News from September 2005

Road Trip: Getting to the Desert

Occurred September 04, 2005 (Permalink)

After some serious discussion with my neighbors across the street, I decided on a whim to drive out to Eastern Oregon to see what was there. Last month, I'd seen a vast brownness from the east side of Mt. Hood and felt an itch to go see what it looked like from the non-7,000 foot view. I began to take a look at where I might go out in the wilderness (totally arbitrary trips still aren't my cup of tea) and had a thought: Jason could come with me on my hastily planned trip! Time was on my side, since it was the Labor Day weekend and neither of us had to be back to our jobs until Tuesday.

Saturday afternoon, Jason shows up in Portland, ready to go. I show him my new house, and on the neighbors' recommendation we try out The Italian Joint on SE 32nd and Hawthorne. Good food! I show him Powell's on Hawthorne, he buys some comic books, and we go back to my place to mess around in preparation for the big trip on Sunday.

Late Sunday morning, we departed east on I-84 into the Columbia Gorge. First up is Gresham, a city known for being a bit sketchy (anyone who has ridden the MAX all the way to the end has seen the bars on the windows of the houses there); today, however, we saw some interesting high cloud formations (a9040026 - 30). Troutdale is the next city east from there; it's home to a bunch of outlet stores (a9040031). From here, we were basically out in the wilderness of the Gorge: 65mph speed limits, no cities (a9040032), two lanes of traffic in each direction (a9040038), and weird trucks that you'd never see elsewhere (a9040037). We passed Multnomah Falls (a9040036) and continued along the freeway to Hood River (a9040040 - 43).

Just east of Hood River, I decided to turn off I-84 and see where the Historic Columbia River Highway (US-30) would take us. Back before the feds built the interstate, the only way out of town along the Columbia was a narrow, twisted highway that bounced up and down along the Gorge walls. There were many dark tunnels and even nowadays the drive is a bit dangerous. In any case, there is a spectacular vista point (Crown Point) east of Multnomah Falls along the HCRH; I was hoping that we'd find another one of those out here. Note that as soon as we're out of Hood River, the scenery changes (a9040046) from green to yellow. It is at this point that the trees yield to dried out grass. It was very much like being back home outside of California. (a9040047 - 53)

We reached Rowena Crest, which is a circular lookout point high atop the cliffs along US-30 that's similar to Crown Point... but the views up and down the river are even more spectacular! (a9040054) is the view to the East; many of these pictures are sufficiently good that I might just print, frame and hang them in my house! Jason really went crazy with the photography here, snapping up tons of pictures of the wonderful eastern scenery. I met a mother from La Grande who was on her way home from a convention in Portland; surprisingly, we both remarked that neither of us had ever seen quite so stunning a view. I set up the camera for a panorama going east (rowena_crest_1) and another one looking westward downriver (rowena_crest 2). From our stopping point high up along the Gorge, we saw some really spectacular sights (a9040061 - 73). Imagine having such a rest stop along I-84.

The road away from Rowena Crest and out to The Dalles was fairly uneventful (a9040077 - 81). Jason likes pictures of signs for his own amusement, so there are pictures of speed limits (a9040077), rockslides (a9040078), bicyclists (a9040083) and porn (a9040084). Since it was about noontime, we stopped for a quick burger lunch before striking out even further eastward on I-84. First we saw a dam and lumber stacks along the freeway (a9040085 - 88) before heading back into the brown-yellow hillsides of the Gorge (a9040089 - 96). The goal was to reach US-97 and then turn southward to explore more of eastern and central Oregon.

