Baron Brown’s 2014 Visit to the Pacific Northwest

In Visits by Steve Sliwa

Baron Brown is the 12.99 year-old younger brother of Boeing Brown, our godson.  Boeing asked us to give a chance for his younger brother and sister to visit and this year is Baron’s turn.  We created a list of activities and signed him up for some classes, in consultation with his parents.  (Baron Brown Itinerary v02).  So on Friday July 25, 2014 he began his adventure.

Friday – Jul 25
He flew his first airline trip by himself from BDL (Hartford, CT) to SEA (Seattle, WA).  He had to maneuver through ORD (Chicago O’Hare) and then maneuver to baggage claim at SEA.  He seemed a bit nervous going into the flight but we could tell that once he found his way around at ORD he considered himself an experienced traveler and was nonchalant about his trek from the gate to baggage claim at Seattle.

We rendezvoused on schedule.  The baggage claim pickup was a bit slow as we were looking for a bag with red ribbon (oops, I mean green ribbon).  Baron said he slept a bit on the plane, the flight was long, and he had some of his snacks.  We headed to the Boeing Store to pick up a gift for his brother and then drove to downtown Seattle.  Traffic was bad so we checked into the Silver Cloud hotel and had a snack and soda in the restaurant area.

At 6PM we walked across the street to Safeco Field to watch the Seattle Mariners take on the Baltimore Orioles.  We had seats in the Terrace Club.  Baron availed himself to Coke and large soft Pretzels.  My daughter and son-in-law, Tabitha and Rich Colie, joined us for the game.  Rich was excited to see King Felix pitch.

As mentioned above, King Felix Hernandez was the pitcher and we watched him set a record.  The King threw seven innings of five-hit ball while giving up just one run.  It marked the 13th consecutive start for Hernandez in which he has allowed two runs or fewer and gone seven or more innings, setting the American League record. Only Tom Seaver, in 1971, has pitched 13 consecutive games of seven or more innings and two or fewer runs since 1900.  Hernandez, who hasn’t lost a start since June 13, struck out 10 batters along the way without issuing a walk.

The game ended on a controversial call where the Mariner’s were called out via an instant replay that over-ruled the call on the field and appeared to be otherwise to the fans watching the video review.  We happened to luck out and the game had fireworks afterwards that include popular music with words on the screen so the fans could be encouraged to sing along.  After the fireworks Baron led the way and walked back to the hotel and crashed.

Saturday – Jul 26
We slept in longer than normal, packed, got the car, and headed to downtown Seattle.  We drove by Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle and watched all of the people meandering.  We then headed to the flagship REI store near Lake Union.  Here we bought some gloves and a NorthWest style vest.

We then proceeded to the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field.  We looked around the main gallery, observed some Insitu UAVs, sat in some demo cockpits, checked out the WWII fighter wing, then explored the outdoor collection.  This included a Concorde, Boeing 707 configured as an Air Force One for the President, and a Constellation.  Baron seemed pretty interested in these aircraft.

We then went to Arby’s to get some high-quality lunch options for Baron.  From there we navigated to Boeing Field to get our airplane, N700VV.  Our flight home was uneventful and took about 40 minutes from take-off to touchdown.  We took off to the North giving Baron a view of downtown Seattle from the co-pilot’s seat.  We turned South and were heading directory to DLS when air traffic control vectored us to the right for traffic.  The vectoring took us very near Mt. St. Helens (the volcano that erupted in 1980).  During the flight we also flew by Mt. Ranier, Mt. Adams, and got pretty close to Mt. Hood.

After landing we secured the plane and headed to a Safeway in The Dalles to collect up foods for Baron’s stay.  We used acceptable list (Baron’s Favorable Food List v01) developed in consultation with his parents and let Baron pick out the actual foods and brands he would eat.

We ate dinner and watched a movie together.  Baron crashed as we had to get up early the next day.

