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Repairs are still not complete due to the recent rain. We've had to let everything dry out for a few days before resuming work. Fortunately, we haven't seen any leaking in the repaired areas. All that remains to do outside is to fill and paint the new siding and trim and to weather seal the deck.

We bought 700 sq.ft. of 3/4" solid walnut flooring last weekend. It's going into the living room and in Jerry's lab downstairs. The wood was delivered yesterday and now needs to acclimatize for one week before installation. It will then be installed and left to sit for another week before final sanding, staining, and finishing. We're having the carpet in the master bedroom replaced at the same time.

Nick has started his first full quarter at the University of Washington and is getting used to the crowds (compared to the pre-fall session.) He's already grapling with the university's IT department over Internet bandwidth quotas and email server access.

raw Walnut flooring

Raw Wood Waiting for Installation



House repairs are almost complete and will be finished within the next few weeks. Last winter we discovered major water leaks in the living room area that also affected the room below. The east facing side of the house is covered with scaffolding and looks like a major construction site. The first step in the repair process, replacing four of the windows in the living room, is complete, and the second step, replacing the siding outside the room is almost complete. The drywall in the living room and downstairs bedroom needed to be torn out to get at the leaks, and it's now been replaced and is awaiting painting.

After the outside work is completed, we will have the hardwood floor in the living room refinished to repair the water damage and the carpet in the bedroom replaced (probably with a wood floor). So after nine long months, we're finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.



The biggest recent news item in the GardnerDudes clan is Nick's journey off to college. Getting all of Nick's stuff up to the University of Washington in Seattle proved somewhat of a challenge. Of course, he just couldn't live without his 30" computer monitor, desktop computer, laptop, Xbox360, bicycle, and numerous other items that, together, weighed a few hundred pounds and filled six large boxes.

Airline baggage restrictions precluded that option, so we were panning to either ship everything up UPS or drive up. Nick found another option: Amtrak. Amtrak's baggage allowances are much more liberal than the airlines', so Nick booked two one-way tickets on the Coast Starlight, a rental van, and a return flight for Jerry. The evening of departure arrived and Nick "discovered" that one of his boxes exceeded the 50lb weight limit by a large margin. After some frantic repacking that booted his desktop computer out of the lineup, we were off to the station.

Amtrak has a station in Martinez, only three miles from home, which made the trip quick and convenient. After checking in six large boxes and Nick's bike, we went out to the platform to wait for the train. Amtrak stations, unlike airports, have no security checkpoints and the platform is not restricted in any way. The train arrived half an hour late at 11:20pm and we boarded and took the seats assigned to us by the conductor. We were on the upper level and had good views. The total trip time was 22 hours, so we settled in tried to sleep.

When dawn broke we were in far northern California passing Mt. Shasta and about to cross the Oregon border. We headed to the dining car for breakfast and joined a couple travelling to Klamath Falls from Sacramento. Amtrak food, while not gourmet by any stretch of the imagination, is much better than anything I've had on a plane, even when travelling first class.

We spent most of the day in the observation car watching scenery pass by. We passed Crater Lake and many other peaks in the Cascade Range. At one point the train stopped for no apparent reason--we later found out that the train struck and killed two cows that wandered onto the tracks (a common occurance according to the conductor.)

We arrived in Portland around dinner time (after a short stop in Eugene to wash the "hamburger" off the "grill") and crossed into Washington shortly later. The route north through Washington was more open than through Oregon and the train was able to maintain a constant 80 MPH (according to Nick's GPS). We arrived in Seattle thirty minutes early and claimed our baggage. The Seattle Amtrk station is next to the football stadium and a Seattle Sea Hawks game was in full swing while we waited for our driver to arrive.

The downtown Hertz car rental office closes early on Saturday evenings, which forced us to take a shuttle to the airport and rent a van there. After loading evrything into the van, we retraced our steps back up to Seattle and checked into our hotel.

Move-in times for the dorms are tightly scheduled, and Nick had a 3:30-4:00pm slot the next day (Sunday). We loaded his things back in the van and circled the campus until our time slot arrived. There were many student volunteers helping newcomers unload and cart their things up to their rooms via the single (overworked) freight elevator. We got all of Nick's stuff safely in his room, met his new romemates, and said goodbye. Jerry drove back to the airport and caught a flight back to Oakland.

Fall quarter starts in late September at UW, but Nick decided to take advantage of an early start program designed to ease new freshman into the college life. He had only one class (Digital Image Processing) that met two times a week for four weeks (rather than the usual ten weeks). The class is now over and Nick has almost two weeks off until the official start of the fall term. Some of that time is devoted to Dawg Daze, a campus-wide festival to welcome new students to the University of Washington.