Road Trip: Ghost Towns, Desert and Fossils

Occurred September 04, 2005 (Permalink)

US-97 is the highway that heads south from the Columbia River through the cities of central Oregon: Bend, Redmond and Madras. We didn't go quite that far, electing instead to go south to Shaniko, which was promoted as a "fully functional ghost town". But, more about that later. The northernmost portion of US-97 is a fairly relaxed ascent into the plateau that comprises the Oregon high desert. The entire set of pictures (a9040097 - 105) was taken along this stretch of about sixty miles; note the smaller, tumbleweed-like plants and the rock formations that, while similar to those on the west side of Mt. Hood, are not covered with moss. Once on the plain, the land becomes flatter and even more desolate; except for the occasional barn or silo, there's really nothing but rolling hills that don't seem to be in use.

Shaniko (offsite) experienced its heyday between 1900 and 1911, when there apparently was a railroad station in this town. We stopped for pictures since we both needed to stretch and figured this would be a good place to grab some shots of old buildings. There are only twenty-five people left in this town, most of whose lives seem to revolve around the hotel (a9040129), the ice cream parlor, touristy stuff (a9040120) and the upkeep of the various museums. We saw a bunch of fake building facades (a9040107) which are supposed to impress tourists...except that they're totally fake (a9040111)!

After discovering this farce of a barbershop, the sheriff of Shaniko pulled up in his horse (a9040108). For a half-second I wondered if he actually had a cruiser to use, but then it occurred to me that there really wasn't much point since it was just as easy to walk all the way across town. In ten minutes. The city hall fire department were equally impressive (a9040109); the last big tower that I'd seen up to that point is the rebuilt San Jose light tower when I was a little kid. The best part, however, was a sign posted at the base of the fire tower: (a9040115). Continuing through town, we saw a bunch of decrepit old stuff: the undertaker's (a9040117), a nasty typewriter (a9040119), and a huge collection of rusty old vehicles (a9040120 - 28). Before leaving, Jason and I stepped into the ice cream parlor, took some pictures of the main street of the town (a9040130) and got back in the car and headed off down the road. Interesting that Shaniko was known in its heyday for trains, yet now the biggest attraction is an old car museum. Much changes in 100 years, it seems.

From Shaniko, US-97 heads westward, while OR-218 heads southwards in the general direction of one of the John Day fossil beds. We started out going south on the latter along a marvelously straight road (a9040131). The scenery was pretty much the same as it had been--gently rolling hills, short trees, and evidence of poor irrigation. About ten miles out of Shaniko, the road began to dip (a9040132 - 35) down from the high desert into a flatter valley (a9040136 - 40). Apparently, the rolling hills and short, choppy hills that we'd seen all along were evidence of ancient mountain ranges, dating back to the days before the Cascade range existed and central Oregon was a tropical paradise with over 100" of rain every year! The final pictures from this set are us driving through and out of the township of Antelope, OR. Not much to see there.

The John Day Fossil Beds are three national parks smack in the middle of Oregon. Each marks the site of ancient lahar flows which roared through the area, burying animals, brush, trees, and anything else that happened to be in the way. The intense pressure of that much mud preserved the image of whatever was buried in the muck, leaving imprints of leaves and tree trunks in solid rock (a9040149, 55, 58, 62, 70)! The cliffs in the area were constructed from layer upon layer of mudflows over a period of many thousands of years. Close examination of the rock face (a9040150) reveals each layer, with a new color and slightly different texture. As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, a few million years ago this part of Oregon was warm, wet and much different, geographically.

The curious thing about this bed, as Jason pointed out, was the sharp contrast of the rock on both sides of the highway--to the north is a rock face every bit as sharp and treacherous (a9040151) as the cliffs overlooking the beach in La Jolla. To the south, however (a9040152 - 53) are rolling hills with soft curves! We sat around speculating about what might have caused this, until I noticed a lizard that I simply had to photograph (a9040159 - 60)! Further back in this rock bed there is a trail that we followed up to the base of the rock face; from there, we saw an air column embedded in the rock (a9040168, 77 - 8), a natural rock bridge (a9040157, 69) and various other nooks and crags.

