Saturday, September 29, 2012

New Car (buh-bye Luna (the Mazda))

We haven't gotten rid of Luna just yet - need to call OPB to donate it.  But, we did get a new car.

Yup, a Prius.  A Prius V in fact - which is the larger of the 3 Prius models.

I had been thinking of just getting a car to replace the commute vehicle (the Mazda), but Mary wisely pointed out it might be nice to have a fuel efficient car for all around family use.  With that in mind, there really wasn't much choice other than the Prius V.  It's just bigger enough than the Prius to make quite a bit of difference: I can sit upright in the back seat, it's wide enough to comfortably (relatively) sit 3 people, and the trunk/cargo area is twice the size of the standard Prius (i.e. it's a usable size now).

Mary and I both liked the hybrid Civic, but its trunk was tiny.  I really liked the console of the Civic - and don't like the Prius' at all, but that's not really a sticking point for me.

Once we'd decided upon the car, the question was, how do we go about buying it?

I'd read a couple accounts of people calling around for quotes and doing all the "wheeling and dealing" over the phone, and I was excited to give that a try.  Mary just didn't want to spend a bunch of time at the dealer bartering over a price, so she let me go ahead with the plan.  We were also going to try the Costco deal (a no-haggle thing where the dealer offers $X over dealer invoice) - but we didn't have an account.  I also put a request out through USAA's auto purchase program and got a couple bids that way.  But the real leg work was done by getting a listing of all the dealers within 100 miles of Corvallis and calling them.

I ended up calling 12 dealers, giving them all the same spiel (have financing, no trade-in, 2012 Prius V model Two, dark interior, any exterior but Red or White).  Half called back with quotes, and half called back asking me to call them to get the quotes (arrrg!).  Two of the sales guys I talked two were not at all interested and just quoted me the MSRP.

The dealer in Springfield (winning dealer) told me of their standard offer of $2500 off MSRP, and I was pretty much sold at that point.  The Corvallis sales guy told me they really wanted to keep our business (stay local and all), and then proceeded to give me the highest non-MSRP quote.  I told him it was way high, and he asked to be given the last chance.  A few minutes later we got a call from the Eugene dealer with the best quote (by $100) - but they didn't have any of the cars in stock, it'd be subject to a dealer trade.  The local dealer called me back and said he'd match the lowest offer if I could give him proof so he could show his GM.

Mary and I talked about the choices, and decided to go with Springfield.

I didn't call the Corvallis dealer back, but instead sent him (and the sales manager) an email describing my experience - I felt very awkward thinking about asking for proof from the Springfield guy and then taking that offer to a different dealer.  I figured I gave everyone the same chance, and I even told the Corvallis guy what my best offer was (nobody else had that information), and as opposed to just giving me a straight-up offer, I would have to use a different dealer against himself.  It just felt weird.

So, we drove down to Springfield, did the paperwork (1.5 hours, sigh... still took long), and due to a mix-up of one hand not knowing what the other was doing, we didn't get the car that night.  We got an identical one delivered to our door the next day.  Other than that little SNAFU (which did seem like an honest mistake), the experience with Springfield (Lithia) was good.

The guy who delivered the car got lost trying to get to our house, and was a little late.  But Simone was getting over a cold, so we were just hanging around anyway.

Hopefully the new car will last as long as the Mazda: 20 years and 260000 miles.

Kid's Day For Conservation

It turns out there's been an event going on annually for 10 years that I had no idea existed.  Today was Kid's Day For Conservation, which is an event that educates kids about a huge variety of things in the natural world.

Simone and I biked there and met Mary (who ran some errands first).  Immediately upon arriving we heard the pounding of hammers so we went over to check it out.  You could build your very own bird house.  We hopped in line and waited our turn.

Simone did a great job hammering the nails in - not a bent nail to be had.

16 nails later we had a bird house and a very proud girl.  Now we have to figure out where to hang it.

Right after making the bird house we ran into an old friend, Maddie.  Simone and she hugged - it was like the  meeting of long-lost sisters.  Simone and Maddie played together during outside time last year nearly every day, but Maddie is at a different school this year.

Inside the fairgrounds there were all sorts of tables/booths.  You could make a seed bomb, a hairy buddy (nylon filled with seed and dirt which grows "hair"), paint, touch snakes and turtles, pet goats, learn about recycling, wetlands, listen to a story inside a huge inflatable fish, and even dress up a an animal and participate in a parade.  Simone chose to be a beaver:

On our way back to the bike to head home we saw a pretty butterfly in the flowers next to the bikes.  It flew away before we could get close, but I was able to snag a photo of a bee.

