Kenneth Feucht

Andersen’s Märchen

Andersens Märchen, by HC Andersen ★★★
Continuing my relatively passive exposure to the German language, I read a German translation of Andersen’s Fairytales. This was supposedly a fairly complete version of Andersen’s works, and so was rather long. Though this edition was translated about 100 years ago, it contains a number of archaic words for which the book occasionally provided translations. There were many fairy tales that were familiar to me, like the Ugly Duckling, and the Little Mermaid. The little mermaid story has only a passing resemblance to the Walt Disney version of the story. Many of the stories were a touch wearisome, being somewhat unimaginative. Andersen loved to put a brain and animus into common plants and objects and would lead you through the adventures of their existence. So you follow the events that occur with a tin soldier, some plants like a fir tree, and various other objects. The book was wonderful reading, considering that it was not too complex of language for learning German.
Next on my German reading list is the 1001 nights or Arabian Nights. Already, it reads a little smoother than Andersens Märchen, even though most of the stories I’m not at all familiar with.

Blitzfahrt nach China

Whoever heard of going to China for just 2 days? On this trip, Dr. X. Liao and I left Seattle at 1300 last Friday and returned home at 1030 this last Monday. It took 3 days for my brain to de-fog to write this blog. The trip was made possible by a generous benefactor Mr. Lu, who covered the entire cost of the trip, loading us with numerous gifts to take home with us. I had provided care to the brother of the person that made this trip possible, the brother has had a very good outcome from with healthcare with Dr. Liao. Thus, he was interested in establishing a stronger American presence in China for healthcare.
The flight each way was 10 hours, but with the crossing of the date line and 10 hour time zone difference, flying Hainan Airline on a direct flight from Seattle to Beijing, and arriving the next day at 1730. Mr. Lu’s oldest son picked us up at the airport, did tea with us at his office and taught me extensively on the proper handling and brewing of Chinese tea (we had pu-er tea, Betsy’s favorite), and then dropped us off at the train station, which  put us on one of the high-speed trains. We rode business class, which gave us reclining seats and shear luxury. These trains are even nicer than the best trains in Europe–they are really nice. In 1.5 hours, we were in the town of Jinan in the Shandong province, located south and east of Beijing, about ⅓ of the way to Shanghai. Jinan is a smaller little village of only 8-10 million people. Mr. Lu picked us up from the train station, took us out to dinner, and then dropped us off at our hotel, a 5 star hotel (that incidentally, the really good rooms cost the equivalent of about $100/night).
The next morning (Sunday), we had breakfast at the hotel, and then hopped in the car for a sight-seeing tour. About 1 hour drive south took us to Qufu, where we were able to see the Confucius temple.  It was a large compound, a little bit like the Forbidden City, though not nearly as large. Most of the buildings were built starting in the early Ming dynasty (about 1300 ad), though it was the site were Confucius was born and lived many hundreds of years ago during the Shang dynasty.  Sitting beside the temple grounds was the Confucius “Mission”, where about 70 or more generations of families lived after Confucius. The Mormons would like to get ahold of that genealogy!
Dr. Liao, Mr. Lu, me at Confucius temple
Entrance to the temple
Burning incense to Confucius
Leaving there, we visited a university of 10,000 students that was built and funded by Mr. Lu. We toured several of the buildings, which he had built after the style of a European mansion, quite luxurious. We were then to meet the doctor in charge of one of the Jinan hospitals that had been talking with Mr. Lu about the development of an American style clinic for cancer patients. There was an hour meeting where Dr. Liao explained his vision, and the 5-6 hospital surgeons and oncologists listened carefully, asking various questions. After that, we had dinner at our hotel with the hospital surgeons and Mr. Lu’s brother, our patient. Somehow, they manage to find very large round tables, and this one had a motor that slowly turned the large central lazy Susan on which multiple dishes sat. One would take small portions of 20 or more different dishes, giving the diner the opportunity to try multiple things. For me, most of the food was quite unrecognizable, but everything tasted very good. The difficulty that I often have with he more exotic Chinese foods is not with the taste so much as with the texture of the food.  In addition, there are flavors that westerners are quite unfamiliar with, such as that of lotus root. I find that my favorite Chinese foods are the cheap foods that are found on the street at inexpensive restaurants. The fancy restaurants are just too exotic, and I don’t care to eat chicken feet or various forms of slime.
University in Jinan
Inside of the buildings of the university
After breakfast in the hotel the next morning, we did a tour of several other clinic possibilities, including converting a very nice but underused hotel into a large outpatient clinic, and then driving through a very modern and fancy district of Jinan next to the train station for possibilities. Mr. Lu dropped us off at the train station, loaded with massive amounts of gifts, and we hopped the train back to Beijing. In Beijing, a taxi took us to the airport, and a flight home (in which I slept most of the way) left us in Seattle. We left Beijing on Monday at 5 in the evening, and arrived in Seattle at 10:30 on Monday in the morning–it’s like going back in time, and definitely confuses your internal clock. Mr. Lu’s gifts included 12 very expensive discs of pu-er tea, a number of boxes of very expensive finest Tie Guan Yin (Iron Goddess of Mercy) tea, also one of my absolute favorites, a tea server (I can’t even tell you what it is, and a photo won’t work, you just need to see it in action), as well as oodles of Chinese candy. For all of his kindness, I dearly hope that I could have been of help to Mr. Lu’s vision.