Road Trip: East Towards Idaho

Occurred September 04, 2005 (Permalink)

Our original trip plans involved us driving from John Day southeasterly towards US-26, returning to I-84 via US-395, and going home in a single day. That is nowhere near what actually happened. First of all, we had to go east on OR-218; by this time, the sun was starting to set and it even was getting foggy out here! At one point I arbitrarily decided that it would be a funny idea to drive on the wrong side of the road, so I did (a9040182)! The entire drive to US26, we were heading roughly downhill, which was a good thing because I was starting to get low on gasoline and wasn't sure if I'd make it to an open gas station. There were flat-top buttes along the way (a9040184); Jason captured some phenomenal grey silhouettes at sunset (a9040185).

All of the sudden, we ran into this "Congestion" sign (a9040186). Strange, we thought--there shouldn't be any traffic jams way out in the middle of nowhere. It turns out that this is the 1/4 mile warning that OR-207 is about to fork off and head south to US-26. By this time, we were getting tired of going only 40mph and were hoping to get to some 55mph goodness not found on state roads. So, not really knowing just where 207 would take us, we decided to take it to Mitchell, OR. Jason continued to snap pictures while I drove; we saw more cool looking bluffs (a9040189), partially sunlit scenes (a9040190), and some wonderful cloud swirls (a9040194 - 98) until we started to see a cone mountain ahead of us. Curious, we drove closer and closer (a9040198 - 202) so that Jason could capture the shape and texture of it. I have a strong suspicion that this cone is what remains of what must have been a large volcano eons ago.

Finally, we reached US-26 and once again turned eastward to chase the nighttime (a9040204). Jason noticed the red rust stripes along the side of the road that reminded him of the scenes along I-84 last February; he continued snapping pictures of the sunset (a9040205 - 17) until it became too dark to take proper car photos. Running out of gas and food, we sped eastward towards the next town, Dayville, OR. Luckily, we found an open gas station and a friendly old lady who told us that we could find some food in Mt. Vernon, OR. I finally had drained the tank of the crap gas that had been making the engine ping for the last 150 miles and loaded up on premium.

Food was to be found at a redneck bar along US-26 across from a motel full of rough-looking bikers. Cruising in at 20:30 in a foreign car, it was plainly obvious that we were city slickers (as opposed to Red necks), so we slipped into the bar and sat down warily. To our right were a bunch of people minding their own business; to the left was a couple that were getting drunker and more belligerent by the moment. Jason and I ordered some burgers and sat down to watch the entertainment: the two drunks. Over in the next room, the real proprietor of the establishment was playing a loud game of one-upmanship with another local while shooting pool; his unfortunate stand-in was a woman who seemed nervous around the drunks.

The drunks: a husband and his wife. He, obviously astonished that anybody could possibly stand taller than five feet off the ground, wandered over to me and tried to make himself as tall as I, oblivious to the fact that (a) he was several inches shorter and (b) he wasn't sober enough to stand up straight if somebody hung him up with a pole. "Whoa! You're so tall!" he kept rambling, first at my shoulder and later in the general direction of a bottle of rum. He would loudly announce some crazy conquest of his while she shook her head, snorting that all of it was hogwash and bull. They would egg each other on, drink, and the tales kept getting taller and taller. Surely this competition had to go somewhere...

Finally, the wife had enough and challenged her husband to a drinking contest. Mind you, both were visibly drunk and having problems remaining in their seats. The bartender was too meek to throw them out (it was likely that simply cutting them off would not suffice), so the wife began barking orders for some sort of flaming drink. They asked for shot glasses and three types of heavy liquor, including some 151 (which they didn't have). The next step was to fill a mug with beer about halfway (the wife told the bartender to help her cheat by giving the guy more beer), set the alcohol in the shot glass on fire (which didn't happen because the 101 wasn't potent) and drink. Try as they might, they couldn't ignite the hard alcohol (insufficient content); finally, the wife became impatient, dropped the whole mess into the beer and shouted "CHUG!" Down went the beer, rum, liquor and vodka. Amazingly, they finished together, collapsing against each other. We paid our bill and left a big tip.

