receipt so they can match your order to your table. After a short while, your food is delivered hot and tasty, accompanied by your choice of a variety of deep south side dishes such as green beans and tomatoes, red beans and rice, turnip greens, cabbage, grits, etc. No tipping is allowed, so the prices you see are the prices you pay.

Abita Amber Ale – a tasty addition to a spicy meal.

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Cafeteria-style ordering with table service. No tipping allowed.

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After lunch we wandered up Canal Street for a distance, looking in shop windows and watching all the different partiers. If your thirst was on and your beverage container was empty, you didn’t even need to go into a bar – just stop at the nearby sidewalk stand selling a variety of beverages of your choice!

This New Orleans lemonade stand isn’t exactly what you’d want your kids to put up on the corner!

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Darling-Darling stands in awe of the crowds and activities

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As it got later in the day, crews began setting up barricades for one of the many daily parades. No one could tell us what time the parade was supposed to reach our location and it was starting to rain, so Darling-Darling decided we could see a parade another day and as it began to get dark, we headed back to the ferry terminal. As the fog rolled in and the night mist rose up from the river, we returned to Point Algiers and our trusty Jeep for the drive back to Belle Chasse.

The return Ferry approaches through rising river mist.

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LDC on the ferry after an enjoyable day.

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The Point Algiers Ferry Terminal through the incoming fog and the rising mist.

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Brew Review – ColdFire Brewing – A Gem in Eugene!

Location:  263 Mill Street, Eugene, OR 97401

Date of Visit:  Sunday, March 5, 2017


As noted elsewhere, we started off TJLDC Journey #2 (off to Arizona in search of Snowbird Properties) with a stop at our younger boy’s house in Eugene, Oregon to visit David, Janet, Olivia, and Carter Wichman.  I’d asked David to suggest a local craft brewery for us to visit so I could mark off that particular check box for the State of Oregon.  He suggested ColdFire Brewing so about Noon on Sunday, off we went.  To paraphrase that great American Philosopher Will Rogers, while at ColdFire “…I never met a (brew) I didn’t like!”  And we tried them ALL!


The Venue

Celebrating their first anniversary, the facility is the standard converted small warehouse that’s common for craft breweries across the country.

Brew Vats

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The brew vats are prominently displayed in the seating area and there are minimally separated family-friendly and adults-only sections.  Seating is provided with a selection of wooden tables and chairs, stand-up wall counters, and elevated wall counters with stools. Although the place was packed with both adults and kids early on a Sunday afternoon and finding seating was a challenge – we had to wait for other customers to clear out – it was surprisingly easy for David and I to hold a conversation. Whatever they did with the noise absorption/abatement for the open overhead spaces common in these types of facilities worked very well.  Very little obnoxious quacking even though the venue was loaded with Ducks.  And it seems that David and Janet and the kids have drunk the Kool-Aid and become Ducks fans as well, so I avoided wearing Husky apparel as an expression of my innate sensitivity and concern for avoiding any micro-aggressions against whatever snowflakes might be present.  And I also didn’t want to get beat up!

ColdFire Kids’ Play Area

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ColdFire Games

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There is a designated play area for the kids, with a pretty eclectic selection of both kids and adult games and puzzles.  It seems to be very effective because all the kids were pretty engaged in what they were doing, and there were none of the screaming monsters that can sometimes be encountered when you’re getting into nap times.

Haybaby Food Cart

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Food service was provided by the Haybaby Food Cart ( positioned out the back door of the Brew house.  Haybaby has an outdoor seating area chained off for patrons, but hey (baby…) – it was the 5th of March in the Pacific Northwest!  Even though it was sunny to partly cloudy that day, it was a little brisk to be sitting outdoors!  The menu is simple and looked absolutely delicious!  All home-made or locally sourced ingredients, with HUGE burgers, a couple of salad and sandwich options, and the obligatory french fries.  We’d just finished lunch, so we didn’t eat except for an order of fries to go with the brew flights, but looking at their burgers I surely wish we’d have skipped lunch and eaten there instead!  You walk outside to stand in line and submit your order, and each order is prepared from scratch individually.  No large batches of fries here (recalling the snarky little brat from the early ’70’s and her “take that, McDonalds!) – each order is cooked individually and only when it’s ordered.  And it is hand delivered to your table inside the Brew house by some magical process where the guy just seems to mysteriously appear with your hot-off-the-grill or -out-of-the-fryer order and remembers who ordered it!  Mouthwatering pics of their fare are on their Facebook page.


The clientele appeared to be pretty representative of the local population – a mix of college-age and young white- and blue-collar types, with a few dinosaurs like me mixed in.  The family friendly section included what appeared to be some 3-generational family groups and everyone was enjoying themselves.


The Beverages

On the day of our visit, ColdFire was serving 11 different brews.  With 2 of us, David and I chose the divide and conquer strategy where we each ordered a 6-serving sample flight of generous pours.  That allowed us to sample all of the different varieties offered, with one duplicate.  We shared the offerings, so we were both able to sample the entire menu.  And I’ll repeat myself from above (and this is NOT something I’ve been able to say about all the local craft breweries I’ve visited, by a loooooong shot!):  While at ColdFire, “…I never met a (brew) I didn’t like!”  They’re offerings included:

  • Farmhouse Saison – A classic pale ale in the Belgian style, ABV 6.7%, IBU 38, and Plato 12.5. (Note:  prior to visiting ColdFire, I had never seen reference to a Plato scale.  Please see
  • West IPA – A more heavily hopped pale ale, ABV 6.7%, IBU 68, Plato 13.5
  • East IPA – A pleasantly hopped but heavier pale ale, ABV 6.6, IBU 60, Plato 15
  • Belgian Dubble – A mild amber ale, ABV 7.6, IBU 28, Plato 16.5
  • The Bier Stein Collaboration Double IPA – Pale ale with a kick, ABV 9.1, IBU 80, Plato 20
  • Amarillo Sky Pale Ale – Classic American style pale ale – ABV 5.6, IBU 37, Plato 13
  • Little Rebellion Brown Ale – A nutty brown ale, ABV 5.5%, IBU 28, Plato 14
  • Czech Pilsner – A pleasant Pils (recalling my entire Deutsch vocabulary: “Ein grosse Pils, bitte!”), ABV 5.6, IBU 40, Plato 12.5
  • Saint James India Red Ale – a hoppy dark amber ale, ABV 6.1, IBU 60, Plato 14.5
  • American Stout – a dark, heavy ale, ABV 6.5, IBU 65, Plato not listed
  • La Leche Double Milk Stout – another dark, heavy ale, ABV 7.5, IBU 55, Plato 20
The Coldfire Menu Selection

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The Tastings:

