726 - Franklin Falls Trail

Kelsey and mom at hike start pointAileen found this hike listed in Joan Burton’s book Best Hikes With Kids: Western Washington & the Cascades. It was an amazing hike, and offered the kids a few challenges which they gobbled up.

We started the day at the Denny Creek Campground, and messed up a bit. Apparently, just about 200 yards from the campground is the Denny Creek Trailhead. The official starting point for this hike. We drove out to the road to follow the directions in the book and they took us past it and up the hill (the book says left onto the paved road after the campground, but it looks to be graveled now…) We went up and up and ended up at the I-90 exit 53 intersection (an apparent backway to the Summit at Snoqualmie if you need one). At that point we realized our mistake and turned around.

Looking west about 3/4 of the way to the fallsInstead of heading back to the first trailhead, we parked where the trail confluences Forest Road 5880 and pulled off. We started there and went onwards to the falls. This trail is well maintained and looks like some serious love keeps it in shape. Another great reason to support the WTA.

It is windy and up hill, but not a serious grade. The challenge comes at the end when the kids get to play mountain goat and wind their way around the end of the hill on a rockface downwards to the base of the falls and level with Denny Creek. At this time of year, one can skip across the river without getting wet if they take the time to balance over. I was able to get there, even with Bailey tugging at me, but the kids asked for and got the little extra help they needed.

A nice lunch later and we started back. Bailey and I went ahead. Actually, I went ahead and when the trail was clear Aileen let Bailey go and he bounded up the rocks towards me. Much easier when you have an energetic dog than to try to have him drag up the rockface. We kept going towards the car.

A pretty sweet treat hit us almost the whole way back to the car. Seattle Mountain Rescue was doing a training exercise and I got to talk to a few of the Explorer Search & Rescue folks that were there training up. They had a rope line across the gully and were sending people out and down for practice traversing into canyons from above.

Bailey and I got back to the car and I got him some water. After that I headed back in to meet up with the girls and we stopped off at the S&R folks again so Kelsey could watch. Back to the car and the girls got tired and hopped in with mom. I continued on foot and finished off the portion of the trail we inadvertently skipped, and then just continued on to the campground.

Next time we do this, we’ll have to do the whole thing from the campground and leave the car there. The hike between the Denny Creek Trailhead and where we parked was almost more fun than the part we did hike. Maybe we’ll hit the water slides next weekend if its warm… :)

Franklin Falls

Trip total trail miles: 1.71
Hike-A-Thon total: 2.97


715 - White River Campground & Shadow Lake Trail

The girls and mom halfway down the Shadow Lake Trail.We thought we’d get a nice kick to the month off by taking my mom tent camping for the first time in her life (she hasn’t been popup camping since I was a kid…) Besides a few stiff joints, she ended up doing really well and we’re super proud of her for the effort she put in.

Aileen was able to leave Maple Valley early enough on Friday while I worked to secure us a nice spot in loop D of the White River Campground, just down the loop from the Glacier Basin trailhead. We went to the campfire program that night and learned about the many hats rangers wear, including collecting seeds for replanting meadows that have been tromped by the ill informed.

Breakfast this morning brought us a beautiful black tailed deer doe that came right down the hill and through our site. Unfortunately, we were yet to get any gear together to have grabbed a photo. We were eyeing up the Glacier Basin trail and the trail from the campground to Sunrise. But with our first timer with us (first time hiking too!) we decided to opt for a smoother transition.

South from Shadow Lake TrailWe hit the Junior Ranger program in the morning and drove to Sunrise. After a good lunch, we started down the Shadow Lake Trail intent on getting us as far as the group could make it. Arthritis set in and we had an early end. We didn’t make it past the service road that you take west to get to Shadow Lake, so it was dusty; however, there were great views of Rainier and some wonderful Anise Swallowtail Butterflies following us around. All around still a great experience for the group.

I forgot to turn on Trailguru until the turn around point, so the below is only the return trip.
Shadow Lake Trail Portion - Return Trip

Trip total trail miles: 0.64. Not a lofty start, but I’m damn proud of my mom for hitting a Sunrise trail as her first hike.


699 - FUNDRAISER – WTA Hike-A-Thon

WTA 2009 Hike-A-Thon BannerI am participating in the Washington Trails Association’s Hike-A-Thon this August. This is a fundraiser to help WTA get the funds they need for trail maintenance, supplies like cross cut saws used to clear trails, crew leader training and more.

I’m doing this for several reasons. First, I really believe in the WTA and the work they do as stewards for our states trails. If you’ve enjoyed a hike on a trail in WA, chances are it was made more enjoyable at least in part by the WTA’s work either building the trail, clearing the trail, or as lobbyists for hikers rights. Second, its important to me to teach our kids to not only enjoy the outdoors, but also to enjoy the pastimes of hiking, camping, and to gain general survival skills (building fire, navigating, etc.) Lastly, I am going to be joining the King County Search and Rescue Training later this year and I need to get into a lot better shape for that.

