Saturday, July 31, 2010

"A cloudy coast is better than no coast." - Kent, 2010

“A cloudy coast is better than no coast,” declared my wise nephew. Of course, he was right about that and about selecting the right poker comrades. (More about that later.)

For a couple of weeks, I had been checking the weather forecasts and the live cameras to find a clear day for a walk out to the end of Cape Lookout, south of Netarts, Oregon. For a couple of weeks, the forecast and the cameras showed some fog, clouds and drizzle. It looked the same yesterday, too. Yet, riding Kent’s encouragement, we made it through the Tillamook State Forest, to Alice’s restaurant, and onto Cape Lookout.

Yes, the parking lot and the trail started foggy. After our hike on the dry hill top near Mt. Adams, walking through this wet forest of ferns, firs, hemlock and other foliage was a good contrast, illustrating the climatic and plant diversity that is Oregon. It completed Kent’s reverse view of diverse Oregon: from “no trees” to a mix of pines and firs, to the wet forest nurtured by rain, clouds and the cool Pacific. On the way out, I described the view we could not see to the south, “Imagine a blue ocean and miles of coastline.” I was hopeful that we’d at least get a bit of a view to the north. Sure enough, after marching down and up the trail of dirt and mud, between the clouds, we spied Three Arch Rock National Wildlife Refuge miles away. (Teddy Roosevelt made it so in 1903, because seabirds should not be used as target practice.)

We hardly noticed the lightening skies as we schemed our way around and through muddy spots on the trail out. Finally, we reached the end of the continent, looking out toward the northern tip of Japan. Low clouds still obscured most of the view south as we walked and tip-toed our way back 2.4 miles (without water to drink). At last, at about mile 4 of the 5 mile hike, we got the big view (above) that distinguishes the Cape Lookout hike from a hike somewhere deep in another wet Oregon or Washington forest.

We each got about one gulp of water from an old bottle in the car before driving onto Oceanside, Oregon, for an up-close view of Three Arch Rocks and paragliders. We then hydrated during our late lunch at Roseanna’s.

In many other pursuits, people use Voltaire’s quote, “The better is the enemy of the good.” From now on, my version will be, “A cloudy coast is better than no coast.”

Friday, July 30, 2010

23 hours of Fishing

23 hours on the boat. Often, with men, there needs to be an excuse to get together. Fishing will work. It ended up being a fun night camping, eating & boating.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

High & Dry, Low & Wet

The question was how to enjoy a day around Mt. Adams. A ridgeline hike, with grand views that includes Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, Mt. Baker, and even a peak at Mt. St. Helens might be good. White water rafting down the White Salmon River is fun.

Well, if the goal is Maximum Adventure, then the answer is both: 8.2 miles in the hills and 7.5 miles down the river.

That rafting is awfully fun. That river packs a lot of thrills and beauty in a couple of hours, or so.

Great to have an excuse (nephew) to vacation nearby.

More photos here:

Monday, July 26, 2010

Kent arrives

Oregon law permits assisted suicide, under certain circumstances. But that is not why my nephew, Kent has come to the Pacific Northwest. The mantra for the next few days is "Maximum Adventure." Consequently, Carpesummer might need to step up to the next level.

Kent is training for a helping profession. In fact, merely discussing counseling and philosophical concepts along Trout Lake Creek, this evening, has helped me. Kent denies categorically any intent to assist in the suicide of a raccoon in Idaho last night on his drive here. He was not acting as an unlicensed veterinarian. In fact, HE was the victim of the deranged beast, which was probably rabid, which means Kent probably should earn high praise from those who live and own pets in the area where the bloody massacre occurred.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Four-Mountain View from Sleeping Beauty.

Mt St Helens, pictured above, was one of the four snow-capped mountains we saw from the top of Sleeping Beauty. Clockwise, they are St. Helens, Baker, Adams and Hood. The hike was a great way to enjoy a clear, beautiful afternoon. And the workout justifies a big meal tonight. Such a contrast from my hike to Sleeping Beauty on 6/20/2010, when visibility was about 10 yards instead of 100 miles.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hanging with My Deer and My Dear

I got out to Trout Lake this afternoon. While I read on the back porch, my deer lounged out front. Then, my dear arrived, and we prepared dinner to enjoy with our dear neighbors, Dale and Randie. Another good day and evening, despite minor and ephemeral frustrations that every working person must navigate.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A good day.

One of the pleasures of summer is to awaken to cool, fresh air slipping into the windows. The good bookend to that start was visiting with Kim at the Kruger Farm on Sauvie's Island while the Los Cowtones played their music.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Portland Tour

What do the following have in common: Slappy Cakes, Voodoo Doughnuts, Mio Gelato, Two Tarts Bakery, Swirl Yogurt?