  1. Farmhouse Saison – Opens with a mellow, buttery flavor, very mildly bitter as the IBU would indicate. This is a thoroughly pleasant offering, light colored and mildly cloudy.
  2. West IPA – A light-colored pale ale, nicely hopped with a pleasant after-taste that rises on the tongue. Subtle overtones of honey without being sickly sweet.
  3. East IPA – A pleasingly sharp, mildly hoppy ale with cloudy blonde coloration. The flavor stays the course, fading slowly through to a mild, pleasant after-taste.
  4. Belgian Dubble – An amber-colored ale with a sweet, malty and mild flavor – of all the offerings, this one’s probably the most forgettable, but good nonetheless. Dunno whether the forgetfulness results from the lack of clear definition or the high ABV.  I’ll have another, beer tender, ’til I can get this thing figured out!
  5. The Bier Stein Collaboration Double IPA – That’s a mouthful – even for a sip! And it’s also (tongue in cheek) their sobriety test for this 9.1 ABV confection:  They make you say the name in full before they’ll give you a refill!  With a bit heavier flavor than their East and West IPA offerings, it has a pale amber coloration.  Nicely hopped with hints of citrus, great taste masks the high ABV.  They can add “Sneaky” to the name – as in “The Bier Stein Collaboration Sneaky Double IPA.”
  6. Amarillo Sky Pale Ale – With the classic pale ale coloration, this brew comes across with a firm but not dominating flavor, tailing off to a slightly bitter after-taste.
  7. Little Rebellion Brown Ale – Surprisingly light weight and impact for a brown ale. Very smooth flavor, with a hint of roast pecan.  A wholly agreeable offering!
  8. Czech Pilsner – With a light, golden color, this is the lightest of their offerings. This Pils has a subtle flavor that avoids tastelessness.  There is a slight bite in front that slowly disappears to almost no after-taste at all.
  9. Saint James India Red Ale – This outstanding brew offers a beautiful red-amber coloration that prepares you for its smooth – no, make that smmmooooth! – beginning, with just a nip – no real bite – in the middle, and into a gently fading aftertaste with just a hint of sweetness. Very nice!
  10. American Stout – This dark ale offers a pleasant nutty opening, coalescing into a friendly, long-lasting and slowly fading after-taste. Yet another success!
  11. La Leche Double Milk Stout – Sweet! Both in terms of the slang for a positive quality rating, and in terms of the hints of honey that complement the slight hoppy nip.  Weighty without being overly heavy, this is yet another very nice brew!


Little Dickey Carroll’s Stack Ranking:

With 11 samples to work from, I’d have needed a lot more time to develop a reasonably accurate ranking, and the ingestion of the samples would have invalidated the results in any case!  Sounds like particle physics…  Basically, there were none of them I didn’t like.  Bottom of the line would have been the Belgian Dubble, and the Pils would probably have been ranked lower as well – only as a matter of personal preference, not because of quality for sure!!  Up top would have been the Red and the IPA offerings.  The darker ales were really good as well.  As I said earlier, while at ColdFire, I never met a brew I didn’t like!


ColdFire Brewing Says:

Actually, they don’t say anything about their brews other than what is posted on their menu board.  You can check on their current events on their Facebook page, though, at


As always:  May you never stop learning, and may your journeys always lead to new and exciting destinations!



Mea Culpa – Scriptum est opus proxime…

So I’m nine (nein?  That sounds too much like denial!) and a half weeks into Journey #1 – aka TJLDC1 on my Good Sam Club Trip Planner – and I have only written two sentences of the first paragraph of my blog about the first stop East of Vancouver, BC.  Bad LDC!  Bad Boy!  As the heading says:  It’s my fault – Writing just seems too much like work!

What do I have to show for the journey so far?

  • @1900 photographs, comprising 7+ GB of storage on my laptop – gotta get the danged things backed up!  And that doesn’t count the pics I have yet to upload from my phone and Darling-Darling’s phone.  It’ll be 3K+ photos by the time I’m done next week.
  • – 5400+ miles on the trusty Allegro 36LA motorhome ( towing the ’05 Grand Cherokee, plus another non-towed 4K+ miles on the Jeep
  • An Alberta, Canada provincial sport card with a slightly-used 1-day fishing license
  • A Montana 10-day fishing license, new in the envelope – never used
  • An Arizona 1-day fishing license, slightly used
  • An Oregon 7-day license, with 3 days remaining.  Hope reigns eternal!
  • A couple of note-filled coasters from Moab Brewing Company ( my visit to their local craft brewery (so-so) and restaurant (excellent!).  Also, a stainless steel 24-oz water bottle that sucks for keeping coffee hot, but works really well for keeping water cold.
  • Numerous t-shirts and gifts for the kids and grand-kids in Washington and Oregon (sorry for the Texas clan – yours may appear during subsequent journeys when I happen to stop through the Dallas SMSA).
  • Many, many pages of memories that are waiting to be put down in electronic format and shared with my friends.

Progress toward achieving my vision as stated Home Page as demonstrated by the following metrics:

  • States and Canadian Provinces visited:  11 (Washington, British Columbia, Alberta, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, California and Oregon)
  • Fish Caught:  Zero
  • Golf Rounds Played:  Zero
  • Local Craft Breweries Visited:  One (sampled 6 beers, 2 not so bad, 4 totally unmemorable).  I met some good local brews in bottles and cans, though, and I’ll try to talk about those as I go.

Our itinerary (TJLDC1) looks like this.  When I drafted this article, we were at stop #23, visiting Darling-Darling’s sister in Anaheim while staying at a membership campground in Menifee that’s associated with one of my campground memberships.  It was about 65 road miles to the Southeast of Anaheim.  Bad decision, that!  Should have just sucked it up and gone for the Anaheim RV Park even though it costs @ 5 times as much – $50+ per day versus the $10 per day fee for where we’re staying.  We’d been in the rural Rockie Mountains for so long, I forgot what traffic was like!  And even Phoenix metro area wasn’t enough of a wakeup call.  The itinerary stops at #25 because that’s the max number of stops that can be planned for one trip in the GoodSam Club Trip Planner.


Having gone on from there to spend a few days in the Medford, OR area visiting and cleaning up family grave sites and checking out where I lived for about 3 years (ages 4-7) prior to moving to Washington, we’re currently  in Eugene, OR (Trip # TJLDC1-2 at stop #3) where our youngest boy and his family recently moved for career advancement.  We’ll spend the weekend here, and go on home on Monday in time to greet the Trick-or-Treat crowd – if a handful of kids over a 2-hour period can be called a crowd.


Rather than go into any detail, I’m getting this out on the site and I’ll get to work on writing up each of our stops, reconstructing memories associated therewith, and posting photographic evidence to support “been there, done that!” stories.

As always, may you never stop learning and may your journeys always lead to new and exciting destinations!

