Foggy Spokane

Foggy Spokane

I spent some time taking photos in the foggy Spokane weather last night. One of the shots was this one of the statue of Space Shuttle Columbia astronaut Michael Anderson.


Why I won’t make a list for 2014

  1. Lists hardly convey what actually happened in a year with sufficient details. Let’s be honest, there isn’t much information for readers when something gets put into a list form.
  2. I took photos this year.
  3. See? Not much detail at all. Just one line doesn’t share that I traveled to Sandpoint, Wallace, Harrison, Grand Coulee Dam, Ocean Shores, southwest Oregon, the Columbia River, Seattle and elsewhere within the past year.
  4. I remember the squishy feeling of freshly-laid sod as I walked through Sandpoint in the pouring rain with a friend. Although I haven’t experienced sinking in quicksand, watching your foot disappear slowly into the ground is unnerving to say the least.
  5. Paul Colman’s newest CD, From the Saltland to the River, was my soundtrack while driving out to Wallace. He has a way with lyrics and different guitar rhythms that made each listen of the 14 or so tracks enjoyable several times through. Given some questions I had at the time, his words hit the right spot.
  6. “Welcome to the Human Race” is a particularly haunting look at humanity and what some versions of religion have become. And then a couple of tracks later, he bursts out into a tune similar to an Irish drinking song.
  7. Wallace, Sandpoint, Harrison – they’re all just a little over an hour outside of Spokane, but provide a breathtaking view of the different landscapes Spokane has to offer. That diversity in geography is why I love living here.
  8. That same geography is also why I hate driving on Spokane’s South Hill in winter.
  9. There’s a love-hate relationship with my love of Spokane.
  10. On one hand, Spokane is the right size to attract great music festivals, like Spirit Fest, which I attended in July. My favorite singer/songwriter Peter Furler was the opening act.


    Third Day at Spirit Fest in Spokane

  11. Peter Furler doesn’t need flashy lights, autotune or confetti machines to put on a good set.
  12. A week after seeing that show, I was baptized.
  13. The next day, I saw Paul McCartney in Seattle.
  14. July was a good month.
  15. In late August, it was time for a week off from the newspaper. It’s a good time for a vacation, but driving across the desert that is central Washington without a functioning air conditioner was a poor life choice.
  16. ADD Moment: It’s a bright idea to regularly check your vehicle’s oil on a thousand-mile trip.
  17. I hadn’t traveled to Seattle on my own via Highway 2, and I’m glad I made a good life choice in that regard. The scenery is incredible, even if you might be roasting inside of a traveling red oven of a car.
  18. Driving through Seattle made me realize why I love the lack of traffic here at home.
  19. A trip from Everett to IKEA shouldn’t take 90 minutes. A more balmy 45 would have been acceptable.
  20. I love to learn new things in life. Facts, figures, dates, events; it’s why I devour historical books with gusto. Just this last weekend, I learned about Jack Jouett, and how important he was in the American Revolution.
  21. I also learned you don’t let a moment slip away where you can visit family. They’re here one moment and gone the next.
  22. A trip in November to Oregon to visit family should have been a joyous one, not one where tears were shed. That said, it was a chance to visit family, and to cherish each moment together.
  23. The year ended the way I consider the last one to have started – in the last week of December on a Sunday morning. Dec. 30, 2012, I was looking for a new church, needing a change of scenery. Memory reminded me of a fun group of people at Spokane Christian Church I once met the year before.
  24. I snuck in the back just as the service started, sitting in the last couple of rows, trying my best not to be noticed. I’ve been told it’s a quality I possess, blending in with crowds.
  25. I didn’t want to be noticed or called out as being a visitor. A few people gave me some quizzical looks, as though they’d recognized me before, but didn’t approach me. I’m thankful for that, now that I look back.
  26. After the service, I quickly ducked out through one of the side aisles, escaping to the car.
  27. My anonymity didn’t last, however, as a good friend from high school dragged me up to one of the front aisles the week after. I was grateful for the gesture, recognizing a friendly face, but throwing this introverted personality in the middle of something completely new like that was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences I’ve had in my 24 years of life. Pardon the Doctor Who reference, but it was a moment where yelling “Geronimo” would have been appropriate.
  28. The people with whom I’ve worked and the friendships formed in the past year are too impactful to put in words. Countless people have changed my life for the better in 2013, and I’m certain the same will happen over the next 52 weeks.
  29. Lists won’t ever convey the true breadth of a calendar year, because it’s just not possible to contain it in such a small sample size. When we’re restricted to lists and numbers, abbreviations and acronyms, instead of simplifying our lives, they tend to get more complicated.
  30. Don’t make lists.
  31. Tell your story as it is.
  32. Have a blessed new year.
  33. Make it count.