Life Is a Wheel

Life is a Wheel, by Bruce Weber ★★★
This book was given to me by my brother Gaylon in order to inspire us to bicycle across the USA someday (soon?).  Bruce Weber is a journalist for the NY Times, and spends most of his time writing the obituaries. He rode his bicycle across the USA in 1993 as a much younger kid, and now at age 58 has determined to attempt the task again. This time, he will be frequently visited by NY Times personnel to document his trip, and blow-by-blow accounts will be published in the Times.
He takes off from Astoria, riding south, then through the Columbia River valley, up through the Palouse, across Idaho, across Glacier National Park and then northern Montana and North Dakota, descending in Minnesota and Wisconsin into Chicago, boats across Lake Michigan, and rides through Michigan down into Indiana and Ohio, slowly weaving his way back to home in New York City.
This book has some strong merit. It definitely put the bug in me to do a Trans-America bicycle trip. He relates that as a limited cyclist, he was able to survive nicely during his three months on a bike on the road.
There is more that I disliked about the book than liked.
1. His choice of routes was often very strange, and much different from what I would have done. He spent much time backtracking and traveling in very uninteresting environments. The object of cycling is not to see if you could possibly put yourself to sleep while riding a bicycle.
2. I could tell within the first few pages that Weber was Jewish. I felt like I was reading a bicycling counterpart to Woody Allen, who constantly “somatacized” his problems, and used a shrink in order to resolve those matters. Bruce writes about his health and mental problems almost with a sense of indifference, which is liked by New Yorkers but deeply disliked by me.
3. The diversions from the bicycle-riding story were deeply annoying. I didn’t care to spend a whole chapter on his good friend that just died. I wasn’t interested in two chapters of a stupid ride in Viet Nam. I didn’t care about learning in-depth details of mother and father, which didn’t seem to relate at all to the bicycle riding experience. Fortunately, Weber avoids politics for the most part,  but can’t help but suggest that he is a flaming (and clueless) liberal.
The bottom line is that Weber has provided additional motivation for me to ride across the USA. He has also instructed me to avoid many of the paths that he has taken. He is not a person that I would wish to take a long trip with, or for that matter, even to become a close friend with him. I’m sure he feels the same way about me. Perhaps the book should have been titled “Life is all about me on a wheel”.

The Space Trilogy

The Space Trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength) by C. S. Lewis ★★★
This set of books was read on my iPad. Each book stands distinct from the other two but needs to be read in the order noted in order to make sense. Generally, I tend to give C. S. Lewis a 5-star rating for everything he writes. There is also a 5-star quality to much of what is contained within these stories, but the quality just doesn’t approximate what C.S. Lewis does elsewhere. In brief, Out of the Silent Planet is the most enjoyable read, and contains the most storytelling. In this book, the lead character who is found in all three stories, Ransom, is kidnapped by two academic types who figure out how to make a spaceship to fly to Mars. On Mars, Ransom escapes the grasp of the two kidnappers, and encounter many alien types until he finally encounters the answer as to why he was brought to Mars. Mars is a world where the creatures have not experienced the “fall” as Adam and Eve did on earth. Perelandra is the story of Ransom now traveling to Venus, only to encounter one of the two kidnappers from Mars. he also encounters a very distinctly different female, in what amounts to be a pre-fall Adam and Eve story, with the kidnapper as the satanic tempter. In the end, Ransom kills the professorial colleague and saves the planet. Throughout the first two books, Lewis would make lengthy divergences from the story to allow dialogue of a philosophical nature to transpire. Oftentimes, it is just not fitting, such as at the end of Perelandra. That Hideous Strength is over twice as long as the other two books and is a story about an academic center in England that sells itself out to outside concerns (N.I.C.E.) and eventually degenerates into auto-destruct mode. This is probably the story closest to reality, in that it seems to be exactly what is occurring today in academia. I’m sure Lewis was writing from personal experience, but turning the experience into a science fiction tale in order to point fingers at academia while not directing the criticism to any particular person or institution. This book was also the hardest to read, as it starts very slowly, and if you haven’t read it before, have a hard time determining where the story is leading you.
The philosophic statements in the three books are profound and make this trilogy a worthy read.  Lewis is especially hard on academia, but rightfully so, as he was able to predict where academia was heading and identify the driving factors that cause academia to fail in its mission.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe ★★★
This book is said by many to have been one of the most influential books in all of American history. I don’t doubt that. It is actually an assembly of articles that Stowe wrote for a magazine, eventually assembled into book format. It is written like a true story, though it is a fiction supposedly assembled from examples of how slaves were treated in the antebellum south. Unfortunately, I would not call it great literature and is definitely written with a strong political slant to it.  The book has two main stories to it, the first being a slave lady with her child that escapes to safety. Then, there is Tom, the good boy who always does what he is told, who ends up being sold to a tyrannical slavemaster, leading to his death.
The book is written in an inflammatory manner designed to show that while slaves may have kind and loving owners, the entire system of slavery was rotten to the core. Uncle Tom had some kind owners, yet the picture is always lurking that he is essentially nothing but somebody else’s property and that only pure luck gave him sympathetic owners. Stowe uses religion heavily during the narrative, emphasizing that Tom was a very religious man. This seemed to be directed at southern theologians who vociferously contended for the religious propriety of slavery as an institution.
What do we make in this book 150 years later? We know the outcomes now, and so are somewhat prejudiced in our reading of this book. Needless to say, when Union armies came close to slave lands, at least 1/6 of the slaves would run to the union front. There are simple reasons to explain why it wasn’t 100% of slaves, as confederate lost cause writers try to impress on us that most slaves were loyal to their masters and would have stayed with them out of contentment for their situation. The fact is that the south did not take careful measures to protect against abuses in slavery (if slavery itself is not itself considered a serious abuse). There is a large movement today to resurrect the thinking of the lost cause writers, and strangely, this is found most prominent among libertarians, who are the most vociferous about individual rights. Arguments in these camps abound about how the civil war wasn’t about slavery but instead, state rights, taxes, or Lord only knows what. They love to make Abe Lincoln look worse than the devil himself. It would have been best if America did not have to go through the bloodiest war in its history with the civil war. Thomas Fleming in his book A Disease in the Public Mind (reviewed recently by me) identifies the real cause of the war as mass public insanity regarding the issue of slavery, both in the south and the north, that led to this war. This book about Uncle Tom flamed the insanity in the north, and southern entrenched arrogance inflamed the insanity of the south. Needless to say, I do NOT have southern sympathies, while contending with the issue of slavery without the inflammatory nature of this book would have been a better way to go about it.

