Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Not Available In Your Country

So hey — I was out of oat powder and went looking for more, because yummy. But I wanted a bigger bag this time, and I found a 500 gram bag of the Quaker stuff at Supermaxi, for $1.68. But it was only 500 grams. Decent, but I wanted more, you know? As in more.

And then, a couple of items over, there was some other stuff, in a 1000 gram bag for, um, $1.68. Heh.

Never heard of YA before, but it came in that fine big bag, so how bad is that? So enjoyably bad. Oh, yes.

Purchase time, my friend.

I couldn't find much info on this, and the product photo isn't great, but it gets the idea across. You get the idea.

It's a product of Moderna Alimentos, which in turn makes YaYaYa products.

If you care.

Cut to the chase already, 'K?


The cut being that Quaker, a U.S. company, makes all kinds of powdered, pre-cooked oatmeal that is sold in large, convenient bags, in public places here, and none of it is available in the U.S. (I checked. The U.S. Quaker web site has about a hundred product pages, give or take a few dozen, and nope.) And lots of other companies make the same stuff, and it's available all over, here in Ecuador. And cheap.

There is one outfit that I could find that sells powdered oatmeal for body builders in the U.S., and it's available for around $3.65 a pound. Put that up against $1.68 per kilo here (2.2 pounds), or 76¢ a pound. Nurk.

Other than that, I found various places giving tips on how to make your own, because you can't buy it in the U.S. I find that unjust. Or stupid. Really.

I'm getting to like this a lot and don't want to give it up if/when I spend time back in the U.S. Mix it up 1:1 with full-fat powdered milk and cold water and you've got a deal. Rich, smooth, mild-flavored, very slightly sweet, satisfying.

There is some killer chocolate syrup here too, better than the Hershey stuff I grew up with, but I decided to start leaving it out because I was losing control and didn't want someone to find my body surrounded by empty chocolate syrup bottles a few days after I failed to show up with the rent money. That good.

But oats and milk — fine. Fine. Wonderful. Sustaining.

Not available in your country.


Me? Not recently attacked by lizards.
Have extra info to add? Send email to sosayseff@nullabigmail.com
See if that helps.
As always, Effort or Eff it. No sniveling.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Fading Thoughts Of Winter Past

Web cam shots from the east side of Washington's Cascade Range, February 22, 2019.

Downtown Leavenworth.


Campbell's resort on Lake Chelan. Cool but no wind. (-6°C)


Campbell's resort on Lake Chelan. Just about sunset.


Campbell's resort on Lake Chelan. Everyone out of the pool now. No exceptions.


I thought it was about time to post these before I forgot about them forever.


Me? Just wondering how long my heart's going to keep beating.
Have extra info to add? Send email to sosayseff@nullabigmail.com
See if that helps.
As always, Effort or Eff it. No sniveling.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Fung Your Way Into Spring, Part 1

Campsite tips & techniques the Fung Shway way.

You may think that a good night's sleep is important, but what you may not know is that having a proper campsite is much more important.

Chi is king.

In the world of Camp Fung, chi is the Life-Force-Energy thingy that circulates through all things, even dirt, so it is imperative find the best campsite. It would seem like a good idea to pick a campsite with a rip-snorting great flood of roaring chi running around in circles, cackling and charging things up to the point that you can hardly take a step without shooting sparks from your fingertips.

Probably not, though. It's more complicated than that, and here's why...

Once you're out in the forest, or in the mountains, or even in the desert, what you find when you go to bed is that you want to sleep, right?


This usually happens. It is normal.

In order to sleep then, you need to enter a state of suspended animation but still remain alive. To remain alive, you need a plentiful flow of good chi, but not too much. Like too-strong coffee, too much chi will overwhelm you and every living thing in the area, making all of you twitchy, and will keep you up half the night. The critters too. Only if you desire a stampede of elk thundering through camp around 1:37 a.m., bellowing like demons, is this a good thing, unless they aim for your tent, which can be unfortunate, so you may regret going whole-hog on that chi stuff.

Also, ignorant planners locate most campsites on level ground, ostensibly to facilitate the sleeping process. This is also not so good.