They are all reminders that 50+ year old uncles cannot keep up with the sweet tooth of teenage nieces.

Today, we lose Zara & Riley. Together with Rachele, they all got us to think of Portland as a travel destination and not just as our backyard. The summary: Pearl District restaurants and galleries, Powell’s Books, used clothing stores, International Rose Test Garden, Pittock Mansion, Multnomah Falls and Waukeena Falls Loop, Oregon Zoo, Food Carts, Hawthorne District, Alberta District, Farmer’s Market, Portland Saturday Market, non-franchise restaurants, movies.

Here are some photos.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Experiencing Portland

Portland seemed like one big carnival on this mostly sunny Saturday. We enjoyed music, food, and people watching at the farmers’ market. We also found some veggies, fruit, bread and other goodies for dinner.

Next was Portland’s Saturday Market, a place I have not visited for many years. It was packed with people, crafts, food and performers. After a late lunch on Allyson’s rooftop deck, it was a quick shopping stop and then on to Pioneer Courthouse Square, where sand sculptors and sculptures took center stage.

I’d forgotten how vibrant Portland can be in the summer, even without a major festival happening.

Eventually, we made it home to enjoy each other and the farmers’ bounty around the dining table.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Portland ain't Lake Oswego

The fun of having visitors is that we get to play tour guide. Today, we hit Slappy Cakes and made our own pancakes at the table. (The judgment: peanut butter batter with chocolate chips was good. Add bacon to the mix, then not so good.) We walked in the Pearl District, with a stop at Powell’s City of Books and Buffalo Exchange. Next, onto the International Rose Test Garden and Pittock Mansion.

At night we checked out a food cart pod. At the pod, we see a mix of people. A few radical haircuts and piercings, nothing too outrageous, but enough to illustrate that many Portlanders don’t feel compelled to conform to fashion standards displayed in glossy magazines. Driving back, we saw a congregation of bicyclers, including some with very high seats at a Plaid Pantry.

Now, if we were giving a tour of Lake Oswego, we would not see such people. In Lake Oswego, there’s the one block of shops and restaurants near the lake and farmer’s market. Mostly, one sees people aged 35 to 65 in clean, respectable clothing with conventional haircuts. In fact, one just does not see too many young people at all in Lake Oswego, unless they are children with parents: no pierced lips smiling under a two-toned quasi-mullet; no shaved sides of heads with blue hair; no “high bikes.”

Portland stole and modified Austin’s slogan: “Keep Portland Weird.” Well, we gave our dear guests a taste of what that slogan means tonight. I enjoy getting out and doing what makes Portland interesting, and I'm very happy we have a reason to do it this weekend.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Rachele, Riley & Zara

It's a treat to enjoy some time with the younger generation.

Rachele mentioned a provocative movie, Jesus Camp, and we watched it after dinner. I found the movie terrifying. Zara & Riley were very tired, but Rachele, Allyson & I stayed up late to discuss the movie, which calmed me. Allyson pointed out the historical context, and argued that the percentage of crazies might not have changed much. I was more calmed by Rachele, who pointed out that internet will expose children to other ideas. Maybe the children will not be condemned to ignorance inflicted by controlling adults.

Our discussion advanced to our own views of religion and values. Rachele articulated some very thoughtful questions and opinions. This calmed me even more because it gave me confidence in the younger generation after the horror of the movie, where 6 year-olds seemed like emotional wrecks with no ability to think for themselves.

Allyson and I are very pleased that Zara, Riley & Rachele decided to visit us.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Food, Drink, Friends. . . Bravo.

Applying what I learned from Carpesummer 2009, we enjoyed a dinner with dear friends at Toro Bravo tonight. No free concert in the park. No movie. Just good conversation with good friends over good food and drink on a beautiful night.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Monte Cristo Sequel

Sunday was another gorgeous day on Monte Cristo.

Part of the hike is on a ridgeline, with long views to the west and east. We noticed a difference in foliage, west and east. On the west, winds blow off dirt, exposing more rock. The magenta flowers find footholds in the rock on the west but are never seen on the east. On the east of this ridge, we see lots of Lupine and Indian Paint Brush. Just a few feet away on the west, no Lupine or Paint Brush.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Maryhill Train 2010.

Maryhill Winery has produced concerts along with its wines for years. We enjoyed the 2009 vintages thoroughly, which, we thought, displayed a skill for making a smooth yet complex product. Last night’s 2010 Train Concert did not live up to the higher standards we had expected.

