The Embarrassment That Is Capitol Lake

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Capitol Lake’s middle basin after the accidental release of all the water

Let me start this blog post by saying that I love my new home.  We moved to Olympia from Arizona in the spring of 2012 by choice.  I could have moved anywhere in the Pacific Northwest (I grew up in the northwest) but we chose Olympia.  Simply put, I love Olympia, WA.  With that said, there is one thing that I really feel that Olympia should be embarrassed about and that is Capitol Lake.

For those that don’t know, Capitol Lake is a central feature of downtown Olympia.  Part if it was designed to be a reflecting pool for the capital building and it is the home to a wide variety of wildlife.  It has wonderful walking paths around it and on a nice day it a very busy place.  I am told that “back in the day” that it was used for things like water skiing and was a popular place for Olympians to swim on a hot day. Sadly, those days to seem to have been long past.

At some point in the recent past the lake has been infected with an invasive snail that has prompted the lakes closure to all recreational activity.  While you can still walk around the lake and enjoy the parks, you can’t get in the water.  The problem is that the invasive snails are really only a small part of the problems that Capitol Lake is facing.  Years of inaction have caused the lake to silt up to where it really isn’t much more than a marsh these days.  All one has to do is walk around the lake in the summer and you will see that the lake has gotten so shallow that the grass growing on the bottom actually breaks the surface in many places.  To add even more insult to injury, a computer malfunction this week caused the dam that holds the lake back to open it’s gates and let all the lakes water to escape into Puget Sound.  This image was a snapshot I made today of the middle basin, minus the water that would have normally been there.

There is a lot of debate over what should be done with the lake, but it seems to be down to 2 possible solutions, neither of which will most likely happen any time soon.  The first is to go back to dredging the lake to remove the huge amount of silt that has accumulated over the last few decades.  The second is to remove the 5th Ave. dam and allow it to return to being an estuary.  There are good arguments for and against each possible solution, and while I tend to lean towards the idea of dredging the lake, something needs to be done sooner rather than later.

Posted in LifeInGeneral

Butch

Butch

Butch

If you have followed me for very long online, or know me in real life, you know that I am a diehard WSU Cougar, GoCougs, and it should not come as a surprise that we have a housecoat named Butch.  For those that don’t know, the WSU mascot is Butch.

After my somewhat depressing blog post about Budro, I thought I would post something about one of our family members that is still with us.  Butch joined our family years ago, we got him from a then co-worker of my wife, and we were told that he was a Maine Coon Cat, and if that were actually the case, he is the smallest Maine Coon Cat that has ever lived, truth be told, Butch is small by almost any house cat standards.

Butch lived with 2 other cats that we had for a number of years, Romeo and Juliet, and the whole time we lived in Arizona I don’t think that Butch ever ventured outside, he was a 100% indoor cat.  After our move to Washington State in 2012, he immediately started venturing outside, and is now quite comfortable in the great outdoors.

While we were sitting outside the other day, Butch was out wandering around the yard and I grabbed this snapshot of him while he was doing his version of hunting.

Posted in LifeInGeneral

Goodbye Budro

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Budro

I haven’t updated this blog in some time, and this isn’t really the blog post that I hoped would be the one to get back on track, intact, it is a blog post that I have been putting off, for about 3 weeks now.  3 weeks ago we had to say goodbye to long time family member, our poodle Budro.

Budro entered our lives in January 2000 and within minutes we were utterly attached to him.  Budro was a small dog that no one had ever told was small, anytime we were round other dogs, the big dogs were the only ones that he wanted to fun and play with, other small dogs were completely invisible to him.

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Budro telling someone who is the boss

Budro was absolutely fearless, I think this was because he played and ran with bigger dogs all the time, when we got him we had a mature golden retriever named Outlaw, who I will have to blog about someday.  Budro was a very friendly dog, but he would also bark loudly at strangers until he got to know them.

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Budro and Ursa

Budro lived a good 14 years, and while it was heartbreaking to make that trip to the vets office after he got sick, it was the right thing to do, and we were able to say goodbye to him in a peaceful way.

I can say that he will be missed, and there will never be another dog quite like him in our lives.

Posted in LifeInGeneral

Finally got some winter

 

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Our back yard is a bit of a winter wonderland

I realize that a lot of people hate winter and everything that goes along with it.  I am just the opposite, winter is one of my favorite seasons and I love having a little snow, it makes the world look clean, at least for a little while.

I was getting a little concerned that we were not going to get any measurable snow winter, we have had a flurries so far, but nothing that you can actually measure, that is until Saturday night.  We ended up with just shy of 6″ of fresh snow.

It is raining today and the snow won’t be sticking around long, but that is one of the things I love able western Washington state, you get some snow, enjoy it for a day or so, and then it is gone, what more could you ask for?

Posted in LifeInGeneral

Mission Complete – the final UDS pellet smoker project update

Finished Product

The finished project, my homemade UDS pellet smoker

In my last blog post I reported that I was pretty much done with my UDS pellet smoker project but that I still had a few odds and ends to complete, those odds and end are done, and it is mission complete on this project.

The shot above is the finished product and she has already had her first cook.

Hinged Lid

Hinged lid on the UDS pellet smoker

This shot shows the lid I finally decided to use for this project.  If you search the BBQ forums for UDS smoker projects, you will see that the lid off of a 22.5″ Weber grill is a very popular choice, but since I don’t have one, I really didn’t want to spend $100+ to buy a Weber to just cannibalize some parts off of and then dispose of the rest.  There had been a few posts in these same forums from people who reported buying really cheap charcoal grills from places like Walmart and using those lids.  I stopped by my local Walmart store and found a $30 22.5″ grill that not only had a perfect lid for my project, it was hinged, which the Weber isn’t.  I did have to modify the hinges a little to get them to fit, but that was just drilling a couple holes so things lined up and the above shows the finished lid assembly, as well as some hooks that I hung on the smoker for things like tongs.

Smoke Generator

My Smoke Daddy cold smoke generator installed on the UDS pellet smoker

This last image shows my Smoke Daddy cold smoke generator installed on the UDS pellet smoker.  At first I wasn’t sure that I was going to install it on this smoker, but after my first cook, while it had a good smoke ring, I decided that I wanted to be able to have the ability to add additional smoke to the cook, and since this thing installs easily, I can move it between smokers as needed.

Well there it is, all done and ready to cook.  This was actually a fun project to do.  When it was all said and done, I have well under $500 into it, but I do have a lot of of hours invested.  A lot of that time though was researching the project and then designing it.  If I were to build another one, it would take about half the amount of time.  Thanks for following along with me on this project, now I just need to get my FJ40 back on the road. :-)

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