Melina Gunnett

September 19, 2012

Mount Rainier

Filed under: Photographs, Travel — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 11:36 PM

I have spent a good part of the last two days hanging around the Oregon DMV trying to get my car registration and driver’s license straighten out. As with most things centred around the words ‘government’ and ‘paperwork’, it was frustrating. I’ll tell you about it tomorrow after I have recovered from the trauma. Today I want to think about more pleasant things, such as my trip up to Mount Rainier last weekend.

I spent the last year living under the shadow of Mount Rainier. Even from a distance the mountain is beautiful. I planned to drive up there numerous times, but something always came up that seemed more important. After all, I could always go up to the mountain another time – it was right there! It finally took moving away to get me to actually take a drive up there.

The drive itself was worth the trip. Had I started earlier in the day, I would have liked to have made a few more stops along the way. There were a couple of little railroad towns along the way that looked like they might be fun to explore. Next time I think I will make reservations for the scenic railroad tour up to Mineral Lake.

Alder Lake

I did stop for a bit at Alder Lake. It caught my eye as I was driving past and I couldn’t resist. The entire Northwest has been experiencing a long dry summer and the Nisqually river is currently no more than a trickle. This meant that Alder lake, which is a reservoir on the Nisqually, is currently low enough to display every long lost stump usually concealed within its depths. I am sure that the lake is normally picturesque, but with so much of the water gone, it was fascinating.

The lake was created in 1945 with the building of Alder dam. There hasn’t been time to grow trees that would provide stumps that large, so those stumps are probably from when the lake was originally created, that meas that they have spent most of the last 77 years underwater. It makes me wonder, if I took a boat out onto the lake, what else I would find.

Instead of renting a boat, I continued on toward Mount Rainier. A few miles before the park entrance I took a little detour by the Ashford Mansion. Okay, it was actually a wrong turn, but it was so pretty I kept going and ended up seeing some interesting things I would have missed out on otherwise. Like a tiny pond with a tee-pee and a wooden boat. This wasn’t a tourist attraction, it was someone’s yard.

teepee lake

I also found the Ashford mansion and a really cool house that I fell in love with. I could easily see myself living there.

Ashford MansionCute House

The road ended up winding back into town (the name of the town was, surprise, surprise, Ashford.). Once again on the correct road, I continued on and finally made it to Rainier Park. I’m not sure what I expected, but what I found was better. From a distance, Mount Rainier always seemed like a stand alone mountain. Up close, while it is the tallest mountain around, it is surrounded by many other mountains and valleys. There were several places through out the park where I could pull over and just enjoy the view as Rainier grew closer.

Mt. Rainier

Interesting peaksThese look outs also provided amazing views of the other weather worn peaks in the area. One of my favourite spots was Narada Falls, just before we reached the summit (Well as close as I could get to the summit by car.). What I could see of the falls was great and next time I plan to Rock wallgive myself enough time to get out and hike the short trail that wanders around the to the front of the falls for a better look. The trail will also put me directly underneath this amazing rock wall, which was on the most interesting outcroppings I saw that day.

Top of the FallsUnfortunately, by the time I reached the falls, it was already getting close to sunset. I didn’t bring a real camera with me, just my phone, and it was getting too dark to take very good pictures even if I had time to take the trail. So back into the car I went and finished the drive up to Paradise – That is what the area nearest the top is called, the Paradise Henry M Jackson Memorial Visitor Center.

I reached the top just as the sun was getting ready to set. The visitor center was already closed for the day, but the there were plenty of placards and trail maps. I hadn’t really thought about hiking, but once I reached the top, I wish I had. The trail up to the Nisqually glacier was only about a mile and would have been spectacular. One more thing to add to my “next time” list.

I got out and walked around for a bit and wished, not for the first of the last time that day, that I had left earlier. There will definitely be a next time, because it was already starting to get dark. It was time to turn around and head home.

Rainier from Paradise

The trip down the mountain seemed a lot quicker than the trip up. I am sure it was, since I wasn’t stopping to take photos and look at the scenery. I need to go back to keeping my camping equipment in the car. It would have been a good night to drop a tent somewhere and continue my adventure the next day. Yup, another thing for my “next time” list.

I did make one last stop on the way back. At the base of the mountain there is a little restaurant called the Wildberry Cafe. They specialize in Yak burgers – also on my “next time” list, I had a burger for lunch – and Himalayan dishes. The Himalayan stew was good, their salads are HUGE and next time, after all that hiking, I am going to be hungry enough for their wild berry pie.