Chi prefers slopes, and goes stale when it collects in pockets down in those hollows where the flat spots are. Stale chi is damp and cold. It attracts biting insects and causes bad dreams and stinky feet, so it is best to go higher. Halfway up the nearest hill or mountain is about right. That is where you'll find freshest, crispest chi, and the greatest selection to boot.

Go too far though, and you get all sparky again, so halfway is about right.

Now, you may think to yourself Hey, steep. Never mind what the slope is like — this will be good for you. If you begin rolling, it is because you need more practice. We have classes that can help you with that.

While you sleep, try to keep your head pointing at your Lucky Charm Star. Every person's Lucky Charm Star is different, so you need to find yours and know where it is. If you are aligned properly and your head is pointing uphill, this is called the Puffy Foot Orientation, which will ensure cushy walking the next day, though it may also be awkward during some activities, like putting on shoes.

And if your head points downhill, you experience the effects of the Balloon Head Orientation. During the night this posture stores extra blood in your head, which is a good place to keep it — handy for emergencies because it's right there, waiting to jump into action, though it may also make distracting sounds as it sloshes during walking maneuvers.

If you share your tent with another, then the other person's Lucky Charm Star is likely different from yours, and sometimes the two Influences will fight. You could fall asleep quickly, only to be awakened later in the night because you are being pounded. It could be your tent-mate's fists, or, if you camped too close to the uncut chi, it might be that herd of elk trampling your tent with their hammering hooves, so keep this possibility in mind.

The short version then: Sleeping in an inauspicious directional orientation causes problems. Problems like fly bites, excessive bloating, sunburn, bad relationships, poor grades, and blisters. So smart-up and always exercise caution.

But let's say that you did everything right, and you awaken the next morning, still alive. Good. So, next?

Well, if you are down at the foot of the hill, one of two things happened. Either you rolled during the night — in which case you need more sleeping stakes — or the local chi spirits gave you the boot, maybe because you're a dick or you fart too much.

So what then?

Refuse to lose. Appease the chi. This is about your only chance to make it home alive anyway, so you might as well go for it. Follow these handy instructions:

  • Clean up. Comb your hair. Shave, even if you are a woman (most female backpackers need it too).
  • Create a shrine. Twigs are OK. Rocks too. It's the thought that counts. Spirits don't know any better anyway, unless you try making your shrine out of poo like some smartass. If so, you will get what you deserve. Promise. They are on to that trick.
  • Make offerings. Chi spirits really like peanut butter and whiskey, especially together, but most anything edible will do. Once again, no poop, not even an artful and clever sculpture made from it, even if that just happens to be your only talent.
  • Meditate. You don't have to do anything special aside from making it look authentic, but try not to snore. Think you got problems now? Try snoring on meditation watch. Then you'll see.
  • Walk at least half a mile (0.8 km) before snickering, after you conclude that this is all crap. Chi spirits enjoy following people like you to see if their first opinion was right. Uh — no. Better make that a full mile to be safe.
  • Watch the sky for flying monkeys.


Part 2


Me? Right now, trying to keep my nose hairs under control.
Have extra info to add? Send email to sosayseff@nullabigmail.com
See if that helps.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Hurricane's Backside

Looking away off west.


So, much effort for little result, i.e., this blog post.

I'm faking it while cleaning out old photo files, and being a little mouse of a blogger way off to the side of what is currently the internet, well shucks then. What more do you need? It's a gesture, isn't it? A gesture to show you that I still love you, even if we'd get along for no more than four seconds in real life, you and I. But since I live in the abstract, gestures count.


To the southwest, toward the heart of Olympic National Park.


Living in paradise as I'm doing at the moment, wouldn't we expect that there is ever so much going on, to do, to share, to experience? Yep, I think so. But since reality don't give a snit what I think, no. It's dead here. Things were better six years ago when I first got to Cuenca. (That's in Ecuador.) More squirrelly, less predictable, odder.


I've never understood this place. That seems right, the way you never understand home.


Since I can't seem to keep away, I was back in the U.S. from the start of March, 2018 until the end of July. Had big ideas. Uck fupt big time. Bailed. Figured I'd make up for it here in Ecuador. I've been back over eight months, watching, checking every day, looking, and still have not found a single person wanting to go out hiking. At least there used to be a few people. Maybe they saw me coming.


