Monday, July 14, 2014

Fun Family Functions

We all have family functions.  For lots of families, these are not exactly fun.  There are expectations and history that create stress.  We're pretty lucky.  My brothers, sisters, in-laws and parents all get along, for the most part.  In my last post, I mentioned the road trip to Nye Beach, but failed to mention that my younger brother and sister (as well as their families) and my parents were meeting us there.  I'll touch on some of the family fun today and wrap it up with home-garage stuff.

Who's Who
My sister, M, moved to Austin a few years back.  She and her husband, S, have since bought and sold a house, bought and performed construction on a second, had a couple of kids, etc.  They are very much Texans.  I hadn't seen their daughter (I) for a couple of years and had never met their 2-year-old (K3).  K3 is a pistol.  OMG, he is such a joy.  We played soccer, and laughed.  What a sweetie.

My brother, R, has been living in the greater Portland area since the late 90's, met and married a local (KG) and has a girl (A) and boy (N) of his own.  They are both very articulate for their ages, and can engage conversationally with adults with little difficulty.  A and I are great friends who Skype when they're apart.  Unfortunately, we're apart more than we'd all care for.  N and K3 became buddies too, though, playing toys together.  So, with that backdrop, we add 3 beach-side condo's and Newport's offerings.

Watching Whales, not the Temperature
low tide
Unlike the Oregon inland, once you cross the Coast Range, the temperature remains much closer to the 40*F-60*F range.  In Winter, while we're looking at snow temperatures, the coast rarely gets that cold (though the wind is brutal).  In Summer, we may be sweating 80*+ days while the coast is a mild 65*.  The 5 days we were in Newport were incredible weather-wise.  High's in the mid 70's and overnight lows in the 50's.

As the title suggests, we saw whales.  There's a pod of about 40 grey whales who live year round in the waters just off the coast between Newport and Lincoln City.  On 3 successive nights (July 2nd, 3rd and 4th) from the condo balcony we saw whales spouting at high tide.  The first night was particularly spectacular with multiple spouts blowing simultaneously and at least 5 different whale-back sightings over the course of about 30 minutes.  KG had been coming to this spot for over 30 years and had never seen whales.  Upon hearing this, we were all the more appreciative of the sight we'd witnessed.  Of course, we were so awe-struck, none of us thought to take a picture.  Drat!

Sand Castles and Sand Sliding
Below the balconies, was a beach of duned sand.  Apparently this was somewhat rare too, for the beach was usually flat.  Back from the highest tide's edge, the sand had been shifted by wind into what looked like a series of trenches with steep sides, but only a couple of feet tall.  These created effective, but sandy, wind blocks that we and others used for building beach fires.  With all of the boy energy being fed into air-soft guns, Boo and I expected them to use the trenches and play guns.  Surprisingly, they didn't.  They used the trenches as starting points for elaborate sand castles.  So, with garden shovels instead of toy guns in hand, all of the boys (K, K2, K3, T, C, and N) set to building things.  The bigger boys also discovered a steep bank of sand that stood over 30 feet high a little further north.  They would one by one jump from the top and do their best ski/board imitation down the bank.  Apparently, K2 was hitting 360's by the time they stopped for good.

Hatfield Marine Science Center
We spent a day at the Hatfield Marine Science Center too.  We all highly recommend it.  It is officially free (though donations strongly encouraged), and about 1/3 of the space is dedicated to interactive exhibits.  The remaining contains tanks of sea-life and presentations on waves, oceanography, climate change impacts, etc.  I hadn't been to the science center since NOAA moved in next door.  NOAA's influence can definitely be felt now, and its a good thing.  All of that research now has a available-to-the-public outlet at the Science Center.

Devil's Lake
In my last post, I mentioned the Devil's Lake day-trip.  Devil's Lake is a small lake (3 square miles) and seemed to be for boating than beach/swim access.  R & KG found a city park that had a boat launch, but more importantly a lake-beach and a huge playground to play in/on.  The younger kids had a blast.  It was fun, but it was after K and K2 had left.  This made T and C sad, and less active.  We truly have become a completely blended family when we don't feel complete because some of the boys aren't there.  I had heard that this was a family maturity state, but I hadn't seen it coming.  The boys are back together again after a week apart, and it really is a homecoming.

Home Garage
bulb on left has lost its dimple
After coffee Sunday morning, I wanted to find the oil leak and solve the persistent tail-light issue.  Starting with the tail light, I discovered that when I installed the battery I must have bumped the tail light assembly.  This bump flattened one of the dimples in the brake/running light dual-filament bulb.  So, the bulb wouldn't sit in the holder correctly, causing a short across the positive contacts of the bulb.  By swapping out the bulb, the problem went away.

The oil leak still escapes me.  I cleaned the underside of the bus engine with brake cleaner.  It seems like the oil is coming from the turbo-side of the engine, maybe from the low-pressure oil return?  Since the oil level isn't meaningfully dropping, I'm not convinced its the problem.  Next, I checked the oil level in the transaxle.  On the transaxle, "full" means the fluid level is just under the fill hole.  I opened the fill hole while the rear of bus was up on ramps and none dribbled out.  No bueno.  I shot in about 1/3 of a bottle before it started dribbling.  I think we have our oil source.  The trick is figuring out where it's coming out.  I don't see a source on the outside, and the clutch doesn't seem affected, so if it's coming out from the output shaft end, we haven't noticed it yet.  Curious.  I may need to drop the engine and separate the tranny and engine to be absolutely sure.  Since everything is running fine now, though, it will wait until camping season ends.  Of course, that's how adventures begin.

More next time...

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