When you need a break, look nearby

One of the things I find true enjoyment in is traveling to different places within about an hour or so from home. Less than a tank of gas will take you quite a few places in the greater Spokane area. It’s truly one of the things that I love about my home: the geography changes in just a few minutes.
This year alone, I’ve managed to see the natural beauty of the Northern Lights, historic cities like Wallace and Sandpoint (both in Idaho), and find unknown streets and neighborhoods just by taking a different route home or sacrificing some of that precious weekend time to venture outside my comfort zone. Some places I’d love to find again and others… well, let’s just say I’ll take my regular route next time. But the off-chance of finding a city or town with a great history is pretty exciting.
My camera is attached to my hip on every one of these chance ventures, and I’ve captured a great many sights. Small towns just outside Spokane are some of the most interesting places in the Pacific Northwest, even though living in one can be maddening for a younger person like myself.
Sure, living in a town of 300 people could get pretty mundane after a while – for comparison, Spokane’s metropolitan area is around 500,000. It truly does take a special type of person to turn a town of 300 to 10,000 a place where people want to visit. Wallace is a special little place because of some great history and a group of dedicated residents making the city so much bigger than themselves. Meanwhile other towns, even the ones with thousands of people, can’t muster up enough culture to even begin growing some form of excitement.
Now, I travel away from Spokane every once in a while to leave things behind. Work. Traffic. Mass amounts of people. Frustration. Stress.
That’s the world in which I live, and I bet that’s where you live, too. Otherwise, why take vacations if we enjoy things in our lives? We go elsewhere to escape our problems, hoping that a change of scenery will offer us a bit of a reprieve. What a great life, huh? We live to get away.
But sadly, getting away from things is only a weakness and a diversion from solving our real problems in life. That doesn’t mean you can’t be productive during such a diversion, though.
Many of us are stressed and tired, myself included. But a different routine or a quick detour helps change even the most frustrating situation for the better. A different perspective can shed new light in your life. A different turn at the light can bring something new your way.
Personally, I’m delighted by the change of scenery this weekend, even of it is just for an hour or so. Although, admittedly, this delicious ice cream cone I’m enjoying in Harrison, Idaho, may be distorting my objectivity somewhat.
Get out and see what lies outside of your daily routine. Break out of the rut and change something in your life if you don’t enjoy it. It’s all in your hands.

Refueling the Thunderbirds

It’s an honor to fly with America’s finest.

Last year, I was lucky to receive an ESGR nomination to join a refueling flight from Fairchild Air Force Base – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I was certain would never come again. But, life has a few surprises every now and then, and Monday, Aug. 13 was no exception.

A flight for local media representatives helped refuel eight F-16 fighter jets, collectively known as the Thunderbirds.

Simply put, it was the thrill of a lifetime. Again.

Taking off in the 92nd Air Refueling Wing’s flagship KC-135 aircraft, we met up with the Thunderbirds, who were on their way from Canada to Nevada, following the performance of a show. With the weather in Spokane being in the mid-80s, and temps inside the plan before takeoff being slightly higher, getting into the regular flight was a breath of cool, fresh air. The KC-135 is an older plane, and due for replacement at some time by the KC-46A, but the Air Force maintenance group keeps them running in pristine shape. Although they’re due to phase out at some bases, the last KC-135 pilot hasn’t yet been born.


An epic Spokane Hoopfest

Hoopfest – it’s when Spokane doubles in size.

Going around to meet new people and catch up with old friends is just part of the fun this great event brings. Sure, the entire downtown core is closed to traffic and you’re likely to park a good 2 miles away, but at the end of the day, it’s all worth it.