Hikers. One man, two girls. They came in peace and left with no trace.


This place is getting settled.

It's a lot more "civilized" than it was in November, 2012, when I first stepped off the shuttle van from Guayaquil, looked around and thought "grubby". My first impression. Grubby. Not quite so much any more.


This grassy swathe appears blank or even snowy on the Google Earth images below. Anything but. Lovely, don't you think?


Six years on, there is still construction going on everywhere. New buildings. Remodeled old buildings. More traffic lights. Better internet. Retired gringos getting over their wonder and settling into brain-dead old age. Less experimentation, more suburbanization, if we can call it that. (Smells like it.) No hiking groups. At all.


From above and to the right of the rocky outcrop in the previous two images.


Anyway, I myself am not dead yet, but any day now I could wake up dead, so maybe I'll be back in the U.S. for one very last ultimate try at being a gnarly backpacker and traveling around and stuff. Possibly. Am I just old and stupid? Also possibly.


The now free-flowing Elwha.


Last year definitely did not work out, though 2014/2015 was not all that bad, when I was living in Port Angeles, WA, right underneath Olympic National Park, and going there quite a bit, and this is where today's photos came from. (July, 2014.)


And they, far ahead, prepare to vanish into forest.


Drive up to the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, go right for a mile or two, and you get to the Hurricane Hill parking lot and trailhead. Everything in the U.S. has a parking lot, doesn't it? That's how you can tell you're there. If not, then it isn't real.


Another view off west.


Anyway, hike up and look over the top to the Strait of Juan de Fuca or hike farther west, or do both. Go far enough and first you're on the backside of Hurricane Hill and later on, if you keep going, you're about a mile (1600 m) lower, and just about able to spit into the Elwha River, if that's your specialty. Don't go that far and you don't have to sweat so much, and can sort of noodle around and feel on top of the world because you are. If that isn't enough, and you get bored, you can whistle back at the marmots or take a nap on the grass. Nice.


Southwest. Summer here always seems like forever.


So here's what I've got out of it. The photos look a little impressionistic because that's what happens when you take a tiny little camera and point it at infinity and then try to make sense of it. But you get the idea. Forgive me.


Toward Olympus. I think. Sky and peaks and snow and sky.


The start and the end. Start there and hike this way. Lots of "up". And then hike down again when it's all over. And then go home remembering that it's about more than just you.


Area map. Hurricane Hill in relation to Hurricane Ridge. Port Angeles is just off the map toward the top.


From Google Earth. Looking approximately ENE. The sort of "snowy" area is actually mostly grass.


From Google Earth. Looking roughly north. The long left-right light area near the top is Hurricane Hill. To the lower left is the former Lake Mills.


From Google Earth. Straight down, showing the trail from way up high down to the Elwha River


From Google Earth. Looking roughly west. Where you see "Windy Arm" is the former Lake Mills, now the restored Elwha river. Foreground is Hurricane Hill.



Elwha River Restoration

Restoration of the Elwha River


Remember, flies are nature's way of saying that you're still yummy.
Have something to add? Send email to sosayseff@nullabigmail.com
See if that helps.
As always, Effort or Eff it. No sniveling.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Definitions: Bollard

A fat, stubby and sturdy post that provides a small safety buffer between an area of high and fast traffic (like a street full of cars) and one of low and slow traffic (like a sidewalk full of pedestrians).

Bollards are typically placed near corners at intersections or where a trail or walkway meets a road.

You can also find them on high-traffic trails, where troops of thru-hikers in colorful spandex outfits roar past, four or six abreast in competitive attempts to set new cross-continent land speed records.

This is a relatively new development, and few trails have yet been upgraded with the latest safety features.

The better trails, though few in number, have divided lanes, designated rest stops and parking areas, on and off ramps, overpasses, and passing zones.

The unwary weekend hiking yokel, ignorant of the recent desperate developments in the sport, may inadvertently stroll out into traffic on a high-intensity but unimproved trail and get flattened without warning.