Highlights and Teasers:

tyrannosaur-like-carnivore-drumheller_2016-08-28 totems-vancouverbc_2016-08-24-0-3 glaciernp-lakexx_2016-08-30-0-3

custerslaststand-littlebighornnatmon_2016-09-08-0-4 doublearches-archesnp_2016-09-24 durango-silvertonngtrain_2016-09-19-cr0-35 oldfaithful_2016-09-10grandcanyonn-rim_elev8800_2016-10-05dsc_0248-2016-09-12-0-3-1father_before_2016-10-25 grandparents_headstones_before_2016-10-25_0-5father_after_2016-10-25_0-35 grandparents_headstones_after_2016-10-25

Dream Boat…

Well, I went and did it! I pulled the trigger on my dream boat! Since I blew the last of the kids’ inheritance on the Tiffin Allegro 36LA, I’ve now indebted them to the hilt if I don’t get this sucker paid off prior to my demise! The means of returning it to the Pacific Northwest are under review. Should I just trailer it back here, or should I just go for the Grand Adventure? I can see myself cruising the entire Great Lakes chain, down the St. Lawrence and out into the Northern Atlantic, working my way down the East Coast, island hopping across the Caribbean to Panama, through the Canal, and back up the coast of Latin America and Mexico and the US West Coast to Puget… And then the danged alarm clock went off and I wasn’t dreaming any more. Bummer! There is no Sea Sport Pilot 2700 (or the new version Alaska Pilot 2600, for that matter!) in my future after all. So I guess I’ll just have to be satisfied with some lesser alternative.

Over the past few years, besides researching motorhomes for The Journeys, I have been investigating boat options to assist with the “Catch a fish” portion of The Vision. Evaluation criteria included portability (weight, space requirements), capacity and capability, ease of deployment and recovery, and cost. Portability limitations pretty much excluded any hard-sided options. Towing the Jeep behind the motor home might make a car-top model feasible, but I’m afraid that I wouldn’t be able to man-handle it by myself. An inflatable would likely do the trick, but they’re pretty heavy as well, and they’d have to be inflated and deflated with each use. I was very skeptical of folding boats, but thought I’d at least check out that option.

Last January, I finally accompanied friend Bob Funseth to the Puyallup Outdoor Show like he’d been bugging me to do for many years. While there, I checked out the Porta-Bote exhibit (check the video on the company’s web site). Although I was not favorably impressed with the sales rep, I was significantly impressed by the product. The model they had on display was the 10-ft model. I asked the sales guy to disassemble and fold it for me so I could get an idea of how it would be to handle by myself. He knocked that sucker down in about three minutes and at 78 pounds, I could definitely carry it and maneuver it onto and off of the roof rack of the Jeep. Perfect! The product comes in 8, 10, 12, and 14 foot models. The 8 foot model seemed too small, and the 12 and 14 foot models seemed to be too much for one person to handle easily.

I’d originally considered purchasing a new Porta-Bote, but when I started adding up the cost of the boat and motor, we were looking at $4K+ and I didn’t want to spend that much. So in late May I started looking for used Porta-Botes. I saw a number of listings – there were typically 3-4 listed in the South-Central Puget Sound area at any one time in various sizes, but I was only interested in the 10-foot model. A couple of weeks ago, I saw 2 in particular that were of interest – one for $350 up in Cle Elum – about 90 minutes East of where I live, just on the other side of the Cascade Mountains, and a New-In-Box (NIB) offering in the Bellevue area for $1500. I went up to see the one in Cle Elum, but it was not in real good condition so that was a no-go. I was then going to go see the NIB offering, which was more than I’d wanted to pay ‘cause I’d still need a small motor, but which was about $1000 less than I’d have had to pay for it from the factory. Apparently someone else decided it was a good deal as well, because the listing had been pulled. Dang!

2016-06-27_The 10-Foot Yacht-2

Then last weekend I saw a listing for a 12-year old 10-footer with a 3.3 HP Mercury outboard over in Silverdale, for $1200. I contacted the gentleman and made plans to meet him to take a look. It turns out that it had belonged to his dad, who carried it on his motorhome while traveling. Sure sounded familiar! I sent a link to the listing to Son Anthony Carroll, who also covets a boat, albeit a bit larger for use in Puget Sound and the local lakes. Tony’s reaction? “Sure is dinky!” No, Son – you misspelled that. It’s “dinghy,” not “dinky!”

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On Monday, 6/27 after I returned from my daily treatment session in Seattle, Darling-Darling and I went over to Silverdale and met the gentleman at the new Harley-Davidson dealer there (closed on Mondays). He had it fully assembled in the back of his pickup. We unloaded it, inspected it, and I watched a video of him running the motor in a plastic garbage can earlier that morning. The boat looked good, with only minor normal wear and tear. The motor looked brand new. I figured that $1200 was definitely a fair price based on what I’d seen, so we shook hands on the deal and I headed for the local Alaska USA Credit Union branch in the local Safeway store to get the cash.

I returned, paid the man and asked him to send me a Bill of Sale. We quickly disassembled the boat, folded and strapped it, and placed it on the top of the Jeep. I jury-rigged a strapping system to hold it on the rack – gotta figure out a better, more reliable way to do that – and we took off for home. Arrived safely, unloaded the boat and accessories and carried them into the garage by myself with no problems. This thing is going to work just like I envisioned it!


Now I gotta figure out a storage solution in the garage so I can get the Jeep back where it belongs and we’ll be ready – Let The Journeys Begin!

As always, may you never stop learning and may your journeys always lead to new and exciting destinations!


The Only Bite

Big Brother Mitch Carroll, who is one of the top guides at Waterfall, THE premier Alaska fishing resort, owns a very nice 27′ SeaSport Pilot named Bleu Belle that he fishes out of Puget Sound and surrounding waters.  He was kind enough to invite me, along with friend Jim Hay and Jim’s nephew Jay, who recently retired from the Navy, for a day of halibut fishing out of John Wayne Marina, Sequim Bay, Washington in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  I jumped at the chance – Mitch almost ALWAYS catches fish!

Earlier in the year I’d visited the Puyallup Fairgrounds Outdoor Show and while there I’d dropped by the SportCo exhibit and picked up a new Okuma Cold Water 453D reel with line counter, loaded with 65-lb braid.  I had a nice 7′ one-piece Okuma rod with an Ambassadeur 7000 with line counter on the rod, but that reel has a pretty quick retrieve and it’s a real chore cranking up a 32-oz lead from 300 feet, let alone if you have a fish on.  I was going to mount the new reel on that rod, but when I went to remove the Ambassadeur, I discovered that somewhere since last spring I’d managed to screw up two of the line guides.  Dang!  Instead, I pulled an old Penn LeveLine that I’d had since the late ’70’s off of a 5-1/2 foot Okuma boat rod rated for 80lb line and went with that.