Sunday – Jul 27
We got Baron up early and he had pancakes, bacon, and juice.  It’s a bigger breakfast than normal but we were going to be quite busy and wanted to make sure he was prepped for the day.

First Baron and Steve drove part way to Mount Hood and found the trailhead for the hike to Tamnawanas Falls.  We set the record for the hike in.  We covered the 2 miles in 37 minutes with Steve leading.  This was faster than Boeing’s trek, but admittedly we were slowed to give the dogs some swimming time.  Baron was quite the agile monkey and he climbed the wet rocks up to the waterfall (Video Link) and actually disappeared behind the flume.  He manuevered back down fairly quickly.

I encouraged him to lead the way back home.  He was disinclined for fear of getting lost in the Mt. Hood Wilderness Area, but I encouraged him.  He did a great job of leading us and keeping the pace up.  We got back in 34 minutes.  This included taking time to cross the river on a log rather than a foot bridge, requiring some more bravery.

We then drove back into Hood River to visit some stores and get Baron a wet suit, life jacket, hat, and sunglasses.  (The sailing school had the hat and sunglasses on the packing list and Baron doesnt like them, but we got them anyway.  They didn’t collect dust in his bag, but they didn’t see the light of day.) We picked up some lunch and went home.  We then departed for Zoeller’s Outdoor Odysseys for a white water rafting trip down the middle section of the White Salmon River.  We had Rooster as our guide and we joined a family of 2 small kids, 2 grandparents, and a father in our raft.  There were 16 boats in our flotilla, which was quite the haul.

Baron was in the back row (there were 3 rows) and did a good job of paddling.  At one point they ask if we want to go ashore, climb the embankment, and jump in the river from a 15-foot cliff.  Baron and I volunteered.  I went first and Baron went next.  No one else from our raft was brave enough to try.  We weren’t able to get any pictures, but Baron was smiling a lot.

We then went home for some dinner and a move.

Every night we generally had dinner together in the theater and watched a movie.  Then Baron would crash in his room and play on the iPad until he fell asleep.  My belief is that most nights he fell asleep fairly quickly.

Here is a list of movies that Baron watched in the Sliwa WA Theater:

Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Prince of Persia – Sands of Time


Princess Bride

Ender’s Game

Searching for Bobby Fischer

The Last Starfighter

The Adventures of TinTin

Weekdays (Mon Jul 28 to Fri Aug 1)
During the weekdays we would get Baron up about 7AM and get him ready for sailing camp.  Part of getting ready each morning was going over the packing checklist we developed (Morning Check Lists).  One of us would drop him off at sailing camp about 9AM and then pick him up about 12noon.  Generally we got a chocolate shake and fries from McDonald’s for lunch and brought him home to rest.  Then he would pack up again and head to Windsurfing Camp, which lasted from 2PM to 5PM.

One of us would pick him up from Windsurfing Camp (he was bushed) and bring him home.  He’d change and freshen up and then Baron and Steve would take the dogs to Bingen Point.  Baron would help throw the ball for Angel (she’s 12-years old so we would only toss it out a short distance for her to try and get it on the bounce) and then take a short 1/2 mile hike with both Angel and Pixie.  Once we worked Angel too hard and Baron had to hold her when I went to get the car for her.

On Thursday we got Tabitha’s dog, Buster, to babysit.  Buster loves to chase the ball and he is so athletic that it’s not uncommon for crowds to come and watch.  He likes to jump in the air and he will do a somersault to catch it quicker.

After the dog park we would head back for dinner and a movie.

Sailing Camp
The sailing camp is put on by Gorge Junior Sailing and lasted 5 days.  The founders of the school are friends of mine from Insitu (Jaime Mack) and pick-up basketball (Andy Mack).  It is actually sponsored by the local school district.  They use the Optimist Pram Dinghy sailboat.  Great boat for training, but Rich’s brother was an internationally ranked competitor in them as well.  The first day they did water and capsize drills to make sure everyone was comfortable with the inevitable.  In fact, Baron’s boat was the first to capsize while sailing, but his certainly wasn’t the last.