We'll probably check it out again next year.  I got to talk to one of the guys responsible for the wetland restoration project which is right next to the fairgrounds.  Pretty interesting stuff.

Abbreviated Fall Festival

We went to the Fall Festival this year, but got there a bit later than planned.

Right when we got there we saw a dance exhibition from Mexico - which was fun (and just try to keep Simone away from dance).  Then we ran into some friends, which was also very fun.  The downside was we didn't get time to actually view the art.  On our way back to the Burley (we did walk there and back which was lovely) we did a quick scan of about 1/10th of the booths - a number of which were new (to us) artists.

Maybe next year we'll make a little more time.

While hanging out, Simone and her friends were climbing trees.  I was very proud that Simone climbed up and down all on her own.  One of her friends quickly got into the "I'm stuck, I can't get down" mode where she didn't want to climb on her own any more.  Simone got a little of that - especially when she made a decision to climb into a really awkward position.  With a little coaching and encouragement, she got herself turned around and made it down to the ground safe and sound.  I was very proud that she stuck to it and did all her own climbing.

On the way home we found a tree that was shedding conkers - they are so pretty when they're bursting out of their cover.

Bounty from our yard

We got chicks this year, and they've been growing and growing.  I think it was less than a month ago we started getting eggs, and just the other day we got three!  Today we got four!

How exciting.

And, our yellow raspberry bush is producing more raspberries that are very tasty.

Bath Time!

Mary and Simone took a bath the other day.  I knew Simone was taking one, and what a surprise I had when I opened the door to find the two of them packed into a bubble filled bathtub!

How lucky I am.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Farm to Farm (to Farm...)

I rode the F2F century again this year.

It is a fundraiser for the Monroe Sharing Gardens and exposes people to a fee of the wonderful farms we have in the valley. As a ride, it has pretty much all the elements I could want in a ride: breakfast, dinner, food stops with awesome fresh (and real) food, pretty scenery, support along the way, and a swag bag with only good things in it.

I borrowed Mike Ripley's bike for the ride (thanks Mike) which is an awesome racing bike that weighs maybe 17 pounds. I certainly felt fast on it. One of the mechanics admired it fondly. I'll be giving it back this week with a little sadness.

The ride starts in Monroe nice and early with a breakfast and then a short tour through Monroe out towards Alsea falls.

I'd parked next to two guys and made small talk in the registration line. They were from Eugene and Tillamook and ride together often. They seemed like they would ride about the same pace as me and I thought of joining them, but we got to breakfast at different times and left separately. I didn't want to be that creepy guy who hangs uncomfortably nearby wanting to be their friend. So I rode off toward Alsea ahead of them.

I felt like a pro biking past lots of people. It seemed like this years crowd was more recreational riders than serious ones. There were two recumbents biking side by side taking up the entire lane (and cyclists wonder why drivers sometimes resent cyclists).

The climb up to Alsea falls is pretty steep and I passed even more people. There were quite a few who were walking there bikes. I crested the peak after climbing 1000 feet and enjoyed the windy descent.

The first rest stop is at a goat farm and they had pasties, zucchini bread, and cookies again. I had a sampling of each of them and chatted with the two guys from the parking lot who had rolled into the pit stop a couple of minutes after me.

We set off together making some pretty good time and chatting. The next climb was up to the base of Mary's Peak - another 1000 foot climb though not as steep. The two guys were named Dan and Mike. We were pretty well matched - Dan was a bit faster than me and Mike a bit slower due to coming off an illness.

The ride down has to be my favorite section of road in the area. We were behind a car that luckily was going fast enough not to get in the way.

We stopped next at Gathering Together Farm - for a snack of watermelon and potato donuts. The donuts were awesome as usual.

We cruised through the the farmer's market and then headed down Peoria road. Last year the entire second have was into a strong headwind. This year there was a slight tailwind.

We cruised through the second half pretty fast. We found out we were the first riders to come through. There were a couple of guys not far behind us. It wasn't a race but we were WINNING!

Dan's rear wheel started leaking air pretty fast, so we stopped a couple of times to pump it up and limp in.

We finished up clocking in 100 miles on the dot. After changing into real clothes we headed back to the start to eat some dinner.

All in all a great ride.

I really enjoyed riding with Dan and Mike. We had quite a bit in common and had a good time chatting it up while riding. Plus it helped to have some people to draft off.