The two of us got back in the car and looked at the map: 160 miles to the Idaho border. I'd never been to Idaho before, so we made a split-second decision: make a run for it to Idaho! It was well after 21:00 and quite dark by this time, so I simply drove eastward, hoping that I wouldn't fall asleep. About eighty miles out of Mt. Vernon, we stopped again in the vicinity of Brogan Hill for the requisite night photos. Aside from the trees on both sides of the highway, this was a great place to stop, since there was absolutely no city lights anywhere, and one could really use night vision to full advantage. I'm no astronomer and had nary a clue about which stars formed which constellations, but I did get some good unpolluted star pictures! There was pretty much no moon that night, which means that (a9040220 - 27) are really clear. Just standing there at the side of the highway, we saw the Milky Way galaxy and a few shooting stars! Nighttime temperatures were in the mid-40s, so we drove another forty miles and I took the pictures (a9040228 - 30) in the middle of a valley somewhere. By then it was nearly midnight, I was exhausted, and we crept into Ontario, OR to crash for the night at a Super 8.

Road Trip: Boise, Idaho

Occurred September 05, 2005 (Permalink)

Jason and I rolled out of bed rather late on Monday morning and continued on our way towards Boise, Idaho. Since I'd heard that the freeway speed limits in Oregon's neighbor were almost uniformly 75mph, I decreed that I simply had to drive to Boise so that I could drive around at high speeds. Jason, therefore, took pictures of the signage leading out of Ontario (a9050232 - 34) as we left Oregon behind and entered into Idaho (a9050236 - 37). The state looked quite fantastic--rolling hills of yellow, dry grass and what appeared to be small ranches and farms as far as the eye can see. The area had a feel that was vaguely unfamiliar: though the landscape resembled that of California in the summertime, the small farms along the way were very unusual. (a9050238 - 44) were taken along I-84 heading eastward.

When we arrived in Boise, I was surprised by several things. First, I'd had no idea that the southwestern corner of the state was actually quite dry and desert-like. Since childhood, I'd sort of expected the whole state to be full of trees like Western Oregon. Napoleon Dynamite should have prepared me for the aridness of the place. Secondly, it was a surprisingly small town for a state capitol. You could see the capitol building from the freeway (a9050249)! Granted, the only capitols I've ever seen are Virginia's, California's and Massachusetts', but I somehow expect them to be big affairs. I think this makes me a city slicker. :P Anyway, the two of us drove to a parking lot outside the capital building and had a look around. Keep in mind that this was Labor Day, so the downtown areas were quite dead.

As I recall, (a9050252) was a big parking garage with a neat river carved into the brick face. As we approached the capitol building (a9050253), I observed that while that building was built in a style resembling the Georgian/Federalist styles of the 19th century, pretty much all of the surrounding buildings, City Hall included (a9050276), were of a more modern and (usually) ugly variety. I have to admit, however, that the reflectiveness of (a9050260) was rather stunning. Portland has a few of these mirror-like black rectangular boxes downtown in addition to a city hall dwarfed by larger, more boring buildings. Jason decided that he liked flowers better, and went to town taking pictures of the annuals(?) planted outside the capitol: (a9050254 - 59, 64 - 74). We also saw a tribute to Civil War soldiers (a9050261), various flag creations (a9050262 - 3, 73 - 4) and some lone pine trees (a9050271 - 2).

Wandering through the streets of downtown Boise, we noticed a few more strange things. First of all, Wells Fargo has a huge presence in Boise, with buildings covering several city blocks. The one that was obviously a parking garage had a drive-up ATM inside (a9050278) but no street ATM, and a rather curiously worded sign (a9050279). We also saw an empty lot larger than my house (a9050282) and some huge street signs (a9050275, 283). As it was getting to be lunch time, we decided to get back in the car and head out to the countryside in search of lunch. Along the way, I saw one of the last vestiges of the old downtown--a 1920s factory building (a9050286) and the zeroth exit on I-184 (a9050292).

