News from June 2006

Starlight Parade

Occurred June 03, 2006 (Permalink)

This evening was the Starlight Parade (offsite), the second day of the yearly Rose Festival. The festival starts with fireworks on the first Friday night in June (I went downtown for this too), and has float parades on both Saturdays. So today, I dragged Alexis and James downtown to the carnival, where Alexis went wild at the sight of all the kiddie rides. The three of us met Chandi for dinner at Alexis Restaurant (offsite), where we dined on some wonderful Greek food. I had a salmon steak, and the sauce was fabulous. The proprietor told us that the Rose Festival was the slowest night of the year; despite this, he still had a pretty full lower-floor dining room. I am going to put that restaurant down in my book of flavorful and decently priced restaurants to go to in the future.

The four of us went back to the rides just long enough for Alexis to persuade me to go on a high-speed swing contraption. After that, we shuffled on over to Fourth Avenue to grab some standing room to watch the parade. What a parade it was! There were three pipe bands, high school marching bands, muscle cars (all Mustangs), and many many floats. Alexis mentioned that there were 138 entries in this year's parade, and indeed they kept coming for over two hours! Many of the well known Portland-area organizations were there--Calamity Jane's, the Shriners, the various hospitals, and a bunch of radio stations were among the ones that I can actually still remember while writing this article a few days later. Mostly I remember being on sensory overload the entire time, thinking "Wow, I've never been to a big-city parade in person!"

After the parade, we crashed into Captain Ankeny's Well for a nightcap. I surprised everybody by ordering a burger; we all had various alcoholic drinks and babbled semi-drunkenly for a good long time, until we realized that the trains were going to stop running and that we all had to go home. I made sure that the three of them made it onto westbound MAX trains and then grabbed the next Blue that I could get and danced all the way up the hill in the rain.

Hipsters

Occurred June 03, 2006 (Permalink)

The hipsters that live in an adjacent house had a "Vintage Sale" today. This meant that they were trying to unload their 1970s-era furniture that they probably don't want to lug when they move out this weekend.

I went over for a look, but went home when I saw the big green sign:

"NO HAGGLING"

Needless to say, 80% of their stuff was still there at the end of the day.

East Zigzag Mountain, Again

Occurred June 04, 2006 (Permalink)

Eliza, Lara, her work-friend Trevor, and I went hiking this weekend. We returned to East Zigzag Mountain, since Eliza wanted to have a look around the area when the top of the mountain would not be covered with snow like last time. Unfortunately, it was rainy and foggy most of the time, which means that it was a good thing that I left my camera on the dining room table. Actually, the pictures from last time were pretty good; we simply had no idea where the trails really were supposed to go. As is customary, we had burgers at Calamity Jane's afterwards.

Hunting an Ice Cave, Gifford Pinchot NF

Occurred June 11, 2006 (Permalink)

		Stalagmite, Near Upper Pit
Stalagmite, Near Upper Pit

Last night I was talking to Chelle about exploring the ice cave up in Gifford Pinchot National Forest up in Washington--it's great that once she moves here in August, I'll finally have an accomplice for my dangerous travails. This morning, however, it dawned on me that I ought to go see it _now_ because it was devoid of ice last September and full of it the February before that; surely that meant that I'd have a good chance of finding ice in there in June. At the very least, I could spend the time scoping out the Mt. Adams area for good camping ideas for everyone _else_ for the rest of the summer.

Retracing last September's path, I wound up staring at a rather familiar hole in the ground. Since the top of the cave was perhaps fifteen feet under the surface, I correctly predicted that there might be alternate entrances to this cave and indeed, there are at least four of them! As the map (a6110732) shows, there is quite a bit of cavern to explore, as I was unable to visit a full two thirds of the cave due to time and slippery ice constraints. While inside the cave, however, I was able to get some astonishingly good pictures of ice stalagmites and stalactites. These pictures come in two versions: one with the flash on (where the ice appears to be quite boringly white against a rocky backdrop) and without the flash (and a fast shutter speed), wherein the ice formations have an eerie glow to them.


		Stalagmites in the Pool of Ice
Stalagmites in the Pool of Ice

The astute reader will notice that the pictures of the main entrance are in the middle of the set. Why, you ask? Despite the main entrance being a mere fifteen feet away from where I parked both times, I totally overlooked it! It's quite tempting to go straight to the big hole in the ground that is only thirty or so feet beyond the area map. However, there is a staircase leading down to a very spectacular ice pool (a6110685 - 725). I was unable to go anywhere near the ice pool because the area sloped downwards further into the cave and everything was covered with a sheet of ice. If one got into there, it would not be easy to escape! In any case, there were tons of silo shaped humps of ice rising from the floor.