I'll be doing the ride again next year.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Jam Packed Day

Toward the end of August, Albany puts together an Art and Air festival, where they have an air show, hot air balloons, art sale, food booths, music, etc.  We'd gone once a long time ago, I've got a photo somewhere of Simone asleep on my arm that was taken there.

The festival had moderately interesting art - about what you'd expect at a Saturday market, but we had a fun time poking around looking at things.  Gin joined us, and it's nice to hang with her.

They had a kids area for crafts, so Simone made a necklace and a paper-bag hat.  We missed out on painting a square on the big plywood boards by one person (they'd just filled the last one) - next time we'll show up a little earlier.

Simone modeling the necklace.  Note the heart necklace underneath - all the gals in the booths thought she'd gotten it at the fair, but it came from home.

The paper bag hat, a thing of beauty.

Then after the festival we came home, made a fire, roasted marshmallows to make s'mores, and slept outside.  So much fun!

Our roaring fire, the coals were perfect for s'mores.

A  benefit of sleeping outside was that Jupiter slept next to me all night long.  In the morning Simone came into the bed and snuggled up (Mary had gone inside in the middle of the night because she wasn't sleeping at all).

While lying in bed we heard our chickens wake up.  One sounded a little unusual.  She was making a "kakruu - kakruu!" sounds.  Uh-oh.

Yup, one of our girls had decided to let us know she was a he.  It was official two days later when I saw him mount one of the hens, and a couple days after that he found his voice and cockle-doodle-do'ed all day.

We now have 6 chickens, and Maddie made a nice pot of chicken soup.


I like closeups of flowers.

They're pretty.

Hydrangea in Newport.

Hydrangea in Newport.

Sweet pea in Gearhart.

A sweet pea in Gearhart.

Sunflower in our garden.


It got pretty hot for a few days in August, so one Sunday we headed to Newport where the temperature was a nice, cool, 68 degrees.  We had a lovely lunch, played in a park, saw some Sea Lions, met two guys who had biked from Patagonia up the east coast and were headed back down the west coast.  A good day.

Waiting for a table for lunch.

Got milk?

Warm and sunny in Newport.


In the art exhibit, looking through the salt-stained windows.

Artsy shot of a boat.

The sea lions

Simone in August

This is what Simone looked like this August.

Lounging around in the back yard.

Notice the pool in the background, we have a pool!

Horse Camp

Simone spent a week at horse camp.  She rode a smaller horse this year (I forget his name), and during the show on Friday, she rode around the barn all on her own.

Simone and Mary warming up around the barn.

Simone riding backwards.

Simone, Robin, and one of the assistants.

Where to Start

So much since the 4th of July, including the 4th of July.  It's now September, and Simone has started school, kindergarten.  We had some vacation, some hanging out, some biking.  I'll try to post some memories, we'll see where we get.


I went for a bike ride this morning. We're at the coast and the clouds and drizzle have set in, but I still wanted to ride.

It turns out, there aren't many (any?) mountain bike trails around the cities of Seaside/Astoria. At least, none that show up on MTB forums, or are known by my team, or that the usual trail web sites know of. I have done a trail at fort Stevens years ago, but didn't feel like driving.

So off to the logging roads I went.

The hills just east of Gearhart and Seaside are privately owned and are heavily logged. I noticed them last year when I did some road riding in the valley over the hills.

I donned my Lycra and headed into the mist.

As I reached the main logging road I noticed the gate was open and some guy was working on it. I stopped to ask if it was ok for me to ride on these roads.

He looked up and I could see he was a bit older, was missing quite a few teeth, and given the company name on the side of his truck (Seaside) he was from around here.

I don't know exactly what preconceptions I had of him, but I was a little surprised when he said I had a nice bike and that he was real happy with his 29er. He continued with talking about how well it rolls over bumps his 26" Cannondale had trouble with, and that it's got to do with the lower angle of attack that the bigger wheel presents to obstacles.

It's at thus point I realize I'd totally judged him wrong. Bad Trey.

We walked over to the sign to see what it says about bikes, and it looks like I've got free reign until sunset.

All inspired that I'd met a fellow biker who lived locally - I asked him where he rides. He mostly road rides, and commutes with the bike. He even has slicks on the 29er.

He then continues by saying he sometimes goes into the skate park on the bike. Sometimes he gets drunk before the skate park, and it's pretty sketchy biking in the park in the dark, drunk.

There's my prejudices coming back.