It started great with golden hues and green tints. The colors of the painting-like views from Maryhill Winery change as the sun drops. We reunited with our four friends from the night before and met two new friends, who are Train aficionados, having seen them multiple times. A picnic on the lush lawn amphitheater with friends is one reason to attend a concert at Maryhill. We hardly noticed, and did not care, that the 7:00 p.m. start had slipped to about 7:40. Opening for train was an earnest performer whose show seemed more suited to a coffeehouse than an amphitheater. But again, who cares when friends hang out with food and wine.

Getting into the concert is a bit of a project. Organizers declared the onsite lot full by the time we arrived at 6:00, so ticketholders park down the road, and busses shuttle us in. A rope maze helps to funnel people through the bag inspection table and into the venue. While waiting to get in, one’s nose takes in scents of grasses, sage, and fruit (plus a little dust kicked up from the gravel road).

Although I was not keeping time before and after the music, I think Train got started around 8:20 or so. The sound quality was not great, although we did enjoy many classic notes. These kinds of rough edges – late start and sound quality – should have mellowed and rounded with age. Train played most of their hits, although a few were missing in action, which may have caused the crowd to be surprised when "Elvis left the building" by around 9:40. Rarely confident in my own opinions about concerts (or wines) I consulted with, Paul, our resident Train expert, who confirmed that other concerts he’d enjoyed lasted longer and sounded better.

That’s when things broke down. The journey from the venue to our car took about as long as the concert itself. Perhaps one factor is that longer concerts, with more encores, allow a significant percentage of the crowd to sneak out early to beat the rush. Once people descended into the dark Hell of the onsite parking lot, we were detained behind a fence, next to the gravel road. Winds whipped gravel dust kicked up by exiting cars into our eyes, nose, mouths and ears. After about 30 minutes of patience, people (especially me) got agitated. After another 30 minutes, we pushed and crowded our way onto the bus. When we finally got onto the road, we saw how hopeless it was for people in their cars still in that parking lot. Many probably had another 20 or 30 minutes before reaching black top.

To summarize my review of the Maryhill Winery’s 2010 vintage of Train:

Clear golden hues with green tints. Grassy, sagey nose. Although there were many bright,tasty notes and some full round bodies, the production had an astringent quality. The finish was too long, leaving a nasty mineral taste.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Everready Dog

Lemon the wonder dog never quit wanting to play. “Jump in the river and fetch a stick? Yeah!” “Play catch with the Frisbee?!” “Please, through the ball for me. Please! Please!”

By 7:30 p.m., Lemon was VERY tired. Yet, she continued to bring toys to people so she could play retrieve with them. She lost her energy to run, but walked on with a big, happy look on her face. Lemon took a break while Lemon’s “father and mother” hosted a terrific dinner outdoors.

Some pets are shy, perhaps because they have been beaten down along the way by surly masters. Some pets slink away with one harsh word. By contrast, Lemon is a very outgoing dog. She kept coming back and back. Never discouraged by a less-than-enthusiastic response, Lemon would just go to the next person, or just pick up the toy and drop it again to communicate her message.

Lemon’s “father & mother” worked hard over the years exploiting their business knowledge and their enthusiastic, outgoing personalities. Along the way, year after year, they have employed many people, made money for their clients and investors, and continued to reach out to people and make them smile, much like Lemon does. (Does inter-species personality transfer settle the debate of nature vs. nurture?)

After dinner, Lemon’s “father & mother” continued to entertain us. At 1:00 am, we were in the pool and hot tub, and there was Lemon dropping the ball by whoever was nearest the edge. Despite our best efforts to lose the ball by throwing it far out into the dark fields, Lemon somehow found it, displaying not only her fun-loving personality, but, also, remarkable retrieving talent. Talent and personality, hmm. . . Runs in the household over there on the banks of the Wind River, in the State of Washington.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Monte Cristo Flowers !!!

This morning was spectacular on the Monte Cristo trail. The initial portion goes through a normal forest, like so many others. Then, at the first break, a large patch of yellow flowers greets the sun, as if the flowers were in a movie theater looking at the screen.

At this time of year, the Monte Cristo trail packs in more thrills per mile than any other hike in this area. The trail provides top-of-the world, two-mountain views. At one point, when looking down to the valley, it’s hard not to start singing the Sound of Music. And one could, because I’ve never seen anyone else on the trail.

Today, the flowers were magnificent, and so many varieties are in bloom. The colors ranged from very shy, pale lavender to a come-hither magenta. The impact ranged from a happy yellow field that could inspire VanGough to nano blossoms about ¼ the circumference of a pencil eraser.