Road Trip: The Idaho Countryside

Occurred September 05, 2005 (Permalink)

From Boise, we took ID-55 northward out of the city towards the Sawtooth Mountains to see the backroads of the state before heading back to Portland. Boise, like nearly all American cities with any hope of survival, has a bunch of the dreaded suburbs growing up all around the city proper, and this is what Eagle, ID is all about. Wide roads for SUVs (a9050293 - 98), Albertson's with gas stations (a9050296) and surprisingly heavy traffic, given that downtown was plainly dead. From there, we headed up into the mountains (a9050299 - 311) that continued the yellow and brown coloring scheme. One steep mountain pass later, we found ourselves pulling into Horseshoe Bend, Idaho.

Horseshoe Bend has an amusing little geographical feature that only becomes apparently from an aerial view (offsite): the Payette River bends around the town like a horse shoe! We turned left on ID-52 and followed the Payette River downstream to Black Canyon Dam (a9050313 - 326). At one point on the drive, a police cruiser pulled out in front of us and began to drive down the road at exactly the speed limit. This was obviously frustrating to the guy behind us, who came flying down the 55mph road at about 65, saw the cruiser, and knew that there was simply no use in passing, even if we'd let him. As soon as the cop turned off, he flew down the road, engine roaring all the way. The reservoir hiding behind the dam was a stunningly blue break from the mountain colors that we'd been seeing for the last 200 miles.

We stopped for lunch at a Mexican place in Emmett, Idaho (a9050327). The food was fairly good (Mexican farm workers settle at least as far north as Idaho, apparently) as there were real Mexicans sitting inside having lunch! Unfortunately, it seems that the proprietor of this dining establishment had had problems with people passing bad checks in the past--the corkboard next to the cash register had nearly three dozen of them pinned up! Public humiliation is alive and well, it seems.

From Emmett, we headed westward on ID-52 to US30 and went back to I-84 westbound. Along the way, we noticed that, unlike the vast expanses of ranches, farms and nothingness in Eastern Oregon, the farms in this state seemed to be a menagerie of ma-and-pa farms and ranches loosely coupled together in a community. (a9050328 - 58). We also saw a freakishly green house (a9050345); why anybody would want to brand their dwelling in such as way escapes me. Perhaps they need to direct airplanes at night. Or scare away the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy crew. Either way, it was a pretty amusing sight to take in. Going west on 84 (a9050356), I had the opportunity to snap a shot of the 75mph speed limit signs (a9050351)--something that we'll never see in Oregon.

Road Trip: Northeastern Oregon

Occurred September 05, 2005 (Permalink)

Heading west on I-84, I took pictures of the sign at the Oregon border (a9050359), a piece of art commemorating the Oregon Trail pioneers (a9050360), and a whole lot of nothingness for about one-hundred fifty miles. The best way to take in this album is simply to look at the album, as there really isn't much to comment on. The Snake River (a9050377) runs along the Idaho/Oregon border and the Union Pacific rail lines run alongside I-84. Baker City, La Grande and Pendleton were pretty much the only cities of note along the freeway; outside of Baker City, we noticed a cop lurking low in the median among the weeds, followed by a pair of cops (a9050405) parked Smokey and the Bandit style about a quarter-mile later. Can you say speed trap?

In the scene depicted by (a9050414), I was struck by the sharp verticalness of the light posts in the chain-up area. Keep in mind that we'd been watching rolling hills and undulating road for nearly two hours at that point, and the staccato of the lights along the sky provided a much needed break. Otherwise, we saw some really nice puffy clouds (a9050416 - 28), more of Oregon's famous state-the-obvious signs (a9050429) and some wonderful pictures of the desert sky as we headed over the last pass before descending into the Gorge (a9050436 - 47). As we were about to find out, the pass was aptly named Deadman Pass.

