Canada 6, 5th August 2006

I retraced steps 10 miles or so to follow another pretty route alongside another stretch of water. It might have been more of Hoods Canal.

Then I went over a bridge. They are building another alongside.

I found my way to Auburn. Greg Winker had told me he was organising a balloon meet at the weekend, between Auburn and Enumclaw. I was almost 2 days early but no big deal. I spent the rest of the day looking for 2 tyres, and trying to contact Greg by phone.

Eventually I was successful at both, and headed of to meet up with Greg and his wife Michelle. I discovered we had another thing in common, as well as balloons, we both like Fat Tire. He introduced me to the draught version, and Michelle snuck up the dinner bill while I wasn't watching.

They had both been up since 3 am, to take their daughters to the airport, so started fading rapidly after dinner. They didn't think there was room to park the van anywhere near their home, so we arranged to meet at 6 am Saturday, in a Casino car park, and I headed off to look for a parking for the night.

I stopped in the beginnings of a housing estate - I forget the American word - and parked on one of the estate roads. So far, they have only built the roads.

At 6 am the workers started arriving, What's with these Washingtonians, all starting at 6 am, like at Walmart the day before? It's not as though it gets so hot in the middle of the day that they can't work and need to take a siesta. It gets to about 70 degrees F (21 C). 6 am is OK for crack of the dawn stuff like ballooning but we have a good reason, it gets windy later on in the day.

So I went off and made a trip round Mount Rainier.

Last time I was here I chanced on an incredible scrap iron sculptor. I found him again.

He does similar stuff using old branches.

Here's some mountains,

This is Mount Rainier.

I headed off to park as the casino for the night, to be ready for the rendez-vous tomorrow morning. I had a look round the casino. Now I've been to casinos before, many times and places starting with Las Vegas and going down. I just cannot understand how so many people can sit engrossed in front of a fruit machine. Now it's not just a few dozens, it is thousands of people, in front of thousand of fruit machines.

Oh there are a few hundred people playing blackjack or roulette or dice games. Even though I've seen it all before I walked around gobstruck. My mouth would have been jammed wide open except I did not want to draw attention to myself.

There are rows and rows of machines, and, in front, rows and rows of people. Most of them losing money, and most of them knowing they will lose money. But it's the excitement of wondering if you are going to win they say. Let me take a wild guess. 5,000 people per day losing $50 each. That's quarter million $ gross profit per day.

I forgot to mention. I found out the problem with he computer charger. One side of the plug socket on the charger was loose. So the socket was making only intermittent contact with the plug. This caused a deposit on the plug, hence, no contact. I don't believe it is possible to easily replace the sockets on the converter,although they would only cost pennies, but I haven't seen any on sale anywhere. So I have replaced the converter. Did I mention I already bought another converter for $45? So far, it's all working fine.

Best regards

David Barker
On the road in the USA

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