I hadn’t seen Bro’ for a couple of months, so after I finished work on Friday, May 6th,, I hurried home, threw my gear into the station wagon, and took off for Carroll-the-Elder’s house.  I arrived fairly late, but Mitch baked a Papa Murphy’s on his gas grill with pizza stone for our supper – the pizza turned out great!  We sat around a bit and caught up with a glass of wine, then hit the rack for a 4 AM wake-up.

Bleu Belle at John Wayne Marina
Bleu Belle at John Wayne Marina

To avoid the crowds at the marina’s trailer launch on Halibut days, Mitch had rented a slip at the Marina.  Smart man, that brother of mine!  We loaded up the gear that Jim, Jay and I had brought, along with our lunch and beverage supplies, and Bleu Belle left the dock before sunrise.  The cruise up Sequim Bay was beautiful, as always.  And if you’re there and not familiar with the waters, follow the channel buoys!  There is a very large set of shallow sand banks that look very inviting as a short-cut to the mouth of the bay around the spit when the wind is calm and there’s about 6 inches of water over the sand.  You’ll see gulls that look like they’re just floating there when they’re really standing on the bottom.  “Red Right Returning” and its corollary rules need to be observed there for danged sure!

Sequim Bay Submerged Sand Bars and Spit
Sequim Bay Submerged Sand Bars and Spit

Initially, we headed out to one of the Banks in mid-strait that Mitch frequently fishes on his way back fromt the San Juan islands.  Winds were calm, and it was an absolutely gorgeous morning.

Sequim and Sequim Bay at Dawn
Sequim and Sequim Bay at Dawn

We hit the Bank, rigged up, and dropped line.  I was fishing a small blue/white plastic squid over a double-hooked (barbless) plug cut 8-10″ herring, garnished with an Octopus leg and seasoned by Mikes’ Gel Shrimp Oil scent.  Initially, I used a “spreader” bar I’d borrowed from my brother that already had a doubled 40-lb drop line, not thinking that added up to 80-lb test, less knot weakness, but I didn’t particularly care for the way it felt.  When I snagged a rock and my 65-lb line couldn’t handle the doubled 40-lb drop line, I lost the whole thing.  I re-rigged with the 32-oz weight on a slider with a doubled 25-lb drop line so if the weight caught a rock, I wouldn’t lose the whole rig and that’s the way I fished the rest of the day.

Strait of Juan Defuca looking East toward Protection Island and Discovery Bay
Strait of Juan de Fuca looking East toward Protection Island and Discovery Bay

After several hours with many drifts across the Bank and absolutely no bites, and no action observed from any of the other boats with the same idea Capt. Mitch had, the skipper ordered “Pull ’em up!” and we headed for a different spot, closer in.  This time we were fishing another Bank a couple of miles off the end of Dungeness Spit.  About noon or so, after low tide, and just before slack current, in about 140 feet of water and still fishing the blue/white squid with plug cut herring, octopus leg garnish and shrimp seasoning, I felt what seemed like a very small fish just nibbling at the bait – I’m talking flounder size nibbles, taking into account the thick rod, 32-oz lead and 65-lb line.  I let that go for a bit, then took a couple of turns on the handle of the reel.  It tightened up the line nicely, so I set the hook.

I just sat there for a few seconds with the rod bowed and I was afraid that I’d set the hook right into a rock.  Then the rod started pumping and line started streaming off the reel.  I had the drag set to a fairly robust level, probably 20-lbs anyway, and Mr. Fish just kept right on moving.  I called “There’s a fish” and the others started bringing up their lines to avoid tangles.  Capt Mitch asked “How big is it?”  I replied “I don’t rightly know – huff puff – but it’s not very small!”  After about 15 minutes I worked the fish up to the point we could start to see color and confirmed it was a halibut, and it wasn’t a small one!  About then, the fish saw the boat, didn’t like what he saw, and took off again, stripping more of that line off the reel that I’d worked so hard recover!

After a few more moments, I managed to get the fish alongside the boat again, and he was tired enough to sort of calm down a bit and stay flat.  There was no way this fish was going into a net, so Mitch harpooned him with the the buoy spear.  That has a detachable tip with a line attached to a big buoy.  The tip goes through the fish, then the head turns into a cross-bar to keep it from coming back out – kind of like one of those sheet-rock anchor screws.  Fish is attached to the buoy and he can’t get away even if he’s off the hook and swims away from the boat.  I loosened up my drag at Capt. Mitch’s direction, and the fish took off aft and around the stern.  He came around, back under the boat and danged if he didn’t wrap the buoy line around the stern drive.  Crud.  I got the fishing line freed up, tightened the drag back down, and went back to work on the fish.

The buoy line was well and truly fouled on the stern drive and there was no way to free it with the buoy still attached.  Capt. Mitch yelled orders at Deck Hand Jim to “Get the .357 from the forward cabin!”  I played Mr. Halibut back and forth a bit and worked him back up to the starboard side.  Bro’ grabbed the line to the harpoon head, told me to loosen my drag and put the rod down.  Then he cut my fishing line and handed me the buoy line – “Hang onto this, and don’t lose a finger!”.  OK – now I’m hand-lining this very unhappy “not very small” halibut.  Capt. Mitch was leaning way over the side with the .357, trying to get a shot at the fish’s head from short range.  Finally fishy held still for a moment, and that’s his last.  BLAM!!!  Everyone within a couple of nautical miles knew that the Bleu Belle had landed a halibut!  A .357 Magnum shell casing loaded with #9 shot from about 4 inches.  The entry wound was about an inch in diameter (no choke on that .357, for sure!) and no exit wound – ‘tho it took us a bit to figure that out.  Later Capt. Mitch asked me if I remember seeing a splash after he pulled the trigger.  My reply?  “Well, no, I don’t.  As a matter of fact, it was all pretty busy right about then!”  Mitch detached the buoy from the buoy line to free the end, worked the line free from the stern drive, and hauled the fish into the boat with the help of Deck Hand Jim. They then worked him into the fish box on the stern.  Ice added.  It was hard to close the top of the fish box ’cause the tail was sticking out.  I asked Mitch – “How big do you think he is?”  Mitch replied “Oh, probably 50-60 pounds.  If we were in Alaska, it’d be going back in the water unless you were a resident because it’s too big.  It’s outside the slot limit.”

I gleefully recorded the fish on my Catch Record while Capt. Mitch repositioned the boat to catch the drift again.  The current had finally caught up with the tide change, so now we were drifting back the other way.  “Lines Down!” and everyone was fishing again except for Little Dickey Carroll, who was catching his breath and leisurely re-rigging.  We’d agreed to break for the day about 2 PM, and I cheerfully informed the rest of the crew that I still had enough time to catch 3 more fish for them to fill their cards.  Much grumbling and thinly veiled threats about man overboard or some such thing.  Not sure what they’re talking about.  Anyway, I was wearing my Cabela’s 3500 auto-inflate vest so I knew I was OK.