You know that a slope is going to be steep when they give you not two (a9050439) but three (a9050443) warning signs. They were quite right about this one; from the vista point at the top of Deadman Pass (a9050448 - 62), you can see that the road goes wayyy down into the valley, and on a clear day the view stretches for close to one hundred miles. It was really quite a treat to see the rectangular patches of farm and the desert through which we'd driven the day before just stretching out forever and ever...

...right into the flatlands before the Gorge. This part of the trip stretches between Pendleton and Boardman, OR. There really wasn't much of anything out here other than a lot of power pylons (a9050476) and a ridiculously huge tree farm (a9050468, 69, 72). Here is a map of the area (offsite) for those interested in checking out where we drove.

After that, we found ourselves driving westward on the stretch of I-84 between Boardman and Hood River, OR. The sun was already beginning to set, and we'd just barely reached the Gorge. The highway heads northwesterly to meet the Columbia, which itself curves southwesterly from Washington state (a9050478). The town of Arlington, OR (a9050480), which itself is larger than I thought it would be, lent its granary on the river to a relatively pretty sunset picture. The rock cuts that the highway department had to make to route the freeway are also pretty interesting: layers of brownish volcanic rock interspersed with a layer of white rocks (a9050481, 85). I'm not quite sure what processes produce this effect, but it sure is cool to see it while roaring by at 65mph. A similar thing seems to have happened in (a9050507 - 08). Also, the dam in The Dalles was revisited in (a9050504 - 05).

As frequent visitors to this website should already know, one of the great attributes of living in Portland is the fact that in spite of the city being large enough to keep a young man like myself occupied, the air here is not so smoggy as to obscure the otherwise fabulous sunsets! The scene recorded in (a9050502) is of the setting sun just after it passed behind some clouds; I love the way the shrub in the foreground becomes silhouetted while the clouds themselves take on the same luminosity and texture as a Chinese lantern that one might find at Pier One. A few minutes farther down the road, I took (a9050509), which captured the sun's rays in a picture otherwise quite similar to the first.

While the sun set in the western Gorge, it became plainly obvious that we were once again losing daylight rather rapidly. The entire set from (a9050518 - 35) showcases what a real Oregonian sunset looks like, from the deep dark clouds with bright highlights (a9050535) to golden sky with black mountains (a9050517 - 18, 28 - 29) to bright red and pink dusting of the hills (a9050523). In any case, we were racing the sun to arrive at our last stop before Portland: the ice cave, which we had tried to reach way back in February.

Road Trip: Ice Cave II

Occurred September 05, 2005 (Permalink)

Jason insisted that we try to reach the ice cave that we'd tried to get to back in February. Like last time, the cave is accessible by driving out to Hood River, crossing the bridge (a9050536 - 38) into Washington, driving a mile west on WA-14 (a9050539) and then turning north on WA-141 (a9050541 - 44). The best part? I had the wonderful opportunity to capture the icy slopes of Mt. Adams right as the sun was going down (a9050545 - 46, 48)! This time, however, the trip was much easier, as we didn't have to drive at an absurdly low speed to avoid plowing into a snow bank. We quickly reached the intersection of Forest Road 011 and the road into Gifford Pinchot NF at the end of WA-141 and stopped for pictures (a9050551 - 60).

So we reached the ice cave. It was no more than a half-mile further into the forest than where we stopped last time, only in September there weren't snow drifts several feet in height in the way. There were, of course, informational signs (a9050562 - 63) explaining that there's quite a bit more to explore in the area--lava beds, natural bridges, a prairie, and various hiking trails. Jason and I ventured inside the cave very briefly, snapping pictures of the rocks inside (a9050564 - 73) and the signs outside (a9050574 - 76). We didn't really explore the cave all that deeply, because we lacked the proper safety equipment and, being an ice cave, it was darn cold! Mostly we walked around among the rocks long enough to determine that it was indeed a cave and that, had we climbing gear and hard hats, there's more to see in that cave. This means that a third trip is on the way.