Iowa-Black Hills Bicycle Trip

This blog is a combination of two activities, the first being a visit of Betsy and I to our daughter Rachel and her husband and two daughters, who live in Sioux Center, Iowa, and the second being a bicycle trip I did with the Adventure Cycle Association in the Black Hills, starting in Rapid City, South Dakota. The bicycle trip begins at the 30AUG spot, so if you are only interested in that, please skip down everything else.
23aug We decided to head to Iowa early in the morning on Saturday, rather than late on Friday. At the very last minute, Betsy and I both decided to take a slightly longer route, which went first to Portland, and then out the Columbia River highway. The alternative would have been to go over Snoqualmie Pass through Yakima and Tri-Cities. We drove down through Pendleton, Baker, Ontario, Boise, and finally settled in for the night at Mountain Home, Idaho. I don’t take photos from the car, so no photos were obtained today.
24aug Today was a long, hard day of driving, never getting on an interstate highway at all until the last five miles. We left Mountain Home on a side road that took us through the Craters of the Moon National Monument. Betsy had never seen this, and it was not a major delay in going this way as compared to simply taking the interstate to Idaho Falls. Once we reached Idaho Falls, we continued on the road that followed the Snake River to the Grand Tetons. I’ve traveled this road before, having gone a number of times to a church associated Labor Day Weekend Youth Rally on this road, located just before the Wyoming border. Driving up through the Tetons, we then entered Yellowstone Park, and left out the east entrance towards Cody. Oddly, I felt that many areas of the Northwest were far more beautiful and spectacular than Yellowstone NP. We then headed north on route 14a through the Bighorn Mountains. I had thought that I did this route before, but apparently not, and must have done the straight route 14. 14a went through Lovell, but then is a ridiculously steep climb for over ten miles, throwing us into snow, and the tops of the mountain peaks. It was most grand, and created dreams of the ultimate challenge bicycle ride. I love the Bighorns, in my estimation one of the most beautiful spots in the Rockies. We then hit a long, steep descent which put us into Sheridan, Wyoming where we spent the night.
25aug today was mostly driving on I-90, with the exception of a bypass the see the Devil’s Tower. Betsy and I took a walk around the tower and then quickly dashed back to I-90 to get to Alex and Rachel. Only a stop in Sturgis to get lunch held us from getting to Sioux Center at about 8 pm, weary and ready for bed. But, what a delight it was to see the children (we include Alex in that) and grandchildren.
26aug Today was a lazy day, with me riding around town with Alex, doing a short bicycle ride with him, and then grilling steaks on the barbeque.
27aug Today was another lazy day, with a visit to the foreign candy company, as well another bicycle ride. We had lunch at Culvers in memory of Diane.
28aug Today we went to Lester to visit the relatives. We were invited to Wes and Esther’s for lunch. Also at lunch were Phil and Donna Mogler, Wes’s mother, Alex, Caleb, and Tessa. Uncle Phil has always been a wonderful memory to me as far back as when I was 3-4 years old. Wes and Esther have been  most special cousins to our family, and I always try to see them when I come to Iowa. After a fantastic lunch with the most delicious Iowa corn, we had heavenly apple pie. Esther then took us to see the town of Lester with some brief stops, and then to see Roy and Melissa, as well as Tim and Carissa. Tim and Carissa were homeschooling their 5 children, all of them most wonderful kids, who were living in the original home of Carl and Pauline, where dad and all the aunts and uncles on that side of the family were born. The house was quite remodeled, with walls moved and additions added, but it still felt like the old homestead. The house looked like a school, as the children were being home-schooled. What a delight it was to see old relations. My only regret is that we didn’t have either time or opportunity to see more relatives in the area. Dinner was at Pizza Ranch in Sioux Center, since Alex needed to go to a major fireman’s meeting.
Phil and Donna Mogler
Esther, Wes and Grandma Moser
Roy Feucht showing off his high heel cowboy boots
Roy and Melissa Feucht
Tim and Carissa Feucht and family. The house is the original homestead where my father as well as uncles & aunts were born
Tim and Carissa Feucht family
29aug This was my last full day in Sioux Center. It was mostly a lazy day, packing and getting ready for the bicycle trip, as I tend to forget things. In the evening, we had dinner at Archies in LeMars, followed by Blue Bunny ice cream at the Blue Bunny fountain. Archies, by the way, is steak to die for, if you didn’t know that already. In the evening, we had a wonderful time with Alex’s parents, as well as with Kurt and Colleen, who came over (Kurt) for a cigar and beer. It was a wonderful way to end my time with Alex and Rachel.
30aug Today was an early rise, and long, six hour drive to Rapid City, where my cycle ride was to begin. We had the usual formalities, including the explanation of the next day’s ride, as well as dinner. I crashed early. That night had some heavy rains, high winds, and thunderstorms, which I haven’t seen in a while. The ole REI tent held up well, and I was able to wake up dry.
Patrick, the bicycle mechanic
Doug, the luggage manager, always the most friendly dude.
The daily board
Tony Neaves, a superb leader of the pack.
Fetching dinner with Tony and Lou
31aug This was our first day of riding, and supposedly the hilliest and hardest. There was moderate climbing, but it was fairly straightforward.  I arrived at the campsite just west of Deadwood at about 13:30, so had time to shower, read, and enjoy a cigar. Dinner was based on the Chinese theme, though not like anything we’ve ever had in China. It was another quiet evening, ready for tomorrow.
On the road, ever upwards
One of the smaller towns in South Dakota
Arriving at last in Deadwood