Today's lesson.

Today’s lesson(7/8/10)came not from a book. Although, it was a pleasure to spend much of my day with this book (between calls from people in need of help). What I learned today is that, despite being powered by electricity, the Black & Decker weed whacker is quite capable of launching 100-year old fence wire fragments into one’s leg at high velocity.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ahhh, Summer Vacation at Last

Finally, I feel like summer is here. I made it to Trout Lake when it was still under 80 degrees, so I hopped on my bike and did my loop. Then, I found a book. A book! Reading a (non-law) book seems like such a luxury. And when I wanted a break from reading, I actually called friends and family. What a concept! Getting off of the computer and engaging with people in the old fashioned way of actually talking.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Good People Remain Good.

While Allyson tries a case in Grants Pass, Oregon (photo above), summer took hold here in Portland, finally: 80+ degrees with 90 coming tomorrow.

Approximately 40 years ago, I met Sue Cavallaro (Robertson) in Elmhurst, Illinois. Today, I had the pleasure of lunch with Sue and her sister, Nancy, in Portland. Forty years! To think in terms of decades and ¼ centuries or longer is crazy. Well, obviously, it’s impossible to catch up on 120 years (40 years x 3 people), but it was great to touch base. Data points from 1970, 1976, 1996 and 2010 make for difficult graphing. Some things don’t change. Sue and Nancy remain pleasant, caring people. I hope we can fill in more details over time.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Blues Festival Plus Zydeco

Portland's Waterfront Blues Festival seems to get bigger and better every year. Bands play constantly plus many vendors offer food beverages, ATMs and stuff. In addition to the two main stages, there's a little bit of Louisiana on the other side of the bridge. If the band on one of the the main stages is not striking the right chord, then it's time to go Zydeco. Or, if you just like Zydeco better and like to dance to it's beat, just stay there.

In addition to the dance area, The Zydeco stage has rows of seats if you don't like the chaos of the grass seating.

The weather turned nice today, after another couple of shitty days, when the furnace clicked on in July.

The Blues Festival is a place where people really mix: young and old, well groomed and less groomed, fit and not fit, meth head going crazy to Zydeco and sedate professionals.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Thoughts on a Funeral

I’m not sure why we cry at funerals. There may be as many different reasons as the people wiping tears and blowing noses.

Mark passed much too soon. I’m not referring to age alone, although age 52 qualifies as too soon. It was too soon for Sue, his wife who was lost 30 years or so of earthly love, companionship and support. Of course, it was way too soon his boys Brad & Steve. It is not just age: 52 years is plenty of time on earth for a selfish jerk. By contrast, if cancer had skipped Mark and he’d blown out 85 birthday candles, death still would have come too soon because he touched the lives of people in positive ways, and those people would never want to lose him at any age.

Nancy said, tearfully, “I wish you’d known him.” Yesterday, I got to know him. Maybe I got to know him better than I would have gotten to know him over pizza in the year before he passed.

What better testimony can there be to a man’s life than to see the embodiment of his life’s work and values in the form of sons, Brad and Steve. It’s unfortunate that so many people consider a body of work as something other than a living body. When Hollywood directors die, we review their bodies of work: their movies. Police officers and lawyers have their “war stories” of different cases, or challenges, or exciting moments, as if a collection moments or successes constitute a life well spent. Although Brad & Steve’s words sketched the chronology of Mark & Sue’s life, the sons’ bearing and poise said a lot more about their parents’ life and legacy.

Mark’s siblings gave us a feel for their oldest brother. Their stories described a man with a good sense of humor and a positive outlook, who lived his values and taught by example.

The Bishop added his observations on the family he’d come to know. He was a total wreck, more so than Mark’s two sons, brothers, sister or the 13 nieces and nephews who sang. He looked like he’d been crying for days, and he continued to cry while discussing the strength and independence of Sue and the family. Going back to the question, why do people cry? One reason I cry is when I see other people cry and begin to comprehend, even slightly, their knowledge and feelings that are beyond words. For 2 ½ years, the Bishop had known about Mark’s cancer. With the greatest respect and admiration, the Bishop witnessed how the family confronted, fought, and ultimately had to share their home with cancer. He observed how Sue and the boys carried out extraordinary efforts that became everyday necessities with the grace that comes from love, faith and living one’s beliefs.

The Bishop said, “Mark never asked, ‘Why me?’” But the Bishop pondered the question. I think his answer was that the cancer gave the family a chance to teach all of us some lessons about what matters most in life.