Visit to an oasis

Growing up in north central Idaho an oasis was something I only saw in cartoons and perhaps on some television show. I have driven across the deserts of central Washington, southeastern Oregon, and Nevada many times but never came across anything similar to an oasis I would recognize from the cartoons of my childhood. They remained somewhat of a mythical place.

That changed last January when Barb and I visited the Palm Springs California area. We visited several oases in the area but by far the most interesting and pleasant were the West Fork Falls and Palm Canyon trails.

Since it has essentially the same trail head as Palm Canyon Trail and is only 0.1 miles long if you go to the Palm Canyon Trail area you must check out the West Fork Falls Trail. Barb and I were wandering around and I noticed something odd. I then began taking a bunch of pictures of the trees. Barb thought I was acting a little more strange than usual with the sudden interest in taking so many pictures of the trees. I had to explain. Check out the pictures below:


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Knob kabob

One thing that I really like about being around smart people is the clever phrases and names they come up with to describe things.

I came home from work the other day to find Barb had brought an old wood cabinet home. She took the knobs off and painted them. To avoid irregularities in the paint she strung them on a wooden skewer. She then suspended the ends of the skewers on two plastic containers while the paint dried.

She called it a “knob kabob”:


Naches Peak Loop Trail

Last Sunday, after hiking the Mount Rainier Skyline Trail the day before, we hiked the Naches Peak Loop Trail. It was a much easier hike, and while very pleasant, was no comparison in the Skyline Trail. Any other day it would have been an incredible hike. But after the Skyline Trail experience it was merely great.

For the most part the trails were wide and flat. There were a few narrow and rugged spots but nothing that caused us real concern. The views were wonderful. In places the wildflower were so plentiful the air was filled with their scent even as you walked by.



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Mount Rainier Skyline Trail Loop

Barb and I have visited Mount Rainier several times. There have been others but here are the ones I have blogged about:

Over the weekend we went again. This time Barb reserved a campsite (reservation required and they are booked six months in advance) so we would be closer to the Skyline Trail Loop and could get an early start and find parking. We still had to park about a half mile away from the trail head.


She has been wanting to go on this hike for years but it never seemed to work out. We took the upper loop and probably were within 2 miles of Camp Muir.

The weather was stunning. The air was clear, the temperature was pleasant, and there was no wind. The views were stunning.


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Mirror Lake

About three weeks ago Barb and I went on a hike to Mirror lake. It was suggested by one of her sisters and we happily headed east from Bellevue traveling over Snoqualmie Pass to exit 62. As we went deeper and deeper into the woods we started thinking “We might have been here before.” When we came to the parking area we were sure of it. We didn’t remember the name of the hike or lake when we made the choice for this destination.

Oh well, we are here so we might as well go on the hike.

If you plan to visit this location heed this warning:

From the lower parking area, you’ll notice a small sign pointing toward the Mirror Lake trailhead. Follow the wide, rocky dirt path approximately 0.5 miles to meet the trailhead for Mirror Lake. There is a small parking area adjacent to the trailhead that saves the extra 0.5 mile walk; however, it is strongly recommended that this not be attempted unless you have a jeep or other all-terrain vehicle.

Emphasis added. The road has huge ditches and large rocks in it. It is also overgrown with bushes that will probably scratch your vehicle if you push through them.

We walked the half mile or so to the small parking area adjacent to the trailhead and promptly went on up the hill to the right following the road:


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A rare occurrence

Last Friday Barb and I flew into Victoria B.C. to attend daughter Jaime’s wedding. While waiting in baggage claim a guy walked up to us and ask, “Are you Joe Huffman?”

“Uh…. yes”, I replied.

I was a bit concerned. I was already uncomfortable that I had to leave my gun, knives, and even pepper spray behind. And now some strange guy has approaching me, correctly identified me, and is verifying my identity. It took a couple seconds to think it through and realize that he just got off the same plane I did and almost for certain doesn’t have any weapons either. Together, Barb and I should be able to handle the situation should it go sour.

It turns out, as you might have already guessed, he reads my blog and just wanted to say hi. He lives in Texas and had traveled to Victoria to be with his daughter while she attended a ballet class for a month.

We had a nice chat before going through customs.

In the over 15 years of this blog there has only been one other time a strange person came up to me in an public place (Cabela’s) to say they recognized me and to say hi.

I knew that stuff was bad for you

I’m safe on this one:

According to the study, older adults over the age of 55 who consumed more than 50 grams of chili per day displayed nearly double the risk of developing poor cognition and a decline in overall memory. Interestingly, slimmer adults indulging in a spicy diet exhibited even more significant memory loss.