01 sept Labor Day! Deadwood to Hill City. Today was almost completely on a non-paved gravel road, the Mikelson Trail. Riding was made a little more complex by the presence of rain, which made the fine gravel act a bit more like mud, the tires sometimes sinking up to a half inch into the trail. There were several climbs that we were told would be no more than 2 percent grade bit were actually between 3-4 percent grade. Compounded by the muddy gravel, it was a bit of work to get over those hills. The ride was gorgeous in spite of the grey clouds and rain. The day ended with cold but beautiful ble skies, which dried out all of our equipment.
On the Mickelson Trail
Kathy pausing for a photo opportunity
Somewhat wet trail in forested area
The trail opening up into prairie
02sept Hill City to Hot Springs. This AM, it was so cold I was freezing. I wore normal clothes for the ride, but had to constantly blow into my hands to warm them up. First stop was Crazy Horse state park. I only went to the entrance to get some photographs. Oddly, I had seen the Crazy Horse monument 35 some years ago, and it didn’t seem to be and further along to completion as 35 years ago. I rode onward. I missed a turn onto Argyle Road, and went about 1.5 miles too far before figuring out what I did.  Argyle Road was off the Mickelson Trail, and was a normal road through the countryside, but gravel. The gravel was very loose in spots, and it was over 10 miles of this stuff. The only good thing about it was that it was mostly downhill, though there was rolling hills, with occasional 8-10 percent grade. This was granny gear country!  The temperature was easing over 90F as I rolled into camp, and there was practically no shade… One time I would have easily settled for a hotel. I finally found a cool, comfortable spot and refused to move. Cold beer never tasted so good.
One of several tunnels on the trail
The trail now following a creek. Gold mining was still happening off of this creek
Verruckter Pferd (Crazy Horse). Not much work on it since I saw it last 35 years ago.
Rock formations off the path, awaiting a sculptor.
03sept Hot Springs to Custer State Park. Today started a bit chilly but soon warmed up, since it was climbing from the get-go. The first stop was at the Wind Caves, but I decided against doing a 1.5 hour tour and rode on. Soon, a group of us riders encountered a herd of buffalo in the road, and needed to wait over forty minutes for them to move off. It was rather crazy being only about five meters from very large buffalo, but they didn’t seem to mind us. We again encountered buffalo at the water stop, where the entire stop was overrun by  buffalo, making it necessary for them to bring in the water jugs, since the buffalo were quite interested in them. Moving into Custer State Park, it was quite woody and mountainous, giving us a very long steep climb over “Heartbreak Hill”. The remainder of the ride was nearly completely downhill into camp.
Bison statues in the town of Custer
Entering Wind Cave National Park
Bison in the prairie
Bison obstructing the road. We had to wait 40+ minutes for them to move off the road
Bison raiding the water stop
Federal regulations demand you stay a minimum of 25 meters from buffalo. We were within 5-10 meters to them.
Buffalo Ken
Custer State Park. I didn’t see any buffalo in the state park.
04sept. Custer State Park to Hill City  My impression from the sounds of the night was that it had rained. It was darker than usual for my 6am wakeup, and I thought I was going to have a cold drizzly day. The sound of the babbling brook only a few feet from the tent did not help. Instead, I found it to be warm outside, a cloudless sky, and the first (and only) time the tent was totally dry. After breakfast, the ride included a moderate amount of climbing, but nothing difficult, until we arrived at Keystone, the gateway to Mt. Rushmore. A few of my friends decided to bicycle to the top, several later regretting that decision, though I was thoroughly impressed with them, as it is a four mile, 4-10 percent grade, not an easy task. My bicycle and I were shuttled to the Mt. Rushmore visitor center, got the obligatory photos, and then headed down. The last ten miles to Hill City paralleled a historic steam engine that connected Keystone and Hill City, though our time was faster than the train. We then camped in the same Hill City campground as earlier in the tour. That evening, the beer was complementary, and well enjoyed. I also was able to enjoy cigars with Cyndi and Matt.
The Presidents.
05sept Hill City to Rapid City. After a quick breakfast, we discovered everybody usually anxious to get on the trail. Thus, we found that we were among the last to leave camp, though still among the first to arrive in Rapid City. The route was on a beautiful backroad that wrapped around Lake Sheridan, and then took the Sheridan Lake Road into town. There was a moderate amount of climbing, though not enough to work up a sweat, and since it was mostly downhill, we had arrived at the water break site having not yet consumed any water or even digested breakfast. We arrived in Rapid City by 9:30am. After telling new friends goodby, I went to get Betsy. She was staying with Alex, Rachel and family in a Rapid City hotel with a connecting water park. They had also had the opportunity to see much of the Black Hills, though from a car, and not a bicycle. It was hard to tell them goodby, especially Lily and Adalyn, whom Betsy and I have fallen in love with. By evening, we were able to make it to Butte, Montana.
06sept Home…. We headed out from Butte at about 7:15 and arrived home at 3:30 in the afternoon. We quickly unpacked the car, and I then downloaded our photos, and started to write this blog.  The trip was super, but it’s always nice to be home.
How would I rate the Adventure Cycling part of the trip? In my eyes, it was superb. They give you enough freedom to let you ride according to your own personal style. They feed you very well. One always meets new friends that you enjoy riding with. The routes are never terribly challenging, though still demanding. They stick to their name of truly making every trip an adventure. I would rate this trip as highly successful, and a superb way to end up the riding season (for major trips).