2 PM came around, and it was time to pull in the lines one more time and head back for John Wayne.  No more bites, either.  The only bite we got all day among the four of us was the fish I’d caught.  Bummer, but I’m not crying any big alligator tears.  But I don’t gloat any more, either.  I’d sure like the chance to go out again sometime!

Jetty and Entry into John Wayne Marina from Sequim Bay
Jetty and Entry into John Wayne Marina from Sequim Bay

The weather was still great, the wind hadn’t come up very much, and it was a pleasant cruise back to the marina.  Mitch was going to top off the gas tank, but by that time boats were lined up for the launch/recovery ramp all the way to the outer docks, so that idea was a no-go.  We cruised back in, got tied up and the engine shut down.  As Mitch is getting us set up to turn the boat around, he’s watching a boat come in behind us with a guy on the gunwale with a boat hook ready to jump to the dock with a line.  That skipper over-did the reverse throttle and the boat jerked toward the stern.  Man in the water, while the boat hook is slowly sinking out of sight.  Crud!  Mitch lead the charge down the dock to give the poor guy a hand up because there’s no ladder and he can’t pull himself up on the dock.  Our day is ending much better than theirs, for sure.  And no fish for them, either.

Bleu Belle at the Dock, John Wayne Marina
Bleu Belle at the Dock, John Wayne Marina

We carefully moved the fish off the boat and laid it on the dock.  Mitch handed me a digital scale so I could weigh Mr. Halibut.  I’m getting old and weak!  I couldn’t lift the fish high enough with the scale to get the tail clear of the deck.  Mitch stepped over to give me a hand while Jay was shooting pics with my Android and Jim was watching the scale.  We got the tail up off the deck, steadied the scale, and Jim called out “54 lbs 13 oz.”  The fish had totally bled out through the shot wound, so that fish was 55 lbs + when we boated him.

Laid Back Halibut with (Left to Right) Jim Hay, Mitch Carroll, and Jim's nephew Jay.
Laid Back Halibut with (Left to Right) Jim Hay, Mitch Carroll, and Jim’s nephew Jay.

Mitch fileted the fish on the dock, and threw the skin and carcass to the seals, gulls and crabs.  Mitch still had plenty of fish from last season, and he was getting ready to head back to Alaska for another season, so he divided the fish three ways between me, Jim, and Jay per our standing agreement.  I brought home about 12 pounds of halibut filet, which at $21 per pound is @ $250 worth of succulent supper!  I also brought home the head per Darling-Darling’s request, but we ended up trashing that.  She went to work cutting it up for soup before I could catch her, and there were tiny lead shot all over the place where she’d cleavered right through the entry wound.  Everyone told us that it’d be OK – people eat game birds with shot in them all the time – just spit out the shot.  And we probably would have been OK, but the thought of boiling all that fish for soup, with the lead leaching out, didn’t sound like a very good idea so we ended up with the head in the garbage.  Sorry, Darling!

Capt Mitch helping LDC weigh the now-cooperative Mr. Fish.
Capt Mitch helping LDC weigh the now-cooperative Mr. Fish.

Mitch, Jim, Jay, and another guy over from Idaho went out 3 more times after that and never got a bite.  4 trips by Capt. Mitch, and only one bite?  Unheard of!  And the reports of tribal long-lines laid across the banks is surely a mere coincidence, with absolutely no cause-effect relationship.

I’m very pleased to report that the Okuma Cold Water 453D performed flawlessly.  The drag can be set as tight as is prudent to do so, and still be smooth as silk, with absolutely no jerkiness.  The handle has two positions, a center position for greater speed and an outer position that mounts it with a greater turning radius for increased mechanical advantage.  With the handle in the power position, the gear ratio managed the big fish very nicely and was not overly taxing when just bringing the weight up from the depths.  I didn’t have the opportunity to judge the retrieve speed with a fish running right at me, like you’ll often experience with salmon and tuna, but I’m just as glad for all that.  The line counter under-reports the depth from a full spool, but that’s OK – it’s easy to judge after a couple of drifts while watching the fish finder.  Brother Mitch was impressed enough I think he’s going to pick some up for the boat.

It's my story, and I'll tell it any danged way I want to!
It’s my story, and I’ll tell it any danged way I want to!

Anyway, a good day for all, and a very good day for Little Dickey Carroll.  Can’t wait ’til next time – thanks, Mitch, Jim, and Jay!

As always, may you never stop learning and may your journeys always lead to new and exciting destinations!

One of the Hardest Parts…

Cyclic3-20160519_141805_Straight_0.25One of the hardest parts of visiting the treatment center every day is watching the kids, who are at much greater risk than I, and who have a whole life ahead of them that might be cut short. Seeing a 4-year old who doesn’t want to go through “those doors” but then sucks it up and dashes through, or the young teen age girl with a knit cap to cover her hair loss from the chemotherapy, or the… Well, you all get the idea. There was a young boy the other day, probably about 6 or 7, who was wearing a helicopter volcano tour t-shirt from Hawaii. I caught his dad off to the side and asked him if his son like helicopters. Well, duuhhhh! So I told dad that I flew helicopters for @ 20 years in the Army and I had a couple of things that I’d like to pass on if the boy might like them. He gave his permission, so I put together this little package, with a memorial I’d received from one of my unit assignments – a brass life-size replica of the cyclic control stick head for a UH-1 Huey (Bro Mitch Carroll got some door gunner time in those – but that’s a different story!), a Luke Skywalker action figure for a crew, the miniature Master Aviator Wings off my Mess Dress Blue uniform, and then threw in a DVD of the Eruption of Mt St. Helens with my 5 sec of video fame so he could see the aftermath of what a volcano can do. This afternoon after the young man finished treatment, I had an opportunity to sit down with him for about 20 minutes. I presented him with the package, explained what the cyclic stick was, showed him all the buttons and what they did (which he won’t remember, I’m sure!), and then answered a bunch of his questions, which turned into a mini-rotary wing aerodynamics lesson including how autorotation works when the engine quits. At the end, I appointed him an Honorary Master Aviator and, in recognition of his Courage in the Face of the Enemy, I pinned on his wings. I can’t do much about those poor kids, but we have to do what we can, and I’ll tell you that attitude and morale are as important as any other factor in the treatment process.

As always, may you never stop learning and may your journeys always lead to new and exciting destinations!