		Crawly Plant
Crawly Plant

I came out of the cave and decided to check out the surrounding area a bit more thoroughly. The picture above is a stringy looking shrub that I found coming out of the ground. Beyond the ice cave is a place called Peterson Prarie with natural bridges. I left this area unexplored as a carrot to come back. That and the road was so bad I wasn't willing to risk my car's underside. I followed forest road 24 onto 60 and suffered a dusty gravel road all the way to Goose Lake.


		North Goose Lake
North Goose Lake

Goose Lake is an odd lake--there are several creeks that dump water into it, yet there is no visible outlet for the lake! It turns out that a very long time ago, a volcanic eruption left enough lava around that a dam was created; this soon resulted in the Goose Lake that we see today. There is a tube inside the lava deposite, which is how the lake drains. The camp host, a burly guy in his mid-50s with a southern-esque accent, pointed out these geological features of the lake and warned me not to go out on the lava beds because magnetic compasses are fooled by the ferrite in the rock, and also because there are crevasse-like formations that are difficult to detect. The ranger at the park office also warned of rattlesnakes, but she's a whole different paragraph.


		Southward (?)
Southward (?)

After I'd spent a while strolling around the lake, I decided to continue my journey to see if the lava beds took me high enough to get a good view. On my way, I was flagged down by a guy sitting on a rock; he warned me that the road was out due to snow four miles ahead. I assured him that I only intended to go a few miles, take some pictures, and turn around. This is where the weirdness starts. Sure enough, four miles up the road I see a place where snow had totally covered the road ... and a big Cadillac stuck in the snow in the middle of the road. It seemed a little strange that this should be the case, so I walked over and saw a woman calmly sitting in the front seat as if she was not hopelessly stuck in the mud. Her boyfriend had wandered off in search of help half an hour previously, she said.


		End of the Road
End of the Road

I offered my help; she asked if I intended to tow her out with my car. I told her that it would be much less risky and time consuming first to try to rock her car out of the ice. In a McGyver-like flash of inspiration, I built a makeshift plank road out of downed tree branches, and shoved them underneath the Caddy's drive wheels. I told her to put on the gas SLOWLY while I tried to push her engine compartment out of the snow with my hands. Apparently this crazy scheme actually worked, as she backed out and thanked me. I told her that I'd follow her down the mountain back to Goose Lake; oddly enough, when we got back to the guy sitting on the rock, he jumped down from the rock and got in the Caddy! Odd that he did not say anything at all about his girlfriend being stuck in a car four miles away.


		Sunset, Garage
Sunset, Garage

I drove on to the Mt. Adams ranger station and asked the ranger about what there was to do in the area. She said that there were in fact dozens of lava tubes all over the park, but that Ice Cave and Ape Cave were the only ones that they ever tell to the general public because the others are dangerous to the untrained. This means, of course, that I shall have to refresh myself in the ways of spelunking and join a caving club. She also warned that the ferrite in the lava beds screws up magnetic compasses, and that there were rattlesnakes and no water sources in the entire region. Sounds like a no-man's land.

By then, the station was nearly closed, so I went back to Portland, being able to boast of being a knight in shining armor for a damsel in distress.

A Butterfly Incident

Occurred June 17, 2006 (Permalink)

Saturday afternoon, I was on my way to a barbeque at an acquaintance's farm in the hills overlooking Banks, OR when I spied a butterfly trapped in the southwestern corner of my garage. The butterfly was mostly yellow and black, with bits of brown and blue mixed in for good measure; how it got into the garage I have no idea. It had been several days since I'd opened the garage doors for anything, so either it had flown in quite a long time before that, or maybe it had crawled in as a caterpillar? In any case, it was flapping around like mad trying to escape back to the real world. Though I tried to shoo the butterfly out the (now open) back door, he wouldn't have any of it, and continued to flit around the door into the glass window. Thus, I got quite a few pictures of it before I finally had to push it out the door into the backyard. After that it flew away. I wonder if it has been eaten by now.

Hike, Dance and Drive

Occurred June 25, 2006 (Permalink)

		Log in Lower Twin Lake
Log in Lower Twin Lake

The second annual Scottish Country Hike-and-Dance weekend was this weekend. With Portland temperatures expected to exceed 90F, I figured that it would be a good time to head east and gain altitude, so I departed for Hood at 8 in the morning. Circling around Mt. Hood, past Government Camp and the turnoff for Timberline Lodge, around ten I pulled into a huge snow-park near Frog Lake and met the other dancers. We headed north along the Pacific Crest Trail towards Lower Twin Lake, a mild hike that involved 700 feet of elevation gain over 2.6 miles ... and a lot of mosquitoes. And yes, the moratorium on pictures of trees is still in effect. Armed with DEET and sunscreen, we ventured towards the lake and I had a surprisingly pleasant lunch atop a stump.