Washington Parks 1 trip

Washington Parks 1 trip 7/26 – 7/31 2014 with Jonathan Feucht

Jon and I had planned this trip out for a number of months, and originally planned on a trip that went over Stevens Pass and then back over the North Cascade Highway (ACA Washington Parks II route). A week before our scheduled start date, the Methow Valley caught on fire from Twisp to Pateros and Brewster, in addition to fires along Stevens Pass, closing down both passes. Thus, this choice ended up being a good alternative for a loop week cycle ride in Washington. We planned on starting in Arlington at Jon’s house and ending in Puyallup, following (for the most part) the ACA Washington Parks I route. Jonny and I both had the Washington Parks maps, but mine was an older version. Oddly, they made some very significant changes to the route, some of which were not necessary or helpful.

Day 1- Arlington to Oak Harbor

The start was a little rough. Jonny drove down to get me in Puyallup, and then we drove back to his place in the AM, to get a 10 am start. Somehow, my helmet could not be located, but fortunately Jon had a spare. It did not have a mirror, which I depend heavily on nowadays. It was 28 miles up the Centennial trail and then route 9 to Sedro Wooley, WA, where we intersected the start on the ACA maps. The route followed mostly back roads, though the main highway past Anacortes and on to Deception Pass was brutally busy with tourists, especially Portable Life Support Units (trailers, Winnebagos, RV’s, etc.). Worse, while stopping for lunch just past Anacortes, some jerk stole my Garmin unit. Garmins are invaluable for trip planning, and many decisions are made based on distance and speed travelled, but fortunately, Jon’s unit was intact, allowing us to record our trip. Past Deception Pass I was viciously attacked by an old German Shepard. It was way out in the country, right across from a gun club. That Shepard almost got the delight of eating some lead. We finally made it to Oak Harbor, a little farther than I had planned, only to find that ALL of the hotels were full. Fortunately, the trailer park down on the beach had some bicycle (tent only) spaces, allowing us a place to lay our heads for the night.
Total miles 68.5  Time 8:15  Elevation Gain 2211 ft