It wasn’t until I was well into middle age before I finally figured out that some people interpreted the eating of things like chili and black peppers as having a taste. To me (and both of my brothers) there is no taste associated with many peppers. There is only “hot” and pain. It had long been a source of great perplexion to me, “Why do people deliberately cause themselves pain for no apparently benefit?” I will feel the pain in my mouth and throat from food that has pepper concentrations that no one (other than my brothers and I) can even detect. In fact the concentration can be one tenth below the detection level of “normal” people and I still feel the “heat”.

Hence, for all my life, I have avoided spicy hot foods.

I’ll remember this when people who told me, “It’s not at all spicy!” and called me a “wimp” are drooling idiots. Don’t expect me to have much sympathy. I knew that stuff was bad for you decades ago.

Halle Berry training for John Wick 3

This afternoon daughter Jaime, her fiancé, and I went to see John Wick 3 – Parabellum. It’s a good action movie. There is some humor too. As Jaime pointed out the humor is “interesting”. It’s delivered completely straight and frequently without even any words. I recommend it for more than the entertainment value. It shows very skilled gun handling and shooting by both Keanu Reeves and Halle Barry. I’m inclined to believe, as is stated in the second video below, we see actors shooting guns at skill level never before seen in a movie.

Below is Barry doing, essentially, USPSA stages. I expect she is performing at about a low class B for a USPSA shooter.

There is some controversy in the gun community over this. I’m inclined to side with Uncle on it.

I expect the anti-gun people universally hate the movie and the training videos. It shows what can be done with guns and make it look fun. And it is fun. I’m going to a USPSA match tomorrow, and do most of what Reeves and Barry did in the videos above and I’m going to have fun doing it.

I wish

It would be nice if it were possible you could rent a carry gun when you are traveling. Suppose you were going to do some domestic travel for a few days, then continue on to an international destination before returning. You want to be able to carry when you legally can but leave the gun behind when you visit your international destinations. Renting for a few days would be a good option.

Another option would be to have a small storage service that you could trust your gun with while you traveled.

Does anyone know of such thing in the Fort Lauderdale area?

I’m not sure I knew this

Mom died in 2012 and Dad died in 2014. My younger brothers have been slowly cleaning out our parents house and recently told me that at the present rate they should be finished by, IIRC, 2050.

In my last trip to Idaho there was a stack of stuff waiting for me. The following newspaper clipping was among the things I found:


In the 440 Yard Dash section I’m listed as tying for 8th and 9th place for all-time record times. I don’t think I knew this. I never thought myself as all that great. Doug Meyer (2nd), Morgan McEntire (6th), and Greg Heathco (7th) were competing in some of the same years I did and I compared myself to them. And Olsen frequently talked about Chris Johnson (1st). Johnson was rather ordinary until his senior year and Olson said that he just had to give Johnson the instruction to lift his knees more. The result was amazing. So, I indirectly compared myself to Johnson as well. Olson was never able to figure out what to tell me so that I could do significantly better.

Probably the best thing that would have made a difference was for me to be born one day later. Had I been a day younger I would have been in the class of ‘74 instead of the class of ‘73. Instead of being the youngest student in my grade I would have been one of the oldest. At that age another year makes a significant difference in athletic performance.

Signing some papers at the courthouse

Last Thursday evening Barb, some friends, and family members went to the courthouse to watch as Barb and I signed some papers.

This was our point of view:


This was their point of view:

Photo by Mark.

Photo by Jaime.

Check out the judge’s boots! It was because of the Snowpocalypse.

The next two pictures were after we had finished.

Photo by Jane.

Photo by the judge.

Then most of us went back to our house for dinner and cake.IMG_1037


I would have been certain “it would work out” had we gotten married after the first couple of months we were together. After several months the topic of marriage would occasionally come up and Barb didn’t see the point and then after a year or three she was quite clear that she did not want to get married. It wasn’t my preference but I wasn’t going to make a big deal about it and it almost never came up between us.

Then last June she proposed to me (the proposal blog post has been in draft form for months and I just now published it). There were some tax and other issues to resolve and we finally sort of settled on Valentines Day by the November/December timeframe. Valentines Day saves some hassle because you have one less card and/or gift to worry about during the year and you are less likely to forget about it. A bonus is that it is the 65th anniversary of when my parents got married.