Most they sailed within a cute cove and they zipped all around with two in the boat.  Baron says that Ethan was his boat-mate most of the time.  Zipping around in the cove with light winds is almost like driving a go-cart around.  So Baron was quick to say, even in his terse style, that it was fun.

On Thursday the winds were light so the instructors let the cadre of boats out into the Columbia River.  Several people spotted the little flotilla just to the east of the Hood River bridge being escorted by a motorboat with the instructors at the ready to assist.

Here are some videos from Baron’s last day of sailing camp:

Sailing Camp – Video 01

Sailing Camp – Video 02

Sailing Camp – Video 03

Wind Surfing Camp
Baron took windsurfing lessons at the Big Winds Junior Camp which was four afternoons.  Here is video brochure for the camp:


Basically they taught Baron the parts of the system and how to get up on the board, sail out to far end of the Hook Area and then jibe around and come back, all while on the board.  Here is his graduation certificate.

Here is a video Baron’s first attempts at wind surfing:

First Day – Video 01

First Day – Video 02

Here are videos of Baron on the last day showing him relaxed and racing around the course:

Final Day Demo – Launch and Return

Final Day – Video 01

Final Day – Video 02

Final Day – Video 03

Friday – Aug 1
Baron’s 13th birthday is on Friday Aug 1.  He had sailing camp in the morning.  The winds were relatively light so the challenges were not high nor were the speeds.  The group did get led back out into the river as well.

Baron had lunch at DQ (Dairy Queen) where he had 2 vanilla cones (in really like them).  We then went to Safeway to pick out a birthday cake (chocolate) and then did some shopping.  We got his dad an athletic shirt to fit over sweatshirts and he picked up an indoor soccer ball for Bay and himself.

At the dog park this time Steve’s brother, Dave, brought some rockets for Baron.  First there was a stomp rocket (see photo below with the rocket caught in the picture with only shot taken) and a water rocket (video link).  Also we brought Buster again (Tabitha’s dog) as well as Angel and Pixie.  Angel is really trying to get close to Baron.  She jumps up on his bed every morning, sometimes putting her head in his lap.  Baron is not yet a dog person, so we shall see how this turns out.

That evening we had Mac & Cheese and birthday cake while watching the movie.  Not a bad birthday for Baron!

Saturday – Aug 2

Baron and Steve went to Gorge Regional Airport (The Dalles or Dallesport) to fly his Ximango motorglider.   During the drive out to the airport Steve expelling to Baron about pilots licenses, tests, ground schools, and various related aviation topics.  After arriving at the airport they assembled the Ximango with Baron help as the safety person during the unfolding of the wings, helping to install the wing fold fairings, and installing the winglets.  After a pre-flight and a burping of the engine, they took off on runway 31 and climbed to about 4000 feet.  After spending a little familiarizing Baron with the operation of the controls, Baron practice straight and level and making gentle turns to the right and left.  We then turned the engine off and let Baron continue practicing.  We made a video with the engine off and after starting the engine, with the engine on.  Steve explain landing patterns and flew the motorglider in for a landing.  They disassemble the airplane and heading to The Dalles for some snacks and lunch.

Motorglider Video 01

Motorglider Video 02

That evening we took the dogs to the dog park, watched a movie during dinner, and Baron make sure everything would fit into his suitcase.

Sunday – Aug 3

Baron packed himself and then we headed to the airport.  At the airport Baron guided us to the ticket counter and then to the gate.  It was good practice.  He called once he arrived home safely.

All in all, it seemed like a great visit and hopefully Baron got outside of his box a bit, experienced some new things, and will keep some fond memories of the time he spend with Uncle Steve and Aunt Nancy in the Pacific NW.


Photo Gallery (click on pictures to get larger version)

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