Day 2- Oak Harbor to Port Angeles

We got a fairly early star in the morning, and managed to make it just in time for the ferry to Port Townsend – they actually delayed the ferry until we got our bicycles on. The ferry ride was quick, and we then started the slow climb up and down to Sequim and then Port Angeles. contrary to our maps, we noted that the Olympic Discovery Trail started in Blyn, which was a beautiful trail for bicycles, and off of the extremely busy 101. Our only difficulty was that the trail was not the best marked in a few spots, one place leading us to about a mile diversion, before we could find the trail again. It was awesome riding into Port Angeles on the beach, and as soon as we came up to the downtown where the ferry went, we saw a Red Lion Inn. They had first floor vacancies and and so we stayed there.
Total miles 66.2  Time 7:54  Elevation Gain 3008 ft

Day 3- Port Angeles to Forks

This day was our hardest, with lots of hills to climb, we were tired, and it was hot. It was also quite beautiful as the route took us away from 101 and on 112 and 113. The only disadvantage to this route were the massive numbers of logging trucks on a narrow two lane road with no shoulders. We were able to have lunch on the Straits of Juan DeFuca, eating PBJ sandwiches and admiring Mt. Baker and Canada off in the distance. We had wanted to camp, but the camping places on the route were not convenient, which left us in Forks. Even there, the hotels were almost entirely full, but we procured the last hotel room on the edge of town.  Dinner was at a pizza parlor, and we slept quite well after a grunt of a day.
PBJs on the beach
Total miles 64.6 Time 8:17  Elevation Gain 3556 ft

Day 4- Forks to Amanda Park

I expected this day to be a real grunt like yesterday, but it wasn’t. The two major climbs went very smoothly, and seemed shorter than the maps suggested. We arrived in the coast section of the Olympic National Park about 10 am, when it was quite sunny. Soon, the clouds rolled in, and we were rather cold, so decided not to spend time freezing on the beach. We had arrived in Amanda Park on Lake Quinalt about 3pm and talked the nice lady that ran the RV park and Inn to let us sleep on the lawn, since there were no available rooms. Once we were about 5 miles from the beach, it became sunny again, and the temperature in Amanda Park was in the low 90s. Our tent site was under some trees, that was cool with a breeze until you left the area of the trees, where the temperature was roasting hot.
Entering the beach section of Olympic National Park
The Beach
Camp at Amanda Park (Lake Quinalt)
Total miles 64.6  Time 6:59  Elevation Gain 2270 ft

Day 5-Amanda Park to Elma

We weren’t sure as to how far we should go today, as Elma was a short distance, but there were no campsites or hotels for a great distance past Elma. There was a short climb out of Amanda Park along 101. After some distance, we encountered a stray dairy cow on the road. It nearly was hit by a truck. Soon afterwards, we got off of 101 and onto a road that would take us into Montesano. It was an excellent choice, though a touch hilly. After lunch in Montesano, we had to detour a bridge out by riding along route 20, which was horrid. By the time we got to Elma, the temperature was in the 80’s and we were cooking. We decided to call it a day. Dinner was at the Rusty Wagon, a rather nice restaurant.
Total miles 61.0  Time 6:08  Elevation Gain 1995 ft

Day 6- Elma to home

We were up early and headed out. Once reaching Tenino, the route was quite familiar to me, as it followed the Yelm Tenino Trail. The temperature was well in the 80’s and we were cooking by the time we reached Pacific Avenue in Parkland. There was a wonderful Dairy Queen there, and Andrew graciously picked us up to avoid 15 more miles of hot busy city riding. It was a wonderful way to spend a week, but am now looking forward to doing Washington Parks II or something else similar.
Total miles 67.02  Time 6:01  Elevation Gain 1008 ft