Abandoning Plan A

So Plan A – which wasn’t really a “plan” so much as a strategy to achieve the Vision that is core to TJLDC – had been as follows:
– Retire from The Walt Disney Company (TWDC) in mid-First Quarter, Calendar Year 2016.
– Spend mid-Feb thru mid-May getting the house and yard in shape for an extended absence
– Depart Washington State in mid-May, headed north.  The first intermediate objective would be to get set up in one of a number of campgrounds on the Anchor River, Kenai Peninsula, Alaska, no later than mid-week prior to Memorial Day Weekend, 2016.  We would be accompanied by my friend and fishing partner Bob Funseth and his wife Ok Sun.
– Spend the summer touring Alaska and fishing all of the old places I remember from my 4-year Army tour up there, plus any new ones that we could run across.  We’d expect Bob and Ok Sun to bail out by mid-summer and return home while LDC and Companions journey on.
– About mid-August, we hoped to head south, catch the Trans-Canada highway, and work our way across Canada, arriving in the Marine Provinces by mid-September.  Work our way down the coast following the Atlantic Salmon runs, spend the Fall in New England, then work our way down the Atlantic coast planning to arrive in Florida about the end of hurricane season.
– Work our way across the Gulf and Mexican Border States, wintering over in Arizona somewhere, with a detour to Southern California to visit Darling-Darling’s sister and maybe do Disneyland if I had any Comp Tickets left.
– In the Spring of 2017, head north from Arizona into Utah and Colorado, heading east through the Mid-Tier States, do Appalachia on up to NY and Penn, then cut back across the Great Lakes States, then the Northern Tier states and back home sometime late fall or early winter 2017.  If it took longer than that, that’d be OK, too, so long as we could meet the objectives of The Vision.

Enter LDC stage left, following the 2015 winter holiday season, having checked off the first state, Hawaii, by a week at Disney’s Aulani resort in November.

The prior summer, the doc had informed me that my PSA levels (PSA being an indicator of Prostate Cancer) were becoming elevated and that we’d keep an eye on them.  I had a Urology consult in September and we discussed current conditions and set up follow-up plans “just in case.”  I took my semi-annual physical in early January, as I usually do, not thinking a thing about the PSA discussion we’d had a few months earlier.  At TWDC I was busy getting my projects in line for transition to someone else, planning retirement parties, validating bennies, and all that pre-retirement folderol, with an announced retirement date of February 19th.

In late January, @ 3 weeks prior to my retirement, I got a call from my Doc’s office.  My PSA level had spiked and I was advised to get a Biopsy on my prostate as soon as possible.  Crud!!  It sure looks like Plan A is down the tubes.  I immediately contacted my Director, Cassa Hanon – who had hired me on at Disney both as a contractor and later on as an FTE, and my Manager, John Hendow – who I’d sat next to the entire time I was with Disney as contractor and then as my boss for my entire time as an FTE.  What are Little Dickey Carroll’s options, and where do we go from here?  Looks like it’s time to come up with Plan B!

We came to conclusion that it would make sense to cancel my retirement, proceed with the diagnosis and various follow-on activities, and then take Medical Leave of Absence if that was appropriate.

So began the new journey that I will be chronicling under Side Trips for all who might be interested in one person’s dance with The Big C.

As always, may you never stop learning and may your journeys always lead to new and exciting destinations!

“An excuse is nothing but the skin of a reason…”

March 22, 2016

Just a note on the photo:  Christmas Day, 2015, looking North from the entrance to Ocean City State Park.  Shot with the camera on my Samsung Note4 – not a bad pic for a cell phone, if ya’ don’t mind my sayin’ so!

My apologies to my readers – no excuse the for lack of posts!  (Actually, I’d love to roll out a whole litany of excuses, but then the ghost of my dear Grandmother would appear to not-so-gently remind me:  “No excuses, young man!  An excuse is nothing but the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie!” and then I’d be ‘fessing up to all manner of misconduct!  So we’ll just leave it at the apologies stage.)

We’re headed to Ocean City State Park again this weekend for a 3-day dig for razor clams – clamming constitutes much of our camping in the Fall thru Spring months.  I’ll try to catch up on some of the work backlog from trips since last Fall but that won’t all happen in one week, especially if I’m going to get any time in chronicling the current journey.  That’s the last trip we’ll take ’til mid April.  We’re nearly at the 5K mile mark on the new rig and it’s time for an oil change before we head out on the next adventure.

Coming up in April:  We have Darling-Darling’s eldest nephew (her family’s current head for those of you up on those types of things) visiting from Korea for a couple of weeks and we’re going to do the whirlwind tour of the West Coast:

  • Down the Oregon Coast to San Francisco, one night stay enroute at Oceanside Beachfront Resort in Charleston.  We’ll stay 2 nights at San Francisco RV resort in Pacifica and do the San Francisco Tourist Thing – at least to the best of my memory from the 4 years I spent at University of San Francisco as Professor of Military Science.
  • Then off to Anaheim and my sister-in-law’s house plus Anaheim/LA touristy things.  We’ll stay 4 nights at the Anaheim RV Park in Anaheim, and I hope to do 2 days at Disneyland/California Adventure courtesy of my Cast Member Main Entrance Pass with guests plus my stock of Comp Tickets as required (Thanks, Mickey!!!), plus a day at Universal Studios, and stop over at the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard.
  • Following that, it’s back North on I-5 to Medford, probably stay over in a Rest Stop, then time permitting, up to Crater Lake, and then Hwy 97 on to the Columbia River for a night near Bonneville Dam to show off our hydro power and hopefully some Spring Chinook in the fish ladders.
  • Then back home to Lakewood, with a day in downtown Seattle and a day at Mt Rainier, and then nephew and wife to SeaTac and back to work for Little Dickey Carroll!

As always, May you never stop learning and may your journeys always lead to new and exciting destinations!

Brew Review – Honolulu Beer Works (

Location:  328 Cooke St., Honolulu HI, 96813
Date of Visit:  Thursday, November 12, 2015

With the limited time available for my visit to Oahu, I only had an opportunity to visit one craft brewery during the tour.  I’d received recommendations for three venues from Oahu natives in my workplace, so I elected to start at the top of the list and headed off from Aulani to downtown Honolulu and the Honolulu Beer Works.

Thanks to Miz Google, and despite the terrible rush-hour traffic, we located our destination without problems.  There is no parking lot available, so parking is limited to available street and metered parking.  I quickly found an open spot a block from the establishment, checked the coin-only old style meters adjacent to cars already parked and no one seemed to be feeding the meters.  I figured it must be after enforcement hours, so Darling-Darling and I headed off to sample some malted beverage products.

The Venue
The facility is similar to craft brewery/pubs I’ve visited in the Ballard district of Seattle:  Simple warehouse, metal frame, walls and roof, concrete floor, wood benches and chairs, raised and normal-height tables, sturdy wood back stools for the bar and the raised tables, and an open-air area off to the side.  Quite breezy inside as the air blasts from the open air area through the seating area and out the open garage-style door on the street.  One difference is:  No insulation on the walls or roof.  Obviously unnecessary for the climate, but I suspect that their brewing area is a little more rigorously climate controlled, as is their keg room.  The beers are served at a pleasantly cool-but-not-cold temperature that allows free reign for the full flavor and aroma of the beverages.