The temperatures weren’t anything like what recently happened back east but Seattle had it’s own extraordinary weather over the last couple of weeks. Here in Bellevue we had snow over 16 inches deep. The weather historians said it was the most snow since the winter of 1968-1969. With all the hills around here there were lots of cars which didn’t make it home and were abandoned on the side of the street. Some of them were badly crumpled.

We were without mail service for about 10 days. No Amazon deliveries for a simlar timeframe. No garbage or recycling pickup for three weeks. Our power stayed on except for a few outages that lasted no more than 30 seconds. Others, within a quarter mile of us, were without power for a couple days.

I worked from home for about six days as no one else on my team could make it in to work. I could have made it with my car. I could even walk to and from work if I really wanted to. But I didn’t see a point to it. Just stay put and don’t risk getting smacked by someone who didn’t have the proper tires on their vehicle.

Barb’s brother had a surgery scheduled for last Friday in downtown Seattle. His wife had little or no experience driving in the snow so Barb and I volunteered to bring them home after another snowfall. He lives on a hill close to the hill Barb and I live on. The street we live on had not been plowed and had several inches of snow on it. With no idea what his street conditions were like I took off the all season tires which would have been adequate for our street and getting into Seattle and replaced them with studded mud and snow tires. We had no problems traversing the snow and made the trip to and from downtown Seattle without any unexpected adventures.

What was odd to Barb and I was the run on groceries. The shelves of bread, milk, meat and fresh produce were almost completely bare. We got a few things before the snow came but not really much more than usual. I did fill the gas cans for the generator and topped off the tank in my car but we would have been just fine without the extra supplies.

The only issue we had was the snow damaged a gutter as it slid off the roof over the deck.

The Seattle Times reported heart warming stories of people helping others. Daughter Jaime, also in Bellevue, spent many hours shoveling snow in her condo parking lot to help clear a path to the street. She also helped numerous people get out of their car ports with cars poorly equipped for the adventure.

Below the break are pictures of the snow around our place.

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Quote of the day—Doug Huffman

My grandfather, Cecil Huffman served in the Army with the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) Siberia.  On this day in February 1919, he wrote a letter to his parents that I have in my possession today.  All his letters were censored, and he knew the rules regarding what information he could send home, so none of his letters appear to have sections cut out or removed.  In his letters he often says there was nothing to write about even after he was involved in skirmishes with the Red Army led by Vladimir Lenin.  The attached letter is much like many others he wrote while in the Army.  On this day 100 years ago, Cecil wrote, “I know you expect to hear something in every letter, but there isn’t a thing to write about.”

The resolve of the people to fight the leftist forces of the communist revolution was not strong enough and resistance slowly folded as the Red Army advanced.  My grandfather and the rest of the AEF Siberia were pulled out of Vladivostok via transport ship in the fall of 1919.

In the decades that followed, Lenin and his successors went on to murder tens of millions of their own countrymen.  As communism spread in the 20th century, estimates are that up to 160 million people died worldwide through execution, starvation and politically motivated genocide under communist rule.  This happened in one nation after another as governments became too powerful, private industry was eliminated and free speech was restricted to only the politically correct line of thinking.

The majority of those supporting communism had no evil intent.  They fought for communism because they believed it would bring a better way of life for them and their children.

We must never forget the lessons of history.

1919-2-11 Cecil to Home (1)

1919-2-11 Cecil to Home

Doug Huffman
February 11, 2019
Email to extended family.
[I have nothing to add.—Joe]


Via someplace on Facebook:


You know the Vitamin d deficiency struggle is real.

You know how to pronounce Sequim, Puyallup, Sammamish, Enumclaw and Issaquah.

You avoid driving through Seattle at all costs.

You know what a Geoduck is.

You consider swimming an indoor sport.

You see a person carrying an umbrella and instantly think tourist.

Your lawn is mostly moss and you don’t really care.

Honking your car horn is for absolute emergencies.

You’re EXTREMELY picky about your coffee.

“The mountain is out today”, isn’t a strange statement.

While out of state you just tell people you’re from Seattle since that’s the only known city in Washington according to the rest of the world.

You remember Almost Live.

You’ve eaten in the Space Needle, and while it was delicious, you’re never paying $50 for a meal in the sky again.

You rarely wash your car because it’s just going to get washed by the rain tomorrow.

You’re used to the phrase “No, not DC” when telling out of staters where you’re from.

Northface is always in fashion.

You take a warm coat and a hat with you for a day at the beach.

You have mastered the art of doing everything in the rain, because, well, Washington.

You play the “no you go” at four-way stop.