January 23, 2012

Technology addiction

Filed under: Odd Thoughts — Tags: , , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 3:46 PM

Hi, My name is Melina and I am a technology addict.

I didn’t used to think those words applied to me. I don’t suppose any addict every does. They don’t describe the self portrait I have in my mind. I’ve rarely been a first adapter and seldom feel the need to go acquire the latest technology when what I have works just fine. Yeah, I have lots of shiny gadgets but, compared to my geek heavy circle of friends, I am practically a Luddite. The varnish on that particular picture started to crack a few weeks ago.

Alright, maybe the first clue should have been that I packed more plugs, cables and chargers than underwear for my trip. At the time I was far more concerned with getting enough stuff into my carry-on to avoid having to check luggage. The first clue came when I got a virus on my laptop.

Three days – that is what I spent trying to figure out how to get my computer back without losing anything. Yes, I succeeded. Yes, it was worth it, but it could have waited. There wasn’t anything I really needed that couldn’t have waited until I got home. I still had move phone, which got me on to facebook, my e-mail and the Internet. I just couldn’t deal without having my laptop available in case I wanted to write.

I should have just shelved the project. I was in Boston, the time would have been better spent catching up with friends who I probably won’t see for at least another year, but obsession kicked in. There was just one more little thing that needed to be done before it would work… It should only take a few more minutes. It ended up taking a lot of “few more minutes”. In retrospect, I should have just gotten a pad of paper.

The lesson I should have walked away from that experience with was “people are more important”. In truth I believe they are. Sadly my addiction kept me from bringing that truth into my reality and I didn’t get the chance to see a few of the people I would have really liked to spend more time with. What lesson did I actually walk away with? I should make sure I have a full back up before going on a trip, always carry a USB card and UBUNTU has gotten really, really easy to install.

Despite showing up at a convention already into my third day of sleep deprivation, I probably wouldn’t have realized how bad my technology addiction had gotten if the next crack in the varnish hadn’t of come so soon afterward. That Sunday night I lost my cell phone.

Yes, that should just mean I can’t make any phone calls (bad enough), but this is the modern age. What it meant was: I didn’t have an alarm clock, I couldn’t do mobile facebook updates after panels, I lost most of the pictures I had take that weekend, I lost the notes I had been taking in panels, I couldn’t take my turns in scrabble or let people know why I disappeared, and I couldn’t just text people to meet up somewhere at the con. It really was kind of pathetic how lost I was without my electronic mind.

The loss became even more apparent when I had to reschedule my flight because I didn’t get the text message that they had changed the time. Of course all my contacts where also on the phone – which meant I couldn’t even call my ride to let them know I would be arriving at the airport three hours later than planned. Yes, those are all practical concerns; signs of dependence, not addiction. I even found away around them using – you guessed it – more technology. The true sign of addiction was how frustrated I was that I couldn’t log my airport check-ins on foursquare to unlock the next badge level.

I still might have let it all go unnoticed, a lesson in electronic dependence rather than addiction, but the mother nature decided that it was time for me to face my reality. The entire vernier of my mental picture cracked and shed away the day after I got back. I was finally home. I had my main computer and easy access to the Internet I still needed to get a new phone, but was contemplating letting it go for a while. That lasted all of a day. Then the ice storm hit.

I have lived without electricity before. I spent years living in the mountains with a wind up alarm clock, propane stove and cold creek that doubled as an ice chest. Part of me had thought I wouldn’t mind doing it again for a summer. Reality can be very disillusioning. Despite the fact that we had flashlights, blankets, books and boardgames, in less than a day we were making our way to the nearest place with electricity (about an hours drive) to charge up all our devices and connect out to the Internet for news.

It was four days before we had power. I think it was the first time my godson had ever been though even a day without electricity and the devices it powers. Al my plans for getting home and getting back to work on my book when out the window. What, you thought I was going to write by hand and then try to decipher what I put on the page? Not very likely! (or practical, if you have every tried to read much of my handwriting)

Nope, I did what pretty much everyone else around me was doing. Instead of just accepting the loss of power until it came back on and using the time to hang out with other electricity deprived people, I spent most of the time trying to find places to hang out, power my electronic world and connect via the Internet.

I am a technology addict, and it seems I am not alone.

January 19, 2012

It’s good to be home

Filed under: Odd Thoughts — Tags: , , , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 6:09 AM

I’m tired of traveling. Words I thought I would never hear myself say.