The Hike-A-Thon continues throughout the entire month of August, and only trail miles count. I’ll be bringing the girls (Aileen, Kelsey, and Kaela) on almost every hike, so it will be hard to get a large number of miles logged (4 and 6 year old legs don’t go quite as far as mine) . My goal is to get 50 miles between all the family hikes, several solitary hikes, and at least a few hikes with just Aileen and I.

If you share the sentiment and would like to sponsor me, I would be very appreciative. All monies go to the WTA. You can SPONSOR a flat rate online or you can sign my pledge form (email works too) and pledge a per mile rate to keep me motivated.

AND, if you donate $35 or more ($20 or more as a student) you are entitled to a free WTA membership. Let me know if you want that option and I’ll forward details after I receive your pledge. This is also a great way to join the WTA if you have been meaning to do so anyway… :)

If you want to live vicariously through me during this adventure, follow my progress in the Hike-A-Thon category on my blog. I’ll be posting pictures, thoughts, trip reports, and more. Feel free to comment on the posts to encourage me to keep going! :)

Finally, If you don’t want to donate, I understand that as well. Just do me one favor if you don’t sponsor me. Go online, find a trail, and go on a hike this summer. Get outdoors and enjoy the vast wilderness that WA state (or any other state for that matter) has to offer. The fresh air and views are so totally worth it.


344 - Thief With a Brain?

Hard to believe isn’t it?  What with all the Darwin Award emails and Dateline’s To Catch a Predator series.  But, they do exist.  And they took our stroller.  HUH?  Yup, our stroller.

I drove to the train station Friday on my way to work and parked in the outdoor lot.  Aileen came into the city that day and offered me a ride home.  We went the way home that is not the way home to pass by the station, so in a fit of laziness we left the car in the lot for the weekend.  Turns out we risked it getting towed – Kent Station is owned and operated by Sound Transit who have a semi-strict policy on 24 hour parking limits.  KC Metro allows 72 parking, but now I’m on some Sound Transit hit list of cars to be towed if they hit 24:00:01 time parked.

I digress.  So, Aileen drives me back to the parking lot Monday morning so I can move the car and get to work.  She goes up to drive it to the indoor lot and asks me why I left our daughter Kelsey’s bike helmet on the ground next to the car.  I curiously told her I had not (considering it had been in the trunk…) and went over.  The car was locked, but a bit ransacked inside with the driver seat reclined.  There were NO signs of forced locks.  No broken window.  NOTHING.  The guys that got into the car were good, nay, VERY good at their job.

Here’s the kicker though.  They stole ONE thing – a stroller from the trunk.  Now, we know they didn’t want it for their own or a friend’s kid.  How you ask?  Because they left a slew of toys and bikes in the car that could have gone to the same kid.  They even went to the trouble of taking the busy bar OFF of the stroller.  Come on, what self righteous thief says this busy bar isn’t worth the stroller it’s tied to?  None that I can think of.

My guess?  They used it to wheel something else off from someone else’s car.  But that begs the question of how good the thieves actually are.  If they are THAT good at getting INTO a car, what stopped them from hotwiring the car and driving the whole darn thing away?  Maybe they were interrupted??  Missing tools? gaps in knowledge?  Too big a crime?
Who knows.  But to leave a  car capable of carrying a LOT of stuff and being smart enough to see kids toys in a car and hit it for the possibility of a storller in the trunk is brilliant.  I’m not sure I’d have thought of it had I been stealing things.


181 - iCal Calendar – Tahoma School District

Aileen went to take the girls to playtime last week, only to find out it was closed. Apprarently, it follows the time schedule of the School District. I didn’t want her to blow time or be surpised like that again, so I put together an iCal Calendar of time off for the WA state Tahoma School District. Not all Holidays that fall within a break are designated. Instead, the entire break is listed.

Subscribe in iCal
View in Web Browser

It is correct through the 2007-2008 school year per the files listed on the School District website. As more calendars are posted, I will update it into the future so it will always be up to date.
Leave a comment if you have any additional ideas or to let me know if you find it useful!

(This is free for all to use, but if you find it helpful, feel free to send a small paypal amount to myko@blueneedle.com to offset the time it took to create and the cost of bandwidth for hosting it.)


174 - Even infants have selective hearing!

Good grief. No wonder I can’t get anyone in the house to listen to a word I say. They just don’t care. :(

Like teenagers, babies don’t much care what their parents say.

Though they are learning words at 10 months old, infants tend to grasp the names of objects that interest them rather than whatever the speaker thinks is important, a new study has found.

What Kelsey picks up is so mysterious – my wife and I make deals with her. We’ll say something like “We’re not going to read a book now since we’re going to the store, but if you’re good, we’ll read two when we get back. Deal?” My wife was trying to make a deal with her yesterday and she said “isn’t that the show with the suitcases?” Thanks Howie!

read more | digg story


168 - Infant Mouthguards?