You have had both the thought of how beautiful Mount Rainier is, while simultaneously accepting that it will probably kill you someday.

You get a little twitchy if it’s been more than a week since it last rained.

You believe Twilight ruined Forks.

You can say Humptulips, Lilliwap and Dosewallips without giggling.

Add Mukilteo, Snohomish, and Snoqualmie to the list of places you can pronounce correctly. And in Barb’s case she fought Moss War 2015, and finally won in 2016.


Boomershoot Mecca has solar power to keep the Wi-Fi going year around. Some of the batteries were over five years old and weren’t holding a charge. Some were three years old and I wasn’t too sure about them. I purchased four new sealed batteries and replaced all the old ones over Thanksgiving.

The batteries don’t handle really cold temperatures well and there is no heat at Mecca. At times it gets well below zero so I put some scrap insulating foam board underneath and on top to retain a little bit more heat until I can make something a little more permanent for the winter.



I brought the two year old batteries home, charged them, and did some tests. They have about 70% of their claimed storage capacity. I took them back to Idaho earlier this month for use at a different site.

Brother Gary, his dog Roscoe, and I took them the last 0.3 miles across the field on plastic toboggans over a few inches of snow:


The other site is underneath the power tower you see at the top center of the picture. It is a Wi-Fi relay station to get Internet service from Mecca to brother Gary’s house. The batteries there have been working for a couple years but were a little marginal in terms of recommended capacity. As they aged I was concerned that one dark and extremely cold January the batteries would fail. Putting in additional batteries now will ensure it makes it through this year and I won’t have to make the trip across the field on snowshoes over four feet of snow pulling 100+ pound batteries. I will test their capacity each August or September when access is easy by driving across the field and replace them as needed.


Rounds in the last month

This month I reloaded 919 rounds of 40 S&W, 1997 rounds of .223, and 50 rounds of 300 Savage.

The .40 S&W was all 180 grain Montana Gold JHP for practice at indoor ranges.

The .223 was 62 grain AP bullets to given the anti-gun crowd a bit of heartburn.

“Why 300 Savage? Isn’t that out of character?”, you might ask. Yes, that is out of character. It’s a somewhat long and sad story.

My nephew Brad Huffman was given an old 300 Savage, rotary magazine, lever action rifle by his maternal grandfather before his grandfather died. Brad harvested a few deer over the years with it. It is a good rifle, considering it’s getting close to 100 years old. Brother Doug bought reloading dies and some new brass to replenish the ammo since it is getting a little hard to find the ammunition for it locally. Brad wasn’t much interested in reloading and he had a box or so of ammo left which would have lasted several years at the rate he was harvesting deer. No big hurry for either of them to load the ammo. Then Brad died. Neither of his sisters are hunters and Doug decided the rifle should stay on the maternal side of the family. His wife has a couple of nephews who are hunters and he decided to give it to them. But before he did that he wanted to load up the brass because the nephews aren’t currently into reloading. Even though Brad died over five years ago Doug still hadn’t gotten around to loading the ammunition so he could give the rifle away properly equipped. I figure it would only take me a couple hours to do it and it would be fun as well. So when I was visiting for Thanksgiving I picked up everything Doug had and brought them home with me. I picked some bullets and an plastic ammo box in Moscow and a missing powder funnel at a gun shop in Cle Elum on the way home.

It took me over a day to reload those fifty rounds. Doug also had seven rounds of used brass that I tried to run through the dies as well as 50 rounds of new brass. I think the chamber of the rifle is oversized in the neck area because four of the seven rounds of used brass got stuck in the die no matter how carefully I lubricated them and tried to get them through the sizing die. Instead of just reloading the new brass I got sort of obsessed with trying to solve the problem. After removing the first stuck case I didn’t get the die adjusted correctly and destroyed a piece of new brass. The end result was 49 rounds of ammunition using the new brass and one round using the old brass.

This brings my lifetime reloaded ammunition totals to:

223: 6,810 rounds.
30.06: 756 rounds.
300 WIN: 1,591 rounds.
300 Savage: 50 rounds.
40 S&W: 95,381 rounds.
45 ACP: 2,007 rounds.
9 mm: 21,641 rounds.
Total: 128,236 rounds

Hike to Lake Ann

A couple years ago Barb and I hiked to Annette Lake. A couple weeks ago we hiked to Lake Ann. Since it was late in the year we expected there would be few people. We were wrong. Short of national parks, this was probably the most crowded parking and trail we have ever been on. Still, the weather was nice, the views were great, and we enjoyed hike.



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