Gesamt Milage und Zeit

394.1 miles, 42.4 hours, 14,048 ft elevation gain


It was a delight to have time with Jon. At first, he was complaining about his back, and the bicycle seat. Several days later, I really didn’t hear much about that problem. Not wishing to push Jon too hard, I offered him an “escape” route, which he refused. Soon, he was keeping up and often pushing ahead of me, who held a fairly steady pace throughout the journey. I think he really just needs a different seat, such as the Fizik seat on his road bike.  It was nice to see Jonny making good decisions about our travel.
We followed primarily the ACA maps of the Washington Parks. They were helpful, especially in knowing where we might camp or find lodging, and the ideal routes. Although I’ve spent much time in the Olympics, I have never gone on some of the roads that this route took one through. The route around the Olympics really did not show off the mountain splendor of the Olympics, though that would include a fantastic climb up to Hurricane Ridge, not an easy feat. There were two errors with the ACA maps. The first and most bothersome was with the elevation profiles. This made rivers and towns in the valley sitting on the map profile on the top of climbs. It was about a 3 mile displacement that needs to be corrected, as it made it difficult to estimate exactly where was on a route. The other bothersome item was that grocery/convenience stores and camps were not always in existence any longer. This is not entirely the fault of the ACA map system. Unfortunately, there always seemed to be less supply areas rather than more than the maps indicated. Milage on the  ACA maps was always right on, according to our Garmin maps.
I’m ready for more touring. I’d love to do the Pacific Coast route, Sierra Cascades route, and the trans-America route. This is somewhat a dream for the future, but then, who knows?

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, A History of Nazi Germany, by William Shirer ★★★
This book was read on my iPad. It is a fairly large book, taking me a while to complete it, thus, the absence of many other book reviews on my blogsite. Shirer was a journalist in Berlin, leaving Berlin approximately 1940-1941 (he doesn’t say exactly when), and then observing from the sidelines. The book is fairly well researched, and heavily referenced. After the end of the book, a 1990 afterthought is included by the author. He had noted that the book was on the best sellers list for a number of years and purchased in many countries except for Germany itself. This Shirer felt was a sign that the German people still remained clueless as to the nature of their goose-stepping militaristic nature, and he expressed fears that the reunification of Germany was going to lead to yet another rise to power and German world war. Perhaps the person the most clueless is Shirer himself. Throughout the book, Shirer writes not as an objective historian, but as an opinionated, biased journalist. Shirer seems to let his thinking and emotions get in the way of solid historical reporting. As an example, he shows his bitter disdain for the personality of Von Ribbentrop, rather than seeking to describe his personality and then letting the facts speak from there. He describes many episodes of secret meetings where he seems to be cognizant of precisely what transpired. He makes warrantless broad assumptions about the German people that don’t serve his commentary. Here is an example, quoting the book, ” One gets the impression that … many … “Good Germans” fell too easily into the trap of blaming the outside world for their own failures, as some of them had done for Germany’s misfortunes after the first lost war…”. Excuse me, but the blame does spread around to all the European nations as well as the US. Or, of speaking of Mussolini, “…as dictator, he had made the fatal mistake of seeking to make a martial, imperial Great Power of a country which lacked the industrial resources to become one and whose people, unlike the Germans, were too civilized, too sophisticated, too down to earth to be attracted by … false ambitions. The Italian people, at heart, had never, like the Germans, embraced fascism.” Such comments leave one feeling whether they could take anything that Shirer says seriously. He truly couldn’t be serious in implying that the mass of German people was uncivilized, unsophisticated, not down to earth?  There are many more examples throughout the book.
Shirer provides a nice flow through the book and it is very readable. There is a wealth of facts that need to be selected out in writing any historical account, and the fact that huge numbers of texts have analyzed the Nazi phenomenon attests to the fact that even 60 years after the fact, we are still grappling with the problem of made Germany do what it did. Shirer provides a completely wrong explanation but feeds western, and especially US arrogance in the matter. To divorce himself from the reality of Germany, Shirer had to paint the Germans as a different creature, perhaps even a different species or genus. To this date, political situations are so often compared to that of Hitler and Nazi Germany. The left and right of politics continually hurtle the accusation at the other of being just like the Nazis. Why aren’t Stalin and the Communists equally brought up as an example? Or Mao Tse Tung? Or the Japanese emperor? Or Napoleon? The list could go on at length. Germany is used as an example because sub-consciously, they are a people the most like us. They, more than any other modern country, developed the ideas of ethics that shape our world. They developed our philosophy, our music, our culture, etc. They, more than even England, gave us our work ethic, and our sense of obedience to authority. The rise of Nazi Germany seems to be a great puzzle, yet it isn’t. We see ideas in politics today reinforce that the events of the rise of the Nazi state happen on a smaller scale every year in Washington, D.C. We claim that the German people should have known and risen up, yet we don’t rise up, as our freedoms are constantly eroded, and our government increasingly behaves in a dictatorial fashion that we have no control of. We claim moral superiority to the Germans of the first half of the twentieth century, yet truthful soul-searching suggests that we aren’t much different than they.
To end it, Shirer ends with the execution at Nuremberg of the main Nazi officials. Specifically, Ribbentrop, who Shirer completely despised,  is reported as to have flippantly blurted out to the American Military pastor, “See you later” as though he was making a colossal terminal joke. Actually, the full quote is as follows… “I place all my confidence in the Lamb who made atonement for my sins. May God have mercy on my soul”. Then he turned to Gerecke (the Lutheran pastor) and said “I’ll see YOU again”. In the book “War and Grace”, Don Stevens recounts the story of Henry Gerecke, a Lutheran Pastor in the military from Missouri, who was assigned to be the chaplain to the Nazi war criminals. In the process of his encounters with Goering, Rosenberg, Ribbentrop, etc., he noted that not a few felt genuine remorse for their actions, and found faith in Christ, including Keitel, Fritzsche, von Schirach, Speer, Raeder, and after much struggle, Ribbentrop. Many Americans sent Gerecke hate mail, detesting the fact that he would minister to the Nazi war criminals. Yet, the additional story from Stevens only strengthens the impression that the Nazis are us. We might have done exactly what they did in the circumstances. The story of the Nazis is a sobering story that should make all of us weep, and not arrogantly state that “they” are a breed of another kind. For that end, a book like this is worth reading.

