Ratings from Eric’s Vacation

I've decided to be totally derivative (and likely considerable less good) than "The Book of Ratings".  A great book.

State highway signs


It's really a bit sad. They spend all that time putting up "enforced by radar" or "enforced by aircraft" signs, but deep down they know that nobody is going to pay any attention.

To distract themselves, they amuse themselves by putting "80" at the end of all the freeway names around San Francisco.

Rating: C


Boring signs, though the state highway signs do have a nice outline of George's head on them.

Or perhaps I'm just jaded from my long association, and am desperately seeking my midlife crisis of signs.

Rating: C


Perhaps the Oregon highway department was beaten up by the other highway departments when it was little, but for whatever reason, Oregon likes to do things big, with an outsize "55" telling you that they really mean business, and colossal "do not enter" signs at least 10' on a side. Definitely signs with an attitude.

On the minus side, they insist on putting up "end of speed zone" signs, forcing me to try to remember how fast I was allowed to go at some point in the past.

Rating: B

Vacation Vehicles

Mom's Old Car

Mom's old car - chosen so the offspring could drive in WA and OR - is a sweet nicely-preserved 1998 Honda Accord, returning a bit over 30 MPG for the trip.

Rating: B-


5 minutes of recorded safety lecture, and we're out in the largest sandbox on the west coast, 32000 acres of duney bliss. The last off-road experience I had was a 50cc Honda when I was 12, but I do remember the most important rules - a) You get it stuck, you dig it out, b) don't cross over the unmarked boundaries, and c) you break it, you pay us.

Not really useful for getting from here to there, but a hecka lot of fun (as the kids would say).

Rating: A

Sand Rail

First off, "Sand Rail" is a killer name, beating up on "Dune Buggy", and taking the lunch money of "ATV" ("Hey, I know! People love names that are acronyms").

Four point racing harnesses, goggles, and a suggestion to keep our hands off the top rail "in case we roll", and the first pass is a 30 mph trip down a 45 degree slope and up another. Great fun once I pried my eyes open.

Sand Dunes Frontier


Aquatic Creatures


Sometimes confused with the hippocampus. Yeah, we get it, they're shaped like horses, and there are tiny fish who act as jockeys, riding them around the tanks is daily races.

Sure, the dudes are the ones that give birth, guaranteed to make all the guys in the audience wince a bit.

Rating: C


The 007 of the water, with adaptive camo, water-jet propulsion, super grippers, and a built-in smoke screen.

Rating: B


Cute and cuddly, intelligent, mischievous - everything you want in an aquatic animal. Except for the fact that they mostly swim under the water and when outside the water spend their time doing impressions of jumbo furry sausages.

Rating: B+

Missing mountains

Mount St. Helens

A bit less known as its larger and better-behaved brother to the north, St. Helens is widely held up as the epitome of a missing mountain.

2/3 of a cubic mile of mountain disappeared in 30 seconds, killing 57 humans, 7,000 big game animals and 12 million hatchery salmon. It inconvenienced people throughout the state, causing millions of people to have to wash their cars ahead of schedule.

The glowing growing dome is a nice touch if you can see it at night, but it could really use some daytime pizzazz.

Rating: B


First of all, erupting 3000 years before the advent of mass media is a bad career choice, and the PR is largely non-existent. You still see Jordan's name all over the place, so I think Mazama needs a new agent.

But it's hard to fault it on execution. 25 cubic miles of mountain vanish. What do you put in it's place? A 2000' deep lake.


Rating: A

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