The smiles, food, friends and (mostly) friendly competition all come together to make this one of the year’s best weekends.

An evening with Hugh Laurie

I was lucky enough to see Hugh Laurie perform last night in Spokane. Yes, you read that right.


He’s a rather silly man, who has some great musical and acting skills. And, after seeing him in House (obviously), Blackadder, Stuart Little, 101 Dalmatians and A Bit of Fry and Laurie… I couldn’t pass up seeing him perform live.

Performing a slew of jazz numbers, he dazzled the crowd for a good two hours. Throw in some bits of comedy and excellent info about most of the songs, and the evening passed by far too quickly. The man is an encyclopedia of musical knowledge. Although he humbly said only four in the audience likely really care about where the music came from, I’m happy to be one of those.

Best song of the night? “Wild Honey” by Dr. John. I hadn’t heard the song before, but can’t wait to hear it again. It’s always great when a musician steers you toward other songs – it’s a sign of humility and knowledge of their genre. Hugh Laurie is no exception to that rule.

“Let Them Talk,” his recent album from which many songs were performed, is very much worth a look. St. James Infirmary and Swanee River are the better songs, and show some of Laurie’s true talent. Plus, a few special guests help round out the tracks.

In all, if this brilliantly talented man is coming near you, get tickets before they vanish. You’ll be glad you did.

Has anyone else seen him perform live? What were your thoughts?

Where is home for you?

Browsing around on a brilliantly quiet Friday night, I ran across this quick gem of a post.

Image from Spokanephotos.com

She poses a great question – just where is home?

For me, it’s been the Spokane area. I’ve grown up knowing about the Bloomsday statues at Riverfront Park, the quickest way around the Division Street exit and that if you turn the wrong way on Sprague/Appleway in the Valley, you’re in for trouble. Sure, I’ve only ever lived in the Spokane area, but after visiting other cities, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the argument that there isn’t anything to do in Spokane. I’m guilty of saying it, and even believing it, at some points in my life. But, I’m happy to call Spokane home. For my personality, likes/dislikes and overall self, it’s an almost perfect place to live.

In high school, we had a quick discussion about Spokane and what we did or didn’t like about it. Spokane is big enough to attract big entertainment names (Newsboys, Elton John, Brad Paisley, the Mythbusters, B.B. King and Tony Bennett), while still being simplistic enough that any one of those artists can walk around town without fear of being mobbed by rabid fans. Peter Dinklage was in town shooting a movie a few years ago and I had the fortune to see him at one of the movie theaters. After an obvious double-take by me, I smiled and nodded, with a quick reply from him. He didn’t need a security guard and didn’t have an entourage of fans following his every step. Mr. Dinklage was just a regular guy out seeing a movie.

Even Paul McCartney or Emma Watson could stroll the streets and manage to fit right in. (And yes, I only mention those two people in hopes they actually come here. Having coffee with Emma would be incredible.)

The city brags on and on about Expo ’74… but Spokane attracted the attention of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in 2007 and 2010, proving it’s able to garner attention on a vast scale in today’s world. But, leave that big event and just walk a couple blocks away and you’ll arrive at one of several local shops. Everyone knows the good places: Boo Radley’s, Rocky Rococo’s pizza, Merlyn’s, Thomas Hammer, The Globe, Fast Eddie’s, the Magic Lantern and others. All of these great places are full to the brim with local flavor. Even our local media outlets are among the greatest in the region. (Just a little shout-out to some new connections I’ve made.)

I enjoy that vast contrast. Walk a couple blocks from the ritzy Davenport Hotel and you’ll hit the Satellite Diner. Consider the difference – a glamorous European-style hotel with various woods and marbles, compared to an aged diner where you can get one of the best cups of coffee in town, using some chipped mugs and watching your fellow questionable patrons. Go to Coeur D’Alene and try to see that.

Heck, go visit Seattle and see if that’s the case.

At the same time, for myself, those who have kept me grounded and anchored are here. Those people who anchor me and keep me moving in the right direction make this town what it is.

Sure, an apartment or a house has stuff to make it livable. But it’s the people that seal the deal. As long as I’m with them, or they with me, I’m home.