The Fare:

HBW offers a limited selection of beer food.  We chose the Mac ‘n Cheese – which I strongly suspect is NOT prepared on premise from scratch.  It was served in an aluminum pan looking strictly food factory.  The topping was nicely crunchy, but the taste was lackluster at best.  Darling-Darling inquired as to whether there was really a lot of cheese involved in the mix because it certainly lacked the creamy texture and cheesy tang one might expect.  But then this is a craft brewery, not an upscale lunch and dinner establishment so one should not expect an offering comparable to the Lobster Mac ‘n Cheese at Seattle’s Purple Café!

The customer base was definitely on the younger side when we arrived, but later on there was a distinct graying of the consumer population, so either the product has substantial aging properties, we were there a lot longer than I remember, or there’s a truly broad appeal for the product.  Sure seems like the latter!

The Beverages
HBW offers a small selection of wines and non-alcoholic beverages, but I was here for the beer.  They had 12-15 brews on tap – I didn’t count – including their staple products plus several seasonal brews.  Looking over their selection, I ordered a Beer Flight of a half-dozen – a cross section of their standard and seasonal offerings.  My selections included:
• Pia Mahi’ai Honey Citrus Saison – a wheat-based Belgian style brew at 5.9% ABV and 24 IBU
• Sheltered Bay IPA – a classic, hoppy offering with 7.0% ABV and 70 IBU
• Cooke Street ESB – 5.9% ABV and 34 IBU
 Point Panic Pale Ale – 5.8% ABV and 36 IBU
 South Shore Stout – a smoky dark with 6.7% ABV and IBU 52
• Equinox Wet Hops Red – A classic dark amber with 5.1% ABV and 50 IBU.

The Tastings

1. Honey Citrus Saison:  I’ve never been a particular fan of Hefeweisen – Wheat is for bread.  Barley is for beer (and lots of other things…).  This offering is a mildly sweet brew, with the wheat understated in the taste (if not the ingredients) – perhaps overshadowed by the strong citrusy flavors as you might expect from the ingredients.  The overall impression is somewhat bland but definitely palatable.  All in all, this offering might begin to crack my aversion to the Belgian style.
2. Sheltered Bay IPA:  A good, solid IPA – nicely hopped but not overwhelmingly so.  It offers a taste that gains your attention without shouting at you, and is eminently drinkable.  Darling-Darling is not a beer person, but she liked this one – even so far as taking second and third sips.
3. Cooke Street ESB:  To my uneducated palate (you know how it is – don’t know nuthin’ ‘bout beer, but I knows what I likes!) this particular brew seems a bit sweet for an ESB.  It’s very, very smooth as you might expect from the IBU, but perhaps a little too smooth.  That smoothness is offset by a subtle mix of flavors (their description says “toffee, toasted bread, and caramel”) that matures into a very pleasant after-taste that fades nicely.  An interesting brew, though not my favorite of the evening.
4. Panic Point Pale:  Ah, the Pale.  That’s what I’ve been awaiting.  My home refrigerator standard is the Henry Weinhardt’s Blue Boar Pale Ale.  In comparison, the Panic Point seems a bit watery – a less substantial body than I’d like.  But it has a nice crisp flavor that gets your attention, pleasantly more hoppy than the 36 IBU might lead you to expect.  Like the IPA above, it gets your attention from the first sip and keeps it throughout – with every taste revealing another aspect of its character.
5. South Shore Stout:  Like Hef’s, Stouts and Porters have never been among my personal favorites.  I suspect that’s about to change!  The very pleasant smoky flavor derives from the roasted malt and is nicely presented – this brew definitely affirms that barley is for beer.  Very smooth, with less bite than might be expected from the 52 IBU, it finishes with a very nice after-taste that complements your food selection without smothering it.  I like it, Albert!
6. Equinox Wet Hops Red  This is a Red that compares VERY favorably with a couple of the classic Seattle-area Reds from breweries like Silver City Brewing (Ridge Top Red) and Elysian Brewing (Men’s Room Red)…  A well-rounded body (which is always an asset!), with a bold flavor.  Nicely balanced, not bitter but just enough bite to keep your interest.  More like a hard nibble.  It starts fresh and finishes clean, with a very pleasant after-taste.  Very nicely done, HBW!

Little Dickey Carroll’s Stack Ranking:

1. Equinox Wet Hops Red.  They need to reconsider its “seasonal” status.  This is a truly good product that (in my opinion) should be one of their staples!
2. South Shore Stout.  I surprised myself with this one!  I went in expecting the IPA or Pale to be among the top 2 and the Stout to be at or near the bottom.  Not so!
3. Sheltered Bay IPA.  As noted, a good, solid IPA which should remain a staple for the brewery.
4. Point Panic Pale.  Lower in the stack rank than I’d have expected, but still a quite respectable Pale.
5. Honey Citrus Saison.  Based on my personal preferences, I’d have expected this would be among the bottom feeders.  But that’s as much me as anything else.  The fact that it’s not in last place says good things about it.  And, as noted, I may begin to change my mind about wheat beer based on this offering.
6. Cooke Street ESB.  Least of my favorites among the sample.  ‘Nuff said.

Honolulu Beer Works Says:

Pia Mahi’ai Honey Citrus Saison “Farmers Beer”: 5.7% ABV 25 IBU
Our flagship saison, Pia Mahi’ai (Farmers Beer) is a tribute to the farmers of Hawaii and our take on the classic Belgian farmhouse ale style. Brewed with locally grown oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes, lemongrass and Big Island Honey, Pia Mahi’ai explodes with fresh pungent citrus and spice aromas that follow through in the taste. Our house saison yeast creates complex flavors of allspice, clove and a slight peppery finish. This unfiltered ale is brewed with up to 30% wheat which helps provide a gentle smoothness and a wonderful cloudy appearance. Bright, refreshing and satisfying, we’ve captured Hawaii’s sunshine in a glass.

Sheltered Bay IPA: 6.75% ABV 70 IBU
This Pacific Northwest style IPA is full of bold hop flavors that are balanced by a strong malt backbone. With a deep copper color, our Sheltered Bay IPA has a complex aroma of sweet toffee, freshly baked bread and vibrant orange and grapefruit zest. The medium-full body has a base of toasted malt with just a touch of sweet caramel to provide a great balance for the bold hoppy bitterness from the tons of Cascade hops we use.

Cooke Street ESB: 5.9 % ABV 34 IBU
Our version of the classic Extra Special/Strong Bitter style has a beautiful deep amber color with a frothy white head. Bitter in name only, this ale is extremely balanced with a wonderfully complex palate of toffee, toasted bread and hints of caramel that isn’t too sweet because of the mild hop bitterness. Slight earthy and woody flavors are provided by hops helping to create an enjoyable full flavored and medium bodied, malty ale.