For All the Tea in China

For All the Tea in China, by Sarah Rose ★★★
Sarah Rose provides a most interesting story of the adventures of a Mr. Robert Fortune of the British East India Company in China during the 1840s and 1850s, stealing prized tea plants from China and exporting them to the Himalayas, under the immediate control of Great Britain, to permit them to compete with China in the tea industry. Also taken was the technology for growing and processing the tea leaves into great tea. It is a most fascinating story that is not often told. Fortune had several very unfortunate attempts, in part from bungling up the tea plants and leaves in the process of shipping them to the Himalayas, as well as incompetence and ineptitude on the part of arrogant British horticulturists, even when told by Chinese coolies what they were doing wrong with the plants.  Sarah’s writing style attempts a mix of pure historical reporting and historical fiction, leaving one certain that the tales of Fortune’s adventures were probably just approximately recounted in this book. Sarah maintains a heavy pro-British bent in her reporting, going very light on the evils of the British empire in their dealings with China (such as with the Opium Wars), as well as the Indians. This poor historical accounting even goes to British competitors in the west. When she speaks of the development of porcelain in the west to compete with fine “china” from China, she drools over Wedgewood and British porcelain manufacturers, she blindly forgets the role of the Germans (especially the town of Meissen) in re-discovering and developing the European porcelain industry). A perfect example her Western blindness can be quoted from near the end of the book…
” By the time the Chinese realized that Fortune had stolen an inestimable treasure from them [the Chinese], it was many years too late to remediate their loss. His theft helped spread tea to a wider world at lower prices. He democratized a luxury, and the world has been enjoying it ever since”
That quote sounds warm and fuzzy except for a few glaring details. Now that China is reportedly “stealing” technology from the West, I suppose that they can use the same justification since they are simply spreading Western technology at a much lower price. It is hard for me to have a sympathetic ear toward the west when they rail on China being an aggressive competitor in the markets. We are simply getting our own medicine back on us 150 years later. Most of the world has a better memory than Amerikans.

Bicycling in Portland 2014

Riding in Oregon with friends, family, and self, 21-26MAY2014
I had always wished to return to Portland to do some rides that I had tried as a kid, but which didn’t end so well. I wished to ride the Gorge, do Larch Mountain, and run around a number of the places I used to ride bicycles when I was growing up in Portland.  So, this adventure gave me that opportunity. I started by driving down to Portland after work of Wednesday evening. The next morning, Aaron H. came to meet me at the hotel, and we took off north. Riding across the I-205 bridge, we rode eastward along the Columbia River, following the Washougal River once we reached Camas, WA. A short segment brought us back to the Columbia River Highway, where we passed Beacon Rock, crossed the Bridge of the Gods (photo above, with Aaron showing off his banana), and then rode back along the old Columbia River highway. The bicycle trail was now complete all the way out to Cascade Locks, though my cycle instructions did not realize that. The ride up to Crown Point and then back to Gresham and Portland was exhilarating. Here is the Garmin data…
The next day, I touched base with brother Gaylon and rode a ways out the Springwater Trail to Boring, OR. It was boring, and so we turned around and came back. Garmin data…
On Saturday, I had wanted to ride up Larch Mountain with Aaron, but we decided to do something a little less strenuous, and so I came down to Salem, to do a fantastic and beautiful ride with him in the foothills of the Coast Range, and through the farmland of the Willamette Valley. Here is the Garmin for that…
Sunday was a day to relax. I spent about 4 hours with Lewis, which was much needed. I then spent time later again with Gaylon.  The weather was drizzly, and I was worried about Memorial Day, Monday, when it was supposed to rain heavily. On awakening, the weather was cloudy with the sun, so I decided to go for it. On Gaylon’s advice, I headed down the I-205 corridor to Sunnyside Road, over to 152nd, down to the Clackamas River, and then back the Clackamas to Oregon City, crossing the old Oregon city bridge into West Linn, riding up to Terwilliger Blvd, headed up Terwilliger past the medical school,  (seeing the Terwilliger trail which I jogged many times while in medical school), crossing back across the Hawthorne bridge, and then (mostly) up Clinton Avenue back to the hotel on 92nd and Stark St.  I had ridden the Hawthorne Bridge many times on my bike, but it was much easier now, as the wooden planks had been replaced with a solid platform. Here’s the Garmin, and a photo while crossing the bridge…