The Parkins Report — 2013 Edition

A stop at Starbucks in Madison, Wisconsin, across from Capitol Square. We rode the bike trails through Madison and then country roads to Oregon, Wisconsin

This was a year of traveling, and supporting travel. Early in the year, we decided this was the year to plan a major bicycle tour, and we also revised our timeshare membership, forcing us to use up our backlog of time. It was also a banner year for our Warm Showers membership: we hosted 44 cyclists plus a dog (who camped in a tent on the porch), ranging in age from 8 months to late sixties. Our guests came from Germany, France, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Canada, and across the U.S., from Florida to Alaska and Pennsylvania to California. On our tour, we became guests, staying with three families in Michigan.

Tour training began in March, with an anniversary ride at Lake Quinault. However, later in the week, we crashed, skidding on mud in a low-speed turn on a bike trail in Olympia. Judy got a concussion, prompting a scary evening in the clinic and ER, and Larye sported a huge hip bruise and sutured elbow. Judy recovered her memory (minus 12 hours) overnight with the help of an ice bag, but doctor’s orders were “no extreme sports for two months,” so we didn’t resume riding until the first of June.

We trained mostly on the wonderful paved rail-trails in Thurston and Pierce counties, with some quiet road riding in Mason, Skagit, and Grays Harbor counties, putting in about 600 miles by the time we left for our tour in late August, with rides of up to 35 miles.
Our tour took us by air to Traverse City, Michigan, riding to Bellaire, where we spent Labor Day weekend, then to Gaylord, and on the North Central Trail to Cheboygan and Mackinaw City, by ferry to Mackinac Island and the Upper Peninsula, where we followed US Highway 2 to Escanaba and state highway 35 to Marinette, Wisconsin, ending in Oconto, Wisconsin: a weekend Packers game in Green Bay dried up opportunities for lodging, so we called Matt in Madison to pick us up a bit early. This also gave us more time to visit with family and ride around the village of Oregon and city of Madison to bring our total tour distance to 700Km (435 miles) in celebration of Larye’s impending 70th birthday. (Not a significant accomplishment, considering our contemporaries from the Netherlands rode 8000Km to get to our house.)

route2013-10-09 20:48:38

We took the train home, which was an adventure in itself, as the train lost electrical power near Havre, Montana. We were delayed for six hours: the meal service the rest of the trip consisted of box lunches and we arrived in Seattle late, in time to join the traffic jams from the Seahawks game next to the Amtrak terminal. Even though we have no interest in sports (bicycling is a mode of travel, not a sport), we have learned to ignore football at our own peril.

Stalled in Havre, MT, with electrical problems. After six hours, the train continued on to Spokane, with half the cars dark, and no food service.

In other travels, as mentioned, we had timeshare weeks to burn this year: we spent a week in April during our crash recovery on Vancouver Island, at Courtenay, BC. In June, we spent a week at Birch Bay, WA while attending the Association of Northwest Weavers Guilds conference in Bellingham. We made two trips to La Conner, WA to visit the quilt museum, once in the winter and again in summer when we entertained quilting friends from Montana. On the latter trip, we stayed overnight in Port Townsend. We also spent a week in Montana in late May and again in late June, getting in some bicycling on the trails along US 93 between work and visiting friends and relatives.

At Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria, BC, Canada

In early November, we traveled to Kauai, Hawaii for a week of exploring the geographic and cultural wonders, and topped off the year of travel with a week in Victoria, BC, one of our favorite foreign destinations, albeit only a couple hundred kilometers and a two-hour boat ride away.

Off the Na Pali coast, Kauai, Hawaii.

At Home

While not traveling, we spent a lot of time entertaining travelers, with cyclists arriving every week: sometimes singly, sometimes in groups. We had seven one evening, and many interesting folks from across the globe. We tried not to turn away tourists, as there are no nearby camping facilities and the motels in Shelton are not cheap.