Point Panic Pale Ale: 5.6% ABV 36 IBU
Like the famous bodysurfing break it’s named after, this pale ale is smooth, well rounded and has just a bit of kick. While some pale ales are venturing into the IPA realm of bitterness and alcohol, we’ve created our Point Panic pale ale to be light and enjoyable with just enough piney hoppiness to kick your taste buds. We use generous amounts of Cascade hops throughout the brewing process to layer this pale ale with bright citrus notes and a mild lingering hop bitterness. We round it out with a solid malt backbone providing notes of toasted bread and just a touch of sweetness.

South Shore Stout: 7.0% ABV 52 IBU
Just because you’re in Hawaii doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a dark, bold stout. Our stout is rich, luscious and black as Pele’s lava fields. The bold roasted malt backbone is hinted with notes of dark chocolate, sweet tobacco and burnt caramel. A touch of sweetness, a touch of bitter and a touch of roast combine to create a perfect full bodied and full flavored stout.

Equinox Wet Hops Red  – this is a Limited Release brew and they don’t have the description on their site, and didn’t have a flyer I could take with me.  Ah, well…

May you never stop learning and may your journeys always lead to new and exciting destinations!

2016 Allegro 36 LA (aka The Means): Maiden Journey – Labor Day Weekend, Sep 4-7, 2015

Over the years I’ve had several smaller RV ranging from a 17’ travel trailer back in the day, thru some fondly remembered years with a ‘74 Volkswagen Bus Westphalia camper, a late ‘70’s 22’ Coachmen Class C whose little freezer preserved a bunch of Kenai Peninsula salmon filets, a 2006 30’ Monaco McKenzie POS (and no, POS is NOT the Monaco-approved model name, and yes, POS in fact DOES mean what you think it might) travel trailer (they wuz’ goin’ bankrupt when they built it, and their QC was non-existent! I’llever buy a Monaco again!), to a 2006 Coachmen Epic 33’ Class A.  I liked the Coachmen Class C enough that I jumped on the Class A with the McKenzie as a trade-in – and the Epic was a great rig, with a couple of feature deficiencies for our long term needs.

Preparing for retirement, we made the transition to our brand new 2016 Tiffin Allegro 36LA (for full details, see our “Means” page!)– 37’ 6” in length, 1.5 baths, and a washer-dryer among other amenities. Time to check her out!
Our first trip in the new rig was a “getting to know, know, know you” journey a relatively short distance from home to Potlatch State Park at the south end of Hood Canal, in the Puget Sound basin of Washington State. “Getting to know, know, know you” definitely being the operative phrase here!
With the heavy-duty Sumo suspension package, I-5 beat me to death bringing the 36LA home empty when I picked it up from the dealer. After I got all the stuff from the Epic loaded, added some new “necessities” (“necessities,” of course, referring to anything that you think you might conceivably ever need and that you have room to squeeze in!) and filling the consumable tanks (fresh water and propane, and gasoline), I’m pleased to report that the rig rides and handles great when fully loaded and towing my 5000 lb Grand Cherokee.
The Kenwood Navigation and Sound System that comes with the 36LA is, I’m sure, a really great system. But Kenwood-intuitive and Little-Dickey-Carroll (LDC)-intuitive are not necessarily equivalent. Since many of the issues I have with it are the same types of issues I have with my Mickey Mouse iPhone (literally Mickey Mouse – and not in a pejorative way – it’s a company cell phone and Mickey’s paying my salary at the moment and is a major reason I’ll actualize my retirement vision! iPhone? Now THAT’s pejorative!) and it appears to be iPhone friendly but not so much Android, so perhaps there’s a reason…
After an “interesting” experience getting the destination programmed (street address of the Park since it didn’t recognize the name!) we were off. Nav display and verbal directions worked well for the first half of the journey. Then Miz Kenwood (that’s what I call her, as contrasted with Miz Google, who narrates Nav for Google Maps) invited me to make a 150-degree right hand turn at a stop sign from one two-lane road to another out on the Central Kitsap Peninsula north of Shelton. Bad Idea! REALLY BAD IDEA! The intersection was in the middle of a fairly sharp curve of the road I was joining and in a 50mph zone! Cleared both ways as far as I could see and started the turn. Not enough room with this rig to keep it all in the right hand lane – gotta hit the oncoming traffic lane to clear the corner! And, of course, here comes a car heading right toward me in the oncoming lane at 50+ mph, hittin’ the brakes and flippin’ me off. Stopped and backed – which is a no-no with the Stowmaster 5000 tow bar on the jeep, but no choice! Of course, by that time, traffic was approaching, brakin’, and flippin’ from the other direction. Not to mention the folks behind me who are all frantically trying to get out of my way! Finally got clear enough to make a left turn and proceeded on into Shelton, disregarding the instructions of Miz Kenwood ‘cause once I got there, I knew how to get to my destination.
We’d never camped at that State Park before, ‘tho we’d dug hard-shell clams and gathered oysters there many times in the past. We arrived a bit later than I’d hoped because of the detour, but still had plenty of daylight. I dropped the Jeep and headed for the camp-site. Found it and prepared to park. I love the rear cameras on the rig: Very clear, color picture, and you can scroll between the straight back view from the middle of the coach and the cameras mounted in the left and right rear-view mirrors to see what you’re about to run over that you can’t see in the mirrors. Tried backing into the site and was reminded very quickly that the site was rated for large trailers and motorhomes up to 32 feet in length. NOT rated for “Extra-Large” rigs like my new 37’ baby! That was when I remembered that when I’d made the reservations, we’d still had the 33’ Epic. Ah, well. That’s probably the last time we’ll camp at that park simply because they don’t have any sites rated “X-large.” I ended up coming back the other way and the folks in the camp site across and up one had to move their truck so I had room to maneuver my front end, but I squeezed it in and we were good to go.
I’d really hoped to get some time in over the long weekend digging some clams, gathering oysters, and hitting the late-summer King Salmon run on the Skokomish River that flows into Hood Canal a few miles southeast of the park. Alas – low-cycle low tides were in the 3:30 – 5:00 AM-ish time frame over that weekend so we never made the digs with the heavy downpours early in the AM, and I never broke from new systems orientation for long enough to grab waders and gear and head for the river. But due to the long-awaited precip that weekend, the Parks Department did lift the burn ban that had been in effect all summer so we could have a camp-fire and barbecue with charcoal rather than propane. And I did develop a healthy punch list of opportunities for the dealer to address (perhaps unreasonably healthy by some measures!) and did learn a bunch about the rig!
A description of Potlatch State Park and its amenities and recreational opportunities can be found on our “Opportunity” page. At the time of our Inaugural Journey, I wasn’t loggin’ and bloggin’, so a very rough reconstruction of the travel log can be found on the Travel Log page.

May you never stop learning and may your journeys always lead to new and exciting destinations!