Following that, we ducked out of the cave, drove back to Hood River for dinner, and went home. It was well after dark by the time we got back to civilization so there aren't any pictures at all. Thus ends the epic tale of the Labor Day 2005 road trip!

Steven and Woodley Visit

Occurred September 10, 2005 (Permalink)

Woodley stopped in overnight on his way to see his girlfriend in Bellingham, WA. Steven showed up the Friday after that; we hit the (SE) town, went up to take pictures up on Mt. Tabor, and found an out-of-place looking pasta shop at SE 34th and Hawthorne. Woodley came back the day after _that_, and we drove around and did a quick 7mi hike past Wahkeena Falls to Devil's Rest. We had dinner at Kennedy School and then went home, after which I slipped out to a party at the neighbor's. Woodley and Steven left for home the day after that. I'm not sure what I think of driving here for a weekend getaway, though. Seems to be a lot of overhead.

Chinese Dinner at Legin

Occurred September 17, 2005 (Permalink)

One of my neighbors, Ann, and I went out to dinner at Legin, a local Chinese restaurant at SE 82nd and Division. It seems that I've found the local high-end banquet place. The duck soup was supreme--Peking duck, soupified. We had a six-course dinner which was quite comparable to the better restaurants in San Francisco: squab with lettuce, sticky rice, clams, chow mein, duck soup and Chinese broccoli. That was enough to send both of us home with several days' worth of food. We went to Rimsky-Korsakoffee at SE 12th and Alder for dessert afterwards.

DJ Variance at Pala

Occurred September 22, 2005 (Permalink)

Seth (of Extreme Hiking in Wetsuits fame) announced that he was DJing at Pala tonight, so I went there after the MiPL mingler (I've not been participating due to ongoing house stuff) and relaxed to his strangely relaxing style of slow, undulating music. Were I more synesthetic, I'd say that I could see swirling blue colors. Also met a few of his OHSU friends and a guy and his sister. I danced with her for a while and went home. She was cute and (aside from being a bit tipsy) interesting to talk with.

Road Trip Story Finished

Occurred September 29, 2005 (Permalink)

Also new pictures:

UCSD CS Building Opening

Occurred September 30, 2005 (Permalink)

The new CS building at UCSD finally opened, so I went down to San Diego to have a look around and stay with Jason. New labs, new offices for the department, and Linux machines for the students. Derrick Usher had a camera that night and photographed the event. Highlights of the opening included an open bar, artichoke dip, Mexican food, sushi, boxes of Chinese, and a chocolate fountain. I also managed to see Derrick, Brian and Robin in the space of a single day.

Jason, Derrick and I went wandering through the abandoned parts of the Applied Physics and Math (AP&M) building. Apparently the professors have been stuck on thick Ethernet (i.e. coax) all this time! Some even had 1960s era telephone jacks in their offices. The old labs where we spent four years of our lives were totally empty and abandoned at that point, with only suspicious dents in the floor to mark where there once had been computers and smelly undergrads. We'll see what they come up with next for those floors.

After dropping Derrick at the train station, Jason and I met up with Robin (offsite) for dinner at Capriccio's, an Italian restaurant in Mira Mesa that she likes. She had her Sinatra music on her iPod, and we drove out to the restaurant singing along with them, dropped into some amusing chatter over dinner, and then went back to her place just in time for Brian to arrive! I'd foolishly forgotten to notify him that I'd be visiting for a day, so once Robin tipped him off that I'd be in town, he got in his Herbie and roared down I-5 to San Diego. Jason went home to pack for Yosemite, and the three of us who were left went for a ride in Brian's Herbie. We ended up acting like a bunch of bored college students at a Denny's out by I-15 before finally crashing back homeward.

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