Don’t get me wrong. I still love to go new places, meet people and see things I have not seen before. I’m just tired. A sure sign that I was ready to be off the road was when I stopped grabbing my camera before I went out the door. I hardly took any pictures at all on this last trip and I LOVE to take photos of cool things to share with people.

The highlights of the last month –

I spent a week in San Diego with my step dad. The weather was nice, it was San Diego after all. I know the traditional image of snow covered trees and white fields is how most of my friends picture Christmas. That image isn’t one that ever made it past holiday cards in my mind. Even after moving to New England I still spent most of my Christmases in San Diego. Giant palm trees with big red bows is the image that comes to my mind. Although, this year I was a bit disappointed. They didn’t put up the ribbons on the trees at the airport. I got over it and had a nice Christmas anyway.

After Christmas I hopped another plane to Baltimore. Chalice_chick, bless her, came and retrieved me in the middle of the night despite having to work the next day. I would have put her on my list of awesome people for doing that, but she was already on it.

Fortunately, that visit was all about spending some time with friends. Our one attempt to go out and do something that didn’t evolve just hanging out was a total bust. We went to a spa. How on earth can you go wrong with a spa you ask? Easy, you show up on the one day that they have an incident and are forced to drain their pool. They were going to have it back up soon… all day long. On the up side, it did force me to use the sauna. If I ever win the lottery I am so going to have a bed made out of little warm balls. Yeah, I know, my odds of winning would be better if I actually played the lottery, but not by much.

New Years was spent just the way it should be – playing games and watching silly movies with friends.

A few days later I took another big metal bird to Boston. I had really hoped to see a lot more people while I was in Boston, but my body had other ideas. I spent the first few days fighting a migraine. I eventually won and got out to see some people. I thought about seeing more people, but I decided it would be more fun to catch a computer virus and spend days obsessing over getting my laptop up and running again.

Oh, I eventually got it running again, but it meant that I went into ARISIA already deeply effected by sleep deprivation. When I get more sleep at a convention than in the week leading up to it, something is wrong with the world.

ARISIA was a bit of a mixed bag for me. The convention itself was great. I enjoyed being on panels this year, managed not to get sucked into any of the behind the scenes drama that always comes with any large convention and had a great time at the book release party for UnCONventional. Sadly I was so out of it by Sunday night I left my phone somewhere. Perhaps my next post will be on how pathetically dependent I am on my phone for… well… everything.

Even with the missing phone, ARISIA would have been firmly placed in the AWESOME category except for Badger. I miss her. I know I’m not alone in that. There was a large turnout for her memorial service last Friday and just as large of a turn out for the memorial Filk on Sunday. It was exactly the type of gathering she would have loved.

So now I am back in Washington. I may have managed to miss any major snowstorms while I was back east, but mother nature had one waiting for me. I woke up to a good 10 inches. I guess it was her way of telling me that today was my time to relax, unpack and take it slow. Tomorrow I need to get stuff done (starting with getting a new phone), but for today I think I’ll take Momma N’s advice and go take a nap. It’s good to be home.

July 26, 2011

The Parks

I’ve been busy settling into my new home and figuring out what I need to be doing over the next couple of months.  What I haven’t been doing is keeping up with posting the things I’ve already done.  I’m currently planning a trip down to southern California for next month.  It seemed like a good idea to clear the photos from my last trip off my camera first.

I last left everyone in the Black Hills at Sunset.  The next day I ended up dealing with boring mundane business stuff. Then headed out across the Wyoming plains, following the Shoshone River through the foothills and into the Buffalo Bill State Park.

Buffalo Bill State Park

Click on the picture to see the Buffalo Bill State Park

Next I headed across the Shoshone Park and into the east entrance of Yellowstone.  I drove through the lake region and down to Flagg Ranch, just the other side of the West gate to set up camp.  I spent the next several days touring the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone.  Yellowstone is so big and its terrain so varied, that it is like having several parks in one.  I grouped the photos together in different sections.


Click for the Grand Tetons

Click for the Yellowstone Lake Region

Animals of Yellowstone

Click to see the Animals of Yellowstone

Thermal Region of Yellowstone

Click here to view the Thermal region of Yellowstone, Including Old Faithful

Yellowstone Mountains

Click to see the North mountian area of Yellowstone.

mammoth hot springs

Click to see the Mammoth Hot springs

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