Bollards separating recreational-level side trails from professional trails are a good first step (and a warning to duffers) but by no means sufficient.

Hiker beware!



Remember: It could be that the purpose of your life may only be to serve as a warning to others. (Thanks to Despair.com for this eternal wisdom.)
Have something to add? Send email to sosayseff@nullabigmail.com
See if that helps.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Marmot Olympics

"Marmota olympus". That's what they say, a big squirrel. I didn't know that. Them. Them facts. I didn't know them. Now I do.


Just up one side of Hurricane Hill and a little down the other, there be marmots.

Not Hurricane Hillary or Tropical Depression Hilary. None of that. Part-time hurricanes come and go up topside, but no depressions. No depressions because you feel good there, but occasional hurricanes, and not tropical either. "Temperate latitude" hurricanes. They come through every now and then.


This would be in Olympic National Park in western Washington state. I didn't know about temperate latitude hurricanes until a couple of years ago. True. Cliff Mass of the University of Washington mentioned it on one of his weekly weather talks, but oddly, the term "temperate latitude hurricane" does not occur on his blog.


Maybe he changed his mind about the term, or hasn't gotten around to writing about it, but there have been some big storms blowing through the area. (See link below.)


Anyhow, marmots are sleeping by then. Come winter, they sleep. Come summer, they munch grass and whistle. November is usually the stormiest month, but by then there wouldn't be much to eat, and normally there would be significant snow on the ground. Both good reasons to try sleeping it off.


"Whistle pigs", "woodchucks", "hoary marmots" — all closely related. I didn't know until yesterday that the olympic marmot was distinct: "it occurs only in the U.S. state of Washington, on the middle elevations of the Olympic Peninsula", according to Wikipedia. But I guess so, it is distinct, a little.


Hurricane Hill is off a bit to the west of Hurricane Ridge and its visitor center, which is accessible by paved road from the city of Port Angeles. The trip is about 15 miles (24km), though the direct distance is around a third of that. (A windy road to a windy spot.)


From Hurricane Hill there are good views of the Elwha River valley, including part of what used to be Lake Mills behind Glines Canyon Dam before the dam got taken down. You can look at the Bailey Range and peek at Mt Olympus, but I've never seen any gods over there, just more pointy rocks and snow. Might be worth another look some day.


Marmots is mostly it. Get out on the grassy parts, see something lumpy moving around, get whistled at, and maybe it's a marmot. If not, then that's a good time to turn around and go home, but so far it's been marmots and they've minded their own business and I've never tried to tickle any.


The trail does continue west, down a long slope to the Elwha Ranger Station, and on the day I grabbed these photos there was a group of three or so headed that way. Looked like a dad and two daughters.


I followed for a while, but the trail gets really steep after it enters the forest on the west side, and I didn't have any reason to go way down there, so I returned to hanging with the marmots. Might be a fun trip to do sometime.

The Olympic marmot is thought to have originated during the last glacial period as an isolated relict population of the hoary marmot in the Pleistocene ice-free refugia...The Olympic marmot is about the size of a domestic cat; adults weigh from 3.1 to 11 kg (6.8 to 24.3 lb) and are from 67 to 75 cm (26 to 30 in) in length, with the average being 71 cm (28 in). It is the largest marmot...The coat is double-layered, consisting of soft thick underfur, for warmth, and coarser outer hairs.

Olympic marmots eat meadow flora such as avalanche and glacier lilies, heather blossoms, subalpine lupine, mountain buckwheat, harebells, sedges, and mosses. They prefer green, tender, flowering plants over other sources of food, but roots are a large part of their diets in the early spring when other plants have not yet appeared.

And so on. (Info from Wikipedia.) Pretty nice for squirrels.


Olympic marmot

Columbus Day Storm, 1962

  • Winds exceeding 150 mph and a storm equal to Hurricane Katrina.
  • Huge forests leveled.
  • Dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries.
  • Thousands of homes and buildings destroyed or seriously damaged.


Me? Breathing. Still breathing. Working on that today.
Have more info? Send email to sosayseff@nullabigmail.com
See if that helps.
And remember, Effort or Effit, and peace be upon you then, and dust be off you, if you can manage it.