What a Wild Ride!

Last Monday we got a dusting of overnight snow leading to some school closures on Tuesday morning. That was a measly inch or so of snow, but there was some stubborn cold air in place so most of that inch or so that fell in my suburban Vancouver neighborhood stuck all week-long. The weather prognosticators were all over the map with dire predictions of ‘Snowmageddon’  end of days snow events. Friday night and Saturday morning I had an additional 4.5 inches of fluffy white snow on the ground. But the hyper cold air they thought would lead to another foot or so did NOT materialize on Sunday.

So instead of a foot of snow we are getting a good old-fashioned Northwest sky slobbering rain. That has turned the snow to slush and as I write this, it is washing away. Of course it will take a while to melt off 4.5 inches of snow and there are hints that we will ride the temperature roller coaster over the next few days bringing bouts of rain and snow along the way.

I love the snow personally, we do not get much on an annual basis, but I do like a little winter in the winter. Thankfully we do not get enough snow to reach the point of being tired of it like the northern interior of the US where there is a perpetual winter layer over the land for months on end. That is a good thing, sub-zero temps are never fun, and they are super rare round these parts.

What we do get in the winter time however are long, extended periods of gloomy gray skies and for some this is tiresome. I don’t mind so much personally. But after one such extended period we did have a lovely sunny day on Tuesday at least for the first half of the day, and some people can’t get enough of that vitamin d experience. This guy on Fourth Plain was just fine top downing it in the snow with an ambient temperature of 29°.

Ah the ‘Couv’ life; it is good.

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Military Ship Building back in the ‘Couv’?

After a week of football hysteria the Super Bowl is over and so we can continue on with our year. During last week’s media frenzy over the grizzled veteran Tom Brady versus the young upstart Jared Goff a news story was almost buried locally, yet it is profound for us here in America’s Vancouver.

Dating back to the turn of the 20th Century, Vancouver had shipyards. Near terminal one was a G.M. Standifer shipyard that built classic wooden hull ships and later after WWI some steel ships as well.

During WWII Kaiser had shipyards in Portland and Vancouver. The Vancouver yard built mostly light aircraft carriers cranking them out quickly and putting them into the river via more than a dozen dry dock launches . The remnants of these are still visible along the shore of the Columbia River just east of Columbia Shores. More than 38,000 people worked at the Vancouver yard and another 60,000 in two yards in Portland.

Vancouver’s shipyard stopped producing ships in the years after WWII but large-scale metal fabrication moved into the space and began employing thousand of welders and fabricators. Thompson Metal Fabrication remains today producing a wide variety of components for Bridges and other metal structures. The Astoria Bridge was built-in Vancouver and barged in pieces to its location at the mouth of the Columbia River. Thompson is currently building the steel superstructure for the Sellwood Bridge replacement in Portland. Now defense ship building returns to Vancouver.

Hull 42, launching in 2019. Source Christensen website

In 1983 Christensen Shipyards was opened just east of the old Kaiser yards. Christensen builds some of the highest quality yachts in the world. These are the big ones like 150 feet long big! Christensen expanded to Tennessee and now is apparently shuddering the Vancouver yard to either consolidate or move entirely. Hull 42 is under construction right now and after it launches later this year, Christensen will vacate the shipyard.

Columbia Way Industrial Area, Vancouver

Vigor an Oregon company that has operations in both Oregon and Washington, landed its biggest government contract ever with a nearly $1 billion deal to build the next generation of US Army landing craft. They are going to take over the Christensen Shipyards to do some of it. They will consolidate their operations that are currently spread out over multiple facilities and merge them into their current facilities and the Christensen Shipyard right here in Vancouver USA. This will create high paying skilled labor jobs and other important jobs as well. Vigor says they are planning on having a staff of 400 at the facility when it is fully operational.

US Army Landing Craft, Vigor Drawings

Soon Vancouver will once again be producing military vessels continuing on with our storied ship building past. I wish Christensen was also staying local, but it seems they may be leaving us after 30 plus years. The majority shareholder in Christensen Shipyards was a Tennessee businessman that helped the company through the tough recession. It is no surprise this announcement came just a few short months from the passing of its founder and local resident Dave Christensen.  But from the ashes of one comes new life and Vigor’s decision to choose Vancouver USA as the location for this excellent project will continue our local ship building legacy now in its third century.

Ah the ‘Couv’ life; it is good.

Holy Oblong Inflatables: It’s Super Bowl Week

Well the hype will be in full bloom this week as we prep for Super Bowl LIII. The New England Patriots take on the Los Angeles Rams in a bit of a rematch of Super Bowl XXXVI. The Rams don’t have Kurt Warner any more but the Patriots still have Tom Brady. This game will be about the New Kid versus the Wily Veteran.

I don’t think either of these teams are particularly popular here in America’s Vancouver, so for many this is a game between the ‘other teams’. I have noticed that besides the obvious local favorite: Seattle Seahawks, our fair city has a seemingly disproportionate number of fans for the following teams:

  • Green Bay Packers
  • Oakland Raiders
  • San Francisco 49ers

But none of those teams are in the Super Bowl either. So it seems that the New England Patriots are making the Super Bowl their own personal event. That is great for fans of the team but it looks like the rest of us may be getting a little sick and tired of Tom Brady, Bill Bellichick, and the rest of the boys from Boston. Will the upstart young quarterback Jared Goff rise to the occasion or will he crumble under the massive pressure? Will the amazing Todd Gurley run up and all over the Patriots defense or will the perennial contenders plug the holes? Tom “tuck” Brady carve up the Rams defense on his way to a fifth win, or will he toss a few picks and walk off a loser for the 4th time?

Who knows, but we will all find out on Sunday. Here in the original Vancouver, we have a great many ways to take in game day. Every one of our umpteen brew pubs will gladly serve you delicious local brews while you watch the game on their big screen TVs. You could of course stay home and watch it on your own big screen TV.

How ever you choose to consume the big game, or even if you choose not to partake in it at all, do it here…Ah the ‘Couv’ life; it is good.