Judy demonstrating sun printing at Sew Now Studio

We remain active in three weaving guilds: Olympia, Tacoma, and Seattle. Judy took several classes in Seattle, which prompted us to joining there, plus some in Tacoma. Trips to Seattle for classes end up being overnight stays. Judy ended up being the program committee chair for the Olympia Guild, and leader of a Rigid Heddle study group. We also joined a band-weaving study group and Larye is on a committee to digitize and archive weaving samples collected by the guild over the past 50 year, so much of our “free” time is spent on weaving infrastructure and meetings, without a lot of time to weave. We also joined a fiber arts craft group in Shelton, where Judy has led a number of workshop/demonstrations, and we continue to be active in the RubyStreet Art Quilters. Some of our quilts were shown at the Lacey Timberland Library this fall and Larye participated in a men’s quilting show at the quilt gallery on Vashon Island in the spring.

Larye with his original design,”Elemental Phases” at the Island Quilter gallery on Vashon Island.

Just when we thought we had taken care of most of the home repairs for a while, with installing some insulation upstairs and finishing off the stepped walkway to the lower half of the yard with a 10×10 deck, we returned from our Michigan/Wisconsin trip to find the carpet padding in the basement breaking down to the point we need to replace the 5-year-old carpet with vinyl planking, something we intended to do eventually, but the time is now. On the eve of our trip to Hawaii, Judy bumped into the shower door in the main bath, and pulled the hinges out of the tile (faulty installation). All of this is incentive to continue to seek gainful work for the foreseeable future.

the Bent Needlers trying out the new deck in the lower yard.


Larye lost three weeks of work with the federal shutdown, and another two weeks switching prime contractors at contract renewal time, but continues to support his NIH projects, with no end in sight. His commercial clients are in maintenance, but the pro bono website maintenance continues to keep him busy. Judy has decided to liquidate the quilting business–fabric stash and longarm machine, and spent several days inventorying 2400 yards of fabric, while planning more weaving and art quilting projects. We have a buyer for the lot, but the sale isn’t final yet.


With Matt, Patricia, and CJ in Wisconsin.

With all of our other travels, we haven’t made time to visit the Parkins clan in New Mexico this year, but we hope to make a trip in that direction early in 2014. We finally got back to Wisconsin for a visit–the hard way, by bicycle, via Michigan, and the visit was all too short.

Emerson intercepts the ball during one of the many soccer games we attended this year, as grandparents-in-charge

Of course, we do spend quite a bit of time with the grandkids in Olympia, playing soccer grandparents in cold and rain more times than we can count, and picking them up after school on days when their parents are busy. We even took care of them for two weeks in early October while their parents took a vacation.


Naturally, we are on the web: Facebook, our blogs, and Vimeo:

It’s been a good year: we hope yours was as fulfilling, and best wishes for many more to come.
Judy & Larye

On the road to Bellaire, Michigan. After 200Km of towing the overloaded trailer up hills and through soft gravel, we shipped 15 Kg of camping gear home. The next 500Km went much easier.

Tour 2013, the Movie(s)

As threatened, we did get our videos (along with selected stills from the photo montage videos to fill in the blanks) edited down to a half-hour, more or less, to cover the 435 miles we pedaled on our bicycle tour in Michigan and Wisconsin in September.  As usual, despite several hours ending up on the cutting-room floor, we tend to hold the scene longer than necessary, but the Mackinaw Island segment especially captures the flavor and magic of the carless island of horses, bicycles, and elegant 19th-century resorts.

Traverse City -Mackinaw City from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

Mackinac Island from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

Upper Peninsula Bicycle Tour from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

Entering Wisconsin from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

Oregon, Wisconsin from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

Wisconsin-madison from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.


We completed three local rides once we returned home, fairly short trips, one on country roads near Matlock, Washington, and two on the I-5 and Chehalis-Western trails, including a dash through the St. Martin’s University campus, set, fittingly, to Dexter Britain’s “After the Finish Line.”  Our fall cycling schedule was somewhat cramped by two weeks of grandchild care, a “normal” vacation to Kauai, and the alternating wet and cold of the Pacific Northwest weather.  We haven’t planned Tour 2014 yet, but we’re determined there will be one…


St. Martins University from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

Matlock Washington from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

Chehalis-Western to Rainier (Fall) from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.