		Upper Twin Lake
Upper Twin Lake

After lunch, some of us ventured to Upper Twin Lake where we stood around telling jokes until a swarm of Boy Scouts came along and made enough noise that we left. I took a few ganders at a rope swing that somebody had precariously rigged in a tree. Quite fun, except that there was nowhere to park my butt and so my entire weight was suspended by my hands. Painful. By that time, it was mid-afternoon and starting to heat up, so we went back to the cars and proceeded westward along US-26 to the same road that Mazama Lodge is on... only this time I turned off the road and went to Tyee Lodge, which is apparently the lodge of the Trails Club of Oregon (offsite). Like Mazama Lodge, this one is made of wood, has a basement full of random climbing equipment, and has some of the same accoutrements. I'd say that Mazama Lodge is a bit nicer, but the entrance requirements are accordingly higher.


		Tyee Lodge, Site of the Dance
Tyee Lodge, Site of the Dance

A few of us started a non-interlocking monster puzzle while the rest got to work making dinner. Much heckling was observed to be going back and forth between Chandi and myself, most of which had to do with my contention that it was perfectly ok to use the puzzle box cover to determine where various pieces went in the puzzle. After a fabulous dinner of baked salmon, potatoes and some really ripe corn, we danced a few sets, including a rather interesting mixer dance wherein one of the steps is "grab your partner's hips and spin"! As a special bonus, Robin and Brian, who play the guitar and the fiddle, respectively, came along and presented us with live music. I waltzed with a pie in the kitchen at the end of the night because all the ladies were taken by the time I put my brain in gear. After that, some of us pushed some more of the puzzle pieces into place, and I pitched my tent in the living room (fewer mosquitoes, you see) and went to bed.

Come 7:45 the next morning, I awoke to the sounds of the breakfast-makers buzzing around in the kitchen. Breakfast itself was french toast with sausage, bacon and fruit salad--yummy! We danced some more, I burned some trash (for the first time), and went downstairs to play an increasingly bizarre four-way game of ping-pong with Brian, Chandi and the MacKenzie's daughter. Around noon time the rest of the group finished the puzzle, so we broke up camp, cleaned up the lodge, and took our leave.


		West Towards the Cascades
West Towards the Cascades

I turned eastward on US-26, intending to make a short road trip out to the yellow-and-brown pseudo-desert areas of Oregon. From Government Camp, I followed the road south and then east on OR-216 out of the mountains. Quite a dramatic change on this side--all of the sudden the pine trees end, only to be replaced by yellow grass that undoubtedly has been baking in hot sun for several weeks now. Upon reaching The Dalles-California Highway (US-197), I headed north towards the Gorge and towards burgers. US-197 shoots straight north through miles and miles of empty fields and then heads into a ridge of rather short hills. Here the scenery changes once again to a lot of crumbly brown rocks with occasional disbursements of yellow grass; the decline towards The Dalles is only interrupted by ... another lush green valley.


		Lush Green Valley, US-197
Lush Green Valley, US-197

At two in the afternoon I pulled into the Burgerville in The Dalles. A nearby electronic sign decreed that the temperature had reached 100F. This particular Burgerville was advertising Walla Walla onions, so I of course had to try them; they are the sweetest onions that I'd ever had, even after grilling. I went back to 197 and went north until I reached a most amusing sign--"Extreme Meth Makeover" (p6250810). I drove eastward on WA-14 past Horsethief Butte to a town called Wishram; there was a lookout point (wishram) from which I took a panoramic picture of the Gorge. The white cap in the right third of the picture is, of course, Mt. Hood. The lookout point also had some informational signs about a Native American fish catchery that is now under water due to The Dalles dam.

A short way down the road, I saw a sign for a historic steam locomotive. The locomotive was a 1923 4-6-4 Baldwin that had been chugging up and down the Spokane area for decades before being brought to rest 250 miles away in the Columbia Gorge. It certainly was odd seeing a monument to big steam engines next to an Amtrak station in the middle of nowhere. The next stop on my driving adventure was the Wishram art museum, which seems to be some sort of turn-of-the-century Italianate (?) mansion (a6250824) overlooking the river. They had a dubious-looking Benson Bubbler (a6250825) but some good views of the Gorge.


		Wishram Art Museum
Wishram Art Museum

By now it was past three and I figured that I ought to get back in my car, drive towards Portland, and enjoy the air conditioning. I crossed back to Oregon on US-97, and now I can claim that with one exception, I've crossed every car-accessible bridge that goes across the Columbia to Oregon: US-101 at Astoria, SR-433 to Rainier, I-5/I-205 to Portland, Bridge of the Gods, OR-35 in Hood River, US-197 in The Dalles, and US-97 in Maryhill. Perhaps I'll get to cross I-82 in Umatilla some day. The route back home: I-84 to US-197, US-197 north to WA-14, WA-14 west to Bingen, across the bridge to Hood River, then I-84 all the way home. Got back around 17:30.

Two Years in Oregon!

Occurred June 28, 2006 (Permalink)

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