I have found a replacement for most disturbing sound – nails on chalkboard – you’re history! You’ve been replaced by infant teeth grinding. Yes, Kaela is grinding her only two top teeth with her only two bottom teeth. And by god if it’s not the most bone shivering sound ever.

Anyone know where to get an infant mouthguard? :) In the meantime, we’re going to make the biter biscuit people rich.


23 - Goodbye Queen Anne

Our Old Condo Keys

*sigh, cry* Those are our old condo keys. Yes, old, as in no longer ours.

This past Friday we closed a book in our life. The buyers of our condo took possession at 9PM. Whereas we’re glad to have sold it and be on our way to places with much more space to grow, we still close this book with a bit of sadness. We lived in this neighborhood for almost seven years. We did so much in our life while we lived in this building.

Aileen and I moved here just after getting engaged. We started our new life together here. We walked the streets, went to the parks. Hempfest, Bumbershoot, Folk Life, Vegfest, the St Patty’s Day Dash, Pagdiriwang, and more were all 5-10 minutes walk away.

I worked in the office building next door and started to realize how stressful I found driving to work. To this day I still take the bus, even though we live further away. I’ve found an inner peace that can’t be bought.

We had many superbowl parties and BBQs in both units. We made freinds, we formed bonds.

We got married and bought our first condo after our apartment building got converted to condos. This was a big step for us as we started to grow in our life together.

We had our first daughter, Kelsey. A miracle then, now, and forever.

I got laid off for the first time. I think the management was surprised at how in stride I took it. I was actually welcoming it, as I got to stay home and take care of Kelsey for two years. They were stressful, but I wouldn’t give anything at all in exchange for them. I formed a bond with her that most fathers could only dream of having with their daughters.

I started my business and worked from home out of a makeshift office we created in our bedroom with a door desk and two free-standing partitions we scored off of Craigslist. This was by far the hardest thing ever. Kelsey would refuse to go to bed until I was done working at night, and I could only get things done after Aileen got home from work to take over night shift day care duties.

We moved my mom to Seattle and out of the sheer drudgery that was Middletown, PA. I have not seen her this happy, full of life and enrgetic since I was in high school. She’s come to a palce she can call home (with or w/o us). After years of inactivity and boredom, she walks and buses all ove rthe city every day. She even walked a 5K with us on St Patricks Day.

We got pregnant again and are less than a month away from delivering K2, Kelsey’s younger sister.

In January it was with great sorrow that we decided to sell our condo FSBO. Things were going veyr well at first, but we just couldn’t get enough people in, and it proved much to stressful with everything else going on to get enough people in to see it. A month or so ago (it seems like forever right now) we hired a realtor to list it on the MLS and represent us.

Now, as of Friday we no longer own the condo, we are preparing for the end of May when Aileen is due, and are looking forward to the future which holds places that have at least 3 bedrooms. Our current lease ends in July or when the house we’re renting sells. Likely we’ll rent again for another year or two while we save for another down payment.

This will give Aileen the chance to stay home with K2 like I got to do with Kelsey. She’ll soon be starting the SAHM/start your own business cycle I did a few years ago. I know without a douby that she’ll be as successful at it as I was.

Goodbye Queen Anne…


29 - Network Magic Released!

The company I work for, Pure Networks, released Network Magic to the public this morning.

Network Magic makes management of a home network much simpler and provides a much easier way to setup Windows networking for sharing files and printers.

It shows the status of your network and all connected devices through a Network Map that is very easy to read:
Network Magic Network Map

Besides sharing files and printers, you can also detect wifi signal strength of any wireless device from any PC running Network Magic. You can track and defend against wireless intruders. It will also throw your computer into a “shields up” mode when you roam off your home network and protect your shares from other devices on the roamed onto network until or unless you tell it not to.

I might be a little biased, but I wouldn’t write up an entry suggesting you go download it unless I absolutely believed in it myself. It solves so many of my home networking problems; I think it can do the same for you.


30 - Where have I been…?

Now that I’m back online after a day w/o my domain I just noticed I haven’t posted in about a month. Much has been going on, and I want to catch you up.

In no particular order:

  1. We are expecting another daughter (temporarily named K2) May 29th. Kelsey is already looking forward to little sister and is starting to divide the play things up. She says goodnight to K2 in Aileen’s tummy every night! )
  2. We are in the process of selling our condo. Closing is coming up in the middle of April.
  3. I started a full time job at Pure Networks. The company is extremely exhilirating. I’ve never worked with such a talented, dedicated group (and given some of the companies I’ve worked at, this says a lot about my current co-workers.) We’ve got a beta going for our new product Network Magic (I’ll post more on this soon…)
  4. After about 3 years on the wait list, we finally got a plot at one of Seattle’s community P-Patch gardens. We have a cure little 10′x10′ plot and will be growing all manner of vegetables this year. We can’t wait!!
  5. Aileen is gearing up to start her own business as I’m gearing to slow mine down.

So, we’ve been a touch busy… Sorry for the absence and look for more posts as things start to stabalize at least a little bit.


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